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Princess vs Holland America


LynnSD
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We’re thinking of booking a Holland America fall cruise round trip from San Diego.  We’re veteran Princess cruisers, and have done many of their west coast cruises from San Pedro over the years, but for now Holland Am has a more appealing itinerary.  
 

What differences should I expect in dining and entertainment?    We think Princess and Celebrity are similar, is this in the same category?    I know food is subjective ... how are the specialty restaurants?   
 

Are there production shows?   Lounge shows?    Activities on sea days?

 

Thanks!   Lynn

 

 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, LynnSD said:

What differences should I expect in dining and entertainment?    We think Princess and Celebrity are similar, is this in the same category?    I know food is subjective ... how are the specialty restaurants?   

 

I think most would find Celebrity and HAL more alike, where Princess has a different atmosphere from those two. 
 

Are there production shows?   Lounge shows?    Activities on sea days?

Yes, yes, and yes...discussed here frequently

 

See comments in red above.

 

Have sailed on both, 6 on Princess and 12 on HAL. HAL has a generally quieter, classier atmosphere. Read down the board for the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other features.

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I think one of the important thigs (for me ) is the cabin.  On Princess balcony cabins and below only have one chair in the room to sit on.  On HAL I believe there is a love seat.  This can make you stay in your cabin much more enjoyable.

I have not been on HAL in a few year.  (I am 3 star).  We cancelled out last two cruise with HAL  But we hope to cruise again on HAL.

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Haven't been on Princess for a few years. My feeling was that the shows and entertainment were better on  Princess but food and cabins were better on  HAL.

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7 minutes ago, john2003 said:

Haven't been on Princess for a few years. My feeling was that the shows and entertainment were better on  Princess but food and cabins were better on  HAL.

I've only taken one cruise on Princess, but I have to agree with JOHN2003 re the two.  HOWEVER, one of the best meals I've ever eaten anywhere was in Sabatini's on Princess.  I also think the overall crew on HAL is better.

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 Princess has abandoned mid size and small ships.  The food is not as good as HAL and the service not quite as refined.  I do think the night life is more lively on Princess.  I find that Princess offers more active shore excursions than HAL.  The last Princess ship I sailed I did have an interior cabin and it was not a bad size for an interior, it was efficiently designed.  I have had and seen larger and smaller insides on HAL.  I think that HAL overall has larger balcony rooms.  

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We have cruised a lot of HAL but in recent years have also sailed Princess quite a bit. Our most recent cruise right before the "Pause" was Royal Princess out of San Pedro in February 2020 and a few months prior to that we sailed Eurodam same itinerary out of San Diego. Many of the comments above are correct and good assessment but my first question is what type of cabin do you normally stay in. I think that is what narrows down my view of the two lines first.

If you normally book a regular Balcony cabin with Princess then you will be impressed with HAL, if you normally book a Mini Suite with Princess well unfortunately there is no true comparison. The closest on HAL would be on the Koningsdam for a Vista Suite but I think the Princess Mini Suite is still better. If you book full Suites with Princess on say the Royal Class you will be disappointed with HAL. Over all Princess has a much better Suite Experience in my opinion although NCL Haven is far better 😉 

Food, yes that is hit or miss my last HAL on the Eurodam the food was better than it had been in quite a few cruise and I would rate that cruise better than our February Royal. For specialty restaurants your selection with HAL is definitely the best on the Koningsdam and actually better than Royal except nothing beats Alfredos for sit down pizza on the Royal Class. If you like Asian then Tamarind on Koningsdam is amazing. 

I actually think entertainment is equal between the two lines. Lounge shows are equally good on both but I think HAL is a bit more varied between the venues for choice.

Over all they are still very similar and I believe in recent years have become even more so with them being more closely related and many departments that manage the two lines are combined.

Hope that helps.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, john2003 said:

Haven't been on Princess for a few years. My feeling was that the shows and entertainment were better on  Princess but food and cabins were better on  HAL.

There isn't as much difference between the HAL Vista and larger classes as there is between the Grand and Royal Princess classes of ships. Princess has one more pool, and far more activities. It is better suited for families with kids. But I agree that service, food and actual cabins were much nicer on HAL.

Edited by vicd1969
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We have sailed often on both lines with a little bias to Princess since we get some nice perks with Elite status. I think Holland America has better itineraries especially on longer cruises where they really beat out Princess.  HAL has much better informative lectures on ports with very qualified speakers.  Love it.

 

Princess would be my choice for shorter cruises, more lively, more activities, better theatre shows.   Food is too subjective to really compare.  Very good on both but service is better on HAL and we just love the leisurely breakfasts in HAL dining room.

 

Princess has the International cafe which is outstanding, HAL has nothing anywhere near as good.  HAL is better for promenades, Princess promenade decks are a bit chopped up.

 

Still a bit of an older crowd on HAL. It didn’t bother us in our 30s and we fit right in now in our 70’s 😁

 

Either choice will still be a great time.  Enjoy.

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LynnSD,

 

1 hour ago, LAFFNVEGAS said:

I actually think entertainment is equal between the two lines. Lounge shows are equally good on both but I think HAL is a bit more varied between the venues for choice.

 

Princess far exceeds HAL in the category of daily activities.  Just look at sample daily programs for comparable itineraries on both lines.  Music venues are more varied on HAL, but the most recent main theater performances on HAL are the most severe under use of the theater's ability to produce a high quality show, that if I was the President of HAL, I would fire the person responsible for such a product.  

 

1 hour ago, LAFFNVEGAS said:

Food, yes that is hit or miss my last HAL on the Eurodam the food was better than it had been in quite a few cruise and I would rate that cruise better than our February Royal. For specialty restaurants your selection with HAL is definitely the best on the Koningsdam and actually better than Royal except nothing beats Alfredos for sit down pizza on the Royal Class.

 

Cuisine experienced is going to depend upon the ship's Executive Chef.  Some are great.  Some:  not so much.  

 

My most recent HAL cruises, the cuisine has been very good to excellent in the MDR and Lido Restaurant.  A new Vice-President for Food and Beverage had been hired before my most recent cruises and his efforts positively showed.  (This was confirmed by an Assistant Main Dining Room Manager during a conversation that I had with him during my most recent cruise on the Eurodam.)  

 

I have complained about the inconsistency of a Pinnacle Grill experience for a long time.  Again, my most recent experiences in the PG have improved.  The absolute, consistent best has been, however, at Rudi's Sel de Mer:  both the stand alone restaurant on Nieuw Statendam as well as the pop-ups on Volendam and Eurodam.  

 

Alfredo's on Royal Princess is not to be missed;  a pop-up appeared on Coral Princess in 2019 and was equally good.  Sabatini's on Royal Princess was far superior than their Crown Grill.  Crown Grill was no better than Pinnacle Grill when PG was at its best.   The Executive Chef of the ship is still the most important factor as to what cuisine one experiences.  Fettuccine Alfredo is a Princess classic.  Properly prepared delicious and memorable, until it isn't.  The Chef on Royal Princess prepared that dish with a watery, flavorless (where's the cheese) Fettuccine Alfredo that was most disappointing.  

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We've done both recently.  The Verandah cabins are about the same.  I give the main dining room about equal marks.  But we do prefer HA, perhaps because we love the Crow's Nest with its views and varied activities.

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I believe that it really comes down to the ship, the ship's leadership team, and the crew.

 

Select the ship that is the right size and has the amenities that you desire.  The rest is down to luck and timing  IMHO.

 

 

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9 hours ago, iancal said:

I believe that it really comes down to the ship, the ship's leadership team, and the crew.

 

If the ship's leadership is at the top of their game and they are truly guest friendly in their perspectives and attiudes, the crew will "pick up" on that.  The crew's service will reflect what non-verbal messages that the crew receives from the leadership.  

 

 

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We’ve enjoyed both, but have decided we prefer HAL.  We have perks on both but actually found we prefer the itineraries, food, cabins and promenade decks on HAL.   We really  Enjoyed the Koningsdam, particularly the Tamarind!  
 

Unfortunately, the true port speakers have gone the way of the dodo bird.   

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5 minutes ago, bennybear said:

Unfortunately, the true port speakers have gone the way of the dodo bird.

 

No, No.  The really good persons are out there.  In order to employ them, the compensation for their services must be provided and the proper, educational programming prescribed for the cruise from HQ is required.  

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6 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

No, No.  The really good persons are out there.  In order to employ them, the compensation for their services must be provided and the proper, educational programming prescribed for the cruise from HQ is required.  

We’ve had some great ones in the past, but on our last cruise the cruise director tried to fill their shoes.   I would love to see them return to HAL.  

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I have done 20+ on Princess and 2 on HAL. (We won't even mention that one-off on Carnival...).

I love both. I like the perks I get on Princess (Elite) compared to HAL (2 Star)... but that could always change.

 

I have enjoyed the food on both cruise lines, but to me, nothing in Specialty dining compares to the Pinnacle Grille. I had an amazing cabin on HAL and a not-so-great cabin on HAL. Most of my cabins of Princess have looked pretty much the same... and I have sailed in most every class. 

 

My next cruise is on HAL because the itinerary works. (And I will find a way to manage the laundry situation.)

 

Either way, I would be happy to sail on a cargo ship right now... 

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On 4/12/2021 at 12:27 PM, LynnSD said:

 

What differences should I expect in dining and entertainment?    We think Princess and Celebrity are similar, is this in the same category?    I know food is subjective ... how are the specialty restaurants?   
 

Are there production shows?   Lounge shows?    Activities on sea days?

 

 

 

I'm not exactly a seasoned cruiser with either line, but I've cruised both enough to form an educated opinion.

 

I think the free food is exactly the same.  Neither is better than the other.  However, I think Princess' buffet has more options, especially on Royal Class.  Regarding specialty restaurants, I'd give the nod to Princess.  

 

Entertainment isn't even close.  HAL pretty much did away with all lounge entertainment.  Laid-back venues where you can enjoy a cocktail and have quiet conversation while a pianist or solo guitarist plays are no more on HAL.  Maybe 1 game show throughout the cruise if you're lucky.  Sea day activities are also pretty much non existent.  Upbeat entertainment in the evenings is pretty good on HAL, as long as you don't mind the exact same few options every night.  

 

I do agree with the others.....that HAL's cabins are better.  The decor and spaciousness are much better.  The showers on Pinnacle Class (Koningsdam) are amazing.  

 

All that said, if you do choose HAL, I think you're on the right track by picking Koningsdam.  Pinnacle Class is the most modern of their ships, and the closest you'll get to a Celebrity experience.  I hesitate to say Princess experience because I still think it's a totally different feel.

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On 4/13/2021 at 9:32 PM, bennybear said:

We’ve had some great ones in the past

 

Maybe we ought to start a thread on the great cruise directors and port lecturers that we have experienced?  

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On 4/12/2021 at 2:23 PM, LAFFNVEGAS said:

We have cruised a lot of HAL but in recent years have also sailed Princess quite a bit. Our most recent cruise right before the "Pause" was Royal Princess out of San Pedro in February 2020 and a few months prior to that we sailed Eurodam same itinerary out of San Diego. Many of the comments above are correct and good assessment but my first question is what type of cabin do you normally stay in. I think that is what narrows down my view of the two lines first.

If you normally book a regular Balcony cabin with Princess then you will be impressed with HAL, if you normally book a Mini Suite with Princess well unfortunately there is no true comparison. The closest on HAL would be on the Koningsdam for a Vista Suite but I think the Princess Mini Suite is still better. If you book full Suites with Princess on say the Royal Class you will be disappointed with HAL. Over all Princess has a much better Suite Experience in my opinion although NCL Haven is far better 😉 

Food, yes that is hit or miss my last HAL on the Eurodam the food was better than it had been in quite a few cruise and I would rate that cruise better than our February Royal. For specialty restaurants your selection with HAL is definitely the best on the Koningsdam and actually better than Royal except nothing beats Alfredos for sit down pizza on the Royal Class. If you like Asian then Tamarind on Koningsdam is amazing. 

I actually think entertainment is equal between the two lines. Lounge shows are equally good on both but I think HAL is a bit more varied between the venues for choice.

Over all they are still very similar and I believe in recent years have become even more so with them being more closely related and many departments that manage the two lines are combined.

Hope that helps.

Hi!

Our last cruise was Feb 15, 2020 on the Royal Princess. You and I crossed paths back in the day when the Oosterdam banner was signed by CC members and shown to the camera when leaving San Diego.

 

I agree with your assessments and would add that while we were in a corner aft suite on the Royal, the Mini Suites on the smaller ships with the larger balconies are great spacious options.  The newer larger Princess ships Mini suite balconies just don't work for us.  Too narrow.

 

We are booked on the Zuiderdam in an aft corner Panicle suite for Dec 23, 2021 after spending the past 8-years or so on Royal, Celebrity and Royal.  Balconies and pools are very important to us.  

 

Looking forward to seeing what changes have taken place with HAL!

 

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On 4/14/2021 at 10:26 PM, Sam.Seattle said:

I agree with your assessments and would add that while we were in a corner aft suite on the Royal, the Mini Suites on the smaller ships with the larger balconies are great spacious options.  The newer larger Princess ships Mini suite balconies just don't work for us.  Too narrow.

 

We are booked on the Zuiderdam in an aft corner Panicle suite for Dec 23, 2021 after spending the past 8-years or so on Royal, Celebrity and Royal.  Balconies and pools are very important to us.  

 

Just so you are not dissapointed, the aft-corner cabins on the Zuiderdam are NEPTUNE suites, not the larger Pinnacle suites.  In fact, while they generally have very large balconies, the cabins are a bit (not much) smaller than the other, standard Neptunes.

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3 hours ago, DaveOKC said:

Just so you are not dissapointed, the aft-corner cabins on the Zuiderdam are NEPTUNE suites, not the larger Pinnacle suites.  In fact, while they generally have very large balconies, the cabins are a bit (not much) smaller than the other, standard Neptunes.

But those wrap aft decks are heavenly!   And I think they are the true pinnacle suites😉

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