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Stepping up from Celebrity - which luxury line would you recommend?


micmacmissy
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We sailed Viking this summer and certainly found it a ‘step up’ from Celebrity. We were very impressed by the ship, crew, restaurants and other facilities. The included excursions were good; we found you could do an included and a paid for excursion on the same day if the timings allowed. Drink prices are excellent, as is the drinks package ($20 a day). Spa use is free. 
We booked another Viking cruise whilst on board 👍

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53 minutes ago, PTC DAWG said:

You're right Hank, Celebrity is truly awful.  

 

 

Maybe a tad hypersensitive?  Hank never said anything negative about Celebrity.  Praising another line is not denigrating X.

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We are Elite on Celebrity. We sailed on Crystal once. It was an pleasurable experience; every one of our 36 cruises on eight different lines was pleasurable. To me it is a value proposition: you pay 2X-3X more on Crystal than for an equivalent itinerary on Celebrity. In the final analysis, it is an individual decision, as to whether paying this premium results in 2X-3X better food, 2X-3X better service,  2X-3X better entertainment, 2X-3X more enjoyment. The answer for me is "hmm, not really".  If I can sail on two or three Celebrity cruises versus a single Crystal cruise, I and my wallet vote X.

Edited by Projunior
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39 minutes ago, Azulann said:

Recent Bermuda cruise in July,  the evening shows were cabaret  style with fabulous singer from Broadway, with backup singers; ABBA show with band and dancers, little more low key than big Celebrity shows with acrobats .Both CD and assistant were great singers tenors. 

During my Transatlantic three years ago , with six sea days in a row(pre covid), lots of  presentations , lectures,  small group discussions by resident historian and other presenters on variety of historical subject. They do have trivia each day. On the TA  we had big Beatle show  on pool deck under the stars  with wine and lovely snacks.  Also a Met  opera broadcast  in  theater during a afternoon.  Lots of  evening music  in the lounges, and main living room, jazz, classical and guitarist.  Torhaven is a nightclub that opens at 10pm for dancing and ship band with  singer. 

Some of  it was top notch, some more ok.  All evenings shows are live-streamed to your room during this covid time.  

Thanks for the feedback. Pretty much follows along with what other folks have said in the past. For us they’re pretty much in line with an Oceania or Azamara cruise, which are just a little too “relaxing” for us. 

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36 minutes ago, downsmead said:

We sailed Viking this summer and certainly found it a ‘step up’ from Celebrity. We were very impressed by the ship, crew, restaurants and other facilities. The included excursions were good; we found you could do an included and a paid for excursion on the same day if the timings allowed. Drink prices are excellent, as is the drinks package ($20 a day). Spa use is free. 
We booked another Viking cruise whilst on board 👍

Better than an Aqua or Sky Suite, and all that goes with either of those categories, or just better than if you booked a veranda and at in the MDR or buffet?

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29 minutes ago, Projunior said:

We are Elite on Celebrity. We sailed on Crystal once. It was an pleasurable experience; every one of our 36 cruises on eight different lines was pleasurable. To me it is a value proposition: you pay 2X-3X more on Crystal than for an equivalent itinerary on Celebrity. In the final analysis, it is an individual decision, as to whether paying this premium results in 2X-3X better food, 2X-3X better service,  2X-3X better entertainment, 2X-3X more enjoyment. The answer for me is "hmm, not really".  If I can sail on two or three Celebrity cruises versus a single Crystal cruise, I and my wallet vote X.

Since Celebrity has gone AI and had a significant price increase in particularly the new builds often the price per day on Crystal may be actually less or slightly more than Celebrity. And a  visit to speciality restaurants is included in the base fare. Second visits are much less expensive than Celebrity and there is no comparison of menu selection and preparation. Personal opinion, but Crystal is like Celebrity 20 to 25 years ago in terms of food selection and quality. I am Zenith on Celebrity and no real status on Crystal, but I prefer Crystal! I have 3 future cruises booked on Crystal and 1 on Celebrity.

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Careful here, some research is needed before booking on Crystal as their corporate owner (Genting) is near bankruptcy. I’m not an expert on this cruiseline, as I won’t take the financial risk, but I’ve read there are no refunds for canceled cruises, no matter what. 

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16 minutes ago, PhD-iva said:

Careful here, some research is needed before booking on Crystal as their corporate owner (Genting) is near bankruptcy. I’m not an expert on this cruiseline, as I won’t take the financial risk, but I’ve read there are no refunds for canceled cruises, no matter what. 

Refunds took a long time, but they were issued. Just sold the Espirt. Go to the Crystal to get a full picture. They have resumed cruises and like most lines really selling well.

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25 minutes ago, Orator said:

Refunds took a long time, but they were issued. Just sold the Espirt. Go to the Crystal to get a full picture. They have resumed cruises and like most lines really selling well.

I believe they are selling at deeply discounted prices right now. As @PhD-iva stated, the risk would be too much for me. Also, I have read numerous times that the cabins are extremely small and somewhat outdated.

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AMA Waterways river cruising is a remarkable experience.  Would do either the Danube or Rhine to start.  The food was wonderful, tours included and excellent, and the small towns and history are unlike an ocean cruise if you are looking for something different.  Not to mention visiting cities like Prague & Budapest are worth the effort.

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2 minutes ago, TrulyBlonde said:

I believe they are selling at deeply discounted prices right now. As @PhD-iva stated, the risk would be too much for me. Also, I have read numerous times that the cabins are extremely small and somewhat outdated.

Cabins are larger than Celebrity. All bathrooms have a double sink and a tub. The  Crystal brand has great value and if sold would have enough buyers interested. Crystal is a major contributor to Genting's earnings. They experienced the same  cash flow problems as every other line. Don't book with any line if you have conserns about the solvency or quality of the experience. Your money, your choice!

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1 hour ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Better than an Aqua or Sky Suite, and all that goes with either of those categories, or just better than if you booked a veranda and at in the MDR or buffet?

There are a range of cabins you can book. The dining room is far better than the MDR on Celebrity and the buffet is excellent too. The two ‘speciality’ restaurants are very good too with no surcharge. Everyone gets at least one booking and depending how popular they are, you can usually get additional bookings. 
We did a Sky suite on Celebrity followed by a deluxe veranda on Viking. The mini bar on Viking was replenished each day with soft drinks, higher cabins get alcohol in their minibar. Although we liked the Sky suite cabin, we were not enamoured by Luminae or the Retreat lounge, though did like the Retreat deck but found there was very little shade and it could get very windy up there.

The pool on Viking is covered with a retractable roof which they moved back halfway on most days (we were sailing around the U.K. !) which meant you could sit in the sun and be protected by the wind. Viking also does an amazing Afternoon Tea each day.

Going forwards I think that we will look at Viking first for future cruises though since their ships only hold ~950 people (another great plus in our eyes), the cruises tend to get booked up very fast. We booked a lower grade cabin in order to  ‘try’ Viking out but would not hesitate to book a higher one. Having said that, as we were so happy with the one we were on, we have booked the same cabin for an Amazon river trip. For information, we have done ~ 15 Celebrity cruises.

Hope this helps.


 

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3 hours ago, Mark_T said:

The one thing that has kept us off of Seabourn so far is the smoking policy.

 

How do you find it? (assuming you are not smokers...)

We have never had an issue with smoke on Seabourn but perhaps that is because we have seen very few smokers on our SB cruises.  To be honest, I have never even looked at their smoking policy (and I do dislike cigarette smoke).   I know they have some smoking areas on deck but do not even know where.   I am a big fan of Celebrity's smoking policy although the last time we were on X there was somebody obviously smoking on their balcony.  But complaints to Guest Relations did nothing and we were told that there is nothing X can do unless they actually catch somebody in the act.  

 

I should mention that our recent SB cruise took us to Greece for 2 weeks on a cruise and another week doing some independent island hoping (Naxos and Paros).  Smoking in Greece (and Europe) is still very common and can be quite annoying.  But while on Paros we twice were dining outdoors when nearby folks (from France) asked us if we minded if they smoked.   That has never happened to me on our many visits to Europe and not sure if it represents some kind of attitude change or perhaps we just happened to be near polite folks.   And my answer when somebody does ask is that we do not like smoke but understand that we are in Europe :).

 

Hank

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Regent Seven Seas is truly a step up. We love Celebrity but when a cruise is really complicated like Bali to Bangkok or Santiago to Buenos Aires, we love Regent.

Everything is included, business class airfare, excursions, gratuity, specialty restaurants, drinks, transfers and pre or post cruise three day stays.

Smaller ships but with all the amenities including entertainment and casino. No formal nights.

We have been on two Regent cruises and have two more booked.

We also have two Celebrity Caribbean cruises booked.

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7 hours ago, micmacmissy said:

For a special occasion, we are looking to experience a more luxury cruise line.  We love Celebrity and we are looking for a lot of what they have - great service, elegant design, awesome food.  But we want a smaller, more luxurious experience.

 

Anyone out there step up from Celebrity, and if so, what would you recommend?

 

We have met fellow guests in the retreat who in the last couple of years have been more experimental in their choice of cruising. We have been interested in their opinions as we are always willing to look at new options. We have been surprised at how different their views have been...

 

Cunard ‘stuffy and I don’t want to dress like a penguin every night’ to ‘truly elegant, like cruising used to be’..

 

Regent ‘Dead by 9pm’ compared to ‘Just so quiet’...

 

Viking ‘Just so much included in the price’ to ‘We were paying in the price for things we didn’t want and then things we wanted were extra’...

 

One thing we have gained from numerous conversations is before committing to a new line we will do some serious homework...We do presently like the suite ‘ship within a ship’ concept Celebrity offers. A lounge, dining room and deck area with a ‘club’ feeling but a much bigger ship with a vast array or bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to visit if we want to...

 

I recently suggested on a different post that often the best way to choose itinerary/ship is to list the things most important to you on a cruise then literally do a spread sheet and score each ship out of ten for the things important to you...

 

For example...

 

Room (size, facilities,service)

Itinerary (ports of call not available on other larger ships)

Dining (strength of MDR, price/quality of speciality restaurants)

Included excursions

Length of cruise

Evening entertainment 

Staff to guest ratio

 

Obviously my list could go on...Your criteria may be far different than mine, it is all about what you value on your next cruise. If you can identify the things important to you, then maybe follow some reviews on CC I am sure you will find what you are looking for...

 

Sincere best wishes for your special occasion!

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Mark_T said:

The one thing that has kept us off of Seabourn so far is the smoking policy.

 

How do you find it? (assuming you are not smokers...)

Seabourn is not friendly for smokers.   It’s about the same as celebrity, a couple of tables by an outside bar, part of the very front of the ship, and on the forward port promenade.   Silver Seas is much better for smokers.

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26 minutes ago, Covepointcruiser said:

Seabourn is not friendly for smokers.   It’s about the same as celebrity, a couple of tables by an outside bar, part of the very front of the ship, and on the forward port promenade.   Silver Seas is much better for smokers.

I just took a look at the published policy and it has indeed improved considerably from where it used to be.

 

Guess they are back on the list now 🙂

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After many years on Celebrity I tried Cunard, Crystal and Regent, but came back to Celebrity,  where I'm most comfortable in a high-end suite with big ship amenities. I'm not a foodie.  I'm back on Crystal for the NY to Bermuda itinerary which Celebrity canceled.   I understand they are now cruising with less than 200 people per cruise, at deeply discounted rates, so now is the time to try it. And my cabin has a washer dryer,  something my small NYC apartment doesn't,  and I'm excited about that.   To each her own. 

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Regent Explorer provided one of the most opulent and luxurious vacations of my life - simply impeccable service, loved the truly all-included business model and gorgeous atnosphere. Entertainment was great and food spectacular.
 

Another ship you don’t hear too much about is Scenic Eclipse - a luxury expedition vessel. We had a unforgettable time onboard and was unlike anything we have ever experienced at sea.   

Edited by towel-animal
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9 hours ago, larry_s_taco said:

Does Azamara still have the  reciprocal captain club/ le club system benefit since they were sold? 


Kind of.  If your points have only been earned on Celebrity, then you do not have reciprocity.  If you've sailed on both lines, you keep your status and earn points on both lines for the time being.  Azamara will change this some time in the future, but they haven't said when that will occur.

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13 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

If the itinerary was right, Crystal would be our first choice if you have never tried them before. Our first cruise with them was back in 2018 on a 21 day B2B California coastal in combination with a Mexican Riviera cruise. What a great trip!! We were in a A category veranda cabin for around $325 pp/day with full perks.

 

The food and service was wonderful, their enrichment program on sea days is tremendous and both the Serenity and Symphony have full outdoor promenade decks to walk off all those extra calories. Their passenger capacity is around 800+ which for us is large enough to avoid the shortfalls that come with sailing on a small ship. Yup, Crystal would be our recommendation. 😎 

I'll chime in here with another vote for Crystal Cruises.  Ken the cruiser about summed it up.  I will add a few other comments.  For my partner and I the ship turned out to be the destination on our first and only sailing on Crystal Serenity in November 2017.  After all of the Celebrity cruises we have taken together he still brings up the Crystal cruise and how excellent it was in so many ways.  Several of our Caribbean ports were changed after Hurricane Irma devastated the original ones.  Crystal kept us informed of the changes as they occurred during the two months prior to embarkation.  We still had wonderful port days, but it was the balanced, sweet spot between total relaxation on the sea days and lively, elegant sociability every evening that won us over.  The ship is just large enough to have that feeling of spaciousness with a low enough passenger count that allowed us to recognize/mingle with fellow passengers/new friends repeatedly.  We found the passengers on board were very friendly and social.   We loved the piano entertainment in the Crystal Cove and Avenue Saloon.  The theater featured performers as equally talented as those on Celebrity.  The supper club is another entertainment option (not sure if currently in operation.)  Palm Court was yet another evening venue that offered ballroom dancing at the same time every evening.  Crystal had ambassador hosts on board that are hired to dance with solo cruisers.  Ship sponsored excursions included a Crystal representative which is a nice, little extra touch that could possibly offer one a feeling of comfort while ashore in a foreign land.  Ours included a blackjack dealer and an ambassador host.  Crystal does not cordon off areas of their ships or designate certain areas for certain classes of passengers.  Our regular verandah stateroom was a tad larger than a Celebrity verandah, concierge, aqua stateroom, but with the full promenade one deck below, the spacious pool deck a few decks up, and the walking track above that we found ourselves enjoying the sunshine, salty air, and gentle breezes rather than spending time in our stateroom.  It was our little jewel box of a stateroom regardless of how "on trend" the tone of the wood trimmings were.  Was the huge, freshly updated bathroom with the double sinks and bathtub already mentioned?  Even for its age the ship has been impeccably maintained and regularly updated.  Crystal Serenity is a true classic that exudes refined elegance.  Unfortunately there will not be any animated theater on your dinner plate or silent disco, but we did not seem to miss these things.  On Crystal most everything is "Always Included" and there is never a need to flash your sea pass/room key at the bartender because everyone on board is on the same drinking plan.  Has no one mentioned Nobu?  Our first visit to this specialty restaurant on board (now renamed Umi Uma) was included and our second visit was $30pp if I recall correctly.  How much will an evening at Nobu set you back on land? 🙂 We had a B2B booked on Crystal Serenity last year that was unfortunately cancelled.  Our deposit was eventually refunded in full.  Take a read of the first-timer thread over on the Crystal boards for a gazillion more reasons to give the line a try. 

 

Please don't get me wrong or flame me.  We do love Celebrity Cruises.  Our first cruise together was on Celebrity Constellation in Aqua.  He was hooked.  😄  My first Celebrity sailing was Summit (prior to Celebrity ripping the original specialty dining venue out of the heart of the ship.  A couple of our upcoming sailings will be on Celebrity ships.  The Western Med was amazing on an S-class ship. The suite experience on board Celebrity is wonderful and cherished when the going rate is appropriate for us.  Will there be a Celebrity Retreat experience in our future in particular?  Based on the current pricing model probably not.  And NO Crystal is not 2x-3X more money than Celebrity if you choose wisely.

 

I tend to agree with those that state they like to consider several cruise lines and keep the range of possibilities as open as possible.  I have a long list of lines that keep popping up on my radar besides the two C's including Azamara, Oceania, Paul Gauguin, SeaDream, Silversea, Star Clippers, and Windstar.  Now there is a wide range of types of choices and experiences. 

Life is all about choices and experiences. 

 

Happy sailing...on whatever line OP decides on.

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18 minutes ago, Stem to Stern said:

I'll chime in here with another vote for Crystal Cruises.  Ken the cruiser about summed it up.  I will add a few other comments.  For my partner and I the ship turned out to be the destination on our first and only sailing on Crystal Serenity in November 2017.  After all of the Celebrity cruises we have taken together he still brings up the Crystal cruise and how excellent it was in so many ways.  Several of our Caribbean ports were changed after Hurricane Irma devastated the original ones.  Crystal kept us informed of the changes as they occurred during the two months prior to embarkation.  We still had wonderful port days, but it was the balanced, sweet spot between total relaxation on the sea days and lively, elegant sociability every evening that won us over.  The ship is just large enough to have that feeling of spaciousness with a low enough passenger count that allowed us to recognize/mingle with fellow passengers/new friends repeatedly.  We found the passengers on board were very friendly and social.   We loved the piano entertainment in the Crystal Cove and Avenue Saloon.  The theater featured performers as equally talented as those on Celebrity.  The supper club is another entertainment option (not sure if currently in operation.)  Palm Court was yet another evening venue that offered ballroom dancing at the same time every evening.  Crystal had ambassador hosts on board that are hired to dance with solo cruisers.  Ship sponsored excursions included a Crystal representative which is a nice, little extra touch that could possibly offer one a feeling of comfort while ashore in a foreign land.  Ours included a blackjack dealer and an ambassador host.  Crystal does not cordon off areas of their ships or designate certain areas for certain classes of passengers.  Our regular verandah stateroom was a tad larger than a Celebrity verandah, concierge, aqua stateroom, but with the full promenade one deck below, the spacious pool deck a few decks up, and the walking track above that we found ourselves enjoying the sunshine, salty air, and gentle breezes rather than spending time in our stateroom.  It was our little jewel box of a stateroom regardless of how "on trend" the tone of the wood trimmings were.  Was the huge, freshly updated bathroom with the double sinks and bathtub already mentioned?  Even for its age the ship has been impeccably maintained and regularly updated.  Crystal Serenity is a true classic that exudes refined elegance.  Unfortunately there will not be any animated theater on your dinner plate or silent disco, but we did not seem to miss these things.  On Crystal most everything is "Always Included" and there is never a need to flash your sea pass/room key at the bartender because everyone on board is on the same drinking plan.  Has no one mentioned Nobu?  Our first visit to this specialty restaurant on board (now renamed Umi Uma) was included and our second visit was $30pp if I recall correctly.  How much will an evening at Nobu set you back on land? 🙂 We had a B2B booked on Crystal Serenity last year that was unfortunately cancelled.  Our deposit was eventually refunded in full.  Take a read of the first-timer thread over on the Crystal boards for a gazillion more reasons to give the line a try. 

 

While I was reading your Crystal thoughts, I kept flashing back to being on our balcony as we were leaving the port in San Francisco and listening to Louis Armstrong sing “What a Wonderful World” over the loud speaker. This is, of course, being a Crystal tradition they do as they leave every port. 😎

 

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5 minutes ago, Ken the cruiser said:

While I was reading your Crystal thoughts, I kept flashing back to being on our balcony as we were leaving the port in San Francisco and listening to Louis Armstrong sing “What a Wonderful World” over the loud speaker. This is, of course, being a Crystal tradition they do as they leave every port. 😎

 

Ha ha.  I am having fond and reminiscent Crystal flashbacks over here tonight as well.  I now realize they may have turned into what reads like a bit of a sales pitch.  I was really looking forward to that 14-day MIA-SJU-MIA for my milestone birthday last year.  We ended up in the Keys instead.

 

Yes, Louis Armstrong playing in the background is just one of many wonderful memories on board.  We still have our Crystal kimonos in the closet.  I snapped a great photo of my other half draped in his while relaxing on our verandah.  I forgot to mention a few other items that come to mind.  How about the mushroom soup in the bread bowl at Prego, the other specialty restaurant?  And tea in Palm Court with the crew in all of their elaborate costumes.  And the gala brunch with the ice sculptures, carved watermelons, lobsters sculpted out of bread loaves and breadsticks, and the miles and miles (OK, I am exaggerating) of banquet tables of desserts.  The cruise was literally like a 10-day long cocktail party.

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