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


micmacmissy
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8 minutes ago, glmacruise said:

Crystal struck me as an “older” cruise demographic.

And?  Classy and discerning might be more accurate adjectives.  Please don't take offense.  I haven't.  At the time I was mid-forties and he was mid-fifties.  The new friends we ended up bonding with ranged in age from thirtysomething to sixtysomething.  We aren't ones that necessarily only run with our own age group.

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I can't speak to anything outside of Celebrity - the main reason that my husband and I stay with them is because of the reciprocal agreement between them and the MLife Players Club for MGM Resorts, so we don't really mind the casino, heh. 

 

However, my parents absolutely LOVE Viking, both the river and ocean cruises.  They are big luxury people like my husband and I - we have an Edge Villa on our upcoming cruise in June - but want to get the most bang for their buck too.  If they're not doing a cruise, they often will travel with the Road Scholar vacation program. They have mentioned that the popular river cruises - peak times and peak areas - are a little more crowded, but you're not on the ship as often as the ocean liners, so it isn't as bad.  

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what "luxury" line you go on may depend on what itinerary you choose.

 

We sailed Silverseas to Antarctica in Dec 2019 and loved it.  Being an "exploration" cruise, only had about 200 pax.  If going to Antarctica, highly recommend Silverseas.  It was much less expensive than similar cruises on Nat Geo, Lindblad, etc and we felt truly pampered.  The guides/naturalists were awesome, crew very attentive, and we want to go again.  Even self-serve laundry was included.

 

Wanted to book something special for our 30th anniversary next summer.  Decided on northern Europe.  Could do back-to-back on Celebrity for about $1500 less per person than Silverseas  for similar 18 day itinerary in an Oceanview cabin for each.  In pricing looked at value of SS incl airfare (we chose to upgrade to business class), one excursion per day in most ports, an extra day in one port, and just being on one cruise vs B2B, and a larger cabin on SS.

Decided to go with SS.  Ship has about 600 pax, plenty of entertainment, most restaurants included (we never pay for specialty - live in an area with great restaurants so don't pay extra on board), and the itinerary just seemed better.  

After this trip will decide if we think SS is worth the extra $$.  

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Wow, thank you all for such amazing replies!

 

We are dying to try Viking Ocean, but we only have time for a 7-10 day cruise, max.  Viking seems to be sold out of short itineraries so we'll save that for another time.

 

Paul Gauguin is definitely on my bucket list - maybe when we retire!

 

For this cruise (our 25th anniversary and my 50th birthday), we are traveling with another couple and were originally booked on Ritz Carlton yacht Evrima, which has now cancelled all their cruises through May (I'm not even convinced that yacht has been built yet!)

 

I was thinking about a suite on Celebrity, or for the same price, a suite on Crystal.  Since our friends do not enjoy big mainstream cruises, it looks like we'll take the plunge with Crystal...most likely on Symphony.  We aren't looking for crazy nightlife so much as we are good food, drinks, and fun lounge-y spaces to relax.

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2 hours ago, micmacmissy said:

Wow, thank you all for such amazing replies!

 

We are dying to try Viking Ocean, but we only have time for a 7-10 day cruise, max.  Viking seems to be sold out of short itineraries so we'll save that for another time.

 

Paul Gauguin is definitely on my bucket list - maybe when we retire!

 

For this cruise (our 25th anniversary and my 50th birthday), we are traveling with another couple and were originally booked on Ritz Carlton yacht Evrima, which has now cancelled all their cruises through May (I'm not even convinced that yacht has been built yet!)

 

I was thinking about a suite on Celebrity, or for the same price, a suite on Crystal.  Since our friends do not enjoy big mainstream cruises, it looks like we'll take the plunge with Crystal...most likely on Symphony.  We aren't looking for crazy nightlife so much as we are good food, drinks, and fun lounge-y spaces to relax.

Good choice! What date?

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My thanks to the OP and all others who’ve responded with so much helpful information.  We’re moving on from Celebrity as well.  
 

We’re not opposed to change but frankly, the oft -mentioned irritants, sales pressures for specialty dining and spa products, crowded tables with leftover merchandise in the walkways, art sales and cutbacks everywhere all contributed to our decision.  On our last 15-day T/A I found myself tensing up and having to prepare a quick response to the dining pitch every single time we went to the Ocean View even tho we’d bought a 5 dinner package.  Overall we’ve loved every cruise with Celebrity.  We’ve made wonderful friends and enjoyed every port.  But our next cruise, next summer will be on Viking from London to Bergen.  
 

We carefully considered the other usual suspects, Seabourn and Silversea, (Crystal and Oceania aren't there in June) but in the end Viking won us over with a delightful 14 day itinerary that also includes 3 stops in Scotland.  And we love sea days which this also has. And, I suspect Viking will do a fine job with enrichment lectures etc. in Norway.  

 

For us, I think the 700-1200 or so passenger capacity ship will prove to be about right.  But we are open to even smaller ships if the itinerary appeals.  Overall we’re pretty easy to please as long as we’re on the ocean.

 

Again my thanks to all.  And very best wishes to the birthday girl and happy anniversary couple!

 

 

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On 9/8/2021 at 8:33 AM, 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?



This is an easy one - hands down !


A few years back we sailed with our friends Mike and Carol (who has passed since - nice lady) Mike took wonderful photos and has a great review, complete with menus on this link: http://thepreismans.com/riviera_mayan.htm         So, get a big cup of coffee, and enjoy.

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My favorites if not Celebrity are Silversea (formal but outstanding) and Oceania (not formal and just as outstanding)  Cost factors, what's included, what's not, etc. end up equalizing price on luxury lines more than one would think. 

 

Viking Ocean has probably the best ships in my opinion but food is not anything to rave about. Service and everything else is, however. Was not impressed with Regent. Crystal and Seabourne are on the list. 

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3 minutes ago, molemaui said:

My favorites if not Celebrity are Silversea (formal but outstanding) and Oceania (not formal and just as outstanding)  Cost factors, what's included, what's not, etc. end up equalizing price on luxury lines more than one would think. 

 

Viking Ocean has probably the best ships in my opinion but food is not anything to rave about. Service and everything else is, however. Was not impressed with Regent. Crystal and Seabourne are on the list. 


Can you say more about why you disliked Regent? I gave it some consideration at one time because so much was included for the price. I think it was a sale that gave a two category upgrade. I ended up not booking but thought I might circle back to Regent someday.

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We sailed the Voyager which seemed like a "old tub"! We were in a concierge veranda and the ceiling tiles had cardboard shims sticking out to keep them from vibrating. Our friends were on Deck 6 where it smelled like raw sewage the whole trip. Internet was terrible the entire trip. Entertainment was not much better in terms of quality. Food was very good to excellent. 

 

Service was very good as were the excursions which I would actually give an "excellent" grade. We are in our 60's and felt like the youngest people on the ship-nothing wrong with that, just an observation. Having been blown away by Silversea (sailing again in December) and Oceania (booked next year), we just didn't feel the same about our Regent experience. 

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On 9/8/2021 at 1:08 PM, mnocket said:

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

 

Actually Hank was dissin' Queen Lisa. The Monarch of Death by a thousand cuts! I felt the same way when I started booking other more upscale lines.  I've used the Death by a thousand cuts phrase myself over the past several years. 

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On 9/8/2021 at 11:43 AM, Hlitner said:

So here is the shock for some X fans.  Stepping up means moving to many different lines (Viking, Oceania, Seabourn, Silverseas, Crystal, Sea Dream, etc etc).  There are many lines that are actually a huge step up and many can often be booked for less money then folks pay for comparable cabins on X.  DW and I used to be big time X fans and have been Elite Plus for quite a few years.  But soon after LLP took over the line we experienced what we call, "death by a thousand cut-backs" on X.  And this happened at the same time that X implemented some serious price increases.  So as a simply example, we have an upcoming Caribbean cruise on Seabourn which is costing us less than $400 a passenger day.  For those not familiar with Seabourn it is a true luxury line (with space ratios about double of that on X) which is all-inclusive (except for excursions).  The last time we cruised on Seabourn we left the ship with about $500 of unused On Board Credits because we had no use for it!  

 

But folks need to understand that the luxury lines are a different product from X.  Onboard life is certainly more quiet, and you do need to give up waiting on lines, having photographers follow you around, seeing all that wonderful wasted space for photo galleries, not having daily "sales,"  etc etc.  It can be difficult not having to deal with tender tickets, pesky photographers, staff trying to get you to pay for alternative dining (on Seabourn the alternative restaurants have no extra charges).  And imagine the depression when you find out it is easy to walk into any show at the last minute and actually find decent seats.  OMG.  Truly awful.  My goodness, on our recent Greek Island cruise on the Seabourn Ovation DW and I found ourselves all alone on a large tender when we wanted to go ashore.  Oh....the horror!    And having to put up with our small luxury suite (everyone gets a suite on Seabourn) with a bathroom that had a full size bathtub, a separate shower, duel sinks, etc.  And then there was the additional horror of ordering decent caviar and having it delivered (cabin or bar) for no extra fee.  Imagine!   

 

Hank

Interesting observations/comments.  Been on Summit 2x pre-refurb, though it was tad tired but I did enjoy the cruise very much, X does a wonderful j0b, love love their staff!  Been on Edge 1x and I loved the ship design, colors, layout, Luminae, Retreat etc.  I had a May 2022 Apex, Scandinavia & Russia booked, also Beyond Oct 2022 TA, both were very very expensive, esp compared to my May 2020 Apex TA that was obviously cancelled.  So with a lot of time on my hands I started to peruse other cruise line boards here on CC.  Got me to do a bunch of research and ask questions, esp for Oceania, which those regulars all rave about, don't see the same type of negative comments many experienced X cruisers share here.  FYI I cruise 1x/year and every couple of years a friend likes to do the Caribbean in winter and we sail together, so I do not have tons of cruise experience, perhaps 6 total I think. Anyway, I did cancel the May 2022 and Oct 2022 and decided to book and upgrade to VS on Oceania Riviera for far less $$ than either of the two X that I canceled.  I did not cancel because I don't like X, canceled because of the ridiculous $$$ savings and I'd of ben a fool to not do it , just seems to be a lot more bang for my buck.  Time will tell and I am looking forward to a new cruise line experience.   

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35 minutes ago, LGW59 said:

Interesting observations/comments.  Been on Summit 2x pre-refurb, though it was tad tired but I did enjoy the cruise very much, X does a wonderful j0b, love love their staff!  Been on Edge 1x and I loved the ship design, colors, layout, Luminae, Retreat etc.  I had a May 2022 Apex, Scandinavia & Russia booked, also Beyond Oct 2022 TA, both were very very expensive, esp compared to my May 2020 Apex TA that was obviously cancelled.  So with a lot of time on my hands I started to peruse other cruise line boards here on CC.  Got me to do a bunch of research and ask questions, esp for Oceania, which those regulars all rave about, don't see the same type of negative comments many experienced X cruisers share here.  FYI I cruise 1x/year and every couple of years a friend likes to do the Caribbean in winter and we sail together, so I do not have tons of cruise experience, perhaps 6 total I think. Anyway, I did cancel the May 2022 and Oct 2022 and decided to book and upgrade to VS on Oceania Riviera for far less $$ than either of the two X that I canceled.  I did not cancel because I don't like X, canceled because of the ridiculous $$$ savings and I'd of ben a fool to not do it , just seems to be a lot more bang for my buck.  Time will tell and I am looking forward to a new cruise line experience.   

You’ll have a great time on the Riviera. One place we would love to eat is outside up at the Terrace Cafe, even for dinner. 

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1 hour ago, LGW59 said:

Interesting observations/comments.  Been on Summit 2x pre-refurb, though it was tad tired but I did enjoy the cruise very much, X does a wonderful j0b, love love their staff!  Been on Edge 1x and I loved the ship design, colors, layout, Luminae, Retreat etc.  I had a May 2022 Apex, Scandinavia & Russia booked, also Beyond Oct 2022 TA, both were very very expensive, esp compared to my May 2020 Apex TA that was obviously cancelled.  So with a lot of time on my hands I started to peruse other cruise line boards here on CC.  Got me to do a bunch of research and ask questions, esp for Oceania, which those regulars all rave about, don't see the same type of negative comments many experienced X cruisers share here.  FYI I cruise 1x/year and every couple of years a friend likes to do the Caribbean in winter and we sail together, so I do not have tons of cruise experience, perhaps 6 total I think. Anyway, I did cancel the May 2022 and Oct 2022 and decided to book and upgrade to VS on Oceania Riviera for far less $$ than either of the two X that I canceled.  I did not cancel because I don't like X, canceled because of the ridiculous $$$ savings and I'd of ben a fool to not do it , just seems to be a lot more bang for my buck.  Time will tell and I am looking forward to a new cruise line experience.   

When we started booking Celebrity (in the early 90s) we thought it was a step up from RCCL (now RCI) which had a terrific reputation for their cuisine.  In those days we did think that X was the best of the mass market lines in terms of excellent service and decent cuisine with very competitive pricing compared to other mass market lines of lesser quality.  But Celebrity has undergone many changes and we now think the product is generally overpriced when compared to other options.  That being said, as long as they can fill their ships I suspect nothing will improve (in terms of pricing or quality).  Whenever we cruise on other lines we have met past Celebrity cruisers who have moved on because of better value found elsewhere.  DW and I will admit to missing Celebrity but the value is just not there anymore and there have been some decent pickings on the smaller ship luxury lines.  Having been an active cruiser for over 45 years I understand that the industry is very dynamic so there will likely be more shifts (in terms of value) over the next few years.

 

What we have seen (over decades) is that one or more cruise lines will make positive changes and offer amazing values for a period of time until it is discovered and demand drives up prices.  Some recent examples are when NCL introduced their Haven Suites (ship within a ship) which were truly a great value for a few short years.  And then we had MSC who invested heavily in their Yacht Club (ship within a ship) which (IMHO) was perhaps the best bargain we have ever seen in the industry when it was selling for less than $300 a passenger day!  But alas MSC finally realized they had a good thing and prices have increased by 30%+ in the past year.  In fact, MSC was so successful with their YC concept that they decided to spin off an entirely new cruise line (4 ships being built) based on providing that level of quality shipwide.

 

So what is the future of X?  Unfortunately I think they have followed the RCI formula of investing in large high tech ships where the ship is the star and the quality of what exists onboard is not as important.  That has worked well for RCI (where LLP learned her trade) and may well work for X.  But many of us prefer a different level of quality which does exist elsewhere.  By the way, I know this is petty but looking at the new Apex (when it was docked in Pireaus) I could not help but think that the Magic Carpet is truly and UGLY erector set tacked on to the side of what is otherwise a gorgeous vessel.  What on earth were they thinking?   Call me a purist but I still like to look at ships that look like ships :).

 

Hank

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Lots of great information on here. We are Elite+ with X but just booked our first cruise on Seabourn later this year instead of a cruise in the Retreat.

 

We have tried Oceania twice and loved everything about it except the lack of entertainment. We found that it was a trade off for a smaller more luxurious ship, great food, free speciality dining, and much better staterooms. 
 

It’s really true that you can cruise on a true luxury line for the same (or even less) price than the retreat on X. 

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2 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

You’ll have a great time on the Riviera. One place we would love to eat is outside up at the Terrace Cafe, even for dinner. 

Ditto!  We actually dine there most often when on Oceania. 

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9 minutes ago, TrulyBlonde said:

Ditto!  We actually dine there most often when on Oceania. 

Really can’t wait, though I have to but a nice long trip to Italy next year will help with our “suffering “ 🥳.  

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On 9/11/2021 at 1:30 PM, LGW59 said:

Really can’t wait, though I have to but a nice long trip to Italy next year will help with our “suffering “ 🥳.  

I am envious. My favorite place in Italy is the Amalfi Coast. Pavarotti and Sophia Loren thought so too. 

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1 minute ago, TrulyBlonde said:

I am envious. My favorite place in Italy is the Amalfi Coast. Pavarotti and Sophia Loren thought so too. 

Did not know Pavarotti had a home there but we did see Sophia Lorens villa there several years ago all I can say is just like her, ooo lala!!  That view perched on that cliff!!!

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12 minutes ago, TrulyBlonde said:

I am envious. My favorite place in Italy is the Amalfi Coast. Pavarotti and Sophia Loren thought so too. 

I love Rome, don't personally feel the need to go back again, but it is an absolute bucket list for my husband, so we will spend 7 days there.  He is an engineer and his perspective will be interesting, I am sure he will tell me exactly why the Pantheon is able to still stand today much as it was 2000 years ago, but I will love hearing all about it, I think...If I had to decide between Florence/Tuscan area or Amalfi coast, jeez I would be so hard pressed to do so. Well fortunately we do not, we will spend time in both. 

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41 minutes ago, LGW59 said:

Did not know Pavarotti had a home there but we did see Sophia Lorens villa there several years ago all I can say is just like her, ooo lala!!  That view perched on that cliff!!!

Who knows if he did. Our Italian driver told us he did 😉 Yes, I understand your Rome dilemma. Been there many times. However, a fun place for lunch is where they have their market (Campo Di Fiori). Off the beaten path a bit but good food and not the tourist stuff they try to feed you in Rome.

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