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My one Royal Caribbean cruise was aboard Nordic Prince in 1984. While the cruise was pleasant(never have had a bad one), I remember a very homogenous, mass market experience in comparison to my other cruise experiences up to that time: Holland America, Home Lines, Pacific Far East Line, Royal Viking Line, Cunard, and NCL(although that, too, offered a cruise experience much like Royal Caribbean). Memories include a very small cabin, very small shower--don't drop that soap!--good service and good food, a Norwegian Captain who warned us when we sailed from St. Thomas on the 4th of July not to fire off any flares or firecrackers(and told us why, as well), and, on the last night of the cruise, a dining room steward who begged us for a favorable review on the Comment Form. That performance was so un-called for! Both his service and the busboy's service had been fine.

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a dining room steward who begged us for a favorable review on the Comment Form. That performance was so un-called for! Both his service and the busboy's service had been fine.

This is standard operating procedure on RCI from my experience - I didn't know it had been going on for so long though! Interesting to hear.

 

Most people I know who were experienced cruisers at the time considered RCCL (as they were then) and the other Miami-based lines to be inferior to Sitmar, Home Lines, Princess, HAL, Royal Viking, Royal Cruise Line, and so on.

 

Amazing that of all those companies, only two are still around, and only one (HAL) in anything remotely resembling their present form! (And all but Royal Cruise Line - which folded into NCL - were absorbed by Carnival or a company that is now part of Carnival!)

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Sorry Doug -

 

HAL is nothing like its former self(pre Carnivore). The discrete tasteful well built ships with excellent service & fantastic, imaginative food & entertainment has been morphed into another Carnival by product(minimal staffing, Vegas decor & banquet food made for the thousands onboard.

 

I'd take a 1970's cruise on the Rotterdam V anyday over the current HAL brand.

 

Actually NCL had a decent product back in the 1970's & with the Norway circa 1980.

 

But the Home, Sitmar, French & Italian Lines blew them all away - todays lines are nowhere close - not even Seabourn.

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I suppose the people who sail now a days will never know what it is really like to go cruising iwht excellent service and food. All without nickeling and diming you for every little thing.

 

They think things are absolutley first class when they sail on Royal Carribean or Carnival.

 

I have every lunch and dinner menu served to me when I was on Sitmar. The meals were out of this world. They don't let you have the menus and they aren't close to being fancy looking, or have meals to die for.

 

I thought i'd sail on Princess thinking that since they absorbed Sitmar that they'd have their touches. Well it sounds from the posts that they are no better than any of the other mass marketed ships.

 

Fairsky was great, but prefer the size of Fairwind or Fairsea. They looked and acted like ships since they were ocean liners.

 

 

Ron

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Sorry Doug -

 

HAL is nothing like its former self(pre Carnivore).

That is true - but they've changed much less than Princess in the past 20 years or so...

 

has been morphed into another Carnival by product(minimal staffing, Vegas decor & banquet food made for the thousands onboard.

Word of advice: do not blame Carnival for the current HAL ships' decor in my presence unless you want to get into an argument ;) .

 

Frans Dingemanns, who has designed every single HAL ship post-Carnival, also designed the interiors for the "N" ships and handled conversions of the "V" twins (former ARGENTINA/BRASIL) and a '70s refit of STATENDAM (IV). (I'm not sure if he designed the first PRINSENDAM's interiors or not, but I suspect he did.) Carnival experimented just after the takeover with having Farcus design public rooms on the first S-class ships, and this practice was soon abandoned in favor of letting Dingemanns design the entire interiors of the HAL fleet. I believe ROTTERDAM VI was the first post-Carnival HAL ship without any spaces at all being designed by someone else; the main lounge on VEENDAM was the last room on an HAL ship to be designed by Joe Farcus... And most people cannot identify which rooms were his anyway.

 

I think Carnival gets criticised far too much about the decor of today's HALships... Too glitzy, too Carnival-esque, etc. Time and again I've heard people say that "the old HAL would never have had ships that looked like this". Truth is, they almost certainly would have! At least the S-class ships have decent-looking exteriors - I've seen renderings of the 70,000 GT megaliners HAL wanted to build before Carnival took them over and believe me, they were ugly as sin.

 

In the end, even if HAL's decor is a little overdone at times I'll take it over bland anyday. And in reality this is something of an HAL tradition - I do not think that many people in 1959 would have called ROTTERDAM (V)'s decor "tasteful"! In fact it seems to me that it was not well-liked at all (at least by the critics) until the ship was already well into middle age. Certainly I do not think many people compared it to that of contemporaries like SAGAFJORD or OCEANIC until after those ships' original decor was largely obliterated. When she was first introduced it was mostly panned as being overdone and out of step. Luckily HAL stuck with it as in the end most people came to appreciate its beauty! Hopefully the same will happen with the present HAL ships.

 

Yes, HAL is not today what it was 20 years ago... Far from it... But then 20 years ago it was not what it was 40 years before that either! Most of the changes to HAL that people moan about were frankly necessary and if HAL were independent they would probably have wound up very much like what they are today. Unless of course they went out of business! I do not hesitate to criticise today's HAL when I feel they deserve it, but I do not think it is fair to criticise them for not being what they once were. If they were, they'd be gone, just like Home Lines, Sitmar, Royal Cruise Line, NAL, SAL, Italia, CGT, and the list goes on.

 

Princess is a different story. They are really completely different from what they were even a few years ago. They made a conscious decision to essentially abandon the market segment they'd played in for over 20 years, and to go downmarket to compete with Royal Carribbean. Judging by their successes since GRAND PRINCESS was launched, I would say that this was a sound business decision - but it is sad to see it happen from the point of view of someone who knows what Princess used to be.

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Princess is a different story. They are really completely different from what they were even a few years ago. They made a conscious decision to essentially abandon the market segment they'd played in for over 20 years, and to go downmarket to compete with Royal Carribbean. Judging by their successes since GRAND PRINCESS was launched, I would say that this was a sound business decision - but it is sad to see it happen from the point of view of someone who knows what Princess used to be.

 

 

As you knowi've never sailed on Princess. Kindly tell me the differences between Princess of old and present day Princess.

 

Like to hear peoples opinoin on this one. do you think the quality of cruise lines and their serive has gone down do to competition created by competing with Carnival? Carnival has always been a cheaper priced cruise and for the others to compete they had to slash prices for the cruise and this caused a cut in serivce and quality. Just my opinion. Any thoughts or comments on this one?

 

Ron

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As you knowi've never sailed on Princess. Kindly tell me the differences between Princess of old and present day Princess.

 

 

One difference I have noted is the decor that has been selected for the Dining Rooms. When I sailed on Royal Princess in 1986, the Continental Dining Room was elegant, modern, light in color and tone. When I sailed her last Spring, her Dining Room has been decorated in the same style and color as the Dining Rooms on Star Princess and (I assume not having been on the other Princess ships), the others. The decorating style was even carried into Royal Princess' Lido Cafe. In my mind, someone in management really liked this decorating style. While the style is "OK", it lacks the elegance that Royal Princess' Continental Dining Room once had.

 

Another difference was the 1986 Dining staff were all Italians--or close to being 100%. Today, it is a very international crew.

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-

 

 

Actually NCL had a decent product back in the 1970's & with the Norway circa 1980.

 

Rotterdam is absolutely correct from my experience. In 1979, I booked a 4 day Nassau-Freeport-Great Stirrup Cay cruise from Miami on Sunward II. Reserved the next to bottom category of cabin(obviously inside) and boarded the ship not really expecting much. The cabin was larger than expected, the shower was larger than on Nordic Prince, the food was not gourmet, but very good, and the entertainment was enjoyable. I disembarked feeling that I had received excellent value for the price that I had paid.

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I found this on a website, I don't agree with it. After all we've said here it's saying just the opposite. your thoughts.

 

Hope it's ok to copy from another website.

 

Cruising: Less Than Half the Price Versus 25 Years Ago

 

MIAMI, March 14

Despite reports that cruise prices are at their highest level in several years due to increased demand, a cruise vacation is a much better bargain than it was 25 years ago.

 

The current minimum price of a seven-day Carnival Caribbean cruise from Miami is $599 -- just as it was 25 years ago. But when adjusted for inflation, a seven-day Carnival cruise that sold for $599 in 1980 would cost $1,373 today.

 

"Price is not the story -- it's value," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. "And when comparing today's ultra-modern 'floating resorts' to cruise ships of 25 years ago, your $599 buys so much more."

 

Indeed, where older ships were mostly converted transatlantic ocean liners with smallish cabins and little in the way of on-board amenities, today's cruise ships are stocked with features such as an array of formal and casual dining options, expansive spa and children's facilities, soaring atriums, and double-width promenades lined with myriad entertainment venues -- all available at roughly half what vacationers paid in 1980.

 

"There's really no comparison between the seagoing vacations of today and yesterday. Everything -- from dining options and health and fitness centers to children's facilities and in-cabin amenities -- has been upgraded dramatically. Factor in today's affordable pricing, and cruising is the best vacation value, hands down," Dickinson said.

 

In addition to a greater variety of culinary choices -- from expansive casual poolside eateries with 24-hour pizzerias and New York-style delis to intimate upscale supper clubs -- today's mega-liners feature a seemingly endless array of bars, lounges and nightspots, everything from sports bars and wine bars to multi-level theaters showcasing lavish Vegas-style revues.

 

Staterooms are not only roomier but ships feature more ocean view and balcony accommodations than ever before. For instance, 80 percent of the 1,062 staterooms on Carnival's 88,500-ton Spirit-class ships offer either an ocean view or private verandah.

 

Even younger cruisers have spaces to call their own, with expansive children's facilities -- as large as 4,200 square feet on Carnival's 110,000-ton Conquest-class vessels -- stocked with computer labs, indoor climbing mazes, arts and crafts centers and more.

 

Internet cafes -- unheard of 25 years ago -- have also been introduced, enabling guests to access e-mail, surf the Web, and send video postcards.

 

And today's health-conscious consumers have access to spacious health and fitness centers with equipment and pampering treatments rivaling the best facilities ashore.

 

Carnival, a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE: CCL; LSE) (NYSE: CUK), is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 20 "Fun Ships" operating voyages of three to 16 days in length to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, New England and Europe.

 

The line currently has two 110,000-ton SuperLiners -- Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom -- scheduled to enter service between now and February 2007.

 

Ron

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Years ago Princess was more of a 4 star line(out of 6) - today its more like a 3 star. For one thing the service level was much better for passengers in all areas of the ship. The ships were smaller & easier to get around. when the ship got into port there wasn't thousands waiting in lounges to tender - you simply strolled off.

 

The food in the dining room was much better & served by an Italian staff. They were very professional. Should you mention that you love a certain pasta - someone would do it tableside - and most likely each nite if you wanted it.

 

Passengers were treated as guests respecptfully. Today its a cattle car for the lines convenience. Today you hear "we don't have/do that" when years ago they would say "let me see what I can do" and delivered!

 

If you were not on a cruise prior to 1987 - you don't know what was the greatest time to take a cruise. Today the ads for the lines are laughable. Years ago they delivered.

 

The last time I was on Princess was when the Crown Princess debuted. Thas when the mall & economy of scale mentality was evident.

 

I wish I had gone on the Royal Princess but I won;t be back to Princess. I tried RCCL once & hated it all.

 

The shame of it is that Princess took over Sitmar & ruined it!

 

The cruise line industry has changed completely. Our host Doug, tho somewhat knowedgeable doesn't have the experience to really appreciate what it was to sail at the end of what I call the best of the cruise ship eras.

 

The last time I was on the NORWAY - I sat in the old First Class Dining Room for breakfast - and for a brief moment felt as if I was back on the FRANCE headed to Europe....now you're talking!

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Years ago Princess was more of a 4 star line(out of 6) - today its more like a 3 star.

 

The shame of it is that Princess took over Sitmar & ruined it!

 

The cruise line industry has changed completely. Our host Doug, tho somewhat knowedgeable doesn't have the experience to really appreciate what it was to sail at the end of what I call the best of the cruise ship eras.

 

Again do you think this decline amongst all lines was having to compete with Carnival. They having a cheap price for a cabin caused the others to slash prices to compete. Once they slashed their prices of their cabins they no longer could afford the luxuries that they were giving the customers.

 

I've always felt this and that Carnival did more harm then good.

 

When I wanted to make reervations for my 2003 cruise Princess had decided not to sail in the Carribean so I went with Royal Carribean. Latter Princess changed their mind. I decided to leave my reservations with Royal Carribean. I was somewhat dissapointed, but being it made my daugther happy i'll stick with them for atleast one more cruise.

 

Ron

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If Princess is only 3 stars now I can only imagine what Royal Carribean and Carnival are. I suppose Sitmar as 4 also.

 

Princess ruining Sitmar is why I asked the question, why didn't they let them run indepently when they took it over. For the most part Carnival does allow the divisions to run indepently.

 

Ron

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Like to hear peoples opinoin on this one. do you think the quality of cruise lines and their serive has gone down do to competition created by competing with Carnival? Carnival has always been a cheaper priced cruise and for the others to compete they had to slash prices for the cruise and this caused a cut in serivce and quality.

You can't single out Carnival here - they had a big part in bringing cruising to the masses, but so did RCI, NCL, and plenty of others. (Not to mention all the now-defunct budget lines e.g. Regency, Premier, etc. who were always cheaper than Carnival.)

 

It's an industry-wide phenomenon. As all the mass-market cruise lines started building bigger and bigger ships, fares went down and yes, for the most part, quality went down too (but nowhere near as much as fares have). It's been going on for years and years and actually if anything it's stopped at the moment as fares are now on the rise.

 

One difference I have noted is the decor that has been selected for the Dining Rooms.

That's one very tiny piece of the puzzle... But one of the difference is that today's Princess ships have identical, completely homogeneous "corporate" deor and no individual character at all. This is all the better for consistency which is important to today's mass-market cruise passenger.

 

But it's not just that. Today's Princess is really an entirely different company, with an entirely different mentality, competing in an entirely different market segment. They've gone to huge, homogeneous mega-ships, much less varied itineraries, and a much more mass-market product overall. The whole atmosphere is just completely different. I guess it's hard to describe, but there is a big difference.

 

I found this on a website, I don't agree with it. After all we've said here it's saying just the opposite. your thoughts.

Well, they are certainly right on one count - fares have gone way, way down. And they're being rather conservative by comparing fares to those in 1980 when the democratization of cruising was already well underway. If they went further back there would be an even bigger differential in the fares.

 

Really what they say is correct though - note they don't claim that food and service has been improved ;) . Today's ships are bigger, with more amenities, bigger, fancier cabins, etc. And most mass-market cruise passengers want that. A 10 year old ship is already lacking in the eyes of many of today's passengers. If you stuck them on OCEANIC or FAIRWIND circa 1980 they'd have a stroke! No balconies (OK, OCEANIC has eight), no alternative dining, small fitness center, relatively limited entertainment (no glitzy production shows in huge theatres), "stuffy" dress code, etc. Not to mention the lack of rock-climbing, ice-skating and the like! It's just not what the people want, unfortunately. I do think there is an (underserved) niche for a traditional cruise product like this - but for the cruise industry to have expanded as it has over the past 30 years, they simply had to go mass-market - and at the same time all those profits have allowed them to build these glitzy new mega-ships that today's passengers adore.

 

Besides decor, how else is Princess different today thani t was 30 years ago.

30 years ago, Princess was a pitsy little low-budget operation with a few chartered ships. Until they were bought by P&O to become P&O's US-market division, Princess was nothing. (Oh, and The Love Boat helped.) That happened just about 30 years ago, and that was the first time that Princess was any kind of a serious player in the cruise industry. So let's fast forward to 20, 15, even 10 years ago for our comparison of today's Princess with that of the past.

 

How did it change itself to be like Royal Carribean which is what was said.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that they became like RCI - though they've certainly converged in the past few years - but certainly that RCI has been their main target for competition in the last decade or so.

 

There have been so many changes that it's almost hard to figure out where to start. I'll give one example. Until the Sitmar merger, there was absolutely no children's program on Princess. They simply did not market to families, period. Sitmar always had marketed to families, and eventually Princess did too... But while STAR PRINCESS (I) was delivered in 1989 with children's facilities, just as Sitmar had ordered her (she was almost complete when the merger went through, and in fact was launched under her original name, SITMAR FAIRMAJESTY), they actually went so far as to delete them from CROWN and REGAL PRINCESS (one of a few minor changes that Princess made to the designs of those ships). Princess themselves did not build a new ship with any thought to families at all until SUN PRINCESS in 1995 (the beginning of the end of the old Princess, IMHO)!

 

Until the merger, there was only one ship in either fleet that had an actual buffet restaurant (ROYAL PRINCESS, and it was very small). By 1995, they were introducing 24-hour service in the Horizon Court on SUN PRINCESS, in an attempt to one-up RCI and others in casualness. (From then until NCL's Freestyle, Princess was the cruise industry's champion of "casual". Five years earlier, they were one of the most formal major cruise lines.) By 1998 on GRAND PRINCESS they were becoming the first major cruise line with two alternative restaurants in addition the main dining room and the lido! (At the same time, there were still "old Princess" ships - SKY PRINCESS and the former ISLAND and PACIFIC PRINCESS - which didn't even have a lido.)

 

Between 1995 and 2005 (I consider the transformation to have been completed with the retirement of ROYAL PRINCESS, the company's former standard-bearer), Princess completely retooled their entire product from the ground up to appeal to an entirely different clientele. It is probably the biggest transformation of any brand in the modern cruise industry except that of NCL - and that transformation was started because NCL was bought by new owners. The transformation of Princess was a conscious decision on the part of the same people who had run the company for years, and who in fact crafted the previous Princess product and identity. Today there is only one ship that has been in the fleet longer than SUN PRINCESS (the first "modern" Princess ship), that is REGAL PRINCESS and all bets are off on how much longer she'll be in the fleet. (She also got a makeover in 2000 to help her decor conform to the Princess corporate identity.) In short, everything has changed!

 

Years ago Princess was more of a 4 star line(out of 6) - today its more like a 3 star.

That's pretty harsh!

 

If Princess is three stars, where would you rate other mass-market lines?

 

Personally I would characterize today's Princess as a four-star product... Down from five a few years ago.

 

Should you mention that you love a certain pasta - someone would do it tableside - and most likely each nite if you wanted it.

One thing that I have to give Princess credit for is that as late as 2000 (and on GRAND PRINCESS no less, which to me is the symbol of the "new Princess") they were still readily accomodating special orders (indeed, literally asking for them). I have no idea if this is done now.

 

I don't recal tableside preparations though. On the smaller, older Princess ships, a pasta selection was prepared tableside every evening, and a flambee dessert prepared tableside at least twice in a week-long cruise. (This is as recently as 1998, on SKY PRINCESS, nee FAIRSKY.)

 

If you were not on a cruise prior to 1987 - you don't know what was the greatest time to take a cruise.

Now you're skating on thin ice ;) . I am going to have to dig up some old codger who will tell you that "if you were not on a cruise prior to 1937, you don't know what was the greatest time to take a cruise"!

 

The "Good Old Days" is a generational thing. The older the person, the longer ago it was! I'm sure that in 1987 plenty of people were bemoaning the downfall of cruising, and the mass-market-ization of cruising was well underway by then. The real old guard cruise products were having their last hurrah. OCEANIC was gone (Home Lines altogether was not long for this world), NAL, SAL, CGT, Italia, and so on had all been extinct for years. And I have run into people who will tell you that NAL and SAL in the '60s were just pretenders and that the real Golden Age of cruising was gone when Cunard retired CARONIA of 1948! (And don't talk to Italia devotees about Home Lines or Sitmar - they'll tell you that they were just impostors and that if you haven't been on Italia or Lloyd Triestino you don't even know what a real Italian ship is like.)

 

The last time I was on Princess was when the Crown Princess debuted. Thas when the mall & economy of scale mentality was evident.

With all due respect... If you haven't been on Princess since 1990, you haven't a clue what happened to them. The real changes didn't begin until the mid to late 1990s. I guarantee you that if you stepped on to a Princess ship today, that cruise on CROWN PRINCESS would very quickly become part of the Good Old Days.

 

Of the people I know who have been cruising Princess for years (since before the Sitmar merger) and who still cruise them recently (1990, my good friend, isn't recent ;) ), I think every one identifies either the introduction of SUN PRINCESS or GRAND PRINCESS as the turning point. CROWN is decidedly in "old Princess" territory.

 

Our host Doug, tho somewhat knowedgeable doesn't have the experience to really appreciate what it was to sail at the end of what I call the best of the cruise ship eras.

You need to get some practice at kissing up to the powerful ;) .

 

But seriously, I started cruising at the very, very tail end of that era. I had a fleeting glimpse of what cruising was like before the really huge changes (100,000 GT ships and whatnot) started and I've been clinging to it ever since.

 

If Princess is only 3 stars now I can only imagine what Royal Carribean and Carnival are.

They're whatever Princess is!

 

The truth is that all of the mass-market lines are fairly interchangeable these days.

 

Princess ruining Sitmar is why I asked the question, why didn't they let them run indepently when they took it over.

I answered that a few posts back. The Princess takeover of Sitmar had a completely different objective than, say, the Carnival takeover of HAL that happened at almost the exact same time. Carnival took over HAL to expand into a new market segment. Princess took over Sitmar to become stronger in their existing market segment. Princess and Sitmar were very close, direct competitors and what Princess really wanted was, first, to eliminate competition and second, to get new ships which they sorely needed.

 

And from what I am told, the immediate post-merger product was at least as much Sitmar as it was Princess. Princess in the late '80s and early '90s was really a hybrid of the two, until they decided to go mass-market and then they created something totally new.

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The question was asked: What else, other than decor of the dining room, has changed?

 

Well, and I am going to get flamed for saying this, but some of the types of passengers that is being attracted to Princess has changed. Star Princess, 1/30/05 cruise: in the Princess Theater, after formal night dinner: observed passengers in t-shirt, shorts, flip-flops. You would never have seen that on Sitmar of 1988 or Royal Princess of 1986. Excuse, when sighting was mentioned to a couple with over 50 "modern day" Princess cruises: "Well, they probably returned to their cabin and changed into something more comfortable for the evening."

 

I do not at all disagree with Host Doug classifying Princess in the Mass-Market category, but with some qualifications. I believe that they are attempting to blend aspects of the truly premium cruise lines with mass-market types of experiences as well. For example, their generic and their Maitre d' Wine Tasting sessions are superior to any others that I have attended. But, their Horizon Court/Lido Cafe operation is nothing better than a mediocre cafeteria operation, if that. (In fact, if the Lido Cafe breakfast I had prior to my disembarkation from Royal Princess at Civitavecchia on April 27, 2004 was a typical cafeteria restaurant operation, they would be out of business!) As I have stated in other postings on Cruise Critic: I find very little fault with service and staff attitude on any of the sailings on which I have been privileged to sail. In fact, the one most negative service issue I remember was during my first night aboard Royal Viking Sky in 1980 when I asked a Steward for a glass of iced tea after getting some food from their "midnight buffet", which was served in an area of the lovely lounge above the Bridge(sorry, I do not recall the public room's name), and was curtly told by the Steward: "I only serve drinks from the bar." (Well, pardon me!!) [This fellow had an "attitude": I think he had been aboard too long; he left the ship after we reached the next port.]

 

I have yet to sail on Carnival. But, I think, from what I read, that Carnival gets a bad "rap". If what I read is correct, they learned from the acquisition of Holland America Line, improving their product. Holland America Line benefited from the financial resources of Carnival Corporation. And, while I will not dispute those who have had "issues" with HAL cruises in 2003 , I submit the integration of a whole new class of ships, the Vista Class ships, led to problems that the Hotel Managers have had to learn to solve. And, I may again get flamed for saying this, but who holds the Hotel Manager position may also be more important than the "cursed bean counters" in Seattle.

 

Princess did not benefit from the Sitmar merger for the reasons Host Doug has pointed out. IMO, had Princess adopted the strengths of Sitmar and grafted them onto an already good product, the Princess Cruise line product of 2005 would be a much different experience.

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Ron,

 

I don't feel comfortable in making a judgement about today's Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. It has been too many years since I sailed with them. And, certainly the product offered on the Nordic Prince then is different from the experiences offered today.

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Ron,

 

I don't feel comfortable in making a judgement about today's Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. It has been too many years since I sailed with them. And, certainly the product offered on the Nordic Prince then is different from the experiences offered today.

 

 

you said you sailed on the old royal carribean.what we they like back in the 70's and 80's. i know what they are likenow having saile don voyager in 2003.

 

ron

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Memories from my 1984 Nordic Prince cruise are mostly positive except, as I have already posted, the begging by my Dining Room Steward for excellent marks on the end of cruise Comment Form. Good service and food; food was not gourmet but of good quality and well prepared; small cabins with minimum storage space for hanging clothes, small bathrooms, easy to get around ship with plenty of open deck space and deck chairs. Friendly staff--an international mix with lots of Caribbean nation citizens. Officers were Norwegian. Entertainment was good and passengers seemed to mix well.

Upon reflection after disembarking, compared to my sailings up to then, I decided it was indeed a mass-market type of cruising experience. And, there was not anything wrong with that!

 

Ron, I note in your signature that you sailed on QE2 in 1980. That was the year I also was aboard. It was a July, 1980 crossing, boarding in Hamburg(as she finished a cruise), to Southampton and then across the Atlantic. Do you recall when you were aboard? I would like to compare your experiences in 1980 with mine.

 

Bob

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Ron, I note in your signature that you sailed on QE2 in 1980. That was the year I also was aboard. It was a July, 1980 crossing, boarding in Hamburg(as she finished a cruise), to Southampton and then across the Atlantic. Do you recall when you were aboard? I would like to compare your experiences in 1980 with mine. Bob

 

Bob I sailed on the QE2 in June of 1980. it was an east bound crossing to Southampton. It was followed by a week in London. They had a deal where if you booked a sailing they'd either fly you home for free or upgrade and you paid the difference to fly on the Concorde. Needless to say I took a 747 home for free.

 

One of the things I remember is having to pay to hold a deck chair for the voyage over. I only used it once. Even though it was in June it was cold and foggy all the way over. Not until the morning of our arrival did it get warm and sunny. I sailed tourist calls and even had a single cabin. The QE2 has a few cabins designed for one person. If you htought your cabin was small on Royal Caribbean, it's no where as small as the cabin I had.

 

This was long ago, before they installed diesel/electric for propulsion, for back then they were still using steam turbines. Only the ex Fairsky sails using that power today. It was also before they fitted it out for the Falklands war. I happened to see the QE2 in Philly just before she left for the refitting and the war.

 

 

I enjoyed the leisurely pace to England and it certainly beats getting jet lag as you do on a plane. I must say though the experience and what you do on a board istotally different than a cruise. I almost booked in 1978 a Caribbean cruise on the QE2 and am glad I switched to the Fairwind. QE2 just doesn't seem like it should do cruises, except perhaps around the world cruises.

 

Ron

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This was long ago, before they installed diesel/electric for propulsion, for back then they were still using steam turbines. Only the ex Fairsky sails using that power today.

Actually there are a few others - notables include Thomson's THE EMERALD, Louis' ITHACA, and Pullmantur's OCEANIC.

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Thank you for your response, Ron. Interestingly, our voyages on QE2 were close together. I do remember having to rent a deck chair and one of my good memories of that voyage was being bundled up in the chair with blanket and cushion on an overcast, cool, windy morning. This was on the Tourist Class open deck facing the stern, aft of the funnel. The Deck Steward asked if I wanted anything. I ordered a Bloody Mary, and when he brought it, the glass sitting on a tray he was holding with one hand, the wind caught the tray, causing the drink to cascade down the front of his uniform. I felt so sorry for him! He apologized, went to change and brought me another drink--this time without incident. I remember giving him a good gratuity!

 

Alas, much of the rest of the voyage had lots of negatives. Re-boarding in Southampton, we were physically frisked. This was very unexpected and insulting. Labor union troubles were taking place on the ship and it reflected in attitudes and service. An encounter with a surly Cabin Steward(not mine, thankfully) started the voyage badly. We had a washcloth from Hamburg to Southampton; none thereafter. Tea in the Double Down Room was an event: cracked china, no spoons. Service in the Dining Room that was fit for a Big Boy Restaurant--not a "Queen". Ordering meals became an adventure. A steak entree I thought I was getting turned out to be grilled liver. Public restrooms that had graffiti on the walls of the stalls prompted my traveling companion to start saying, "When is this garbage barge" going to get to New York? It was an extremely disappointing trip, particularly after we had just been on two Royal Viking Line cruises--and were paying $100/day more in Tourist Class on QE2. Some people we had met on the Royal Viking voyages were traveling in First Class on this same crossing and they were no more pleased with their QE2 experience than we were.

 

It was bad enough that it soured me on Cunard and, truthfully, I had my fingers crossed when I booked Queen Mary 2 for last November, particularly after all of the complaints concerning her early voyages. I am glad to say that my view of Cunard is now totally different. I had a wonderful voyage on QM2 with what I do believe to have been the best service I have received afloat.

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  • 1 month later...

After reading this thread from beginning to end, I feel so nostalgic about Sitmar and about cruising in general. I learned so much I didn't know before about the history of this line before and after I had the pleasure of cruising with them.

 

I guess I was lucky -- my grandmother took me on my first cruise on the Fairwind in 1970 (at the age of 7); followed by 3 more Fairwind sailings and one on the Fairsea to Alaska. I loved those ships dearly! The Italian officers and crew spoiled me rotten and flirted with my older sister. Even back then, when there were few other kids on board, Sitmar made a huge effort to cater to families and had space devoted to children (they had both a children's room and a teen lounge -- way before their time!) and a children's program. Waiters would fall over themselves to bring me things from the menu I might like. The "heavy" Italian-style desserts were not my favorite, and I remember on one cruise our waiter would always "nab" one of the tiered trays of petit-fours and bon-bons from the front of the restaurant and hide it at his station for my dessert! Another would bring me a bowl with three different scoops of ice cream and a fancy cookie.

 

And oh, those pizzerias!

 

So many details others have mentioned (such as always making sure the dinner plate was set down with the logo properly aligned) have stayed with me and remain standards of what cruising was once like. The crew were constantly at work keeping those ships spotless, from mopping the staircases to polishing the brass and varnishing the wooden banisters on deck. I cherish a picture of me at 7, all dressed up and shaking the captain's hand in a very grown-up way.

 

Having said all that, I fully realize that were I to go back in time and sail the Fairwind again, I'm not sure I'd appreciate it as much. Entertainment back then was much more amateur and usually consisted of a sort of Catskills-type show or sedate dancing music in another lounge. With a young teen of my own, I appreciate the larger size and greater facilities available on ships now. Being able to eat whenever (e.g., buffets, personal choice dining options), just makes more sense when you are trying to plan a busy day ashore. And I've become addicted to having a balcony. :rolleyes:

 

Just as nonfloating resorts have had to change over the years to accommodate the increasing demands from guests to provide more activities, more dining choices, and less formality, cruise ships have to change too. I doubt very much whether my son would trade the finer dining room service of yesteryear for the availability of the internet and the video arcade. Someday he will be regaling his own children about the "good old days" aboard ship, no doubt!

 

Note: I intend to go home tonight and pour myself a good strong drink in one of my shelf-full of Circolo del Commandante glasses and toast farewell to the good old Fairwind! :(

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You have got me wallowing in nostalgia now.

 

I sailed on the Fairstar from Southampton to Sydney in February 1968 and returned on the same boat in April 1970.

Happy days.

 

Oh yes it only cost me £10 STG to get there too.

Return journey was a bit more but we had 4 weeks full board :)

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After reading this thread from beginning to end, I feel so nostalgic about Sitmar and about cruising in general. I learned so much I didn't know before about the history of this line before and after I had the pleasure of cruising with them.

 

I guess I was lucky -- my grandmother took me on my first cruise on the Fairwind in 1970 (at the age of 7); followed by 3 more Fairwind sailings and one on the Fairsea to Alaska. I loved those ships dearly! The Italian officers and crew spoiled me rotten and flirted with my older sister. Even back then, when there were few other kids on board, Sitmar made a huge effort to cater to families and had space devoted to children (they had both a children's room and a teen lounge -- way before their time!) and a children's program. Waiters would fall over themselves to bring me things from the menu I might like. The "heavy" Italian-style desserts were not my favorite, and I remember on one cruise our waiter would always "nab" one of the tiered trays of petit-fours and bon-bons from the front of the restaurant and hide it at his station for my dessert! Another would bring me a bowl with three different scoops of ice cream and a fancy cookie.

 

And oh, those pizzerias!

 

So many details others have mentioned (such as always making sure the dinner plate was set down with the logo properly aligned) have stayed with me and remain standards of what cruising was once like. The crew were constantly at work keeping those ships spotless, from mopping the staircases to polishing the brass and varnishing the wooden banisters on deck. I cherish a picture of me at 7, all dressed up and shaking the captain's hand in a very grown-up way.

 

Having said all that, I fully realize that were I to go back in time and sail the Fairwind again, I'm not sure I'd appreciate it as much. Entertainment back then was much more amateur and usually consisted of a sort of Catskills-type show or sedate dancing music in another lounge. With a young teen of my own, I appreciate the larger size and greater facilities available on ships now. Being able to eat whenever (e.g., buffets, personal choice dining options), just makes more sense when you are trying to plan a busy day ashore. And I've become addicted to having a balcony. :rolleyes:

 

Just as nonfloating resorts have had to change over the years to accommodate the increasing demands from guests to provide more activities, more dining choices, and less formality, cruise ships have to change too. I doubt very much whether my son would trade the finer dining room service of yesteryear for the availability of the internet and the video arcade. Someday he will be regaling his own children about the "good old days" aboard ship, no doubt!

 

Note: I intend to go home tonight and pour myself a good strong drink in one of my shelf-full of Circolo del Commandante glasses and toast farewell to the good old Fairwind! :(

 

If we were able to do with the simpler shows and not as flexible dining choices, why don't you think people of today can't do it? That they must have these super vessels thugh they are fun, are just like being ona land based vacation. You knew you on a ship back then for certain could and couldn't be done on a 22,000 grt ship.

 

Ron

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