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Kendallkat2

Any HAL and Princess cruisers for comparison?

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I am planning a cruise for March, 2005 for my husband's 50th birthday. After a lot of research I think I have narrowed it down to Princess or HAL. HAL's prices are so much better then Princess and their options of departing ports is better for us.

 

We want to do a Western Caribbean so with Hal our options are: Westerdam, Veendam, or Zaandam. With Princess: Star.

 

We have done Princess (Golden) and Disney (Magic & Wonder) cruises before. We loved the Golden Princess, is HAL just as good? Our mini-suite on the Golden was wonderful, but we liked our staterooms on both the Disney Magic and Wonder. HAL's balconey stateroom compare in size with Disney. The reviews seem favorable on the average.

Also, is the food as good as Princess? Is there a buffet available?

 

So what I guess I'm asking here is, convince me that I will like HAL just as much!

 

Thanks, Beth

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I have cruised Grand Princess and just a week ago the Zuiderdam. If the size of a cabin matters to you then HAL gets the nod in comparison. The cat: S we had is much more comfortable with more storage space and bathroom space than Princess. The food and dining choices on Princess gets the nod. You were on the Golden Princess so you really can't compare any HAL ship because of the sheer size, but Zuiderdam never felt crowded. I don't know anything about Star Princess, but if you are looking for a restful, relaxing, more elegant cruise then go with the new HAL ship...our HAL cruise was the best we've ever had. Take Westerdam.

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The Westerdam is one of HAL's vista class ships, and is quite spacious. Yes, HAL staterooms are known for being a bit bigger than most in the industry. We have sailed both Princess and Holland America, and find both to be enjoyable even though they're different. IMO HAL offers more refined decor, a touch more class, and great service. I think you'll be pleased with the Westerdam (or one of the other smaller ships) because you won't feel the mass of people as on the Golden, Star, etc.

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Have sailed HAL 3 times, and Princess some 18 times, and like them both very much.

 

We have been with Princess more often, as I think they have better itineraries (particularly their Exotics), and quite often, a better price.

 

HAL's cabins tend to be larger than equivalent Princess, but generally Princess has a larger number of balconies, if that is important to you.

 

I agree that HAL is more refined or subdued, and I think HAL's food and its presentation is generally better than Princess, at least in the main dining rooms.

 

I do think Princess' production shows have better costuming, and generally speaking, I think Princess' showlounges have better sightlines than HAL. Many of HAL's main showlounges are dual purpose rooms, with a flat floor on the main level, which does impede sightlines.

 

On HAL's ships with a dedicated movie theater, the hot buttered popcorn is a big plus I think.

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Unless you have an S or SS suite, the other verandah cabins on the Westerdam could be smaller than other ships. HAL brochure states the verandah cabins below the suite level are 241 square feet, including the verandah.

 

On the Veen and Zaandams, the verandah cabins below the S and Penthouse levels are said to be 284 sf, including verandah.

 

We were on the Wester in May and it's a very beautifull, comfortable ship. The food was good and the entertainment varied - but those are both very subjective opinions, of course.

 

HAL is currently our line of choice, after many cruises on several lines. We have not been on Princess or Disney, however.

 

We like the ambience and mix of passengers on HAL.

 

If HAL prices are better and ports convenient, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the HAL ships you cited.

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The biggest difference between the two lines is Personal choice on Princess versus traditional on HAL. Food is 24/7 in Horizon court but somewhat less in HAL lido. But HAL has the edge on quality.

Pools are also open 24 hours a day on Princess and not on HAL. Peraonlly I loke to go into the hot tubs at night after dinner so this is a plus for me.

In cabin programming is very good on both.

In general, cabins are bigger on HAL for the same $.

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We have sailed HAL 6 times, RCI once (enough) and have just completed our 1st Princess cruise on the Golden. I think there are more kids on Princess; we had a suite on the Golden that was just beautiful and slightly larger than the S we have had on HAL. Food about the same. Personal choice dining a big difference. We liked it, but we also like assigned seating. We liked the Golden's itinerary this summer; but if it comes down to same ports, same or less money, choose HAL (Westerdam). The service was a bit better, but we enjoyed the quiet elegance of HAL.

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Beth .... Really think you will be very happy with HAL. :)

 

Background: We've been on 40+ cruises over the years. Over half were on Princess. (We cruised with our children who loved Princess for many years -- when they were happy, we were happy. :D ) We had suites on some of the Princess cruises (lots of balconies). We have only been on three HAL cruises (another booked for January :) ) and we have never had a suite on HAL ....

 

We totally enjoyed each of our HAL cruises. We liked the entertainment on Princess ships better -- especially, in the bars/lounges. HAL ships (at least on the 10 -14 day cruises) are not for you if you want to party after "Mid-Night"! On HAL we liked the service -- found it better in almost all areas. We just "go with the flow" of whatever cruise line / ship we're sailing. HAL is a wonderful choice!

 

Happy Sailing! OCruisers :)

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We have sailed Princess 17 times over several years and haven't been on them since 2000.

We have sailed HAL 23 times since then and are very pleased.

Rooms on HAL are much larger.

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We have cruised both lines - several times on each - took Dawn Princess last year on 10 day cruise and it was absolutely the best cruise we have ever taken. We are going on Sun Princess this Thanksgiving and we are expecting the best, again. However, HAL is a wonderful line - people somehow have the wrong impression of HAL as it being "the old folks" cruiseline - NOT TRUE! We have been going on HAL for over 10 years and have just turned early 50's and we have ALWAYS had a super time and super people - of ALL ages - we have met some of THE nicest people on both HAL and Princess - many we still stay in touch with. HAL has larger cabins and their food is good - Princess has smaller cabins but great food and shows - one of the things that impressed me about Princess was we were on a full ship - sold out - 1900+ people and we have no idea where they all were! Other than the lifeboat drill, there were no lines anywhere! We don't know what they did with all the other people! Pick either Princess or HAL and you cannot go wrong!

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We felt HAL was a much better cruiseline in terms of food and service. Princess has better pools and entertainment.

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I wanted to email koolkat directly, but she does not want emails. Anyway..hope you get this. I just came off Veendam. A couple at the airport just came off a Princess cruise!! You would not believe the differences when sharing our stories. We both went to Alaska. Their ship was directly behind us most of the way. Princess: The restaurant seating is random..first come first serve. You sit with someone new every night. HAL: You get assigned seating for the duration of the cruise. PRINC: Food was terrible. Coffee tasted like water. salmon was undercooked...sent back for more grill time. HAL: The food was wonderful!!!

 

TIPPING!!! Princess is $6.50 per meal..per person! HAL is just $10.00 per day per person. This couple was presented with a $1400.00 bill upon disembarkation!! This info is just hot off the press....I learned it and I am SOOOOOOOOO GLAD I went with HAL.

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I have been on several cruise lines including Princess and HAL -- I much prefer HAL -- plus for HAL: Chocolates, coffees and strings after dinner in the Explorer's Lounge (Princess has no equivalent), movie theatre with free pop corn (Princes has only in room movies), cabins larger on HAL, ships are smaller on HAL(to me a BIG plus as you can actually meet the same person more than once on an HAL ship), on HAL you are not given a restaurant style beeper to let you know when your dining table is ready (happened more than once on my last cruise on the Grand Princess) as everyone has preassigned seats on HAL, you do not have to introduce yourself all over again every night at dinner on HAL as we did on Princess - this got really old by the end of the cruise, I liked the food on both ships (I enjoy any food that I am not cooking myself - they are both better than Old Country Buffet), felt the food on the Lido on HAL was far superior to the fare on the Lido on Princess, HAL has free cocktail munchies in the bars before dinner (Princess does not), on Princess you have to pay extra for ice cream whereas on HAL it is free, cabin stewards and dining room wait staff on both ships have been great though we did experience more than a bit of attitude from our last Princess Maitre D. Both have beautiful, well kept ships. Princess constantly had "special events" for the whole ship in spaces far too small to accomodate (like the champaign fountain in the atrium). Princess also used the PA a lot whereas life on HAL is nice and quiet.

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In my opinion, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other. Within the past year, we have sailed on both the Grand Princess (Oct 03) and the Zandaam (July 04). We had great experiences on both. Yes there were differences, such as the personal choice dining (we liked it, others didn't), ship size (the Zandaam is a moderate vs large ship; at first glace it seemed much less impressive than the Grand, but we came to enjoy the moderate size and many intimate spaces), and the pool hours (we did actually like popping out for a hot tub at midnight on Princess, although we only did it once). However, the overall experience on both was great. And by the way, I would confirm info re Princess tipping being $6.50 per meal. Last fall we paid $10 per passenger per day. A $1400 disembarkation bill could have been due to any number of things beyond tipping, from cocktails to casino to shore excusions.

 

Having read these boards for awhile now, I have to conclude that the cruise lines seem to very competetive. Even Carnival, which is the subject of much criticism by some posters, seems to offer quality experiences, based on 2 previous trips I have been on. Last fall, when we were on the Grand, people kept saying that Carvival is terrible in large part because of its young partying crowd. When we docked in Cozumel, we shared the dock with a Carnival ship. As we walked down our gangway, we could look across to their gangway, and at a glance it looked like we were looking into a mirror! Carvival had its share of elderly passengers who required assistance, not something you often hear about.

 

The bottom line as I see it is to assess price and itinerary and go from there. We saw many groups cruising on both cruiselines and all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Have fun.

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I wanted to email koolkat directly, but she does not want emails. Anyway..hope you get this. I just came off Veendam. A couple at the airport just came off a Princess cruise!! You would not believe the differences when sharing our stories. We both went to Alaska. Their ship was directly behind us most of the way. Princess: The restaurant seating is random..first come first serve. You sit with someone new every night. HAL: You get assigned seating for the duration of the cruise. PRINC: Food was terrible. Coffee tasted like water. salmon was undercooked...sent back for more grill time. HAL: The food was wonderful!!!

 

TIPPING!!! Princess is $6.50 per meal..per person! HAL is just $10.00 per day per person. This couple was presented with a $1400.00 bill upon disembarkation!! This info is just hot off the press....I learned it and I am SOOOOOOOOO GLAD I went with HAL.

Princess tipping charge is $10 p/p p/day, same as HAL's. Princess offers pax a choice of "anytime" or "traditional" dining. Except for the coffee remark, no response for the rest of their unhappy rant. It's too subjective, and probably no more accurate than the dining and tipping comments. . There's a thread on the Princess board that unanimously condemns the coffee in the Horizon Court - but HAL's Lido coffee ain't exactly Juan Valdez quality. Spending $1400 on extras likely explains their mood.:rolleyes:

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The Zuiderdam has a GREAT coffee bar (can't remember the name), with great pastries. The cost is very minimal, and I made a habit of stopping there each day about 4:00 pm for my latte or cappucino. They also had lots of flavored coffees and special roasts/blends. I can't believe I hung out there more than one of the bars! I've never tasted great coffee on any cruise line in their dining rooms or buffets. JMO.

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I'm with Stevesan, tipping is $10 a day sames as HAL and Celebrity. Bar tabs though do add up I guess. I am all for "tradional" dinnerseatings but many people do like the Princess "anytime" so that is a matter of choice.

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With new Vista class HAL is definitely trying to attract younger people. On our August sailing there were about 400 kids, many young families...

 

I still little bit more impressed with Celebrity in term of service and food in dining room, but I LOVED buffet. And I loved 10 or so kinds of fresh juices available there!

 

I also think HAL beats all rivals with standard room sizes. We were in larger inside and it was big...around 190 (or more) sq ft.

 

I was also very impressed with the amount of artwork throughout the ship...

 

Number of people on board definitely makes tandering process easier for HAL..In Grand Cayman I noticed big lines waiting for Princess tenders.

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I would suggest you take another look at Celebrity. The M class ships are really nice, a bit upscale and the staterooms equal in size and qualtiy to HA. The 10 & 11 day cruises we took on the Summit were above and beyond our expectations.

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One point I wanted to address was the size of balconies on the newer Princess ships. We haven't sailed with them since '02, but their balconies are very small and many are uncovered without any privacy at all. We were on the Volendam last year and our mini-suite balcony was very large. It accomodated a very comfy lounge and a chair along with a small table. The Princess balconies have two small resin chairs and a table.

 

We really liked the food a little better on Princess and the wait staff in the dining room was very experienced and really efficient for dinner. However, when you eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room, it is open seating and they are not nearly as nice to you then. That is not the case on HAL. They are as pleasant at other meals as they are at dinner. The bar waiters on Princess tend to talk among themselves and are not as attentive as HAL. The bar staff on HAL know your name and drink after the first night.

 

Also, HAL has Half Moon Cay, and in our opinion, it is better than any other private island that we have visited.

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TIPPING!!! Princess is $6.50 per meal..per person! HAL is just $10.00 per day per person. This couple was presented with a $1400.00 bill upon disembarkation!! This info is just hot off the press....I learned it and I am SOOOOOOOOO GLAD I went with HAL.

 

Just to set the record straight- Tipping is the same on all mainstream lines - about $10 a day per person.

I think that both HAL and Princess are great lines and look foward to sailing on them again !

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The coffee bar on the Zuiderdam is called the "WINDSTAR CAFE". Thought it was so-so....you get a complimentary pastry with your coffee...unfortunetly there was a fruit fly flying around the food:(

 

Just home from my sailing yesterday....now I hoping to be able to afford another Celebrity cruise...if not, I will possibly be trying Princess.

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I've done 4 HAL cruises (see below) and the Ocean Princess, (former) sister of the Sun. Princess had the edge in entertainment, HAL the edge in everything else, especially service and food quality.

 

I did 2 of the HAL cruises alone, and they were really good.

 

We just got off the wounded-whale Summit before it was yanked out of service yet another time. I can see why their insignia is "X".

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