NCL Vs Celebrity vs. Holland America

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 02:37 PM.
#1
Texas
1,046 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
We are planning on going to Alaska next year for our 10th anniversary. We booked with NCL since their prices are already out, but still want to keep our options open. We kinda want to try a cruise line we haven't been on. Which leaves Holland America, Celebrity, and NCL for Alaska. Any thoughts???
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Carnival Celebration (Galveston, TX) 4/2002
Carnival Elation (Galveston, TX) 11/2004
Grand Princess (Galveston, TX) 12/2006
Carnival Conquest (Galveston, TX) 6/2008
Carnival Ecstasy (Galveston, TX) 3/2009
Carnival Fantasy (New Orleans, LA) 7/2009
Oasis of the Seas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 6/2010
Voyager of the Seas (Galveston, TX) 12/2010
Norwegian Pearl (Seattle, WA) 6/2011
Carnival Triumph (New Orleans, LA) 8/2011
Allure of the Seas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 12/2011
Norwegian Epic (Miami, FL) 3/2012
Carnival Triumph (Galveston, TX) 6/2012
Carnival Magic (Galveston, TX) 12/2012
Allure of the Seas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 6/2013
Carnival Triumph (Galveston, TX) 12/2013
Disney Dream (Port Canaveral, FL) 2/2014
Caribbean Princess (Houston, TX) 3/2014
Navigator of the Seas (Galveston, TX) 6/2014
Carnival Liberty (Port Canaveral) 6/2014
Carnival Triumph (Galveston) 11/2014
Serenade of the Seas (New Orleans, LA) 12/2014
Emerald Princess (Houston, TX) 3/2015
Carnival Dream (New Orleans, LA) 6/2015
Carnival Freedom (Galveston, TX) 10/2015
Carnival Miracle (Los Angeles, CA) 11/2015
Carnival Breeze (Galveston, TX) 7/2016-Booked
MSC Divina (Miami, FL) 7/2017-Booked
#2
Florida
4,954 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
For Alaska, I think I would base my decision on itinerary instead of cruise line. Do you want a round trip cruise or north or southbound? Do you want to leave go through Seattle or Vancouver? Once you decide that, it will help you figure out the ship.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Cruises: RC Independence of the Seas 2017 * NCL Sky 2016, 2011, 2010 * Carnival Victory 2016, 2014 * Celebrity Summit 2015 * Carnival Paradise 2015, 2013 * Carnival Sensation 2014, 2000 * RC Majesty of the Seas 2014 * RC Enchantment of the Seas 2013 * Celebrity Constellation 2013 * RC Jewel of the Seas 2012 * RC Monarch of the Seas 2012, 2011, 2010 * Celebrity Century 2010, 2003 * Carnival Inspiration 2009, 2006 * Carnival Splendor 2008 * NCL Jewel 2007 * Costa Mediterranea 2006 * Holland America Veendam 1998 * Carnival Celebration 1997 * RC Sovereign of the Seas 1996 * Carnival Tropicale 1995 * Celebrity Zenith 1994 * NCL Seaward 1993 * RC Nordic Empress 1992 * Carnival Fantasy 1991

Cruise Critic Reviews:

RC Independence of the Seas 4-day Cozumel - 2017
NCL Sky 3-day Bahamas (modified itinerary) - 2016
Carnival Victory 3-day Bahamas - 2016
Celebrity Summit 7-day Southern Caribbean - 2015
Carnival Paradise 4-day Cozumel - 2015
RC Majesty of the Seas 3-day Bahamas - 2014
Carnival Victory 4-day Key West and Cozumel - 2014
RC Enchantment of the Seas 3-day Bahamas - 2013
Carnival Paradise 4-day Cozumel - 2013
RC Monarch of the Seas 3-day Bahamas - 2012
RC Jewel of the Seas 4-day Cozumel - 2012

My Travel Blog: Sweet Escapes
#3
Arkansas
30,040 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by pcl_cruiser
We are planning on going to Alaska next year for our 10th anniversary. We booked with NCL since their prices are already out, but still want to keep our options open. We kinda want to try a cruise line we haven't been on. Which leaves Holland America, Celebrity, and NCL for Alaska. Any thoughts???
All three have something to offer that is different from the others, but all three have similarities as well.

Here is my take and it is only opinion:

HAL: great cabins
great food
good service
much older crowd even though they are trying to attrack a younger clientelle it is still a much older, very subdued group and not much nightlife..
Has been doing Alaska for years.

Celebrity: also very good food,
usually good service, any line will have a bad waiter or cabin steward from time to time.
good entertainment
newer to Alaska than some lines and fewer sailings (in the past, that is)
slightly on the formal side with a friendly crew but somewhat stuffy, same with the passengers.

NCL:
good food, but in the MDR maybe not quite as good as the others and not as nice presentation.
cabins very similar in size to Celebrity
great bathrooms
more relaxed atmosphere with a friendly crew.
great sub charge restaurants and an excellent buffet. Actually all three have good buffets, but NCL and HAL are a little better than Celebrity (opnion only)
a better mixture of demographics

I think you would be happy on any of them, depending on your lifestyle. NCL is certainly more of a lively ship with more energy, both crew and passengers, HAL is polished and Celebrity falls inbetween, but loyal Celebrity followers think there is no line like it.

Nita
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Commodore 1984, Costa 1985, RCL 1987, Chandris 1989, NCL 1989, Commodore, 1991, NCL 1997, Carnival 1997, Carnival 1998,NCL 1998, NCL 1999, RCL 2000, RCL 2000,HAL 2001, NCL 2002,NCL 2003, Celebrity 2003, NCL 2004, NCL 2005, Celebrity 2005.NCL 2006, Celebrity 2006, HAL 2006, NCL 2007.Princess, 2008. NCL 2008, RCI 2008,Princess 2009, NCL 2009. NCL 2010, NCL 2011, Princess 2011, NCL 2012, NCL 2013, NCL again 2013, Princess 2014, NCL 2014, again 2014, 2015; about 2 do another NCL.
#4
Nashville, TN (we moved, again)
18,888 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
Good wrap up by Nita.

I would also visit the PORTS OF CALL and check out ALASKA boards for some thoughts at to cruiseline and which itinerary would work for you.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Viking Sky - Feb 25,2017 Rome to Barcelona
RoundTheWorld Blog and Recent Cruises : www.rtw40.com

Viking - Paris to Prague - Oct 20, 2016 .....Allure of the Seas-FTL to Barcelona 4/19/15 ......NCL Pearl -Seatle-Alaska 6/22/14
NCL Dawn - Tampa to Boston 4/27/14.......NCL Dawn-Boston-Bermuda RT 7/26/13
..[Celebrity Reflection-Carribean 12/8/12
NCL Spirit New Orleans 3/28/10.................NCL Jade - Med 1/25/09................................NCL Pearl Miami-Panama-Seattle 4/13/08
NCL Spirit New Orleans 11/25/07...............NCL Spirit New England 9/30/07.................NCL Spirit -NYC , 9/29/07
NCL Sun from New Orleans 3/25/07..........NCL Jewel Barcelona-Miami 10/21/06.........QM2 from New York to England 4/15/06
Alaska via Princess Dawn 5/30/05..............Seabourn Pride: NY-FL-Nassau, 10/17/04...Alaska via Carnival Spirit 6/2/04
#5
Florida
4,954 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I'm no expert but my impressions are a lot like Nita's. The HAL cruise we were on definitely had an older clientele. People tended to dress up a lot more on Celebrity. NCL seemed younger and more casual.

HAL and Celebrity have more classic looking ships and they have very nice perks, like bigger cabins, robes, beach bags.

On our last NCL cruise, we traveled with my parents and my mom won't go on NCL again. She hated the decor (and also the coffee...I hope it's improved in the past few years). But I really liked the Freestyle aspect and trying all the different restaurants. So it depends on lot on what's important to you.

I'll go on any cruise line if it has the right itinerary.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Cruises: RC Independence of the Seas 2017 * NCL Sky 2016, 2011, 2010 * Carnival Victory 2016, 2014 * Celebrity Summit 2015 * Carnival Paradise 2015, 2013 * Carnival Sensation 2014, 2000 * RC Majesty of the Seas 2014 * RC Enchantment of the Seas 2013 * Celebrity Constellation 2013 * RC Jewel of the Seas 2012 * RC Monarch of the Seas 2012, 2011, 2010 * Celebrity Century 2010, 2003 * Carnival Inspiration 2009, 2006 * Carnival Splendor 2008 * NCL Jewel 2007 * Costa Mediterranea 2006 * Holland America Veendam 1998 * Carnival Celebration 1997 * RC Sovereign of the Seas 1996 * Carnival Tropicale 1995 * Celebrity Zenith 1994 * NCL Seaward 1993 * RC Nordic Empress 1992 * Carnival Fantasy 1991

Cruise Critic Reviews:

RC Independence of the Seas 4-day Cozumel - 2017
NCL Sky 3-day Bahamas (modified itinerary) - 2016
Carnival Victory 3-day Bahamas - 2016
Celebrity Summit 7-day Southern Caribbean - 2015
Carnival Paradise 4-day Cozumel - 2015
RC Majesty of the Seas 3-day Bahamas - 2014
Carnival Victory 4-day Key West and Cozumel - 2014
RC Enchantment of the Seas 3-day Bahamas - 2013
Carnival Paradise 4-day Cozumel - 2013
RC Monarch of the Seas 3-day Bahamas - 2012
RC Jewel of the Seas 4-day Cozumel - 2012

My Travel Blog: Sweet Escapes
#6
Lincoln, CA
259 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Nita pretty well nailed it. I cruised on HAL Oosterdam last November and the food in the MDR was not quite as good as NCL Sun a month ago. HAL served larger portions, an additional course and had a much nicer presentation, but NCL beat it by a bit on taste. Service in the Sun MDRs was good considering you don't have as much of a chance to develop a rapport with the waiters under Freestyle dining.

Ignore the fanbois and rabid detractors and you can get a pretty good idea what the different lines are like on cruise Critic. You won't really go wrong with any of the three as long as you pick the one that does what's important to you best.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
<table><tr><td>
  • Inside Passage, Seattle to Haynes: Alaska Marine Hwy<br>"M/V Columbia" June 1978
  • Yangtze River: China Regal "Princess Sheena" June 1996
  • Alaska: Celebrity "Infinity" September 2005
  • Riviera Mexicana: "Diamond Princess" January 2007
  • European Rivers: GCT "M/S River Symphony" October 2007
  • Upper Mississippi River: "American Queen" August 2007</td>
    <td>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td>
  • Rhone River France: GCT "M/S Chardonnay" April 2009
  • Seine River France: GCT "M/S Bizet" June 2009
  • Panama Canal: HAL "Oosterdam" November 2009
  • South America: NCL "Sun" January 2010
  • Riviera Mexicana: HAL "Oosterdam" February 2011
  • Boston to Quebec: NCL "Dawn" October 2012
</td></tr></table>
#7
6,033 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Does NCL have a naturalist on board who will narrate the glaciers, give lectures etc? I know they have them on X and HAL. I've been on 2 Celebrity Alaska cruises, but now sail NCL. I am unsure about the answer to my question (I need the answer, too, in case my 3rd trip is on NCL).

Nita, Xs cabins are considerably bigger than NCL's. Even an inside cabin is a regulation 172 sq ft but with NCl about 145. More closet space.

HAL has the best beds.

I liked X's food better than HAL's or NCL's but I didn't complain about it on HAL or NCL. NCL has almost 24 hour availability of real food, though, which the others do not, in the Blue Lagoon.

Depending on the ship, HAL and X have some indoor pools (T pool on X free on M class ships) (HAl has the open/close thingy on some ships). Check to see if the NCL ship does, even if you might have to pay for a spa pass, if that is important to you.
#8
1,071 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Celebrity, HAL and Princess also let you bring your own wine onboard which I think is a huge perk personally. Celebrity also offers unlimited drink packages (water, alcohol or soda) for relatively good rates.
#9
Lincoln, CA
259 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Originally posted by flashdog_1
Does NCL have a naturalist on board who will narrate the glaciers, give lectures etc? I know they have them on X and HAL. I've been on 2 Celebrity Alaska cruises, but now sail NCL. I am unsure about the answer to my question (I need the answer, too, in case my 3rd trip is on NCL).
I should have mentioned that in my earlier post. You are asking good questions.

On the Buenos Aires to Santiago trip I recently finished they didn't have a naturalist. The NCL staff member giving the presentations said that NCL is bringing their naturalist/geography/history presentations in house and will be doing them with their own people. He did three poorly put together Powerpoint presentations that were primarily made up from obsolete public domain material. HAL and Celebrity had outstanding presentations by experts who were also very entertaining.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
<table><tr><td>
  • Inside Passage, Seattle to Haynes: Alaska Marine Hwy<br>"M/V Columbia" June 1978
  • Yangtze River: China Regal "Princess Sheena" June 1996
  • Alaska: Celebrity "Infinity" September 2005
  • Riviera Mexicana: "Diamond Princess" January 2007
  • European Rivers: GCT "M/S River Symphony" October 2007
  • Upper Mississippi River: "American Queen" August 2007</td>
    <td>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td>
  • Rhone River France: GCT "M/S Chardonnay" April 2009
  • Seine River France: GCT "M/S Bizet" June 2009
  • Panama Canal: HAL "Oosterdam" November 2009
  • South America: NCL "Sun" January 2010
  • Riviera Mexicana: HAL "Oosterdam" February 2011
  • Boston to Quebec: NCL "Dawn" October 2012
</td></tr></table>
#10
6,033 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by pmd98052
Celebrity, HAL and Princess also let you bring your own wine onboard which I think is a huge perk personally. Celebrity also offers unlimited drink packages (water, alcohol or soda) for relatively good rates.
I forgot, Celebrity still gives you a glass of bubbly when you board. NCL did away with this perk recently.

Specifically, Celebrity allows you to bring on 2 bottles per cabin, free of charge. After that there is a corking fee, as there is for all wine on NCL.

How much wine can you bring on on HAL and Princess free of charge?
#11
Bethlehem, PA
4,658 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Unlimited amounts of wine (bring cases if you can carry 'em!), as well as unlimited amounts of water and soda can be brought onboard HAL. Don't know about Princess. BTW - HAL has THE best beds on the high seas....totally comfy and dreamy! Loved our past two cruises to AK on HAL so much that we're sailing w/them again on May 31st, their new 14 day roundtrip Seattle itinerary. Yahoo!
#12
Saugus, MA
874 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
I think Nita summed it up very well.

I've enjoyed all 3 cruise lines and would go on any of them again.

Enjoy which ever cruise you decide upon.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Dawn - Oct. 2015
Dawn - Nov. 2013

Dawn - Sept. 2013
Pearl - Sept. 2011
Spirit - Oct. - Nov. 2010
Veendam - Sept. 2010
Explorer of the Seas - June 2010
Spirit - Oct. - Nov. 2009
Spirit - September 2009
Spirit - April 2009
Spirit - Oct. 2008

Dream - Sept. 2008
Caribbean Princess - June 2008
Spirit - March 2008
Spirit - Nov. 2007
Majesty - Sept. 2007
Dawn - April 2007
Majesty - Oct. 2006
Crown - Sept. 2006
Volendam - April 2006
Jewel of the Seas - Oct. 2005
Norweigen Majesty - Sept. 2005
Explorer of the Seas - May 2005
Maasdam - Feb. 2005
Empress of the Seas - Sept. 2004
Empress of the Seas - Aug. 2004
Norweigen Dawn - March 2004
Zenith - Aug. 2003
Horizon - April 2003
#13
Arkansas
30,040 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by CruisinCrow
I'm no expert but my impressions are a lot like Nita's. The HAL cruise we were on definitely had an older clientele. People tended to dress up a lot more on Celebrity. NCL seemed younger and more casual.

HAL and Celebrity have more classic looking ships and they have very nice perks, like bigger cabins, robes, beach bags.

On our last NCL cruise, we traveled with my parents and my mom won't go on NCL again. She hated the decor (and also the coffee...I hope it's improved in the past few years). But I really liked the Freestyle aspect and trying all the different restaurants. So it depends on lot on what's important to you.

I'll go on any cruise line if it has the right itinerary.
funny you would mention the coffee, I happen to think coffee on all lines leaves a lot to be desired except for room service. There are others that will say NCL has the best coffee of any line. See what is meant by subjective...Lol
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Commodore 1984, Costa 1985, RCL 1987, Chandris 1989, NCL 1989, Commodore, 1991, NCL 1997, Carnival 1997, Carnival 1998,NCL 1998, NCL 1999, RCL 2000, RCL 2000,HAL 2001, NCL 2002,NCL 2003, Celebrity 2003, NCL 2004, NCL 2005, Celebrity 2005.NCL 2006, Celebrity 2006, HAL 2006, NCL 2007.Princess, 2008. NCL 2008, RCI 2008,Princess 2009, NCL 2009. NCL 2010, NCL 2011, Princess 2011, NCL 2012, NCL 2013, NCL again 2013, Princess 2014, NCL 2014, again 2014, 2015; about 2 do another NCL.
#14
Arkansas
30,040 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by flashdog_1
Does NCL have a naturalist on board who will narrate the glaciers, give lectures etc? I know they have them on X and HAL. I've been on 2 Celebrity Alaska cruises, but now sail NCL. I am unsure about the answer to my question (I need the answer, too, in case my 3rd trip is on NCL).

Nita, Xs cabins are considerably bigger than NCL's. Even an inside cabin is a regulation 172 sq ft but with NCl about 145. More closet space.

HAL has the best beds.

I liked X's food better than HAL's or NCL's but I didn't complain about it on HAL or NCL. NCL has almost 24 hour availability of real food, though, which the others do not, in the Blue Lagoon.

Depending on the ship, HAL and X have some indoor pools (T pool on X free on M class ships) (HAl has the open/close thingy on some ships). Check to see if the NCL ship does, even if you might have to pay for a spa pass, if that is important to you.
yes, NCL does have a naturalist or they did the only time we sailed Alaska..

As for the cabins, we have cruised Celebrity twice, once on the Conny and the cabins were almost exactly the same size as the Sun..In fact I think both were 179 sq ft plus the balcony..We sailed the Zenith, now gone, the cabin was slightly smaller, so I think it depends on the class of ship. except for HAL and Carnival we really haven't seen more than a few feet difference from one line to the other...

Nita
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Commodore 1984, Costa 1985, RCL 1987, Chandris 1989, NCL 1989, Commodore, 1991, NCL 1997, Carnival 1997, Carnival 1998,NCL 1998, NCL 1999, RCL 2000, RCL 2000,HAL 2001, NCL 2002,NCL 2003, Celebrity 2003, NCL 2004, NCL 2005, Celebrity 2005.NCL 2006, Celebrity 2006, HAL 2006, NCL 2007.Princess, 2008. NCL 2008, RCI 2008,Princess 2009, NCL 2009. NCL 2010, NCL 2011, Princess 2011, NCL 2012, NCL 2013, NCL again 2013, Princess 2014, NCL 2014, again 2014, 2015; about 2 do another NCL.
#15
Arkansas
30,040 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by flashdog_1
I forgot, Celebrity still gives you a glass of bubbly when you board. NCL did away with this perk recently.

Specifically, Celebrity allows you to bring on 2 bottles per cabin, free of charge. After that there is a corking fee, as there is for all wine on NCL.

How much wine can you bring on on HAL and Princess free of charge?
Actually we brought about 8 bottles on our last HAL cruise, no questions asked, but the corkage fees, if you take the wine to the dining room are higher.

As for the beds, the last two NCL cruises we have taken, last year and 2008 the beds and bedding were new and as nice or nicer than any line we have cruised. The old beds were pretty bad I wil admit. So for anyone who has not cruised NCL in the past year or so you might be surprised at how nice the beds are.

Nita
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Commodore 1984, Costa 1985, RCL 1987, Chandris 1989, NCL 1989, Commodore, 1991, NCL 1997, Carnival 1997, Carnival 1998,NCL 1998, NCL 1999, RCL 2000, RCL 2000,HAL 2001, NCL 2002,NCL 2003, Celebrity 2003, NCL 2004, NCL 2005, Celebrity 2005.NCL 2006, Celebrity 2006, HAL 2006, NCL 2007.Princess, 2008. NCL 2008, RCI 2008,Princess 2009, NCL 2009. NCL 2010, NCL 2011, Princess 2011, NCL 2012, NCL 2013, NCL again 2013, Princess 2014, NCL 2014, again 2014, 2015; about 2 do another NCL.
#16
1,071 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
yes, NCL does have a naturalist or they did the only time we sailed Alaska..
NCL had Glacier Bay naturalists on board doing commentary and presentations in Alaska last year - will let folks know if they do this year when we go again!
#17
Lincoln, CA
259 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Originally posted by pmd98052
NCL had Glacier Bay naturalists on board doing commentary and presentations in Alaska last year - will let folks know if they do this year when we go again!
In February on the Sun going around the tip of South America, the NCL staff member reading the presentations said that NCL was bringing their presentations in-house fleetwide.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
<table><tr><td>
  • Inside Passage, Seattle to Haynes: Alaska Marine Hwy<br>"M/V Columbia" June 1978
  • Yangtze River: China Regal "Princess Sheena" June 1996
  • Alaska: Celebrity "Infinity" September 2005
  • Riviera Mexicana: "Diamond Princess" January 2007
  • European Rivers: GCT "M/S River Symphony" October 2007
  • Upper Mississippi River: "American Queen" August 2007</td>
    <td>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td>
  • Rhone River France: GCT "M/S Chardonnay" April 2009
  • Seine River France: GCT "M/S Bizet" June 2009
  • Panama Canal: HAL "Oosterdam" November 2009
  • South America: NCL "Sun" January 2010
  • Riviera Mexicana: HAL "Oosterdam" February 2011
  • Boston to Quebec: NCL "Dawn" October 2012
</td></tr></table>