We recently completed two Caribbean cruises, one on HAL and one on Princess, both on their respective fleet’s newest ship.
HAL Nieuw Statendam – 14 days - November 2019 – Vista Suite
Sky Princess – 14 days – February 2020 – Mini Suite
EMBARKATION : Being 5-Star HAL Mariners, we usually get on board relatively fast when boarding a HAL ship. This latest Princess cruise was our last as pretty lowly Ruby guests. We arrived at the port at 11 am and were on board with access to our room at 11:30. The Princess “Medallion” process where you register and scan your info and pictures before leaving home works beautifully regardless of your status. ADVANTAGE PRINCESS.
STATEROOM : We normally book a Vista Suite or Signature Suite (depending on the ship) on HAL and a Mini Suite on Princess. The Mini Suite offers lots of room and more storage space than either HAL rooms with a full tub/shower combination but a much smaller balcony than HAL. THIS ONE IS A TIE.
DINING : MDR dining on Princess was superior in both variety and quality to HAL’s MDR. Crown Grill was superior to Pinnacle. Sabatini’s was by far superior to Canelleto. We did not try La Mer because of its location, open to the Piazza and its ambient noise. It was never busy. Alfredo’s Pizza is way better than New York Deli but Dive In wins hands down over The Salty Dog. Princess did cater to my wife’s request for a no salt/no fat diet with much nicer preparations than HAL. Although Princess no longer has a wine package, their regular selection and prices are so much better than HAL’s. ADVANTAGE PRINCESS..
SHORE EXCURSIONS : We pre-booked three excursions with Princess. One did not follow the advertised itinerary, one started late and the other one’s departure time was changed without us receiving a notice. We did get refunded for that one. ADVANTAGE HAL
ENTERTAINMENT : This is truly a no contest. Princess still has music where people can dance before or after dinner in at least 3 different locations with different performers alternating venues. The music in the Piazza starts in the afternoon and ends around midnight every night. The showroom performances are spectacular and on par with Las Vegas or London’s West End performances. Why HAL spent mega dollars to build a state of the art facility on Koningsdam and Nieuw Amsterdam and then turned them into a venue showing nature and wildlife movies, holding port talk seminars, playing bingo and selling jewelry is still a mystery to me. HUGE ADVANTAGE PRINCESS.
SERVICE : While HAL is seen as having superior service because of its Filipino and East Indonesian crews, it seemed every staff member we dealt with on Princess was from the Philippines or Indonesia. The service was excellent on both. ANOTHER TIE.
We are really looking forward to our next cruise, a 24 day Mediterranean cruise in June.
BUT AFTER THAT???
We have a Trans-Atlantic booked for April 2021 on the Nieuw Statendam followed by a Norwegian Fjord cruise. Princess is now offering a very similar itinerary on one of their newer ships. We are very tempted to switch. Based on this comparative review, what would you do ???