Comparisons between the lines can be useful; but only to a certain point and probably only if one is properly comparing the physically comparable ships for their differences in prices and cruise amenities. We have extensively sailed on Celebrity, covering every class ship in their fleet going back to their original Constellation class (e.g. Century), M Class (e.g. Millenium) and S class (e.g. Solstice), more frequently on the S class. Most recently we have sailed on the new Konigsdam (Pinnacle Class) and the recently refurbed Westerdam (Signature class). Here are some thoughts based on our experiences.
To begin, Celebrity’s newish (they are 10 years old now) S class ships most closely compare to HAL’s Pinnacle class (only 3 years old). Celebrity S class ships are larger than HAL Pinnacle class ships physically (tonnage) and in passenger capacity. Celebrity’s older M class (approaching 20 years old) compares closest to HAL’s Signature Class ( 10years+ old) or older Vista class ships (also nearing 20 years); although again Celebrity ships are still larger both physically and in capacity. Holland’s fleet is quite a bit larger than Celebrity’s which allows them to offer a much wider choice of itineraries and schedules. We sail primarily the Caribbean and have found that in recent years Celebrity itineraries have become a bit stale and that they have significantly raised their prices. HAL pricing still represents good value and they offer many more options for extended cruising, i.e. longer than 10 or 11 day, which we prefer.
In comparing Celebrity to HAL we give the Pinnacle class ships advantage for varied entertainment offerings; e.g. World Stage, Lincoln Center, Rolling Stone and B.B. Kings. The BBC film with live music accompaniment in the main showroom on the HAL Pinnacle ships is unique. The circular 280 degree wrap around World Stage on HAL is unique and allows things to be done that a normal stage doesn’t accommodate. But HALS’s Pinnacle class ship showroms seat far less than any Celebrity showroom and sometimes it can be a challenge to get a seat unless one arrives pretty early. Celebrity seems to offer more themed shows using on board dancers than HAL. My wife misses the shows on Celebrity, I don’t. HAL Pinnacle class ships have free movies under the stars (retractable roof) if you like that. Celebrity S class ships have an extra charge Taste of Film outdoors; not really directly comparable to HAL’s on deck movies. If you are into onboard shopping (get your gold chain and rope by the foot LOL) then go Celebrity; much better shopping options. HAL wins for their cruise line sponsored off boat experience Half Moon Cay. Celebrity doesn’t have a private island.
Dining is very subjective. So, take this for what it’s worth. We have always found the dining on both Celebrity and HAL to be excellent, or a t least live up to our expectations based on what we paid for the cruises. We think Celebrity S class Ocean View buffet layout which uses distinct serving islands vs the more traditional linear food line layout of HAL ships Lido is superior. We also think the buffet selections on Celebrity are more extensive than on HAL; otherwise both comparable in quality. Casual free and extra cost reserved dining on each line is similar; although we would take the Tuscan Grill on Celebrity over HAL’s Canaletto any day. Tamarind on HAL is exceptional for the price; we thought it was the best extra charge restaurant they offer. Poolside food options on HAL Pinnacle class include the excellent New York Deli and Pizza; nothing quite like it on Celebrity. Dive-In (hamburgers and hot dogs) on Hal compares to Mast Grill on Celebrity but we liked Dive-In better. Celebrity has Café al Bacio coffee bars; HAL Pinnacle shops have both Explorers Café and Grand Dutch Café. Café al Bacio is better than Explorers for diversity of bites and has much better service. Explorers on HAL seems to be regularly understaffed. Throw the Grand Dutch Café with their free Dutch themed food items (not just bites) into the equation and then HAL looks to be equal or slightly better. Our last year’s cruise on Konigsdam they had a Mexican Taco buffet/food bar poolside for lunch; nothing like that on Celebrity.
Bar Crawl? Celebrity in our opinion wins this easily just on the basis of their well-known ice-topped Martini bars which remain quite lively and vibrant well into the late night; nothing like on HAL. Celebrity S class ships have World Class Bar which is themed on the concept of mixology; nothing similar on HAL. In general, disregarding dink packages, drink prices seem cheaper than on Celebrity.
Depending on specific HAL ship there may be smoking allowed in the casino, Celebrity has eliminated interior smoking fleetwide several years ago. Winner, Celebrity.
All in all at the right price and depending on the itinerary and sailing length we would have no issues travelling on either line. We like them both. Right now we are searching for an extended length cruise this winter but I think my own observations have me convinced to concentrate searching for a Holland cruise.