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librarygal

What will I notice when I cruise on the 5 Star and Expensive Cruiselines?

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My last cruise experience on Carnival was not good. The price was right but not much else.  I have decided I like the idea of cruising but need a more deluxe experience.

 

I have been looking at cruises on the 5-star cruise lines for a potential vacation of a lifetime in 2020.  I can splurge but want to get value for my money too.

 

We are looking at Viking Cruises, Regent, Silversea, Seven Seas, and Crystal.  Yes, they are expensive but I expect they give a superior product.

 

I would like to hear from people who normally cruised on the typical popular Large Ships (Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America) and decided to try one or more of the deluxe brands listed above.  What was your experience in the 5 Star Cruiselines?  What differences did you see?  How was the food, the cabin, the service, etc?  After splurging could you ever go back to a Carnival type ship, or were you too spoiled?  Or maybe you felt cheated on the 5 Star Ships and went back to Carnival or Royal Caribbean?   Tell us what you think! 

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I would not call Viking  a Luxury line more Premium like Azamara & Oceania

it is  what you will not see  that is a big part of luxury & premium lines  that make the experience  different

 

but you will notice in the upscale lines the ships are smaller  the total ambience is quite different ... quieter

well travelled pax, food quality is way above  the main stream lines

more things included in the price

have a look on the Luxury Forum  there are a couple of threads that may answer you questions

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/343-luxury-cruising/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2575695-were-you-a-big-ship-cruiser-whos-switched-to-luxury/

 

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I have only sailed the mainstream lines (CCL, RCCL, NCL, and Princess).  Princess was definitely a more sedate cruise than the others, but I'm sure itinerary and time of year had something to do with it (Canada in October).  I do hope to sail some of the luxury lines in the future so I appreciate the responses to the OP.

 

Librarygal - something to consider is that whether you ride in a no-frills base model Chevy or Ford or you drive a fully decked out BMW or Mercedes (or even go up to Rolls Royce), you are still in a car.  No matter what cruise line you choose it will still be a cruise with all of its magic and its messes.  I believe you mentioned sickness in a prior thread as something you didn't like on your last cruise.  Luxury ships will be smaller so you will feel the ocean more.  A smaller ship will likely have significantly better food, but will likely still have the fire restrictions limiting certain cooking techniques.  Perhaps you should consider river cruises based on your interest in more culture based trips (plus there shouldn't be as much motion issues as the open seas) or even look at land based vacations.  Cruising can be wonderful, but it is not for everyone.

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Just now, pacruise804 said:

 Luxury ships will be smaller so you will feel the ocean more. 

not necessarily

if the ship is very small  like Windstar  maybe  but there are other  small ships  that are  stable

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The only luxury line I've cruised with is Crystal, and I can point out the differences between it and my previous cruises with HAL and Celebrity:  It's like comparing apples and oranges. 

 

The obvious is that there are fewer people and more space, and virtually no lines longer than 2 or 3 people.  The less obvious is the more relaxed atmosphere that comes with that, since people aren't frustrated with crowds or rushing to get something done by a certain time.  Because the ship is less crowded, there's lots of outdoor space to relax in, negating the need (for me) for a private balcony.   The service is great but relaxed - no one is trying to ingratiate themselves for a bigger tip, they're just doing their jobs (but doing them well).   At least on Crystal, almost everything is included outside of gambling and the spa, so no one is trying to sell (or upsell) you anything.  Even photographers who take your picture make no mention of where to buy them -- soliciting purchases (of photographs, dance lessons, or jewelry, etc) is against their policy.   The speakers on board are interesting and topical, with topics occasionally on a theme but generally unrelated to any port stop i.e. they're not speakers who are really just trying to tell you how to buy things in port.   The food ranges from good to excellent and their personal service is top notch in that regard.  I've dined with someone who had a serious allergy and another with a religious dietary restriction, and the restaurant staff were amazingly attentive to their needs, even proactively telling one woman about some unexpected dairy in her hamburger bun, and bringing the next day's menus out to ensure something would appeal.   Personally, I also find the all-inclusive atmosphere to be additionally relaxing, because I don't have to ever think about paying for anything - it's nice to go to a fancy (specialty) restaurant and not get a bill, or to not be afraid to order something new because if you don't like it you don't have to worry about getting billed for it. 

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This is good stuff.  What about entertainment?  Daily activities?  Theater & lounge shows?  Anything to comment on about excursions?   Exercise facility? 

 

Here is what I'm hearing so far (sorry about any dups).  Sounds good to me.   

 

Great food

All dining venues at no additional cost

Personalized attention

All inclusive (to some degree or other)

Fewer people /Less crowded/no need for rushing around for a seat

No lines

More open space/more relaxing

Great service

No upselling/soliciting

Real guest speakers instead of shopping pitches

Quieter well traveled pax (?) 

 

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I can only comment on Oceania

they do have production shows  but  smaller than on the larger ships  1 show per night & single performers on other nights

there are many activities  during sea days  some on port days  just depends on your interests

yes there is  a gym with all different types of machines  as well as  yoga, pilates  etc..

no photographers, no art auctions, open dining  (eat when you are hungry )

all non alcoholic drinks included

excursions cannot comment as we do not take ship's tours

 

Just look at the different lines   & try one  for yourself  & see  if they fit you cruising style

enjoy

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9 hours ago, ldubs said:

This is good stuff.  What about entertainment?  Daily activities?  Theater & lounge shows?  Anything to comment on about excursions?   Exercise facility? 

 

I suspect that, just like with mainstream lines, there's too much variation between ships and between voyages to comment.   I generally don't go to the evening entertainment shows, but on Crystal I do always check out what's showing in their cinema.  I don't take excursions, so I can't comment there, and I rarely go to the exercise facility 😉   I have gone for saunas and steam occasionally, depending on my mood. 

As for the people, generally you will find the age trends older, as many people don't have as much discretionary income in their younger years to spend more on a cruise.  They tend to be friendly, sociable, and relaxed, in my experience. 

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This might be a strange question, but is it easy to keep to yourself on a smaller ship?  My husband is introverted (I on the other hand have never met a stranger 😉) and we find it easy on the larger ships (over 2K) to not interact with others much if we just want to spend time together.  We wouldn't want to be rude, but wouldn't want to have to make conversation with others whenever we were out of the cabin.  Of course we would have discussion with table mates at meals.  

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9 hours ago, pacruise804 said:

but is it easy to keep to yourself on a smaller ship? 

Yes.  Well, I guess it depends on how small......I'm sure on some Windstar yachts or an expedition ship, it might be tougher, but I've never sailed on a ship that small, and that's sort of why.  I want more than 200 people, but less than 2000 people.

 

Certainly on Crystal's ocean ships, each mid sized (50,000 tonnes, 800-900 passengers) there is no problem choosing to be by yourself and not socializing.  Many people do that, and it would not seem out of place as long as you're pleasant about telling people you don't want to chat.  Because luxury ships are much less crowded, it's easy to enjoy your space (on deck, by the pool, in the lounge) and not be crowded next to others who would want to chat.

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I don't think a cruise is that much different than staying in a land resort...you will have all sorts of people there.  You will all have the access to whatever "activities" are available.

 

We've been to resorts where the chair hogs were out in force!  We've had noisy hotel room neighbors...we've seen tattoos pretty much everywhere....

 

Just because you're on a ship doesn't change a thing!

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