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TriumphGuy

HAL and Princess comparison?

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Hi, 

We have been Princess cruisers exclusively since we began cruising in 2016. Recently we have become a bit disenchanted with Princess due to their new short sighted policy of removing seating from balcony cabins, elimination of afternoon Happy Hour, and a few other things. So we are looking at other lines.

We are not party types, enjoy quiet sea days, good food, light to moderate drinkers, not real big on shipboard entertainment (although do enjoy a comedian or show at times). I love to read and could spend a lot of time on the balcony, in the cabin, or a quiet spot around the ship doing just that. 

Princess seems to want to get everybody out of their cabin to spend money. We have become a bit weary of Princess' hard sell for extras and removal of comfortable seating was the last straw. So much so that we have decided to cancel a cruise in Australia next year. 

So how does HAL compare? Are we on the right track?

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I have not sailed on Princess (and no balcony furniture will ensure I never will) but it sounds as if HAL would suit you perfectly.  Thanks for bumping this thread.  I’m sure there will be others along to comment shortly.

Edited by *Miss G*

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There are many differences between Princess and HAL but IMHO there is only one significant difference between them - only HAL has a Roman Catholic priest (who celebrates daily Mass) on board every one of its cruises. Since spiritual renewal is an important component of our vacation experience, HAL is our hands-down choice. YMMV

Edited by avian777

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My wife and I have sailed on both Princess and Holland America and much prefer Holland America. We don't drink but other than that, you seem to enjoy all the things we enjoy and those are the things Princess lacks. I think you would enjoy Holland America. You might enjoy viewing my wife's website. She creates slideshows from the thousands of pictures on every cruise. They are all listed in chronological order on the Travel section of her website and include slideshows of the ships, our shore excursions, and the suite we stay in on each cruise. I'll insert a link below that will take you there.

 

Nancy's Oasis - Travel

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We've sailed on both Princess and HAL. I prefer HAL. We've done all Alaska cruises. There has always been quiet spots to read on the ship. There are quite a few activities offered but it's up to you what you want to do. There are shows every night as well as music in the evenings and other events. My DH prefers to hang out in the cabin in the evening other than if the group at Lincoln Center is playing and then he's right there! I prefer to go to the show and some of the evening entertainment. There's something for both of us. We like the food on HAL and the burgers and fries at the Dive-In are better than those from the Trident Grill (IMO). 


Karen

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8 hours ago, TriumphGuy said:

Recently we have become a bit disenchanted with Princess due to their new short sighted policy of removing seating from balcony cabins, ...

We have some Princess cruises coming up and were interested in just exactly what you meant by your "removing seating" statement. Have they removed all furniture from the balconies and/or some chairs/sofas from the cabins. Also, which ships were you on that you experienced this policy change?

 

BTW you'll have a great time on any HAL cruise you choose!

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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We have been Elite on Princess for over 15 years and also 5 Star Mariners on HAL.  Currently, we cruise on both lines along with a few others.  Trying to compare Princess and HAL is difficult because there are many differences not just between the lines but also between various ships of each line.  To be  very honest we still enjoy both lines although there have been cut-backs on both lines that certainly change things from what used to be.  

 

Not sure we understand the comment about Princess getting folks out of the cabin to spend money.  Like all mass market lines, each line does its best to separate passengers from their money.  But we do not spend much money on either line except tor our drinking habits.  On many Princess ships we love to spend time at their International Café (open 24/7) where we enjoy their fresh donuts, pastries, and other snacks during the day.  This is all free!  The IC does charge for coffee/tea concoctions (as does HAL at its coffee place) but we are able to swap our free mini-bar (an Elite benefit) for coffee cards (loaded on the cruise card) so pay nothing for coffee related items.  On HAL we get 50% Off but still must pay something.  Princess also gives us a lot of free Internet while HAL makes us pay for any Internet and only offers a small discount because we are 5 Star Mariners.  So in a sense, we pay more money for onboard stuff on HAL then we do on Princess.

 

Princess also has more late night (after 10) life then found on most HAL cruises where it seems like they roll up the decks shortly after 10.   When we did the Voyage of the Vikings cruise (a very popular HAL voyage) DW and I would often be among the last 4-6 passengers in the piano bar after 11.  In fact, Barry from Boston (the Piano Bar entertainer) would sometimes do the appropriate Sesame Street song equating to the number or folks still in the bar and the number "4" was not rare.

 

As to food,  there are some things that each line does better, but overall we would rate it close to a toss-up.  We would give the entertainment advantage to Princess except that on most of their ships the main theater does not offer enough seating to handle a full cruise.  Those that dine early on Princess will find that they may need to go to their show at least 20  min early to simply get a seat.  The shows for the later diners (which includes me) are generally not nearly as crowded.

 

Trying to debate cabins and décor really depends on the ship and cabin category.   But we have never had an A/C problem in any Princess cabin....while we have had quite a few HAL cabins that would never get as cool as we prefer.  On Princess, those that want a little more cabin space and seating should consider booking one of their mini-suites (not really a suite).  I should also mention that the new Princess Internet service called "Medallion Net" is lightyears faster then any Internet we have had on HAL.  While this service is currently only on a few Princess vessels it is gradually being expanded fleet-wide.

 

Hank

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8 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

We have some Princess cruises coming up and were interested in just exactly what you meant by your "removing seating" statement. Have they removed all furniture from the balconies and/or some chairs/sofas from the cabins. Also, which ships were you on that you experienced this policy change?

 

BTW you'll have a great time on any HAL cruise you choose!

The balcony chairs are not being removed, although I have heard from some that footstools for balcony chairs are. What is being removed is the single barrel chair located within standard balcony and inside cabins, leaving no place to sit comfortably except a desk chair or the bed. 

There is a current thread running on the Princess board on this, some 19 pages. We just got off the Crown Princess and I can attest that there was no chair in our cabin. Apparently this is a fleet-wide move to be completed by 2020.

For us, it's a deal breaker. I need a place to sit. I have written to Princess' CEO and their Customer Relations, along with many others. 

Speculation as to why runs the gamut from Princesses'  claim that it's space issue, to maintenance costs, to trying to get pax out of their cabins to spend more money. I think it's an incredibly stupid, short-sighted executive decision that will cost Princess in the long run.

So, we are looking for a more suitable line. HAL seems like it might work. I worry, though because HAL and Princess are both owned by Carnival, so who knows what the future will bring. 

Thanks to all who have responded!

Burns

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2 hours ago, TriumphGuy said:

The balcony chairs are not being removed, although I have heard from some that footstools for balcony chairs are. What is being removed is the single barrel chair located within standard balcony and inside cabins, leaving no place to sit comfortably except a desk chair or the bed. 

There is a current thread running on the Princess board on this, some 19 pages. We just got off the Crown Princess and I can attest that there was no chair in our cabin. Apparently this is a fleet-wide move to be completed by 2020.

For us, it's a deal breaker. I need a place to sit. I have written to Princess' CEO and their Customer Relations, along with many others. 

Speculation as to why runs the gamut from Princesses'  claim that it's space issue, to maintenance costs, to trying to get pax out of their cabins to spend more money. I think it's an incredibly stupid, short-sighted executive decision that will cost Princess in the long run.

So, we are looking for a more suitable line. HAL seems like it might work. I worry, though because HAL and Princess are both owned by Carnival, so who knows what the future will bring. 

Thanks to all who have responded!

Burns

Wow! No chair in a "double occupancy" cabin. I agree, that does stink. Luckily, we have booked mini-suites, but that would definitely cause us to rethink booking a regular balcony in the future!

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9 minutes ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Wow! No chair in a "double occupancy" cabin. I agree, that does stink. Luckily, we have booked mini-suites, but that would definitely cause us to rethink booking a regular balcony in the future!

It is my understanding that Princess Premium Balcony and above will still have the chair or loveseat, depending on cabin type. It is only the standard balcony cabin and inside cabins where they are removing them. We have never had above a standard balcony cabin so I can't really speak to that other than what I have read. There was no barrel chair in our balcony cabin and we really missed it.

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13 minutes ago, TriumphGuy said:

It is my understanding that Princess Premium Balcony and above will still have the chair or loveseat, depending on cabin type. It is only the standard balcony cabin and inside cabins where they are removing them. We have never had above a standard balcony cabin so I can't really speak to that other than what I have read. There was no barrel chair in our balcony cabin and we really missed it.

Did you by chance ask your steward where it went and/or if they could bring you one?

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4 minutes ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Did you by chance ask your steward where it went and/or if they could bring you one?

I did not, mainly because I had read beforehand that there were none available. Maybe he could have found one but it's not the steward's fault and I didn't want to be "that guy". In hindsight I probably should have. We managed without it, but I won't do it again.

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20 hours ago, TriumphGuy said:

Hi, 

We are not party types, enjoy quiet sea days, good food, light to moderate drinkers, not real big on shipboard entertainment (although do enjoy a comedian or show at times). I love to read and could spend a lot of time on the balcony, in the cabin, or a quiet spot around the ship doing just that. 

 

 

We've cruised on both Princess and HAL.

For what you want ... HAL would be an excellent choice for you.  :classic_smile:

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We are also long time Princess cruisers who will be trying HAL. We primarily cruise in Europe. We are switching to HAL because we have run out of new itineraries with Princess. We are looking forward to trying something new. I think the only thing we will miss with Princess are our free internet minutes and their superior website. We aren’t party people so HAL seems like it will fill the bill for us. 

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We have been HAL fans for many years and have a cruise coming up (Panama Canal) on the Ooserdam this April. We just finished a Princess cruise (Grand Princess) from SF to Hawaii and back so have a good point of comparison. Hands down HAL is much better than Princess. Especially the food. Princess had some excellent choices here and there but overall I think the food on Princess must be closer to what I imagine the food is like at Old Country Buffet or Golden Coral. Sounds severe I know but that is my opinion. The Grand is a very old ship and this was our only Princess cruise so perhaps other ships in the fleet are better. Interior design is of the old imitation school IE: Italian themed dining rooms with bad Italian watercolors on the walls; a Spa made to look like something tropical that misses the mark entirely; MDR's that have garish Vegas style lighting when it's not necessary, etc. Fortunately a lot of new builds are eschewing that type of stuff yet there are a few cruise lines that have not caught on. HAL is a class operation from top to bottom. We  won't be sailing with Princess again. Good luck with your planning. Cheers.

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6 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Wow! No chair in a "double occupancy" cabin. I agree, that does stink. Luckily, we have booked mini-suites, but that would definitely cause us to rethink booking a regular balcony in the future!

Stuff like that makes a difference to me, so good to know.  Sitting on a bed to read for an hour or two is not do-able with my bad back. I need a chair.

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HAL has the Lincoln Center Stage for classical music.  Service and food is much better on HAL.

We canceled a Princess cruise for this winter after experiencing Princess last summer. The current Princess product is not what it once was.

(10 Princess cruises, 7 HAL)

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I have been following the discussion regarding the removal of the barrel chair from balcony and outside cabins on Princess and think it's a ridiculous decision.  We have sailed on both Princess and HAL numerous times and think HAL's cabin are more comfortable. The only way we do Princess cruises these days is in a Mini Suite. HAL's cabins have a loveseat or couch depending on the cabin, plus a desk chair. 

 

HAL's room service is so much better than Princess. You can get a real omelet instead of the "egg mcmuffin" Princess offers  and in the evening you can order off the dining room menu. If you prefer Anytime Dining you can make reservations for 3 days in advance instead of having to call every morning. 

 

HAL offers Happy Hour specials and usually one of the lounges has a wine/appetizer deal at 5pm.

 

From your description of what you like on a cruise I think you should give HAL a try. Also, if you decide to book on HAL make sure you call the Mariner Society(HAL's version of the Captain's Circle) and give them your Captains Circle number. You can't mix days sailed between the two lines but you will do your first HAL cruise as a Star Mariner which will get you an invitation to the Mariner Lunch they have for past cruisers.

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16 minutes ago, hobo1937 said:

HAL's cabins have a loveseat or couch depending on the cabin, plus a desk chair. 

Most of them, anyway. The inside cabins on the newest ships (Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam) have neither the love seat nor even a chair for passengers to sit on. :classic_angry:

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31 minutes ago, RuthC said:

Most of them, anyway. The inside cabins on the newest ships (Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam) have neither the love seat nor even a chair for passengers to sit on. :classic_angry:

 

Gosh, we've only been on the older HAL ships so didn't know the newer ones have NO love seat or chair for inside cabins.

How about the seating in ocean view and the balcony (veranda) cabins on these new ships? 

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I think HAL & Celebrity are more alike. Both have linen clothes in the rest rooms. Both do not have messages on the loud speaker except for  a report from the Captain at noon. Both have excellent food. My wife & I are elite with princess but prefer HAL & Celebrity.

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4 minutes ago, OCruisers said:

How about the seating in ocean view and the balcony (veranda) cabins on these new ships? 

I don't know about outside cabins, but believe balcony cabins do have a couch or love seat.

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 I'm an inside cabin cruiser and have always had at least a loveseat. Yikes, no chair or loveseat would be a deal breaker 

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This topic really hits home for me. We are elite level Princess members, but the 14 day cruise we recently completed was our first cruise vacation in 7 years. The Princess passenger experience has really  taken a nose dive in the years since we last sailed.

Everywhere you looked, there was constant evidence of cost cutting, offering less for more. The feeling of being pampered  just wasn't there anymore. The food was good in the MDR, and specialty dining, but the buffet was the same food offered every day, and was often under heated and greasy.

 

We are doing an Alaska cruise next, but not with Princess, so are checking out the HA and Celebrity boards. Not sure of the difference between Celebrity and Princess at this point. Anyway, we will be hanging around the board, looking for a new home.

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