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jkgourmet

HAL vs Celebrity?

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We are seniors who have cruised 25+ times.  We always HAPPILY sail in the cheapest cabins that get us the perks we want On the itineraries we want (on Celebrity, that means an OV cabin).  We booked insides in The pre-perk days.  We aren't loyal to any cruise lines.  In fact, we've sailed on 7 different cruise lines.  Celebrity, HAL, MSC, RCCL, NCL, Princess, and Carnival.  We would sail on any of them again except RCCL and Carnival.  

 

Our last 4 and next one have been on Celebrity primarily because the perks make the pricing pretty much unbeatable for our preferences.  But HAL is offering some deals with similar perks that make the pricing in an OV cabin very competitive.

 

it's been years since we sailed HAL.  for those who have sailed both recently-ish, Can you give me your thoughts, please?  I'm not interested in what suites offer - it's not the way we travel.  

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Here is a very recent thread on the same topic:

 

 

There are lots more within the last 6 months.  Here is another:

 

 

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Thank you for the reply.  Somehow, my search missed your first link, and I've now reviewed it.  The second link is nearly all related to suites, and loyalty extras, etc.  Not really applicable to my query.

 

I'm particularly interested in the following:

 

  • Food - specific to MDR and buffet
  • Smoking issues (this is repeatedly brought up in X as a problem on HAL)
  • Class differentiation.  Separate areas for those sailing in suites and higher cabin - exclusive deck areas, restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Class differentiation - rooms/areas set aside for loyalty members, public rooms taken over nightly for loyalty members.

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We sail both.. HAL does a better job on romantic getaways... while Celebrity does a better job making us feel special..

While we sail both and love both equally ... Our next cruise is on HAL

 

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3 hours ago, jkgourmet said:

  I'm not interested in what suites offer - it's not the way we travel.  

 

23 minutes ago, jkgourmet said:

I'm particularly interested in the following:

  • Class differentiation.  Separate areas for those sailing in suites and higher cabin - exclusive deck areas, restaurants, bars, etc.

  

So you are or you aren't interested in this?  

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1 hour ago, jkgourmet said:

Thank you for the reply.  Somehow, my search missed your first link, and I've now reviewed it.  The second link is nearly all related to suites, and loyalty extras, etc.  Not really applicable to my query.

 

I'm particularly interested in the following:

 

  • Food - specific to MDR and buffet
  • Smoking issues (this is repeatedly brought up in X as a problem on HAL)
  • Class differentiation.  Separate areas for those sailing in suites and higher cabin - exclusive deck areas, restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Class differentiation - rooms/areas set aside for loyalty members, public rooms taken over nightly for loyalty members.

 

HAL does not have as many areas as Celebrity that are dedicated to a particular group of passengers if that is what you are getting at. Suites have traditionally had access to a small lounge (not a large area) and suite passengers until recently have had no special dining area set aside (other than being able to breakfast in the specialty restaurant Pinnacle Grill).  You might want to search for threads related to Club Orange, which is a new move by HAL to provide dedicated dining space for suite passengers. There is nothing like Blu or Aqua class on HAL.

 

As to smoke, there are some ships where inside smoking is pretty nonexistent (e.g., not allowed in the casino). On other ships, smoking IS still allowed in the casino and depending on who you ask, this can create a problem in adjacent interior areas. 

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Posted (edited)

Stick with the smaller, older HAL ships (Vista class and down) and you will find a very egalitarian experience for all on board, no matter which cabin you select. Plus small enough to still offer some pretty great itineraries and port access that the larger ships can no longer provide.

 

Anyone who does not want to show up in port with 3000 plus of their new best friends should consider the remarkable choices the older, smaller HAL fleet still offers.  (Vista, R and S class ships). While we can.

Edited by OlsSalt

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54 minutes ago, OlsSalt said:

Anyone who does not want to show up in port with 3000 plus of their new best friends should consider the remarkable choices the older, smaller HAL fleet still offers.  (Vista, R and S class ships). While we can.

 

Can i get an AMEN!

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3 hours ago, Aquahound said:

 

  

So you are or you aren't interested in this?  

 

I purposely tried to leave that information ambiguous so as not to 'lead' anyone in a certain direction. 

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We have sailed on HAL and Celebrity (our first cruise).  Our last Celebrity cruises were on the Summit (Can-NE, 2015) and the Eclipse (Med, 2014).  Our last HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam in April 2017 (TA).  We hadn't been on either for some years because we had come to prefer Princess and its "product," price point and perks.  We enjoyed both the Eclipse and Zuiderdam, probably because they were different from what we were used to.  The buffet on the Eclipse was amazing; then there's the "lawn" and the 2-level horseshoe-shaped theater.  The Zuiderdam was quiet and cozy (smaller than ships we'd been sailing on).  Didn't like the casino on Eclipse (open to a major walkway to the theater, which I loved) even tho I won a very nice "door prize."  Loved the Crow's Nest/Explorations Cafe on Zuidy.  Finally, we like that Celebrity (at least on the Eclipse) had a staff person dedicated to Cruise Critic pax.

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9 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

We have sailed on HAL and Celebrity (our first cruise).  Our last Celebrity cruises were on the Summit (Can-NE, 2015) and the Eclipse (Med, 2014).  Our last HAL cruise was on the Zuiderdam in April 2017 (TA).  We hadn't been on either for some years because we had come to prefer Princess and its "product," price point and perks.  We enjoyed both the Eclipse and Zuiderdam, probably because they were different from what we were used to.  The buffet on the Eclipse was amazing; then there's the "lawn" and the 2-level horseshoe-shaped theater.  The Zuiderdam was quiet and cozy (smaller than ships we'd been sailing on).  Didn't like the casino on Eclipse (open to a major walkway to the theater, which I loved) even tho I won a very nice "door prize."  Loved the Crow's Nest/Explorations Cafe on Zuidy.  Finally, we like that Celebrity (at least on the Eclipse) had a staff person dedicated to Cruise Critic pax.

 

  It sounds like you enjoyed both X and HAL.  Mind giving me a brief idea what you like more about Princess?  I know you referred to the price point and perks, but I've never seen them offer the perks we want - like an alcohol package and included gratuities - in the lower priced cabins (ocean view, inside, etc.)  Hence, Princess never prices out anywhere near what the 'total package' on X gives us. 

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Posted (edited)

If you are a foodie,  the  2019 Cruiser's Choice Awards are now available for CC users.  (scroll to top of page)

 

In the Dining category  Celebrity ships did pretty well.   

 

HAL ships did not do very well.  Most evidently did not make the cut.

 

My understanding is that these votes are comprised from CC members, not just HAL or X fans.

 

 

 

Edited by JRG

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Posted (edited)

I pretty much prefer Celebrity in every way. But Celebrity has more suite perks and more suites only spaces. It sounds like that is a trigger for you, so HAL is probably your better choice. 

Edited by Cruzaholic41

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We like them both.  But on HAL we really have to pay attention to the specific ship and the ship reviews.

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We are actually looking at our next cruise, and it's down to a choice between a HAL and a Celebrity itinerary in the far east.  As 5 of our last 7 cruises have been on HAL, we would LOVE to try Celebrity (for the first time in 15 years) as the HAL "product" is starting to seem all the same. (And a bit stale)  The rub is however, that trip after trip, HAL seems to have the "better" itinerary, with more ports, more "interesting" ports, and more stops that we have never been to.....   

 

Ah the quandary!

 

(And the reason for my rant above is simply to say that I too am interested in everyone's thoughts on this subject, in the least to help us decide which way to jump.....) 

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8 minutes ago, FredT said:

We are actually looking at our next cruise, and it's down to a choice between a HAL and a Celebrity itinerary in the far east.  As 5 of our last 7 cruises have been on HAL, we would LOVE to try Celebrity (for the first time in 15 years) as the HAL "product" is starting to seem all the same. (And a bit stale)  The rub is however, that trip after trip, HAL seems to have the "better" itinerary, with more ports, more "interesting" ports, and more stops that we have never been to.....   

 

Ah the quandary!

 

(And the reason for my rant above is simply to say that I too am interested in everyone's thoughts on this subject, in the least to help us decide which way to jump.....) 

 

Fred, this is a bit OT, but we are taking the Celebrity Japan Explorer cruise in April.  One of the biggest issues to consider with Asia cruises is how far the ports are from many of the sites you are going to want to see.  This is one of the reasons those itineraries have so many overnights.  We considered that 'commuting' time to be unacceptable for most of the SE Asian itineraries.  Japan/South Korea was an exception.

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3 minutes ago, FredT said:

We are actually looking at our next cruise, and it's down to a choice between a HAL and a Celebrity itinerary in the far east.  As 5 of our last 7 cruises have been on HAL, we would LOVE to try Celebrity (for the first time in 15 years) as the HAL "product" is starting to seem all the same. (And a bit stale)  The rub is however, that trip after trip, HAL seems to have the "better" itinerary, with more ports, more "interesting" ports, and more stops that we have never been to.....   

 

Ah the quandary!

 

(And the reason for my rant above is simply to say that I too am interested in everyone's thoughts on this subject, in the least to help us decide which way to jump.....) 

 

Sounds like you are caught in between the classic focus of cruising primarily for an onboard experience versus cruising to travel. Where on that sliding scale are you, the itinerary and the cruise line you are looking at. 

 

 Seems natural one cruise line like will feel "stale" after a number of cruises on the same line. Others may welcome its predictable familiarity. Especially when new ports continue to shine as a main travel attraction.  Tough call. We know which way we would go - cruise to travel and appreciate the homey comfort of HAL ships, esp the smaller ones with less impact on the ports visited.

 

Good luck with your decision. Always interesting to see how others weigh and balance these variables.

 

I remember stack of notes made on various cruise lines when we were first exploring cruising and a pretty routine Caribbean itinerary in our early days - finally went with HAL for the exact same reason you state - more ports and more interesting itinerary. That was 10 years ago and we never looked back - HAL continues to both comfort and intrigue us but we do pick our cruises with a lot of care so we can keep finding those that are truly special.  

 

Generic HAL,  larger HAL - not so much. But oh the places HAL cotniues to take us to see ...at sea.  HAL is home for us. 

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11 hours ago, jkgourmet said:

I'm particularly interested in the following:

 

  • Food - specific to MDR and buffet
  • Smoking issues (this is repeatedly brought up in X as a problem on HAL)
  • Class differentiation.  Separate areas for those sailing in suites and higher cabin - exclusive deck areas, restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Class differentiation - rooms/areas set aside for loyalty members, public rooms taken over nightly for loyalty members.

 

Here are some comments about the subjects you are interested in, based on our recent cruising in Oceanview rooms. 

In June we took a Boston to Bermuda cruise on the Veendam (1350 pass) and docked in Hamilton for 4 days, an itinerary HAL has dropped for 2019 and 2020. In January we took the Celebrity Summit (2150 pass) for a 12-day Southern Caribbean cruise from San Juan.

 

It had been nine years since the last time we sailed on HAL, and we were agreeably surprised by how little the smoking impinged on us this time. HAL has cut down on the areas where smoking is allowed. We had no trouble avoiding the casino, walking through the shops area on the starboard side. Still, we would have preferred no indoor smoking, but only two of the ships in HAL’s fleet offer that. We also avoided the outdoor areas on the Summit where people were smoking, and sometimes the smoke wafted briefly into an adjacent indoor area.   

 

Though the HAL cabin had more square feet and a lot more storage than the X cabin, I liked it less because the bed was against the window wall, instead of sideways in the room. The HAL and X ships both showed their age, HAL’s more so, with drawers in the dresser sticking and water draining slowly from the tub. The TV on the Summit often didn’t work. When we called for maintenance, someone came in and jiggled the cables for 30 seconds and it worked, until we turned it off. We had to mess with the cables nearly everyday to get the TV working. 

 

X and HAL both had some nonfunctioning elevators for most of the cruise. X was redecorating the elevators prior to dry dock, so there was often one elevator in each of the three banks that wasn’t operational. On the Veendam one elevator in the aft bank was out of service for multiple days.  

 

The Veendam has some advantages, especially for passengers who are not in balcony cabins. Its fully walk-around promenade deck was a pleasant throwback to an earlier age of ocean liners. X has an unpleasant throwback (from my perspective) from earlier centuries: a “class system” by which parts of the ship (e.g., private dining rooms) are set aside for suite or upper-echelon passengers. That wasn't the case on the Veendam, but it's one of the older, smaller ships. I can't speak to whether the class system is in effect on HAL's newer, larger ships. 

 

Nickel-and-dime-ing is a lot more obvious on X, which charges for movies on the cabin TV. A bag of laundry on the Summit cost us $50. That was supposedly a discount price. HAL would have charged $20 a bag, but we used the Veendam’s self-service laundry, which cost us $3 to wash and dry.

 

MDR food was comparable on HAL and X, Service on the Summit was quite slow for tables of six, taking two hours or more for dinner. The dining room was crowded with tables and so loud that I had trouble hearing someone across a table for four. There was less crowding in Veendam’s MDR, and I had no trouble hearing people sitting across from me at a table for eight. The smaller size of the HAL ship might explain that difference.

 

Summit’s Oceanview café had more varied options for lunch and dinner. We particularly liked the grill in the aft part of the café. The fish was cooked to perfection, not overcooked as in most cruise MDRs. Grilled meat was also available there. The café also had ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt, in a greater variety of flavors than HAL offered. However, HAL gets one important thing right, IMHO, though some cruisers complain about this: Passengers do not serve themselves at the buffet, making them wait a little longer but significantly reducing the chance of picking up germs from the serving spoons (or from passengers who take food with their fingers). I hope the other lines adopt this policy though it means more personnel assigned to serve food.   

 

A couple of other pluses for HAL. The ship wifi enables texting between passengers onboard without paying for Internet access.  I enjoyed the America’s Test Kitchen presentations and appreciated the New York Times Digest available every day, as well as digests of newspapers from many other countries.

 

We'd be happy on either HAL or Celebrity cruises. The itinerary is the only thing that matters to us in choosing a cruise. I hope this was helpful.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

 

Sounds like you are caught in between the classic focus of cruising primarily for an onboard experience versus cruising to travel. Where on that sliding scale are you, the itinerary and the cruise line you are looking at. 

 

 Seems natural one cruise line like will feel "stale" after a number of cruises on the same line. Others may welcome its predictable familiarity. Especially when new ports continue to shine as a main travel attraction.  Tough call. We know which way we would go - cruise to travel and appreciate the homey comfort of HAL ships, esp the smaller ones with less impact on the ports visited.

 

Good luck with your decision. Always interesting to see how others weigh and balance these variables.

 

I remember stack of notes made on various cruise lines when we were first exploring cruising and a pretty routine Caribbean itinerary in our early days - finally went with HAL for the exact same reason you state - more ports and more interesting itinerary. That was 10 years ago and we never looked back - HAL continues to both comfort and intrigue us but we do pick our cruises with a lot of care so we can keep finding those that are truly special.  

 

Generic HAL,  larger HAL - not so much. But oh the places HAL cotniues to take us to see ...at sea.  HAL is home for us. 

For us, the focus is ALWAYS "cruising to travel", and the lure of new cities and countries win out every time.....   I just wish that Celebrity (or any of the other mainline cruise lines) tried a bit harder to schedule "Unique" itineraries rather than the "same old"....     

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46 minutes ago, FredT said:

For us, the focus is ALWAYS "cruising to travel", and the lure of new cities and countries win out every time.....   I just wish that Celebrity (or any of the other mainline cruise lines) tried a bit harder to schedule "Unique" itineraries rather than the "same old"....     

I agree. More variety in the itineraries would make cruising more appealing. 

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14 hours ago, FredT said:

For us, the focus is ALWAYS "cruising to travel", and the lure of new cities and countries win out every time.....   I just wish that Celebrity (or any of the other mainline cruise lines) tried a bit harder to schedule "Unique" itineraries rather than the "same old"....     

Are you speaking of cruises in a particular area (Caribbean, Europe, etc) or generally?  We like to do transatlantic cruises on Princess:  good value, plenty of activities (lectures, bingo, etc.) on sea days and interesting ports after the crossing.  We've also done one on HAL; I assume Celebrity does them as well.  The one TA we did on HAL had fewer activities and more lecturers than Princess (2 of the 3 were really good, the 3rd was very disappointing).  Also, with TAs one only has to endure one very long flight.

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BarbinMitch:

 

I was talking in big, sloppy, worldwide generalities.   Unfortunately it seems most cruise lines have certain ports in each geographic areas they like, and just call on them again, and again, and AGAIN...    Thats the main reason we have been so "HAL intensive' over the past 7 cruises, they tend to call on a wider variety of ports.  (And with smaller ships, but that's another topic for another time) 

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, jkgourmet said:

 

  It sounds like you enjoyed both X and HAL.  Mind giving me a brief idea what you like more about Princess?  I know you referred to the price point and perks, but I've never seen them offer the perks we want - like an alcohol package and included gratuities - in the lower priced cabins (ocean view, inside, etc.)  Hence, Princess never prices out anywhere near what the 'total package' on X gives us. 

It's kind of hard to define.  Obviously, we pretty much know what to expect on Princess by now <g>.  IMHO Princess is a bit more laid back/less formal than X and HAL.  All have a good lecturer program on TAs and other long cruises.  For perks, I was referring to things we get for being Elite like free internet (250 min on 8+ day cruises), priority boarding and disembarkation, priority on tenders, free laundry/dry cleaning (important on 10+ day cruises like we take), complimentary bar set up (those little bottles of alcohol, beer, soft drinks, etc--fridge is fully stocked with last 2), complimentary wine tasting, free in-cabin deluxe canapes on formal nites, etc.  I usually book through an online broker who gives us free gratuities (and I assume would on do so other cruise lines).  Since we don't drink much, an alcohol package is not something we need.  We are Elite on Celebrity now as well, enjoyed on our last cruise with them. X has some of the same perks for Elite as Princess.  I didn't like our balcony cabin at all on the Eclipse, one of X's newer ships or at least the newest we've been on.  Didn't like the public spaces as much on Eclipse--walkways are far too narrow for the number of pax at peak times and ceilings and lighting are low.   Much wider, brighter, higher ceilings on Princess.  The Eclipse just felt "cramped".  FWIW, we're probably much older than you (in our early 70s and early 80s) so I'm sure that makes a difference in what we each enjoy about a cruise.

Edited by BarbinMich

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On 3/9/2019 at 9:31 PM, FredT said:

For us, the focus is ALWAYS "cruising to travel", and the lure of new cities and countries win out every time.....   I just wish that Celebrity (or any of the other mainline cruise lines) tried a bit harder to schedule "Unique" itineraries rather than the "same old"....     

 

Unfortunately, finding docking facilities that can handle those big ships is limiting.  And as the ships get bigger, the choice of ports gets smaller.

 

Smaller ships offer much more varied and unique itineraries.  If course, there's a price for that.  

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We’ve sailed on both multiple times. Both lines a great. HA’s itineraries can be longer and more unique.

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