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jkgourmet

HAL vs Celebrity?

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The one thing HAL has that X doesn't have is a Roman Catholic priest (who offers daily Mass) on every one of its cruises.  So, if spiritual renewal is an important component of your vacation experience (as it is for us), HAL would be the easy choice between the two.  Good luck and smooth sailing.

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Great thread.  Like many cruisers who use multiple cruise lines, this is an ongoing topic at our own dinner table.  The reality is that all the cruise lines have been making major changes (often cut-backs) in the past few years so it is difficult to do a current comparison.  Among the mass market cruise lines we have regularly cruised on Princess (Elite), Celebrity (Elite Plus) and HAL (5 Star Mariners).  Perhaps it says a lot if we mention that we currently have cruises booked with HAL, MSC, Seabourn, and Princess.  The fact that we have no future Celebrity bookings is very deliberate since the combination of cut-backs and price increases have made us increasingly wary of that line.

 

I will admit that we do have some hesitation when booking the older HAL vessels.  On all of our recent cruises on those vessels we have encountered too many maintenance related issues (some call it "deferred maintenance") ranging from bad plumbing to HVAC issues (in our cabin), leaks around the ship, many areas of rust, etc.    We still love those small vessels, but it becomes more difficult to overlook the problems.  We recently cancelled a long Maasdam cruise partially because of concerns related to cabin A/C....and the lack thereof.   While many fellow HAL fans are willing to roll the dice about such issues, we did not want to chance being in the South Pacific without decent cabin A/C....plus we had other reasons that contributed to us cancelling.  We had considered booking the VOV cruise (we love the VOV) but decided to book a Seabourn cruise instead...since it was a much better value (we kid you not).  

 

As to Princess, this line has been very hit and miss with us for many years.  But we find ourselves again  booking more (and longer) Princess cruises because we think the negatives are outweighed by the positives and the pricing is very good for those of us who know how to shop around and also take advantage of the many OBCs available to Princess cruisers.

 

I should last mention that in chatting with some frequent cruiser friends (who have traditionally cruised on HAL) we are finding quite a few doing more cruises on lines such as Oceania and Viking  Cruises....rather then HAL.  Each has their own reasons, but a general comment is that they have been recently disappointed in HAL.  We have yet to cruise on either of those lines but will likely work them into our future schedule.

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)

When will posters use the term "keeping entry price levels lower," instead of saying ships are instituting "cut-backs".

 

Cost of labor alone has gone up considerably over the past few years with much more competition trying to maintain a sufficient workforce. Of course either entry prices are going to go up or there will be expense savings  (aka "cut backs" ) in other areas of operation. This is a given; not a betrayal.

 

Food cots, fuel costs, port fees, transit costs, liability insurance costs, regulation costs.........c'mon. What costs have gone down so these savings can be passed on to the passengers?

Edited by OlsSalt

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2 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

When will posters use the term "keeping entry price levels lower," instead of saying ships are instituting "cut-backs".

When the cruise line stops taking away things passengers have gotten used to having. Until then, it's 'cutbacks'.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, OlsSalt said:

When will posters use the term "keeping entry price levels lower," instead of saying ships are instituting "cut-backs".

 

Cost of labor alone has gone up considerably over the past few years with much more competition trying to maintain a sufficient workforce. Of course either entry prices are going to go up or there will be expense savings  (aka "cut backs" ) in other areas of operation. This is a given; not a betrayal.

 

Food cots, fuel costs, port fees, transit costs, liability insurance costs, regulation costs.........c'mon. What costs have gone down so these savings can be passed on to the passengers?

 

I, for one, fervently wish cruise lines would raise prices modestly year-on-year, in line with the types of price increases common nearly everywhere else, rather than keep taking things away that cheapen the cruise experience.

 

Why do people feel cruise price "must" stay the same year-in and year-out? Hardly anything else holds the line on price like that -- not even other "discretionary spend" items like hotels in vacation destinations, restaurants, or entrance fees to things like theme parks or museums. 

 

 

Edited by cruisemom42

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Hlitner said:

I should last mention that in chatting with some frequent cruiser friends (who have traditionally cruised on HAL) we are finding quite a few doing more cruises on lines such as Oceania and Viking  Cruises....rather then HAL.  Each has their own reasons, but a general comment is that they have been recently disappointed in HAL.  We have yet to cruise on either of those lines but will likely work them into our future schedule.

 

Hank

 

Thank you, Hank, for your time and honest thoughts.  And to many of the others who contributed to this thread. 

 

I'm a notorious cheapskate (one of the reasons I was able to retire at 52).  We keep our costs minimal on things we don't care about, such as cabin size and amenities, butlers, etc.  (In fact, the current trend of having more areas that are only open to "upper class" passengers rather annoys us.)  So, we book Inside or OV cabins - guarantees.  In 25+ cruises on 7 different lines, we've never been bothered by that choice.  I don't see Oceania, Viking or Seabourn in our future.   😏

Edited by jkgourmet

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

I, for one, fervently wish cruise lines would raise prices modestly year-on-year, in line with the types of price increases common nearly everywhere else, rather than keep taking things away that cheapen the cruise experience.

I couldn't agree with you more. I would rather pay more to keep the cruise experience in line with what I have come to know.

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This could be a minor point or a major point, depending on the length of the cruise:  I really enjoy HAL's website for booking excursions and other cruise enhancements.  They provide a lot of information about the excursions, and there are reviews.  I'm currently making arrangements for an upcoming Celebrity cruise and I'm not really enjoying the planning.  Excursion details seem vague, and the "cruise planning" part of the website just seems a bit convoluted.  (You have to "dig" to find even departure times for the excursions.)  Princess is also strong in this regard, so I wonder if Carnival brands are just more "together." We left RCI brands a long time ago because we felt Carnival Corp ran more professional operations.  This is our first venture back to an RCI brand in a very long time.  I will share any other observations after our cruise in April.

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On 3/11/2019 at 6:03 PM, RuthC said:

I couldn't agree with you more. I would rather pay more to keep the cruise experience in line with what I have come to know.

 

This confuses me.  I see people say this on all the cruise boards, yet they stick with that one line they've always sailed despite the continuing cutbacks.  Why?  Why not pay the money and go cruise better lines?  I know I am.  I'm looking at Viking Ocean for my next cruise.  

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1 hour ago, Aquahound said:

 

This confuses me.  I see people say this on all the cruise boards, yet they stick with that one line they've always sailed despite the continuing cutbacks.  Why?  Why not pay the money and go cruise better lines?  I know I am.  I'm looking at Viking Ocean for my next cruise.  

 

One reason, I think, is itinerary. HAL basically has two kinds of cruisers. One group takes longer cruises and cruises for itinerary.  I'm in that group. (Well, I'm still working so I'm limited to 2 weeks now, but I am not your traditional Caribbean/Mexican/Alaskan cruiser.).  I have looked at Oceania and Viking both, but the itineraries are on average not very exciting...

 

 

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12 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

One reason, I think, is itinerary. HAL basically has two kinds of cruisers. One group takes longer cruises and cruises for itinerary.  I'm in that group. (Well, I'm still working so I'm limited to 2 weeks now, but I am not your traditional Caribbean/Mexican/Alaskan cruiser.).  I have looked at Oceania and Viking both, but the itineraries are on average not very exciting...

 

 

We cruise HAL for itinerary as well. So many of the cruise lines, including Oceania and Viking, stop at all the “usual suspect” ports. They’re fine if it’s your first cruise in that part of the world, but if it’s an area you enjoyed and want to revisit, we’ve found that HAL incorporates more unique destinations. 

 

And their dining is top notch.

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Posted (edited)

Now we do primarily extended independent land vacations.  We will pick up a Caribbean 10/14 day or a last minute where we happen to be travelling.  Just as a rest or a break from independent travel.  In these instances we would typically prefer a Celebrity ship.  We will certainly consider the newer HAL ships but HAL’s older ships are not even on the list for us.  Most especially the ones that are for sale or have been for an extended period of time.

 

It comes down to amenities, ship decor, dining venues/hours of operation, and condition of the cabin and the ship.

Edited by iancal

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Posted (edited)

For what it's worth...take a look at all of  the categories in the recently released 2019 Cruisers Choice Award winners.

 

Lots of Celebrity in all categories.  Most especially the Solstice class vessels.  Not very HAL other than N. A.

 

The results may provide will  some guidance.

 

https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/cruiserschoice_index.cfm 

Edited by iancal

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I don’t recall a survey so I am guessing CC pulled that information from the Reviews section. I don’t imagine there are a whole lot of HAL regulars writing reviews.  Most seem to do them on the HAL board.

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Spambots can and will skew any online "survey"  or online business review option. Used to be very valuable in the early days of the net; now must be taken with a grain of salt.

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If you can't win, blame the system.  Seems to be a trend lately.  😉

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16 minutes ago, Aquahound said:

If you can't win, blame the system.  Seems to be a trend lately.  😉

 

Celebrity has a new big ugly, gimmick-laden ship and it now has to put heads in all those beds. Any publicity Celebrity can gin up for their brand is a good thing.. 

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2 minutes ago, OlsSalt said:

 

Celebrity has a new big ugly, gimmick-laden ship and it now has to put heads in all those beds. Any publicity Celebrity can gin up for their brand is a good thing.. 

 

Have you experienced the ship? 

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1 minute ago, LMaxwell said:

 

Have you experienced the ship? 

 

Or any celebrity ship recently?  

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18 minutes ago, LMaxwell said:

 

Have you experienced the ship? 

 

7 day RT bus trips out of Florida hold no interest for me. Let's see how this behemoth holds up on a TA in order to start grinding our her summer Mediterranean season bus trips - again of no interest.  I continue to only judge from afar - a big, ugly gimmick laden ship, needing many heads to fill those beds. 

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The NA did well in the results.  I would suppose that HAL cheerleaders would find this part of the survey incredibly accurate.

 

We certainly do not find the Celebrity Solstice ships 'gimmick 'laden.   We would certainly rather cruise on one of them than a Veendam type ship with some elevators consistently out of commission and AC/plumbing that is dodgy and was due for complete renewal years ago.

 

We don't view multiple dining venues or a buffet style restaurant that  does not close at 7:30/8:00PM as particularly gimmicky.  

 

There may be HAL cheerleaders who do not appreciate these attributes.  We do.  Probably why we would select NA in a heartbeat but would pass of some of the other, older HAL ships.

 

Perhaps this is why HAL's N.Amsterdam did so well in the results.

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7 minutes ago, iancal said:

The NA did well in the results.  I would suppose that HAL cheerleaders would find this part of the survey incredibly accurate.

 

We certainly do not find the Celebrity Solstice ships 'gimmick 'laden.   We would certainly rather cruise on one of them than a Veendam type ship with some elevators consistently out of commission and AC/plumbing that is dodgy and was due for complete renewal years ago.

 

We don't view multiple dining venues or a buffet style restaurant that  does not close at 7:30/8:00PM as particularly gimmicky.  

 

There may be HAL cheerleaders who do not appreciate these attributes.  We do.  Probably why we would select NA in a heartbeat but would pass of some of the other, older HAL ships.

 

Perhaps this is why HAL's N.Amsterdam did so well in the results.

 

Are the Celebrity Solstice class "new" Celebrity ships, as referenced in the prior post? 

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On 3/11/2019 at 2:20 PM, cruisemom42 said:

 

I, for one, fervently wish cruise lines would raise prices modestly year-on-year, in line with the types of price increases common nearly everywhere else, rather than keep taking things away that cheapen the cruise experience.

 

Why do people feel cruise price "must" stay the same year-in and year-out? Hardly anything else holds the line on price like that -- not even other "discretionary spend" items like hotels in vacation destinations, restaurants, or entrance fees to things like theme parks or museums. 

 

 

Cruise lines have very limited pricing power.  As a result when they do raise prices, especially when they do more  than their competition, the impact can be severe.  As long as their competition is making cuts HAL will as well.  Actually with the HAL ship sizes, there is even more pricing pressure on HAL as their competition has substantial ship size cost efficiency advantages.

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46 minutes ago, iancal said:

The NA did well in the results.  I would suppose that HAL cheerleaders would find this part of the survey incredibly accurate.

 

We certainly do not find the Celebrity Solstice ships 'gimmick 'laden.   We would certainly rather cruise on one of them than a Veendam type ship with some elevators consistently out of commission and AC/plumbing that is dodgy and was due for complete renewal years ago.

 

We don't view multiple dining venues or a buffet style restaurant that  does not close at 7:30/8:00PM as particularly gimmicky.  

 

There may be HAL cheerleaders who do not appreciate these attributes.  We do.  Probably why we would select NA in a heartbeat but would pass of some of the other, older HAL ships.

 

Perhaps this is why HAL's N.Amsterdam did so well in the results.

The S class ships are not exactly new.  On the other hand the E class is new and pretty gimmick laden.

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On 3/11/2019 at 2:20 PM, cruisemom42 said:

 

I, for one, fervently wish cruise lines would raise prices modestly year-on-year, in line with the types of price increases common nearly everywhere else, rather than keep taking things away that cheapen the cruise experience.

 

Why do people feel cruise price "must" stay the same year-in and year-out? Hardly anything else holds the line on price like that -- not even other "discretionary spend" items like hotels in vacation destinations, restaurants, or entrance fees to things like theme parks or museums. 

 

 

 

Raising the (voluntary) Hotel Service Charge fairly routinely is one way HAL does "increase their prices modestly year on year". Personnel costs being one of their larger ongoing expenses. Both in terms of longevity rewards, and a more competitive labor markets in their traditional feeder countries.  

 

But even that now routine revenue tweaking is not enough to create the appearance of their entry level pricing. Hiking more onboard revenue generators once on board is obviously another way of tweaking the bottom line. We need to appreciate all the drinkers and gamblers, art buyers and spa folks who help the entry level bottom line too.. 

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