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susieg

Princess Cruiser Tries Celebrity

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My DH and I are in our 50s and have taken 22 cruises on Princess and a few on Carnival. We had an opening in our vacation schedule and decided it was time to try something new. I wanted to recapture the feeling I had on my very first cruise. I still remember the awe I felt when I first stepped onto the then-new Diamond Princess. With that in mind, I did some research on the Celebrity boards and found a 10-day Hawaii to Vancouver cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse that worked well for us. Although I don’t usually write reviews, I thought my observations might be helpful to other Princess cruisers who might be considering Celebrity.

 

The Eclipse is a Solstice-class ship, which seems to be similar to Princess’ Royal class ships. I’ve been on the Royal Princess twice and feel the Eclipse was quite comparable. Decor is completely different, especially Celebrity's atrium which is open all the way to the top of the ship (beautiful). Celebrity is more modern whereas Princess is more traditional. Both ships are beautiful in my opinion. The Eclipse had two sets of elevators. The main elevators were aft of midship and had eight glass elevators (four each side) that overlooked the atrium.


Embarkation – We arrived at the port around 12:30 p.m., so the priority groups had already embarked. They took our pictures when we checked in, so we just walked onto the ship after getting our SeaPass and passing through security. As on Princess, staterooms weren’t ready right away, so they encourage you to go to the buffet. Ironically, this was the least crowded the buffet ever was at lunch and it wasn’t too bad. Rooms were ready around 1:30 and they made an announcement when we could go to our stateroom.

 

Muster – Neither line requires you to bring the life vest anymore. Both check you off a list when you show up and both have a humorous-type video to communicate the information. Princess does a better job of actually showing you how to put on the vest. Both are done inside in various venues, so the seating was comfortable. Celebrity had a silly song about washing your hands, it’s the thing to do. I had to laugh because I overheard one passenger say he was going to lose it if they kept playing that awful song.

 

Dress – Before the cruise, I was concerned about what to pack, but people dressed pretty much the same as they do on Princess. People dressed casually during the day and wore smart casual to the dining room at night. Celebrity doesn't have Formal Night and instead has Evening Chic (but it looked about the same to me). We didn’t go to the dining room those nights; however, the people who did seemed to dress about the same as they do on Formal Nights on Princess.

 

Main Dining Room – Princess has more seafood options for those who like seafood, but food quality was very comparable. Celebrity has dipping sauces along with butter for the bread and baked onion soup is on the always available menu. Both were nice options.

 

Buffet – Comparable if comparing with Princess’ Royal class buffet. If comparing with Princess’ older ships, the Celebrity buffet was better.

 

Buffet Hours – The Celebrity buffet had more limited hours and lunch and dinner had later start times than Princess (noon for lunch and 6 p.m. for dinner). As a result, the buffet was a mob scene at lunch. Dinner crowds were fine, probably because most people eat in the dining rooms. We solved the lunch crowd issue a few days into the cruise by eating lunch in the dining room and dinner in the buffet. Pizza and pasta were always available in the buffet even after main dining hours. The pizza was pretty good compared to the pizza by the pool on Princess (my opinion), but I’d say Alfredo’s in Princess is still the best of the pizza options.

 

Grill – Celebrity’s grill had a limited menu of hamburgers and hotdogs. When weather is bad, they move the grill items to the buffet. I didn’t eat at the grill (except fries). DH had a burger one day and said it was good. You can add cheese, grilled onions, and bacon to the burger if you wish.

 

Aqua Spa Cafe vs. International Cafe – The IC has more variety. On the other hand, the Aqua Spa had free coffee, tea, and juices, so you could get them there without having to go to the buffet. We ate breakfast there every day to avoid the buffet crowds. The Aqua Spa Cafe had limited breakfast and lunch hours versus 24 hours for the IC.

 

Specialty Restaurants – More expensive on Celebrity. Didn’t try them, so I can’t compare.

 

Specialty Coffees – DH tried the vanilla lattes and said they were fine. I was content with the free coffee, so can’t judge Cafe Al Bacio. Free coffee is strong on both lines.

 

Drinks – We prefer the alcohol drink choices on Princess and the prices are lower. Beer selection is better on Celebrity (at least on the Eclipse) if you like craft beers (we do). We did eventually figure out that you can ask for drinks that aren't listed on the menus. For example, we only saw specialty drinks listed, but you could ask for a margarita or mojito, and they had them at prices cheaper than the drinks listed on the menus.


Drink Packages – Both lines have drink packages. Celebrity appears to have more options (3 different packages for alcohol alone) and sometimes they are put on sale prior to the cruise. Unfortunately, neither of us can drink enough to make it worthwhile to purchase the alcohol packages even at sale prices, but it’s great to get them during a promotion. Celebrity has drink package promotions more frequently. Princess seems to have the Sip and Sail just once a year.


Entertainment – Celebrity’s entertainment wins by a mile. The production shows were excellent! On Princess, we seldom go to shows because we’ve seen most of them and the seating situation in the theater is awful. On the Eclipse, the theater almost always had plenty of seating even if you showed up just before showtime. The production shows featured singers, dancers, and acrobats (think Cirque de Soleil like). The performers were very talented and did five different production shows. On other afternoons and nights, the Eclipse featured two different comedians who each did two different shows. They also had guest singers three nights. We went to one of those shows but skipped the other two -- we needed some down time! In addition, they had two naturalists on board who gave talks on sea days along with a variety of other activities. We normally don’t attend many of the activities on ships, but we were surprisingly busy on this cruise wanting to see how Celebrity compared. I did read a comment on our roll call by someone who commented that Celebrity had really upped its game on the entertainment, so maybe this isn’t typical of all Celebrity ships. I normally don’t pay attention to the captain or the cruise director, but these two were very visible and had a great rapport. It surprises me to say this but having Captain Leo and Alejandro on board definitely added to the enjoyment of the cruise. Who knew?

 

In Room Movies – I think Princess has a few more viewing options including TV shows, but Celebrity did offer quite a few free movies. We were so busy that we could only fit in three movies. DH commented that Princess has more sports channels and was annoyed that they weren’t showing the NBA and hockey playoffs.

 

Bar Service – Service is great on both, but I think Princess has more bar staff.

 

Stateroom Service – Our stateroom steward was excellent and I’d say service is comparable on both lines. Both come morning and evening and leave chocolates on the pillows. That’s a plus for DH since he gets mine. Our room was kept very clean.

 

Veranda Cabins – We had a Sunset Veranda room on the back of the ship. I was worried about being in a balcony cabin after having mini suites on Princess, but the room was fine. The room had a full-size couch that was actually comfortable and the bed was great. The balcony was large with a view of the wake that couldn’t be beat. Bathroom was nicer than Princess with a glass door for the shower instead of a curtain. Interestingly, the mirror never seemed to fog up when we showered so they must have good ventilation in the bathroom. Princess does a better job with storage space, but I think it may be at the sacrifice of living space. Celebrity puts storage above the bed, so I kept clothes folded in the storage cabinet and moved items to the closet for the wrinkles to hang out prior to wearing. Once I figured out the new routine, it worked fine. (On Princess, I hang almost everything up right away because there’s more hangars and closet space.). On Princess, I find the balcony cabins to be too small with no comfortable seating, so I need a mini suite, but I’m happy with a veranda cabin on Celebrity. I love the location at the back of the ship and didn’t find the distance to the elevator to be an issue at all. For someone with mobility issues, the Sunset Veranda probably wouldn’t be a good choice.

 

Hallways – This may sound like a small thing, but it actually made a big difference walking to and from our stateroom. The doorways are recessed on the Eclipse and the stewards don’t have the big carts like they have on Princess. Instead, they have what look like large rolling suitcases. Since the doorways are recessed, the carts don't block the hallways. For those who use mobility devices, this must make a huge difference. I suspect it’s nice for the stewards, too, since they don’t have to worry about passengers trying to get by them while they’re working.

 

Walking Deck – The Eclipse did not appear to have a wraparound deck like the Promenade deck on some of the older Princess ships. I didn’t see a track, but also didn’t look for one. I got plenty of walking around the ship, so this wasn’t an issue for me.

 

Gym – DH said the gym was larger and had nicer equipment than on Princess. I didn’t see it, so I can’t comment.

 

Casino – We didn’t use the casino, but this one looked nice and appeared to be smoke free, so I didn’t mind walking through it on the way to the theater. On Princess, I avoid entering the casino if at all possible.

 

Laundry – We didn’t use the ship’s laundry service, which like Princess, isn’t cheap. Also, Celebrity doesn’t have self-serve laundromats. I knew this ahead of time, so planned for a bit of hand washing in the room. I thought this would be an issue, but since I knew about it beforehand, it was fine. I’m Elite on Princess, so I do use the ship’s laundry service there since I have free laundry. I also use the self-serve laundry for items I don’t want to entrust to the ship’s laundry. That’s an awesome perk that I really appreciate on Princess.


Future Cruises – I always purchase Future Cruise Deposits on Princess. Celebrity still has the old FCD system, but it is nonrefundable, so they encourage you instead to book a future cruise, which is changeable without penalty. Depending on the length of the cruise, you get different amounts of onboard credit and the deposit is refundable or transferrable to a different cruise. Unlike Princess, they have all-day hours for the Future Cruise office (9 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily) and they had 2 to 4 staff available to help customers. Early in the cruise, they weren’t very busy, but of course got much busier toward the end of the cruise. Although we hadn’t planned to do so, we put money down on a future cruise ($100 each) since we felt we had nothing to lose. We plan to take the cruise we booked, but it’s nice knowing we can switch to another voyage or get a refund if needed.


Internet - We purchased the unlimited internet for one device and it was excellent. I’m guessing Princess’ MedallionNet may be comparable, but I haven’t experienced that yet.

 

Shore Excursions – Since this was Hawaii, the excursions were rather expensive, so I didn’t book any at first. Much to my surprise, Celebrity put a few of them on sale a couple of different times prior to the cruise. They also added more 4-hour excursions closer to sail date that were priced around $55, so we ended up adding them. As on other cruise lines, you do have to prepay at time of purchase. The tickets were waiting for us in our stateroom when we boarded.

Final Verdict

Both Princess and Celebrity are great cruise lines. It was fun recapturing that feeling of stepping onto a new ship for the first time. We didn’t miss our Elite benefits as much as I thought we would. That said, I love my Elite benefits, so I’ll appreciate them all the more when I’m back on Princess. Currently, we have future cruises booked on both lines. When researching new cruises, I plan to compare itineraries and prices on both lines before deciding. It’s nice to have two such great options!

 

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I am not being nosy but how did you find the pricing to be in comparison to Princess? Every time I have considered X the price difference was significant for a standard balcony cabin and was much more for the higher level cabins.    We are happy in a regular Princess balcony especially if we can get Caribe deck in the Grand Class ships with the big balcony.  Would the standard balcony on X compare more to a standard or mini on Princess?   

X has great itineraries for Europe which is hopefully in the next 3 years. 

Thanks for any insight!!!  This was an excellent comparison.

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Posted (edited)

Very accurate comparison.  Great review!

We alternate between the two cruise lines. 

Sometimes we get better deals on X than on Princess if we book at the right time. 😃

Edited by 4cats4me

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We sailed the Eclipse in the Med (out of Southampton) a few years ago so I guess she's repositioned!  We mostly sail Princess, but did the Eclipse when we found out we were Elite on X, as we are on Princess (latter has better Elite benefits as I recall).  She was a gorgeous ship and quite different from Princess.  Best things IMHO:  buffet (both its layout, airiness [2 decks high] and the food stations), the u-shaped theater with balcony.  Least-liked things:  cabin layout (couch which is really a twin-bed size so much deeper than a regular couch--not good for a short person like me and it took up a lot of room; very small desk; closet opening into cabin about a foot from the bed); atrium (huge multi-story space but nothing ever happened there); casino was darker than most and everything was scrunched together in there.  We did enjoy the itinerary and the lecturer who talked about the geologic history of the Med and related topics.

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Great comparison. Having cruised both lines I agree with pretty much all of your points. While I agree that Celebrity’s theaters are much easier to find seating, I would say that overall Princess offers more choices of entertainment in the evening.  We love both lines; it’s great to have choices!

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What a fine review.  Good facts, no snarkiness.  That's very helpful!  Thank you!

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Good comparison review.  We've done 25+ cruises on Princess and 3 on Celebrity including our latest one of 2 weeks to Canada/New England on the Summit.  While the Summit is an older ship, it was very well maintained.  Only had 2 complaints.  There were very few spaces to sit and read inside the ship that had adequate lighting to do so.  And some of the main courses at dinner in the MDR were questionable as to what was actually on the plate.  In other words, it looked and tasted like mystery meat.  But overall it was one of our best cruises.  At least on this cruise in comparison to our recent Princess cruises overall I found the entertainment to be much better on Celebrity.  While we typically don't do the production shows much anymore because we've seen them all before, Celebrity constantly had something going on all the time.  There were at least 6 different musical entertainers playing from probably 2:00 pm till 11:00 pm.  Each would play for about 30 minutes twice a day and they would be scattered around the ship so there was always something available.  We'll continue to look at both lines in the future but normally lean toward Princess due to pricing, although for our last trip to Canada/New England the pricing from Celebrity was significantly cheaper than Princess and it offered a full 14 day cruise without repeat ports.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, knbcruisers said:

I am not being nosy but how did you find the pricing to be in comparison to Princess? Every time I have considered X the price difference was significant for a standard balcony cabin and was much more for the higher level cabins.    We are happy in a regular Princess balcony especially if we can get Caribe deck in the Grand Class ships with the big balcony.  Would the standard balcony on X compare more to a standard or mini on Princess?   

X has great itineraries for Europe which is hopefully in the next 3 years. 

Thanks for any insight!!!  This was an excellent comparison.

I've only cruised Celebrity once so far, so haven't done any direct price comparisons. People on the Celebrity board are complaining that Celebrity is raising its prices, so I'll have to see how it goes. We wanted to try Celebrity and they had a cruise that interested us during our desired timeframe. It was just before final payment, and the cost was $1,300 each (includes taxes and port fees). We booked under their resident fare, so didn't have any added perks. According to the Celebrity website, the balcony is approximately 54 square feet. The sizes do vary and the two staterooms in the middle aft have slightly wider balconies. They are smaller than a Caribe balcony, but definitely bigger than balconies on Royal Princess. I could sit in my chair facing forward with my feet outstretched. One thing to note is that standard balconies don't get a footstool. You get a nice-sized table and two chairs. Higher-priced staterooms get footstools (or so I've read). I've attached a couple of photos.

 

sunset-veranda.jpg

stateroom.jpg

Edited by susieg

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Thank you very much for taking this time to write such a nice comparison.    Very informative.     

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55 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

We sailed the Eclipse in the Med (out of Southampton) a few years ago so I guess she's repositioned!  We mostly sail Princess, but did the Eclipse when we found out we were Elite on X, as we are on Princess (latter has better Elite benefits as I recall).  She was a gorgeous ship and quite different from Princess.  Best things IMHO:  buffet (both its layout, airiness [2 decks high] and the food stations), the u-shaped theater with balcony.  Least-liked things:  cabin layout (couch which is really a twin-bed size so much deeper than a regular couch--not good for a short person like me and it took up a lot of room; very small desk; closet opening into cabin about a foot from the bed); atrium (huge multi-story space but nothing ever happened there); casino was darker than most and everything was scrunched together in there.  We did enjoy the itinerary and the lecturer who talked about the geologic history of the Med and related topics.

Agree about the closet. Think it would be more useful without a door, but then the room wouldn't look as nice. I actually loved the view of the atrium. Loved looking into the two-story library and the card room as we travelled up and down. Elevators were large and we seldom had to wait long. We thought the couch was comfortable and long enough to lie on. I'm 5'7" and DH is 6' so the size worked for us.

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12 minutes ago, susieg said:

Agree about the closet. Think it would be more useful without a door, but then the room wouldn't look as nice. I actually loved the view of the atrium. Loved looking into the two-story library and the card room as we travelled up and down. Elevators were large and we seldom had to wait long. We thought the couch was comfortable and long enough to lie on. I'm 5'7" and DH is 6' so the size worked for us.

That's the rear atrium and I agree--our cabin was very close to it so we got that view several times a day!  I was referring to the mid-ship lobby (called it an atrium because it's several decks high).

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8 minutes ago, BarbinMich said:

That's the rear atrium and I agree--our cabin was very close to it so we got that view several times a day!  I was referring to the mid-ship lobby (called it an atrium because it's several decks high).

You're right. I didn't use the forward elevators as often, so forgot they didn't have the view the aft elevators had. I was concerned about only have two sets of elevators instead of three, but it didn't seem to be a problem.

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We are long-time Princess cruisers mainly, but have had two very nice cruises on Celebrity - the last one just last year.

The Elite perks on Princess are a big factor for us in choosing cruises, but we would like to get some time on Celebrity as well.

A couple of things that we really liked on Celebrity were the specialty restaurants, particularly their Italian grill that we found refreshingly different from Sabbatini's on Princess. We also loved the wine service in the MDR from the Celebrity wine stewards which was far superior to the Princess model where we have to actually leave the MDR to get a decent glass of wine from the Vines (granted some times the Asst. Waiter will go for us, but not always).

We liked the layout of the Celebrity Equinox and the top deck lawn. 

We found the overall food service fairly similar while the Lido deck buffet on Princess was superior to the Celebrity offerings. 

We wouldn't hesitate to book again on Celebrity and that's no knock on Princess at all. 

 

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Very nice review and overall similar to my experience with a few exceptions / different POV:

 

(1) Buffet: I prefer the Royal Class ship's buffet better than the Solistice Class because of the variety / selection. When I was on the Eclipse, I noticed they rarely rotated the selections at each of the food stations throughout the week . On Princess, they changed the options daily and seldom repeated. I am glad you picked up Celebrity's limited hours as this is something I observed also. However, I do prefer the buffet design on Celebrity as it is more open and less congested.

 

(2) Aqua Spa Cafe vs. International Cafe: Not sure if I would compare the 2 as they are different in my view. I viewed the Aqua Spa cafe as an alternative to the buffet with healthier options. I love Celebrity's Aqua Cafe as I appreciated ordering salmon cooked to order and coming out hot. There is nothing like Princess's International Cafe and is something I appreciate and miss when I travel on other cruise lines.

 

(3) Misc: I found the quality of musicians better on Eclipse vs Royal / Regal. The library was great on Celebrity vs Princess smaller venue. I found the MDR staff slightly more accommodating on Princess for special requests. I agree that they are more similar than different and would not hesitate to cruise either line.

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I agree. Great review.

Having also cruised both lines I also think Celebrity balconies and cabins are slightly better. Princess has far better storage and I prefer their specialty restaurants. I also agree with the comment that Princess has a better range of entertainment throughout the ship and was a bit annoyed that other than the shows, Celebrity crowded most of the entertainment in to the piazza area.

Not elite on Princess yet, but close, however having self service laundries is a major factor for us, especially if we have done some land travel prior to the cruise.

In Aust, even though the Celebrity prices are higher than Princess, we get better perks from them such as drinks packages which are never offered by Princess.

Essentially though for us it comes down to itinerary as we would happily cruise with either.

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2 hours ago, cheezenip said:

Very nice review and overall similar to my experience with a few exceptions / different POV:

 

(1) Buffet: I prefer the Royal Class ship's buffet better than the Solistice Class because of the variety / selection. When I was on the Eclipse, I noticed they rarely rotated the selections at each of the food stations throughout the week . On Princess, they changed the options daily and seldom repeated. I am glad you picked up Celebrity's limited hours as this is something I observed also. However, I do prefer the buffet design on Celebrity as it is more open and less congested.

 

(2) Aqua Spa Cafe vs. International Cafe: Not sure if I would compare the 2 as they are different in my view. I viewed the Aqua Spa cafe as an alternative to the buffet with healthier options. I love Celebrity's Aqua Cafe as I appreciated ordering salmon cooked to order and coming out hot. There is nothing like Princess's International Cafe and is something I appreciate and miss when I travel on other cruise lines.

 

(3) Misc: I found the quality of musicians better on Eclipse vs Royal / Regal. The library was great on Celebrity vs Princess smaller venue. I found the MDR staff slightly more accommodating on Princess for special requests. I agree that they are more similar than different and would not hesitate to cruise either line.

On celebrity, Interesting about the salmon I thought the cooked to order in spa cafe endedyears ago...

 

however i do remember the buffet grill having many good choices at night including steak.

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1 hour ago, happy cruzer said:

On celebrity, Interesting about the salmon I thought the cooked to order in spa cafe endedyears ago...

 

however i do remember the buffet grill having many good choices at night including steak.

I didn't check out any of the items at the Aqua Spa Cafe that were listed on the menu, so I can't comment on those. It was a great little place to eat a quick bite. Just wish they were open longer hours. I did have a pesto pasta one day at lunch that was delicious.

 

I saw the steaks on the buffet. They were uncooked, so I assume you can have one cooked to your specifications.

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4 hours ago, happy cruzer said:

On celebrity, Interesting about the salmon I thought the cooked to order in spa cafe endedyears ago...

 

however i do remember the buffet grill having many good choices at night including steak.

 

My cruise on the Eclipse was in 2012 so it is quite possible this could have changed.

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Thanks for the great review. Also loved the use of headings and the clear photos. I agree with your comparison. We are Elite on both although we have much more cruises with Princess. As we only do 1st sitting traditional in MDR, we were worried about the change to 5 pm. But on our recent 2 cruises it was 5.30 and 5.45 pm so we were happy with that.

 

The small theatre on Princess is a problem especially on longer cruises with many sea days. Also we love the flyers in the Celebrity production shows.

 

On our recent 2 cruises we moved up to a Mini Suite as we want seating for 2 persons in our cabin - can't understand why they got rid of the barrel chair in balcony cabins.

 

Sometimes our choice of these 2 cruise lines comes down to us choosing Princess as they allow us to stack our OBC which include FCC, Shareholder and Military.

 

Brian

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Thank you Susie for your very comprehensive comparison. I sailed on the Eclipse last December and agree that CD Alejandro was a very fun person. Your review of the Eclipse very much matched the positive experiences I had onboard. As such, your post actually is one of the best posts I have read about the flip side - what to expect as a first-time Princess cruiser. I am sailing on the Golden in June, and will try to reciprocate with another comparison post! 

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Susie .... Thanks for your good & fair comparison.

 

Agree, there's no "culture shock" flipping back and forth between Princess & Celebrity.  

 

On Celebrity we are OK with a regular veranda cabin ... but need a mini-suite on Princess.  

The closet/storage is better on Princess.

 

Princess has much longer buffet times and has the Internation Cafe ... which we do miss on Celebrity.

 

While Celebrity has wonderful production shows, Princess offers more entertainment options in the evenings.

 

We have no problem cruising on either Princess or Celebrity but do sort of miss our Princess elite perks.  :classic_cool:

 

 

 

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I've only been on Solstice class ships, but I found the buffet far superior on Celebrity compared to Princess.  The number of cook to order options is amazing--pizza, pasta dishes, steaks and other meats, omelets, eggs benedict, etc.  In addition to the expected salad bar there was a Caesar salad bar.  There are at least half a dozen flavors of hand dipped ice cream (in addition to the for fee gelato on deck 5) and soft serve in one station at the side of the buffet  Though not my style, there was a dedicated station for vegans!  And this list is just a portion of it.

 

What I don't like are the hours of operation and that they don't have 24 hour savory dishes (like the International Cafe) at their Cafe al Bacio.  Add to that the ridiculously high priced specialty dining.

 

I give Celebrity the edge on production shows but I think Princess has the more talented musicians in their small venues.

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Great review and good comparison.  Thanks for doing this

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On 5/11/2019 at 7:14 PM, leck57 said:

I agree. Great review.

Having also cruised both lines I also think Celebrity balconies and cabins are slightly better. Princess has far better storage and I prefer their specialty restaurants. I also agree with the comment that Princess has a better range of entertainment throughout the ship and was a bit annoyed that other than the shows, Celebrity crowded most of the entertainment in to the piazza area.

Not elite on Princess yet, but close, however having self service laundries is a major factor for us, especially if we have done some land travel prior to the cruise.

In Aust, even though the Celebrity prices are higher than Princess, we get better perks from them such as drinks packages which are never offered by Princess.

Essentially though for us it comes down to itinerary as we would happily cruise with either.

Princess does periodically offer the Sip and Sail with an included The Premium Drink Package.

 

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Thank you for the super helpful information.  I'm trying Celebrity for the first time in August. 

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