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kernie968

After 6 NCL cruises we gave RCL a try-my opinion of the differences

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After 4 times on the Breakaway and 2 on the Escape my DH suggested that we try Royal Caribbean. I was only 10 days away from Platinum so I tried to talk him out of it, but the price was better on Royal and I was tired of the same ship. The difference between the Breakaway and Escape is not that much in my opinion. So I booked the cruise and started reading the Royal Caribbean boards instead of Norwegian. That felt weird!

 

Pre-cruise

I definitely felt that the NCL website was way easier to navigate. I could take care of everything myself on the NCL site. It really annoyed me that I had to call RCL to pre-pay my gratuities. It was also annoying that I had to check the prices of the drink package and shore excursions because RCL changes them. It is great when they drop the price, but the you have to cancel and repurchase the item. I had a hard time finding out what time I had made dinner reservations with my time dining. I got used to it after a month, but NCL wins for their website being user friendly.

 

Embark

Embark was much easier on RCL. We did not have to show our paper work until after we had screened our bags. After screening we went to a woman with an Ipad and she checked us in and sent us to the mobility impaired section. We sat there for 5 minutes and we were moving to get on the ship! They started boarding at 10:40. We went straight to the pool bar and had drinks in our hands by 10:45. 

 

Sail away

Ok this was disappointing after NCL. The Statute of Liberty and Manhattan are above you. The only thing to look forward to is the bridge. You can see all that stuff, but it is not the same. NCL wins for sail away. But RCL had our luggage in our room right after sail away and that was really nice!

 

Rooms

RCL rooms are nice. Two closets that are easy to get into. The vents from the air conditioner did not blow directly on us which was nice. The bathroom is smaller, but still is fine and has a night light  feature which was awesome at night. You can go to the bathroom and not have to turn on a bright light. There was not a clothes line in the bathroom, but six hooks on the wall which was great. We had 3 plugs and 2 usb plugs so no need for an power strip. The TV was not great, but better channels than NCL. TV did not tilt which made it hard to watch from the couch. The balcony is wider that NCL and the chairs recline and have a foot stool so I could actually lay out on the balcony and get a tan which is impossible on NCL. The balcony is higher than NCL so I could see out to the ocean where for my DH who is 6'2" the balcony was not a good height for him. I did have problems with putting on make up as the lighting was not good for that. RCL has a touch system with the room so it was nice to touch the outside of the door and not to have to insert that card to get in. RCL wins for the room and balcony.

 

Bars

Not too much difference in bars, but I felt NCL had more and different theme bars. My DH loved the Mojito bar on the Escape and I liked the Maltings bar on the Breakaway and Escape. On the RCL we did like the Schrooner bar and I like the Bionic bar where I could make my own drinks. Even for bars for both ships.

 

Dining

The first night on RCL was a joke for My Time Dining, but they fixed it after the first night. Never had a problem on NCL with dinners. RCL has specialty dining, but their prices make it ridiculous to try it without a package. NCL has prices that make it so you can do ala carte, not RCL. I did like the way I could check the menus on RCL for the entire cruise for the MDR so I knew when we did not want to go and when to try to book something else.

 

Internet

Hard to say much about this as we did the RCL voom for only one day, but the one day we had it it was nice. NCL internet does not work with my email provider so it was useless for me, but with RCL I could actually check my emails. So RCL wins for internet.

 

Activities

This is tough. I felt that NCL had a lot more things happening on the ship. The RCL ship we were on had a lot of cool things to do as long as you got there early enough. I got to do Ifly and a trapeze school on RCL. NCL has slides and rope course, but I loved Ifly. RCL had bumper cars and roller skating, but NCL has a mini golf. With the Bliss coming to New York there will be cooler things to do on NCL.  I cannot pick a winner on this because both have different things to entertain you.

 

Ports

 We did Bermuda and Boston on RCL. Both times we left port about 15 minutes early. With NCL we always had pier runners. Why?

 

Disembark

We had mobility impaired disembark. We were waiting for our bus to come so we asked if we could be last. Not a problem with RCL. They told us we could go last and the man who took us off actually asked if we wanted to wait in the wheelchair for the bus to come. Too nice. There were benches to sit on while we waited which is impossible to find in NYC. There are bathrooms outside while you wait! RCL wins for disembark and the waiting area.

 

So I really liked both ships and enjoyed being on a different ship. DH thought RCL was better and wants to do them again. I think after trying a different line I would like to try even more lines. I would have no problem going back to NCL when another ship comes to NYC, but I would have no problem with doing RCL again and trying another line.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for your review. What RCL ship did you cruise? Anthem?

 

Did you like Solarium, indoor pool, sea plex and two70? thats the things ißm excited about the Anthem.

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Thank you for this!! We love NCL but will be heading out on a RCL (Enchantment of the Seas) in a couple of weeks. 

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Would you mind sharing the name of your internet provider? I thought I was doing something wrong. I could not access my Comcast account.Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Steff79 said:

Thanks for your review. What RCL ship did you cruise? Anthem?

 

 

Definitely sounds like the Anthem. 

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Thanks for your insights.  I love comparisons between cruise lines and you highlight some interesting advantages and disadvantages of RCL and NCL.

 

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We have sailed on 3 RCCL and 3 NCL ships over the past year. 

 

To us, the interaction between crew and guests is like night and day between the two cruise lines.

 

On NCL, every crew member (including senior officers) will greet you every time you see them. In the halls, in public areas, in crew areas,,, you always get a "Good Morning" and a smile. 

 

On RCCL, it starts with the Windjammer manager scolding people over the PA system that they need to eat an leave because he has other guests to feed. Every interaction with crew members is met with no reaction at best and total disinterest at worst. The entire crew on every ship can take a lesson from the Walmart greeter. 

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We have sailed several times on RCCL and liked it. Then we sailed on NCL Bliss last summer and would call it the best cruise ever. This past march 2019, we sailed on RCCL Symphony of the Seas. Had been on Allure of the Seas twice thought would be as great but NCL spoiled us. After our NCL cruise going to RCCL was a huge dissapointment in so many levels. The windjammer food was dried and reheated. We bumped into the captain of the ship on the elevator and he was not in a good mood. Took a picture with him and without any smile. The cabin was not taken care off like NCL did. We were so looking forward to the Loco Fresh and after one meal, never returned. Had dirty silverware with left over shrimp when i unwrapped a silverware wrap. When we had out last stop in Nassau, we parked next to Bliss and we both wished we were on that ship. I do give RCCL good points for the shows but the staff has a lot to catch up to. We are booked on 3 NCL with no desire to return to RCCL. 

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We haven't sailed RCI for quite awhile so I guess it isn't fair to compare, but if for no other reason, we prefer NCL because of the friendly crew and the dining choices. Otherwise they are very similar in our opinion 

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We cruise on NCL, Royal and Celebrity.

Royal and NCL have better entertainment but Celebrity has the best dining.

Love the design of Celebrity ships.

We are Platinum on NCL, Diamond on Royal and Elite on Celebrity.    Diamond and Elite benefits are the best with the free happy hour every evening.   Diamond on Royal is super with a HH from 4:30-8 and you can order a glass of wine in the MDR, so you don't need a drinks package.  Hate the NCL drinks package.

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We have sailed 5 times on RC. I have to say some bar staff and I say Some, were distinctly disinterested in serving us, maybe because we are from the UK and they thought they wouldn’t get an additional tip even though we do. The Solarium bar on Oasis and Boleros spring to mind, come to think of it most of the poor service was on Oasis, Symphony service in Europe was much better, with nearly all staff smiling and acknowledging.

 

We have our first NCL cruise on Epic shortly and I’m excited at the prospect of a new line with all the discoveries on offer 😎 

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Sorry I forgot to mention that we sailed on the Anthem. A lot of you said the crew on NCL was nicer. We felt the crew on the Escape were amazing compared to the Breakaway. As for the Anthem what I noticed was if I looked a crew member in the eyes as they walked by they would smile and say good morning, if I did not look at them they would say nothing. I cannot help, but wonder if this is what they are told to do. When we talked with an officer on the Anthem about how our room steward was a secret ninja because we never saw him, but he did a great job taking care of us the officer said that is what they want. They want the room stewards cleaning the room without us ever seeing them.

 

I forgot to mention the difference in the pools. Anthem wins for the pool area hands down. There is a outdoor pool, then walk through a set of doors to an indoor pool, then go through another set of doors for the adult indoor solarium. The indoor pool was always crowded so the outdoor pool was never crowded. The outdoor pool has the big TV screen which seemed to play a lot of videos of people doing amazing things or stupid things. It was great for me since we chose not to do the internet. I could sit at the pool area with a drink and get some good laughs in watching those videos.

 

The solarium was awesome for me, but DH thought it was too hot for him. It was nice to get into hot tubs knowing a bunch of kids would not get in with me. The only place that I saw chair hogs was the solarium. If you do not go early it would be impossible to get a place to sit. We went one morning around 8AM and got seats by the big swing. We enjoyed Bloody Mary's and Mimosa's for two hours. I managed to have a hot tub all to myself, but I knew the best part would be when we got up to leave. As soon as we started gather up out stuff people came running trying to get our chairs. It is sad that people will claim a chair, but never use it.

 

Anthem has a big area called the Seaplex. They do roller skating, Bumper cars, trapeze(which I did) Dodge ball, soccer and basketball. My only complaint for this is you had to go early to get in line and hope to get in. Also I could not believe how many times we walked by and nothing was happening. It is such an amazing space and it is not used as much as it should be.

 

Anthem has a room called the Two70. We went to a show where they showed everything the room is capable of doing. I cannot remember the exact number, but the room cost more than $30 million dollars. It is incredible what the room could do, but when we went to the Spectra show they do in that room we did not feel like the room was a Wow. They could do better shows and really show off the room in my opinion.

 

The drink package. RCL won again. I started every morning hiking down to get my free Starbucks coffee. Sitting on the balcony sipping my Mocha Latte was heavenly! When we order drinks at the bars they would ask us if we would like a bottle of water with it. Getting fresh squeezed OJ at Windjammer every morning was awesome. We never waited long to get a drink and all the bartenders were great when I would tell them to surprise me with a drink.

 

It was a great experience trying out a different cruise line. I did get on the ship with a notebook so I could document the differences, but I was not looking for everything to be better or worse. I felt like I was cheating on NCL, but I was tired of being on ships that were not that different. It was great exploring another ship and seeing how another line runs compared to NCL.  I hope our next cruise is on NCL so I can get Platinum status, but it will depend on the prices.

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Following this and appreciate the reviews and input.  I'm thinking about trying NCL, so it's helpful!

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Loved reading this review, my dh and I are trying the Anthem this August after sailing only with NCL.  I have been a little nervous about trying another cruise line after loving the NCL cruises we've been on but also wanted to try something new. 

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Having just sailed Navigator of the Seas after two NCL cruises on Epic and Escape this post is interesting and I really must get around to writing my own review, but for now I thought I'd add comment related to some of the differences noted...


Pre-cruise I totally agree with how complicated I found RCI's cruise planner and "sales" when they change the prices of everything. 
 

Embarkation and disembarkation days were both a breeze on Navigator v both my NCL experiences. 

Navigator's pool deck was just gorgeous and I loved hanging out at the Lime & Coconut Bar... quite different to either of the NCL ships.

The food on Navigator in the MDR and Windjammer was terrible. I also really missed having the option of O'Sheehan's later in the evening. 
 

I agree that the RCI drinks package is a little better... but be aware that Starbucks coffee is not included in all RCI ships. On NCL I have had speciality coffee included as I've sailed in the solo studios so that wasn't really a huge advantage for me personally, but having sparkling water included was a nice plus for me.
 

I found the nightlife disappointing on Navigator and was in bed earlier than either of my other cruises most nights... possibly not a bad thing! haha 

Last but not least, I found the crew on Navigator to be the friendliest of the three ships I've sailed on so found it interesting to read the OPs perspective about the Anthem. My cabin stewards on my two NCL sailings were rarely seen and I didn't speak with them... on Navigator I had really pleasant interactions with my cabin steward most days. I also found that bar staff were calling me by my name regularly which was a nice touch. 

I've returned to perusing the NCL boards here on Cruise Critic because I think I'll be returning to NCL for my next cruise. 

Edited by CazV

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Thanks for this.

I am about to do my first cruise with NCL on the Breakaway in June.

Have sailed Celebrity, RCL, P&O, Cunard, Azamara, Princess and Fred Olsen, apart from Fred I would sail with any of them again in a heartbeat.

Agree with the poster who said Celebrity has the best food. Always had great staff on all cruises.

Looking forward to seeing the NCL difference and may even do a live review!

 

 

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Thanks for sharing your review with us.   I have sailed quite a few times on RC.(diamond level)  Decided to give NCL a try and we loved it.  We enjoyed both lines very much.  There are more things in common than different.

Edited by cincicruisers

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Thank you for the comparison. I go between NCL, RCI, and Carnival. I enjoy the variety, the lines are similar but just different enough. I do like the food on NCL the best though. Teppanyaki, Food Republic, and O'Sheehans are some of my favorites. I do think that NCL treats solo cruisers the best, although I like the double points on RCI. 

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Your welcome to everyone who said thank you. I really enjoyed trying a different cruise line and comparing the differences. Now I really want to do Celebrity and see the differences. 

 

I did not say anything about food because I am not a big foodie. Any food that someone else cooks for me is great!

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On 5/12/2019 at 12:26 PM, debgreg said:

We have sailed 5 times on RC. I have to say some bar staff and I say Some, were distinctly disinterested in serving us, maybe because we are from the UK and they thought they wouldn’t get an additional tip even though we do. The Solarium bar on Oasis and Boleros spring to mind, come to think of it most of the poor service was on Oasis, Symphony service in Europe was much better, with nearly all staff smiling and acknowledging.

 

We have our first NCL cruise on Epic shortly and I’m excited at the prospect of a new line with all the discoveries on offer 😎 

Wishing you a fab time on the Epic that was our first NCL cruise and loved it. We have sailed Getaway x3 ,Escape , Spirit and Bliss since. We love the relaxed approach and freestyle dinning and never having to share a table , that makes us sound anti social we aren’t.The entertainment is great and we enjoy the drinks package. 

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Tune in about 180 days from now as we've done 7 on RC in a Grand Suite or Owners Suite and will be on Getaway in a Haven Spa Suite in November. So we can add the Suite Lounge vs. Haven comparison for those interested.

I see it here and it's also on the RC boards about the food.  Personally, I've never, never, not one time had food on any cruise ship as poor as some folks are claiming.  Now granted, they're service 2000-3000 people so I'm not expecting Del Freakin Frisco's in the MDR, but certainly better than the likes of Golden Corral; but from some comments you'd think a Roman Galley Slave would turn these eats down. Geez, just ask for something else, it's not that hard.

The last time on Celebrity was the Best Ever food I'd had on a ship, but since we were in a Sky Suite we ate at Luminae, which had everything from the MDR plus additional selections; and THEN Celebrity threw in 3 nights of Specialty Dining because that was the offering on a cruise of that duration for ships without Luminae, and we booked before that was offered on Equinox (and major kudos to Celebrity for standing by the offer).

But needless to say it's gonna be a S-L-O-W Summer for us having that waiting for us come November. 

 

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On 5/12/2019 at 6:33 AM, newmexicoNita said:

We haven't sailed RCI for quite awhile so I guess it isn't fair to compare, but if for no other reason, we prefer NCL because of the friendly crew and the dining choices. Otherwise they are very similar in our opinion 

We've found the crew to be friendly on all of the lines we've sailed on.

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On ‎5‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 9:21 PM, ppcox said:

Wishing you a fab time on the Epic that was our first NCL cruise and loved it. We have sailed Getaway x3 ,Escape , Spirit and Bliss since. We love the relaxed approach and freestyle dinning and never having to share a table , that makes us sound anti social we aren’t.The entertainment is great and we enjoy the drinks package. 

Thanks we love  RCI but feel like as we have done most of the classes we need a change. Really looking forward to NCL and NCL definitely has a better website, inside rooms look small though so I've bid on a few but we will just get on with it if not successful, only sleep and changed in there :)

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