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welshrich

RCI cruiser looking to try Princess, advice please...

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Hi there

 

We've only ever sailed RCI in our 35 cruises, we were booked to do a Panama Canal sailing this month which has now gone.  RCI does not put a lot of these on so looking at sailing with Princess, can anyone who's sailed both lines give me any information on if they are similar?   Also, can anyone tell me if Princess do alcohol packages and if so how much they are daily?

 

tia.

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I've been on a couple Panama Canal cruises but on Princess and Celebrity, although I've also sailed on Royal Caribbean.  Both Princess and Celebrity will have an older demographic than Royal Caribbean ... less of a party crowd but you will find others imbibing at the Martini Bar on both.  

 

IMO, Princess has better food than RCCL.  Their beds are a LOT more comfortable.  Closets are open on Princess ... better design!!  Princess has self service laundromats which are convenient for longer sailings.  

RCCL has better entertainment and more of it.  The cabin sizes on Royal Caribbean tend to be larger.  The standard rooms on Princess don't have any additional seating ... just a bed, desk and mini fridge.  

 

Princess has a sale right now where you can choose your options for free perks:

Beverage package

Included gratuities

Included WiFi 

The price increase for adding this package depends on the length of the cruise, but generally, it will run you about $40 a day pp ... so really a pretty good deal if you are already going to add the beverage package alone, which comes to approx $70 a day pp if you purchase it separately.  Sometimes you can find the pricing is less than the $40 a day pp.  

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Cruise Raider said:

Closets are open on Princess ... better design!!  Princess has self service laundromats which are convenient for longer sailings.  

A small correction.

Pacific Princess has closet doors in all cabins.

We sailed in a mini suite on the Star and the closet had doors.

So, not all cabin categories on all ships. I prefer the design without doors.

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Posted (edited)

Princess does not require everyone over 21 in the cabin buy the drink package.   RCL has more activities such as the ice skating, water slides etc that Princess does not.  Princess has the pizzeria, ice cream and grill beside the main pool on the lido deck which is nice and they are open 11 AM to 10 or 11 PM.   

 

Best of all Princess allows one to stack OBC such as stockholder, veteran and FCC (obtained when one buys a future cruise credit - FCD - while on a sailing).  If you are military veteran be sure to claim the free money.  The OBC is based on the length of the cruise so longer = more OBC.  Princess seems to have an older pax than RCL so the cruise is more laid back and less kids.  

Edited by satxdiver

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1 hour ago, satxdiver said:

Princess does not require everyone over 21 in the cabin buy the drink package.

kinda sorta right / wrong /maybe

 

if you flat out buy the drink package ( why would anyone do that if they can get Princess Plus ) - correct

 

but if you do book under Princess Plus - and I going to ASSuME 2 adults - both will get the cost added/included in the fare

 

not going to get into 

a) only getting best2dg - no wifi

b) 3-4 'kids' in same cabin

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Your RCI ships have more stuff aboard to appeal to families.....rock walls, wave rides, ice rinks etc.....that's why they are great for families with kids.  Princess won't have all that stuff so if you need that sort of thing be aware.  

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I sail primarily Princess but have reached Diamond Level with Royal Caribbean.  On Princess you are paying for a drink package, but on Royal Caribbean (haven't sailed with them since 2015), I didn't pay for my evening wine.  Granted I only drink a couple of glasses a day but was nice not to pay.  I also liked the dedicated area for Diamond and Diamond Plus, card access.

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It's been a while since we sailed on RCI, but here is some information regarding Princess.

Dining

-Traditional evening dining, same waiter same table is available with two early seatings and one late seating. Early seatings are fairly early can be 5pm and 5:30 with the late seating usually around 7:15 or maybe 7:45.

-Anytime dining is just that open from 5pm until around 9:30pm. Walk in anytime. Most ships will take reservations for set times by calling the dining line in the morning.

One DR is open each day for breakfast and for lunch on sea days. One DR is also open for lunch on boarding day normally noon until 1:30.

Alternate no charge dining

-The buffet (Horizon Ct.), open 5am until 11pm serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and other selections. It never closes during those hours.

The International Cafe is open 24/7 serving paninis, salads, desserts, some other items, plus a selections of breakfast pastries in the morning. Both specialty coffees and regular brewed coffee, specialty teas, hot chocolate at the I.C. has a charge. Free coffee, not brewed, is available all day in the buffet area and in all DR's.

-On some sea days there is a free pub lunch in one of the bars or the steakhouse, Crown Grill. Depends on the ship.

-No charge for room service, limited menu. Full suites can order from the DR menu.

-There is pizza and a grill by the lido pool, open 11am until late evening every day.

Drink Package, alcohol and other beverages

-Standard price is US$70.79, might be a little different in the UK. There are packages which Princess introduced just a few months ago where you could get the beverage package and wi-fi for US$25/day. These packages may not now be available and can vary in the U.K. Prices include the 18% beverage gratuity. No additional gratuity is charged per drink. Terms are shown below in the web site at the end of the text.

-Most alcoholic beverages are priced under US$12 plus the 18% gratuity

-Wine each adult is permitted to carry on 1 x 750ml bottle of wine with no charge to be used in the cabin. Additional bottles can be carried on, are marked and are charged a US$15 corkage fee. These can be used anywhere on the ship.

-There is no free happy hour for any loyalty level

-There is a laundry on almost every deck. $3 wash, $3 dry + soap & dryer sheets if you don't bring them along. There is generally no stuff the bag laundry specials. Pricing for laundry is per item. a standard bag of shorts, T's. underwear, slacks, shirts, socks, might be around US$50.

Entertainment

-Theater shows - no reservations. All shows are walk in. Arrive 30 to 45 minutes early for popular production shows, 30 minutes early for other entertainers.

-There is live music in various locations and lounges starting around 5pm. On our last voyage there was the Princess orchestra, a party band, a group that played easy listening and ballroom, a string duo, a guitar singer/entertainer, a steel drum player, a Piano entertainer in Crooner's piano bar, plus another piano player that played at various times in the lobby area and around the ship.  Orchestra players play in the theater and special sets around the ship.

Tipping

Princess charges an auto tip of US$14.50/pp/day to US$16.50/pp day depending on cabin category. This tip covers cabin stewards, waiters, and waitstaff around the ship and others that you may not see. It does not cover the beverage gratuity which is 18%.

 

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NCL may be closer to RCCL than Princess.  On the Panama Canal transit cruises, the demographics are going to be older no matter which line it is.  Every line generally follows the rule of the longer the cruise, the older the passenger especially for anything over 14 days.  Also, you should ask yourself which canal you wish to transit, the old one or the new one.  Anything over panamax limits will use the new canal while they have been sending everything else through the old ones though they may be exceptions like Disney paying to use the new canal on 1 of their cruises.  Pretty much everyone else has been saying is on the money.  Nightlife will be much more subdue due to the older passengers, but sometimes you can get a livier group of passengers.  It will be a very relaxing cruise on Princess, but if you are looking for nightlife, you may want to take a look at NCL.  If you like to be by the pool during your seadays, Princess would be your choice.  I guess you have to find whatever fits you.  Every cruise line has alcohol packages and most of them seems to be alike.  If you are a wine drinker, Princess would get the nod as they have a more liberal wine policy and their wines are priced lower.  You can even pick up a couple of bottles in Panama City and bring it aboard (corkage fees may apply).

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We've sailed about 10x on RCI and about 20x on Princess.  Actually we started off with RCI and sailed them 4x before trying our first Princess cruise.  Princess larger, year round, presence on the US West Coast swung us over.

 

OP says he's sailed 35x with RCI, I assume this means a long history with them and my comments are based on that assumption.  With so many sailings on RCI I assume most will have been on their "ships of glass" - the so called Vision class ships.  These compare in terms of guest experience with Princess Coral and Grand Class ships (Coral, Island in the former group, Grand, Golden, Star, Diamond, Sapphire, Crown, Ruby and Emerald for the latter).  These generally compare with Vision of the Seas and her sisters.  Both RCI (when we last sailed) and Princess have traditional fixed dining and come whenever anytime alternatives, implemented slightly differently.  Neither have a great raft of alternate restaurants, two or so per ship.  RCI ships will have more active activities on deck, climbing walls, wave riders and the like, Princess has no or few such features.

 

Entertainment IMHO is quite similar on these classes of ships.  Your daily routine will be highly similar with some trivia and demonstration events day to day.  Occasional lectures.  Some dance instruction and the like.  Honestly, I think if you teleported between RCI and Princess ships of this vintage with no knowledge of where you were it would be quite difficult to distinguish one from the other.  

 

Princess has no equivalent to the largest RCI ships with they dozens of food options and different neighborhoods so if the comparison is at this level, frankly Princess simply doesn't compete but then no such ships transit the Panama Canal so I feel safe assuming the comparison is to Vision class ships.

 

We've done the Canal 4x with Princess and have enjoyed every transit, we were to make a 5th partial transit in a couple of weeks, cancelled.  OP doesn't mention which ship he booked.  I'd recommend Coral Princess if possible.  Why?  It's a true PANAMAX ship, we specifically constructed to fit, very snuggly, through the original locks which she continues to use.  It's truly jaw dropping to see the lock transition with barely a couple feet on each side - highly recommended.  Grand class ships with their larger beam MUST use the new locks, still interesting, but nothing compares to seeing Coral shoehorned in.

 

The drink package questions seem to have been well answered by others so I don't swing at that particular pitch.

 

Hope this helps a bit

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The previous posters have done an excellent job of describing the differences between the two lines so I’ll limit my comments to strongly advocating that you choose a ship that will transit through the original canal.  We did a partial transit on the Coral and then sailed through the remainder of the canal on a smaller boat on a ship’s excursion.  It was an amazing experience and the original canal is fascinating.  Best of luck on your cruise!

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Hi Everyone, many thanks for all the information, it's quite reassuring and I really think I will enjoy it, I had sailed on all different classes on RCI, although they may have some extra bells and whistles I don't tend to ice skate or surf at sea so that's not a deal breaker.  The ship I was looking at is Emerald Princess, I do tend to pick a cruise more for the destination rather than the ship, but, I had read about some other lines that vary a lot and I might not have enjoyed so much.  

 

Currently there is a good deal for Princess plus which covers grats, internet and drinks and even adding that on it's a little cheaper than I had paid for my cruise on Serenade of the Seas.    Thankyou again.

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We sailed 37 days February 2019 on the Emerald. Very pleased with the crew. Even though it is an older ship we enjoy the ship's layout better than the newer ships. Ship was in nice condition. Comfortable beds. All cabins have a fridge. Deck 10 balconies are 9ft x 9ft with 5ft of cover. Other balconies are 9ft x 5ft covered. Deck 9 mini suite balconies are not covered. If you book a full suite or Club Class mini suite you get Club Class dining.

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55 minutes ago, skynight said:

We sailed 37 days February 2019 on the Emerald. Very pleased with the crew. Even though it is an older ship we enjoy the ship's layout better than the newer ships. Ship was in nice condition. Comfortable beds. All cabins have a fridge. Deck 10 balconies are 9ft x 9ft with 5ft of cover. Other balconies are 9ft x 5ft covered. Deck 9 mini suite balconies are not covered. If you book a full suite or Club Class mini suite you get Club Class dining.

 

Agree with Skynight!  Actually Emerald is one of our favorite ships.  

We like Club Class mini suites and love having Club Class dining.  

 

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4 hours ago, welshrich said:

Hi Everyone, many thanks for all the information, it's quite reassuring and I really think I will enjoy it, I had sailed on all different classes on RCI, although they may have some extra bells and whistles I don't tend to ice skate or surf at sea so that's not a deal breaker.  The ship I was looking at is Emerald Princess, I do tend to pick a cruise more for the destination rather than the ship, but, I had read about some other lines that vary a lot and I might not have enjoyed so much.  

 

Currently there is a good deal for Princess plus which covers grats, internet and drinks and even adding that on it's a little cheaper than I had paid for my cruise on Serenade of the Seas.    Thankyou again.

 

I'm glad you found a great deal and your positive attitude will ensure your enjoyment.  

One more thing .. MUTS (movies under the stars ... or sun) is a large outdoor movie screen by the pool.  It is pretty fun and they serve all sorts of goodies out there.  

One other thing to keep in mind is that the Emerald does not have an indoor pool area ... may be important to you, maybe not.  

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5 hours ago, welshrich said:

Hi Everyone, many thanks for all the information, it's quite reassuring and I really think I will enjoy it, I had sailed on all different classes on RCI, although they may have some extra bells and whistles I don't tend to ice skate or surf at sea so that's not a deal breaker.  The ship I was looking at is Emerald Princess, I do tend to pick a cruise more for the destination rather than the ship, but, I had read about some other lines that vary a lot and I might not have enjoyed so much.  

 

Currently there is a good deal for Princess plus which covers grats, internet and drinks and even adding that on it's a little cheaper than I had paid for my cruise on Serenade of the Seas.    Thankyou again.

The Emerald Princess may be the best type of ship to sail the New Panama Canal while the older Coral Princess is the best for the old Panama Canal due to its various viewing area - front, aft, top, side.  The Emerald Princess is really design for the Caribbean (or warm water itinerary) because of the 2 large pool areas and an aft pool, I believe it is still adults only.  If the weather is lousy, it becomes a little bit crowded below deck.  With this ship you have a better chance of getting a pool-side lounger than other ships. It doesn't mean you can come later and expect a lounger to be available.  Just remember, Princess is a more relaxed type of atmosphere, doesn't have that go-go atmosphere that you may get in a RCCL ship, but even a RCCL ship will be different when it sails a longer and more exotic itinerary, simply because of different demographics.

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Such great info from the folks here!  We are P’s on RCCL, so maybe too loyal :) but we recently took a Princess cruise on the west coast.  We had soooo much fun!!  Remember the excitement of getting on board and having to find your way around the ship, wondering where the buffet is, what the bars look like, what’s on the dinner menu, finding a surprise spot on day 3...   With Princess plus, which seemed pretty reasonable for our cruise, we didn’t miss any of the freebies/discounts and just got to enjoy our time on board.  Agree with the more relaxed atmosphere, some really nice wines by the glass within the package limits, great food, laundry, chocolates on the pillow (!)  etc.  There are a few things from ‘home” we missed of course, but nothing that would take away from the enjoying Princess.  Pretty sure we’ll be doing a few more !  Enjoy!!! 

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Thanks again everyone, I've booked it and now really looking forward to trying something new, we've sailed all classes on RCI so will be nice to get onboard and walk around taking in something new, we usually sail for the itinerary rather than the ship so this will be great on both counts.   

 

Thanks again,

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I scanned the responses and the only issue that I don't think was discussed is that P's cabin unless you book a minisuite or better, are going to be smaller than RCI's. There is no sofa in P's regular cabin.  Also there is only 1 chair.

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4 hours ago, patrickmoran said:

I scanned the responses and the only issue that I don't think was discussed is that P's cabin unless you book a minisuite or better, are going to be smaller than RCI's. There is no sofa in P's regular cabin.  Also there is only 1 chair.

Hi,   I did see some pics online so was aware, we only tend to be in the cabin to change and sleep so hopefully won't be an issue, I remember some of RCI's older ships and those cabins were tiny so anything bigger than that is fine.

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