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Princess, NCL, Holland America or Celebrity?


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We have been cruising for the past 15 some years, almost exclusively with Celebrity as we were very happy with the product. However of late we notice things aren’t quite the same, not to mention the prices. We also cruise mostly in Europe and are now looking for different itineraries and ports and think it’s time we tried other cruise lines.

 

Something about ourselves, my siblings and I usually take a family vacation each year, cruising the S class ships and book hump balconies. We aren’t huge drinkers but enjoy the beverage package and sampling different martinis and drinks at the various bars, we also like to try out the specialty restaurants.

 

Would like you opinion on how Princess, NCL and Holland America compare with Celebrity. And of course Royal Caribbean too. Which of these lines do you think would come closest to Celebrity, which ones do you like and why? Any particular ships or class of ships you recommend?

 

As of now we have a South America sailing booked for February 2022, originally supposed to be on the Silhouette, but now the Millennium. I was looking at options in Europe for summer 2022 but it’s again all the same old ports and itineraries, hence this post.

 

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, have a wonderful day!

 

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My preference is either Celebrity or HAL determined ultimately by the itinerary. Have never cruised NCL and Princess only once. I also like RCI, a bit more budget than Celebrity but I've never had anything to complain about, found them quite good for the money.

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Personally I think Princess is the closest to Celebrity, we have mainly sailed Princess, but done the others too, I feel there is about as much difference between two ships of either Princess or Celebrity as there is between one from each line.

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Undoubtedly Celebrity is overall the best and most classy of these mass market lines.

Princess is a close second.

But after Covid, Celebrity has become all inclusive, hence very expensive.

Look out for last-minute price drops on Celebrity.

 

Royal Caribbean has the best entertainment shows and activities to keep you busy all day.

 

Holland America is a more relaxed and laid back traditional type of Cruise, with not much to do in terms of activities or entertainment.

But the cabins are larger and their service is excellent.

 

Norwegian is in the same league as Carnival with lots of entertainment, activities, games, etc.

But now it's all inclusive, so it's overpriced for what they offer.

 

Overall, you will enjoy each and every one of them, so look out for deals below $100 per person per night.

 

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If we are talking cabins/staterooms whatever you call it 

You have to be in a mini-suite or above on Princess to get a sofa to site on otherwise it is just one chair 

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Thanks a lot, I too have heard good things about HAL. NCL to be avoided if it’s in the similar league as Carnival, we’re not interested in entertainment and activities, especially since Europe is so port intensive. 
 

Any specific ships you recommend? Or any we should avoid? 😉

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14 minutes ago, prish said:

Thanks a lot, I too have heard good things about HAL. NCL to be avoided if it’s in the similar league as Carnival, we’re not interested in entertainment and activities, especially since Europe is so port intensive. 
 

Any specific ships you recommend? Or any we should avoid? 😉

 

You may have to post this on HAL boards

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I have sailed all 4 cruises lines.

The only reason to sail NCL is if there will be children in the group. NCL has the slides, rock climbing wall, etc. that the kids would enjoy. The others do not.

As for the other three I rate them all about equal. But if food is important, I would probably go with Celebrity.

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We have sailed all four of the lines you mentioned multiple times, the most on Celebrity (~30), NCL (~20) and Princess (~15).  Top tiers on each except not Zenith on =X=.

I would say that any of those 3, in the total experience (and this is important) would be acceptable. You will find better entertainment on NCL vs =X=, better itineraries on Princess and HAL.  Service a bit better on =X= than the other 3.  Food is subjective.  We've never had what we consider a bad meal on any of these 4 lines.

 

I take exception with the "NCL is like Carnival" comment.  We have well over 200 days on NCL (and have sailed Carnival a number of times).  The OP said they sail "mostly in Europe."  Perhaps if you were comparing a 4 day Caribbean on Carnival to a 4 day Caribbean on NCL (or, honestly, a 4 day Caribbean on =X=), there would be similarities.  In Europe, where we have sailed extensively, I really do not see that much difference at all between NCL and Celebrity (or HAL or Princess).

 

I would choose on: 1) itinerary 2) price 3) size of ship preference.

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We usually cruise Celebrity as we love the product. Enjoyed RC too although not as much.

 

Are you UK based (although not essential). We enjoyed TUI and P&O although not as much as Celebrity but worthwhile a go if the dates/price/itinerary suit. Likewise Cunard.

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We have cruised all four lines and consider HAL and Celebrity as tied for #1 IMHO.

Done 2 Princess, both in Europe and they were ok (one on Royal Princess, one on Caribbean Priot ncess).  Did NCL once and that was enough (also Europe...never again).  We would perhaps give a slight edge to HAL because their ships are smaller.

Some say the passenger demographic on HAL looks like a retirement home and the ships basically shut down by 10 p.m.  I think this may have been the the case on longer itineraries overall.  We cruise either by ourselves or with extended family so this has never bothered us.  Entertainment on HAL has improved over the past couple of years and includes Lincoln Centre Stage for classical music, Rolling Stone Rock Room, BB King Blues Band and Billboard Onboard.  As well as stage productions.  All were well attended and we never had a problem getting in (more than a single session each night) which was not the case on either Princess or NCL.  NCL required reservations to be made for their shows precruise or take your chance lining up when there which was frustrating.

We preferred dining rooms on HAL as they were smaller and not as noisy as Celebrity.  Food offerings were good on either.

We had 2 cruises cancelled in 2020 - Norway in May on Celebrity and Rome to Dubai on Princess in October.  Itinerary is our main consideration.

 

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A slight update to my earlier post.  If you are considering NCL Epic in Europe, I would avoid.  It is the only NCL ship that we have sailed that we were not satisfied with (and that, sadly, was in Haven).  I would sail any other NCL ship in Europe without reservation with preference for Gem, Star, Jade or Dawn, all sailing in Europe next year. They are mid-sized ships (M Class size) with less than 2500 pax.

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I've sailed Princess (3x), HAL (1x), NCL (1x), Celebrity (2x), RCI (1x), CCL (1x), and DCL (1x).

 

IMHO, I really like the product that Celebrity offers. While it has been some time since I cruised Princess, from what I read here on the boards things have changes, not necessarily for the better. I used to equate Celebrity and Princess, but it seems that, outside of the water slides, etc, that its heading more towards Carnival. My one HAL cruise was on the Veendam (no longer in fleet) to Bermuda. While there were somethings I liked, the food was not really one of them. I actually wrote on my comment card to send the pastry chef back to school.

 

I really enjoyed my DCL cruise, but I only sailed because we got a good price. 

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We have cruised RCCL, NCL, Princess & Celebrity. (all several times except NCL, only one in Dec. 2019...they are providing the best value most of the time right now, have booked more with them)

In our opinion, Celebrity is a small step above the other 3. 

So if you are looking for a "better" experience, you will likely be disappointed, imo.

Honestly, we find all the lines more alike than different. (esp. food & service)

Princess--we like the plethora of activities offered

RCCL--we like the mega ships (again, plethora of activities); great entertainment

NCL--we LOVE the Waterfront (Breakaway, Getaway, Bliss, Joy, Escape, Encore); great entertainment

Celebrity--we like how it felt just a tiny bit more upscale; we have the Apex booked for March 2022 & it looks AMAZING

 

Edited by KKB
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4 hours ago, prish said:

We have been cruising for the past 15 some years, almost exclusively with Celebrity as we were very happy with the product. However of late we notice things aren’t quite the same, not to mention the prices. We also cruise mostly in Europe and are now looking for different itineraries and ports and think it’s time we tried other cruise lines.

 

Something about ourselves, my siblings and I usually take a family vacation each year, cruising the S class ships and book hump balconies. We aren’t huge drinkers but enjoy the beverage package and sampling different martinis and drinks at the various bars, we also like to try out the specialty restaurants.

 

Would like you opinion on how Princess, NCL and Holland America compare with Celebrity. And of course Royal Caribbean too. Which of these lines do you think would come closest to Celebrity, which ones do you like and why? Any particular ships or class of ships you recommend?

 

As of now we have a South America sailing booked for February 2022, originally supposed to be on the Silhouette, but now the Millennium. I was looking at options in Europe for summer 2022 but it’s again all the same old ports and itineraries, hence this post.

 

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, have a wonderful day!

 

We have cruised Celebrity(11), NCL(7) and Royal Caribbean(2).

We have not cruised Princess or HAL.

HAL was avoided due to their terrible smoking policies.  I realize that those policies changed about 3 years ago, but we haven't found a HAL cruise that we liked, price considered.

Princess has been on our list for comparing cruises.  I usually find a cruise that I like and compare Celebrity, Royal C., NCL and Princess.   Until recently, Princess was around the same price as Celebrity (or favorite, but since we had no loyalty benefits, we went with Celebrity.

 

This is my rating of our three cruise lines:

1) Celebrity (score 9.0), love the dining, ship design, service, and itineraries.  Celebrity's entertainment doesn't match NCL or Royal C., but we still prefer X.

2) Royal Caribbean (score 8.0), love the entertainment.  Service and dining are pretty good, even though Celebrity has the edge there.  Ship design is not as good, we avoid the huge mega ships.  Love the Diamond loyalty benefits and generally lower prices.

3) NCL (score 7.5) entertainment is excellent, almost as good as Royal.  Service and dining range from average to very good,  Ship design is lousy with the Epic, but some of the Gem class ships are good.

 

Price wise, we don't always pick the cheapest, but 3 years ago NCL went with price bundling perks that has priced them out of our competition.  Now Celebrity is doing the same, so we are looking more at Royal C. and Princess.  If Celebrity keeps up this price bundling (all inclusive) they may be priced out of our picks.

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I have cruised all multiple times but haven’t cruised ncl in a long time and will no longer sail them. I think Hal is definitely closest to Celebrity and I would give Hal I edge on entertainment. Love the entertainment on rccl by far the best , love suite perks on Celebrity they have the best suite restaurant. Might want to consider MSC also , good entertainment they yacht club is fantastic if it’s in your budget and cheaper than suites on Celebrity.

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1 hour ago, hawkesbaynz said:

We usually cruise Celebrity as we love the product. Enjoyed RC too although not as much.

 

Are you UK based (although not essential). We enjoyed TUI and P&O although not as much as Celebrity but worthwhile a go if the dates/price/itinerary suit. Likewise Cunard.

 

We’re Stateside, not UK, though I’ll certainly take a look at P&O and TUI. For May/June 2022 we’re thinking of an eastern Mediterranean itinerary, with a land tour in Greece either pre or post cruise. 
 

 

1 hour ago, ECCruise said:

We have sailed all four of the lines you mentioned multiple times, the most on Celebrity (~30), NCL (~20) and Princess (~15).  Top tiers on each except not Zenith on =X=.

I would say that any of those 3, in the total experience (and this is important) would be acceptable. You will find better entertainment on NCL vs =X=, better itineraries on Princess and HAL.  Service a bit better on =X= than the other 3.  Food is subjective.  We've never had what we consider a bad meal on any of these 4 lines.

 

I take exception with the "NCL is like Carnival" comment.  We have well over 200 days on NCL (and have sailed Carnival a number of times).  The OP said they sail "mostly in Europe."  Perhaps if you were comparing a 4 day Caribbean on Carnival to a 4 day Caribbean on NCL (or, honestly, a 4 day Caribbean on =X=), there would be similarities.  In Europe, where we have sailed extensively, I really do not see that much difference at all between NCL and Celebrity (or HAL or Princess).

 

I would choose on: 1) itinerary 2) price 3) size of ship preference.


Yes, we’re looking at European itineraries and not the Caribbean. And as I mentioned earlier these are port intensive and at the end of the day entertainment isn’t our top priority. 

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2 hours ago, prish said:

Thanks a lot, I too have heard good things about HAL. NCL to be avoided if it’s in the similar league as Carnival, we’re not interested in entertainment and activities, especially since Europe is so port intensive. 
 

Any specific ships you recommend? Or any we should avoid? 😉

Well, if you are not interested in entertainment or activities, then HAL is your best bet. They have some cool itineraries, good food, quality service, nice cabins and a few specialty restaurants, especially on their newer, larger Pinnacle class ships. They also have fully covered promenade decks that circle the ship, just in case you want to walk off those extra calories while gazing out over the waves.

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Sorry if I sounded abrupt earlier, but part of my reply disappeared!

 

Anyway, thank you all so much for your suggestions. I absolutely need to look at the various itineraries and sailings available on the different cruise lines and figure out what we’d like. A couple of years back someone on these boards highly recommended Yacht Club. 
 

BTW, what’s HAL’s smoking policy now? 
 

Thanks again, really appreciate your help!

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prish,

I've cruised all four of these lines and here is my ratings:

 

#1 --  Still Celebrity.  Even as they move into their "all-inclusive" phase, we prefer everything X over the other four.  Food is better, ships are modern and unique, and the crew seems happy.  Many don't like the new balcony cabins on the E-class, but we love them.

 

#2 -- Holland America is getting better.  New ships and the old guard is fading away.  Consistently good food, excellent itineraries, and some of the best prices going.

 

#3 -- NCL can be a great experience.  Make sure you get a full dining package and eat every evening meal in one of their great alternative restaurants.  MDR for lunch only. Yes, they will nickel and dime you to death with their high "fees" and extra costs.  They even cheat a bit on their higher taxes.  Modern, active ships, but beware of the smoke issues near the casino.

 

#4 -- Distant fourth.  Never really liked much about Princess.  Venues are compact and crowded.  I'm sure we will give them another try down the road, but as of today, they are at the bottom of the list.

 

Enjoy!

Kel

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17 minutes ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Just curious, but why would you give HAL the edge on entertainment over Celebrity?

It’s been a few years but Hal had more music on our cruises they had a nice piano bar , BB King nightclub and others. While I love many things on Celebrity I didn’t think there entertainment was special, our normal cruises on Celebrity are music charters with great music but that’s not the average cruise.

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3 hours ago, prish said:

Thanks a lot, I too have heard good things about HAL. NCL to be avoided if it’s in the similar league as Carnival, we’re not interested in entertainment and activities, especially since Europe is so port intensive. 
 

Any specific ships you recommend? Or any we should avoid? 😉

 

After reading your reply I think I can add a bit more food for thought...

Although I would not put NCL on the same level as Carnival, my experience after cruising once on Escape was that ist is very entertainment orientated. The areas for constant 24/7 entertainment take up so much space that this was the first ship where we felt squeezed in - squeezed in between the party area (which we avoid) and the (huge) Haven part of the ship which is off limits to other passengers.

Royal is good quality and the ships are nice, but they are also very entertainment and family oriented.

We tried HAL on a cruise around Japan (for about half the price of Celebrity). The cruise was great because of the destination and there was nothing really bad about HAL - but we missed many things which we took for granted on Celebrity.

 

So sometimes cruising on another line isn´t bad just to see the differences and maybe then appreciate many things which have become so normal on Celebrity.

Anyway... on HAL we felt the quality was good. We liked the buffet and thought that the service at the buffet restaurant beats the service at the Oceanview Cafe. However, the choice was more limited. The food at the MDR was good but repetitive. Same menu after the first week.

 

What we really missed on HAL is the open and airy feeling of a Celebrity ship. There are no large open spaces. The dark and very classic maritime design makes it even ´smaller´. Also there was no nice outside bar like the Sunset Bar.

 

So for us HAL will remain to be an option - but only for destinations where we see the ship only as a place to sleep. 

 

We wrote about our cruise on HAL. Maybe it gives you an idea...
http://www.travelandcruise.net/travellove_en/Our-Trips/HAL-Westerdam-Japan-01/hal-westerdam-japan-01.html
 

 

 

Edited by Miaminice
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