On NCL you will have freestyle dining, meaning no assigned tables or dining times - just go when you want to, during meal hours. (Reservations may be needed.) Princess currently has the option of either assigned dining or more like freestyle, with certain dining rooms allotted to each program. You should be aware of that feature, in case it makes a difference to you.
Otherwise, it would depend on what your likes and expectations are. Since you travel for business, you may be used to being well taken care of, staying in nicer hotel rooms, etc. In that case, you might be more comfortable on Princess, as their facilities are generally considered a notch above NCL.
And, as I always recommend, you should work with a travel agent who is experienced with cruises, especially since you have been "out of the loop" for a while. They will be up on what's current.
Cruising is a good choice for a family vacation - enjoy!
Welcome to the Cruise chat board. It's nice to have you aboard.
Steve, we’ve cruised both lines and our personal opinion is, Princess is far, far superior to NCL. This is a case where you’ll be getting pretty much what you paid for. Princess has a much better children’s and teen program and without a doubt, you and your spouse would enjoy it more. The crews are very well trained and go out of there way to make you feel special. If you were frequent cruisers, it’s all right at times, to take a chance on a iffy line. But being this is your first cruise, I strongly suggest you book with Princess. In our opinion there isn’t a better way to spend quality time with your family than when cruising. We think Princess will give you the best chance of optimizing your pleasure.
I agree with Tom and Mary that Princess is a good cruise line, it happens to be my favorite line. I have also cruised on Carnival 4 times. Carnival is NOT the party cruise line of old. If you go on Carnival during college spring break on a 7 day or less cruise it will be a little more of a party crowd. Carnival has an excellent kids program and on all 4 of the Carnival cruises I have been on the AVERAGE age of adults was 35 to 45 years old. There were of course younger and much older.
I would not count Carnival out as a family cruise. I would not hesitate to book my family on a Carnival cruise unless it was a college spring break. The 3 and 4 day Carnival cruises are more known for the party crowd. The 7 day or longer are just good fun.
I mean no disrespect to Tom and Mary's answer about Carnival this is just what I have experienced firsthand and it is just my opinion.
Besides the reply from Peb, we also received an e-mail from one of our readers, who’s opinion I very much respect. This is an excerpt from his e-mail.
<<Tom & Mary, I want you to know I have total respect for your opinions you make on cruising because I can tell they are your honest words and feelings. But I want you to know, Carnival is trying to cater to families now. Yes it is true the 3 and 4 day cruises do have a more party crowd and even the 7 day sailings during college spring break are a little more lively. I did cruise during a college crowd for one of the cruises and though there was a little bit of a party atmosphere nothing was out of control or at a point that I would have been bothered by having my grand kids on. I found the other 3 Carnival cruises to be very family and fun oriented. I met many seniors as well as many other great people of all ages... Paul Bjorlin>>
We last cruised with Carnival in April of 99 and evidently as Peb and Paul have stated, “They are not the party line of old.” We are happy to hear these kind of positive comments from Paul and Peb. Its nice to know Carnival is making a strong effort to change their image. Mary & I have talked about it and have decided we will book a Carnival cruise this coming year and see first hand the changes they have made.