That is a very subjective question and you will get a zillion different opinions. It is all relative to what one experiences on a particular ship at the time they sail. I have been on all the major cruise lines. When people ask me which one is the best, it is difficult to truly say one over the other. Each cruise line targets different markets. Each is known for something different. Some may say RCL is better because they like all the amenities of rock climbing wall, miniture golf, bungee jumping, or the new surf pool coming out this year. But if you don't use those amenities then another cruise line could fit your style just as well. You can't even begin to compare a Windstar cruise to RCL, CCL, NCL, or even CEL, PCL, or HAL. When it comes to food on the different lines you will get a lot of different opinions too. Maybe I'm just not a picky eater. I think the food has been great on all the lines. Yes, sometimes something may not be cooked perfect, or not as hot as it should be. But can you honestly say that has never happened in a restaurant at home? And sometimes service may have seemed slower then what you think it should be. But haven't you experienced that at home too? What I have noticed is the difference in the big production shows. Some lines the dancers come out in different costumes with every song, and the stage back drop, and stage props change to go with the song. But a couple of cruise lines I have been on I've noticed they may change costumes, but the back drop and stage props are very simple or they don't even have any.
You will have a better experience if you are on a ship matched to your needs. That's where booking with a Travel Agent will help.
The bottom line is to keep an open mind and have fun.
You can't compare Windstar to RCL, CCL, CEL, etc., because Windstar is a totally different experience. Windstar is a luxury intimate sailing ship. I did them in 1994 when they sailed in Tahiti. They have two ships with 148 pax, and one ship with 308. You have to be the type of person who can kick back and relax. They don't have the big entertainment. One show lounge with a three piece band, small casino with only a few tables. The libary has CD's and DVD's you can take to your room. The ship has a watersports platform. When in port you can go waterskiing, banana boating, and snorkeling. This is not a cruise for children. The food was great. I would definetly do them again.
You are definately going to get alot of different opinions on this post, which isd I'm sure going to be very helpful, or very confusing for you.
I personally liked Carnival over Royal Caribbean, but then again that might have had something to do with the ship itself. We cruised on Carnival's "Victory" which was a much newer ship in comparison to RCCL's "Radiance of the Seas" in which I was not impressed with. I did notice that Royal Caribbean seemed to have had better food, although the entertainment was nothing in comparison to Carnivals!
We are scheduled on Carnival next by choice!!
My advice to you would be to try one this year, and do your comparison cruise in another year or two
To further complicate things, there can be differences between ships within the same cruise line. For instance, Norwegian Crown and Norwegian Sun are very different, as are RCCL's Splendour of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. It's great to have so many choices, yet hard to decide between them all.
As to which line to try next -- what are the reasons that draw you to Royal Caribbean? They may be offered on other ships of other lines, as well. Knowing that can help us make some recommendations.
BTW, I've been on about 10 cruise lines, and it's hard to play favorites.
I agree that it is all subjective… There are some people that cruise because they want to be pampered so those need the suite life and all that comes with it... there are others that don’t care as long as they are on a ship.
Obviously RCCL has at least up to this point please you and your family or I don’t think you would have returned to sail with them again and again.
If you just want to try a different brand so you can compare. Then you will indeed find more opinions then there are cruise ships.
Bottom Line IMHO is decide what works for you then go for it.. research research research… Good luck!
JOEY Carnival Ecstasy HAL Ryndam HAL Oosterdam Celebrity Century Celebrity Millennium Celebrity Summit Golden Princess
We have been on three different lines, NCL, Dolphin, and Holland America. Of the 3 lines I rate Holland America the best. The bed was definitly the most comfortable and the inside cabin was very spacious with lots of cabinet space and little hideaways to put stuff in. Service was excellent and we loved the shows. Food was excellent. We are trying out the Celebrity line on 2/4 on the Century cruise ship. Will touch base when we get back.
I think people are far to critical of Carnival. I have been on them 27 times and never had a problem. They have a 98% repeat factor. They are the only cruise line that has a Vacation Guarantee. I have also been on HAL, CEL, PCL, and as mentioned above Windstar. I think you would enjoy any of them for just yourself and wife. All the cruise lines offer the art auction, wine tasting, are up to date on the internet cafes, and have the intimate fine dining restaurants. They all have been hiring celebrity chef's to redesign their menus. But each cruise line has their own specialty that makes them a little different. I particularly like CEL's thalassotherapy pool. Very relaxing. CEL also has a new acupucture program, they have computer and camera classes, martini bar, and the Bar at the Edge of the Earth. HAL has their "Signature of Excellence" where they have updated cabins with fine high thread count Greek linens, special massage shower heads, deluxe waffle and terry robes, fresh fruit baskets in every room. Suite categories have premium plush Euro mattresses, luxurious duvets and pillows. They have a new culinary arts program. PCL was the first to come out with the outdoor theatres by the pool. Now Disney and Carnival are both getting them.
Since you have gone several times on RCL I think CEL and HAL would both be a good choice for a cruise without the boys.
PS: Did I read in another thread you are prior Air Force? I'm retired Air Force 20 Years. Lajes Field, Azores; Langley AFB, VA; Wallace AS Philippines; 339Recruiting Squadron Michigan