I have been a member here since 2004. Since then, I have taken 4 cruises. I took one cruise on Royal Caribbean and three with Carnival. I was happy with the overall expierience.
So I was wondering if I should take my next cruise on a premium cruise line ( or at least those cruiselines considered to be a step above the mass-market of Royal Caribbean and Carnival)?
I was wondering if such "premium" cruiselines are significantly better than the mass market ones. Would I notice that much difference considering the higher prices of premium cruiseline cruisefare? (which in some cases are not that much higher).
Or would the difference of the premium cruise line not be that much better? And if so, should I just stick with the mass market cruise line?
I do notice a difference. It will also depend on what features and benefits are most important to you. What is important to one person may not be to the other. One person may place high importance on service and therefore notice service is much more attentive on premium lines. Another person may place high importance on entertainment, where another person might not. So each will have an opinion on whether entertainment is better or equal. Overall I think the premium lines have friendly staff, more attentitive service, pampering, and little touches that set the ambiance of sophistication on the ship. I enjoy the food and entertainment on all cruise lines. I have seen some different or exotic choices on premium lines. There are some really good prices on the premium products.
I'll take a poke at this. The biggest noticable difference will be the size of the ships in most cases. The mainstream premiums like HAL and Celebrity have fleets with ships that don't accommodate nearly 3000 or more pax. There is a better crew member to pax ratio so more personalized service is common. You'll run into the folks at your dinner table more often throughout the ship. The food is often a little more upscale and the decor of the ships are more refined. You'll see actual wood paneling in areas where you might see a photo image of wood paneling on some lesser mass produced materials on the ships that serve the masses. Another less frequently mentioned difference is going to be the amount of entertainment venues. There will be fewer lounges, smaller casinos, smaller and fewer theatre type venues. As a result they'll target the entertainment towrd their passenger base. On the big ships, there is something for every age range and taste to choose from. Some prefer the smaller ship experience and it's the perfect fit, for others, not so much. I think anyone who is going to cruise more than once, a little experimentation with the different lines is a good idea unless they hit a homerun on the first and can't imagine anything being better.
Worth the difference is not possible to answer unless you try both experiences and decide for yourself what best suits you.
There are a couple of steps above the mainstream premiums as well but they're usually not such a small difference in cost and a much larger difference in the experience. Azamara and Oceania fit the next tier up the ladder and then the 6 star choices. Those are Regent, Silversea, Seabourne and Crystal in no particular order. I'd also throw in SeaDream Yacht Club in that elite group although they do not get the 6 star rating, just 5 1/2. These are the top of the cruising ladder unless you invest in your own private yacht and crew. They're all inclusive and some ultra inclusive meaning even many of your excursion options are planned and included. Onboard they cater to your every whim and have a crew member for every other pax on the ship with most, some ships have an even higher ratio, nearly a crew member for every passenger.
Hope this helps, and hope you find exactly the right cruiseline for what you always dreamed cruising could be.
What a great question. You actually got me thinking and consulting with the real expert (my wife). We have been blessed to have cruises on more than 50 different ships of 11 cruise lines, and honestly, we loved every cruise. We do not buy the labels such as Premium since we have found substantial differences between ships (even of the same lines), the time of year, length of cruise, etc. Unless you are going to splurge and go with the really luxury lines (Crystal, Silverseas, Regent, etc) I am not sure I could quantify the differences. For example, Celebrity is supposed to be the Premium line of RCI, but we have generally found RCI to be as good if not better in many categories. We still book about 5 cruises a year (most of them 2 weeks or longer) and choose our cruises based on itinerary and cost. Three years ago I would have said Princess was the best line for the dollar. But, based on the past year I would now rate HA or Azamara (great if you like smaller ships) as the best for the money. The problem is that after our next 4 or 5 cruises we figure this will all change.
Three years ago I would have said Princess was the best line for the dollar. But, based on the past year I would now rate HA or Azamara (great if you like smaller ships) as the best for the money. The problem is that after our next 4 or 5 cruises we figure this will all change.
Hank, a great answer! That's been a problem for me as well, trying to figure out who's on top of their game and which ships are performing at their peek and which ones have settled into mediocrity. They all seem to go through phases. Just when I get comfortable with one being tops on my list, someone else steps up and improves their game and the one I liked so well begins to get legitimate complaints and slips. I guess it's that way throughout most industries. Look at the auto manufacturers. What was once up is down and vice versa. I understand the most repaired cars in the industry for the first year of ownership are Land Rover and Jaguar, who'd have guessed? The cruise industry is that way too. Best bet I've found is to get recent feedback from someone who is fresh off the ship and can give you the low down 1st hand before you book it.