Just booked Crown Princess (9/06) after sailing NCL (twice) and CCL in the last year. Kind of looking to kick it up a notch after the last NCL cruise... I don't know why I had the impression that Princess was a little more upscale than NCL because after I booked the cruise I couldn't find a single article or review that gave me that impression.
Just looking for your honest comparisons- even if you haven't sailed NCL I am interested in what the general vibe and experience is on a Princess sailing.
Princess is considered to be somewhere between the "mass market" lines (Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean) and the "premium" ones like HAL. I haven't been on NCL for about 7 years (will be going next month though) but we were on Princess last year. I think you'll find the general atmosphere is a little more sedate than Carnival, although not sleepy and formal night more formal. It's hard to make a comparison based on one ship per cruise line, so I hesitate to say whether food, service, etc. will seem much different to you or not; a lot depends on your steward and wait staff as individuals.
The mix of passengers onboard our Princess cruise (so. Carib. cruise, 7 nights) was perhaps a little older than what I've seen on Carnival but not a lot. People dressed up more for formal night than I had seen on Carnival or NCL. Again, this is based on one cruise per line, hardly a fair comparison.
Are you choosing traditional or "personal choice" dining? If you liked NCL's freestyle concept, I'd really recommend personal choice; it works in a similar way. But if you really enjoy having the same wait staff and dining companions every evening, then opt for traditional dining. That's one nice thing about Princess, that they offer you both options.
Yes, I picked personal choice... I loved having the same waiters every night on Carnival and I really, really missed that experience on NCL last week. At the same time, the flexibility is nice, too. If you go the personal choice route, do you still eat in the main dining rooms?
I am 99% ready to grab the late seating. I have a question for you: people talk about transferring their reservations to local TA's. can I do that? I put down a $900 deposit directly through Princess- is it beneficial to switch to a local TA, and if so, how? I guess I felt that I wanted to deal directly with the line because the cruise is during hurricane season and they would be more likely to book me on another cruise for free if mine was canceled. The minute I clicked "send" I realized I probably would have no power at all with them as a single person.
I have been happy with Expedia in the past but they didn't give me my $50 onboard credit (yet) from this last cruise so I skipped them.
Back on topic: thanks for your perspective. I really had no idea HAL was so upscale-ish. I thought it was the mass market line for old people!
Carla, with personal choice you can eat in 2 of the 3 main dining rooms (or 1 of the 2 if you're on a ship that has only 2), plus any of the alternate dining rooms and the buffet. Totally your choice. They reserve one main dining room for those who select traditional dining.
Yes, you should be able to have your reservation switched to ("taken over by") a local TA if you want. I think that's a good idea, especially if the TA is cruise-oriented and good at giving service; they can keep an eye out for problems for you, and may be able to take some proactive steps if hurricanes are threatening. They can also help with other things - flights to get to the cruise, transfers, shore excursions, etc. - if you want, and help coordinate all that if your cruise gets canceled or changed.
Re: upscale lines. HAL is only moderately so. The "premium" category is still below the "luxury" category! Those are REALLY upscale!
This is my first post, but I couldn't help but notice the title.
NCL has two totally different products out there right now. They are replacing their fleet ship by ship. So if you sail on the Jewel, you will find a first class vessel, if you sail on the Crown you will find an outdated, out classed experience.
Princess, for the most part is a 'near premium' line that offers a few extras. That being said, they have some issues of their own.
We've been on NCL, RCL, Costa, HAL, Carnival, and Princess. So far, our experiences on Princess have been wonderful. I used to feel Royal Caribbean was the cream of the crop, but they've become too much like Carnival. I was really worried when Carnival bought Princess, because I feared they would take it down to Carnival's level (not that I don't enjoy Carnival). We find Princess to be a little more elegant and truly enjoy the personal choice dining option. We always opt to share a table and have met some truly interesting people. We sail on other lines, but keep going back to Princess. I truly hope your experience will be as wonderful as ours has been. We're on the Sun in October and can't wait!! Enjoy your cruise!
Your post sounds like you think Carnival Cruise Lines bought Princess. It is Carnival Corp that owns Princess. In addition to Carnival Cruise line and Princess, Carnival Corp also owns Cunard, Seabourn, Holland America-Windstar, and Costa. All which are very good products.
We've been sailing Princess for years (17 cruises) & since the last 2 cruises Sun & Star (both this year) we've found the quality of the meat to have gone down hill big time. Just to make a comparison, we also sailed on the NCL Sun this March & found the food to be way above Princess quality which we found to be great as in the past. The NCL buffets didn't have the variety & selections as Princess had but their quality was still acceptable. The prime rib and steaks on both Princess ships was terrible. If the local restaurants by us served something like that they wouldn't be in business very long. At first I thought it was just a coincidences on the Princess Sun but the same held true on the Princess Star. If you want a decent prime rib dinner you'll have to go to the extra charge restaurants. I didn't really make a big deal out of it but I mentioned it to the waiter & he told me it was due to the fact it was in the freezer before being prepared. There must have been other people who have also commented on their dinners. I realize that the waiter was willing to change my meal for something else but it wasn't the point. You'd be wiser to choose a fish dinner which they still do a great job with. We'll still be sailing on Princess in the future but I'll be more selective when choosing my diner selection.