I'm 47, professional, seasoned traveler, understand great dining, good service ... I've now done 3 cruises (Carnival Victory, Celebrity Mercury, and Celebrity Infinity).
The Victory was a nice ship, the food was OK, nothing wrong per say, nothing great, nothing memorable, desserts looked nice but were blah.
Both Celebrity had great dining, the buffet was good, but dinner was well above average. And while food isn't everything, you eat on the ship the whole time, so I want good food.
Others who I've met on Celebrity (who seemed to have relatively good taste) have mention Princess (grand, golden, star) and Royal's Voyager Class ... both interest me.
MY QUESTION ... to me Carnival was on par with Olive Garden or something, not bad, nothing special ... Celebrity was more like a favorite restaurant every night ... I'm taking my Mom and 2 brothers (we all cook well and enjoy dining) ... so Princess Grand Class (Star or Caribbean actually) or a Voyager Class ???
Also, both of those ships look like fun, I want bigger and more to do on this trip.
The Dusty Trails Ranch
home of Missouri Fox Trotter Horses ... smooth ride, sweet disposition, talent on loan from God.
The "Voyager"-class (and even more so "Freedom of the Seas") offer so many choices, they are a very good choice if you are looking for lots of activities. However, from my experience, food and service are not particularly among Royal Caribbean's strengthes and I would rate both as being below Carnival (again from my personal experience - others might disagree). Celebrity certainly is the best among those three when it comes to food.
Princess offers a good product with both open and traditional dining (you choose) and their ships are more traditional with lots of smaller public spaces vs. large, spectacular ones. Also, please note that "Caribbean Princess" is virtually identical to "Star Princess" - with the difference being that "Caribbean Princess" has an extra accommodations deck, resulting in an additional 500 passengers with virtually no extra public spaces!
We've been on NCL, RCCL, HAL, Costa, Carnival, and Princess. To me Princess is the best, so far. The food has been great, the service was excellent, and the ships were immaculate. We've only been on the Sea, Dawn, and Sun. They're smaller than the Grand, Star or Caribbean, but still have plenty to offer. As Raoul stated, Royal's ships have more family oriented on-board activities. Rock climbing, etc., but the food, although good, is not outstanding. I don't think you'd be disappointed with either line. Best wishes!
Dusty, it's SO hard to answer someone's question about food, because opinions are so subjective. I've read comments here that have said Carnival's food is the best on any cruise line, and the worst, and the same has been said about almost every mass market or premium cruise line.
In general, Celebrity is said to have the best food in the mass and premium market ships. Their menus are overseen, and master chefs trained, by Michel Roux. Apparently he has the only 5-star restaurant in Paris, or some such distinction.
You're the only one who will know if you like Princess' or Royal Caribbean's food as much as you liked Celebrity's food. I understand that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, being owned by the same company, use the same food company too, but Celebrity may allocate more money per person for its meals.
If you're looking for a big ship with lots of options, I, too, like the Voyager class of ships on Royal Caribbean. I've eaten meals on Freedom of the Seas that I thought were very good, both in the dining room and the buffet. But I'm not that picky about food; if someone else prepares it, serves it, and cleans up after it, I'm generally pretty happy!
Their menus are overseen, and master chefs trained, by Michel Roux. Apparently he has the only 5-star restaurant in Paris, or some such distinction.
No, he has a 3-star restaurant in London. See a quote from his website below:
Le Gavroche is one of the UK's finest restaurants. Its opening in 1967 by brothers Albert and Michel Roux marked the revolution of restaurants in London.
Since then, Le Gavroche has continued to set the standards of cooking and service by which other places are judged - it was the first UK restaurant to be awarded one, two then three Michelin Stars, and was the first Michelin rated restaurant to offer a set-price lunch.
Today the reputation of Le Gavroche continues to ride high in the eyes of critics and customers and now firmly rests on the food prepared by Michel Roux Jnr who took over the day to day running of the kitchen from his father, Albert, in 1991.
i have cruised 4 times on RCCL, with number 5 coming up. i've found RCCL safe, clean, organized and beyond expectations for what i thought a cruise could offer. me and my wife are 40 yr old professionals. we have sailed different ships, mostly caribbean itineraries.
i more than highly recommend RCCL, but offer this tip, find the newer ships that offer the specialty restaurants portifino & chops grille.
the restaurants are $20- per person and the food and experience is 5 star. it makes the cruise a little more intimate, as you are not in the dining room with the same strangers every night.
Lot's of good advice given so far. What are your priorities? If it's food, you've had the best with Celebrity. To most people food is a high-light of a cruise. I haven't been on a cruise where the food was bad. I've been on every Royal Caribbean ship, and the food quality varies from ship to ship. What do you do when you're not eating? Entertainment is something to consider. The Voyager class ships have the ice skating show which you'll find on no other ship. Once in a while I find myself a little bored, so I take a walk on the Promenade deck, which I always find interesting. Size is important to some. If bigger is better, then a Voyager class ship is the best. If you what to experience something above and beyond any ship you've sailed on so far, I would definitely recommend a Voyager class ship.
I have cruised on Princess, RCCL, Norwegian, Celebrity and Carnival. I was on Ocean Princess when they initiated Sterling Steakhouse as an alternative dining option. We ate there on night one and liked it so much we dined there every night. It was so new that most passengers didn't know about it. We loved Le Bistro on Norwegian (ate there all seven nights) I guess what I am trying to relate is that we love the (extra cost) alternative dining options on all lines. As for dining room food....it is all over the map on all lines. The best lobser tail I think I have ever been served was on Carnival.
Celebrity had great food on one cruise and so-so on the same ship three months later (go figure)
Overall....I would say Princess has the best "regular" food.
Regal Princess 1996
Sun Princess 1998
Grand Princess 2000
Ocean Princess 2001
Golden Princess 2004
Caribbeean Princess 2004
Caribbean Princess 2006
And just to show you that food is indeed very subjective, I disagree that Princess has the best "regular" food. Outside of the extra-cost alternative restaurants (which I agree are often superb), the best "regular" food I have had on a major cruise line has been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean (tie). But that's just because it appealed more to my personal taste than the food on other cruise lines.
If you really are looking for an excellent all-around cruise experience, you probably need to be looking at the luxury lines (Crystal, Seabourn, Silversea, Seadream Yacht Club, etc.) Much pricier, but the quality is likely to be higher than on the mass-market lines.
I'll make it quick. In my opinion, RCCL has the best food, best service and most activities. I am talking about the voyager class ships. Never gone on their smaller ships and probably would not after going on a maga ship.