Do You Have A Favorite Cruise Line?… I do (Sort of)
Written by: Kuki
On my Blog last week I answered one of the questions I’m most often asked. I thought I’d continue in that vein this week with the question I hear all the time…What’s Your Favorite Cruise Line?
No doubt the only reason anyone cares to hear my opinion is they see that I write for CruiseMates. Honestly, I don’t see where my opinions bear any more weight than anyone else, so I’ve never really tried to answer this question before. Recently someone asking it told me that my opinion would be helpful to them mostly because I’ve had the opportunity to sail on many different cruise lines that they haven’t. And they’d like to do their utmost to choose the line that’s right for them, and that they feel my opinion may help them… so here it goes.
The short and direct answer is I don’t think any of the cruise lines are consistent enough throughout their fleet to warrant my devotion… or yours. To my view that’s a bit of a problem that the line’s themselves could do a better job of addressing. That’s not to say they all have bad ships within their fleets. But almost all have ships within their fleets that in my opinion do better jobs than others. Sometimes it has to do with my preference of such simple things as floor plans, and other times it’s the differences in cabin size between some of their different classes of ships, and sometimes it’s service or staffing issues that seem to be handled better on some ships than others. Therefore I’m going to switch gears for a bit and talk about my favorite ships.
Of course over the 15 years I’ve been cruising, my favourite ship has changed many times… and that’s one of the things I love about cruising.; the industry keeps itself interesting enough to keep me interested.
Early on, the first ship that WOWED me was Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. Crossing the gangway, the shear beauty of the ship was enough to take my breath away.
After that we tried to experience several other cruise lines with good results on several Carnival ships. But it wasn’t until Carnival brought out their Spirit Class ships that I became a real fan. Though the décor was still typical Carnival over the top, the layout made the typical Carnival “fun ship” experience that much more enjoyable.
Then Royal Caribbean won be back when they introduced the Radiance Class of ships. To my mind they are still the best designed and most beautiful ships Royal Caribbean has built. It was when I tried Explorer of the Seas, I knew I’d pretty much reached my limit to the “bigger is better” theory. That was my first and only cruise on any Royal Caribbean ship larger than their Radiance Class ships.
I’ve sailed on both the Grand and Golden Princess, and hated the layouts, but awhile later sailed the Island and Diamond Princess and thought they were outstanding. In fact for some time our 15 day Island Princess Hawaiian islands cruise was my favorite memory.
Next to make my list of favorites was the Celebrity Millennium Class ships. And over time, I sailed the Millennium 3 times because she had taken over as my favourite.
We’ve also sailed on three luxury brands; Seabourn, Regent and Silversea. Of those three luxury brands it was my most recent on Silversea Silver Shadow that most impressed me. There was nothing much missing from that cruise in any department, so if you’re considering a luxury brand, Silver Shadow gets an unqualified recommendation from me.
Over the years we’ve enjoyed our cruises on RCI, Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Regent, Silversea, Celebrity, and Norwegian Cruise lines…which takes us to the present, and the answer to the question I began with.
At the moment my favorite is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newer ships; Dawn, Jewel, Jade, Pearl and Gem. They were built specifically for “FreeStyle Cruising”, which I originally thought wouldn’t suit me at all. However, to my surprise, at the moment “FreeStyle” suits me perfectly. All the other mass market lines are thinking it suits their clientele perfectly as well, because they’ve all been racing to come up with some sort of copy of NCL’s “Freestyle”. There’s now Anytime Dining, YourTime Dining, and many such variations trying to attach silly names to what NCL started, and has perfected. The difference between NCL and the other lines is their “Freestyle Dining” offers a wide variation in restaurants, with different styles and menus that supplies a choice unavailable on all the other cruise lines.
I love the fact they were so forward thinking and innovative, and the results of their innovation are now delivering a product that suits my cruise style perfectly.
Is it a perfect cruise they’re delivering? No, definitely not! On those ships I like NCL is offering a product that allows the flexibility to create a cruise to fit your own style and timing. Not everyone likes the surcharge on many of the restaurants onboard, but I look at the final price tag, and I feel they are giving outstanding value for the amount of the final tab, while taking advantage of all the choices.
That said, of course, I’ll continue to sail on other lines, to continue my search for the perfect cruise, and try to enjoy each one I’m on during the search. And lord only knows which is going to be my next favorite.
OK… I’ve told you mine, now it’s your turn to tell me your favourite cruise line or ship, and tell me why! Maybe you’ll succeed in adding a new ship to my cruise bucket list.
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Posted: April 28th, 2009 under Kuki.