“Out With the Old, and In With the New”..Or?
Written by: Kuki
With the end of year tomorrow, the title phrase of this blog will pass the lips of millions of people; A rather natural expression of sentiment, as looking to the future supplies us the hope for the future, that everything will get better.
In regard to the cruise industry, that also somewhat holds true. The biggest attraction is to sail on the newest ships. We expect that they will have the best innovations and updates in the industry, and be manned by the best crew the cruise lines employ within the company…so we think they must be the best ships to cruise.
But what about the older ships we’ve previously sailed on, which we enjoyed so much. At this time all the major players in the industry have either moved ship’s which can no longer offer the amenities and cruise expectations which meet the demand of today’s cruisers to subsidiaries operated in distant and less demanding markets, or sold them off to much smaller operators.
Over the past 15 years, since I first started cruising, there’s obviously been some wonderful ships we’ve sailed on; many of which are still sailing. Because of the nature of what I do, writing for CruiseMates, the majority of the time I’m sailing to report on, and review the newer ships, to help give CruiseMates readers the most update info on the most current ships.
Currently MSC cruises has the youngest fleet in the industry, with Norwegian Cruise Line following a close second. However, in the coming year I’m setting a goal to revisit some of the “older ships” we’ve previously sailed on, and see if they’re still as good as they were.
Currently the major mass market cruise lines are sailing very few ships which were christened before 1995; and the vast majority weren’t sailing before 2000. So is a ship 9 or 10 years old considered obsolete?
Some of my absolute favourite early cruises were on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas. At the time I thought the had some of the most stunningly beautiful interiors possible. Their gorgeous Atriums, with walls of glass with massive views out to the sea, were the heart of the ship; the place everyone gathered at some point in the day. I can’t imagine that has changed in the decade since.
I was never a huge fan of Carnival Cruise’s Fantasy Class ships, but most have those have now been upgraded, with Water Works, and several have already also had new balcony cabins added (though from viewing pictures I’ve seen the additional balconies aren’t very aesthetically pleasing from the outside).
My favourites from Carnival’s “older fleet” are the Carnival Legend, Spirit, Pride and Miracle. They have the most user friendly layouts, and are small enough it’s easy to simply bump into fellow passengers you’d met earlier, without having to search for them.
My all-time favourite from Holland America was the Veendam, which first sailed in 1996. I loved her size, and the simple traffic flow, and of course her Holland America “attitude”. Just this past year she received a multi million dollar upgrade, so I would love to revisit her.
The oldest ship in Celebrity Cruise Line’s fleet is the Century. She was my second cruise ever, on her second ever sailing. Admittedly, at the time I had some issues with her, mainly due to “new ship glitches”, and avoided sailing Celebrity for a number of years. Since her total refurbishment, with addition of balconies earlier in the decade, I did sail her again, and loved her. My only problem with her now is she is running on 4 and 5 day itineraries.
My favourite “older” Celebrity ships are the Millennium Class ships. Though they have had occasional incidents of early bearing wear in their pod systems, creating very rare incidents of missed ports or cancelled cruises to affect replacement of the bearings, I wouldn’t hesitate to sail any of the “Millie class” ships again.
Several of the old Princess ships I used to really like are now sailing as apart of the P & O Fleet, but my currently available favourites are the Coral and Island Princess, which first sailed in 2003. They’re not a decade old yet, so may not be considered “old” to Princess passengers. But, I’ll list them here, as their size and design surely make them my favourites in the Princess fleet.
The thing about most of the cruise line’s “older ships” is they can normally be booked “for a song”; unless they are running on more exotic itineraries, the per diems on these “older” ships can easily run at 25% to 50% less than the new ships sailing in the same fleet.
So my advice is, don’t necessarily discard the idea of booking a cruise on the “older ships”, in favour of the draw of the bling blam boom of the new ships. You can easily find outstanding value, and truly enjoyable trips on the older ships in the cruise line’s families.
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