I guess I should have given more info. We are a family - 8 adults, 5 kids ages 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 and 5 years. It is my parents 50th wedding anniversary and my mom has always dreamed of going to Alaska -so off we plan to go. We are looking for something very nice which will have stuff to keep the kids busy.
What's most important to you? Celebrity and RCI share the same touring outfit in Alaska and I'm sure the prices and options are similar.
Mercury and Vision are two different ships. Though similar size and vintage they have different features and ships have different styles. The service style of the lines are different. Celebrity tends to be more formal, RCI more active. Celebrity is quieter of two lines.
I like Celebrity for the lack of public announcements, overall clean and very well maintained and understated art-deco inspired ships, food presentation, fairly unobtrusive service, passenger space ratio, crew to passenger space ratio, and overall quasi-traditional nature of the marque. I also like that the ships lack the RCI trademark centrum and have more modest and intimate foyers. Celebrity is also known for the very extensive spas and their cruisine that many feel is not what it once was. What some point to are weaknesses, but I don't mind at all, is the fairly rigid hours of food availability, pool and hot tub availability, quiet pool times, and not so extensive alternative dining.
Vision of the Seas is aptly named. It is a ship with lots of (teal tinted) glass, more tropical Hyatt-like in environment overall, has the centrum (multi storied atrium with glass elevators) as a heart of the ship with varied activities, has more banter and interactivity between the service staff and the pax (ship's passengers), I think has mini-golf and has more extensive alternative dining and an overall more casual feel. I'm going on the Explorer of the Seas in 2 weeks, my knowledge of RCI is through feedback and research, so it'll be my first cruise on RCI. I have a different mind set going into this cruise than I have when I sail Celebrity and I will not bring my tux or some of my dressier clothers which I bring when I sail Celebrity. I'm thinking of RCI as a more casual and more upbeat environment.
Personally I like Royal Carribean. They are more "fun". I would think the kids would have more fun on RCL. And yes RCL has formal nights of which most of the men wear tux's. The food & the service will be more upscale on Celebrity.
Personally I like Royal Carribean. They are more "fun". I would think the kids would have more fun on RCL. And yes RCL has formal nights of which most of the men wear tux's. The food & the service will be more upscale on Celebrity. I have also heard there is 5hrs of quiet time at the pool on Celebrity every day.
I also have to add, with this age group, think the kids will like RCCL a little bit better, for all the activities and like Pam said, this an Alaska cruise, its port intensive, so they will be busy sightseeing.
Ben, having cruised on Explorer, the formal nights were just that "formal" and there were many tux's among the men, including my husband, which by the way looked dashing! So, be sure to bring some nice clothes, you'll definately wear them and I bet look wonderful too :-)
My husband and I are in our mid-40's and have cruised both Celebrity and RCI. We have a 17 year old son. Personally, I preferred RCI by a "slight edge" for the same reasons the others gave, it is more fun. The food and service may be "slightly" better on Celebrity and it is more relaxing. It really depends on what is most important to you. If I were bring my son along, I would definitely not choose Celebrity. But either way, both are great and you will have a wonderful time.
The Mercury is a more refined ship and the service offered on her is a step higher than Splender. My family has sailed Legend and Mercury twice to Ak. I give the nod to Mercury as the food and staff are just better. My two teenage son's both agree that Mercury is the better choice. Even they commented on the food on RCI not being nearly as good as Celebrity (we will be sailing in June to Ak on the Mercury again)..You can really feels the additional space per passenger that the Mercury offers VS Splendor.
I have never been on Rccl with a lot of children aboard but have on Millenium. All things eaqual it does appear to have a great children's program, including a small swimming pool for the tots at the play area, JP
Vision does not have a miniature golf area (Legend and Splendour are the two Vision Class ships with that feature. Voyager Class and Radiance also have mini golf. In the posters instance, I would recommend Vision of the Seas because of the extensive youth program offered by RCI, but even more so because of the Solarium which will allow use of the pool in a protected environment (it can get chilly on deck in Alaska) while still providing you with great views of the spectacular scenery. That is one advantage of the Vision Class ships since you have so many opportunities to view the scenery even when you are inside the ship. I think that differences between Celebrity and RCI may be muted in Alaska which has a different atmosphere than what you might find on a Caribbean cruise. Both ships should provide you with a wonderful and memorable trip to Alaska. I hope you have time to tour the interior of Alaska as well. BTW Benjamin- just off the Explorer in October and saw plenty of tuxes (75% of the men at our table wore them), so don't leave yours at home unless you need space in your luggage.
Pam, we did Glacier Bay on Princess two years ago, but the recent cutbacks will mean that far fewer ships can include it in their itineraries this coming year. I haven't been to Hubbard Glacier so can't compare, but I think that even without a visit to Glacier Bay, an Alaskan cruise is something very special. I wouldn't make Glacier Bay the only criterion on which I based my decision.
Just want to say thanks for all the advice and comments - especially David. My husband and I are planning an inside passage cruise June 9 and were also trying to decide between Mercury or Vision. We've decided to try Celebrity for the first time. I've been on RCI twice and loved it - would be great for kids! Like others have mentioned, I think the Mercury will be a treat for a 1st Anniversay trip for an early-40's couple (traveling with NO kids this time!) We've always been on Caribbean cruises (went on Grand Princess 6/01 for our honeymoon)...ready for Alaska and a more "refined" atmosphere! The others sure were fun, though!!!!