I am trying very hard to plan a European cruise for June 2009. I shall be cruising with my 13 year old son and 64 year old mother. Right now I am looking at a 14 day cruise leaving from Southhampton, UK. Both NCL and RCCL have pretty much the same itinerary but the price difference between the two ships is huge. NCl (Jade) is going for about $6500 for a mini-suite, while a D1 balcony cabin on RCCL (Independence) is priced at $9500.
Does the Independence of the Seas offer a much better cruise experience than the Norwegian Jade (especially for a 13 year old)? I have cruised with RCCL before, so I know what their ships have to offer, but I have no idea how they compare to NCL. Is my son going to be disapointed in NCL's kid's club? My son wants the kids club to have a more dynamic programme rather than an arts and crafts one. Budget wise NCL is appealing but I wonder what more RCCL has to offer for the $3000 price difference?
Please help me decide. Thank you.
I tend to think Royal Caribbean is more geared when cruising with kids and family. Is it worth that price?? That is up to you. You will, however find more things to do onboard with Ind., but with your itinary, you may be doing excursions that will take you off the ship anyway. Only you can decide what you want to pay...
BTW, sounds like a wonderful cruise for you all. Please let us know what ship you book, OK?
I would agree that Independence of the Seas will likely appeal to you and your 13 year old, more than the Jade. But the Jade is also a nice ship. Its hard to know what will happen with cruise pricing right now. So it's a crap shoot whether you should wait or book now (one thing to keep in mind is NCL generally will not honor price drops, but generally RCCL will) The Independence is brand new, huge, and state of the art. The Jade is a nice ship too. It just doesn't have as much stuff to engage a teen. The other thing to consider is to read the reviews and think about what your dining habits are. Do you like sitting at the same table, with the same waitstaff and tablemates nightly with one or two speciality restaurants to choose from in addition to the main dining rooms or would you want to eat in varied venues at flexible times? IF you like the freestyle concept will you feel nickle and dimed everytime you opt to dine in the surcharge restaurants?
RCCL is now offering "my time" dining on some of their ships if you want a flexible dining shedule.
Hope that helps.
Thank you so much for your advice. Even though I know it is a decision I shall have to ultimately make, I appreciate your experienced guidance. I too am leaning towards choosing the Independence of the Seas, but I was afraid to take the leap. Maybe I'll book a lower category cabin on the Indie to make thing easier on my pocketbook. Thanks again.
If you do book IOS, just make a point to keep an eye out for price drops. I booked a transatlantic on VOS in an lower category and eventually prices dropped to the point I was able to move up to a D1 for a few hundred dollars more. It does happen.
Keep in mind that your son won't have a ton of time in the teen programming on a European itinerary. The Euro itins are very port intensive and since he is a teen, not a little one, you'll be wanting him to come explore on land with you. Hence, the line/youth programming is not as crucial as it is in the Caribbean where there is more time on the ship.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor