Hi, (I've also posted this on HAL board)
We are coming from Australia, so big decisions, have 7 year old and are looking for a more upmarket experience, with nice balcony large balcony suite to fit 3 of us. We don't care about shows or great deal of activities etc, want decent food and tours and upmarket atmosphere (but need a kids club of course).
So, can anyone help me choose between these lines, for Alaska in July?
many thanks Melanie
HAL gives you a higher end cruise than Princess. That being said, I wouldn't sail HAL again if you gave me a free cruise. Their justly famous Philipino/Indonesian crew are fabulous, best in the business but when you need to contact management for any reason, the service plumets to awful. On Princess you will have consistently good service, not to HAL's level but friendly and efficient, everywhere. I've sailed Princess 14 times and always had a wonderful time. Also Princess has more experience with kids than HAL. Although it's definitely changing, HAL's clientele is much older. Whatever line you sail on, have a wonderful cruise. Another line you might want to consider is Celebrity. They have the youngest fleet of ships in the business, their food is excellent and they do a great job with kids. They are definitely more upscale than Royal Caribbean, their parent company.
Well, we've never been on HAL, I'll admit. I'll also admit that we loved Princess so much I don't know if we'll ever sail anyone else. While our son did not come with us, we were still impressed with the children't programs. They seemed really good. The HAL line seems too stuffy to me. Again, I haven't been there. My best friend is a travel agent, though, and she says Princess is the way to go between the two. If there were not kids involved, her thoughts may differ, but with kids, not HAL.
Whichever you choose, I'm sure you will have a great time.
> I've never been on HAL either, but have sailed Princess and
> loved it. My impression of HAL is older clientele and very
> stuffy (suits in the dining room every night, etc.).
I've sailed both Princess and HAL (though not in Alaska). I've sailed Alaska twice, but both times on RCI.
On 7 day cruises HAL is really not just an older crowd. I'm told (admittedly by HAL) that their Alaska itineraries draw their youngest crowds. Likely because alot more families are cruising Alaska lately.
I believe HAL is the only line offering shore excursions in Alaska just for kids.
And certainly on my HAL cruises I never saw a stuff crowd, and the dress in the dining rooms wasn't any different than any other cruise lines.
In the Caribbean, on my Princess cruises, I'd say the average age was about the same as HAL.
Having said all that. Either line will suit your needs. HAL's suites are larger, and I do enjoy the way the HAL crews are trained to remember, and address you by name. But the service I've encountered on Princess has been very good as well.
Tough choice.. but in the end. No wrong answer.
I think the big difference between HAL, other than the style of the ships and Princess having an International crew vs. HAL's Phillipine/Indonesian crew, is that Princess has Personal choice dining and is a less structured and less regimented cruise.
Celebrity is also rather traditional and possibly more regimented than HAL.
I have not had the experience of cruising with children, but my observation of several Celebrity ships has been that their program is top notch, including a small pool in the pay area. I have 14 grand children and if the oportunity presents itself I would not hesitate about Clebrity. JP
Not true that suits are worn every night for dinner on HAL. Suits are worn by many in place of tuxes on formal nights. It's just not that stuffy as some think. Informal nights are informal, casual nights are casual.
Have just returned from Carnival Triumph & Golden Princess. The kids loved both ships Age 11 & 7. They had their own cabin on Carnival and a mini suite on Golden with us, both excellent and plenty of room. The children loved the free ice cream , soda/juice, water slide and it was missed on the Golden. Loved PC dinning on Golden as the Children got tired some nights and we could eat at whatever timed suited them. The food was good on both but Golden wins. My 7 year old went to the kids club on the Carnival twice and loved it, face painting and deck games, but he did not go to the club on the Golden. Both the children kept themselves busy playing in the pools and eating!!
We've sailed with Princess 5 times, the last cruise on the Grand was the best, and with HAL once on the Rotterdam last summer. I doubt I'll ever sail with HAL again. Princess is better. And RCI's Radiance of the Seas is also excellent.