I am looking at both Princess and Holland America for an Alaskan cruise next year. I am 45 and going with my Dad (77). I have been on Princess twice, the last in 1992. Most recently on Celebrity.
From most of the posts on these boards, Princess and HAL seem to run pretty close. We like good food, service, a nice ambiance and friendly staff. What are the +/- between the two, specific to the destination of Alaska?
Just returned from a Barcelona to Venice cruise aboard the Golden Princess. I would have to agree with the travel agent's ranking of the 3 cruise lines. We were not disappointed with Princess and the Golden, but maybe we have been spoiled by HAL and Celebrity?
Most people who have been aboard either MV Grand Princess or MV Golden Princess and other Princess ships seem to feel that the other ships Princess are vastly superior. There are too many layout goofs aboard these ships, as a result of which many activities don't seem to work as well and the flow from event ot event is not as natural. I would encourage you to try MV Sun Princess or any of her three sisters to see that the real Princess experience is.
I have heard quite a few complaints of substance about Holland America HAL of late, most of which involved situations that should have brought immediate and decisive corrective action but got no response even after several complaints. As a result, I cannot recommend HAL to anybody right now.
My feedback indicates that it's pretty much a toss-up between Princess and Celebrity. In Alaska, Princess has considerably stronger heritage and reputation though I expect that Celebrity also has a fine product.
I agree with your recommending the Sun-class over the Grand class ships but don't forget the Royal. This ship, launched in 1984, was definitely ahead of its time and still holds up well against the newer ships of the fleet. I would have to say that having sailed the Dawn, Sun, Grand ,Crown and Royal Princess, the Royal is our favorite so far with the Dawn a close second.