My husband and I are in our 30's and are trying to decide between Royal Caribbean and Princess. We loved our first cruise with Royal Caribbean but are now looking forward to a 10-day cruise and am most impressed with the itinery's offered by Princess (East or Southern cruises). Our travel agent has assured us that they are equal but we would love some experienced cruisers opinions. Any info. would help!
Princess also has a 10 day partial transit of the Panama Canal round trip from Fort Lauderdale. You go through the Gatun locks and into Gatun Lake and then back out to the Caribbean. Coral Princess is starting their inaugural cruise December 14, 24, etc. I've sailed on both and prefer Princess over RCI.
I cruise the Emerald Princess, Eastern Caribbean on April 16, 2012
There are many differences in "style" and on board ambiance, but both lines offer a superb cruise product. Actually, Princess in some ways offers a somewhat more upscale experience. Your own tastes and life style will have a lot to do with which you will eventually prefer though. I'd say it surely pays to try Princess to compare.
We would gladly book Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, or Princess again. (And are booked on the Golden Princess for October). We would not do Carnival or Norwegian again. We're in our early 40s (but just barely--I was 39 for our cruise at Thanksgiving last year).
Hello...We would recomend both Royal Caribbean and Princess, however, both cruise lines offer a different type of atmosphere and a few other different things.
It really boils down to your personalities. What someone else loves about one curise line, you may not like and vice versa. I can tell you that my wife and I have been on Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. We are also going on the Dawn Princess in October to Hawaii for 9-days. Of the three cruise lines, we prefer Princess, but it's not because the other two cruise lines are bad. It's just that the Princess experience fits our style.
We are both 48 and Princess has a more organized, more laid back atmosphere. That doesn't mean that people don't party and have a great time. But you will find several lounges and corner bars throughout the ship that have a more quiet, subdued atmosphere where a couple can have some quiet times for being together. Hard to find that on RCL or Carnival. The food on Princess, at least in our opinion was excellent. If you want to party and be wild, Carnival should be your choice. If you want a little bit of both, then RCL is a great choice. If you want a bit more subtle atmosphere without hadly any kids driving you crazy, then try Princess. We are sure you will love it.
But remember, all three cruise lines are excellent. It's just a matter of personel taste, even though you will find some people on these cruises who complain about everything anyway and think the world owes them something.
As others have noted, Princess Cruises is a premium cruise line, and therefore somewhat more "upscale" than Royal Caribbean International, which is a "mainstream" cruise line. Princess actually competes directly with Holland America Lines and Celebrity Cruises, whereas Royal Caribbean International competes directly with Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. Nonetheless, both lines have outstanding reputations for their solid products. Most folks seem to find that they prefer one line over the other, but it's strictly a matter of personal preferences and tastes -- there's nothing wrong on either line. The suggestion to try both and see which you prefer is a good one.
Princess is differentiating its product through the "Personal Choice Cruising" theme, which basically means that the line is trying to provide more options than its competitors so you can tailor your cruise to your preferences more easily. All new Princess ships from 1995 on have at least two main dining rooms and at least two show rooms. The main dining rooms are identical and serve the same menus each night, but one retains the traditional schedule of early and main seatings while the other operates like a restaurant ashore -- you can make reservations or simply walk in. Each of these ships also has at least or four alternate dining facilities -- a pizzeria or a trattoria, either a steak house or a southwestern restaurant, a grill on deck, and a 24-hour "Horizon Court" on the Lido Deck that offers buffets during the day and as a bistro for night owls. You also will find a choice of two or three shows each evening, depending upon the ship. Other options for evening entertainment include dancing, karioke, the casino, and live music in various lounges throughout the ship. There's also a full round of daytime activities, of course!
BTW, MV Dawn Princess -- the ship that's doing the ten-day Eastern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean itineraries for Princess this year -- is an excellent choice.
If you like Princess's itinerary, this might be an excellent opportunity to give the line a try!
What makes this an even tougher question to answer is that different ships within the same company can be SO different. The "Radiance" and "Brilliance" stand out right now (yes, I have cruised on the "Radiance") but so does the "Grand Princess." I have been partial to "RCI" until their customer service was poor again after only 2 complaints out of 11 cruises (NOT trying to get any compensation from them, just wanted customer service). But you mentioned itinerary and I always factor the itinerary into the equation (even went as far as cruising "NCL" due to a great itinerary). After comparing price/value with customer satisfation being equal on both lines, the itinerary can be the ultimate deciding factor.