I would like to try a new cruise line but do not want to be disappointed--so I'd like other travelers' input.
By far, HAL is my personal best out of the lines I've sailed on (HAL, NCL and RCCL). Of course, food, service, itineraries, etc. are important, but to me what puts HAL over the top is:
1. MATTRESSES!!! most cruise reviews I read neglect to even mention this and I have found that on NCL and RCCL they are hard and lumpy--and I am unable to sleep. On HAL, I was beyond comfortable....great sleep...this is important to me!
3. quality, i.e. plentiful teak chairs as opposed to worn out, dirty plastic chairs that you have to fight for because there are not enough.
other examples would be the ease with which you can check out beach towels (if its for going on land, you pick it up on your way out and drop it off when you re-board and if its for use at the pool, etc. on the ship, there are numerous stations where you pick one up) vs. RCCL where there is one place on the ENTIRE ship where you have to use your keycard to pick up and, if they aren't returned to this one spot, you will be charged....
free video rentals at library vs. $5 and up charges for watching movies....
3. atmosphere/options: a heated deck with a pool that has a glass (or plastic?) covering that can be lowered when it is cold...so you can be "outside" and enjoy warmth AND the pool and ocean view when it is cold out....also, all ships have spas but HAL has beautifully tiled steam rooms and special heated pools that you can get passes for for a small fee.
so, hopefully you get my drift. i'd welcome all input. Thanks!!!!!
I have heard that HAL does have very comfortable beds, but have not sailed HAL since they started using the new beds. The one thing I really liked about HAL was the larger bathrooms, even on the inside cabins. While Princess is my favorite cruise line, the bathrooms are not as big as those on HAL. On Princess you get a little to familiar with the shower curtains in the regular cabins, if you know what I mean! The only thing that I didn't care for on some of the older HAL ships was the darker color schemes for the decor, but that is just a matter of personal taste and nothing more.
If you want to try a different cruise line that offers similar good service, shows and food then you might consider Princess. Princess is a very similar experience to HAL and the company is quite reputable and responsive to its customers.
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I agree with Deb, that in view of the things that you outlined that are important to you, only Princess, or one of the HIGH LINE cruise lines would begin to fulfill your wishes. The beds on Carnival are very comfortable, but most of the other things you talk about wouldn't make the grade for you on Carnival. Frankly, I don't think the beds on Princess are as good as Carnival, or HAL, but many of the other things you write about are on a par, or better aboard Princess IMO. I personally, don't care for HAL in general, and find their food lacking, and their entertainment a bit off, but all of those things are a matter of personal taste. I'd have to advise you not to waste your time or money on Carnival, Costa, MSC, NCL, Disney, or even Celebrity.
When it comes to beds the most comfortable beds I've had, in the last few years, are on Carnival. My daughter even wanted to "buy" a Carnival bed it was that comfortable and she is a "picky" person.
Based on the rest of the criteria you describe I would suggest Princess as a good match in a mass market line.
Azamara would be another suggestion but they are a half step up from the Premium lines like Celebrity, Princess or HAL. You will get the teak chairs, upgraded amenities and better service. You will also pay more for it.
Celebrity is a good choice but I would suggest one of their newer, Solstice Class, ships. You will still need to do the towel check-in/out thing but it isn't too much of a hassle.
With your likes and dislikes I would stay away from Carnival, NCL and some other of the mass market lines.
Enjoy yourself on whatever cruise line and ship you choose.
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I personally, don't care for HAL in general, and find their food lacking, and their entertainment a bit off, but all of those things are a matter of personal taste.
Yep, personal taste. Now our two favorite cruise lines are HAL and Princess, and frankly we make very little difference between them. On any particular cruise we would take either of those lines that are convenient to us.
The food on HAL is just a bit more slanted toward the European. We like that and enjoy having food that is something more than the American steakhouse menu. Others probably don't have that sort of taste.
The entertainment on HAL is just slightly more oriented toward the older passenger. Again we enjoy that and usually find it to our taste. Others won't.
with criteria you posted, i would agree with the others that Princess would be a good fit for you, i would stick with the smaller Sun Class Ships as opposed to the larger Grand Class Ships. Pools are freshwater not salt, and you just ask your room steward for the towels and leave your dirty pool towels in the bathroom of your stateroom, bathrobes are also complimentary
I have been cruising since 1969...have been to cruises to Alaska, to Mediterenean (Turkey, Croatia, Greece) and all of the Caribbean. I just finished my 9th cruise, this time on Holland's Westerdam (have also cruised with: Costa (1969, 1995), NCL (1982), Chandris (1986), Carnival (1999, Jan.2010), Royal Caribbean (2007...2x), etc . I had chosen it carefully in that I was taking my girlfriend who "was not the cruising type" and for the last 40 years that I've known her, would not even consider one for herself. But she finally acquiesced and I have converted yet, one more person into cruising. I knew Holland's Westerdam had been a good choice (for money and comfort) when she mentioned the "bringing her 14yo grandson's to a cruise". Cruises are different, as people are, and I would say Holland is a good choice for those who like to travel without the "hoopla" of Carnival....without a gigantic "TV" screen by the pool (heck, I don't even watch tv at home!)...without the "bigger belly competition"...etc. In the Westerdam, you will have real wood lounge chairs (possibly as old as 50 years!), a huge library, computer and cooking classes, etc. Always making one feel as if we were the only ones on the ship. Always plenty of seating spaces... an unequaled group of people in a middle sized boat. Food..... way too much, but wonderful! The service was as if this was their first voyage.... constantly with a smile on each and every steward. If I was pressed for "something I didn't like", it would be our room's (4168 inside cabin) closets were built in a way that one couldn't open a door, without closing the door in front of it, or else they would bang with each other (and needless to say, there was no way for two people to be around the closet area at the same time, this was simply an impossibility.... so we took turns in getting ready, that's all. (but wished they would put sliding doors at least on one of the sides, this would solve the problem) Highly recommend the Westerdam Holland if you like the finer things in life.
Last edited by hookedo; December 29th, 2010 at 04:55 PM.