Favorite high-end large cruise ship

Old May 1st, 2021, 04:31 PM
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Favorite high-end large cruise ship

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and I just want to start here and ask for some input. All of a sudden, after my husband turned 60 and we have been cooped up for so long, I got this unbelievable urge to travel more and especially travel by cruise ship! Since I have only been on one cruise before (Princess) and that was with my preteens when we all went to Alaska, I am unprepared on where to start or what to choose now that I am at a different stage in my life. I want to plan a trip on a high end, cruise line with my husband. Ideally, I would like to find something that stops in Costa Rica and possibly Belize. I know I can check cruise critic for this and I will, but I just want to ask opinions of what cruise line you would suggest where there are more adults and not so many young kids. I still want a fun atmosphere, but I just don't want a crazy party boat with all-inclusive bars and I don't need a casino and I don't really like a buffet. Anyone have a favorite cruise line that they would recommend or have experience with a cruise line that I might like? I know I should just ask a travel agent....
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Old May 1st, 2021, 04:48 PM
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I shouldn't think children will be an issue on cruise lines which require passengers to be vaccinated.

Some of the big cruise ships have special sections such as the Haven on NCL where you'll have a butler and your own lounge and restaurant.

You can also book into the specialty restaurants which are a big thing now, mostly for dinner though.

https://www.ncl.com/why-cruise-norwe...ions/the-haven

Last edited by mlgb; May 1st, 2021 at 04:52 PM.
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Old May 1st, 2021, 05:06 PM
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Thanks- I didn't think about the fact that kids most likely won't be vaccinated. I will check out NCL.
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Old May 1st, 2021, 06:43 PM
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NCL currently requires ALL passengers to be vaccinated, so no kids: https://www.ncl.com/sail-safe

Some other lines seem to be allowing kids with tests. Carnival has yet to require tests, but it looks like the CDC has decided for them. (98% of crew and 95% of passengers.)
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 12:58 AM
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Within the same cruise line, different ships can have very different vibes, depending on age, size, etc.

With the exception of some river cruises, I think most ships have casinos, but it won’t bother you because those playing are paying, so not an issue to have one.

Drinks all inclusive are actually on some of the really high end (expensive) cruises or they are included in a package. Don’t buy the package and perhaps avoid those cruises that seem to be pushing a drink package as a choice with “free” or included choices.

Generally, cheaper, shorter cruises to the Caribbean during Spring Break times will draw a younger crowd and have more of a party atmosphere, though with higher costs now, it may be less so. If it is noise you wish to avoid, look carefully at the layout of the pool areas, so children and adults are separated, not adjacent. Avoid Spring Break and super short cruises and it won’t be a party boat.

Most ships offer breakfast and lunch in at least one dining room and there are always other places to eat, so you never have to eat at the buffet unless you wish. With COVID, I suspect, most will not be self service either. You can always have room service and eat in your cabin, probably on your balcony. There are little cafes all over many of the ships. So, the buffet will not be an issue.

Go to vacationstogo and plug in the dates you wish to travel and ports you want to visit to see what is available. Pay close attention to the times in port. Some may be very short or very early or late in the day. Make sure it is going to be enough time to make the cost worthwhile.

It becomes a balance between a ship you will like, ports you will like, costs, etc.

Suggest you look at Royal Caribbean (especially their mid-sized ships, plus their adult pool areas are really nice and their entertainment is good.), Celebrity (good overall), Norwegian (careful with layout, but their dinner theaters are really good) and Princess (can be a bit quiet at times, but pools are great).
Carnival might be too casual and boring for adults, Holland America might be way too quiet (nice wine selection), MSC has issues to be avoided by beginning cruisers.

Ports can be a highlight, so itinerary is important. Post a couple of cruises you might like and we can give you the pros and cons.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 07:48 AM
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When you say "high end" what do you mean? The so called "high end" ships like Regent, Crystal, Seabourn just to name a few are very expensive. I think you may mean mass market lines with fewer kids and nicer amenities. So that being said time of year and destination come into play. If its a summer cruise to the Caribbean or say Mexico or Hawaii then there will be a fair number of kids.

However say you want to go the Med in the fall then of course school year is out. If you want to go to the Caribbean the fall is good for not having to many kids and probably cooler weather but this is hurricane season too. If you wait until say late November or early December to embark then its a better time.

Traveler and leisure mag has their ratings for 2020 for cruise lines. The top ten in the mass market category in terms of so called "mega ships" are:
1. Disney
2. Cunard.
3. HAL.
4.Celebrtiy.
5. Princess.
6. RCI.
7. NCL.
8.CCL.
9. MSC.
10. Costa.

Now of course Disney would not work for you and personally I'd pass on 9 and 10. For us we love the designs of the newer RCI ships. However there are other good choices too. 2, 3, 4 and 7 would work for you given the time of year when kids will be in school.

Personally we like RCI and Princess the best but Celebrity has been quite good too though we have only taken them twice. We took NCL one and like d it but prefer a more traditional dining plan vs. the free style from NCL. That being said NCL was quite good too and we have a plan to sail with them 6/2022 God willing.

Have you considered other destinations like say the Med, Asia or Europe?

Good luck, ask away!

Larry


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Old May 2nd, 2021, 12:31 PM
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Thanks guys! I will get to work on Vacationstogo and really start digging in! Thanks for the listing of ship brands. And yes, I have definitely thought about European cruises too. I just want to get started and a big thumbs down to Coronavirus! (I like the sound of a butler! I've been the family butler for a long time and now it's my turn!)
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BKmagee View Post
Thanks guys! I will get to work on Vacationstogo and really start digging in! Thanks for the listing of ship brands. And yes, I have definitely thought about European cruises too. I just want to get started and a big thumbs down to Coronavirus! (I like the sound of a butler! I've been the family butler for a long time and now it's my turn!)
The fun begins with the planning.

Bon Voyage!
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 02:38 PM
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I highly recommend the Panama Canal cruise. It stops at several islands, too. We did it on Holland America- which I would consider a middle range cruise line, but it caters to older passengers and there were never more than one or two families with children on the ones I took pre-COVID. We did the Panama Canal in January, 2020, just before everything shut down, and it was amazing to see and learn about the canal!
Personally- I find the HAL cruises boring and wouldn't take them except a couple of my friends prefer them. They don't have as many activities, and everyone goes to bed at 9:00, so there's very little night life. I much prefer the Carnival cruises I've taken with my grandchildren, and I really don't mind happy children. They keep them pretty busy in the kids' clubs anyway. But if you want to hang out with all old people, HAL is perfect.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 03:15 PM
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Another list of cruise ships - Conde Nast Readers Choice in various categories:

https://www.cntraveller.com/gallery/...the-world-2020
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 09:30 PM
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We have taken cruises on Oceania Cruise Lines and loved them. I highly recommend their Penthouse suites. I don't remember any children on our cruises. We have only cruised with them in Europe so I don't know if they have the itinerary you want in the Caribbean. .
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 01:30 AM
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Be aware of a couple of potential "issues.:

A few years ago the whole "ship within a ship" concept started up which has lead to Norwegian's "The Haven" which was quickly followed by Celebrity's "The Retreat" and both were on the tails of Royal's Royal Suite Class. The whole idea of having separate and dedicated dining facilities, a lounge, a dedicated concierge, sun deck, pool, etc.etc. meant that you can easily be on some so-called "mass market" vessel and yet be "shielded" from everybody who is in that "mass market."

As to the non mass market vessels on Crystal, Oceania, Seabourn be aware of the average age. No kids? No prob but sometimes those kids can be replaced by walkers and wheelchairs and little if any nighttime entertainment. Vacations to Go is a good place to look for things IMO.
Remember the old saying: "the longer the cruise the higher the average age."
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 03:11 AM
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Try and book with a line that has not been fined for dumping fuel/bilge/sewage at sea in the past 5 years. info via google but

https://www.geekyexplorer.com/cruise-ship-pollution/
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 07:41 AM
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Makes one wonder how many of the THOUSANDS of non-cruise ships do any environmental damage.
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Dukey1 View Post
Makes one wonder how many of the THOUSANDS of non-cruise ships do any environmental damage.
Evidently, because of the type of fuel they use and less public awareness, so less pressure to clean up, cargo and container ships are the worst polluters in the world. Newer cruise ships are greener, and can be environmentally friendly IF they choose to be. Cruisers can put pressure on cruise lines. The shipping industry is another problem. Perhaps a lot of things that are shipped just are not necessary. At a minimum, consumers could buy less stuff.
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Old May 4th, 2021, 09:18 AM
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Holland America does allow children, but on the 10 cruises I have been on I hardly notice them - there are not many. And, if you cruise when it's not Spring Break in the US you probably won't find many. I am on the high end of 60 and like the low key atmosphere of HAL ships. I have done two Alaska cruises, one in Caribbean and seven in Europe. If you have never cruised before try AAA travel agents. The agents know the various cruise lines and can help you find a good fit for what you want with a good price. My last cruise was booked through them and I got many nice extras, like dinners in Pinnacle Grill (their upscale dining venue) and onboard credit in addition to what HAL was offering.
It's my favorite way to travel.
Have fun!
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Old May 7th, 2021, 11:13 AM
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I liked HAL for Alaska Cruises (have done 3 with them there). They don't have the caliber of theater shows that you'd find on Norwegian, but they do other things better. I did like the Blues venue and yes, it is a quieter vibe. The food was pretty good, especially if you like seafood. No laser tag, LOL... I especially liked that they still had full covered walking decks (at least Noordam did the last time I looked).

If walking is important to you do have a look at the deck plans. So many of the ships now have blocked off one end or the other for the likes of Haven and exclusive lounge areas.

https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US...noordam/5.html

Last edited by mlgb; May 7th, 2021 at 11:19 AM.
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Old May 7th, 2021, 11:16 AM
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I'm so appreciative of the help!
BTW,I worked for a company that made filtering systems (I called them machines) that would go on big ocean liners/cargo ships. Business was doing well until corona came into play. I was laid off in April of 2020. I was proud to work for a company that did some good and made sure water was filtered and clean before it went back into the ocean. You should see the videos of the scum taken out of the water and what is left for disposal. It's disgusting to think that this stuff went back in the ocean.
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Old May 7th, 2021, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BKmagee View Post
I'm so appreciative of the help!
BTW,I worked for a company that made filtering systems (I called them machines) that would go on big ocean liners/cargo ships. Business was doing well until corona came into play. I was laid off in April of 2020. I was proud to work for a company that did some good and made sure water was filtered and clean before it went back into the ocean. You should see the videos of the scum taken out of the water and what is left for disposal. It's disgusting to think that this stuff went back in the ocean.
Sorry you got laid off and thank you for this information about how cruise ships are helping to keep the ocean waters clean.
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Old May 9th, 2021, 05:14 AM
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I prefer smaller ships, and I don't drink alcoholic beverage, therefore I chose cruise lines with smaller ships and did not care for wine/beer already padded into the cruise fare. So far, my favorites are Viking Ocean and Oceania; I have not justified spending the money to go "higher end" than these two.

1) Viking Ocean cruises - 930 PAX capacity, no casino, no kids younger than 18, all outside cabin with balcony. A basic shore excursion is included in each port with no additional charge (but you'll need to book them online ahead of time.) Of course, you may pay extra to book more interesting shore excursions.

2) Oceania Cruises - the smaller ships are of 684 PAX capacity and the bigger ships are 1250. I consider their cuisine superior than Viking's.

Last edited by Reading54; May 9th, 2021 at 05:45 AM.
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