First Time Cruisers: Which line?

Jan 23rd, 2008, 04:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 559
First Time Cruisers: Which line?

I hate to be one of those people who asks really open-ended questions, so I apologize in advance. My concern is regarding my honeymoon, so I hope that will buy me some sympathy!

My FH and I are hoping to go on our honeymoon in the Pacific Northwest, and take part in an Alaskan cruise. We are both fairly laid back people who look more forward to the beautiful sights and great meals than the prospect of high-adventure travel.

My concern is regarding which company best suits us. We hope to travel round trip from Seattle after catching a Mariners game. I have checked out and it seems like there are exceptionally happy people and really annoyed people discussing the same cruises! I suppose you can never please everyone, but we would hope to find some happy medium.

Just to clarify- we are looking at RC, NCL and Princess. I have never experienced the "set dining" or "freestyle dining", so I don't know which is really advantageous. I also don't want to be cheap, but it seems that so many people are unhappy with set tipping, as the level of service goes down (?).

IF anyone can steer me in a direction, I'd appreciate it.

PS- Another silly question- I have only gotten seasick once, on a whale watch. Is it true that the least "rocking" part of the boat is center, toward the back? And lower, if possible?

Thanks again...
katya_NY is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Katya, all the lines have set tipping these days, but you usually have the right to adjust the amount up or down if you choose. I still think that's a huge advantage over having to deal with each person with a cash in an envelope, so I consider this a very positive development in cruising.

You're really looking at 3 mainstream, mid-range cruise lines, so you aren't going to have any true culinary experience (though some of the NCL restaurants you pay extra for are actually pretty good). The food will be good but probably not great.

Princess is considered a "premium" cruise line and is sometimes marginally better. If you really want a big-ship cruise, then also consider Carnival, which has improved a lot over the past few years ... both the food and the cabins. I'd also seriously consider Holland American Line for Alaska; they are the original cruise line that cruised in Alaska, and I think they do a good job there.

To be honest, I think you should choose based on your own interests (read up on each of the three and see if the experience suits your interests) and the itinerary.

To be completely honest, I think you get a significantly better experience on a small-ship cruise in Alaska with a company like Cruise West, which has fine but unpretentious food. But these cruises tend to be more expensive than a mainstream cruise line. Still, the pay off is a significantly better experience.

For people prone to seasickness, I'd recommend a mid-ship cabin, definitely not one toward the front or back. That's the key, not how high up you are.

That's a bit of information to get you started.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 02:18 AM
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Thank you so much for your detailed response!

I think this is my first time getting an editor response to my post!
katya_NY is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 05:13 AM
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I hope you'll also get some responses from people who have cruised in Alaska. I'm familiar with what the lines and ships offer, but I haven't done this itinerary myself. My parents have, and they cruised on Carnival and had a great time last summer. My father was very pleased that he spent absolutely nothing extra during the entire cruise, so that's certainly possible if you don't drink alcohol, eat in specialty restaurants, have massages, or take ship-sponsored shore excursions, which are actually a particularly bad deal in Alaska, in my opinion.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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Hi Katya,

Doug is right that a small ship line such as Cruise West will give you a more personalized experience but their food is more homey than cuisine. Their fares are also higher than the large ships.

NCL will charge you the least and give you a good cruise but only so-so food. Princess is definitely better but the best for young people on an Inside Passage cruise(Seattle round trip)is Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas. She has great food, excellent service and entertainment. You will visit Icy Strait which only Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruise Lines visit. You will also watch Hubbard Glacier calve huge icebergs. Hubbard is a very active Glacier.

By the way Doug, Carnival does not offer an Inside Passage cruise. It is a lovely ship but not what the lady wants.
annewest is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 06:19 AM
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We went with Holland and America for the Alaskan cruise which was really good. The crew, service and meals were excellent. The scenery is lovely and you can just relax and watch the world go by. The dress code was quite relaxed too with a couple of formal evenings. I dont know how old you are but most of the people on the cruise seemed middle aged up and there was not a lot of entertainment on board which suited us fine as we did not want a cruise ship with lots of kids and rowdy adults. We had an outside cabin mid ships and were fine.
surich is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 06:41 AM
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Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and honeymoon!

I've cruised in Alaska many times on most all of the lines. If it were me, and my honeymoon I would go with Regent Mariner and forget the lines you're considering. I just don't think you'll find the laid back, pampered, excellent food that you mention.If you select Regent you won't have any formal nights which is nice when you're doing Alaska and they're all inclusive (liquor, tips, wine with dinner, soft drinks). All the cabins also have balconies which is great in Alaska. If I had to go with a 2nd choice I'd opt for HAL. The worse cruise experience I had in Alaska was on NCL....sorry, just being honest.
patsy120 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 02:56 PM
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Thank you to everyone for their responses!

I think that we are going to go with RC Serenade of the Seas, round trip from Vancouver- thanks to Anne's recommendation- thanks Anne! It looks like a great itinerary, and we will probably still fly via Seattle with the Amtrak train up to Vancouver. The ship is beautiful,too- and there were some great reviews w/photos posted on Cruise Critic.

As far as Regent and Cruise West are concerned- sadly, they are a BIT out of our price range. On RC, we can get a balcony room for two, plus add on a helicopter excursion for two, for the price of just one of us to cruise on Regent or Cruise West. So I'm sure they are fab- just not really designed for 2 teachers!!

PS Doug- my goal is also to not spend unnecessarily on the boat. If I have one glass of wine in the week (poss. if we go to an upgraded dinner! Cover it all at once) it will be fine by me! So I am a girl after your dad's heart.

Thank you again to everyone for the help!!

katya_NY is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 04:07 PM
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I have cruised Alaska on HAL (once), RCI (2x), NCL (4x). My preference is definitely HAL.

Serenade is a pretty ship but you are going to get a lot of families on RCI. We prefer not to have lots of kids aboard.

And food and service on RCI have declined considerably in my opinion over the past 5-6 years.

We are going back to Alaska in June and again on HAL R/T Seattle. They have premium docking spots, great room service (nice for honeymoon) and wonderful cabins and the ships are not crowded.

While Regent would be my first choice for ship, food and service, HAL is next and NCL is not worth considering IMO if you prefer good and service and a nice sized cabin with comfortable bedding (I am referring to standard cabins not suites). NCL is a budget product.
kfusto is offline  
Jan 25th, 2008, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 14
I have been to
Alaska on the Princess line and it was wonderful. We also did another 7 days inland to enjoy the parks...
There are some books you can buy on cruising, listing all the lines, what they offer, and what population they cater to....
I would recommend buying one of those books,,,very worth the money..Good luck and have a great trip....we loved ours.
gingera is offline  

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