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Seeking Megaship, Semi-formal, Caribbean, 1st Time Cruise Ship with Great Food!!

Seeking Megaship, Semi-formal, Caribbean, 1st Time Cruise Ship with Great Food!!

Jun 23rd, 2003, 11:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 11
Seeking Megaship, Semi-formal, Caribbean, 1st Time Cruise Ship with Great Food!!

(I think) We are looking for a megaship with all the ammenities - beautiful pool / deck to lay out on, great food & service, a workout facility, space, casinos, lots of bars etc.

We are not interested in many (or any) black tie dinners - so I guess we are looking for a semi-formal ship.

We like top-notch food and service, but prefer a more laid back atmosphere.

We are first time cruisers looking to take a cruise towards the end of February out of Florida.

Probably a 7 night cruise.

We are around 30 years old (just married) and prefer less children and more couples.

We like classy without pretentiousness.

Is this enough to get you started?

PS - we can use either AMEX or Marriott points on the following cruise lines, but we are not sure if they are really "up to par" or not. Wondering if it's worth it to spend the money and go on another line or go on one of these for free:

Carnival Western Caribbean, Elation (Galveston) - 7 Night
Carnival Cruise Lines Fall Foliage - 7 Nights
Carnival Cruise Lines Eastern Caribbean Paradise- 7 nights
Royal Caribbean Eastern Caribbean Enchantment - 7 Nights
Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Enchantment - 7 nights
Celebrity Cruises Eastern Caribbean, Century - 7 Nights
Holland America - 7 night cruise to Caribbean

laura13 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
I think Princess has pretty consistent above average food and service. However, I have to say that I wouldn't put the words 'top-notch food and service' with the word 'megaship' in the same sentence. I'm just not sure it's a possibility when you're dealing with 2500+ passengers each week. I'm usually very happy when I receive 'satisfactory to very good' food and service on a large mainstream ship. So you may want to tone down your expections a little. On the other hand, each person has different views of what 'top-notch food and service' is.

Of the choices you listed, for a more laid back and refined atmosphere, I would choose either Celebrity or HAL (but I don't think HAL has any vessels that qualify as megaships).

With the exception of NCL, all of the mainstream lines have about 2 formal nights per week. That doesn't mean you have to wear black tie. Usually jacket and tie will suffice. There are optional dining venues available on those evenings for those who prefer to dress casually.

The key to less children is to avoid cruising during school breaks.
Patty is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 12:57 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Thank you! Yes, you are probably right about the expectations. I guess we would be more interested in a larger, newer ship with more ammenities than in "top notch" food and service. As frequent travelers (for both business and pleasure) who have eaten in some of the finest restaurants (mostly in the U.S.) - we enjoy fine dining. But we also enjoy other kinds of food as well. I will look into the lines you mentioned. We know NOTHING about cruising or cruise lines so this is a first shot at collecting some first hand feedback.
laura13 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
If you're interested in larger, newer ships with more amenities for a 7 day cruise from Florida, I would take a look at these ships specifically:
Celebrity Millenium
Holland America Zuiderdam
Princess Grand/Golden Princess
Royal Caribbean Navigator/Explorer/Voyager of the Seas
Check the cruise line's websites, then read some online reviews - that should give you a good start.
Patty is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 01:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 22
We were on the Golden Princess in November in the Caribbean. You can be as formal or informal as you want. Even on the so-called formal nights, many people were casually dressed. Princess has personal choice dining which is very nice. We thought the food was excellent. If you wanted something that was not on the menu, they accomodated you. The ship has two or three pools, spas, casinos, and many activities. Entertainment at night was some of the best we have seen. Enjoy your trip.
tapper is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 08:05 AM
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You'd like one of the newer Carnival ships. Not very formal.
Brooklyn_Bomber is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 51
Princess, Princess, Princess, Golden in particular. Fits your requirements to a T!!
Misha is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 08:47 AM
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Brooklyn Bomber - No question that Carnival will provide the party atmosphere, casino, lost of bars, pool, deck, and workout facility. But they want food and service - Carnival scores terribly on those accounts.

PumpkinEater is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Peter, Surprised at your strong comment. Didn't think you ever sailed Carnival.
torpeedo is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 10:20 AM
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Never gave birth to a baby, either; but I've seen the pain!!!

PumpkinEater is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 11:18 AM
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Agreed, Peter, but Laura has moved beyond wanting high level food and service. Carnival serves a big niche.
Brooklyn_Bomber is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 01:20 PM
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I know. All she wants is average food and service. Can't get that on Carnival.

PumpkinEater is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 40
Still PRINCESS...wonderful dining options in addition to the traditional dining rooms, beautiful spas, excellent service, GREAT entertainment, more activities available than you could ever possibly participate in. Just returned from cruise on Coral and highly recommend Princess.
gottago is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 02:29 PM
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Princess, Celebrity or HAL. Please note, I listed Princess First!
psychoelf is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 03:52 PM
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I'd probably go in the following order:
Holland America



All 3 of these are pretty close (giving HAL the edge for service, cabin size and food)) so go with the best itinerary and what suits your schedule. I agree that great food and megaship really don't go hand in hand. You will get much better food on an upscale cruiseline but you will need to sacrafice on the more glitzy evening entertainment offered on larger ships. If more personal service is important, you might consider downsizing the ship you select. Only you can make your own priorities.
petlover is offline  
Jun 25th, 2003, 01:43 PM
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At age 30, I think you'll be happiest on happiest on Carnival or RCL, where the average age is in the mid-30's, as entertainment is geared more to people in your age group. Princess has an average age in the 40's (we're going to be trying it this winter) and I'm wondering how the music & such will be geared. I've heard that lines like Celebrity & Holland America are more suited to people in their 50's--perhaps other people on the board can give you more direct insight.

While Peter consistently gives some of the best advice on this board, I have to disagree with him about the food and service on Carnival. Most of the dinners I've had stack up to what I would expect in a better restaurant, and they're happy to bring you something else if you're not happy.

As to the sevice you can have a great steward or a so-so steward; a great waiter or one you don't relate to--it just depends on the trip. This may not be the case on the highest-end lines

Late February is a good time to go. As long as you avoid holidays, spring breaks, and summer, you'll see fewer kids.

The Carnival Legend might be a good call, as it's a newer ship and has some very cool 8-day southern caribbean itineraries (or did last year, at any rate) at rock-bottom prices. It's a larger ship without being a huge mega (they needed to keep it narrow enough to fit through the Panama Canal).

Definitely spring for cabin with a balcony.


triathlete is offline  
Jun 25th, 2003, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 55
I have cruised on hal, carnival and celebrity twice (returned last week on the Summit). Celebrity is our favorite-terrific service, food, workout room with lots of big windows looking out to sea, casino (only play slots) and the 2 "formal" dinners-well, you could definitely wear suit/nice dress. We went to caribbean on carnival last year and hated it. Way too big, very impersonal, awful food, cattle lines everwhere with that many people. Went on hal when first married (in late 80's) and nice but I have better expereince with Celebrity. Even though we took our 2 older children with us this time, there were NOT many kids but I think that changes on time of year. EVERYONE was very friendly, courteous and professional but not pretentious. Good luck with your decision. Iwish i was back on board.
kidsnp is offline  
Jun 26th, 2003, 09:12 AM
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I would stay away from HAL unless you are a senior.

I like RCI the best but also suggest you try the Norwegian Sun. I did two cruises on her this year so far after staying away from NCL for ten years. The food was good and very varied, the ship is lovely, the staff is great and she has a lot to offer for a fair price. It is not formal due to Freestyle dining,which I enjoyed despite my doubts. I sailed solo both times and had a great time.
kfusto is offline  
Jun 26th, 2003, 09:40 AM
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My experience has been the pricier the ship, the older the passengers..a generalization perhaps but still my experience. I am not sure what you mean by "up to par" when you decsribe your list of lines..depends on who you ask. If you have ANY sort of really first-rate dining experience I don;t think you're going to necessarily be raving about the food on any of these ships that you've mentioned..unless you're in one of the so-called "extra tariff" restaurants that have become popular lately. I think the food is fine but it is not, in my opinion, at the so-called "gourmet" level that soem feel is served on more so-called "upscale" ships such as Silversea, Seabourn, and Crystal. I think the problem with these latter are they tend to be pricier and as I said earlier..with an older clientele as a rule.
I would definitely pass by Carnival because in my opinion they spend a lot of YOUR time "pushing" you to buy their drinks, merchandize, etc..more so than any other ships I know of in ny 15+ cruises, not to mention what I feel is Carnival's very lax attitude toward safety when compared to ships with Norwegian officers.
Finally, if you aren't using points whatever you do DO NOT pay the brochure price for ANY cruise....even the very expensive cruises can be, and should only be, purchased through a discounter. The industry is vastly overbuilt and if you pay full price you paid too much. Good Luck.
Jun 29th, 2003, 07:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24

Whatever you do don't book a room above any bars. You will be up all night. We book a cruise on the carnival triumph and had room #6408. This was suppose to be like our second honeymoon of twelve years and I cried myself to sleep everynight and they were so mean about. It was the worst cruise ever. Just remember to look on the brochure before booking. I was always looking to make sure nothing was above me, never thought about what was below me and we had a balcony room and everything and could not enjoy ourselves at all. I would reccomend a Norweign cruise. You know you pay for what you get. Now I have to take another vaation to make up for that one. Good luck!! If you don't want to do a cruise and resort is always nice. One with no kids. Take care.

Lizzy is offline  

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