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My DGF wants to look at other cruise lines for a future trip. I really like HAL but must look. What are options for couple in their later 60's fit and like to leave the ship at each port. Like good food and wine. Bring out own wine and pay the corkage fee. Love the staff on HAL and would like similar on alternative line. Price is not the most important consideration. I do not like roving bands of kids, booze cruises, water slides/attractions and really big crowded ships. Please let me know your first hand experiences both pro and con.

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2 minutes ago, whitford said:

My DGF wants to look at other cruise lines for a future trip. I really like HAL but must look. What are options for couple in their later 60's fit and like to leave the ship at each port. Like good food and wine. Bring out own wine and pay the corkage fee. Love the staff on HAL and would like similar on alternative line. Price is not the most important consideration. I do not like roving bands of kids, booze cruises, water slides/attractions and really big crowded ships. Please let me know your first hand experiences both pro and con.

 

If you want to bring on your own wine, it will limit the mass market ships.  Many do not permit it at all.

 

Oceania did let us bring wine on board.  A lot of people like the line.  We didn’t have a great cruise but we might have been one of the 3 week wonders with bad experiences, hard to say.

 

I think you are going to need to decide on your priorities as you might not be able to meet all of your list on mass market?  JMO.

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We took a very nice cruise to Scandinavia on Viking Ocean last year. You can  bring your own wine on board but there's no reason to as wine and beer are provided with the cruise fare and their beverage package is a lot more fairly priced than all the mass market cruise lines. With this they have a step up list of wine choices, not going to satisfy a real wine afficianado but very nice indeed. You would also get a discount on the highest wine choices. 

They have excursions in every port which are provided as part of the cruise fare. Their specialty restaurants are part of the basic fare.

Their ships are all the same and hold 900 guests and are all-veranda cabins.

The only sticking point is that their fare is 2.5 to 3x the cost of a HAL fare. 

The ships are adult only and entertainment is very nice and none of the glitz of some of the mass-market lines.

We just came back from 11 days in the Caribbean on the Koningsdam and enjoyed it very much. 

Viking Ocean is a different product for those who can afford it.

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We loved Viking. Took a 3 week Miami,  Cuba, Panama Canal cruise to San Diego 14 months ago. No kids under 18, beautiful ships, music was great. Food and wine outstanding. Although.. we can take 3 HAL cruises in Signature Suites vs 1 on Viking in Jr Penthouse..

The wines were very good, so you may consider not taking your own.

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43 minutes ago, whitford said:

Bring out own wine and pay the corkage fee. Love the staff on HAL and would like similar on alternative line. Price is not the most important consideration. I do not like roving bands of kids, booze cruises, water slides/attractions and really big crowded ships. Please let me know your first hand experiences both pro and con.

 

We've tried RCI, NCL, Princess, Celebrity, and Carnival.  After much research here, we deciced to give HAL a shot for a June cruise to Alaska and are really looking forward to it.  If you do find something else, I'd be interested to hear how it goes as we have the same requirements as you mentioned above.

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Since HAL has taken over management of Seabourn the standards have been lowered enough that you might feel comfortable.

You might miss the Indonesian crew, but no corkage fees for your own wine.   

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I think you'd enjoy Princess as an alternative, I think pax pop skews a little younger, but definitely not a party atmosphere.  I thought service and food were pretty comparable between PCL and HAL.  PCL also allows a bottle of wine free per person (consumed in room) or as many bottles as you want w/corkage fee. I totally get the desire to bring your own wines, I haven't seen any reasonably aged cab sauv at a bearable price on any of the lines.  PCL is part of the CCL family, so if you have status on HAL it may transfer some benefits to Princess.

 

We've liked X in the past, and thought it felt more upscale and sedate than RCL (caveat, we stopped sailing RCL in 2014 in favor of P/X/H).  If you sail X, the Aqua class is balcony rooms with access to their own dining room and we were happy we splurged on it last time we sailed.  I think demographics skew younger on X than PCL, and music and vibe is trying to attract the younger crowd while not turning way the older passengers.  I'm sailing them next month with my parents (60's) and I'll post their reaction and take as part of my trip report.

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 I think Crystal would be a great fit. Classic ships with wrap around promenade, great food and service. Lots of daily activities and great speakers and two shows per night. I can't speak for carry on booze but they are all inclusive with a nice wine list. They are a luxury version oh HAL.

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wf,

Celebrity would be an excellent fit for most people.  Not many kids and the demographic is close to HAL's, perhaps a bit younger.

We prefer the food on X compared to HAL.  Cunard is kind of like "HAL on Steroids", and is the last of the formal cruise lines.  Even the ships of Cunard (Victoria/Elizabeth) feel like Holland ships.  Not a Princess fan and NCL, RCL are all family-friendly with all the fun stuff.

MSC in their Yacht Club is nice and all-inclusive -- not as expensive as Oceania, Azamara, Crystal, Viking...,  

HAL still has some of the best pricing and they offer interesting itineraries, but "bang for the buck" I would do Celebrity every time.  The Edge and the Apex are a little bit expensive, but their S and M class ships are affordable.

 

Good luck and enjoy,

Kel😃

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I'd suggest that you consider MSC in their Yacht Club.  It's a "ship within a ship" experience on those of their ships that offer it.  On MSC Meraviglia, the ship on which I sailed in YC in January, there were no more than 125 guests, all inclusive, and you had run of the ship opportunities.  If you never wanted to leave the "enclave", you did not have to.  If you felt like having a few hours of other experiences, you were free to do so.

 

As much as I enjoy the HAL experience, sailing in YC on Meraviglia was a different type of cruise experience for me.

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Viking  Ocean or River  if you say you were referred from a past cruiser they give you and the referral   100 each  Great food  great wine..   lots of nice people..  NO kids under 18 allowed.   Be glad to give you my name 

Edited by bluesplayer

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6 hours ago, kazu said:

 

If you want to bring on your own wine, it will limit the mass market ships.  Many do not permit it at all.

 

Oceania did let us bring wine on board.  A lot of people like the line.  We didn’t have a great cruise but we might have been one of the 3 week wonders with bad experiences, hard to say.

 

I think you are going to need to decide on your priorities as you might not be able to meet all of your list on mass market?  JMO.

Oceania is a good fit for us.  No formal or gala nights, country club casual dress code, bring aboard all the wine you need and pay a corkage fee only in dining rooms, 4 specialty restaurants at no extra fees, all non-alcoholic beverages included in fare, similar demographics as HAL, port intensive itineraries, excellent food. We also like HAL and know that you get what you pay for.

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90% of our cruises have been Holland,  but we did like Oceania.  Great food.  Ships are 700 or 1100 passengers.  Free shuttles into towns. A couple specialty restaurants,  steak house, Asian place, Italian and French depending on the boat. Only six ships so not as many cruises. We are taking them to Iceland next June. Very few children.  

Edited by JeffElizabeth

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We’re trying Oceania with 2 cruises in March and April! We are looking forward to the change for the first time. Still enjoy HAL so will see!

Denise😊

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14 minutes ago, DeeniEncinitas said:

We’re trying Oceania with 2 cruises in March and April! We are looking forward to the change for the first time. Still enjoy HAL so will see!

Denise😊

 

I really hope you'll tell us (in detail!) about your experience on Oceania.  Aren't you also booked on a Crystal or Regent cruise?  I will be trying some of the luxury lines later this year and next.  It's great to have so much choice!  Best wishes!

Bill

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25 minutes ago, CabinForOne said:

 

I really hope you'll tell us (in detail!) about your experience on Oceania.  Aren't you also booked on a Crystal or Regent cruise?  I will be trying some of the luxury lines later this year and next.  It's great to have so much choice!  Best wishes!

Bill

Hi Bill 

You are correct. Regent Seven Seas Mariner Bora-Bora French Polynesia.

I plan to do a review on Oceania when we come back after 2 months.

Denise😊

 

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To put things in perspective, the MSC Yacht Club generally costs about $300 per person day for an all inclusive experience.  Crystal will usually cost about $500+ per person day.   Some of the other luxury lines can easily top $1000 per passenger day.  For many folks the cost/value does matter.

 

Hank

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If you're looking for a premium experience, I was also pretty impressed by Celebrity's Sky Suite offering (think verandah room on steroids) which is often bundled with their premium drink pkg and free wifi to make it essentially an all-inclusive package.  Access to their suite-only lounge with a real (and effective) concierge, and a separate suite-only restaurant.  I can't compare to MSC-YC or some of the other luxury lines, but suite class on X is clearly a premium experience and I suspect (although haven't tried suites on PCL or HAL) it is a step up from the suite experience on the other lines too, and of note the sky suites on X are smaller so cheaper than Neptune and larger suites on HAL.  I think X was smart to offer a smaller room with suite benefits.  I have zero interest in paying for more floor space than a Sky Suite offers, but do value being treated to the rest of the suite perks.  After experiencing the "suite-life" on X looking at the club class minis on PCL is a major step down and was no longer worth the price premium over a big balcony or mini-suite.

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The prior post about smaller cabins with suite benefits got me again thinking about MSC's Yacht Club.  Most of the YC cabins are more like a Deluxe Balcony cabin then a suite.  And their newest ships actually have inside cabins, at good prices  that are in the YC and get the YC benefits.  MSC does not believe that folks should have to pay for expensive suites to get benefits nor do all the suites get YC benefits.  Their YC comes with its own private dining room that serves 3 meals a day....even when in ports.  They also have a unique section of the ship, accessed by electronic card, that includes its own expansive lounge, sun deck, pool, outdoor buffet, 24 hour Concierge desk, etc.  When inside the YC area nobody asks to see your cruise card.  Everything is included and service quite amazing.  The only negative is that the quality of cuisine in the private dining room is, at best, uneven.

 

Hank

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Premium cruise lines might fit the bill: Oceania (love it, great food), Viking Ocean (haven't been on them yet, has new ships), Azamara (don't like it, but that's me; great food). 

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We are switching gears and looking at river cruises.  We've wanted to get to know them better and think this is a good time to explore the rivers.  I can't recommend anything, because it's new to us, but thought the idea might be of interest.

Happy cruising!

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

The prior post about smaller cabins with suite benefits got me again thinking about MSC's Yacht Club.  Most of the YC cabins are more like a Deluxe Balcony cabin then a suite.  And their newest ships actually have inside cabins, at good prices  that are in the YC and get the YC benefits.  MSC does not believe that folks should have to pay for expensive suites to get benefits nor do all the suites get YC benefits.  Their YC comes with its own private dining room that serves 3 meals a day....even when in ports.  They also have a unique section of the ship, accessed by electronic card, that includes its own expansive lounge, sun deck, pool, outdoor buffet, 24 hour Concierge desk, etc.  When inside the YC area nobody asks to see your cruise card.  Everything is included and service quite amazing.  The only negative is that the quality of cuisine in the private dining room is, at best, uneven.

 

Hank

 

A very good informative and objective post in my opinion.  During my 7 day MSC YC experience, there were 2-3 dinner entrees in the Restaurant that were not as good as their menu description promised.  But, always, there were other courses those evenings that I thought were excellent or very good.  Service almost always was excellent.  There was one dinner when a new Steward appeared and he seemed to be "getting into gear" because his service was "different" from what I had previously experienced.  This happened on the day that we were at a Port, so maybe, he was a crew member re-joining the ship.  I experienced his service a few times afterwards and it improved.  Every Breakfast and Lunch I experienced in the YC Restaurant was excellent.   

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