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So fed up of the cut backs - which line should I try next?

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    So fed up of the cut backs - which line should I try next?

    I have never posted before but I need to get other views as not sure where to turn next.

    Both me and my wife are 33 and we have a 3 year old. I have been cruising since I was 11 in 1996 and I am guessing most people will have noticed the cut backs are progressively worse year on year across the board as the market has been growing and competition setting in.

    I have done about 30 cruises to date and not particularly loyal to any line:

    8 P&O pre-Carnival
    6 P&O post Carnival
    1 Thompsons
    10 Royal Caribbean
    1 Celebrity
    1 MSC
    1 Princess
    2 NCL

    I noticed 2008 as a pinnacle year. Before then all cruises seem to have deck parties with special outdoor buffets, midnight buffets with a whole new menu change every night, filet steak and lobster was on the menu in the normal dining room every night, occasional fire work displays off the back of the ship, ice carvings as standard, entertainment had headliners and famous A liner comedians or magicians like Cilla Black, Roy Walker, Paul Daniels, day time entertainment had proper interactive games with quality prizes like a free mini cruise, lots of free booze events throughout, free chocolate gala sessions 3 or 4 times on a 14nt cruise and all ship casinos were strictly non smoking (they seemed to have relaxed this now to keep people in there).

    Can anyone recommend a cruise line where the above is still the all inclusive standard?

    I found Celebrity in 2016 to still retain a degree of this quality and the NCL EPIC in 2014 was reasonable (NCL Jade was awful in 2017).

    The cruise I just came back from had turned the free deck icecream machines into a pay-for service 2.90 per pull + 15%grat, the main dining room food was honestly not a million miles away from lunch at my local M&S café and that many people were crammed onto the ship it was a fight to get from A to B and the entire entertainment programme was the in-house singers and dancers - all this was the last straw for me hence now posting on here for advice.

    My gut instinct is we should now stick to lines in the same class as Celebrity and upwards, and I am tempted to say ships departing from Southampton are geared to a certain market and I am finding them fairly lack-lustre compared to cruises that depart from elsewhere like in the med or Caribbean.

    Any thoughts?

    #2
    Hi IC, I feel I'm only slightly qualified to comment as we have not sailed with the lines you mention. We are Seabourn addicts, and while there have been changes such as info is now e-mailed instead of printed in a convenient booklet, much remains the same.

    The cruises are AI and the only charges are for spa treatments, casino and premium wines and spirits. We have never found it necessary to buy from the premium list.

    there are deck parties, Trivia, deck games and epicurean events on deck.

    entertainment comprises a piano bar, a theatre with cast productions and guest artists and a cabaret style night club.

    Food is available in the Restaurant, the Colonnade (buffet breakfast and lunch), the patio grill, and the 'speciality' restaurant (by reservation) for which there is no charge. There is no charge for 24 hour room service.

    The ships are small, 450 or 600 people, and are never crowded. If you enjoy the big ships Seabourn may not be for you. Judith

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      #3
      Could look at the smaller more up market brands Azamara Oceania Seabourn...

      Look at suite classes and ship in a ship like yacht club Haven to upgrade the experience on the current lines.

      I can still cope with thomson/marella and CMV when the prices are right

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        #4
        You could look at a land based alternative, sacrilege I know, but lots of very good options/alternatives to consider depending on your own priorities.

        John

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          #5
          Have been using Celebrity exclusively for a good few years. Still pretty good in my opinion, but getting expensive, especially Med/Greek Islands.

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            #6
            To get the broad array of entertainment you get on a ship it does restrict land options.

            I was surprised when we moved on from Airtours and Thomson how little work the production teams did on those lines, more recently they have been getting more out of them by having the team do other shows around the ship reducing the need for as many guest and alternative resident artists.

            ​​​​​​

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              #7
              I'm guessing you've just returned from RCI. $2.90 + 15% for an ice cream! LOL

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                #8
                Originally posted by ROSEBASKETS, Yorkshire View Post
                I'm guessing you've just returned from RCI. $2.90 + 15% for an ice cream! LOL
                is RCI gratuity as low as 15% ? Princess ?

                Annie

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by PeterM, Southwell View Post
                  Have been using Celebrity exclusively for a good few years. Still pretty good in my opinion, but getting expensive, especially Med/Greek Islands.
                  My thoughts exactly.....eye watering in some cases. RCI is 18%.

                  I notice you’ve done a few RCI cruises. The standard is definitely dropping and we discussed this very issue a few days ago, in particular the drop in food quality in the MDR. I was disappointed with the quality of the food on my last RCI cruise on Oasis in June ..........Sign of the times I’m afraid. I’m cruising with Celebrity again (6th cruise with Celebrity) in a few months time so I’ll get the chance to compare the food quality / standards v RCI 🤞

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                    #10
                    I guess rather than put the prices up, they have all gone the way of keeping prices low and making cutbacks. We have noticed the decline in guest artists in the entertainment and making more use of the resident entertainment team, which are sometimes amateurish to say the least. We used to look forward to the odd celebrity guest onboard but that seems few and far between now. All the little extras have disappeared. However, having said that - we have been cruising for about 14 years and I can honestly say the prices are quite comparable with our first cruise. I think we paid £600 each for a 4 night cruise in a balcony for our first cruise in 2005 which works out £150 per night, per person, which is similar to what you would pay now. I guess in order to have not put prices up year on year, they have decided to make cut backs and keep prices low.

                    I know what you mean though, sometimes these cuts are one step too far and we felt it was these little touches that made a cruise special. All these are now gone. Perhaps there is a market out there for a different cruise experience replicating what we had 14 years ago, but at a higher price.

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                      #11
                      Morning IC,
                      You have my sympathies as I have seen a decline over a longer period than yourself, but definitely a steeper drop over the past ten years.

                      The smaller ships, such has been mentioned, Seabourn, Azamara, Oceania may be an answer, but I’m not sure the 3 year old would benefit.

                      Celebrity always crops up in these kind of debates, and when asked for my favourite cruise line up to a few years ago, the answer would always be Celebrity, but with their current ticketing price, overblown onboard charges and expected gratuities, I now consider them over priced, over hyped and over rated in terms of value for money.

                      These days I get my cruising excitement from different itineraries, the cruiselines and their fan clubs secondary to my needs.

                      As long as I get reasonable food, good entertainment and service we have come to expect from cruising, I treat the whole thing as decent boat ride around a few new ports…………….Wilba
                      Wilba

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Wilba View Post
                        Morning IC,


                        As long as I get reasonable food, good entertainment and service we have come to expect from cruising, I treat the whole thing as decent boat ride around a few new ports…………….Wilba
                        When have you had good entertainment recently?I know we haven't. The resident entertainment is usually very amateurish and they have cutback on the true guest entertainers.

                        We have given up on most of the entertainment these days and if we do go, we always stand at the back ready to walk out when we have again, been disappointed. The food is OK generally. Service is usually OK to good.

                        We go on a cruise nowadays for the itineraries. If we get decent everything else it is a bonus.

                        We have recently found that CMV's itineraries suit us and whilst the ships are not super luxury and shiny ,the service is good and the food in the restaurant comparable. We have enjoyed every cruise we have been on with them and will continue to look at their itineraries for future cruises in addition to other lines. I think many of the other lines are pricing themselves out of the general market and I work too hard to throw my money away on over inflated onboard prices. Some of the cruise line prices these days are laughable and particularly drinks and other hidden charges like service charges on drinks.

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                          #13
                          If you were a bit older, I would suggest you give Fred Olsen a try.

                          We were once on Balmoral and shared a table with a young couple and a 8 year old daughter. They apparently loved every minute of their cruise.

                          The food on Fred is good, the entertainment is mixed, the drinks prices very reasonable and the gratuities much cheaper than the American lines.

                          The ships are much older and smaller of course, which might not be to your liking.
                          Jill

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                            #14
                            I work on the premise, if the children are happy, then the parents will be.

                            With young families I think it depends what parents want for their children, on all holidays rather than any real input from the children.

                            I'll put my opinion of Cunard, and specifically Victpria with regards to ''kid's Zone'', into the mix, not because I'm advocating it, just an objective view from a parent who has been cruising for over twenty five years, when children's clubs didn't exist, and is impressed with the amount of enjoyment the children get out of cruising on Queen Victoria.

                            We don't see many children around the ship and that's for two reasons. Term time, it's usually the under fives and secondly, they have a marvellous time in their own zone and we generally see them at meal times and when they're on a ship wide game.

                            I see the [pre school] youngsters in the lift, going to deck ten and always say hello/how's your day going etc and without exception, both child and parent are beaming because the children are having such a great time. The older children are usually beaming too.
                            No water parks, no climbing walls, just, dare one say, old fashioned games and fun whilst being supervised by qualified staff.

                            As for the ship experience itself. I can't be objective here as I am a total ''Queen Victorian'' so you'll have to get that from someone who has tried many ships/lines and can be objective.

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                              #15
                              I have a bookmarked search for all marella cruises(no cruise and stay) sorted by price.

                              Since all their cruises are AI flight packages it is an easy scan of the list for anything that looks a bargain.

                              ​​​​​​Currently they have been sitting at around 100pppd(inside,OV, some balcony, when the 14n+ drop under £1kpp they start to become great value.

                              As said CMV are worth a look they still knock out some great bargains and use more regional ports which will be handy for some.

                              ​​​​​​I have been tempted to give Costa another try prices can be very good but needs to be a decent itinerary as well.

                              If music based entertainment is important have a look at the themed cruises.

                              Bottom line will be how much you want to spend to get closer to what you want, food will be a lot easier than entertainment.

                              Being retired we have the time, more days for the budget is a factor that needs considering.

                              Not checked the food budgets for a while, last time main stream were $10-$15pppd and that includes the food for the crew.



                              ​​​​

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