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Wait! don't kick me out!ūüėÖūüėÖ

My mom and I want to take a late 2020 cruise but we have to get a lot of things in line first and our preferences (room category, embarkation port, ports of call, length of trip, sea day to port day ratio, ship class) mean options get slimmer each month. So, just in case our RCCL options run out before we book, I was hoping you nice people might be able to help us decide on an NCL ship class that will give us a (diet) Royal feel. So far we've only done Freedom and Vision class ship and found we much prefer Freedom class.What we liked:

  • Royal Promenade:¬†we like the way it opens up the ship so¬†doesn't feel like we're¬†on¬†a ship.¬†
  • Types of Shows:¬†¬†The quality of performance shows on Freedom class were AMAZING (ice and stage)
  • MDR:¬†Dat French Onion Soup though.... It's my cruise staple! but of course we also love the super attentive and knowledgeable waitstaff, the variety of food, and the very formal table settings every night
  • Observation Deck/Helipad:¬†Being able to watch as we sail in or away from the front of the ship was something we SORELY missed on Enchantment.

I look forward to your help!

 

And if you're wondering about the aforementioned preferences:

  • Room category: Grand Suite
  • Embarkation Port: Nothing more than 15 minutes from the airport (so Miami, Boston, New Jersey, Ft. Lauderdale are fine)
  • Ports of Call: Really looking into the Southern or Eastern Caribbean
  • Length of Trip: We fly in from Chicago, so no less than 7 night
  • Sea to Port Ratio: No more than 3 back-to-back ports, at least 3 sea days, ideally with one before debarkation day
  • Ship Class: Voyager, Freedom, Oasis, Quantum for sure. Could be convinced to do Radiance.
  • Price (per person): $2200 or less

 

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1 hour ago, CrimsonCruiser said:

Wait! don't kick me out!ūüėÖūüėÖ

My mom and I want to take a late 2020 cruise but we have to get a lot of things in line first and our preferences (room category, embarkation port, ports of call, length of trip, sea day to port day ratio, ship class) mean options get slimmer each month. So, just in case our RCCL options run out before we book, I was hoping you nice people might be able to help us decide on an NCL ship class that will give us a (diet) Royal feel. So far we've only done Freedom and Vision class ship and found we much prefer Freedom class.What we liked:

  • Royal Promenade:¬†we like the way it opens up the ship so¬†doesn't feel like we're¬†on¬†a ship.¬†
  • Types of Shows:¬†¬†The quality of performance shows on Freedom class were AMAZING (ice and stage)
  • MDR:¬†Dat French Onion Soup though.... It's my cruise staple! but of course we also love the super attentive and knowledgeable waitstaff, the variety of food, and the very formal table settings every night
  • Observation Deck/Helipad:¬†Being able to watch as we sail in or away from the front of the ship was something we SORELY missed on Enchantment.

I look forward to your help!

 

And if you're wondering about the aforementioned preferences:

  • Room category: Grand Suite
  • Embarkation Port: Nothing more than 15 minutes from the airport (so Miami, Boston, New Jersey, Ft. Lauderdale are fine)
  • Ports of Call: Really looking into the Southern or Eastern Caribbean
  • Length of Trip: We fly in from Chicago, so no less than 7 night
  • Sea to Port Ratio: No more than 3 back-to-back ports, at least 3 sea days, ideally with one before debarkation day
  • Ship Class: Voyager, Freedom, Oasis, Quantum for sure. Could be convinced to do Radiance.
  • Price (per person): $2200 or less

 

The only Thing NCL has equivalent to grand suites are the Haven.. Except Most Haven rooms cost more than $2200 a person so I am not sure you want to spend the money.. The ships that are like freedom class on NCL would be the Breakaway class and the Breakaway Plus class so like Waytoo said the new ships.. 

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I have been on several RCL cruises, the largest ship in the Voyager class. I tried an NCL cruise on their (then new) Escape in 2017, right after the Miami hurricane. I was lured in by the freebies and dining options. We had a regular balcony room but Haven would be the very best they offer. However, I was disappointed with the ship layout and feeling of it compared to RCL. They took their largest Breakaway ship and added 2 more cabin decks without adding any public space and it always felt crowded and cramped. It felt like low ceilings, crowded bars and a very lower level of services provided throughout the ship. In the adult deck area we did not see a beverage server wandering around until middle of the second day and I was unimpressed by the beverage selection. Dining was great however. Additionally, we went to their new island in Belize and it was really nice but it was like any other port of call with all food and beverage and services supplied by outside people, not NCL so everything had to be paid for, unlike the RCL private islands. That was disappointing. Other ports are all the same for all the lines, of course.

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Have you considered Odyssey.  It's going to be the next new ship that Royal introduces and will be sailing from Ft. Lauderdale.  Because it's new, the pricing is a bit higher than you would pay for similar ships but you could definitely get a balcony room for well under that $2200 figure.  

Otherwise if you're going to look to NCL, you definitely want to go for the newer ships.  I'm not sure which ones are sailing from which ports, but check into the EPIC, Escape, and the -AWAY ships for something similar.

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2 hours ago, Jill said:

There’s no equivalent to the Oasis class from the other lines. (Meaning carved out Central Park/boardwalk/aqua theatre)

If you want 3 sea days and 3 port days, you pretty much have to do oasis class.

Honestly I wouldn’t totally knock out Port Canaveral. It’s an hour drive. Harmony is there now. 
 

 

I'm more looking for ones that are similar to Freedom or Voyager class, versus Oasis (those are pretty standalone in their style).

The issue with ports that are far from the airport is transportation costs. We recently did Galveston and that was a $50 Uber one way. We tried looking for hotels with shuttles, but none went that far. Orlando might be different given that it's a larger attraction city, but I also imagine the hotel costs will be over $100/night for a hotel with airport AND pier shuttles.

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I would skip Epic. We sailed on Epic and really didn’t care for it at all.  First of all, it’s ugly.  Secondly, the balcony rooms (can’t speak for the other stateroom categories) have a split bathroom with the shower on 1 side and a tiny closet toilet on the other.  The bathroom sink is actually out in the stateroom.  It’s very odd.  I hated it.  The balconies are very narrow.  

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

For a diet-Freedom class experience check out any Voyager class ship.  Same basic ship just shorter.  

Voyager class is one of my favorite and they are being amplified.

Voyager is for sure on the list of ships we're looking into but for the time and ports we're looking at the sailings are going fast and I'm worried they will be gone before we are ready to book.

 

1 hour ago, AGSLC5 said:

The only Thing NCL has equivalent to grand suites are the Haven.. Except Most Haven rooms cost more than $2200 a person so I am not sure you want to spend the money.. The ships that are like freedom class on NCL would be the Breakaway class and the Breakaway Plus class so like Waytoo said the new ships.. 

Yeah...The mini suites (room-wise anyway) might be okay. We would probably lose out on the many suite perks we've grown used to on Royal though, by not doing Haven.

 

1 hour ago, bjstrand said:

I have been on several RCL cruises, the largest ship in the Voyager class. I tried an NCL cruise on their (then new) Escape in 2017, right after the Miami hurricane. I was lured in by the freebies and dining options. We had a regular balcony room but Haven would be the very best they offer. However, I was disappointed with the ship layout and feeling of it compared to RCL. They took their largest Breakaway ship and added 2 more cabin decks without adding any public space and it always felt crowded and cramped. It felt like low ceilings, crowded bars and a very lower level of services provided throughout the ship. In the adult deck area we did not see a beverage server wandering around until middle of the second day and I was unimpressed by the beverage selection. Dining was great however. Additionally, we went to their new island in Belize and it was really nice but it was like any other port of call with all food and beverage and services supplied by outside people, not NCL so everything had to be paid for, unlike the RCL private islands. That was disappointing. Other ports are all the same for all the lines, of course.

I am also being lured in by all the freebies. Certainly would help with cruising on a budget! Haha. I'll keep that in mind about the spacing and private islands. Thanks!

 

10 minutes ago, AshleyDillo said:

Have you considered Odyssey.  It's going to be the next new ship that Royal introduces and will be sailing from Ft. Lauderdale.  Because it's new, the pricing is a bit higher than you would pay for similar ships but you could definitely get a balcony room for well under that $2200 figure.  

Otherwise if you're going to look to NCL, you definitely want to go for the newer ships.  I'm not sure which ones are sailing from which ports, but check into the EPIC, Escape, and the -AWAY ships for something similar.

Grand Suites on Oasis or larger generally run at about $4,000 per person for 7-night trips. That is super out of our budget. We would consider downsizing the room once we made it to Diamond Level on Crown and Anchor so we can still get many of the suite-like perks.

Thanks for the list of NCL classes to check out!

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16 minutes ago, CrimsonCruiser said:

I'm worried they will be gone before we are ready to book.

Consider a fully refundable deposit booking.  You do have to front the deposit now, but up to 90 days before sailing you can cancel for a full refund.  Locks in the current rates and if you find something better on another ship or line cancel without fees.  It does take a week or so for the deposit to be refunded.  

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On 12/23/2019 at 2:39 PM, AGSLC5 said:

The only Thing NCL has equivalent to grand suites are the Haven.. Except Most Haven rooms cost more than $2200 a person so I am not sure you want to spend the money.. The ships that are like freedom class on NCL would be the Breakaway class and the Breakaway Plus class so like Waytoo said the new ships.. 

We just finished a NCL Getaway cruise the week before Thanksgiving.  We had a Spa Mini Suite (big bathroom, balcony and access to the spa.  The cabin was nice and we used the spa a lot.  I loved the bathroom (big shower and double sinks).  The food was good but they only have my time dining and I like having the same table and wait staff every night so I REALLY missed that!!  I 100% prefer RCI!  The shows and other entertainment was not up to RCI standards either.  The only reason we did this NCL cruise was it was booked by other family members for a family cruise and it was only $1 deposit per person and third person free in same cabin. 

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We cheated on Royal earlier this year and cruised with NCL on the Breakaway. I echo an earlier post by saying that the NCL dining was fantastic. I also agree that the Breakaway class will feel most similar to your experiences. The "freebies" (who are we kidding, we're still paying for these) were a nice incentive for us. However, in my personal opinion, the Breakaway class ships (Breakaway Plus class included) are just poorly designed. The impression I get is that NCL wants to be everything for all people all the time so what you end up with is a ship crammed with a 1000 different options that are all too small. I so appreciate that RCCL appears to think very carefully about capacity and options. On the Allure despite the fact that there were 5K+ passengers I never felt like I couldn't see something I wanted to see or that I was shoved into a small space for an event. RCCL does a great job of strategically scheduling events in disparate locations across the ship to minimize congestion. Many of the game show events or just straight up obviously popular events on NCL are scheduled in the atrium which is a two-story space that also plays home to guest services, shore excursions, two bars and a restaurant. Anytime you wanted to see an event there you were more than likely going to stand in rows of other passengers standing, craning their necks for a view of the action. The pool decks also defy logic, in my opinion. There is one pool for all ages, a kids pool/slide splash down area and a smattering of hot tubs in the Spice H2O area. The one pool that's open to all is very small when you consider passenger capacity. This brings me to my biggest complaint with NCL...if you want to have a better experience you have to pay extra (Vibe, Haven, etc.) and if you want to enjoy all the bells-and-whistles they proudly advertise (laser tag, go karts, etc.) you have to pay extra. RCCL certainly isn't innocent but the major activities that they promote are included in the cost of your base fare (rock climbing, ice skating, bumper cars, north star, ripcord, laser tag, etc.) I know NCL presents as the cheaper option but really think hard about your choice, after having enjoyed multiple RCCL ships I think you will find yourself dissatisfied with their product.

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Your $2200 or less is gong to keep you from getting the best NCL has to offer.  I was just on the Getaway in November in a Haven suite, an H6.  It was nice, don't worry. An H5 or H6 will generally run you $2500-$3000 pp.  Shows were really good and lots of variety. Of course not at the same level as Ice and water shows.  Really good entertainment but "different" than Royal.  Staying the in Haven gets you your own restaurant and bar with a super nice sun deck.  Basic rules are if you are in a Haven suite, you have access.  Not in a Haven suite, no access.  Your Haven cabin comes with a butler that takes care of many things for you.  Our cabin had a Nespresso coffee maker which I tried to wear out!.  Our cabin had two bathrooms.  So if trying NCL...I vote Getaway/Breakaway.  There's not really a Royal Promenade but it's more open than say your typical cruise ship.  There are many, many specialty dining venues.

I've stayed in balcony cabins on NCL a couple of times....I really didn't care for it that much.  I liked Carnival better if not staying in a Haven suite.

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On 12/30/2019 at 10:04 PM, CruisingIsLikeCrack said:

You still may need to look at Port Canaveral.  This service provides different Orlando Airport  transportation and hotel combo packages that are reasonable https://www.goport.com/

Worth a look anyway...

That's true! it may come back as a possibility. Orlando was a really nice port to visit...

On 12/30/2019 at 4:17 PM, Tom Cruises said:

We cheated on Royal earlier this year and cruised with NCL on the Breakaway. I echo an earlier post by saying that the NCL dining was fantastic. I also agree that the Breakaway class will feel most similar to your experiences. The "freebies" (who are we kidding, we're still paying for these) were a nice incentive for us. However, in my personal opinion, the Breakaway class ships (Breakaway Plus class included) are just poorly designed. The impression I get is that NCL wants to be everything for all people all the time so what you end up with is a ship crammed with a 1000 different options that are all too small. I so appreciate that RCCL appears to think very carefully about capacity and options. On the Allure despite the fact that there were 5K+ passengers I never felt like I couldn't see something I wanted to see or that I was shoved into a small space for an event. RCCL does a great job of strategically scheduling events in disparate locations across the ship to minimize congestion. Many of the game show events or just straight up obviously popular events on NCL are scheduled in the atrium which is a two-story space that also plays home to guest services, shore excursions, two bars and a restaurant. Anytime you wanted to see an event there you were more than likely going to stand in rows of other passengers standing, craning their necks for a view of the action. The pool decks also defy logic, in my opinion. There is one pool for all ages, a kids pool/slide splash down area and a smattering of hot tubs in the Spice H2O area. The one pool that's open to all is very small when you consider passenger capacity. This brings me to my biggest complaint with NCL...if you want to have a better experience you have to pay extra (Vibe, Haven, etc.) and if you want to enjoy all the bells-and-whistles they proudly advertise (laser tag, go karts, etc.) you have to pay extra. RCCL certainly isn't innocent but the major activities that they promote are included in the cost of your base fare (rock climbing, ice skating, bumper cars, north star, ripcord, laser tag, etc.) I know NCL presents as the cheaper option but really think hard about your choice, after having enjoyed multiple RCCL ships I think you will find yourself dissatisfied with their product.

On 12/27/2019 at 12:33 PM, whitsmom said:

We just finished a NCL Getaway cruise the week before Thanksgiving.  We had a Spa Mini Suite (big bathroom, balcony and access to the spa.  The cabin was nice and we used the spa a lot.  I loved the bathroom (big shower and double sinks).  The food was good but they only have my time dining and I like having the same table and wait staff every night so I REALLY missed that!!  I 100% prefer RCI!  The shows and other entertainment was not up to RCI standards either.  The only reason we did this NCL cruise was it was booked by other family members for a family cruise and it was only $1 deposit per person and third person free in same cabin. 

On 12/30/2019 at 11:35 PM, chill6x6 said:

Your $2200 or less is gong to keep you from getting the best NCL has to offer.  I was just on the Getaway in November in a Haven suite, an H6.  It was nice, don't worry. An H5 or H6 will generally run you $2500-$3000 pp.  Shows were really good and lots of variety. Of course not at the same level as Ice and water shows.  Really good entertainment but "different" than Royal.  Staying the in Haven gets you your own restaurant and bar with a super nice sun deck.  Basic rules are if you are in a Haven suite, you have access.  Not in a Haven suite, no access.  Your Haven cabin comes with a butler that takes care of many things for you.  Our cabin had a Nespresso coffee maker which I tried to wear out!.  Our cabin had two bathrooms.  So if trying NCL...I vote Getaway/Breakaway.  There's not really a Royal Promenade but it's more open than say your typical cruise ship.  There are many, many specialty dining venues.

I've stayed in balcony cabins on NCL a couple of times....I really didn't care for it that much.  I liked Carnival better if not staying in a Haven suite.

these are all SUPER helpful tips guys! Thanks so much :)

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