Celebrity vs Royal Caribbean

Looks like we have decided to book a cruise for this coming fall. Now the fun begins of picking the cruise we want to take. Last night was a cruise planning “party” to try to narrow down the list and discuss our options. Of course, we hadn’t planned to stay up until 2:00 am doing that, but we did – except for Savannah that is who fell asleep about 9:30.

Suzanne had spent the week before hand gathering info on the cruises in the time frame we were interested in. In this case, somewhere near Thanksgiving or Christmas. She gather info on all the available cruises, pricing and airfare information. She also had some stuff on potential shore excursions for the cruises too.

To facilitate this planning session, we had a bunch of print outs and also hooked my laptop up to our 62 inch HDTV so we could all see what we were looking at. It worked out rather well though being Saturday night, some of the cruise sites were having issues as they must have been doing maintenance.

Last night, we narrowed our choices down to three cruises and then finally down to two cruises. The third choice that was eventually eliminated was a traversal through the Panama Canal on the Celebrity Mercury. It left San Diego and ended up in Ft Lauderdale. The two cruises left are almost the same cruise. They are both Transatlantic cruises departing from Barcelona. One is on the Celebrity Summit and the other is on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas.

The Celebrity Summit cruise is 15 days with stops in Spain, Portugal, Canary Islands, St Maarten and finally ending up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas cruise is 16 days with stops in Spain, Portugal, Canary Islands, Bahamas, Miami and finally ending up in Galveston. The RCCL cruise is one day longer an has more sea days than the Celebrity though with both being Transatlantic there is plenty of seas days on both. Ending up in Galveston is bit easier of a finish than San Juan. The prices of both cruises are within a couple hundred dollars of each other.

So what it really comes down to is do we want to sail on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean? First, I have to say that almost any cruise is going to be great and much better than being at work. Still, we have found Celebrity Cruises to be a kind of cruising style that we like. Since they are owned by the same company, our elite status on Celebrity would transfer over to Royal Caribbean. Actually, it would get us a bit more perks and savings than it would on Celebrity.

Celebrity tends to have smaller ships that are more open to the sea and intimate. Smaller ships means less people. Capacity on the Summit is just over 2000 folks vs 3100 on Voyager of the Seas. Thats 50% more folks. Celebrity tends to a bit more formal than RCCL, which is right up our alley too. Our last four cruises have been on Celebrity and we haven’t had anything to complain about yet. Still, we sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t venture out and explore the others. We did sail Holland America many years ago.

So it was this question that occupied most of our time last night. We spent a lot of time in forums reading what other folks had said and getting their opinions as Suzanne had done a bunch of postings of the last couple of weeks. Folks certainly are bashful about sharing their thoughts. 😉

Most of the discussions seemed to reinforce our opinion that Celebrity is probably where we should be. We also took a bunch of virtual tours of all the public areas and various room types on RCCL. Frankly, I was a bit shocked at how “inside” they all are. We struggled to find very many public rooms that actually had a view of the ocean on the Voyager of the Seas. On the Celebrity ships, you can almost always see the ocean. The Voyager of the Seas has this huge promenade in the center of the ship. I thought it was a picture of a shopping mall. In the pictures, I didnt see any windows to the ocean. Why do I want to feel cooped up inside? Postings in forum discussions also seemed to corroborate that on the ship, you do get an indoor type feeling. Heck, I haven’t ever seen a dining room on a cruise ship where you couldn’t see the ocean or shoreline as you enjoyed your meal.

Anyways, last nights research and discussion pretty much ended up with us all putting the Celebrity Summit cruise ahead of the Voyager of the Seas cruise. Sean was funny. He made the comment “I don’t want to be running into screaming kids everywhere”. That coming from a kid who will be 12 on this cruise. We didn’t make any final decision as we did some more follow up posts in forums and want to double check a few things. We plan to book the cruise in two or three weeks when my yearly bonus comes in, so no need to hurry a decision.

But, it does look like we will be doing a Transatlantic cruise this coming holiday season. Any family or friends that would like to join us would certainly be welcome!