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Old 03-05-2019, 05:30 PM   #1
jmark
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Default DCL vs NCL

So with the summer itineraries out, we have finally hit our breaking point with DCL's prices (I know there has been a post like this during just about every DCL release but its finally our time). We were interested in a Greek cruise but I can't justify DCL's prices and this year may be our last year taking a DCL cruise. We started looking at other cruise lines for similar Italy/Greece cruises and an NCL cruise caught our eye but we've never taken a cruise with any line other than Disney. I've heard good things about RCL but their Med itineraries didn't look great and they are using older ships. NCL had a comparable cruise to DCL on the Getaway (although no Athens) which is one of the newer ships and has water slides and a ropes course. We are debating booking an aft suite with balcony in the Haven or two veranda rooms for approximately 2/3 the price of a veranda on DCL. For those who have cruised with NCL a few questions:

1) What are the main differences between NCL and DCL? I get that shows are not going to be as kids friendly or as good on NCL and that dining works differently. Trying to get a feel if NCL is more nickel and dime vs DCL. I'm also curious as to whether the levels of service are different.

2) What type of activities are there on NCL? Is it similar to DCL-trivia, bingo, crafts or do they do different things? I see the NCL does not have a movie theater like DCL.

3) I'm not expecting the same level of kids clubs and kids entertainment but how would you rate the NCL kids clubs? (I know NCL closes there kids clubs for lunch and dinner). My kids would be 9 and 12. The older one has gotten over the kids clubs on DCL and is excited to try Edge this summer. I'm wondering if they are going to be bored at the NCL clubs (although the water slides and ropes course may help).

4) We are debating the aft suite on NCL in the Haven or get two veranda rooms (which is a bit cheaper). Any thoughts on whether the Haven is worth it or not that necessary? Any recommendations?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/recommendations.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:46 PM   #2
tomandrobin
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Lots of similarities and differences. NCL has many more ships and the oldest ships a truly do not recommend unless its a must have itinerary or price that can't be beat.

There is definitely more nickel and dime from NCL over DCL. Less family feel, more adult feel.

All cruise lines offer the standard activities and such. But you are not in the Disney bubble. Hard to explain that til you experience both.

Kids clubs are poor to really nice, depends on the age of the ship. The newer NCL ships are really great. The new NCL ships have great options for kids.....Their newest ship in Alaska has a two level go kart track and laser tag.

We had an AFT suite on our NCL cruise, which gave us all the Haven perks but we were not in the Haven bubble. We loved it! Having the private restaurant was great......steak and eggs for breakfast everyday for me. Getting off first at every port was fantastic, since we were on a port heavy Greek Isle cruise.

Personally, we really enjoyed sailing on NCL. But we have never been in a regular cabin, so our experience is probably tainted. As I mentioned earlier, I would avoid the really old ships.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:49 PM   #3
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We have done 14 Disney cruises and one NCL. The NCL was nice and less expensive, but "It's not Disney". Doing a DCL B2B this summer. There is a difference beyond the pricing. It's an entirely different atmosphere.*

As soon as we entered the NCL ship there was a bar with a person pushing drinks. No welcome to the ship like on Disney. The casino seemed to be a big draw, but we don’t gamble, so that was not an attraction for us. We felt that the “commercial” aspect of the ship was in your face. The duty free stuff, watches, jewelry, alcohol, etc., was a turn off. Same with all of the bars. Disney has all of those things, but it seems more subdued. We also missed the movie theater on Disney. We ended up watching movies on demand in our room.*

There was also a language issue on several occasions. I thought that the crew needed to have “conversational English”, but that was not the case many times. The crew also seemed to be just doing their job in many instances and didn’t seem to have the dedication that is on a Disney cruise.*

It seemed that the entertainment was geared for an “older” audience, even older than us. If Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra had performed, I would not have been surprised. The theater was very nice, but we only did one show. It wasn’t what we were interested in. The Disney ships have a younger vibe, even for parents and grand parents. I don't want to spend a week with a bunch of old people. I live in Florida. I can find old people anytime.*

The dining had it’s pluses and minuses. The freestyle dining still needs to have reservations, which I had made well in advance. Dining at 7:00 or 7:30 also was very nice. Disney should figure out a way to have dinner at a better hour. 6:00 is too early, 8:15 is too late. The “Complimentary” restaurants were nice, the service was good, the food was good, no complaints there. Not having the same wait staff each night was different. More like eating at your local restaurants. No real connection there. We missed the rotational dining and the relationship with the wait staff. As we had no real bond with the waiters, we cancelled two nights and ate at the buffet (Like Cabanas). The buffet had a different theme each night and a few nights it seemed better than the restaurants.*

Overall, we had a very nice time. The Port Tours were the same as Disney would have, and they all were very good. We really enjoyed each port, although getting off the ship to our tour was more or less on our own, no one with a paddle to lead you off the ship. There were a number of times when things were poorly organized and it almost seemed to be the first time that something was being done. If we had not been on a cruise before, we may never have figured how to disembark on the last day. Direction was lacking.*

Whenever we are on a Disney cruise, we run into any number of people that have tried other cruises and said that once they do Disney, they can't go back to the others. We gave it a try with NCL and we agree. There is a Disney difference, other than price.

So, there you have it. Hope that helps. We are already planning for our back to back Mediterranean cruises this summer on the Magic.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:56 PM   #4
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I've sailed almost all of the cruise lines. I've sailed DCL 13 times. Now that I'm cruising for itineraries, instead of "having fun" on the ship, I'll do what I have to to get to the places I want to see and be able to afford to continue to travel. Next year we're doing a trans-Atlantic. I wanted to experience one, but with the multitude of sea days, I chose DCL (although TAs are much cheaper and have better port options on other lines), when I do the other itineraries I still want to hit, I'll use a different line. I'll do the Greek Isles and Alaska with someone else because it makes sense. So, I guess my answer to your question is, I like DCL better, but I'd do the Greek Isles with someone else too.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:04 PM   #5
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Since you mentioned NCL and Greek Isle cruise, check the Jade's Itineraries. The ship renovation looks spectacular, way better then the bright, in-your-face decor previously. For a cruise like the yours, itinerary and ports are more important then onboard activities. Almost every day you will be ashore, so the onboard stuff is less important.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:19 PM   #6
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I agree 100%. DCL has officially priced us out. I am considering a 7 night cruise on the Pride of America ( NCL) along with an Aulani stay. Dont know much about NCL or the Pride. I have lots of time to research.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:29 PM   #7
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The NCL Haven and suite categories are fantastic. I have NEVER had a problem with any of the crew members not being helpful or enthusiastic. Their ships are maybe not as nice as Disney, but they are beautiful, and kept very clean. The newer ships are great, but they do carry a lot of passengers. Not as many kids, which is expected. Disney's prices are just too much to justify not trying other lines.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmurf View Post
Dining at 7:00 or 7:30 also was very nice. Disney should figure out a way to have dinner at a better hour. 6:00 is too early, 8:15 is too late.
Did everyone eat dinner at the same time? If you're going to have two seatings I don't know how you would expect Disney to do it.
One thing that I love about DCL: after 7 cruises I can't remember a single experience with second-hand smoke. Maybe it helps that I don't visit the lounges in the evening. I'm not sure how they do it (CMs carrying water pistols?), but for me it is priceless.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:52 PM   #9
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I would take a Haven suite over two balconies any day for a slightly higher price. NCL suites offer some otherwise unattainable perks to make a vacation run smoothly. Priority debarkation and embarkation. The concierge to bypass lines and first off/first on without any hassle. Not all ports will have the setup but a Haven staff will often be standing by at port holding a sign to whisk you back onto the ship/tender... The separate dining venue for all meals if bigger ship such as the Getaway and Epic or separate dining venue for breakfast and lunch if on the smaller ships such as the Jade, Pearl, Spirit, Star. It is also really nice to have the personal butler who you have ready to take care of anything inside the room such as room service anytime. On long port days in the med it is really nice to tell them what time you will be back and that you want dinner breakfast on the go... in the room. The concierge takes care of everything outside the room so any issues with a bill, internet, a dining package....

For me the biggest issue I find with NCL is the constant change of packages and what is included. Beware that "free" is not typically free but an opportunity for NCL to sell you something else and even if willing to pay for a package ie the gratuities on a, "free" beverage package, it might not be what you thought it was. If you can live within the parameters of the "free" perks it's not so bad. It isn't the nickel and diming as in, "come on down to the art auction" It's more the nickel and diming of, "your free package doesn't include that but we have this add on package that will get you what you want." Or that racetrack is extra, that laser tag is extra, that arcade package is extra. Really easy to avoid the extra charges on the smaller ships such as the Jade or Pearl. The bigger, newer ships offer more to tempt such as the racetrack on the Bliss that we had a blast with.

Some folks are fine with inclusive dining venues. General consensus is the Haven/suite specific dining is better that the otherwise general fare inclusive venues. We are not crazy about the inclusive venues and usually opt for speciality on NCL.

Price wise if you don't want any of the extra perks such as an internet package, alcohol package or dining package, you can find some 50% off 2 passenger fares that tend to be a great savings on the higher priced suites. the ncl India site sells in USD. The downside is no perks and no ability to transfer to ta for extra obc.

We've had some excellent med sailings on the Jade and love the ship and itineraries. Love their port times too which are typically much better than many of the other lines in the med.
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Old 03-06-2019, 08:17 AM   #10
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Littlelulu thanks for your input. This has really helped!
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