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NCL v Princess This is a review of NCL against Princess as regards their various ships, services and the way they do things. It is our personal view and only covers the areas we experienced (in particular it does not cover kids areas/activities and shows). We are not comparing itineraries as the Western Mediterranean (7 days on NCL Norwegian Jade) compared with Iceland and Norway (12 days on Crown Princess) would not be a meaningful comparison. Base fares are not considered as one of these cruises was a last minute deal and one was a long term full price booking. Generally, the experience is similar with some good on either side. Suffice to say we were happy with both cruise lines and would sail again on either without qualms. The two cruises were two months apart (NCL June 2010) and (Princess Aug 2010). We had equivalent level balcony cabins on both (BA on NCL - BB on Princess)

Embarkation/Disembarkation (draw) This was a similar experience with no real plusses or minuses on either side. Princess was slightly quicker delivering our luggage (it was waiting for us at our cabin).

Ship size and layout (NCL slight winner) Crown Princess takes 3000+ passengers whereas Norwegian Jade takes about 2000. We found the Jade easier to get around (particularly regarding stairs on outside decks). Crown Princess generally had more stairs and was not so disabled friendly. Crown Princess had all of the kids stuff away at the back and the top of the ship which meant there were less children running around during the day. NCL's kids area was more central. The central atrium was better on Crown Princess as there were more facilities available there and it provided a better focus. Crown Princess's atrium stretches over three decks and had a clear area whereas Norwegian Jade's spreads over two and the floor is taken up by the coffee bar. Having said that, the Crown Princess atrium got very crowded at times. Overall we just preferred the Norwegian Jade as it was that bit smaller and easier to get around - on the Crown Princess we felt like we were walking to Iceland at times!

Cabins (NCL winner) The cabins were similar in terms of size - however NCL wins out in the bathroom. The toilet was unreliable on Princess and the shower on NCL was larger and easier to use (glass door as opposed to curtain and twice the size). The Crown Princess bathroom was a bit 'plastic' compared to NCL's bathroom fittings. The balcony was the same size. (Some balconies on the Crown Princess (Deck 10) were open topped so were overlooked from above).

Ship Cleanliness (NCL clear winner) Norwegian Jade was spotless. There were hand sanitizers everywhere with staff insisting that you used them and there were never any extraneous smells or dirt that we saw. Crown Princess was clean but not to the same extent. The only hand sanitisers were in the buffet and few people seemed to use them. There were particular issues with cooking smells from Crown Princess (even in our cabin) and the vac-flush toilet system was rather unreliable.

Food (Princess winner) This is of necessity subjective but generally we felt the food on the Crown Princess was slightly better; both in terms of quality and value for money. On NCL we ate in the surcharge restaurants more often than not as we were not grabbed by the MDR menus. Princess menus were much more tempting and we ate in the MDR most nights. NCL's MDR food was acceptable but some of the Princess meals had a 'wow factor' to them. Wine prices and selection were comparable. Princess had two surcharge restaurants (Sabatinis and the Crown Grill). We tried Sabatinis and were very impressed (be warned the starters are bit of everything so go easy on the bread - there is a LOT of very good food to come!). NCL's surcharge restaurants are more varied and numerous - their Italian restaurant does not match up to Sabatinis in our opinion. We did not visit the Crown Grill (Princess's steak house) so we cannot compare it to Cagneys (NCL's steak house). NCL does have Le Bistro which we love! NCL does have Teppanyaki which is popular. Where Princess really wins out is the other food stations. They have a pizza bar (free); an ice cream bar (free); a grill for burgers, hot dogs etc. (free); a cafe for snacks (free) and a sushi/wine bar (free sushi/tapas). NCL has surcharge restaurants for sushi and tapas. NCL does do barbeques by the pool. Both lines have speciality coffee bars for coffee purchases. Princess's buffet coffee is dire whereas NCL's is better. We felt both buffets were OK but Princess's just wins out on variety. Princess do themed buffets each night as well as the normal fare. Room service was comparable but Princess do offer some other options as well which we did not try (e.g. balcony dining). Princess's canapEs were far superior to NCL's. Princess have formal nights whereas NCL do not ('Dress up or not'). Princess had a complimentary glass of bubbly on one formal night.

Drinks and bars (Princess winner) The bars were quite similar in numbers and variety between the two lines. The most noticeable difference was in the prices of drinks. NCL's martinis go between $7.50 and $9.50 - Princess's were $6.95. Beer and cocktails were broadly similar in price except that after 8.30 pm Princess offered several beers and cocktails for $2.99 each shipwide. The gratuity was the same on both at 15%. Wine prices seemed to be broadly comparable.

Cigar bar (Princess clear winner) NCL's cigar bar was non-smoking! Princess's was a proper cigar bar with cigars on sale. No comparison really! (The smoking policy on both lines is basically the same with this one exception.)

Casino (NCL clear winner) We play the slots. Princess's range of slots was poor with few video 5 reel slots (the ones that were there are old and mean). NCL's range of slots is far superior and seemed to play fairer. We did not play table games so cannot compare them. We prefer the NCL system with ticket printouts rather than using your room card. Also Princess charge 3% to charge cash to your room account whereas NCL's is free of charge.

Service + DSC (Princess slight winner) NCL charge $12 per day DSC whereas Princess charge $10.50 per day ($11 for suites). Princess do bed-time chocolates whereas NCL have stopped them. The level of service is comparable in our experience - both lines are extremely good. The staff on both lines are hard-working, friendly and polite - they earn every penny of their DSC.

Entertainment - TV (Princess slight winner) Princess has flat-screen TVs in the room - NCL's were old type TVs. Princess had several recently released movies playing regularly. Princess had the 'Movies under the Stars' which looks good (it was too cold for us!) with very recent releases which are then repeated on the stateroom TV the next night. NCL showed movies but not such a good selection.

Other Entertainment (Princess perhaps slight winner) Princess had some good acts in the atrium (the acrobats were particularly good). NCL did not have the equivalent. The bar music was different (Princess had a violinist and a pianist with some classical content whereas NCL had pianists, a string quartet and a solo guitarist with a more popular genre) - a matter of personal preference really.

Sea Day Activities (NCL winner) NCL had more and varied sea-day activities that appealed to us than Princess. At times there were things we wanted to do on NCL that clashed whereas with Princess there were large gaps between activities that interested us. Princess charged for some things (like Photoshop sessions) whereas these were free on NCL. NCL did much better tasting sessions (e.g. Martini tasting for $15 which got you at least 4 martinis). Princess's wine tasting for $9.50 got you 4 small mouthfuls of fairly average wines.

Excursions (Princess winner on price) The content of the excursions seemed broadly similar (difficult to compare as the two cruises were very different in itinerary). Princess's excursion costs are noticeably cheaper than NCL however.

Overall none of theses differences are a deal-breaker for us - itinerary and price are our deciding factors, however we hope that this might give you some insights into the similarities and differences between these two lines. At the end of the day you need to shop around and research, research, research!

NCL v Princess

Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by SteveH2508

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
NCL v Princess This is a review of NCL against Princess as regards their various ships, services and the way they do things. It is our personal view and only covers the areas we experienced (in particular it does not cover kids areas/activities and shows). We are not comparing itineraries as the Western Mediterranean (7 days on NCL Norwegian Jade) compared with Iceland and Norway (12 days on Crown Princess) would not be a meaningful comparison. Base fares are not considered as one of these cruises was a last minute deal and one was a long term full price booking. Generally, the experience is similar with some good on either side. Suffice to say we were happy with both cruise lines and would sail again on either without qualms. The two cruises were two months apart (NCL June 2010) and (Princess Aug 2010). We had equivalent level balcony cabins on both (BA on NCL - BB on Princess)

Embarkation/Disembarkation (draw) This was a similar experience with no real plusses or minuses on either side. Princess was slightly quicker delivering our luggage (it was waiting for us at our cabin).

Ship size and layout (NCL slight winner) Crown Princess takes 3000+ passengers whereas Norwegian Jade takes about 2000. We found the Jade easier to get around (particularly regarding stairs on outside decks). Crown Princess generally had more stairs and was not so disabled friendly. Crown Princess had all of the kids stuff away at the back and the top of the ship which meant there were less children running around during the day. NCL's kids area was more central. The central atrium was better on Crown Princess as there were more facilities available there and it provided a better focus. Crown Princess's atrium stretches over three decks and had a clear area whereas Norwegian Jade's spreads over two and the floor is taken up by the coffee bar. Having said that, the Crown Princess atrium got very crowded at times. Overall we just preferred the Norwegian Jade as it was that bit smaller and easier to get around - on the Crown Princess we felt like we were walking to Iceland at times!

Cabins (NCL winner) The cabins were similar in terms of size - however NCL wins out in the bathroom. The toilet was unreliable on Princess and the shower on NCL was larger and easier to use (glass door as opposed to curtain and twice the size). The Crown Princess bathroom was a bit 'plastic' compared to NCL's bathroom fittings. The balcony was the same size. (Some balconies on the Crown Princess (Deck 10) were open topped so were overlooked from above).

Ship Cleanliness (NCL clear winner) Norwegian Jade was spotless. There were hand sanitizers everywhere with staff insisting that you used them and there were never any extraneous smells or dirt that we saw. Crown Princess was clean but not to the same extent. The only hand sanitisers were in the buffet and few people seemed to use them. There were particular issues with cooking smells from Crown Princess (even in our cabin) and the vac-flush toilet system was rather unreliable.

Food (Princess winner) This is of necessity subjective but generally we felt the food on the Crown Princess was slightly better; both in terms of quality and value for money. On NCL we ate in the surcharge restaurants more often than not as we were not grabbed by the MDR menus. Princess menus were much more tempting and we ate in the MDR most nights. NCL's MDR food was acceptable but some of the Princess meals had a 'wow factor' to them. Wine prices and selection were comparable. Princess had two surcharge restaurants (Sabatinis and the Crown Grill). We tried Sabatinis and were very impressed (be warned the starters are bit of everything so go easy on the bread - there is a LOT of very good food to come!). NCL's surcharge restaurants are more varied and numerous - their Italian restaurant does not match up to Sabatinis in our opinion. We did not visit the Crown Grill (Princess's steak house) so we cannot compare it to Cagneys (NCL's steak house). NCL does have Le Bistro which we love! NCL does have Teppanyaki which is popular. Where Princess really wins out is the other food stations. They have a pizza bar (free); an ice cream bar (free); a grill for burgers, hot dogs etc. (free); a cafe for snacks (free) and a sushi/wine bar (free sushi/tapas). NCL has surcharge restaurants for sushi and tapas. NCL does do barbeques by the pool. Both lines have speciality coffee bars for coffee purchases. Princess's buffet coffee is dire whereas NCL's is better. We felt both buffets were OK but Princess's just wins out on variety. Princess do themed buffets each night as well as the normal fare. Room service was comparable but Princess do offer some other options as well which we did not try (e.g. balcony dining). Princess's canapEs were far superior to NCL's. Princess have formal nights whereas NCL do not ('Dress up or not'). Princess had a complimentary glass of bubbly on one formal night.

Drinks and bars (Princess winner) The bars were quite similar in numbers and variety between the two lines. The most noticeable difference was in the prices of drinks. NCL's martinis go between $7.50 and $9.50 - Princess's were $6.95. Beer and cocktails were broadly similar in price except that after 8.30 pm Princess offered several beers and cocktails for $2.99 each shipwide. The gratuity was the same on both at 15%. Wine prices seemed to be broadly comparable.

Cigar bar (Princess clear winner) NCL's cigar bar was non-smoking! Princess's was a proper cigar bar with cigars on sale. No comparison really! (The smoking policy on both lines is basically the same with this one exception.)

Casino (NCL clear winner) We play the slots. Princess's range of slots was poor with few video 5 reel slots (the ones that were there are old and mean). NCL's range of slots is far superior and seemed to play fairer. We did not play table games so cannot compare them. We prefer the NCL system with ticket printouts rather than using your room card. Also Princess charge 3% to charge cash to your room account whereas NCL's is free of charge.

Service + DSC (Princess slight winner) NCL charge $12 per day DSC whereas Princess charge $10.50 per day ($11 for suites). Princess do bed-time chocolates whereas NCL have stopped them. The level of service is comparable in our experience - both lines are extremely good. The staff on both lines are hard-working, friendly and polite - they earn every penny of their DSC.

Entertainment - TV (Princess slight winner) Princess has flat-screen TVs in the room - NCL's were old type TVs. Princess had several recently released movies playing regularly. Princess had the 'Movies under the Stars' which looks good (it was too cold for us!) with very recent releases which are then repeated on the stateroom TV the next night. NCL showed movies but not such a good selection.

Other Entertainment (Princess perhaps slight winner) Princess had some good acts in the atrium (the acrobats were particularly good). NCL did not have the equivalent. The bar music was different (Princess had a violinist and a pianist with some classical content whereas NCL had pianists, a string quartet and a solo guitarist with a more popular genre) - a matter of personal preference really.

Sea Day Activities (NCL winner) NCL had more and varied sea-day activities that appealed to us than Princess. At times there were things we wanted to do on NCL that clashed whereas with Princess there were large gaps between activities that interested us. Princess charged for some things (like Photoshop sessions) whereas these were free on NCL. NCL did much better tasting sessions (e.g. Martini tasting for $15 which got you at least 4 martinis). Princess's wine tasting for $9.50 got you 4 small mouthfuls of fairly average wines.

Excursions (Princess winner on price) The content of the excursions seemed broadly similar (difficult to compare as the two cruises were very different in itinerary). Princess's excursion costs are noticeably cheaper than NCL however.

Overall none of theses differences are a deal-breaker for us - itinerary and price are our deciding factors, however we hope that this might give you some insights into the similarities and differences between these two lines. At the end of the day you need to shop around and research, research, research!

SteveH2508’s Full Rating Summary
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