I hope you’re all having a lovely week. The bank holiday has really made it feel so short!
Today I’m blogging all about the cruise Dylan I were on last week.
As I said in my Snapchat the other night, hundreds of you had questions about the cruise, and those of you who are into cruising and who remembered that we had taken a cruise last year, really wanted to know which cruise line we preferred, so naturally the best way to address all the queries would be through a good old blog post.
Before I go on however, I want to clarify that I’m just sharing my honest opinion here and talking about my own personal preference.
Last July, Myself, Dylan, and my parents went on our very first Mediterranean cruise. We cruised with the Royal Carribbean on their Harmony of the Seas ship (which you can read all about this right here) and we genuinely enjoyed the trip.
We had never been on a cruise before so we were blown away by the whole experience, not to mention the sheer size of the ship!
That said, now that we have cruised with another company, and to similar locations as before, it gave us a different insight, and really helped us make an informed comparison.
On this occasion, we cruised with a company called Norwegian Cruise Line on their ship, the Norwegian Epic. Both ships docked at similar locations so we knew we would be returning to some of the places we had been to with Royal Caribbean, but this didn’t bother us in the slightest because the places in question are so interesting, so beautiful and have so many attractions that there’s always something different to see regardless of how many times you go back. For example, when we went to Rome with Royal Caribbean, we visited the Colosseum but when we docked with Norwegian Epic, we visited the Vatican. There’s also a variety of different excursions you can take.
We first boarded the Norwegian Epic in Barcelona and then spent a full day at sea. The following morning, we arrived at Palma de Mallorca, before going on to Rome, Florence, Cannes, Marseilles, and then back to Barcelona.
I think the one thing people wanted to know was which cruise I preferred and why. Personally, I preferred the Norwegian Epic and I’m going to explain why.
The attention to detail on the service front was second to none on Norwegian Epic. For example, every time we returned to the ship following a trip around the location at which it had docked, the staff would all be waiting there with smiles on their faces and greeting us with beverages and cold cloths (it was so hot in some places that by the time you returned to the ship, you would feel so clammy that a cold cloth on your hands and face really helped you feel a little more refreshed) It was a small detail, but I thought it was such a lovely way to treat residents.
Travel Tip – If you suffer with sea sickness, you are better off staying on the lower deck. According to a cruise staff member I spoke with, the lower the deck, the less likely you are to feel as seasick whereas if you’re on a higher deck, you are more likely to feel it.
When we travel, Dylan and I don’t like to have the full week planned out. We like to book things as we go. With Royal Caribbean, you had to book everything in advance. Things like speciality restaurants and a lot of the excursions were always booked up if you didn’t reserve your place in advance, sometimes even prior to the cruise. On the Norwegian Epic, however, this wasn’t the case at all. They had such a large choice of speciality restaurants that you could book a table in one of them on a whim for that night and you would more than likely get it. Same with the trips.
Travel Tip – Excursions are brilliant, but they can be very expensive. Dylan and I love to get lost and just enjoy the exploring element of being in a new place, but if you prefer structure and having an itinerary, then it would be worth checking out the excursions.
Outfit in post
On the Norwegian Epic, the quality of food was second to none, particularly in the speciality restaurants. (A speciality restaurant is one that is not included in the cruise package so you have to pay a small fee if dine there. If you’re going on a honeymoon or if it’s a special occasion, I recommend you book a speciality restaurant) There were so many options to choose from as well – Italian, Thai, French, steakhouses to name but a few – and every single one provided top notch service and food. The Royal Caribbean had strong restaurants but we just personally preferred those on the Norwegian Epic.
The buffet food on both ships was lovely but the speciality restaurants definitely won, hands down. The only negative thing I would say about both ships is that the buffet service is insanely busy and at times understaffed. Given the vast amount of people on the ship however, it’s understandable that the buffet area would be extremely busy, but because it ended up being so manic at times, we usually left and went for one of the speciality restaurants instead.
Travel Tip – If you’re going on a cruise, get the drinks package. Trust me on this one! It basically means you pay a one off fee and it covers all your drinks while you’re on the ship, from a coke cola to a vodka at night. You end up saving a lot by buying a drinks package.
Number 4 – Casino
On a cruise ship, the only place you can get a late night drink is in the casino. Some people go there to play the games, but in general, it’s a place where you can mix with the other guests and really enjoy the atmosphere and have a bit of craic. On the Royal Caribbean, the casino closed a lot earlier than you would have expected, whereas the casino on the Norwegian Epic remained open for as long as there were people in there!
When you’re on holiday, it’s nice to be able to have a drink at night and just soak up the atmosphere, and overall, I felt the Norwegian Epic offered a better service in that regard.
Travel Tip – When we cruised in July of last year, it was way too hot. Every time we docked and left the ship to go explore, the heat was sweltering, and naturally, it can be hard to enjoy the experience when it’s uncomfortably hot, especially if you’re hiking, cycling or even just having a walk around. When we cruised last week – October, the weather was still beautiful but the temperature was lower and so much more manageable and enjoyable.
Number 5 – The Spa
On the days when the ship is at sea, guests often go to the spa. The Norwegian Epic actually has the biggest spa of the ships at sea so if you’re taking a cruise for the purpose of pure relaxation, then the spa on board The Norwegian Epic is one you will be very impressed with! With the Royal Caribbean, you had to book in advance as it was booked out all the time, however the Norwegian Epic spa is so big that more often than not, they can take you straight away. There was one day where I popped down at 3pm to see if I could get a treatment, and they signed me in right away. The hair salon there is also brilliant.
Travel Tip – When the ship is at sea, spa treatments are always more expensive. If however the ship is docked at a port, the spa treatments will be much cheaper because most people will be leaving the ship so the lower rates are a way to try and get guests to stay on board and book in.
Number 6 – Entertainment
The entertainment was good on both ships however I felt the entertainment on the Norwegian Epic was targeted more towards adults. Maybe it was the time of year we cruised, but on the Royal Caribbean, a good deal of the entertainment was quite child oriented.
On the Norwegian Epic, we had dinner one night in a restaurant that had a Cirque de Soleil props set up in the middle of the floor. Following dinner, an amazing show took place and it was just incredible to see. Those of you following me on Snapchat will remember my snaps of it! It was just so interactive and entertaining.
Travel Tip – If you are planning on taking a cruise with your kids and want to go at a time when there will be lots of other children on board, then the peak holiday periods, such as mid-term and summer are the times to go. If, on the other hand, you would prefer to go when the cruise is a little quieter, then off-peak times are the best option.
So those are some of the main reasons behind why I preferred the Norwegian Epic over the Royal Caribbean. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have done both cruises and prefer the Royal Caribbean.
As I said, I’m not here to bash a brand, I’m just giving my opinion as to why I preferred the Norwegian Epic.
When I said on Snapchat which cruise I preferred, a lot of you Snapchatted me back saying you had done both and also preferred the Norwegian Epic, so it definitely does seem to have that little extra quality about it.
The same Snapchatters also recommended Celebrity Cruises and Silver Sea Cruises. I have heard great things about both of those so I’m definitely going to look into them. Celebrity Cruises in particular is one that keeps coming up a lot.
A good few of you asked about the booking process. Both this years cruise and last years were booked through Cruises For You and they are amazing to deal with.
Pamela and her team at Cruises For You are all so knowledgeable about cruises, so if you are thinking about going on a cruise and have never been on one before, she will be a huge help!
If you have any other questions guys, just leave a comment!
Have a great evening,