NCL v RCL

Both Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises offer passengers a sophisticated cruise experience, adding modern accents to the typical onboard activities. So, how to decide between the two? Celebrity's ships are chic and swanky. Young entrepreneurs, foodies and up-and-coming power couples gravitate towards the line's urbane onboard atmosphere and appreciate its partnership with brands like Apple and Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Princess takes a more traditional yet still sophisticated approach, offering new Broadway-style shows created in partnership with an Oscar-winning composer, restaurants by Curtis Stone and activities developed in conjunction with the Discovery Channel. Families, couples and friends of all ages can appreciate the line's simple refinement.

To help you decide which cruise line is the right fit for you, Cruise Critic pits Celebrity vs. Princess in a number of categories. You'll be the winner when you pick the line that best suits your tastes.

In a Nutshell

Celebrity Cruises

Hip cruise line with a modern onboard vibe and an emphasis on trendy culinary experiences, swanky entertainment and hi-tech educational workshops (think Mac software tutorials)

Princess Cruises

Traditional, yet relaxed cruise line without a lot of bells and whistles but with an emphasis on cruise standards like complimentary dining rooms, once-a-cruise Champagne towers in the atrium and live entertainment

Find a Cruise

Compare by: Fleet | Pricing | Demographics | Itineraries | Cabins | Dining | Pool Deck Fun | Sports Deck Fun | Indoor Fun | Nightlife | Family Focus | Tradition vs Innovation

Celebrity Reflection

Fleet size, ship sizes and ages

Celebrity Cruises View All Celebrity Ships>>

  • 10 ships, none built before 2000
  • Smallest: Celebrity Xpedition (92 passengers), Celebrity Constellation (2,038 passengers)
  • Largest: Celebrity Reflection (3,030 passengers)
  • Oldest in the fleet: Celebrity Millennium (2000)
  • All ships (except Celebrity Xpedition) fit into one of two classes: Millennium or Solstice Class

Princess Cruises View All Princess Ships>>

  • 18 ships (17 by June 2016), six built before 2000
  • Smallest: Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess (both 672 passengers; Ocean Princess leaving fleet March 2016)
  • Largest: Royal Princess and Regal Princess (both 3,560 passengers)
  • Oldest: Sun Princess (1995), Dawn Princess (1997)
online shopper with a credit card

Pricing

Celebrity CruisesView Celebrity Cruise Deals>>

  • Tiered pricing model for all cabin categories (minus inside rooms), giving cruisers a choice of up to four inclusions (beverage package, free Internet, included gratuities or onboard credit)
  • Pricing, in general, is a touch more than for lines like Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, and does not vary greatly across fleet
  • Prices include dining in several main dining room venues, but specialty restaurants incur an extra fee
  • All nightly entertainment is included, with the exception of the occasional reservation-only theme party

Princess CruisesView Princess Cruise Deals>>

  • Pricing follows industry standards, but, in general, are a mite higher than for most mainstream cruise lines; sales are offered regularly
  • Pricing includes about three-fourths of the alternative eateries on most ships (not including the  two newest ships, Royal Princess and Regal Princess)
  • Most onboard entertainment is included in the cruise price, except for activities like Bingo
Couples on a cruise ship

Demographics

Celebrity CruisesView Celebrity Cruises Roll Calls >>

  • Median age: mid 40s to early 50s
  • All ships draw couples and groups of friends ages 35 to 70s
  • Families are more prevalent during holidays and peak travel times

Princess CruisesView Princess Roll Calls >>

  • Caribbean and Alaska cruises draw families, couples and groups of friends in most age brackets
  • Ships sailing exotic itineraries (Diamond Princess, Dawn Princess, Sun Princess, Pacific Princess) draw a 55-plus crowd
Beach on Princess Cays

Itineraries/Destinations/Homeports

Celebrity CruisesView Celebrity Cruises Itineraries >>

  • Offers seasonal sailings from seven ports on the North American mainland, with no ships deployed in a single port year-round
  • Offers Alaska, Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii, New England/Canada and Europe itineraries
  • Exotic cruises visit Australia, Asia, South America, the South Pacific and Middle East
  • Sails soft adventure cruises to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrity Xpedition

Princess CruisesView Princess Itineraries >>

  • Offers seasonal cruises from seven North American mainland ports, with no ships deployed to a single port year-round
  • Offers one of the two most comprehensive Alaska programs in the cruise industry
  • Sails to Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Bahamas
  • Europe sailings are available three-quarters of the year from several European ports; destinations include the Mediterranean, Baltic and Northern Europe
  • Offers world cruises
  • Has ships deployed to Australia and Asia year-round
  • Exotic itineraries feature stops in Australia/New Zealand, Asia, the South Pacific, South America and India
Reflection Suite

Cabins

Celebrity Cruises

  • Between 24 and  27 cabin categories on Solstice-class ships and 23 on Millennium-class; Celebrity Xpedition has seven room category choices
  • Suite perks on all ships include priority boarding and disembarking, access to a suites-only dining room, reserved theater seating on formal nights and access to Michael's Club Lounge; passengers in highest suite categories also receive unlimited dining in all specialty restaurants for lunch and dinner, free Internet, a free premium beverage package for everyone in the suite and complimentary mini-bar stocked with water, soda and beer
  • Spa-inspired AquaClass cabins (on all ships except Xpedition)come with priority check-in and disembarkation, unlimited access to the Relaxation Room (Solstice-class only) and Persian Garden thermal suite, as well as exclusive access to Blu, a health-centric specialty restaurant; other amenities include a pillow menu and upgraded bath toiletries
  • Limited family room options include connecting cabins and family-sized ocean-view rooms with two bedrooms

Princess Cruises

  • Between 25 room categories on the line's smallest ships and 35 on the largest
  • Distinctive cabin choices include mini-suites and suites without balconies (on select ships only)
  • Suite perks on all ships include dinner on the house at an alternative restaurant on embarkation night, priority embarkation/debarkation, butler service, free laundry, suites-only breakfast in a specialty restaurant and nightly canapes
  • Limited family room options include connecting cabins and family suites with full baths (on select ships only)
Top Chef display table

Dining

Celebrity Cruises

  • Dining options include fixed (same time, same tablemates every night) and the flexible Celebrity Select program (choose when you want to dine, at different tables each night)
  • Up to six alternative restaurants are available on each ship (varies by vessel), with only a handful included in the cruise price
  • Through an agreement with Bravo and the TV show "Top Chef," onboard culinary activities include Quickfire Challenges and Top Chef Nights in the main dining room, as well as select Top Chef Signature Sailings on which prior contestants provide cooking demonstrations and mingle with passengers
  • Two Evening Chic (not formal) nights per weeklong sailing requiring passengers to swap out their ripped jeans and sundresses and replace them with whatever eveningwear they're most comfortable in

Princess Cruises

  • Dining options include traditional fixed dining with early or late seating choice, and the flexible Anytime Dining program (except on Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess, which only offer traditional)
  • Few alternative restaurants with most included in the cruise fare including Alfredo's Pizzeria and the International Cafe, though the newest ships (Royal Princess and Regal Princess) have a larger selection of for-fee eateries
  • A partnership with celebrity chef Curtis Stone brings "Crafted by Curtis" menu items to the main dining rooms on all ships, as well as the Share by Curtis Stone restaurant (available on four ships by mid-2016) and the Chef's Table by Curtis Stone experience (being rolled out across the fleet in 2016)
  • A partnership with chocolatier Norman Love provides cruisers with distinctive chocolate desserts, drinks, tasting experiences and spa treatments
Movies Under the Stars on Crown Princess

Pool Deck Fun

Celebrity Cruises

  • Two to three pools on every ship, with two always on the main pool deck and a third possibly in the adults-only Solarium; at least six whirlpools on all ships with two always in the Solarium
  • Select Solstice-class ships have a Wet Zone vertical splash area for kids
  • The pool deck is used mostly for lounging and not silly poolside fun

Princess Cruises

  • At least three pools on every ship, including a quieter aft pool and (on select ships) a pool beneath a retractable roof; most ships have a minimum of five hot tubs
  • When sailing in the Caribbean, silly games are played poolside on sea days
  • The adults-only Sanctuary (some of which have a pool) offers cruisers a quiet pool/sun deck alternative
  • Films shown daily on the sun deck as part of the line's Movies Under the Stars
The Lawn ClubThe Hot Glass Show on Celebrity Eclipse

Sports Deck Fun

Celebrity Cruises

  • All ships have a half-ship jogging track and basketball courts
  • The Lawn Club, a massive Central Park-style space with real grass, offering lawn bowling and bocce, is available on all Solstice-class ships
  • Three Solstice-class ships also offer daily Corning Museum of Glass hot glass demonstrations in a covered area of The Lawn Club

Princess Cruises

  • All ships offer shuffleboard and a jogging track; most also feature a basketball court
  • All ships provide some type of golf activity onboard from a practice cage to a nine-hole putting course (varies by ship)
Atrium party on Regal Princess

Indoor Fun

Celebrity Cruises

  • Daily activities can include dance classes, trivia, bingo, wine tastings and themed lectures
  • The iLounge on all ships offers up to 18 classes on website creation, blogging, Photoshop and other computer skills
  • The Art Studio on the Lawn Club (on two Solstice-class ships) offers art classes like jewelry-making, sketching and painting

Princess Cruises

  • Daily schedules might include arts and crafts, dance classes, trivia, bingo and Voice of the Ocean rehearsals (where passengers compete in a singing competition via a partnership with TV's "The Voice")
  • Destination-specific lectures and programs (like North to Alaska)  are offered on sailings in Alaska, Hawaii, Asia and the South Pacific
  • Select ships have a multi-deck piazza-style atrium, a hub for dining and entertainment
Celebrity Theatre

Nightlife

Celebrity Cruises

  • Theater productions includes revue-style song-and-dance shows, Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatic shows and one-off comedy and magic acts
  • Nightly variety of live music, as well as DJ'd dance parties
  • Solstice-class ships offer an outdoor, once-per-cruise evening jazz concert on the Lawn

Princess Cruises

  • Theater entertainment includes musical revue-style shows, as well as one-off comedy and magic acts; three ships feature a made-for-Princess musical created in collaboration with Stephen Schwartz, an Oscar winner and the composer of "Wicked," "Pippin" and "Godspell"
  • Live music available nightly in almost every bar and lounge
  • Wine tastings and wine-and-chocolate pairings are offered at the Vines wine bar
  • All ships have a nighttime dance club
Fun Factory on Celebrity Solstice

Family Focus

Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Family Cruise Reviews>>

  • The children's club, Fun Factory, comprises three age-specific subgroups for kids aged 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 11
  • For an extra fee, parents can take advantage of in-cabin babysitting for children ages 12 months and older (except on Celebrity Xpedition)
  • Very small selection of family-friendly cabin choices

Princess CruisesPrincess Family Cruise Reviews>>

  • Three kids clubs (except on Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess): Princess Pelicans (ages 3 to 7), Shockwaves (ages 8 to 12) and the Teen Club (ages 13 to 17)
  • Onboard and shore excursions programming for kids is provided through a partnership with the Discovery Channel, primarily themed around TV shows from the Discovery, Animal Planet, Learning and Science channels
  •  A kids' splash pool is available on all ships (except Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess); select ships also have teen-only hot tubs
  • All ships have self-service laundry rooms for easy cleaning of kids' clothing
  • Select ships feature two-room family suites
Regal Princess' SeaWalk

Tradition vs Innovation

Celebrity Cruises

  • Subtle modernization trumps bells-and-whistles innovations on Celebrity ships where you'll find dining room dress codes but no formal nights; main theater entertainment with high-tech twists; and partnerships with upscale brands including Apple, Top Chef and Canyon Ranch
  • Solstice-class ships feature The Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass on a top deck

Princess Cruises

  • Tradition is the name of the game on Princess where multiple main dining rooms, limited extra-fee specialty restaurants and musical theater shows with a minimum of special effects are still de rigueur
  • Technological innovations such as the SeaWalk, a see-through glass walkway suspended off one side of the ship 16 decks above the water, are limited to the line's newest ships (Royal Princess and Regal Princess)

Celebrity Cruises

Princess Cruises