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As a way of explanation we are a retired couple and cruise about 3-4 times a year and our mantra is Cunard for ourselves and Royal Caribbean when we take the grandkids. In the last three months we have cruised twice by ourselves, once on a 10 day Cunard Round Britain cruise and once on a 10 day Canaries cruise with Royal Caribbean. This review I by means of a direct comparison. PRICE Very similar as for both 10 day cruises we paid a bit under £2k per person. In the case of Cunard it was for a Superior Balcony and we got free parking and a bit of on board spend and on RCC we had a junior suite with the free basic drinks package (more of which later). A DRAW EMBARCATION and DISEMBARCATION Both superb, as they now have it down to an art form. We were on board within about 15 minutes on both ships and similarly leaving the ship did not entail any waiting. A DRAW CABIN Both were fine and much the same price but the Junior Suite (7714) on RCC was superb. The notion of it being a suite, is a misnomer as it gives no specific advantages apart from being at the back of the ship with a bit more room, a bigger balcony and a bath/shower rather than a shower. The Cunard cabin was just fine but the totally balcony privacy and the superb view of the wake made the RCC cabin a real winner A WIN for RCC SERVICE I cannot speak highly enough about the service on both ships and I marvel at the high and consistent level achieved by both crews. We never had a reason to complain on either ship and both crews could not do enough to make things special. It does help if one walks around oneself with a smile on ones face and treats the crew positively but that is obvious as the 'moaners' never do this, as seasoned cruisers all know A VERY HIGH SCORING DRAW. FOOD I had imagined Cunard would win this hands down but they only did on one category, the high level speciality dining. On both ships we found the normal restaurant food and the buffet food to be of a surprisingly high standard. For example both presented really good protein options with the salads such as prawns, smoked salmon, Italian meats etc and there was no evidence of cost cutting in this aspect. The choice in both of the main restaurants was very good. As to the high end speciality restaurants, which we frequent a lot on board, as we find them a real bargain given their standard, we have to say that Cunard came out on top here. Their Verandah restaurant is in our view at least 1 star Michelin level and we had the pleasure of meeting their chef, Trevor and he was a total class act and a genuine star chef. In comparison the Chops Grill concept is a bit outdated.....and although there is nothing wrong it is all a bit formulaic with the emphasis on huge jumbo prawns and huge steaks etc rather than being on culinary finesse. In comparison we thought the lower level RCC speciality restaurant of Giovanni's much more interesting and a very good Italian standard with a good choice and an excellent wine list. However we have to give the edge to Cunard but not by much and both cruise lines maintain a very high standard. A WIN FOR CUNARD JUST LOYALTY PROGRAMMES As these link with free drinks, I will talk about these first. We are Diamond members of RCC and Platinum members of Cunard... which is about equivalent in terms of numbers of cruises. However one loyalty programme is streets ahead of the other and that is RCC. By comparison Cunard is Scrooge like and this is one thing they need to look at. On RCC we were provided with a discrete lounge with free coffee, a large deck, three free drinks of any type per evening and canapés plus a free photograph each plus a number of other incentives. It says much but I can't remember what Cunard give as it so measly in comparison. A WIN FOR RCC BY A LARGE MARGIN DRINKS If you cruise you get used to all cruise lines charging high prices with high compulsary tips. It is a fact of life and so no use moaning to no avail. However RCC now push drinks packages as the solution and I for one find this unattractive. We were given the free standard package which was quite useless unless you drank beer, as the $8 wine, one could get on this package was quite undrinkable unless you had no interest of wine. It was New World garbage and we found ourselves having to buy higher priced wine. The alternative was to pay $40 a day per person for the premium package but that did not cover bottled wines for dinner, only the glasses of wine up to $12 and we had the free loyalty drinks provided each evening. However there were a lot of people on drinks packages and as a result they were drinking more alcohol, with some less than attractive side effects. We even found one guy having vodka at breakfast. In comparison there is no such emphasis on drinks packages with Cunard and I believe they are more civilised as a result and they have kept sommeliers in the dining room, a thing that is now fazed out on RCC. If one took the package element away the choice of drinks and the choices of good wine were much the same, which meant you had to pay around $50 for a decent bottle of vino. However wine is taken much more seriously on Cunard and their sommelier system is outstanding. A BIG WIN FOR CUNARD ENTERTAINMENT This is an area where there is a marked difference. If you want activity then RCC predominates with climbing walls, flow rider surf, ice skating, putting etc etc as opposed to mainly bowls and croquet on Cunard. As to indoor activities Cunard provides far more high brow activity in the form of lectures, specialist activities such as ballroom dancing and more classical as well as popular music whereas RCC were more into quizzes with everything and less demanding fare. The theatre shows were more to our taste on Cunard, as they tended to have better known vocalists and comedians but RCC had the one real showstopper with a stage production of the musical Grease, which was exceptional. Overall however Cunard was far more to our taste. A WIN FOR CUNARD AMBIENCE To be fair both have a fairly high level feel to them with luxury fittings and glitzy atrium areas and a variety of bars and speciality restaurants. Cunard puts more emphasis on formality and on standards but RCC is not hugely far behind and the standard is quite acceptable for most people. In fact the concept of having a 'main street' area in RCC is very successful and probably more interesting than the rather staid shopping precincts in Cunard. I believe although there is not a huge difference at the moment that there is going to be a considerable difference in the future due to the drinks package syndrome being pushed by RCC. This will attract less family orientated people and the ambience will change accordingly. A SMALL WIN FOR CUNARD WHCIH IS LIKELY YO TURN INTO A HUGE WIN FOR THE FUTURE THOSE LITTLE EXTRAS This is the area where Cunard wins hands down and which RCC should really so something about. When on holiday one wants to feel pampered rather than at a Travel Lodge but RCC do not seem to understand this. At the bars Cunard provide nibbles, not so RC.....Cunard provide branded toiletries, good size and quality bath towels and such things as gowns, slippers and bathroom extras .....in comparison it is real basic level stuff on RCC and the whole experience suffers as a result. Have the accountants been in to strip any semblance of luxury to save a few dollars? If so they on this count alone they will lose a great many customers. A RESOUNDING AND GAME WINNING VICTORY TO CUNARD CONCLUSION There are many very good things about both Cunard and RCC but Cunard seems to have a settled product and a settled marketing niche. In comparison RCC seem to be moving away from its trusted niche of being a family orientated ship and putting this at conflict, by trying to be an 'all in' standard brand with a high emphasis on alcohol packages and on cutting out any 'nice' extras. As such it risks being seen as more akin to such as the P&O and Travel Lodge level which if you are attracted by that is a fine thing but if not is going to be a further step away from the level Cunard and Celebrity. Going on both cruise lines, within a few months has made up my mind who I will cruise with next but as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Royal Caribbean v Cunard ......a direct comparison from 2016 cruises

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Wswilly3

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
As a way of explanation we are a retired couple and cruise about 3-4 times a year and our mantra is Cunard for ourselves and Royal Caribbean when we take the grandkids. In the last three months we have cruised twice by ourselves, once on a 10 day Cunard Round Britain cruise and once on a 10 day Canaries cruise with Royal Caribbean. This review I by means of a direct comparison.

PRICE

Very similar as for both 10 day cruises we paid a bit under £2k per person. In the case of Cunard it was for a Superior Balcony and we got free parking and a bit of on board spend and on RCC we had a junior suite with the free basic drinks package (more of which later). A DRAW

EMBARCATION and DISEMBARCATION

Both superb, as they now have it down to an art form. We were on board within about 15 minutes on both ships and similarly leaving the ship did not entail any waiting. A DRAW

CABIN

Both were fine and much the same price but the Junior Suite (7714) on RCC was superb. The notion of it being a suite, is a misnomer as it gives no specific advantages apart from being at the back of the ship with a bit more room, a bigger balcony and a bath/shower rather than a shower. The Cunard cabin was just fine but the totally balcony privacy and the superb view of the wake made the RCC cabin a real winner A WIN for RCC

SERVICE

I cannot speak highly enough about the service on both ships and I marvel at the high and consistent level achieved by both crews. We never had a reason to complain on either ship and both crews could not do enough to make things special. It does help if one walks around oneself with a smile on ones face and treats the crew positively but that is obvious as the 'moaners' never do this, as seasoned cruisers all know

A VERY HIGH SCORING DRAW.

FOOD

I had imagined Cunard would win this hands down but they only did on one category, the high level speciality dining. On both ships we found the normal restaurant food and the buffet food to be of a surprisingly high standard. For example both presented really good protein options with the salads such as prawns, smoked salmon, Italian meats etc and there was no evidence of cost cutting in this aspect. The choice in both of the main restaurants was very good. As to the high end speciality restaurants, which we frequent a lot on board, as we find them a real bargain given their standard, we have to say that Cunard came out on top here. Their Verandah restaurant is in our view at least 1 star Michelin level and we had the pleasure of meeting their chef, Trevor and he was a total class act and a genuine star chef. In comparison the Chops Grill concept is a bit outdated.....and although there is nothing wrong it is all a bit formulaic with the emphasis on huge jumbo prawns and huge steaks etc rather than being on culinary finesse. In comparison we thought the lower level RCC speciality restaurant of Giovanni's much more interesting and a very good Italian standard with a good choice and an excellent wine list. However we have to give the edge to Cunard but not by much and both cruise lines maintain a very high standard.

A WIN FOR CUNARD JUST

LOYALTY PROGRAMMES

As these link with free drinks, I will talk about these first. We are Diamond members of RCC and Platinum members of Cunard... which is about equivalent in terms of numbers of cruises. However one loyalty programme is streets ahead of the other and that is RCC. By comparison Cunard is Scrooge like and this is one thing they need to look at. On RCC we were provided with a discrete lounge with free coffee, a large deck, three free drinks of any type per evening and canapés plus a free photograph each plus a number of other incentives. It says much but I can't remember what Cunard give as it so measly in comparison.

A WIN FOR RCC BY A LARGE MARGIN

DRINKS

If you cruise you get used to all cruise lines charging high prices with high compulsary tips. It is a fact of life and so no use moaning to no avail. However RCC now push drinks packages as the solution and I for one find this unattractive. We were given the free standard package which was quite useless unless you drank beer, as the $8 wine, one could get on this package was quite undrinkable unless you had no interest of wine. It was New World garbage and we found ourselves having to buy higher priced wine. The alternative was to pay $40 a day per person for the premium package but that did not cover bottled wines for dinner, only the glasses of wine up to $12 and we had the free loyalty drinks provided each evening. However there were a lot of people on drinks packages and as a result they were drinking more alcohol, with some less than attractive side effects. We even found one guy having vodka at breakfast. In comparison there is no such emphasis on drinks packages with Cunard and I believe they are more civilised as a result and they have kept sommeliers in the dining room, a thing that is now fazed out on RCC. If one took the package element away the choice of drinks and the choices of good wine were much the same, which meant you had to pay around $50 for a decent bottle of vino. However wine is taken much more seriously on Cunard and their sommelier system is outstanding.

A BIG WIN FOR CUNARD

ENTERTAINMENT

This is an area where there is a marked difference. If you want activity then RCC predominates with climbing walls, flow rider surf, ice skating, putting etc etc as opposed to mainly bowls and croquet on Cunard. As to indoor activities Cunard provides far more high brow activity in the form of lectures, specialist activities such as ballroom dancing and more classical as well as popular music whereas RCC were more into quizzes with everything and less demanding fare. The theatre shows were more to our taste on Cunard, as they tended to have better known vocalists and comedians but RCC had the one real showstopper with a stage production of the musical Grease, which was exceptional. Overall however Cunard was far more to our taste.

A WIN FOR CUNARD

AMBIENCE

To be fair both have a fairly high level feel to them with luxury fittings and glitzy atrium areas and a variety of bars and speciality restaurants. Cunard puts more emphasis on formality and on standards but RCC is not hugely far behind and the standard is quite acceptable for most people. In fact the concept of having a 'main street' area in RCC is very successful and probably more interesting than the rather staid shopping precincts in Cunard. I believe although there is not a huge difference at the moment that there is going to be a considerable difference in the future due to the drinks package syndrome being pushed by RCC. This will attract less family orientated people and the ambience will change accordingly.

A SMALL WIN FOR CUNARD WHCIH IS LIKELY YO TURN INTO A HUGE WIN FOR THE FUTURE

THOSE LITTLE EXTRAS

This is the area where Cunard wins hands down and which RCC should really so something about. When on holiday one wants to feel pampered rather than at a Travel Lodge but RCC do not seem to understand this. At the bars Cunard provide nibbles, not so RC.....Cunard provide branded toiletries, good size and quality bath towels and such things as gowns, slippers and bathroom extras .....in comparison it is real basic level stuff on RCC and the whole experience suffers as a result. Have the accountants been in to strip any semblance of luxury to save a few dollars? If so they on this count alone they will lose a great many customers.

A RESOUNDING AND GAME WINNING VICTORY TO CUNARD

CONCLUSION

There are many very good things about both Cunard and RCC but Cunard seems to have a settled product and a settled marketing niche. In comparison RCC seem to be moving away from its trusted niche of being a family orientated ship and putting this at conflict, by trying to be an 'all in' standard brand with a high emphasis on alcohol packages and on cutting out any 'nice' extras. As such it risks being seen as more akin to such as the P&O and Travel Lodge level which if you are attracted by that is a fine thing but if not is going to be a further step away from the level Cunard and Celebrity. Going on both cruise lines, within a few months has made up my mind who I will cruise with next but as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 7714
A superb cabin if one likes to be at the aft of the ship looking at the wake with just an open deck below which is totally inaccessible to all but the odd crew member. The balcony is large and completely private.
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