A comparison of Oceania Cruises small upper premium class ships and Celebrity Cruises large ships reveal a very different experience.
Is Oceania worth the price?
Many travelers prefer smaller cruise ships that are not as crowded. prefer visiting destinations that the big ships don’t go. Others have preferences for the “ultimate dining experience.” I am not talking about the amount of food available. Do you mind paying extra for specialty restaurants?
Can you get King Crab Legs, opened and split or filet mignon cooked to order in the buffet? Does it matter whether you go into ports with 684 guests or 3,000 passengers Can you get a cruise with airfare included and rates that are guaranteed not to go up after depositing on just the cruise fare? Are these important to you?
It’s actually pretty easy if you understand your priorities. After all, travelers can easily find a cruise ship (or two or three) like Celebrity Cruises all going to the same places. So why not just take the lowest priced transportation? For many of the same reasons that they don’t book the cheapest hotel, eat in the cheapest restaurant or buy the cheapest car.
The object of this discussion is not to favor one cruise line over the other-just to point out the differences in 2 cruise lines that are the “best in their class”.
Oceania has 4 ships in two different classifications, ranging in size from 30,000 gross tons to 66,000 gross tons.
Celebrity has 11 cruise ships in four classes of ships, ranging in size from 71,000 gross tons to 126,000 gross tons, with the exception of the Celebrity Xpedition sailing to the Galapogos.
Celebrity is the premium division of Royal Caribbean, offering a rare combination of “Modern Luxury” meeting function. The line has won many awards, including 2011 “Best Premium Cruise Line,” 2011 “Top 5 Large Resort Ships,” 2011 “Best Health & Wellness Program” and 2011 “Best Big-Ship Debut of the Year” (Silhouette).
The smallest Celebrity ship is the Xpedition. The Xpedition’s occupancy is only 96 guests and sails year-round to the Galapagos. It is the only upper premium cruise ship in the Celebrity fleet sailing to one destination, the Galapagos, and is truly an all-inclusive vacation as well as one of the truly best experiences in the region.
The Solstice Class is the newest of Celebrity ships.
There are 5 “Solstice Class” ships -- Eclipse, Equinox, Silhouette, Solstice and Reflection. Although they are all about the same size, Celebrity has added unique features to each as they built them.
The Millennium Class, Celebrity Constellation, Infinity, Summit, and Millennium are the line’s most cherished ships, having been in service longer than the Solstice Class. Just recently, the Millennium Class was revitalized to reflect many of the features of its newer cruise ships.
Originally, there were 2 ships in this class, but the Galaxy was retired.
The Celebrity Century is still a favorite of many past guests since it remains the smallest (other than Xpedition) of her ships at 71,545 gross tons. In fact, it was so popular that Royal Caribbean decided to spend $20 million to refurbish the ship. Century’s capacity is 1,814, over 1,000 fewer cruisers than the Solstice Class, making it ideal for the Alaska cruise season as well as cruises to Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii and the Panama Canal.
There are many activities on Celebrity cruises -- great shows, many dining choices, games, poolside events, bars, just to name a few.
Oceania R Class
Nautica and Regatta -- 684 Passengers. Categories: Inside, Oceania View, Balcony, Concierge Balcony, Suites. Most cabin sizes range from 160 sq. ft. - 982 sq. ft. Full butler service in suites.
Dining: Casual attire, open seating in main dining room. Two specialty dining restaurants at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE (however, reservations are required): Toscana Italian/Mediterranean and Polo Grill Steakhouse (which also serves seafood). Dinners prepared to order. The Buffet serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dinner selection and preparation rivaling most fine dining options on mass-market lines.
Entertainment: Small, intimate lounge-type seating. Varies nightly.
Facilities: Fitness Center, Library, exclusive Canyon Ranch Spa, Laundry, Bathtub/shower, Prestige Tranquility bedding, complimentary 24 hour room service menu, refrigerated mini-bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water replenished daily, Casino.
Oceania O Class
Marina and Riviera – 1,250 passengers. Categories: Same as R Class except for the new Oceania Suite. Cabin sizes range from 174 sq. ft – 2,200 sq. ft. Ocean View and Balcony cabins are approximately 30 % larger than R class.
Dining: Casual attire, open seating in main dining room. Toscana and Polo Grill (same as in R class), and two additional specialty restaurants: Jacques (Jacques Pepin’s Signature French flair) and Red Ginger with a delightful menu of Asian Fusion cuisine. All at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE (reservations required).
Entertainment: Full-size, stadium seating with new “invisible” pull-out trays for drinks.
Facilities: In addition to the R Class, state of the art Fitness Center. Baristas Coffee/Snack Bar, private “cubby” areas in library, 2-section larger casino, Culinary Center with world-class instructors (a place for “Foodies” to experience interactive cooking classes), La Reserve dining experience for only 24 guests with 7 course wine pairing (additional charge and reservations required).
In all the years we have been travel advisors, I have seen trends where some travelers will only go on a small ship like Oceania Cruises while others will choose based on a combination of destination, dates and price. Some will choose a Celebrity cruise one time, an Oceania another time, and some will choose other options. Since we at Key Traveler offer many choices, our choice is to advise, not just sell.
SO, WHAT'S THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU?
The best advice I can you is to choose your priorities. A good friend of mine that normally cruises on small, luxury ships chose a Princess cruise earlier this year because she didn’t care about the food or the accommodations or the onboard experience. After she and her husband returned home, she called to let me know that although the price was good, she would not trade-off the experience, the quality and preparation of the food and the attentive and knowledgeable staff and traveling with such large groups.