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alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

abk
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alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

Hi - never cruised before and have options holding on both ships.Am getting very confused with all the threads I am reading about both ships, but tending towards Mercury because I think I prefer the itinerary (which should, after all, be the reason to go in the first place)

Would appreciate your views on which line 'handles' things better and also comments on the food, disembarkation for ports and excursions etc

Is a suite in either worth the extra money servicewise?

On a return Vancouver/Vancouver cruise, presume it does not matter which side of the ship the cabin is?

Many thanks

Chatham, Ontario
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1. Re: alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

I'm afraid this will be another long post....

Both of these are older ships. Before its refit, Mercury was pretty beat up - CaviarGal, who posts here and at CruiseCritic, called it a "tub"! Make sure you ONLY look at reviews after her April dry dock. As far as I can tell, things are vastly improved, tho' have heard the bathroom repairs didn't go far enough. By 2008, the new soft furnishings will have lost *some* their shiny freshness.

I haven't been on Ryndam since 2002. In general, I think the "Signature of Excellence" 2004 upgrade was great for soft furnishings and appearance, but ship's mechanicals were not upgraded. (On the other hand, Ryndam hasn't had air conditioning problems like her sister ship Maasdam - see below)

When I checked itineraries at www.VacationsToGo.com, I saw something weird. Please take a look at the maps:

vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=25704

vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=27710

Vacations To Go may have it wrong, but shows Mercury heading out beyond the Queen Charlotte Islands and cruising in the Pacific rather than spending much time in the Inside Passage. I'd check if this is accurate before finalizing booking. As for the ports, it's true Hubbard Glacier has even more active calving than Glacier Bay, and some people prefer Sitka's scenery and Russian history to Skagway's White Pass railway (....but I'm a railway nut)

Warning - once you've experience a balcony cabin or suite, you'll feel deprived if you book anything less on subsequent cruises. Makes future cruises more expensive! But what kind of suite are you considering? If your budget runs to a Mercury Concierge Class balcony versus a Holland America verandah suite, the Holland America cabin/balcony will be larger by roughly 70 square feet, but the Celebrity cabin will have more perks (priority boarding, pillow menu, complementary appetisers). However, if you're comparing larger suites, you'd have to book a Mercury Royal Suite to even get within shouting range of Ryndam's amazing deluxe suites. Ryndam has exceptional concierge service/Neptune Lounge and other goodies, but not butler service. I consider Holland America deluxe suites the best value afloat. YMMV - most people prefer to cruise more frequently than I can afford to, in less expensive cabins!

When I had air conditioning problems on Maasdam, it was fixed in no time flat...possibly resulted in someone in a neighboring cabin getting less cold air. I'm cynical enough to want to book a mini-suite or suite on an older ship, in the (perhaps mistaken) belief problems get dealt with better.

Chatham, Ontario
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2. Re: alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

All those words, and didn't answer...IMO Celebrity has a slight edge in food and polished dining room wait staff (as long as you're a fan of formal dining). As a first time cruiser, don't expect from either line 5* food like you'd get in a 5* restaurant - after all, the galley is turning out hundreds of meals, more like a banquet ashore. HAL Filipino and Indonesian service is superb throughout the ship - genuine smiles, amazing memory for detail of your preferences.

Ryndam has the advantage of carrying 33% fewer passengers (pax) than Mercury making lines short, but both lines do well at getting pax in and out of ports.

Holland America has the best debarkation of any line. No sitting on luggage in public rooms - you stay in your cabin until your number/color is announced. HAL is also amazing at getting pax aboard much earlier than other lines. However, the price for this is no one is available to lead you to your cabin door, which many find a poor introduction to HAL cruising.

*Service* in suites is superb, but in any class of cabin your steward will keep it spotless usually without you even seeing him (rarely her)

abk
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3. Re: alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

Many thanks for your detailed replies. I have been looking at reviews and their brochures again -

One thing I noticed with Mercury, even in the Royal Suites and Sky Suites, is no TV viewable in the cabins - only lounge area. Is this correct?

Think I prefer the itinerary with Celebrity, but perhaps overall service levels will be better on HAL. Cousins cruise all over the world with HAL as repeat customers - very fussy and well travelled people - so they must like something about HAL

Am driving myself crazy, must make a decision and it looks like HAL after your comments about embarkation lines etc

Many thanks

ABK

Chatham, Ontario
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4. Re: alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

re Mercury TV - no, you'll be able to view something in your cabin, in any level cabin....just not a full range of "live" channels. I searched for this info, and the problem is, after the drydock, no one has posted on how the new satellite antenna has changed the line up. Here's a thread:

boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php…

re disembarkation - if you're in a suite on Mercury, you'll get preferred embarkation/disembarkation, so don't let my comments on how well HAL does this for all passengers be the decider.

I know about the "driving self crazzzzy" stage. Is your gut still tugging for the itinerary? Then do it. Or, if you're looking for a "decider"...have you settled on a suite? Does one of the perks not offered by the other "call" to you? Look to the line that will give you the best cabin in the best location for the best price?

This board was recently visited by a troll who hated his cruise on HAL Maasdam with every fibre of his being. He posted same on CruiseCritic, and (surprise!) has been booed off the Holland America (HAL) board, while getting a round of applause on the Celebrity (X) one. I've cruised HAL more, and also more recently than X, and my HAL bias is showing. C'mon, X cruisers - where are you when we need you?

It would be tough to imagine not enjoying a suite on either line! I look in my crystal ball and predict you'll prefer whichever line you cruise with first!

Sedona, AZ
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5. Re: alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

When we did our initial research for our July 2007 cruise, we eliminated Celebrity because of all of the reports about constant mechanical problems with the 'thrusters'. I don't know exactly what that means, except that there were many posts about Celebrity having to scrap many ports of call,and passengers being stranded on board the ship while waiting for repairs to be made.

Apparently the problems were with the design of the thrusters and their inability to navigate the waters of the Inside Passage. This could account for the reference above about the ship sailing out in the Pacific and not in the Inside Passage.

You may want to check www.cruisecritic.com for more posts and detailed information.

BTW, we chose the Coral Princess. I'll post a review after the trip.

6. Re: alaska Celebrity Mercury versus HAL Ryndam for August 2008

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