Celebrity Cruises provides traditional and flexible dining schemes in the main dining rooms, where the food is a notch above the cruise norm. (On its Solstice-class ships, the contemporary dining rooms are downright gorgeous.) But it’s the line’s buffets that really shine, with a wide variety of unusually well-executed choices and even some surprising International options. While some of the specialty restaurants get mixed reviews, the open-air Lawn Club, where you can grill your own food on deck surrounded by grass, has a definite wow factor.
Celebrity’s vessels are some of the most beautiful at sea, and sometimes it feels like even the luxury lines emulate the stylish boutique feel of the Solstice-class ships. The art collections are as impressive as the interior design, and although these aren’t small ships, they often feel that way. Expect intimate spaces, both on deck (where you’ll see everything from hammocks to curtained daybeds) and in, say, the library areas, where a modern take on “egg” chairs will make you wonder why they ever went away. True, the cuisine isn’t always as impressive as the décor, but Celebrity still delivers on its premise of “Modern Luxury,” particularly on the trendsetting Solstice-class ships.
Princess' classic, even staid, ships are for those looking for a more traditional cruise, with some updates rather than innovations. The design is built around a bustling atrium surrounded by cafes and lounges, including a Champagne bar. There, entertainers from contortionists to violinists perform before and after dinner as guests move from cocktails to meals and the evening entertainment. Romance is a big part of the history of this line — and you see it in the onboard wedding chapels and volume of vow renewals. Although you won’t find the kind of new features here that many other lines promote, Princess executes everything at a high level — and manages to deliver a tough-to-nail mix of entertainment and quiet relaxation.