We were supposed to use Pier 2, but were told that it has been closed for renovations until the fall of 2012. That said, we used it to disembark at the end of the cruise since Princess had three ships in port and they needed to use it.
We boarded at Pier 29 which is set up very well. From arrival at the port (11:30) to our cabin was less than 25 minutes.
Cabin - we were in a midship Mini-Suite on the Dolphin deck.
Our cabin steward was Dario and as with most cabin stewards on Princess, he is a friendly professional. He took his craft to another level in that he didn't just do his job, he always did the little things to make you feel special.
Muster was well organized and they scan your cruise card to ensure you are there. Hand scanners are used now to board and disembark at the ports which speeds the lines up.
The Sail Away deck party was somewhat different as the band played, and the cruise staff did their draws, etc - More
all before we left port. When we actually departed, all the excitement was over. This seemed strange.
Public areas of the ship are very well maintained and the setup of the various venues is laid out so that there is a maximum use of space, yet traffic flow is not restrictive.
The wine card has been discontinued as has any happy hours -- other than the specialty drink at the Platinum/Elite event. Instead they have instituted a loyalty type punch card where each time you purchase a drink they punch out a variety of punches - 1 for a beer, 2 for a cocktail, three for a bucket of beer, etc. When the card is completed (twenty punchers) it is placed into a draw where one person per cruise gets their alcoholic beverages free. Seems like this one isn't going to last long, nor is it much of a deal -- of note that we did back to back cruises with the second on the Emerald where they still have happy hour pricing and no punch card.
We chose Anytime Dining and went for dinner at around 8:00 pm. We waited in line for about 10 minutes and were then provided a beeper. We were beeped within another 5-10 minutes. We saw a Head Waiter we have cruised with before (Florion) and he found us a very nice window table with great waiters (Simona & Dexter). Don't forget to show your appreciation to these hardworking individuals.
We didn't do any entertainment the first night.
We don't usually go onto Princess Cays, and thus we get to enjoy the ship while everyone is on shore. We worked out - the gym is great on the Crown. Lots of equipment to use and since everyone was off the ship - it was pretty much empty.
Anytime Dining was pretty much open seating at 8:00 pm. We went to see Comedy Hypnotist Tim Triplett before dinner and while he was okay, his show wasn't that great. After dinner we went to the Princess Theatre and saw Alfred and Seymour - now they are HILARIOUS ! ! ! They are not to be missed.
Day Two - Sea Day
Pub Lunch today if anyone is interested. Deck chairs were in short supply but we still found them after going to the gym. MUTS has The Help playing tonight, and Motor City in the Princess Theatre. The Captain's Welcome Aboard Party and Champagne Waterfall was tonight.
There is a Singles Group aboard - about 150 of them and they certainly appear to be having fun.
Sea is quite rough this afternoon and the spray coming off the bow is spectacular. We love the movement of the ship but I am guessing there are some that won't be too pleased.
Dinner tonight was one of our favorites - Halibut, Shrimp Scampi and Beef Tenderloin. Makes choosing just one very hard so we order all and share. As usual the food was fabulous.
Seas continue to be quite rough.
We docked at around 1:00 pm. The day is grey and windy - but still quite warm. We docked at a pier at the entrance to the harbour.
The Crown doesn't leave Curacao until 9:30 tonight so there is lots of time to go ashore and explore. The Ultimate Deck Party is tonight. Puss & Boots was on MUTS at 10:00 this morning, New Year's Eve at 2:00 pm, & War Horse at 10:45 tonight.
The Deck Party was one of the most lively we have attended in a long time. Changes continue and there is no buffet at the party -- always seemed strange to me anyways since the Horizon Court is twenty feet away. Also they no longer throw the streamers which I am sure were a pain for the staff to clean up.
Arrived early at around 8:00 am. Aruba is a very clean island with lots to do if people are interested. We just walked off and over to the wine/liquor store -- La Bodega -- and for beer there is an Oriental Market just beside it. To get to both you walk off the port but instead of turning right into the shopping area, you go left and across the street. Around 150 yards towards the beaches area you see a Harley Davidson shop. Turn right (away from the water) and go up of a block and it is on the left side of the road. It is a higher end shop but not that bad. Remember to take small US bills or use your credit card since they don't usually have much in the way of change if you use US. Conversion is about 1.75 ECD to one US dollar.
Others we know -- one couple took a catamaran snorkel tour which they thought was great. Another couple rented a cab to go up to the hotel strip, while another walked twenty minutes to the beach (turn left going out of the port gate).
Typical sea day as we travel to port -- Internet is crawling and then you lose it. Up until today the on board Internet was pretty good as ship's Internet goes. This morning it took five minutes to hook up and then we immediately lost service and now can't get back on.
The gym was pretty much open today as is the case with most cruises -- by the last couple of days it is no longer a priority for many.
Internet came back up in the afternoon.
Second formal night & Captain's Circle event. Tonight was lobster and tiger prawns -- delicious. At midnight was the balloon drop in the atrium.
Last Day -- Another Sea Day
Must have a great satellite feed today -- Internet is quite fast. Today is packing and relaxing -- fitting in both when the mood hits.
At around 1245 the captain announced that the ship had to be turned as we had a passenger in medical distress and the Coast Guard would be sending a helicopter to evacuate this person. All areas around the Neptune Pool and the deck immediately below had to be cleared of passengers and wiring etc had to be removed. They dismantled all the electrical around the pool, then the Coast Guard showed up and dropped a fellow via a winch who then put the patient into a basket to lift back onto the helicopter. It was very interesting to watch - but unbelievable the amount of work to make it happen. Sure hope he had some sort of Emergency Medical insurance.
Overall the Crown staff did a great job of making the cruise an experience for each person. The staff is friendly and the food is great.
Weather was warm, but windy until we left Aruba. Lots of sun.
Disembarkation with Princess is always a breeze -- very well organized. Less