Review of the Crown Princess - Southern Caribbean March 31, 2012. To tell you about us...we are a family of four, us in our mid-forties traveling with our two boys, ages 12 and 15. We booked two cabins a balcony and an inside. This was our eleventh (Princess) cruise.
We flew into Miami three days prior to the cruise and stayed at the Miami Lowes Hotel. It was our second stay there and we absolutely love that hotel...on Miami's South Beach, great location, great pool and youth friendly. We took a shuttle up to Port Everglades on Saturday arriving around 10:00ish. Accessing the Elite & Platinum lounge was nice, however I felt terrible for the "other" cruisers waiting in an insanely long line outside on a really hot morning -- not really sure what that was about. Other than that the embarkation process was quick and we were on board by 11:45.
The Crown Princess is a beautiful ship...identical to all the other grand class ships and in very good condition. The staff was friendly and helpful (all but Aggie the Bartender - from India, Aggie was never quick to take our kid's drink orders, instead choosing to overlook them to serve adult "pay" drinks.).
ENTERTAINMENT: Varied from ok to great - just a matter of personal taste. There were the usual comedians, production shows, a hypnotist, a hilarious magician/comedian and a couple of good MUTS movies (IMO they showed too many NCAA games on MUTS.).
FOOD: A lot of it - again just a matter of personal taste. The hamburger grill, International Cafe and pizza bar were our favorites and we also utilized the elite, suite and platinum lounge for evening appetizers. Something new for us this time was the balcony champagne breakfast - it was a fun experience. We did anytime dining and appreciated the service from Peter and his assistant Yana in Michelangelo, and a big thanks to Claudio, the head waiter....he is the best!
PORTS OF CALL: Princess Cays...we rented a bungalow and thought it was well worth it. We enjoyed the BBQ lunch, snorkeled a ton and the boys did a banana boat ride. It was a nice (beach) day. Curacao...I booked a private tour to scuba dive with CURious to Dive. Hans was fabulous...he responded to my emails quickly, he picked us up at the terminal, did a great job with our 12 y/o, took pictures for us and we got two amazing dives in, then he returned us to the ship, and his prices were great. We did no shopping so I can't comment on that. Aruba...we had been there in December, so this time we just wandered the shops for a bit (with next to no purchases) and then returned to the ship. I did not think there were any great deals shopping wise, that is. Many people did snorkeling, eagle/palm beach by either taxi or local bus or shopping around the port area. The last time we were there we rented a jeep, that was fun, but there really is not too much on the island.
MISC INFO: The weather was hot the entire trip and the pools were packed on sea days. There was the usual "chair savers" by the pool and in the shows - the crew did little to stop that. The kids/teen clubs were great, I was impressed - more on that later, (630 kids on board)...and a word to the wise, if you don't like kids, don't travel during known school holidays or check yourself into the Sanctuary, please! I am always surprised - by the many Brits that are annoyed with children. I find many more rude adults than misbehaved kids. We loved the Chef's Table, and were high bidder on the navigational chart. We did leave all tips on plus a bit extra for our room steward, head waiter, server & ass. The pool staff did do a great job not letting diapered babies in the pools - a pet peeve of ours, however, someone still managed to poop in one of the pools, which shut that pool down for 36 hours, and apparently there is quite a lot of sanitizing involved with a floating turd. The Princess Theater staff did not do such a good job communicating whether or not kids were allowed in the first three rows - accompanied or unaccompanied. Parents, just so you don't put yourselves in an awkward position or potentially embarrass your kids, just keep children out of the first three rows, whether rules state they can be there or not...It would be nice if Princess was consistent on that one. A couple of tips for you: 1. If you have an Ultimate Kid Package you can go to the bar and have a can of root beer put into a large glass then take the glass to the ice cream bar and have two scoops of hard ice cream put into the glass...root beer floats. The bartenders were more willing to do this if an adult asked rather than a kid. 2. When tipping a crew member (for bar or room service), tip in cash rather than to add it to the signed copy, that way they actually get the money. And 3. Get your teen in the teen club the first night, even if you have to beg, bribe or drag. Your teen will have a good time, but "cliques" are formed that first night it seems, our teen had a blast and met some other really great kids.
DISEMBARKATION: We walked off with our luggage, we've done that twice now and it is so much nicer than having to put suitcases out in the hall the night before and also keep a bag that will accommodate last minute essentials. The Disembarkation was organized, quick and smooth. We were off the ship on time and at the airport 15 minutes later.
We love cruising, there is so much to do and we think Princess overall does a really great job, there were just a few issues. Oh, and I do wish Princess would resume the old love boat shows on the in room tv.