We booked this cruise back in January and the only problem we had was waiting for the sail away date to come. Once on board, we had a wonderful week of cruising.
Our trip first started off by flying in the day before from Milwaukee on AirTran Airways. We had a direct flight with no problems, arrived in Ft Lauder-dale around 11:00 AM. This gave us the rest of the day to visit downtown Holly-wood, Florida and the Hollywood Broadwalk down by the beach. We had a reserva-tion at the Holiday Inn in Hollywood. This was the second time for us staying there. I highly recommend this hotel, friendly staff, nice lobby, clean rooms and a beautiful outdoor pool area. Plus, to top it off, great complimentary shuttle service from the airport and to the Everglades Cruise Port. Once check-ed in, we headed out to visit the sites I mentioned above. Downtown Hollywood was just ok, nothing special that I could see. We did find a nice place for lunch called "Chocolada Bakery & Cafe". Good food, but great deserts! After lunch we hopped on the local trolley to take us to the Broadwalk on the ocean-front. We really enjoyed this area. It's a 2 mile long pedestrian promenade, has a path for walkers, a bicycle lane and jogging path. Beautiful beach area with many people enjoying the day. Their was lots of restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops along this promenade. We stopped at a couple places for drinks and to take pictures. One place we visited was the Organic Brewery & Restaurant. I must say they brew some good beer. I'm one of these guys that enjoy visiting brewpubs when traveling. After that we caught a taxi back to the hotel. After freshing up we walked over to the convenience store next door to stock up on some soda and wine for the cruise. After that we had a late night fish fry at the hotel and then we called it a night. The next morning we were very excited as we new it was finally cruise day! We were signed up for the 11:00 AM shuttle to the cruise terminal. We woke up early and had breakfast at a Denny's across the street from the hotel. Finally it was time to go and head over to the Crown Princess. The wait was over! We were in line by 11:30 AM and on board in our cabin by 12:30. We had an oceanview room on Plaza Deck, room P325, just a few feet from the Piazza area & International Cafe. Our cabin was ok, but some mornings when in port, we heard a lot of noise from workers on the deck below operating mechanical lifts, etc. Also one night we could hear the waves pounding up against the ship below us when sleeping. We did incur some rough weather that night. Like many other cruises, I think we will stick with Emerald Deck in the future.
Anyway, back to the first day on board, after checking out our cabin we headed to the International Cafe for a light lunch. We purchased a coffee card for $29.00 plus 15% gratuity and were set for the week. We spent a lot of time at the International Cafe during the week. One of our favorite places on the ship to hang out. After walking around a bit, it was now time to attend the muster drill with our life jackets in the casino at 3:30 PM. Then it was back to the cabin to unpack our luggage which came a bit late. At 4:00 PM the Crown Princess was on it's way. Let the party begin!!!
Back in February I joined cruise critic and signed up for the roll call for this cruise. I was glad I did as my wife and I met a lot of nice people at the Meet 'N Greet at the Adagio Bar on deck 16. We had this gathering the first day on board at 5:00 PM. A special thanks to Meredith & Mike from Virginia for organizing this roll call. We also had a slot pull in the casino that 25 of us got involved in on Monday afternoon (seaday). Special thanks to Fred & Lourdes (Florida) for setting this up. We had a lot of fun with tired feet even though we didn't win or maybe it was because of hunger pains (like we don't get enough to eat on a cruise ship). Anyway, we had a blast. Some of the nice people we met and ran into during the week were Rich & Sandi (Cleveland), Jerry & Kathy (California), Ron & Linda (Virginia), Rob & Kim (Green Bay), Mike & Amanda (New Jersey), Patty & Mike (Arizona), Ken & Eileen (upstate New York), Liz & Joe (Tampa Bay), Andrea & Bob (Florida) and Simon from the UK. I know I'm missing a few, but just can't match everyone up with names. We also had a nice farewell gathering on Friday, the last night of the cruise at the Adagio Bar. A great group of people, I was really glad to be a part of this roll call.
That night we attended the "Welcome Aboard Show" in the Princess Theater. They had a very funny comedy duo (Alfred & Seymour) that were hilarious. We saw their show a couple times during the week. The cruise director (Sam Hawker-Thomas)and her main assitant Stu were very good hosting events during the week as were the other assitants. Through out the week we enjoyed watching movies "Under the Stars" (deck 15 pool area) and in the Princess Theater. Saw "My Week with Marilyn", "The Iron Lady", "The Artist", "Sherlock Holmes-A Game of Shadows" and "The Ides of March" with George Clooney. We also enjoyed going to the triva games, bingo and the casino during the week. We never won, but had fun trying. One of our favorite shows is "The Newlywed, Not So Newly-wed Game Show". It's always a good laugh from the answers the contestants give. Another event we always attend is the "Princess Pop Star Grand Finale" on Friday night to wrap up the cruise week. Some very talented singers performing some good songs. We didn't attend any production shows this time around with the singers and dancers. We actually saw these same shows they performed on other Princess cruise ships. (It's time for new shows). We did see "Fernandez" the comedy hypnotist, very funny show and to end it, another funny comedian the last night of the cruise "Tom Briscoe".
The next day, our only let down, the captain, Andrew Proctor had to cancel our arrival to Princess Cays due to bad weather. The waves were to strong to get the tender boats into the small harbor there. I always enjoy this stop, hope-fully next cruise we will be back. We managed to find other options on board, like eat some more. We were very satisfied with our breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Then to top it off, the deserts are the best! My wife and I are easy going and like to dress casual (no dress up on the 2 formal nights). So we stay away from the main dining rooms and eat our meals at the Horizon Buffet or Cafe Caribe. We always enjoy the Bavarian Bierfest Dinner Buffet they have in Cafe Caribe which was Wed. night. They also have Italian and Mexican buffet nights. Always a good selection of food and very tasty. One true statement, you never go hungary on a Princess cruise ship. We had 4 sea days on this cruise, twice in the Wheelhouse Bar on sea days (11AM to 2PM) they served a "British Pub Lunch". My wife had fish & chips and I had bangers & mash. Both were excellent.
Our two ports of call were Curacao and Aruba. In Curacao we justed walked around and did a little sight seeing & shopping. It was a very humid day. Willemstad is a charming little town with it's bright, pastel colored buildings. We were able to sample the famous Curacao Liqueur which is quite good. We ended up buying a bottle that we smuggled back on board with no problem. Aruba our next port stop was our favorite. We did the "California Lighthouse & Beach Excursion" on the banana bus. We had a very good driver that gave us the run down on everything we passed. We saw a lot of fancy homes that were worth millions of dollars, but were built along the ocean drive. After seeing the lighthouse we spent about 3 hours at MooMba Beach in the hotel zone of Palm Beach. Great place to enjoy the surroundings and just lay back in the lounge chairs, get a little tan, take a swim and enjoy a couple of drinks. The entire beach area was great with beautiful resort hotels up and down Palm Beach. We took a walk over to the Marriott Hotel & Casino, very nice grounds andpool area. We went inside the casino and actually won $15.00. Afterwards we just walked the beach back to our area and enjoyed the scenery. It was a great day, sunny and warm. Once the banana bus got us back, we boarded the ship and headed up to the gym (treadmill) to burn some calories. All the eating and drinking was catching up to us. We worked out several times during the week, but I know I gained a couple pounds when I got back home.
We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary on board (April 24th). I left a note in the Princess Library and Sam & Stu annouced it the next morning on the "Wake Up Show". Princess also put balloons and a anniversary poster on our cabin door. That evening in Cafe Caribe, several crew members came over and sang happy anniversary to us and presented us with a small cake for the occasion. It was a nice moment.
During the cruise we each put down a $100.00 deposit for a future cruise and onboard credit. We always take advantage of this offer, why not have some free spending money on our next cruise. We do have our next cruise booked on the Emerald Princess. A 10 day cruise starting Nov. 7th, we picked this itinerary as we have never been to Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados and St Kitts. The only problem, we now have to wait another six months to go.
Disembarkation was a breeze, we were one of the last passagers to leave the ship around 10:30 AM Saturday morning. We had a a later flight back home, so their was no rush to get off the ship. So we left our cabin at 8:00 AM and headed up to Horizon Buffet for one last Breakfast. Then we headed down to the International Cafe and killed the last hour there sitting. Finally we were on our way, cleared customs in minutes, got our luggage and were in a taxi to the airport. We had nearly 4 hours of waiting time at the airport, but it was nice to have another direct flight back to Milwaukee. We arrived there at 6:00 PM and were back home a hour later after the drive.
On a closing note, just want to say hi to Bernie & Darlene (Connecticut). They weren't with the roll call, but had fun hanging out with them. We had a couple bad weather days on this cruise, but it didn't stop our enjoyment. Thanks Princess for another great cruise! And happy cruising to all you folks on cruise critic.