Crown Princess Cruise Review by JGsped: Some hits, some misses
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Some hits, some misses
Let me say first that Crown Princess is simply a beautiful ship, and very comfortable, too.
On the other hand, I'm not in love with the floating hotels all the cruise lines offer now. Most of our previous cruises were on ships of half this size, and the largest ship we'd been only previously was around 2,000 still much smaller than Crown, which accommodates 3,000 (although there were only 2,650 on board for this Atlantic crossing). It is a long way from one end of the ship to the other, and everything we did seemed to require making that hike.
The things I really liked:
Dining options. It was nice to have a choice of dining room, buffets, burger and do bar, pizza.
Exceptionally efficient cabin steward.
Great debarkation, very quick and so easy to find bags.
Lectures by author John Maxtone-Graham. Very informative, very entertaining.
The band Accent. Great for dancing, or just listening. Male and female vocalists backed by More keyboard, bass, drums (and the drummer also offered a vocal or two in each set). They played everything from country to disco to Glenn Miller, all of it done exceptionally well. By far the best musical group on any of our 12 cruises.
The cruise director. Samantha "Sam" Hawker-Thomas was our all-time best.
Things I didn't particularly like:
Strange schedule. Lots going on from mid-morning until around 2:30 p.m., then almost nothing until around 7:30 p.m.
Entertainment. There were some good things. Vocalist Sonja Sorbie was outstanding (and a very friendly person; I think she talked to just about everyone on the ship). There was a hypnotist who put on two very entertaining shows, a comedic juggler who kept everyone roaring with laughter, and a good stand-up comic. Other shows were pretty much yawners, and the major production shows were a big disappointment. The singers and and dancers seemed talented enough, but the choreography was rather pedestrian, not up to the standards of our other Princess Cruises.
$8 (one way) shuttle bus in Barcelona. Considering that we had unlmited access to public transaportation in Rome for three days for 11 Euros, this struck me as a major rip-off.
Formal nights. I wonder why they don't just abolish these? I don't think half of the men even put on a tie, and a fairly large minority walked around in denim pants and T-shirts. This included one couple selected by the cruise staff to participate in a passenger Newlywed Game. This really bugged me. If they're going to have formal nights, it seems the staff should encourage people to dress appropriately and not reward slovenly dressers by giving them a spot in a game show.(And is wasn't that they didn't have a choice. About 20 couples had signed up for three spots).
Not bad, but not particularly good, either:
Anytime dining. Our first experience with this, and I found it to be a mixed bag. Nice to eat when you wanted to, and never a problem being seated even without a reservation. But I missed having a waiter who learned your preferences (like having coffee with your meal, not just after).
The food. I actually thought the buffets were better than the dinners in the dining room. Very good selection, and there were some things that were consistently excellent: soups, breads, fresh fruit, anything made with veal, salmon, desserts. But pasta, always outstanding on previous Princess Cruises, was rather ordinary. And unfortunately, there was a minor norovirus outbreak about three days out, and the eliminated self-service. You couldn't even pick up a packet of salt. This meant they had to divert many servers from table service to serving plates, and for a few days service really went to pot. It was often difficult to get a drink, and you had a choice of unseasoned food or food that grew cold waiting for someone to bring salt and pepper. They started to get things together after a few days, but service was never as good as before.
Cabin. Nice, but quite small. Smaller than any previous ship. We don't spend much time in cabin, but I would like to be able to put on shoes without hitting my head.
To sum up:
I'm not sure TA cruises are for me. Seas were glassy-smooth, and Crown Princess is so stable you hardly realized you were on the ocean; but it was cool enough and windy enough that sitting on deck was rarely comfortable.
I'd prefer a smaller ship, but alas, they've just about disappeared. Less
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