This was our first cruise and apparently we had jumped in head first according to the many other passengers we spoke to on the cruise who had all completed a number of cruises prior to this one. After reading much online about cruising in general and specific reviews of the Crown we still were apprehensive about whether we had chosen wisely for our first taste of cruising. My husband and I have quite differing interests and tastes so we did not know which of us, if either, would really get the most out of this experience but it turned out that we found enough aspects to keep us both happy. We opted for a more port intensive intinerary as that was our main reason for choosing a cruise holiday and as much as we generally found things to occupy our time on the sea days we found that 4 days at sea was more than enough for us.
CABIN:We were both impressed with our balcony cabin from the start. Yes the bathroom is tiny as I have read numerous complaints about, but hey, it's a ship! The small space was so well designed that we were always very happy with it anyway. The large wardrobe area was fabulous and we never had any issues with where to store anything. Our steward 'Mar' was wonderful and always did a fabulous job of keeping our room beautiful without ever intruding on our privacy. Mar even took my shoe to be mended when I had problems. Nothing was too much trouble for him. Also we slept so well on the incredibly comfortable bed that we would love to have taken it home with us!
The ship as a whole is very impressive, it really is beautiful. After reading some reviews about the ship looking tired I was surprised to find nothing at all in that area that disappointed us.
DINING: We chose to have room service breakfast every morning which was simple but adequate for us even though it proved pretty much impossible to ever get hot water for our tea.Eventually we realised it was better to just walk downstairs to the cafe and get boiling water in a take out cup. The menu is extremely basic and limited but that was enough. We tried the buffet one morning but did not enjoy the 'Battle' to find food and decided to stick to having it in our room.
Lunches we generally enjoyed from the International cafe as we really liked the simple soups and sandwiches on offer there as well as the best quiche I have ever had. We tried some of the little cakes and pastries and enjoyed a few of the yummy cookies each day.
Dinner was enjoyed in the main dining rooms each night except for one when we were too tired after a long day onshore. THe service was generally without fault and the food superb. I loved that the servings were usually small enough that I could try something from each course and still be able to fit into my clothes at the end of the cruise. I found the variety of the nightly menus to be exceptional too and could not fault our enjoyable nightly dining experiences.We met so many interesting people at dinner each night by opting to share a table rather than request a table for two as I would usually prefer on a holiday.
ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed a couple of the comedians on board and tried the stage shows but really found them a little too outdated for our tastes. We LOVED Michael Minor , the comedian/ventrilloquist/singer - he was simply the highlight of the entertainment for our entire trip. There really was not as much to keep us entertained as we had expected so we were very glad we had our comfortable balcony stateroom to relax and enjoy the television if we felt like it.
SHORE TOURS: We did all ships tours, except for Mykonos where we wandered in the rain on our own, as this was our first cruise and we were worried about running late back to the ship so this seemed the safest way to go. These were generally pretty good although some had guides that left a little to be desired.One thing that tended to irritate us like crazy was the ships photographers trying to take our photos every time we stepped on and off the ship - it was like trying to avoid the annoying vendors in Egypt. We have a camera, Thank you!!
We had a blast learning to do the Merengue one sea day but that was the only time any ball room dancing lessons were offered over the entire cruise. That really disappointed us as it was one thing we had both been looking forward too.
The seminars on offer were interesting until the 'hard sell' began and I always had to quietly sneak out at that stage.
Overall this was the most amazing experience and we really did relax as well as enjoying the sights.