My husband and I had the please of sailing on the Crown Princess from 6/29-7/11 for a Mediterranean and Greek Isles cruise. This was my fourth cruise and my husband's second, and our first experience with Princess. This cruise was part of an overall three week tour of Europe for us. We are both in our late 20's and childless...for now.
We chose to use the cruise transfers through Princess as we had same day flights on embarkation and disembarkation days. Embarkation was in Civitavecchia, which was approximately 60 minutes from the airport in Rome. It happened to be a holiday weekend for Romans the day our cruise began, so I was very happy we used the transfer through Princess, as the traffic could have created difficulty with a private transfer. Transportation to the airport in Venice was also very efficient and smooth. Both embarkation and disembarkation were both very smooth and quick.
The ship itself is absolutely beautiful and in great shape. I did not see any signs of the ship "aging" as I've seen on other reviews. We did see crew members engaged in maintenance on port days, which I think has helped to maintain the beauty of the ship. We had a beautiful balcony cabin on the Aloha deck towards the front elevators port side. We never had any noise issues, and we had smooth sailing the whole itinerary. My husband and I would sometimes forget that we were sailing, as the trip was so smooth. Our cabin steward was very friendly and would always find us to see how our trip was going and to give recommendations for upcoming days. He also kept the room tidy and comfortable.
We were somewhat disappointed by the food on the ship in comparison to other cruises we have taken, particularly in the dining room. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't fantastic either. We ended up eating at the buffet as much as the dining room for dinner. We also ate at the Crown Grill one night, where the food was extraordinary. Of course, this is extra. The staff in all dining locations were very attentive and friendly.
As for activities, we enjoyed Movies Under the Stars a few nights, which had very recent films showing. We also participated in a few activities and were even chosen to participate in the "Love and Marriage" game, which was hysterical (somewhat at our expense!) Mostly though, we relaxed at the pool or enjoyed our balcony after a long day in port. Again, all staff that we encountered were nothing short of friendly and helpful.
The itinerary of this cruise was the main reason we booked this trip, and we were not disappointed. Back in March, we were informed that Monaco had been dropped from the itinerary and were pretty disappointed. Even though the first sea day was a welcome day of relaxation following our week of traveling prior to this cruise (we were in London and Amsterdam), we still probably would rather have had the opportunity to explore this port.
We used Princess excursions to visit Florence, Naples, and Athens, as these required some traveling away from the ship in port. We thoroughly enjoyed our excursions in Naples and Athens. We took an Amalfi Coast sail by followed by lunch in an old fortress overlooking Salerno, and topped off with the afternoon in Pompeii...this was out of this world gorgeous and a day we will never forget! Athens was wonderful too, as we went to the Acropolis and explored the Plaka on our own. We were so looking forward to our excursion to Florence, which included wine tasting in Chianti. However, this excursion was cancelled the night before and Princess informed us the day of the excursion. We received no prior notice of this cancellation (no letter, no phone message) even though Princess insisted they had sent us notice. We were not pleased, but they incorporated us into another tour to Florence later in the day (where my husband and I had to sit separately on the bus for the 3 hours of driving total...it just wasn't our day!)
As for the other stops on the itinerary, we were able to explore these places on our own with very little hassle. This may take some research on your own, as Princess does tend to push their own tours and withhold some information that is easily learned when you're actually in port. Santorini and Mykonos are so beyond gorgeous that I can't even find the words...these alone made the trip so worth it. Some advice - In Santorini, after getting off the tender, there is a boat transfer to Oia for 20 euros that includes bus transportation back to Fira. This is a great way to bypass the lines for the cable cars and donkeys, which were up to an hour the day we were there. Of course, ending the trip in Venice was extraordinary and made for a special end to a very special trip.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and our first trip to Europe. We are so happy we chose this itinerary and would sail with Princess again...a boost to the food would be welcomed though!