Princess may not be perfect, but they really pay attention to the details. This was a cruise my wife and I had looked forward to for some time. Reading the ports of call was exotic in itself.
After what seemed an eternity, the big day came. I didn't want to fly in and try to board the ship the same day, so I booked a hotel in Civitavecchia. The hotel was a charming waterfront hotel a few feet from the southern end of the port itself. Civitavecchia itself is a pretty little town, perfect for strolling.
Our stop there accomplished everything we wanted, and we boarded refreshed an on the right time zone. (As a note, Princess docks at the northern end of the rather large port. A taxi is definitely needed to get there.)
Embarkation was Princess's usual quick and painless affair, and we were quickly in our stateroom, a mini-suite.
By the time we had boarded, Monaco had been removed from our destination list, but Princess made a slight price adjustment. Since we were visiting so many ports, we decided we could use the extra time aboard ship just to rest.
We had booked our tours through Princess directly mainly due to our prior experience with European transportation and strikes. The Princess guarantee that you won't miss your cruise was a deciding factor!
Our first port, Florence, started our tour experience. We discovered that almost all Princess tours leave early in the morning. We had to set our alarm clock to get up in time. They have a smooth gathering and boarding plan for tours, but it does involve gathering in the theater for a wait until the tour assembles.
I won't go into details of each of the tours we took, but we soon discovered the guide really makes the difference! While the tours were OK with the poorer guides, a great guide made for a great tour!
Princess solicits your comments about their tours, so I really think they care, and try to select the best guides.
We learned from prior cruises that we prefer anytime dining. We were not disappointed on the Crown. We met a lot of interesting people and thoroughly enjoyed each meal.
Princess' food is quite good, and their service is excellent.
Sabatini's and Crown Grill are well worth the surcharge.
The Crown is immaculately maintained, and the staff is friendly and outgoing. Everyone seemed interested in making sure we had a great experience.
Our steward was a real gem. We NEVER saw him enter our room, but it was always clean. We had fresh ice in our fridge the very minute we got back to our cabin. After a long day in the hot sun, this was a real treat. He was truly a master of his craft.
Now to a few of the details. the tours were very well planned and accurately described. Princess asked your opinion at the end of each tour.
In Venice, the port is a fair distance from downtown. The docks used by cruise ships would require a pretty good walk to reach public transportation.
Not to worry. Princess has arranged their own water taxi to St. Marks square. I don't recall the exact cost, but it was very reasonable for an entire day of anytime usage.
Next, Princess worked out a deal for people spending a few extra days in Venice. For a remarkably low price, Princess will move your baggage to your hotel. What a treat this is. Water taxis, your other alternative to hauling baggage all across town, could easily be over a hundred dollars.
Disembarkation is quick and painless on Princess. On the Crown it was no exception.
My wife and I both remarked at the end of this cruise that we would love to take it again.