7 Night W Caribbean on Crown Princess Mar 23, 2013 Perspective: We are both 50ish ;). We have cruised 25 or so times mainly on main stream cruises, and did cruise once on Crystal. We favor value for the buck and cruising off season away from school holidays. Usually we cruise just to be on a ship and enjoy a relaxing vacation. This cruise was booked one week before sailing. It was close to Spring Break and Easter but no issues.
Pre-Cruise: We drove to the ship. Parked at Galveston Park N Cruise. Booked online to save a few bucks. Nice close parking with no shuttle. We dropped luggage going and carried it off and crossed the street returning.
Embarkation: We arrived a little before noon. No wait at security. Each bag had some wine in it that went through with no issue. Also had plastic bottles of water in one that was not examined. We had Platinum check-in and embarkation which saved a lot of time. We were in the dining room (Princess has one dining room open for embarkation lunch from 12 to 1:30) by a little after 1.
Cabin: Cabins were ready when we boarded (Princess has cruisers disembark early so that all cabins are ready when the next cruisers embark). We normally book inside cabins but the last minute pricing was very good. We booked a balcony guarantee and were assigned a cabin on Aloha deck port side far aft that had an extended balcony; a nice upgrade. Cabin and balcony were very nice; we were not able to have a lounger on the larger balcony for two reasons 1) safety from the wind and 2) only for suites which seemed a bit arbitrary but they make the rules.
The cabin size was nice with desk and chair plus another armchair, no sofa, larger than insides though. Refrigerator was a good size. Separate closet area with safe and shelving is nice. Bathroom is a good size, good round shower with good pressure and temperature.
Cabin was serviced twice daily. It was very clean with very little wear noticeable. Mattress was good but was a bit worn. No towel animals.
Overall Service: Excellent.
Beverages - We carried on bottled water at embarkation. We carried on wine. There is a corkage fee of $15 which we were charged each night.
Purchased the Ultimate Soda package for $7 plus gratuity per day. It included sodas, shakes, smoothies, and mocktails. Each morning used for a Virgin Mary and during the day for mocktails (favorite was the no-jito), and club sodas. Normally just ordered at a convenient bar. Drink service in showroom was excellent even when ordering with the package. Would definitely do the package again.
Never ordered room service, so can not comment on it.
Generally, the buffet is a bit crowded. It is a smaller area with islands but a lot of people just queue up as if it was all one line. When it is not too crowded it is very convenient in that you can go to the one or two areas and get your items quickly.
For Breakfast, we did go up the two decks to the buffet area. Caribe Cafe had nice short lines good for simple items particularly cereal. Horizon Cafe was a bit busier. The omelet area was hot and not worth the wait. Other egg choices were hot and quicker; eggs benedict, fried eggs, and boiled eggs. Lots of variety of meats and sides. Drink service was at the table as well as the silverware.
For lunch, we would eat on the balcony. We would do it ourselves room service from the buffets, the International Cafe, or the outdoor grills. The buffet has quite a bit of choice. We favored the cheese, meats, breads, Indian food, BBQ, and fried treats like fried shrimp one day, calamari another, and egg rolls another.
Salads and paninis from the International Cafe were excellent a quick service. Also had a hamburger. Beverages were ordered at the bar under the MUTS and enjoyed with lunch. No corkage fee on our lunch wine on the balcony ?. Great lunch on the balcony.
For dinner, we had the anytime dining. We always requested and were seated at a table for two. The first 3 nights we just took the first available table. The third night of the cruise we were seated at a table for four (used for two) where the service was excellent and professional. The table was near the dining room entrance but screened from the traffic nicely. We requested the Matri D reserve that table for us each night at 8. Reservations seem to be a bit of an issue but we did get the reservation.
Princess's dinner menu has all items in one list, the always available and the changing items are mixed together in one list. We enjoyed the food very much. We typically order 4 courses plus dessert to insure getting something that we find excellent. For example, we might order appetizer, soup, pasta, entree and dessert. With a little research you will find the choices that match your tastes, to us Princess excels in the roasted meats and the pastas (we like the lighter ones vs. the alfredo). The Prime Rib the first night was excellent. The always available beef medallions and the tenderloin were not as good as the roasted beef. Lobster and shrimp were very good. Waiter always shared the chef's recommendation as well as his own. Everything that was the waiter's recommendation was indeed excellent.
We did not try the specialty restaurants. No need; the dining room was excellent.
Princess offers three shows in the main showroom most nights. This worked well for us, there was always a show at the time we wanted plus the shorter format was good too.
The small orchestra was excellent. They supported the showroom and several nights provided jazz and ballroom dance music. There were two other musical groups that were good as well.
Several nights they have special parties in the Atrium including a balloon drop and a champagne tower. They had the specialty performers for short times during the day as well. Seating is limited, it is more just a stand for a few minutes and watch the performance event. We enjoyed the platinum cruisers event, won a bottle of sparkling wine from the random drawing. Princess does several past cruiser events based on number and levels of the past cruisers on board. On our cruise the most traveled cruiser was recognized for over 700 days cruising with Princess.
The Crown Princess has MUTS. This was popular at night -- loungers with blankets, popcorn and cookies delivered at no charge. We had recent movies offered like Skyfall, Lincoln, and Life of Pi. Princess also ran movies in the main showroom some days, very enjoyable.
Princess has the best pools. There are four fresh water pools on the Crown Princess. There is the forward pool near the spa that is open to adults with two hot tubs. There is the family pool and the solarium type pool toward midships. And another adult pool far aft. There are lots of loungers, prime ones get taken but there are more a little way from the pools.
The workout room is very typical, crowded the first day and better the rest of the cruise. Did not use the for-pay services in the spa area. The no charge part of the spa has a steam room and a sauna. There are also nice showers in the same area. There is easy access to the spa pool and hot tubs from this area.
The running track is too narrow, very high on the ship and therefore often windy. The Promenade deck 7 has a nice teak wood deck good for walking and jogging. One has to do stairs at the front of the ship to do a full circuit. It was a very well used area but not extremely crowded.
The internet area is convenient. The service is easy to use and moderately fast.
The Casino is large and attractive. They do have an active poker table.
Ports of Call: We had visited each of the ports before. It was our first time at the Mahogany Bay area in Roatan. We walked off the ship through the shopping area on to the pretty man made beach. Water was shallow and nice for easy swimming. Very few fish for snorkeling. Belize is a tender port. The Crown Princess docked at the Carnival Placa Maya port in Cozumel which is a newer shopping area owned by Carnival and leased out. All three ports have great natural areas for excursions; we just did not do any this trip. We did price some alcohol in Cozumel, the ship prices were as good.
Disembarkation: Somehow we missed the form to request express walk off. The guest services representative said express was full and we would have to put our luggage out and claim it. Having walked off the ship on most cruises, we just decided to meet in the Platinum disembarkation lounge. This worked great. We explained the mixup and the rep in the lounge sorted us out and merged us in with the other walk off disembarcers. We were walking across the street to our car at around 8:15.
This was a last minute booking, mainly for a vacation get away vs. traveling to the ports. Princess delivered a hassle free, enjoyable week. We were pampered and well fed. We enjoyed the cruise very much and will be checking out the Caribbean Princess when it comes to Galveston.