This was our 6th cruise with Princess and our first as Platinum members.
Arrival: We arrived in Houston Friday night around 8pm and met the Princess representative at baggage claim, and were put in our own van for the hour ride to Galveston.
Hotel: Princess booked us into the Hotel Galvez. It is a lovely old hotel, and very clean. The lobby is being renovated so you couldn't see the entire lobby past the construction wall. Ate a late dinner at the restaurant, and it was fine if pricey. Also had the breakfast buffet the next morning and it was good quality for the money. Next time I would arrive earlier to see more of what Galveston has to offer.
Embarkation: Princess offers several shuttles to the terminal starting around 9:30. We booked for 1:30 but there was room on the 12:30 shuttle so we went then. Embarkation was very quick and easy, we were in our cabin by 1:15.
Ship: The Crown Princess is our new favorite ship! The piazza is really beautiful, a notch above the atrium conversions on Grand class ships. The purpose-built piazza layout on this class provides more seating and better traffic management than the older atriums. Seeing the built-to-order layout of this ship is a nice change from the retrofitted designs on Princess' older ships. It's grander, and much more impressive on the Crown.
The ship itself is in great condition, except for a few maintenance items in the spa I'll mention later. We noted very little wear in public areas or cabins. I liked the overall layout of the venues on this ship, with the exception of the spa thermal suite, which is actually downstairs from the rest of the spa.
Cabin: We had a mini-suite on Dolphin deck 9, and it was ready upon check-in. I liked the newer color scheme; gone are the salmon/pinks. Our steward, Mario, kept the cabin very clean and neat. My one complaint about the cabin would be the air conditioning, it seemed to be inconsistent in temperature, ranging from comfortable to too warm.
Food: We had anytime dining and usually chose the DaVinci dining room. Our first night our server was Denis from Ukraine. We liked him so much we requested him the rest of the week. We didn't pack any formal wear on this trip so we ate in Cafe Caribe on formal nights. By the third night the ma'tre d' had our reservation penciled in, which was nice.
The food was good to very good, but we weren't wowed by anything, except the daily soups and ice creams, which were excellent. The pizza on Lido deck was very good as well. We didn't actually have anything from the grill on this trip (how unusual). The International Cafe was very good as usual. We tried the gelato ($1.50 for 3 scoops) and found it to be of good quality.
We made friends during the week and added them to our dinner table, finally expanding to 8 people. The staff handled the extra diners well, and was very responsive to our requests.
Spa: The thermal suite pass was $108 each for the week (up $10 from last year but now includes a fun salt scrub). We had the pass in Alaska and loved it so got it again. The thermal suite needs a little TLC. One of the fog showers was broken, which was not fixed during the week. All the fountains in the steam rooms were off the entire week. Several of the hand showers in the steam rooms were inoperative. And finally the large steam room was turned off the entire last day. This was strange considering how well the rest of the ship was maintained.
Roatan: It was too windy to dock the ship, so we skipped it and had an extra sea day. It was fun watching the cruise director rearrange the day and get a revised Patter distributed within a couple of hours (though they couldn't make up their minds which movies would be showing and when).
Belize: This is a tender port. We took the ruins and river tour and met in the theater at 7:20am. Our group was herded to the tender so we would all be together. We enjoyed the Altun Ha ruins. Our bus broke down on the way to the river portion of the tour, and the tour company had a 'rescue' bus to us within 20 minutes. The river portion was a lot of fun -- and very wet at the end. Highly recommended.
Cozumel: Another long day, we met on shore at 7:10 and went en masse to the Ultramar ferry to Playa Del Carmen. The ferry is very comfortable and air conditioned. The bus tours all stop at a 'rest stop' (gift shop) then head out. The Cob' Maya ruins were amazing and truly the highlight of the trip. The site is still deep in the jungle and has one of the few temples you can still climb. Highly recommended.
Toilets: On Thursday someone flushed something that clogged the system to a block of cabins for the day. We chatted with several people who were affected and it wasn't a big deal for them (though they didn't speak for everyone, of course). They also got $50pp credits for their troubles.
Disembarkation: The worst part of any cruise! Left our cabin at 8am and headed to the MDR for breakfast. Afterwards we waited in Club Fusion (Platinum/Elite lounge) for our group to be called. Customs was very fast and we were on the shuttle to the airport within 20 minutes of being called.
Overall another fine cruise on Princess. We've booked another cruise already.