BACKGROUND. This was our eighth cruise -- all on Princess. This was our fourth transatlantic crossing -- the second on the Crown Princess.
PRECRUISE. We flew to Heathrow a day early because we always plan for travel delays and because we wanted to be rested for a long shore excursion on the first day of our cruise! We stayed at the Novotel at Heathrow and used to local bus (the Hotel Hoppa) for transport. The next morning we returned to Heathrow for our Princess transfer to Southampton. It took us 45 minutes to find the Princess representative and only because I finally found someone with Princess luggage tags. Once on the bus it was a pleasant ride to the pier and we never had to handle our luggage again.
CHECKIN. The ship was docked at the Ocean Terminal which was a very nice facility. Check in was a breeze, but we received the unbelievable news that the ship was not sailing that day! As it turned out, we didn’t sail the next day either. Because of an anticipated storm -- the St. Jude’s Day Storm -- the captain had decided to wait it out in Southampton and we were moved to the Mayflower Terminal. So with a free shuttle to the West Quay Mall, passengers and crew spent 2 days shopping. and shopping and shopping. When we finally departed Southampton, we headed straight to Lisbon and skipped our first two planned ports.
THE SHIP. The Crown Princess is still beautiful and well maintained. The only sign of wear and tear are the carpets in the stateroom hallways -- lots of stains from passengers doing self-serve room service. Our cabin was sparkling and we had the best attendant of all our cruises.
THE FOOD. Nothing to write home about. The waiters, however, are all terrific and make you feel so special.
THE ENTERTAINMENT. First of all, we really enjoyed all the musicians. They were great. Other than that, the entertainment was sadly pretty sad: lots of trivia, silly games, 3rd run films, and lecturers who read their powerpoint slides.
THE PASSENGERS. The usual Princess geriatric set. If Princess is serious about designing ships for the future, they should add an extra set of elevators and stairs midship, since so many of their passengers use chairs and walkers. The wait for elevators was unbelievable.
THE PORTS OF CALL. We spent 24 hours in Lisbon and half a day in Bermuda. The weather was great in both ports and perfect for sightseeing.
RELAXING DAYS AT SEA. We set back our watches one hour six times on this cruise. Who doesn’t want an extra hour of sleep every few days?
DISEMBARKATION. I don’t know what happened but this was a disaster. We waited and waited and waited. When they started calling groups with Princess arrangements before groups with independent arrangements, my patience ended. When we finally got into the terminal, CBP had all their lines open and were processing like clockwork. No problem there. When we left the terminal, it was just a short walk, to get a taxi. There were plenty of taxis waiting. The fare to the Fort Lauderdale airport was $13.50 plus a tip.
DISCLAIMER. In addition to refunding the port charges for our missed ports, Princess generously gaveus a credit equal to half the fare paid for our cruise. Looks like we will be cruising with Princess again!