This was our 10th cruise with Princess and our second on the Crown. While it wasn't exactly the cruise we were expecting, we loved it! We arrived in Southampton two days before departure and stayed at the Premier Inn Southampton. This was a perfect choice. It was close to the docks, new, clean, near a shopping mall, restaurants, sights, and the Red Funnel Ferry to the Isle of Wight. Parking in a nearby garage was only £5 for 24 hours.
We arrived on embarkation day about 1 pm. We had returned our rental car to Europcar (National and Alamo) in the dock area and they provided a ride to the ship. It was very handy. After filling in our health forms we arrived at the desk to learn that severe weather was going to alter our trip. The Crown was going to stay in Southampton for 1 to 3 days waiting out a storm. Missed ports and possible compensation would be decided once the cruise was actually under way. This was not the first time we had missed ports on a cruise due to weather. We were quick to learn not to count on any given port. Several years ago we had wanted to go to Le Havre to see Normandy and had missed the port. So, this past June we had spent 2 weeks there on our own. Don't ever pick a cruise based on one port you absolutely want to see. The weather and political events are in control, not the cruise line.
Embarkation was fairly quick and easy and we were in our cabin before long.
We have stayed in a Caribe cabin before so knew exactly what to expect. We weren't disappointed - a big balcony, a new pillow top mattress, plenty of closet space, small but well planned bathroom and a shower that was big enough for us and a shower curtain that didn't cling. Our cabin steward, Jeal, was always smiling and kept our room in tip top shape. The bathrobes, though, were horrible. My husband is of normal size and he couldn't get it around him. They looked fine off, but have shrunk, evidently, over the years since this is the first time my husband had a problem.
Overall the ship looked in great shape and spotless. The staff were some of the best we have traveled with, always accommodating and always smiling and anxious to please. We had anytime dining and like to sit at a table for 2. We found that by arriving at DaVinci about 8:30 every night, we were greeted with open arms and never had to wait. Reviews lately seem to have indicated a decline in food but we were very pleased. The choices were varied. The beef was excellent. The food was always hot. We went to the Crown Grill twice and had excellent service and meals. I always found something good at the buffets. We are big fans of the International Cafe and usually had breakfast there. In the evening, the Adagio bar is an overlooked treasure, nice and quiet, great drinks, and smiling staff.
Entertainment was quite good. Just one act, a slap stick prat fall comedian, was awful. Many people walked out on him.
While in Southampton, Princess provided a constant shuttle from the ship to the down town area. There was an endless line to get back on the ship the first day. It was a Sunday and for much of the afternoon there was only one X-ray security machine working. It was not the best situation but caused by the port, not Princess. After a two day delay we left Southampton and missed the ports of Le Havre, Vigo, Spain, and the Azores. We stopped at Lisbon and Bermuda. I know there were many veterans who were hoping to get to Normandy and my heart went out to them. I'm sure it was a very big disappointment. But, I never heard a complaint from any passengers I spoke with. The cruise line gave us each a credit equal to 50% of what we paid for the cruise. Captain Yeomans kept us informed on a regular basis about the weather and reasons for port choices and delays and that made us feel better. A rough night of sailing on our first night also helped us to understand what we missed - thankfully.
Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was a slow process. We understood it to be caused by customs and immigration.
We love cruising and are not terribly hard to please, but we really enjoyed this cruise and except for missing a few ports, it couldn't have been better.