We were on a 7-night cruise on the Crown Princess, Nov. 16-23, 2013, with ports of call to Princess Cays, Curacao, and Aruba. We had a great time on the cruise but there were some disappointments but they did not detract from the overall experiences. This was our first time taking a cruise in November and we were pleasantly surprised to find the weather in the mid to high 80’s and sunny every day.
What a zoo! I’m glad my aunt is a Platinum member (we are Gold members) and we were able to join her in the check-in line for the Platinum members which got us checked in quicker (we did the online check in prior to the cruise and didn’t have to show our credit card as this information had already been provided). After check in you are shown to an area to sit and wait until they call your number. Again, as my aunt was the Platinum member we didn’t have to wait at all. It probably took 30 minutes from the time we arrived at the port to getting on the ship.
We requested a balcony stateroom with a sofa bed or rollaway as three people would be staying in the stateroom. We didn’t receive that right away. We were in balcony stateroom Baja 633, deck 11. We walked into the stateroom to find only two beds! I won’t get into all the details as these are being discussed directly with Princess but it wasn’t until around 10:30-11:00pm when we had the deck supervisor and another person reconfigure the stateroom furniture to fit a rollaway bed in the room. There is a bed that pulls down from the ceiling but there were too many safety issues with it for us to use it . Let me add, a balcony stateroom will not fit a rollaway bed unless you remove one chair, push the two single beds together, and place the rollaway bed with one end up against the balcony door.
Also the stateroom had no air conditioning for the entire cruise. Based on other reviews we’ve read, this appears to be a continuing problem with this ship. We opened the balcony door each time we were in the room and each night (all night) to get some air flowing into the room. We found out from another passenger that their stateroom also had no air conditioning. Apparently starboard staterooms had no air conditioning on decks 11 and 9 (don’t know about deck 10 as didn’t meet anyone from that deck). There were other areas of the ship that didn’t have air conditioning either, you would walk through an air conditioned area of the ship and then walk straight into another area with no air conditioning.
One word – GREAT! No one should complain they couldn’t find something to eat at breakfast, lunch or dinner (or anytime in between). If the food should have been hot it was, if it should have been cold it was. You must try their New England clam chowder in the buffet – it was really good. We had dinner in the main dining room – 5:45pm. The menus each night provided many choices and everyone at the table enjoyed whatever they ordered. There were the “Homestyle Cuisine” choices each night. Perfect for when you just want some home cooking, such as meatloaf, and our favourite choice for the week southern fried chicken, fries and coleslaw. YUMMMMM!
In the Wheelhouse Bar, on 2 sea days, they served a pub lunch. There were different menus for the two lunches but fish and chips were on both menus (it also came with mushy peas). Other items on the pub menu were: bangers and mash (I had these and they were great), steak and kidney pie, breaded prawns and chips, and two other items but I can’t remember what they were. If you want to go to these lunches go early – starts at 11:30 – as it filled up quickly on our cruise.
We did not patron the speciality restaurants. The burger and hot dogs at the poolside grill were perfect for that lazy day at sea lunch.
Our waitress in the main dining room, Elena, was EXCELLENT. She was very friendly and we had a good laugh during the week, and her recommendations for dinner were spot on. Her assistant was very good, always remembering what you liked such as specific teas, wine, etc.
Our stateroom attendant was good – we hardly saw him which was different for us as we’ve always run into our stateroom attendants during the day. He had the room cleaned and made up within I would say and hour or two of us leaving the room for the pool.
We found the service provided by the passenger service staff hot and cold. When we first brought our bed situation to the attention of passenger services the first response was not helpful at all. There was one woman behind the counter whose face looked like “Grumpy Cat” every time we saw her.
ITINERARY AND EXCURSIONS
We loved the itinerary – 3 port days, 3 sea days. The ports were Princess Cays, Curacao and Aruba.
In Princess Cays we spent the day lounging on the beach chair, swimming and snorkelling (lots of fish to see). The lunch was great (hamburgers, hotdogs, fruit, cookies and cakes). The band (2 men) that played all day was fantastic! Princess should hire them to play on the ship. If they had a CD I would have purchased it.
In Curacao we took a trip to the Curacao museum, Hato Caves, and the Curacao liqueur factory. The museum was very interesting if you are into history, the caves were a disappointment (you were not allowed to take pictures or film which is not disclosed before booking the excursion). The trip to the Curacao liqueur factory was also a bit of a disappointment; you didn’t get to see them make the liqueur which may have been attributed to trade secrets or maybe they weren’t in production the day we visited. Of course the tasting at the end was well received. You must try the chocolate Curacao.
In Aruba we booked the snorkelling excursion with Red Sail Sports; a great trip. The crew were friendly and knowledgeable about the snorkelling areas we went to, one being the Antilla wreck.
The sea days were spent lounging by the pool working on the tan.
The ship is in good condition from a non-mechanical point of view (as stated above some staterooms continue to have no air conditioning). We didn’t find any worn out areas. We were pleased not to have to smell any smoke from cigarettes or cigars. I don’t know where the designated smoking areas were. We didn’t find the casino until near the end of the cruise – it’s next to the passenger services desk on deck 6. It was nice not to have to walk through the casino to get to where we were headed.
We had pre-dinner drinks at both Explorers and Crooners Lounge Bar. We preferred Crooners as you could hear the piano player who was playing in the piazza.
We had dinner in the Botticelli dining room. It was nice but not too impressive in our opinion. It lacked the elegance of a 2-tiered dining room we have experienced on other ships. The prints on the walls however were very nice and this also holds true for the other dining rooms.
We were not impressed with the entertainment provided in the theatre. We know not to expect greatness but it was really bad in our opinion. We didn’t see any other shows such as comedian or anyone else they had on. They had a so-called “pub night” where we thought there would be a piano player/singer or a singer (the Cruise Director Lisa would have done as she has a pretty good voice) who would lead the audience in various songs. It was just another scaled down show of singers and dancers put on in the Explorers lounge (I think I have the venue correct) where they had the audience join in on four songs.
As for the entertainment provided by the pool – great. There was a group playing Caribbean music and it was nice and relaxing.
WHAT TO STOP DOING
Printing the pictures taken by the ship’s photography staff. We all see them posted throughout the cruise and on the last night you can see how much time and paper is wasted as there are lots of unclaimed pictures. Why? The cost. $19.99 for a picture that was digitally printed. Very few people will pay that price for a picture that really costs maybe $5. We have a suggestion. Continue taking the pictures and instead of printing them, make them available on either computers or the stateroom tvs (the issue of privacy would be the same as posting the pictures on the walls for all to see) and then ordering the pictures through those mediums at a cost of $5 – they’d still be making money.
We had an early flight so we were off the ship by 8:10am. We found our luggage without any problems and a short wait, in line, to get a cab to the airport and we were finished our cruise. Boo hoo!
Despite our problems with the stateroom we had a wonderful cruise and will certainly cruise with Princess again.