We recently sailed on the 11/30 to 12/07, 7 day Southern Caribbean cruise aboard Crown Princess. This cruise was my 8th, my husband's 5th and our first Princess sailing. We had very high expectations and were thoroughly excited to take this cruise. My reviews are typically long as I was to give fellow travelers an idea of what to expect. Everyone has a different take on their experiences, likes, dislikes, food tastes etc. We are not the "I'm the only person aboard the ship and how dare the crew not bow at my feet every time I made my presence known" kind of reviewers. We are pretty down to earth people in our mid and late 30's. You are on vacation!!! Don't sweat the small stuff! You are bound to have a bad time if you can't let go of a few bumps. It's your choice to waste your vacation pouting. If you want or need something ask! These people aren't mind readers just as you aren't! So here goes:
Pre Cruise: We flew in the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Airport on Sheridan Blvd. in Hollywood. Nice, Clean, modern and comfy. Lovely pool area, decent but pricey meals and kind staff. The port was about 20-30 minutes away via taxi. They also offer a shuttle for $10.00pp. The hotel messed this part up on us but refunded the fee and called a cab for us. Great.
Service: Most important. Every staff member we encountered was very nice. They always said hello with a big smile. This is hard to do. There are over 3,000 passengers on board for goodness sake! I mean, do you feel like smiling and being happy every day at work? I bet not. I know I don't!! They always aimed to please. If the smallest morsel of food was left on the plate, they wanted to make sure we liked it. If they even so much as stepped an inch in your path they excused themselves over and over. I cannot understand what a previous reviewer said about feeling that the crew snubbed them. I never once felt that way. One tiny observation was the some of the spa staff seemed a wee bit "uppity" but I can say it didn't so anything to affect my vacation.
Embarkation: We got to the port around 11am. We stood in a line for about 15 minutes, we were given a zone card, checked in and waited with the rest of the passengers for about 45 minutes. We made small talk with some fellow passengers and then were called to board. Very smooth. We were able to get to our cabin right away which was so awesome. We've never had that on any other cruise before.
Ship: The ship is lovely and has many places to explore. It was always clean. I was still a little lost even on the last day but enjoyed navigating around and having a sense of humor in regards to my lack of navigational skills! We never felt overly crowded and could find plenty of places to go to get away. The Christmas decor was done while we were in port to Curacao. Lovely! Someone recently posted that the ship was in disrepair?? I've never been on a cruise where they aren't painting something or maintaining something. That salt water can wreak havoc on a ship as well as usual wear and tear. I'd be more concerned if they neglected these things. However, I will say that some of the public rest rooms did have a few toilets out here and there but they seemed to be fixed quickly. Our cabin commode had a 'touchy" flush. You have to push it once and wait. It will flush. These are vacuum like systems rather different than what we have on land.
Fellow Passengers: Ok, each cruise is different but I still wanted to share. We met really nice people aboard. I also participated in the Cruise Critic Roll Call a few weeks prior to setting sail. Please participate in this if you are as social as we are. A nice lady in our group set up a meet and greet with Princess. Thank you Beth!! The Captain even showed as well as the Cruise Director, Lisa and the Hotel Manager. It was so fun!! We wound up "hanging out" with one of the couples here and there and we had a blast. Many people were well seasoned cruisers and were so lovely, lively and fun. We did encounter the "elevator grabbers", the "if I say excuse me or thank you my head will pop off", the "spot savers" and the "line cutters" and let us not forget the "hallway chicken players" who would just assume run you over than look at you. My favorite was the lady in the spa on the first day. They had a drawing and there were probably over 100 people crammed in there. They had us all stand in one small area. She actually asked my husband to move because she couldn't see. Really lady? It was wall to wall people and hardly anywhere to move. Not sure what she needed to see so badly anyhow. Just plain rude. Oh well. If that's what these people need to do to have fun, go for it but manners never killed a single person. Ever.
Food: Every person has their own tastes in food so this is just a general review. It was excellent most of the time. I didn't care for the Horizon or Caribe but my husband really liked it. I preferred eating all meals in the dining rooms. We opt for shared seating. We met very nice people this way. We had late seating in Botticelli. We only ate there 4 nights out of the 7. We ate in Crown Grille (to die for) for our 7 year wedding anniversary, Sabatini's (I didn't care for it) and Chef's Table (Loved all of it and worth the price). We also ate at a different table for the Curacao day because we were in port so late, (10pm) everyone's dining was a little different than their regular time on that day. We sat with some wonderful people and wound up at the Chef's Table with one of the couples. We ordered room service a few times as well. The Moroccan hot pot was to die for. Loved this the most. The pizza was tasty as well. My husband enjoyed the International Cafe. It's open 24 hours. The coffee there as well as in the Crown Grille was the best. All the others areas had yuck coffee. We didn't have many drinks but the Key West was tasty as was the Mojito. We were delighted with the English Pub Lunch in the Wheelhouse and I was ecstatic to have a Pimm's Cup! My favorite drink thanks to a friend of mine from England. All in all the food is tasty.
Shows: Because we had late dining, we didn't see most of the shows. It could have been our fault as we much prefer the tear off slip Carnival provides in their Fun Times as opposed to carrying around the full size Princess Patter. Not that the thing was heavy we just didn't bother bringing it around with us most of the time. We saw the guitar playing, singer/comedian/shadow puppet performer. He was great. We also caught the crew talent show and had a blast with the balloons and mingling with fellow passengers. We also watched the piano player in the atrium here and there. He was good.
Only Issues we had: Not enough fun activities for us. We enjoy lots of trivia, funny game shows (the ones they had were so lame and boring) scavenger hunt that doesn't involve a sales pitch on the first day (aka the 8 stamp card). We were bored often. We don't play bridge or mahjaong nor do we ballroom dance. As a skin cancer survivor, I cannot lay out in the sun for too long. The game selection in the library was lacking. :) We can watch a movie any time we want but it was great for people especially those with kids. I'm not trying to sound like a prima dona but more activities for a younger crowd is appreciated. We were not the only ones who thought this. Many felt the same way.
Debarkation: It was fairly smooth and typical. We didn't opt to pay extra for transport provided by Princess. There was a large line to get transport to the airports, hotels, parking garages etc. That was a little annoying but there were 8 ships in port according to our driver.