This was our second cruise with Princess Cruise Line. Our first was a year ago on the Ruby Princess and we were thoroughly happy with our experience. This time, however, we took a Southern Caribbean cruise heavy with sea days (3). We didn't think we would mind an extra sea day, but for us it stretched to 4 days as we didn't go ashore in Curacao due to weather.
We drove to Ft. Lauderdale Port Everglades and parked at the parking garage. Embarkation was relatively easy and we were onboard and in our stateroom before 12:30! We immediately called room service for a couple bottles of rum for the room, and then called the dining line and made our reservations for the Crown Grill for 2 nights...absolutely the best food we had on the entire cruise!!! Well worth the extra $25 fee per person.
We noticed that the Crown Princess wasn't as well maintained as the Ruby Princess was. There were several rust spots outside on the balcony and noticeable from many areas on the ship. When on the Ruby Princess, people were constantly cleaning and painting. We didn't see one paint brush this time and it could have used it! On our first day, someone was scraping the hand railings above us and the scrapings fell onto our balcony and we had to ask the room steward if he could make sure it got cleaned up so that we didn't have to push it around the balcony and off the seats when out there. He was happy to take care of it and when we returned a couple hours later, it had been taken care of. Our room steward (Michael) was great and always seemed to be working hard.
This time we went to the Main Dining room once and weren't really impressed with the food nor the fact that it took nearly 2.5 hours from the time we sat down till we left (and we skipped dessert!) One night we went to Horizon Court for dinner buffet with Bavarian theme. We didn't find much that suited our palletes so we ended up getting pizza -- it was good but the crust was much thinner than the what we had on the Ruby and there were fewer toppings too. Overall, the food wasn't as impressive as what we had in the past. There were lots of fatty meats and meats pounded to the point of non-recognition ...I couldn't tell the chicken from the pork one night. The sous chefs weren't as particular about fruits and veggies prep either as often times there were cores left in the pineapples, stems, and pits as well as spoiled fruit (grapes - I found many that shouldn't have been served). One day the salad ingredients were wilted and a bit slimy like they were just topping off the containers with fresh and not emptying out the containers.
The entertainment that we went to was very enjoyable. We saw a dancing and singing show with the Princess singers/dancers and I have to give them huge kudos for the job they did! They didn't miss a beat as far as dancing goes and no one could have blamed them if they had as the seas were quite rough and we were doing a lot of rocking and rolling!! Absolutely awesome job!! We also saw a show called Matilda and Patrick in the Princess Theatre. We were told that it was to be their last show so we HAD to go! :-) It was a hilarious ventriloquist show !! We loved it. One night we saw a great show in the Explorers Lounge performed by a "mentalist" ...sorry his name escapes me, but his show was really mind-blowing!!
Our stateroom was a balcony on Caribe deck. Caribe deck balconies are larger than most other balconies and we thoroughly enjoyed using it. The bathroom is small but equipped to do everything necessary...although, I must say it's nearly impossible to shave your legs in the shower without standing on your head or performing some double-jointed magic.
Overall, we had an enjoyable time. We absolutely loved Aruba!! We did not take a princess shore excursion but instead opted for a tour with Didi. (an Aruba local) He has a brightly colored bus and took us to see many of the same sights that Princess excursions would have taken us but for far less money. He charged only $25 per person to go to a Rock Formation (haystacks), Anna Church (? don't remember the complete name), the California lighthouse and he gave lots of information along the way. We ultimately went to the Palm Beach and Eagle Beach area where he left us to enjoy 2.5 hours at the beach and came back to pick us up, delivering us back to the pier (even took us back through security). The best day on shore!
Although we had a good time, it wasn't the "great" time we had the previous year. The food wasn't as good which ultimately affected our overall impression. I'm not saying we won't go on Princess again (we are currently booked for Dec. 2014) but we are considering going with another cruise line...a thought that we did NOT have before this cruise!!