I had a good time on the Crown Princess, for the most part. I had been on one cruise before, the Norwegian Spirit. I thought overall the Crown Princess was a notch above the Norwegian Spirit in terms of food, fellow passengers, the upkeep of the ship.
The food was pretty good. I liked having cheese and fresh fruit readily available. The orange juice was inedible, was both incredibly acidic and over-sweet. The bacon needs to be upgraded. I had two really good dinners in the Michelangelo dining room. Although, a special dining room experience on the Norwegian Spirit (special Indian food tour in the Asian restaurant) was far better than anything I had on the Crown Princess. Another highlight of dining on the Princess ship was the quality of the baked goods, fresh, tasty, excellent quality.
The wine list was weak, almost all wines one could find in a regular grocery store. The bar tenders didn't know how to make, or didn't have the ingredients (or sufficient quality ingredients) to make some pretty common drinks. Most of the bar menu consisted of fun-ish, sweet, weak concoctions for people who don't really like the taste of alcohol. It was not sophisticated. The bar offerings are outdated and shallow. Heaven help you if you try to order a glass of wine in the dining room. The server will badger you, repeatedly, to order a whole bottle. The sales pitch to pay to attend the wine tasting event is often repeated. We found ourselves saying "No thank you." over and over again on the voyage. Prices were high for decidedly low-brow drinks. Perhaps Princess could increase sales of its wine tasting (and at the almost un-used Vines Wine Bar) if they featured exciting, interesting product, instead of harassing passengers with sales pitches.
My room was very good. I had a regular inside cabin, which felt plenty large and was appointed nicely. The bathroom was better than what I had on the Norwegian Spirit. Overall the room was better on the Princess ship. The only negative aspect is the bedding linens seem worn, probably should have been retired some time ago.
The Crown Princess felt very crowded on sea days. The public space was not allocated correctly, or rather, was optimized for revenue over function. They probably would sell more premium coffee drinks and gelato if the cafe on 5 were twice the size. Several bars were underutilized, Vines Wine Bar (next to the cafe on 5,) Adagio Bar, and Crooners Bar. Maybe Princess should rethink those spaces, maybe open a new food venue to introduce some much needed variety.
Spaces outside on deck were mostly un-sheltered and reserved for uncomfortable lounge chairs. Even though the Norwegian Spirit is much smaller than the Crown Princess, my friends and I were able to find more, better spaces to hang out on the Spirit.
I didn't see much entertainment, being early to bed. But the musicianship onboard was very, very good.
Employees in the buffet and on deck are nice, and hard-working. I loved the statuesque, beautiful Ukrainian Prell-minder at the buffet. She was so nice, and helpful to less firm, older passengers. The new Serbian boutique employees as very gracious and nice. My steward, Wilfredo, was excellent.
Overall my experience was positive. I had a good voyage. But I think I can afford a nicer experience. I'd take Princess again (I was a P&O and Princess employee in the 90's, so there's some nostalgia at work) but I would be overruled by my friends. They were extremely put off by the up-selling and sales pitches onboard. The sales pitches were over the top, even unseemly, in the dining room. They were blatant at the spa as well; I'd avoid eye-contact with the employees on my way to the fitness center for fear of conversing with them. This may be a symptom of being Carnivored. (And please, both Norwegian and Princess, get rid of your Robin Leech-like shopping bozos that hawk Diamonds International!) So I could use some suggestions for other lines. What's nicer than Princess but isn't Crystal expensive? Celebrity? Should I try a small ship experience and focus on adventure, a la Star Clippers? I'd like to go somewhere more off the beaten path, and am willing to save up for it. I'm open to ideas.