Cruise 4/19/14 through 4/26/14. My Mom and I took this cruise as a short getaway from the San Francisco Bay Area. We flew from San Jose, to LAX via Southwest, then boarded a Super Shuttle shared van to take us to the Pier at San Pedro.
Upon arrival at the port we were surprised to see a huge mob of passengers waiting to board the ship, and another large group waiting for pick-up to leave the port. We were told that the ship had arrived late, and that boarding would begin at 2:00 pm. It was about 1:30 when we were finally able to board. The ship is although very clean, is just okay, no frills. I really expected it to be much nicer than it was especially since I have traveled on Princess 11 times. We had an inside cabin on Caribe Deck 10, stateroom C720 which is pretty far aft. The room was spacious, and pretty nice. We did hear the engines and feel the vibration pretty heavily when arriving and departing a port. However it was a pretty quiet cabin during the night, and the gentle rolling movement did lull us to sleep every night. Our cabin Stewart Ariel Santa Cruz from the Philippines was very good. We found the beds to be very hard, so we asked for egg crate mattresses, and blankets which he quickly addressed.
The penny machines in the casino were a lot of fun, especially the one called Striking Tiger, and the Wild Wolf slots. The elevators were the worst. A constant wait, and a real pain. The gym was great, lots of machines.
The food in all the venues was good. We had anytime dining, but unlike the Sapphire Princess (my fav Princess ship) the Crown only has 2 anytime venues for the evening meal besides the buffet. On deck 15 in the buffet I would like to see a free ice cream machine in the to go with the desserts. I loved the stir fry's, the balsamic vinaigrette and the daily cupcakes at lunch time. Delish. Service, terrible and slow. Most of the time we had to get our own coffee, and water. I heard numerous complaints about this from others as well.
We picked this cruise based on itinerary. All of our excursions were DIY. Be sure to book all your excursions on line before the cruise in order to save money.
San Francisco - Weather was bitterly windy (in the 50's) dull and cold. Thank goodness I had my winter parka. We did the Hop on Hop off bus run by Grayline. I booked it through Viator.com which I have used numerous times in Europe. Very good narration by the driver and beautiful overview view of the city sites. It was excellent. In San Francisco the ship docks at Pier 35. The ticket from Viator tells you to go to Pier 33, but this is not correct, because the bus does not stop there. Instead, catch this bus at Pier 39 which is about a 5 minute walk from where the ship docks. Sit on the benches facing the Embarcadero right next to the Aquarium and the bus comes by there every 30 minutes. You can call them to see what the time of arrival is.
Santa Barbara - Took the Old Town Trolley. We got it for $17.50 each on line, $19 p/p at the trolley. The cruise pax paid $35 p/p for the this same trolley. The website stated "Black Out Period for Cruise Passengers" however, there does not seem to be an issue if you grab the trolley at the Stearns Wharf & State Street corner next to the dolphin statue. Again excellent 2 hour tour with ability to Hop On and Hop Off at any of the 12 stops.
San Diego - Also took the Trolley which is the best deal in town. Takes you all over to the best sites in SD for about 2 hours. Awesome. You pick it up at the restaurant right next to the cruise port (I think it is called Anthony's but I could be mistaken) which is a short 5 minute or less stroll.
Ensenada - No comment as we stayed on the ship.
Disembarkation - Again a nightmare. We had the early self walk-off, which was supposed to leave the ship at 7:45 am. However we were held up by Customs (not the ship's fault) and didn't leave the ship until about 8:20 or so.