About two years ago, my fiance and I decided that we wanted to get married on the beach in St. Thomas. After days of research and evaluation, we decided to do it as part of a cruise on the Crown Princess. We selected an itinerary which had St. Thomas early in the cruise, and included several port days. We booked our cruise, then assisted our invited friends and family in booking theirs. We booked our group cruise directly with Princess. A down side was that some in our group encountered some difficulty along the way.. I had to make several calls on behalf of those sailing with us which made me question the possible value of a travel agent, however it was nothing major. We booked our wedding through Princess Weddings. All of the planning was done online or via telephone. We found their representatives to be attentive, professional, and felt they delivered tremendous service throughout. Now the good stuff... We arrived in San Juan a day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Comfort Inn. Not a 5-star accommodation by any means, but we loved the location and found the room adequate. We got some great late night local food at Latin Star, just down the street from the hotel. Anyway, after a run on the beach and some shopping, we were off to Pier 4 to see the Crown. We arrived at the pier around 12:00 and found porters ready to collect our tons of luggage. We entered the (very nice) terminal and were processed quickly. We then joined the line to board, complete with stop at the Duty Free shop for some libations. We were on board by 1:00. I thought a nice touch that I had never seen before on Princess were the crew members stationed in the elevators and on the various decks to assist you with finding your stateroom. Our room, D731 was nice but seemed smaller than our previous mini-suites. Waiting for us was a nice bottle of champagne and some chocolate strawberries courtesy of our wedding coordinator, Steffi who we would meet later that day. Steffi was great! She is such an asset to Princess! We set off to explore the ship and greet our friends and family. The ship is huge. It is also beautiful. The common areas like pools, the atrium, the casino are very clean, well decorated. The new additions like vines, the piazza, and adagio were some of our favorite parts of the ship. We especially liked Vines, the wine and sushi bar. The sushi ($1.00 per piece) was amazing, and there was a wide variety of wine available. The service was top notch. The piazza had an endless string of demonstrations, entertainers, musicians to keep you happy! We never felt crowded despite the ship sailing full. We kept waiting to feel the crunch of 3,000 other people, but never had trouble finding tables at the buffet or chairs by the pool.
We used and enjoyed the spa as well. I had a massage on embarkation day to help relax from travel and to refresh the day prior to our wedding. My wife had her hair done the morning of the wedding. We and others from our group used the thermal suite often and we all enjoyed it. It is very relaxing!!! Other highlights included bingo (2 winners from our group) a great island night deck party, and the various trivia contests. Our aunt and uncle participated in and won the wedding game!! We had a table for 6 in anytime dining with a standing 6:30 reservation. We set up a schedule so we would get to have dinner with everyone who came along for our wedding. The food and service in the dining room was very good. Jose and Edward, our wait team delivered, keeping us full and happy, especially on lobster night. We tried both specialty restaurants. We liked the food in the Crown Grill, but the service was horrible. It took well over 3 hours to complete our meal. Sabatinis was good, however having dined there a few times now, we would probably not go again. The level of service was again impressive throughout the ship. You could not pass a crew member without them smiling and greeting you, you never had to wait for a drink, the room was always clean and ready for you. Day 2 was our wedding day. We were escorted by Steffi to the limo which took us to the courthouse in St. Thomas to obtain our wedding license first thing in the morning. We were met there by the representative from Princess Weddings and the court clerk. The paperwork took about 10 minutes. We were returned to the ship where I went to the gym and Kristin the Spa. Our group met at the gangway at 12:00 where we were all taken to the beach for the ceremony. When we arrived at the beach, we could not have been happier with what we saw. The location was perfect!! The decorations were even nicer than we imagined. We were introduced to the officiant and spent a few minutes with him before the ceremony. Again, everything was perfect. When you plan something like this completely over the phone and computer, you are left with a level of uncertainty. Will you get what you wanted? The resounding answer for us was that we got what we wanted and more. our expectations were totally exceeded. Following the ceremony, we had a champagne toast and seemingly hundreds of pictures. We returned to the ship, where the reception was planned for 3:00 in the Wheelhouse Bar. We had 2 hours open bar plus hot & cold appetizers for our guests. The food was excellent and the bar staff kept everyone well fed with drinks. Steffi arranged for Captain Binetti to drop by, he was very nice and took some pictures with us. The pianist was great and we were all impressed by the ice sculpture and fruit carvings!! I don't think anyone left the Wheelhouse hungry or thirsty. During the reception, Kristin and I were whisked away by Kerry for some great photos around the ship.
The rest of the cruise was kind of a blur. We loved the snorkeling in Bonaire and found it to be a clean, fun, and colorful island. The variety of marine life right off every shore was unbelievable. We would like to visit again. Some from our group did land sailing, and said it is not to be missed. In aruba, we went to Palm beach, jet skied, had a nice lunch, visited a casino and lost, and did some shopping. In Grenada, as we always do we went to Grand Anse Beach. It truly is a beautiful beach, but I think the various vendors who CONSTANTLY approach you make it unbearable. We don't mind a few, but here it never stops. We loved our first time in Grenada, but each time since it has gotten progressively worse. Next time, we will not get off the ship in Grenada. St. Kitts was a short stop and all we did was some quick shopping. The last day was an at sea day, which gave us all some time to relax and enjoy many onboard activities. We celebrated a birthday for my cousin at adagio complete with a very nice cake which we ordered at Sabatini's. It was a nice ending to the trip. We had an early flight to St. Lucia for our honeymoon on disembarkation day, so we were first off the ship in the morning. The process was smooth and easy. Reflecting back after our week at Sandals in St. Lucia, we would have both rather stayed on the Crown for a back-to-back. We can not say enough good about the whole experience for us. Princess truly delivered an outstanding wedding and cruise. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We would be happy to discuss it over and over!!