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Crown Princess Cruise Review by bigtexxx

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Crown Princess
Crown Princess
Member Name: bigtexxx
Cruise Date: April 2014
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Destination: U.S.A.
Cabin Category:
Cabin Number: Riviera Balcony Starboard
Booking Method:
See More About: Crown Princess Cruise Reviews | U.S.A. Cruise Reviews | Princess Cruise Deals
Member Rating   3.0 out of 5+
Dining 2.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Cabins 3.0
Entertainment Not Rated
Spa & Fitness Not Rated
Family & Children Not Rated
Shore Excursions Not Rated
Embarkation 5+
Service 4.0
Value-for-Money 5.0
Rates Not Rated
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Ship Facts: Crown Princess Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Crown Princess Deck Plans
A Mixed Bag on the Crown Princess April 2014

My wife and I are just back from the May 26, 2014 California Coastal Cruise aboard the Crown Princess. Here are a few pros and cons of the experience.

CABIN

We had a balcony cabin, forward on the starboard side. The cabin itself was OK. Even though we had a balcony, the room only had two chairs, no loveseat. Décor was serviceable, if a bit bland—everything except the carpet was beige. TV was a decent-quality flat screen. Balcony furniture seemed new and was comfortable.

Best part of the room was the bed! Extremely comfortable. We had the steward add the egg crate mattress topper, and slept like babies. The bed in “king” formation seemed wider than most as well. Excellent thermostat control in the room—did a nice job of keeping the room temperate without burning up or freezing. We asked for and got the plush robes instead of the standard waffle weave; not sure if it mattered that we were “gold” level past passengers.

Room steward was excellent, very much the “silent butler” type. He was efficient and inconspicuous.

FOOD

This was our biggest disappointment overall. Food was just…mediocre. Wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t tantalizing, either. In the dining room, rather than feeling we had many good choices, we felt we were having to stretch to put together a satisfying meal. It felt like with most of what we ate, the “hot” food was rather cold, and the cold food was somewhat warm.

The buffets had a lot of choices, but it all had that “served with a feed scoop” feeling to it. Not a lot of style or subtlety to any of the food, sauces or presentation thereof.

We never could quite figure out what was going on with the Caribe buffet. It was supposed to be the “alternative” buffet, serving slightly more exotic fare. We got to eat there once the first sea day. After that, it never seemed to be open. It was scheduled to be, but every time we went by, it was closed. Many days, it was only set to be open 5-6am (!) for continental breakfast. Weird.

Breakfast buffet was serviceable. I tried the made-to-order omelet station one fairly slow morning. I ordered, then stood there for maybe 10 minutes. Still no omelet. The guy in front of me canceled his order, and I followed suit. The system just didn’t seem to be working smoothly. They were trying to cook them on a central grill, rather than the usual guy working a couple of pans set-up. The grill cook couldn’t seem to keep up with the (modest) demand.

We ate in Crown Grill one night. The food was marginally better there, but still nothing we’d return to if it were a land-based restaurant.

We didn’t try the limited room service menu.

The “Anytime” dining didn’t really work for us. The service was terrible—the sensation was of the service staff throwing your food on the table and running off. They seemed harried, never had enough time to, say, check back and see if your food was OK, and just weren’t engaged with the diners. You have to make a reservation every day (via phone, and prepare to be on hold quite a while), and if you don’t, you stand in a very long line to be seated. About half way through, we switched to traditional dining, and the service was vastly improved: much more timely, more friendly, more coordinated, no daily phone reservation, wholly a better experience.

The ship did have a nice selection of sugar-free desserts throughout the cruise, and the breads were excellent. But overall, I’d give the food about a 4.5 out of 10.

CABIN

We had a balcony cabin, forward on the starboard side. The cabin itself was OK. Even though we had a balcony, the room only had two chairs, no loveseat. Décor was serviceable, if a bit bland—everything except the carpet was beige. TV was a decent-quality flat screen. Balcony furniture seemed new and was comfortable.

Best part of the room was the bed! Extremely comfortable. We had the steward add the egg crate mattress topper, and slept like babies. The bed in “king” formation seemed wider than most as well. Excellent thermostat control in the room—did a nice job of keeping the room temperate without burning up or freezing. We asked for and got the plush robes instead of the standard waffle weave; not sure if it mattered that we were “gold” level past passengers.

Room steward was excellent, very much the “silent butler” type. He was efficient and inconspicuous.

SHIP

Again, eh. We kept saying, “this ship feels rabbit-y!” There’s just not a lot of flow (IMHO) to the design of the ship. Seems like you’re always having to detour around something—a panel on the deck, a potted plant to get to your buffet table, needing to go down a deck to get forward where you want to be. It just wasn’t smooth navigating on board.

The Movies Under The Stars seemed lame. (Note to Princess: really? MUTS was your best choice for an acronym for this feature?) The screen was atrocious. Maybe it was impressive when the ship was built, but in the era of Jerryworld’s high-def megascreen, the image quality here was pathetic and nigh unwatchable.

Handy tip: if you want to go out on top of the flying bridge, go onto deck 15 Forward, and just keep going. There are a couple of beige, unmarked doors all the way forward—just walk through those, and you can go up 5 steps onto that area. Quite a nice view back along the side of the ship. But hang on—it’s windy up there!

Overall, the ship was well maintained. Unfortunately, that did not extend to the mini golf area. Throughout our week-long cruise, it was “closed for maintenance,” though no one seemed to be maintaining it in any form or fashion, nor was it in particularly bad shape. I think they just didn’t want to mess with it. I find that really annoying, that they offer something like that as a sales point an enticement, then don’t appear to make any effort to make the feature available.

The pools and hot tubs seemed to be open and closed with no rhyme or reason. A pool would be closed, but the hot tubs next to it open. We were in port in Ensenada on the warmest day of the trip, and the pool was closed. Very odd. No signs, no explanations—just random closures.

It felt like there was a real shortage of just plain fun events on board. No shuffleboard court. No putting challenge. No ring toss for goofy prizes. Everything was geared toward getting more money out of your pocket: “Free acupuncture analysis” to see if they can get you to buy an acupuncture session, “free aging analysis” to see if you need to buy some botox, “free lecture on precious gems” that you can buy in the jewelry store, “free foot analysis” to see if…something is wrong with your feet, presumably—that sort of thing.

Take a tour and decide for yourself, but we thought paying extra for the thermal suite facilities ($109 for the week!) wasn’t worth it at all. The saunas were miniscule, and the whole area seemed like a stuffed-away afterthought. You could only get a pass for the week, which was a drag, too. Just not a good value.

We toured the “Sanctuary” area as well, which also didn’t seem worth it. It really came down to it being a different set of deck chairs behind a railing…for 20 bucks a half day. You could request sun or shade “on a space available basis.” And it was located on a windy part of the deck, underneath massive, LOUDLY-flapping international flags! It wasn’t much of a “sanctuary.”

They did seem to limit the number of announcements on board, and we always appreciate that lack of intrusion.

Tenders ran smoothly in Santa Barbara. Not too much waiting.

PORTS

We did enjoy the itinerary. No place we hadn’t been before, but each was a fun, “simple” stop, enjoyable and easy to get around.

For SF, highly recommend getting a Streetwise map before you go, then getting a 1-day MUNI pass from Walgreens when you arrive, and just seeing the city on your own. Easiest city on earth to get around in! We highly recommend riding Segways in Golden Gate Park. We found this place on Yelp, and it’s the way to go—you get to scoot around on your own at your own pace, aren’t stuck in a tour, and get to go a longer time at a cheaper price! Nice, friendly owner will help you get ready to go, even if you’ve never been. Ton of fun—our most fun outing on the trip! Check it out: http://www.yelp.com/biz/segway-sf-bay-san-francisco

Santa Barbara has a shuttle you can take into town from the port for 50 cents. The line seemed long and the sun was hot, so we just took a cab to the far end of State Street for 8 bucks. We walked most of the way back, then grabbed the shuttle to the ship. A $9 shore excursion! BTW, try McConnell’s ice cream! Fantastic!

In San Diego, we stopped at the Tourist Info center right on the pier, bought two all-day transit passes for $6 each, got a map and took off on our own. We had to walk a few blocks to catch the 7 bus to Balboa Park, but it was easy enough. Then we went to Old Town for lunch by bus, then took the Green Line train back to the ship. Easy, fun and cheap!

And ho-hum Ensenada, we treated as another sea day. : )

We didn’t do any ship shore excursions—no need to in these cities, IMHO.

EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION

High praise to Princess for the boarding process. It was by far the fastest, easiest and most pleasant we’ve experience in about a dozen cruises. Part of that may be due to the terminal building in San Pedro, which is well designed and very comfortable. Disembarkation was OK. We did the walk off with our luggage. The process got delayed by customs, as usual, it seems. They had 7 customs officers on duty (the max appeared to be 8) to handle an entire ship. Thus, the bottleneck. But all in all, it went fairly quickly.

OVERALL

We enjoyed the trip. Being locals, it was nice to not fly anywhere to get on board. The ports were pleasant, and having two sea days was relaxing. It was an “easy” trip, no big hassles or challenges. The ship was OK and the food was a drag, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. And for $550 for a balcony, for food, transportation and lodging, it was still an excellent value.

Overall, we’d give the trip about a 6.5 out of 10, with high marks for the itinerary, price and simplicity of the experience, and low marks for the ship layout, food and feeling of always being squeezed for money.

Bon voyage!

 


Publication Date: 05/10/14
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