The cruise was fantastic, I must say that this was one of our best cruises yet.
We left Thursday and flew from FLL into SJU. Flight went smoothly and before we knew it we were checked into the Ritz Carlton where we spent 2 nights. Hotel was great, very packed, but we had a wonderful time.
Saturday am we left the hotel at 11 am and arrived to Pier 4 East about 20 minutes later. Handed off our luggage and waited on line briefly before we were allowed to enter the building. This terminal blows away the Pan Am Pier that's for sure. Went to the Platinum line to check in and right behind us was 2 groups from our cruise critic group! Check in was a breeze and we then lined up to get on the ship. We were the 2nd family to board and went straight to our cabins. Steve and I were in a mini suite D320 and the boys were in an inside D318. Our cabin steward was "B" and he was fantastic. I wondered how we would feel in a mini after having been in a full suite the last 2 cruises, but there really wasn't much of a difference as we weren't in the cabin that much. I really did prefer this location over the aft as the seas were moderate every day and I really do notice the movement more on the Crown than on the other grand class ships we've been on. Had our cruise critic meeting at 5 pm in the Wheelhouse Bar and it was wonderful to meet everyone.
Food: We had 2 dinners in the Crown Grill and both times the food was fantastic and the service was wonderful. I have to honestly say that it was the best food we had the whole cruise.
We tried to have dinner in Sabatinis but I only made it through the first 2 appetizer course and the soup as we were really swaying that evening and I just couldn't enjoy the meal due to the movement. A glass actually fell off one of the tables that's how much we were rocking!
Only at in the main dining room on the last night and both my husband and I felt that food was mediocre at best.
Loved the paninni sandwiches at the International Cafe as well as everything else there. My husband and son also had sushi one night and enjoyed it.
Steve and I also did the Balcony Breakfast one morning, though we ended up moving inside as it was sprinkling slightly outside. Though the food was great, especially the berries, but we were slightly disappointed. I've seen pictures of the breakfast out on a table with a table cloth on it. The person who delivered ours walked in and quickly put down the trays and left. They now give quiche Lorraine rather than a seafood quiche which I was thrilled about.
We ate breakfast once in the buffet, lunch once in the buffet and dinner once. It was decent, what do you expect from a buffet?!
St. Thomas ~ We rented a jeep from Budget and all we did was call them from the pier and they quickly picked us up. Drove to town first to shop as it was Sunday and the stores close early. After shopping we had lunch at Glady's Cafe again and once again it was fantastic. We spent the rest of the day exploring the island, stopping at Fungi's on the Beach at the Point Pleasant Resort for a drink. We all really enjoyed the day.
St. Kitts ~ My one son didn't feel well so we didn't go to the beach like we had anticipated. We had also heard that there was lots of seaweed at the beaches so it's just as well. We did get off and walk around town and did some shopping at the pier. Spent the rest of the day at the adult pool in the aft of the ship which was a perfect way to enjoy the day.
Grenada ~ The boys stayed on the ship and Steve and I got off. Once in the terminal we met up with Sybil and Christian (goldens4ever) and Michael and Ray (desertduo) and walked briefly around town. I've got to say that I just don't understand why they stop here. The town was incredibly dirty and I just didn't feel all that safe here. Both Steve and Christian were offered drugs, though we weren't exactly sure what it was! After a short walk, we all decided to get back on the ship and meet by the adult pool for a spicy bloody mary. Wonderful afternoon with wonderful company.
Bonaire ~ Our favorite port and one of my favorite islands that I've ever been to. I'm going to check into going there on vacation next, just loved it. We rented a jeep from Budget and they came and picked us up for the quick drive to the airport. Once at the airport we made a left and drove along to explore. Saw the salt ponds and the pyramids of salt. This has got to be one of the neatest things that I've ever seen, the salt ponds/flats are pink. After this we passed many tiny huts that were used for the slaves years ago who worked the salt ponds. The were so tiny and it was strange to know that these huts were used by slaves but had a million dollar view as they were facing the Caribbean Sea. Happened upon a amazing beach club called the Jibe City and it was a perfect spot. I could spend days here, the water was crystal clear, the food and drink were fantastic as was the service. My son tried wind surfing for the first time. Here's the link in case anyone is interested http://www.jibecity.com/ After departing from the beach we toured the rest of the island and finally returned to the ship. Had an ice cream downtown and must say that the downtown area is very clean and very nice. Not a lot of shopping to do, but plenty of restaurant there. All 4 of us decided this had been the most perfect day.
Aruba ~ Walked off the ship and rented a jeep again. It was something to see how much building has gone on in Aruba since we were there in Oct 2004. Part of the area where we had off roaded which had been beach with divi trees and loads of iguanas running around was now condos. Drove by the lighthouse, got incredibly dusty. and went to see what had been the Natural Bridge. Drove around the island for a few more hours and returned the car before we went shopping in town and had lunch at Iguana Joe's. It was a very nice day, but we all decided that we enjoyed Bonaire so much more.
Day at Sea ~ Steve and I were up early and to the aft adult pool by 8 am. It was already packed but some chairs were being held by people who did not show up for a long time. There was one guy who not only held onto 6 chairs but also had a bag at one of the tables to hold that. One family had saved 4 lounge chairs that were next to us (they did that before we arrived) and then didn't show up until 10:30. By 9 am we told another young couple that no one had bothered to show up and they moved the stuff off two of the chairs and sat down. AFter about 9:30 I didn't see any more chair saving going on but it was a nasty scene by the afternoon. Many people showed up around 11 am and were almost downright angry that there wasn't a chair for them. It got to the point where if you got up to get a drink at the bar or go to the bathroom people were almost attacking you for your seat. The one young couple who sat down near us had the husband leave for a short amount of time to grab something and someone just took his seat even though the wife was still there watching everything. Now I realize that chairsaving isn't allowed, but getting up for a few minutes to get a drink, jump into the pool, or go to the bathroom is certainly not the same as being a chair hog. Also, many were up and there early and it's not fair for those who show up at 11 to 11:30 am to get so angry because others were in lounge chairs enjoying their day. I'm not quite sure what the answer is, but I guess it's like getting a seat to watch one of the comedy shows, if you're willing to go early and get a seat then someone who shows up at the exact time as the show starts can't be upset when there isn't a seat for them and they have to stand.
There were over 700 kids on this cruise which is a huge change from our 11/4 sailing. I don't think I've ever seen so many little ones on a Princess cruise and so many strollers.
Disembarkation was a breeze only because we were one of the first off, grabbed someone to help us with our bags and grab a taxi and to the airport by 8:45 am. Being in business made the check in line non existent and we were able to change our flight time from the 3:20 to the 10:05.
All in all the cruise was fantastic, really one of the best we've done. The weather was perfect, with the exception of a few sprinkles as were departing from San Juan and in the am in Grenada. We loved our cabins, loved the service and loved the ship. It really was just about perfect in every way!