Embarkation: Very slick and smooth. We used CPS (Cruise Parking Service) who took our car and luggage from the port terminal. 45 minutes later we were in our cabin with our luggage, which was very impressive. Dis-Embarkation was as smooth
Room: Was small, but no smaller than any other inside cabin on previous cruises with other lines. Basics were all there, although the room was in twin bedded formation even though we had received a confirmation e-mail stating that this would be altered prior to our arrival. The Cabin Attendant was superb, he changed it round with the minimum of fuss whilst we sat to dinner. The bed was huge and very comfortable, we had no trouble in getting a good nights sleep.
Dining: We were on the ANY TIME dining option. This allowed us both flexibility and freedom of choice. We booked a table for our first night but thereafter dined in the buffet restaurant, which offered planty of choice. The meat was very well cooked and prepared, although there was a lack of plain vegetables on offer. The last nights buffet choices did have a "leftover" feel to them which was acceptable to the pallet but severely lacking in variety of choice. Breakfast was wide ranging and well thought out with plenty of options. However, the lack of prepared toast was an issue as the single toasting machine was both well populated and slow.
Crew Members: Most were very courteous and polite. Some did have a look of tiredness though and may have fallen below what Princess would describe as "Courteous and Excelence in Service" This was very much the acceptance to the norm though and we found most of the staff very pleasant and accomodating. One small gripe was that the Head of Restaurants, a portly older gentleman with a distinct lack of character and good grace, gave the order to drop all the blinds down in the main restaurant area during lunch. The Level 15 retaurants were all well used, with a fabulous view over the sea. The decision to close the blinds was not well received as it looked like an attempt to get us away from the dining area. Had we received a polite request to do so I feel sure we would have oblidged. The error in judgement on his part was inpolite and discourteous. The poor waiting staff were bombarded with complaints to such a degree that all the could say was " ask the boss..."
Excursions: All excursions were well organised in general and all very scenic. We noticed that the prices were all 20 dollars more expensive on average than the prices of the same tour with P&O and those advertised when we booked.
More time was needed however, at the final port of call (Bergen).
Entertainment: This was probably the thing that detracted from the overall enjoyment of the cruise. We had previously cruised with MSC and found their in-house entertainment troupe to be excellent. The Crwon Princess Entertainers (In-House) were all superb, possibly better than MSC. Their stage productions were all very highly polished and slick. The singers were all fantastic and the dancers all of West End standard. Lighting and sound was excellent too. What did let the ship down was the quality of the "hired" entertainment. Two very famous American Entertainers, one a comedian and the other a Comedy Ventriloquist, were quite frankly...apalling. Neither raised more than a few polite laughs. So poor were they that people were actually walking out of the shows in disgust.They seemed to have both been from a TV background and wanted us to laugh at set points, almost as if they were waiting for someone to hold up a card saying "LAUGH" or "APPLAUSE". There was a very good hypnotist from the UK and a lovely Scottish female vocalist in Kaitlyn Carr...she was of a very high standard. The illusionist Paul Keller was fantastic and the best I have ever seen on stage. Ricky Jay also performed brilliantly. Jay, along with fellow UK comic John Evans really knew how to find the level of their audience and were able to work them into laughter really well. The in house band INDIGO, were superb too and in our view were surely worth a spot on the main Princess Theatre stage instead of being used around the smaller lounges in the ship. Cruise Director Ron Goodman was very professional and not overly intrusive into our day. He was well informed and indeed kept us all informed too.
Lectures and other activities: I think the words "Low Key" were used to escribe some of the onbaord activities. Obviously these were aimed at a slightly older audience who were likely to be less active. The two people who conducted the tour guides on behalf of the cruise were both enjoyable and informative, although their constant use of the word ARTIC instead of ARCTIC (with a "C") did annoy me! The one real surprise was the lectures, four in total, on astronomy. Word soon got around that the lecturer (Professor Don Kurtz) was actually very good and worth a listen. On each of his four lectures he FILLED the Princess Theatre , which has a capacity of 850. He was both informative and educational as well as being a very humourous and well polished speaker. It says a lot for the standard of the two aforementioned entertainers that he had everyone spellbound rather than walking out!
I can't really work out how the two poor entertainers were booked. Was it on price? On availabilty? or by reputation.? Which ever way, the method needs to be revisited....
Overall, I would say I had a good time. A relaxing holiday in pleasant surroundings. It would appear to me, I could be wrong though, that most of the bad things that happened were out of the control of those onboard. A Crew of such varied nations managed to pull together to make the cruise an enjoyable one. We are not experienced cruisers by any means, so may not be well qualified to post a review. However, we say what we see and experienced in the hope that it can be used to inform and help those that plan to cruise on the Crown Princess.
I would say one thing about cruising Norway...IT IS EXPENSIVE on shore. Prices over what you would pay in the UK for almost any item is at least double. The clothing, whilst authentically Norweigian is probably even more expensive that that.....Eat on board ship if you can...it's free afterall. Eating and drinking in Norway is not cheap. A slice of cake is about £5 If you were brave enough to take a family of four for a basic three-course meal without drinks, it would probably set you back well over £200 !!
Would we cruise with Princess again.....maybe yes. Are they better than the MSC cruise line we tried before.....jury still out on that one I'm afraid....