We have often spent many of our summers (we live in the U.S.) in "warmer climates and temperatures", it was certainly nice to spend it in an area which possesed "coolness" during the month of July. Though we have not previously visited the British Isles, we were hoping for cool temps and lots of green. We were not disappointed! Before I mention about our port stops and itinerary, let me start with the Crown Princess itself. This was our 2nd cruise on the Crown as we loved it so much last summer in the Mediteranian. So, we decided to take advantage on the same ship but on a different itinerary. Again, we were pleased. We chose an inside cabin on this cruise on purpose. We knew that this itinerary would bring us cool, windy, rainy, and cloudy weather. Therefore, spending the extra for an outside cabin in which we would rarly use the deck and porch, didn't make sense. We'll save those cabins for our Caribbean, Tahiti, and Hawaiian Cruises - all of which we've been on. We were glad for the inside cabin and savings. It WAS cool, windy, cloudy, rainy, etc. etc. much of the itinerary. The ship is a newer ship in the fleet so it "does" look new inside and out. It is very well kept and clean. Our cabin steward was excellent and our cabin well attended. Upon arrival, we had a couple requests and they were met within 30 minutes. One thing I have noticed in over 10 years of many cruises, is the ships have cut back the number of personnel over the last couple years - I'm sure like most company's. Therefore, working on these larger ships with 3,000+ passengers, it becomes quite a chore to meet the needs of all passengers in a timely manner. That being said, there were times that service was slow in many areas of the ship and during some specific times such as...dinner, and sea days (when ALL passengers are on the ship at the same time). In some instances, you are able to see the "crew" getting frustrated due to handling large quantities of people and requests during those times. However, we understood the situation, and didn't let it get to us. There hard working people and they really are trying hard to make ALL of our holiday's and vacations and excellent experience. A couple notables that I thought were BIG DEALS that all should take note were...the buffet on sea days and the internet cafe room on the last day and evening. Again, when ALL 3,000+ passengers are on board at once and trying to eat at the same time, you can imagine what the buffet is like. The buffet during mid-late mornings on sea days are to be avoided. It was quite a fiasco and quite crazy on both of our sea days. VERY, VERY crowded and no place to sit and eat. It was a mess. Also, It seemed like EVERYONE wanted to print out there post-cruise flight boarding passes on the last evening and it was making the internet cafe a crowded mess, the guy working very frustrated, and the computers were VERY slow during that time. Again, something to keep in mind on that last day of the cruise. Other than that, we were very, very pleased with our cruise ship and the service.
Now, a quick review of the itinerary...Again, we were pleased. We had not visited this area of the world and we were glad we did. We were pleased with all the ports and what they had to offer. We DID take the ships advertised tours on most of the port stops. Sure, many were expensive, but they were also worth the expense as well. The only thing we noticed about the Princess tours was that some would place you in a "rushed" situation. You were trying to get so much in, in such a small amount of time. Since many of the tours take you well away from the port, much of the time is traveling on busses and once you reach the intended destination, it seemed as though there wasn't nearly the amount of time you were thinking there would be. So, at times, though we went and saw what we intended, we felt "jipped" on time at the location. Also, on this itinerary, MANY (if not most) of the ports, were not within walking distance of the "town". So, for many ports, you did need some sort of transportation if you wanted to explore off ship on your own. At some ports, shuttle busses were offered. Sometimes the ship would advertise these and sometimes they would not until you actually ported and found out for yourself that you could have taken a "shuttle into town" rather than spend money on a tour. The one tour that was expensive but probably the most well attended was that of the Normandy Beaches in France. We went on that and so did 9 other busses of people from our ship. WOW!! It was great and well worth the money!
All-in-all, we had a wonderful vacation. We would definitely cruise with Princess and the Crown Princess again.