Just returned from a New Year's Eve cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Crown Princess. I traveled with my fiancee and her 13-year-old daughter. We had a mini suite on the Dolphin Deck. It was my second cruise and the first for the girls. I don't have the experience of many reviewers on CC with multiple cruises but I have stayed at many resorts and nice hotels over the years so I have some concept of what to expect for my vacation dollar. I can report that my two first time cruisers loved their vacation and a finicky 13 year old was ready to sign up for another cruise vacation onboard.
The cabin was fine. Anyone who's ever stayed at a nice resort knows the room is usually not the draw to any particular property. It's the public areas, the general ambiance and the scenery. That is certainly true with the cabin we had. It was perfectly comfortable for three but nothing special. While I appreciated the extra space in the mini-suite, I didn't care for the totally exposed balcony. The bathroom was smallish but manageable. The ceiling in the tub/shower was very low (I'm about 5'10"). I recommend bringing a power strip if you have electronics that will require recharging. Our cabin steward, Albert, was excellent and very responsive to our requests. He always had a smile on his face and was eager to serve us in any way he could.
Overall, the food was good. There were some things that were excellent and others that weren't so good. I found the food in the dining rooms better that the food in the buffets. We chose anytime dining and ate most of our dinners in one of the main dining rooms. We felt there was plenty of variety and the quality was good. One night my fiancee didn't feel well (gale force winds buffeting the ship) so her daughter and I ate in the buffet. It was pretty good. The food in the Crown Grill was excellent. We felt it was worth the up-charge. In our opinion, the service was best in the MDRs. Breakfasts in the buffet or MDR were just average. I was hoping for a better selection of fresh fruit. The coffee in the buffet was awful (if you can even call it that). My fiancee felt the bread and rolls in the buffet were not as good as they should have been (not fresh). In my opinion, the prepared to order omelets/eggs were about the only good thing to eat in the buffet. We purchased the coffee card and used it daily for fresh brewed coffee and coffee drinks on Deck 5. For us it was well worth the money. We particularly liked the International Cafe (coffee drinks/nibbles/good salads) and Vines (wine bar with sushi/tapas) on Deck 5. We also enjoyed the afternoon tea (the tea and scones were delicious). The pizza and burger grill on Deck 15 were both good (excellent fries). The ice cream and gelato got the teenager stamp of approval.
The entertainment was good (not great). We saw a comedian who was pretty funny. You could tell he was struggling to keep his show PG-13. We enjoyed the Motown revue. The house band (Phoenix Rising) was pretty good. We liked the band Temperature a lot (outstanding range...Reggae/Calypso to country). There was a comedian/magician that the 13 year old liked but her mom and I were not impressed. I got to watch some football games under the stars which was enjoyable. The movie selections on board were basically fairly recent DVD releases (Julie & Julia, The Hangover, Star Trek).
Grand Cayman and Cozumel are established cruise destinations. They are capable of handling the influx of multiple cruise ships smoothly. They were both enjoyable ports of call. Roatan is a relatively new stop on cruise itineraries. The island is very depressed with poor infrastructure (i.e.- roads). The poverty is out there for anyone to see who leaves the comfort of Carnival's new pier compound (Mahogany Bay). We did venture out on a private tour with Victor Bodden that was basically a glorified taxi ride. We did the extreme zip line that was very fun. Seeing how less fortunate people exist was a good lesson for a 13 year old who sometimes loses sight of how good we have it in the US. We were unable to visit Princess Cays as the seas were too rough for tendering.
Our overall impressions of the Crown Princess were positive. We enjoyed the shipboard experience. The crew was extremely friendly and eager to please. We had a happy and occupied 13 year old that made for two relaxed and happy adults. As our cruise took place over Christmas break, the boat was sold out with over 500 kids on board. All things considered, Princess did an admirable job dealing with the throngs during the cruise.