This was our first sailing with Princess; our first cruise was RCI. I enjoyed the trip and the total escape a cruise gives you. While I enjoyed the overall experience, I have a mixed review.
The ship was great. I liked the layout better than the mega ships of RCI. The Crown is a large ship and does take some time to get your bearings, but I felt small in ways - not crowded. I liked that there were various nooks and multiple entertainment venues. It meat you didn't have the majority of the ship ion the same place at the same time. There was plenty of seating near the pools and multiple pools to use. The movies under the stars at the one pool was nice - movies (and sporting events even) day and night.
Rooms were standard cruise ship rooms. We splurged on a balcony. With the number of balconies on this ship, the cost was not that much more per person for the balcony. The extra space was nice especially if one person rises early or goes to bed late, it gave a place to go and read while the other one slept. Only problem was the hairdryer is terrible. Bring your own if you need one.
I purchased the weekly pass for the spa's thermal suite. Absolutely loved it! Never crowded, but avoid it during the boot camp class in the fitness center. It becomes noisy and hard to relax. A bonus as a spa customer, you can use the showers in the spa which are much larger than the ones is the stateroom.
We ate in the dinning room 3 times during our trip - 2 formal nights, one casual. Part of the problem is we opted for the early seating (6:00) which does not allow much time to get ready for dinner after a day in port when you don't return until 5:00 and we like to watch the ship leave port. Food in the formal dinning room was good, but not spectacular. I had expected something a little more special from the dinning room. The soups were ALWAYS wonderful and this is from a salad person. Do yourself a favor, skip the salads (unremarkable) and go for the soups. Main entrees and deserts were hit and miss. Wait staff also tried to sell us others things every night we were there. A little obnoxious.
Buffet meals were more what I expected out of a buffet and often mimicked the main dinning room meals, but not exactly. Food was good and it gave you the option to try different things in one setting. It also gave you the option of getting something different if you didn't like what you had the first time. (One night I tried 3 different deserts before I found something I liked) The only drawback to the buffets was they had long lines and were crowded during the dinner hour. There are three buffet locations - 2 in Horizon and 1 in Caribe. Every time we went there, only one of these options were ever open at a time and you had to check each place to find out which one was open. Pizza is great and became a late night ritual. Sabatinis is great - worth every penny. Just go VERY hungry and don't eat the bread - it will fill you up.
Also think one area they can improved on is the entertainment. Comedians were not that great - material was not fresh, heard the jokes before. Stage productions were all musical numbers with older music and did not appeal to my age group (40s) or probably anyone younger. I can see my parents enjoying these shows. They need to add shows that appeal to a broader audience if they want to attract younger cruisers.
Overall, I enjoyed myself, as did my husband. Would just like to see improvements in the lines and entertainment options if I sail with Princess again.