Before I give the review, we are very much Go with the Flow cruisers. There is always something that's going to happen that may upset you, but you are on a cruise ship to have fun!
We booked a five day Princess cruise for various reasons. One, we had sailed on the Ruby early last year and enjoyed that very much. The Crown is a sister ship. Two, we were taking my 19 year old daughter and her friend and I was worried that maybe seven days was too long(wrong!. Plus the ports were Grand Turks and Princess Cays and I knew they'd be very safe at those places. Lastly the price I got from Princess was so cheap it was hard to turn down. Add that to the fact we live in Florida and therefore transportation costs were minimal. If I had to pay $700 for a flight then I'd think twice about a five day trip.
We left home at 7am, and despite the sound of two snoring girls in the back seat the drive was uneventful. We could see the rain following us down the coast, and we were very happy to arrive about 11.30am, drop off the luggage and park the car while still being dry. Embarkation was painless - usually routine - fill out forms saying you're not dying of some disease, go through security, no wait to get sail cards and then on the ship (after the first obligatory picture stop). A nice host actually took us to our indoor cabins on the Baja deck. The Princess indoor cabins are great, with loads of storage space and a "private" area to get dressed in. The room was spotless and the room steward Jason very nice and did a wonderful job. And god bless the steward who took care of the girls room which, whenever I peeked in, looked like a hurricane zone.
We went up to the Horizon Court and had lunch which was very good. By then it was starting to rain. We headed back to the cabin and our luggage was there. Unpacked and then we went on the scavenger hunt that had been given everyone when boarding. It basically makes you explore the ship while getting your card stamped at various shops and restaurants onboard. Great idea in my opinion, and was fun for the girls to do. Did the muster drill, having to take the lifejackets which we did not do last two cruises. I didn't mind as I like taking pictures of all with the jackets on! The off to the sail away party which was help in Club Fusion due to the rain. I thought it was fun and DW and I danced for a few minutes to the great Caribbean band. They gave out prizes for the scavenger hunt (as always we won nothing) and about 6pm we headed back to the cabin to get dressed for dinner.
We had anytime dining which worked out fine. Longest wait was maybe ten minutes and some nights walked right in. Best time to go seemed to be about 8pm. We enjoyed the food every night and the wait staff was very good. We had planned to go to Sabatini's as we had done, and enjoyed, on the Ruby but just never made it. The wine prices were inexpensive and very reasonable, starting at $22 and plenty of selections in the $20's. We did the wine tasting for $9 on day two and had loads of fun.
Breakfast was good. Since we eat eggs etc almost every day at home, during the cruise we take advantage of the smoked fish, cheese, cold cuts, and fruit. My only tip here is, to avoid crowds, go all the way to the back and use the last food station and sit outside on the Horizon area if its nice weather which we did every day.
Had the pub lunch twice at the Wheelhouse bar which was fantastic (sea days only).
Formal night was day two and was great. I dusted off the tux which I had debated taking and was glad I did. The girls all did the champagne waterfall and I have to say Princess was very generous with the bubbly that night. The Captain mingled a lot and talked to us both here and then again at the Captains Circle party. He's a very nice bloke. Then had formal pictures taken which turned out very well. Bought two at $25 each but they were well worth it.
Didn't go to a single show, as we usually had a nice afternoon nap about 5pm, and by the time we had finished dinner at 9.30 we just wanted a nightcap. We did see the comedian at Explorers and if you want to go get there AT LEAST 20 minutes early to get a seat. So we went to most of the bars on the ship after dinner to have a drink or two. We even ventured one night up to Skywalkers where the girls went every night, but was way to young a crowd for us. Plenty for 19 years olds to do - they hit Skywalkers most nights, did the Movie under the Stars, had room service multiple times a day, and joined us every night for dinner.
First port was Grand Turks where we docked. It's actually a very nice area with a pool and beach and deck chairs and shops. The girls took off for Margaretville and we went to Jacks Shack which is about 200 yards down the beach. It's really a shack, but Jack and his wife and daughter could not have been nicer, and we sampled many bottles of the local brew plus had jerked chicken there. The weather was just wonderful.
Second port was Princess Cays. Again weather was spectacular and tendering easy and quick. Went about 10am and no lines. We though we'd just stay long enough to make sure the girls we OK, but in the end spent all day there as the band was great, the buckets of beer ice cold, and a wonderful view of blue water and the ship in the background. BBQ was much better this time around than the Ruby trip. If you want total privacy turn left when you get off and walk all the way to the last bar.
All the girls had massages in the spa, and while in my view extortionally expensive, they loved it so what the heck. Gave me time to sit outside at the Neptune bar and listen to the band. If I had one entertainment complaint, it's the piped music on the Lido deck when the band is not playing. People are drinking and trying to party and they are playing Ava Maria!! Fine for the Sanctuary and Horizon area, but at the pool area??
Of course the five days flew by, and it had to end. Disembarking was a little wild and delayed, as a ship had broken down at terminal 2, so the Crown had to dock elsewhere. Loads of people trying to back to get their cars or catch flight and only two small shuttle buses were running.
However it was a great time, and Princess staff and crew were exceptional.
I'd be glad to answer any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org