This review will be long so grab a cup of coffee or put on your favorite Caribbean music while reading!
First of all, I think reviews should focus on the positive/negative things that will give people an idea of how the cruise went. I really don't understand how complaining about worn carpet(I looked, but didn't see this) or chipped paint(so what) gives anyone an idea on what they have to look forward to on their cruise. I'm a "the cup is half full" kind of guy and try to keep things positive. After all, you are on vacation so I feel there is no need to sweat things I have no control over.
Since this is a review about the cruise, I'll put comments about our pre- cruise stay under home-ports and our shore excursions under each port as well.
Our background: I'm 47 and my wife is 41. This was our 3RD cruise and 1ST on Princess. Our 2 previous had been on Carnival and we enjoyed them very much, but I liked this itinerary better and wanted to try a different line to see how they compared with Carnival.
We did have a CC meet and greet and I would like to give a shout to Putterdude and OCNJ cruiser for setting this up. Without this, we wouldn't have met Dave and Marcy who we hung out with throughout the cruise. We became good friends with them and hopefully we can cruise together soon!
Embarkation/Disembarkation-This was quick and painless. We took the 10AM shuttle from our hotel and left our luggage with the porters out front and proceeded inside. We were group 2. We sat down around 10:30 and they started calling numbers at 11:30. By 12PM we were in our room and headed to the buffet after I called the dine line to put my name on the list for the Chef's Table. Disembarkation was a breeze as well. We had to be in Explorer's lounge at 8AM and by 8:45 we had found our luggage, were through customs and were on our airport shuttle. Trying to check in at FLL airport to leave was a zoo and that will be under home ports as well. Just a hint, FLL airport will not let you check in more than 4 hours prior to your flight. My wife and I travel quite a bit for business and this is the first we've heard of that rule.
Ship-We have sailed previously on Carnival. When we first walked on, the first words out of my mouth were "Wow, we aren't on a Carnival Ship, that's for sure"! I thought she was beautiful and was in great shape. The only negative I have about the ship is that you can't walk around the entire ship without having to go inside or climb stairs. The ship was sold out and I believe they said there were over 3100 people or so on board, but you never felt crowded. The longest line we waited in was for the buffet after we first boarded. We had a balcony room on Caribe deck. The extended balcony was great and the room spotless. We had ample storage space and I counted 30 hangers in our closet in case anyone is wondering. The bathroom was adequate and I like the temperature knob in the shower. It keeps the water temp the same. The only time I had to change it was on the last night after I got sunburned in Princess Cays! Our room steward was Morvin and he was excellent. He kept everything spotless. Another hint, if you want to keep any of the glasses from the bar, hide them, if not, they will take them each day.
Dining- We had anytime dining and thought it worked great. We usually ate in the Michelangelo DR on deck 5 because if you didn't have a reservation, it was quicker to get into. We only made reservations once and were seated right away. The other times we didn't have reservations and as long as we didn't mind sitting with others, we were seated right away as well. Here's another friendly tip. If you are in a hurry to get to a show, either tell your waiter so he will know, make an early reservation or just go to the buffet. Dinner on Princess is an event and they try to make it like being in Italy itself. This is not a fast food place or like eating at a chain restaurant. If you've ever eaten out in Italy, it's a couple of hour affair, so just plan on it. The prime rib I had on the first night was terrific and came out the perfect medium rare as I had ordered.
After going to the interview for the Chef's Table, we were selected for it. My wife doesn't drink wine or champagne and we told them this during the interview and they charge for her was only $60. To me, this was one of the highlights of the cruise. They take you on a personal tour of the galley and Chef Giuseppe talks abut all of the galleys they have, how everything works, how many people they have etc... He served us canapes and caviar here as well as some excellent champagne. I have to say the galley was spotless and was not nearly as chaotic as I expected for it to be at 7PM.
Next they seated us and served us some white wine and more appetizers. They had a bloody mary sorbet that was different. I tried it before they added the vodka to it and didn't like it, somehow, it seemed much better with the Grey Goose! Whenever my wine glass was empty, someone was there to refill it with wine or water.
The lobster risotto they served was outstanding! I couldn't stop eating it, which was unfortunate, because we still had the meat to do. They then brought out pieces of Pork tenderloin, Veal and Beef and flambeed them on hot stones. Needless to say, this was wonderful as well. I could go on, but won't, I'll just say that the Chef's table is worth every penny and will try this whenever we sail on Princess again. I just want to say a big Thanks so Dante, Vernon and Crystal for taking such good care of us. Vernon and Crystal are married and they work very well together and we asked for them whenever we could in the Michelangelo DR.
We had the buffet for breakfast once or twice and it wasn't bad, but we liked eating in the dining room much better.
We ate the late night buffet on several occasions and I found it very good. The beef and potato curry I had on the buffet was outstanding.
My favorite place though was the International Cafe. I loved the tiramisu and the macadamia nut cake there among other things. I've heard people rave about the chicken salad but only found it OK. I prefer my wife's over this. But they always had a nice variety of desserts and pastries that were always very good. We found ourselves stopping by there quite often for little snacks. We did the Pub lunch on Sunday. We all had the fish and chips and thought it was quite good.
Bars/Casinos- I brought a bottle of vodka on board along with sprite and orange juice so I could make drinks for my wife and I. However, we still found ourselves ordering drinks from time to time. I like the $2.99 special they ran most nights. The drinks we had were quite good, but I wish they had a better beer selection in Club Fusion.
I tried the poker pro once, but I think I like having a dealer better. I lost quite often at roulette, but had more fun at 3 card poker. My wife actually won some money playing 3 card poker. All the dealers we encountered were very friendly, especially Danny from England, Irene from Italy and Ziggy, but I'm not sure where he was from. The only person I found not to be that friendly was Ive, the casino hostess. I found her to be not necessarily rude, but just unfriendly on the 2 occasions I talked with her. I went by to get her to stamp my card for the scavenger hunt on the first day and she was at the craps table and had brochures laying out on the table, so I picked one up, not knowing I guess they were for decoration only as she scolded me for taking it!
Entertainment- We went to all the production shows with some friends we met at the CC meet and greet. I thought the costumes were excellent and the singers were OK to very good. The finals of the Karaoke was very good and some of the people were very talented. We saw the 2 comedians and thought Tony Daro was very funny and that Kelly Monteith, the 2ND comedian was funny, just not as good as Tony.
Cruise Director/Staff-Overall, I found the staff to be very accommodating. Everyone, other than the one person I already mentioned, was always smiling and very friendly and helpful. I've found if you treat them with just a little respect they return it ten fold. They work very hard and please and thank you goes a long way.
Ron Goodman was the CD and while he was good, I don't know that he was as good as the CDs we've had in the past. Could be because he has an excellent support cast and that he is grooming them for advancement. Seems we saw them out and about more than you did Ron. I don't think that's a bad thing, the sign of a good supervisor is one that grooms his subordinates to take on higher positions. This was the deputy cruise directors last cruise before he goes to the Coral Princess as CD.
Overall-As you can tell, we had a wonderful time on the Crown. This was our first Princess cruise, but definitely won't be the last as we bought 2 FCC's!