I feel obligated to let you all know my experience on the Crown Princess the week of Feb 12, 2011. As a travel agent, I escorted a small group of eight cabins with people of various ages, cruising experiences, and disabilities.
I am very disappointed with the experience we had on the Crown Princess. I read many reviews prior to our cruise. I was hoping all along that our experience would be different. It was not. This was very disappointing. I have never wrote a review before and I am a new member. I feel very obligated to tell our experience with this ship and cruise line. I will divide the review by sections.
We chose Anytime Dining. I was advised that we could make reservations for the week for my group only to find out that you can only make reservations one day at a time the day before and because of the size of my group I was given either very early or after 7:00 PM reservations not the 6:30 PM my group wanted. This was very frustrating. There did seem to be a line if you just arrived and requested a table.
The food selections were limited. The menu that they had available everyday included fillet medallions which were very low end. Normally we look forward to dinner. There was only a few nights (mainly formal nights) that dinner was worth looking forward to. The lobster was very good. The pork tenderloin was awful. Desserts were just ok.
The service in the dining room was hit and miss. The first couple of nights we had terrible service. The wait staff did not understand English very well. They seemed preoccupied with what was going on around the dining room and did not seem to focus on the guests at their table. When we did find a waiter and asst. waiter that we liked, we requested them the remaining nights. This is not how it should be. Everyone should experience good service in the dining room. I don't expect 5 star at budget prices however I expect good service. It was very confusing to figure out who was suppose to take your drink orders etc. because other wait staff would show up at your table other than the traditional waiter and asst. waiter. It would take so long to get drinks refilled that you would end up asking two different people for a drink refill just to hope that one would respond to your request.
We enjoyed the Pub Lunch on sea days, it was very good. We also visited the Crown Grill. The food was very good. My fillet was excellent as was the other steak and lobster meals that my party ordered. The main complaint we had about the Crown Grill was it took 3 hours. We did not plan on spending that much time but it seemed that we had to wait 20 minutes for our coffee/tea and then we waited a long time for our check to come at the end of dinner. It was not very crowded that night either so we don't understand what the hold up was. They do tell you in the beginning that everything is freshly prepared so we were patient waiting for appetizers however, there was too much time wasted between the other courses.
International Cafe was very nice. I wish they had complimentary beverages available there but the food is very good. The cookies are great and the pastries/donuts/etc. in the AM are very good also.
Breakfast buffet was very limited and we found the eggs to be cold. Overall the buffet seemed limited even for lunch. The tables were preset with silverware. Drink service at the tables was okay. There were a few times we had to hunt staff down to clean off table or to retrieve drink orders.
We visited the buffet for dinner one night only to find a very long line, only one section open and it was single file. There were no stations. There were pre made salads, the selection was awful, and people were complaining like crazy about the single file line. If you wanted seconds, forget it you had to stand in line another half hour. There really was nothing you would want seconds of. We opted for a late night pizza snack because we left the buffet hungry. I thought the pizza was good, I would have to say better than the other cruise lines we have experienced.
Room Stewards -
None of my group had any complaints about the room stewards. Most did their job. Nothing outstanding. No towel figures which the children and my first time cruisers would probably have enjoyed.
Gratuities - The automatic gratuities are a problem. There is no incentive for good service. We opted to have our gratuities removed so we could reward personally for good service which was few and far between in the dining room. Disappointingly, we eventually found out that even though you personally hand an envelope of money to these people they must turn that in to be put in a pool and divided among everyone. Again, there is NO incentive for good service. The staff that perform poorly get the same amount that the outstanding staff receive.
Casino - There were no $5 blackjack tables. This was very disappointing. I asked why and was told that passengers do not want them. I don't believe this. I think that they should have a few available. By the way, it is possible to get $200 from the slot machines without paying a fee. I read a previous post regarding this and I think some people thought you were getting $200 just free period. Free means no 3% surcharge or transaction fee that you would normally pay with ATM or using your card at one of the gaming tables.
Shows - The comedians were good and the hypnotist was entertaining. The other shows were not impressive.
Wheelchair request - One of my guests requested a wheelchair two days in advance to use in Cozumel. The request was lost by passenger services and the wheelchair was never delivered.
I had a meeting with the Maitre D and the Manager of Passenger Services for 45 minutes regarding all of the disappointments we experienced on this sailing. I told them I am embarrassed to have invited my guests on the Princess Crown and I feel I need to apologize to my guests. I should not have to do this. Princess was always rated close to Royal Caribbean in my opinion. Not anymore. I will be personally be sailing Royal Caribbean and will strongly hesitate to recommend Princess to my customers. I hope that my recommendations and complaints were heard at my meeting. That is all I can do. I also thought it was important to write this review. It is harder writing a review than I thought. I hope it is helpful to you all.