We recently returned from our cruise on the Crown Princess departing Quebec City on September 24, 2011, and arriving in New York City on October 4.. There were six of us in our group, all in our mid-seventies. Our staterooms were forward on the starboard side of Plaza, deck 5. After I had convinced our friends that we should take this cruise, I started reading reviews on Cruise Critic, and I also learned that the ship was due for refurbishing three weeks after our trip. I became very apprehensive about having recommended this trip because there were so many negative comments in the reviews and because I was afraid that since the ship was scheduled to be refurbished, it might not be in very good condition.
With that background being laid, I want to stress that NOT ONE of the negatives I read in the reviews was experienced during our wonderful trip, and even though the ship was to be refurbished, we found the ship to be in wonderful condition. Last week the six of us met to share highlights of our trip. Not one of the six of us had a single complaint. Let me share what we all agreed were highlights.
1. Even though there were 3,000 passengers, we never felt that the ship was too crowded. We never had trouble finding a place to sit in the Horizon Court buffet; the two tender ports were handled as smoothly as anyone could hope for; we never had a problem moving from one part of the ship to another; we always found a space to sit in the common areas and on the promenade deck where we liked to watch sailing away each afternoon. The only place that was crowded was the Princess Theater for the first show each evening, but we were willing to arrive 30 to 40 minutes early so the six of us always got seats together. It was a great place to wait, relax, visit, people watch, and make new friends.
2. Dining All agreed that the food in the Botticelli dining room where we had traditional dining first setting was outstanding (some would say particularly the desserts!). Enrique and Maja, our waitpersons at table 114, were delightful and super efficient; both of them had wonderful smiles and a cheerful persona. Our orders always came quickly and just as we ordered them. From the first night on, they remembered our individual preferences. For example, I told them the first night I like coffee with my meal and I did not have to ask for that again; they always had it ready. The six of us ate breakfast together in the Horizon Court every morning except two when we ate in the main dining room. The food at the buffet was more than adequate and the variety was good. Made to order omelets and rice pudding every morning were big hits. The International Caf provided an excellent option for a light snack when we needed a bit of lunch or a refresher after our day on shore.
3. Entertainment All three of the main production shows were very well done with wonderful costumes, staging, and lighting effects (although the third one seemed a bit more disjointed than the first two). Ray Cousins, a former pianist for Frank Sinatra, had one performance in the Princess Theater, and Mark Preston, formerly with the Letterman, had two shows in that theater. These shows were at the top of our list of highlights for the trip. Ray Cousins performed nightly in Crooners Lounge, and Indigo performed in various venues throughout the trip. They, along with the pianist in the Adagio Lounge, were outstanding.
4. Ports of Call All nine of our ports were wonderful, but the unanimous consensus of our group is that Quebec City, Halifax, Saint John, Newport, and New York were the top of our highlight list. We did not take advantage of any of the tours provided by Princess, but we did a lot of research before the trip and had our personal walking tours planned before we went. One tip for Saint John we discovered that the city transit system provides a two hour tour on a city bus for $20.00 per person. We found this tour near the Market Place a few blocks from the ship. The driver/guide was simply outstanding, and we had a very complete tour of the city including time at the Reversing Tides area. We also took advantage of a 48 hour pass on the Grayline Hop on Hop Off bus in New York City; we purchased our tickets on line for $49 per person. We used the bus to get acquainted with the city, to get to from Times Square where we stayed for two nights at the Hotel Edison to Battery Park for our trip to the Statue of Liberty, to get to the site of the 9/11 Memorial, and to get back from those sites. We rode five or six different segments at different times, and each time we had fascinating guides that told us so much interesting information about the city with each guide having a different area of interest/expertise that made it all the more interesting.
5. Embarkation/disembarkation Both of these events could not have gone more easily or efficiently.
All in all the six of us making this trip together would rate it 10 on a scale of 10!