The night before embarking on the Crown, we stayed at the Hampton Inn Airport North and Cruiseport. We are Diamond Hilton Honors member so we are used to a few more perks but we decided the free shuttle from airport to hotel and to Port Everglades, along with free hot breakfast was worth the try. Hotel is older and a bit tired. Our room wasn't as clean as usual and we had ants in the bathroom. For this reason, manager gave us back our Hilton Honors points we'd used to book the room. This was nice. All shuttles were on time and worked out well for us. We walked about a block to have dinner at one of the best authentic German restaurants we've found anywhere! It is Old Heidelberg. Food and ambiance were authentic and terrific!
Our shuttle got us to the ship about 11:30AM and we only had to sit a half hour before boarding the Crown. No problems whatsoever.
We had lunch in the Horizon buffet and it was in the "ok" category. Not bad, but not great. We're happy there are many options for meals on the Crown. During our cruise we also ate at the International Cafe, and had breakfast in the Da Vinci dining room. We did not do Sabatini's or the Crown Grill but heard rave reviews from other passengers about Sabatini's.
There were 4 formal nights during our 14 days. My husband rented a tux from the Cruisewear Formals that Princess recommends. Even after providing exact measurements, the coat was several sizes too small and we think the sizing was just odd. Luckily we had a fabulous cabin steward, Sandie, who got the right size and delivered it to our room. By the way, the photos taken on the formal nights seemed to be many times better this year than in past year. We don't know why because they claimed the photos had not been retouched, but somehow we came out looking great!
We chose Traditional early dining (5:30PM) in the Da Vinci dining room. This worked well for us so we were always finished early enough to get a seat for any show in the theater. Our two waitresses, Lilliana from the Ukraine and NA from the Phillipeans were fabulous. NA had more energy, happiness, and efficiency packed into her little 4'10" body than we could imagine. She really made dining fun. The only complaint we had would be the noise level in the dining room. Our table for 6 was by the window which was great, but there were two larger (10+) tables beside us filled with very, very loud guests. It was always difficult to hear our waitress' suggestions for the evening meal as well as carry on a conversation of our own. Food was good every night with many choices.
We saw two shows in the Princess Theater. One was the embarkation show which was more of a "things to come" show than and show. It was just "ok." The International Crew show had better entertainment than any of the other usual performers. The crew threw out about 100+ balloons before the show began and a balloon fest/war ensued and was so much fun. Every person there was flinging balloons all over the place with much laughter!
The music in the Atrium was always excellent. The music and sound up on the decks was usually very loud.
Our stateroom, on the true aft of the ship is our favorite and we have stayed in this room or the one next to it 3 times now. Highly recommend.
We believe most on this cruise enjoyed it. We heard less gumbling from passengers than on cruises in the past. The crew always seemed helpful and friendly and happy to have their jobs. We applaud Princess for going non-smoking in the staterooms and balconies in Jan. 2012. Hooray!