Southern Caribbean Cruise
Nov. 12-19, 2011
By Mary & Vincent Finelli
When Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz "There's no place like home," most people agreed. This was our sixteenth cruise on Princess ships and our second on the Crown, thus we became Elite members of the Captain's Circle and we were happy to find many of our old acquaintances aboard. We received a special "welcome aboard" by Captain Andrew Proctor, Hotel General Manager Martin Ford, Maitre D' Hotel Francesco Ciorfito and Cruise Director Ron Goodman, who, together with other officers and crew, have been phenomenal hosts. They create a home at sea atmosphere, that immensely pleases the passengers, especially the repeaters. We were greeted with an enormous bouquet of flowers from Martin which made our stateroom fragrant for the entire cruise (carnations, roses, lilies, snap dragons and baby's breath). Francesco reserved us a beautiful table near the window and made sure that we had VIP treatment throughout the cruise. We also had a personal note from Capt. Andy hoping to meet us in La Piazza on Port Mornings! How nice it is to be remembered and welcomed aboard in such a personal way. What a great start to our South Caribbean Cruise.
For us "frequent floaters" it is easy to board in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, since we live 20 miles up the road (I-95). A thirty minute ride from home and we were at Pier 2 to drop off the baggage and proceed to check in. As elite members we also have priority embarkation, so we were escorted directly on board after picking up our boarding passes. In only 15 minutes we were in our stateroom, Riviera (Deck 14) #301.
The condition of the ship is excellent. Built in Fincantieri Shipyards, Montefalcone, Italy in 2006 (Hull #6100). Her Deck plan is exactly like her sister ships - the Ruby and the Emerald. The Crown Princess is 951 ft. long, 118 ft. beam and has a gross tonnage of 112,894. She has an international crew of 1,200 and a passenger capacity of 3,150 and this cruise she sailed full. Her top cruising speed is 22.5 knots. In Nov. 2010 we published at this web site our first review of the Crown with a deck by deck description which we will not repeat here; suffice it to say that this is a beautiful ship splendid with fine artwork, marble and brass. The many venues on board provide passengers with music, fun, entertainment and privacy. Select your own preference and create an individualized cruise to remember.
This ship has a well kept dEcor and an ambience of pleasant gentility. For example try the 3:30pm "Formal Tea" held each afternoon in the Da Vinci Dining Room (Deck 6 midship) --- with white gloved service, every lady feels like a queen. The general atmosphere recaptures the vintage cruises of bygone times, with the advantages of modern vessels. In other words the best of both worlds.
Stateroom #301, on Riviera Deck 14, is wheelchair accessible. When entering on the left is the large bathroom with a 4ft.x4ft. shower with folding seat. There is a single sink with two shelves and complimentary shampoos, soaps and lotions.
Next, flanking the bed, a queen size with puff and very soft pillows, there are two low bureaus: each with a shelf and four large drawers. A fixed reading lamp is too far away to turn off from the bed. Ryan, our cabin steward, put two pillows in one pillow case to fashion a firm one.
When entering on the right is an alcove with a floor length mirror, large enough to park Mary's wheelchair. Then, there is a triple armoire: one section has shelves and a personal safe; the double section has adjustable dowels for hanging clothes. Next, there are a TV, a Bar set up and a refrigerator (complimentary mini bar set up for elite members). There is a long desk with a lighted mirror and a chair. There are also a small circular glass top table and an upholstered barrel chair.
The walls are beige, so is the furniture which is trimmed with maple wood. The carpet is blue with a white diamond pattern. Blue drapes cover the wall and a glass sliding door which opens to a spacious balcony, where there are a small table, two chairs and one chaise lounge which Ryan added for Vincent. Ryan did several changes which made our cabin very comfortable (a riser for the commode, a mattress pad, etc.).
FOOD & SERVICE
Service on board is excellent in the proper but friendly English fashion. The food venues reflect the elegance of Maitre D' Hotel Francesco Ciorfito. The dining rooms are the Michelangelo, the Botticelli and the Da Vinci, decorated in simple wood paneled walls and golden sconces; the ceilings are dotted with tiny twinkling lights that give a starlight quality to the rooms. Our table for two was in the Michelangelo dining room, near the entrance and by window. We enjoyed watching the sea during dinner. Our Waiter Arturo Estrada (Mexico) was quick and polite. His assistant Nemanja Filipovic (Serbia) was clever and interesting. Head Waiter Dante Grecu (Romania) made the rounds efficiently. But, it was Asst. Maitre D' Antonio Mana (Portugal) who greeted us every night by name, making us feel at home.
Food on board starts with the Welcome Aboard Buffet, Deck 15, the Horizon Court. There are many offerings of cheese, fruit, salad bars, seafood salads, pastas and soups. The carving station featured a turkey and all the trimmings --- excellent. Breads on board are terrific, hot and crusty. On Deck 15 is the Trident Grill (Don't miss the pork and veal bratwurst! The Pizzeria and the soft serve ice cream Bar are also located here (open 11am to 11pm).
Each morning we had breakfast in our cabin promptly at 7:00am. Hot delicious coffee from Ethiopia, hot chocolate, sweet rolls, croissants, Danish pastry with apricot and orange marmalade, English muffins with Canadian ham and eggs, fresh grapefruit and juices.
For lunch we either went up to the Trident Grill or down to the Da Vinci Dining Room which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The noon menus featured fried calamari, hot sandwiches, wings and ribs or even elegant dishes like osso buco. The dinner menus have an abundance of items both healthy and gourmet. Executive Chef Giuseppe De Gennaro sent us a truly excellent wild mushroom risotto --- delicious. One night Mary had pheasant --- a reminder of her youth in New England. Vincent recommends the Frito Misto (Fisherman's platter). Salads are great, but the desserts blew us away --- all the ice creams (pistacchio, nocciola and others taste like Italian gelato, no artificial coloring or flavoring --- superb) and sorbets are made on board (the grapefruit sorbet was perfect). It was a revolution on the palate.
Needless to say for us the food rates four stars. We also enjoyed dinner at Sabatini's, the upscale restaurant ($20). It has a new menu --- gone are the table side antipasti, now there are eight or so appetizers to select from, including a "deconstructed" vitello tonnato! We had a wonderful dinner with lobster and veal chop as entrees. Service on board is tip top and a credit to Princess.
Cruise Director Ron Goodman is very personable and friendly with the passengers. La Piazza has live music afternoons and evenings (pianists, a wonderful flautist and a string quartet). On formal night Maitre D' Francesco created a magnificent blue Champagne Waterfall in honor of Captain Andy. The champagne flowed freely and a grand time was had by all.
Each morning Cruise Director Ron did a program called "The Wake Show" on Channel 21 during which he gave the highlights of the day, interesting quips and hints on how to enjoy the day.
The shows presented at "Movies Under The Stars" and in the Princess Theatre were exceptional, such as the following: "The King's Speech," "Source Code," "Captain America," etc. They also showed concerts by Bon Jovi and "Beyonce, Live from Wembley" and "The Killers at Royal Albert Hall." There is so much available that all ages should be entertained --- from ping pong to dance classes to port tours. Just read the Princess Patter so you won't miss anything. There are several Bars and Clubs. Try the Adagio up on Deck 15 with an elegant setting and piano music, or there is the Skywalker Nightclub on Deck 18. "It's the closest thing to heaven," as Deborah Kerr says in "A love Affair to Remember" on the Romance Channel 25, or chat with Ron Goodman, he likes to mingle with the cruisers.
PORTS OF CALL
This cruise did 4,450.24 statute miles, which is quite a distance for a seven day cruise, so that except for the three days in port we traveled at top speed almost every night. Needless to say Captain Proctor had the pedal to the metal a good deal of the time.
Day 1 Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Depart 4:26pm
Day 2 Princess Cays Arrive 8:30am Depart 3:58pm
Day 3 At sea
Day 4 Willemstad, Curacao Arrive 12:00 noon Depart 10:10pm
Day 5 Oranjestad, Aruba Arrive 7:30am Depart 5:20pm
Day 6 At sea
Day 7 Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive 6:00am
This was a breeze. At 8:00 a.m. we met Luigi (Sabatini's Maitre D') in the Crooners Bar Deck 7 midship, where wheelchair assistance was provided. Luigi was very capable and had the wheelchairs and passengers moving right long. In only 15 minutes we were off, had collected our baggage and were through customs check. Thanks Luigi, well done.
This was a great cruise, even better than the one we had last year on this ship. We really appreciated the elite member benefits, which include complimentary laundry and professional cleaning services, shoe polishing, complimentary mini bar set up, 10% boutique discount, complimentary wine tasting event and more, in addition to the benefits which we enjoyed as platinum members, such as free internet time and Princess Platinum Vacation Protection Upgrade. It really pays to be "Frequent Floaters." While on board, we purchased two more future cruises yet to be determined, so we'll be cruising on Princess as soon we decide the itinerary. For now we look forward to a cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, Dec. 10th. Happy Cruising and best wishes for the coming holidays.