Crown Princess Cruise Review by DrJohn999: W. Caribbean Crown Princess Sailing 12/10/2011
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W. Caribbean Crown Princess Sailing 12/10/2011
We had a great time on the Crown. This was our fourth cruise on Princess, and second in the Caribbean. We booked late at a good discount and got upgraded to a BB balcony stateroom. Overall the ship is in good shape, the crew was friendly and helpful, and shore excursions were excellent. Dining left something to be desired, however (see below).
We arrived by plane from the West Coast and so stayed overnight at Fairfield Inn & Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port. They're all set up for cruisers coming and going, no problems. We were able to check in to the ship early, which was a pleasant surprise: on board and in the stateroom by 12:00 noon! The stateroom was clean and just as expected from previous cruises. Our steward Ryan was attentive but managed to keep out of the way unless we called on him.
We reserved a double chair in the Sanctuary and definitely were able to enjoy it almost every day (exception was the day of the Coba Ruins tour) in the nearly More perfect weather. The exercise facilities were fine, with plenty of treadmills and bikes. Everyone seemed careful to wipe them down before and after use, as we were under norovirus procedures from the second day onward.
We took anytime dining. We enjoy sharing a table with random fellow diners, and so seldom had to wait; longest wait was about 10 minutes and that was because we met up with others in line and choose to wait for a whole table to be ready. The service was very good to excellent, but the food quality was down a notch compared to a couple of years ago. The menu was essentially identical to what was served on the Coral in Alaska last summer (2011), which left us with a desire for more variety. We didn't have to send anything back, at least. Breakfast in the MDR the morning of disembarkation was not so good; the buffet would have been a better choice.
One of us can't eat seafood, so Sabatini's had been out of the question until they recently changed their menu. We gave it a try: what a mistake! The service was excellent, if not pretentious, in a beautiful Italianesque setting, but forget about the food. The appetizer was cheap "prosciutto" on a soggy wafer; the olive oil for the bread was high quality but the bread was nearly inedible. The pasta was with seafood, though we were promised pesto-based sauce when making the reservation. The waiter had the kitchen whip up a garlic and oil pasta substitute, kudos to him! One of us had the monster veal chop, which was just OK. The chicken spiedini was made of dry flavorless rolled up dark meat pieces; I've had better at a deli in Binghamton NY! The creme brulÃ©e dessert was neither "creme" nor "brulÃ©e": it was a chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top. Come on, Sabatini, you've got to do better than this! We won't go back to Sabatini's on the next Princess cruise.
We found the norovirus procedures a little overboard -- one of us brings their own hand sanitizer (due to the harsh and bad smelling stuff they proffer) and had to demonstrate it on each line or get a lecture, at least until they began to recognize us. We are light eaters and so had no particular problem getting what we wanted from the buffets. A little advice: don't go to the infirmary unless you are seriously ill. They'll charge you $100 and then confine you to quarters until a quarantine period is over, according to a couple we talked with late in the cruise who experience just that scenario!
Entertainment was fun and typical cruise-ship style. You can't take it too seriously; hey that's the point! This is a cruise ship, not Vegas or Broadway!
Ports: Grand Cayman, horseback ride and swim; Roatan, snorkle and cataraman; Costa Maya, beach break; Cozumel, Coba ruins. See the port-specific part of this review for more information. All the excursions were 4-5 stars, if you can swim, don't get seasick, and can handle a horse!
Disembarkation: We experienced a delay due to insufficient number of customs agents but had left plenty of time (2:00 pm flight from FLL), so no problems. Took a shared ride for $5 apiece, to which a Princess agent directed us, instead of a cab. Even got upgraded on one flight segment on the way home. Nice finish to a fun week in the sun! Less
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Cabin review: Crown Princess Oceanview Double with Balcony Aloha R505
Riviera deck starboard side. Many of the Riviera balconies in this class of ship (like Ruby) are underneath the outer walkways around the pools and aft buffet dining areas of the Lido deck, but this particular block on Crown Princess is positioned underneath a bank of forward Lido cabins, and so we were free of the thumping of little feet at 5:00 AM on their way to early breakfast or from a late night bar experience. The head of the bed is on the forward wall and the balcony door sits to the right of the bed if you're facing forward. The stateroom itself is the same as the rest of its siblings: bed, desk, minibar with wide-screen LCD TV on top, good-sized closet with more hangers than we could use, an 18" wide or so floor-to-ceiling storage unit with safe. The bathroom features the standard mini-shower -- hey, at least you can't fall down in there -- high-suction ear-popping toilet, sink, and mini shelves. Balcony view is unobstructed with a mini-suite double-balcony abutting on the forward side.
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