We wanted to introduce our two granddaughters and their husband's, who are all in their 30's, to cruising. We needed a ship that would have some appeal to those in their 30's and us who are 65+. We chose the Crown Princess because of the size of ship (3,100 passengers), dining venues, ports, spa, casino, and variety of things to do on board.
Embarkation - from Ft. Lauderdale was organized and easy.
Staterooms - We had cabins 239, 243, and 247. The grands commented on the small size of the showers and that the rooms were comfortable. All of us enjoyed the balcony for which we had the connecting partitions opened. Our room steward, Francisco, was friendly, helpful, and a superb representative for Princess.
Dining - Horizon Court - None of us liked the Horizon Court buffet for breakfast or lunch as the lines were long and at times it was difficult to find a spot to sit either inside or outside. The buffet area is small and congested. Someone was posted at the Purell stations at all times and ensured that guests used the sanitizer before entering the buffet.
Michaelangelo - We had Anytime Dining that is anything but as you needed a reservation or had to wait in a long line. To make a reservation, you have to do so early in the morning and, if you're lucky, someone will answer.
Service the first night was deplorable, but from then on we had table 203 and the service provided by Newman and Mohan was outstanding!
Sabbatini's - We enjoyed Sabbatini's for the additional cost of $20 per person.
Crown Grill - Our first evening in the Crown Grill was outstanding for both food and service and that prompted us to book another evening for the last night on board. This experience proved to be less than wonderful as service was slow and steaks that were ordered medium rare came out more medium well.
Disembarkation - Organized and well done.
Activities - The usual Bingo, Art Auctions, Wine Tastings, dance lessons, Movies Under the Stars, and more.
Childrens' Clubs - I can't address this issue as we didn't have young children on board with us. We didn't see that many children on board either.
Staff & Service - Our cabin attendant, Francisco, was friendly, helpful, professional, and who obviously enjoyed his work with Princess as he always spoke of Princess in a most positive manner.
Entertainment - We thought was very good throughout the ship. There was something for everyone. Singers, dancers, production shows, trios, acrobats, classical, 50-60's, 70's-80's music, karaoke, piano, etc.
Grand Cayman - Since there was 6 of us, prior to our cruise we booked a private day sail through Sail Cayman - www.sailcayman.com - Captain Ornel took us out on the Nautigal to the deep water Sting Ray City for a swim with the stingrays. After our swim with the stingrays, we continued on for a snorkel, then lunch on the boat that included soft drinks and water, before sailing back to Grand Cayman. Transportation to and from the marina was with Carol Schrock, owner/manager of Sting Ray Cab Tours - www:stingraycabandtours.com. Carol also does private tours by van of Grand Cayman.
Roatan, Honduras - This port was missed because of rough water.
Belize - Here to we booked a private excursion. We chose Cave Tubing with Vitalino Reyes - www.cavetubing.bz. We were given instructions that were quite accurate on where to meet and what to look for. Our guide Jenny met us right outside the port and took us by van out to the National Park where we were outfitted with a helmet and safety vest that were really not needed, and a tube. Water shoes can be rented for $3. There is a clean changing area at the site.
We started our excursion with a short hike then crossed a small river before entering 2 dry caves. Jenny provided information on how the caves were formed and pointed out different things in the cave. We then continued our short hike during which Jenny pointed out some fauna and explained the use of each.
Before getting in the water, we were joined by another guide, Jose. After getting in the water, we were taken through two large caves during which Jenny pointed out various formations that if you used your imagination, you could see such as mother with child, elephant, old man, and more.
After cave tubing and changing in to dry clothes, we were taken to an outdoor restaurant for a nice lunch of rice and beans (all you could eat), chicken, soft drinks and rum punch. Lunch was made by Vitalino's sister.
Cave Tubing with Vitalino Reyes is a small family owned business, is half the cost of the ship's cave tubing excursion, and you get to see/do more.
Cozumel - The one shore excursion that we booked through Princess was in Cozumel to the ruins of Tulum with lunch and a beach break. First you had to get on a ferry for a 30 - 40 minute ride over to Playa del Carmen. From there you boarded a bus for a one hour ride to Tulum. Once at Tulum, the guide explained the ruins in detail, but as typical of a ship's tour, it was hurry up, rush, rush, with no time to actually view the ruins on your own.
After the tour of Tulum, it was back on the bus for a box lunch that was eaten on the bus and consisted of a tamale, spaghetti, and a bottle of water.
From Tulum it was a 10 minute bus ride to the beach break. While the beach had beautiful white sand, the facilities for changing and tending to business, had no lighting so that the area was pitch black. All of the beach chairs were full so there was no seating. The showers dribbled.
Back on the bus for another hour ride back to the ferry and another 30 - 40 minute ferry ride back to the pier and the ship.
Overall, the cruise met expectations and exceeded expectations for the beginning cruisers who now want to cruise again. Our personal choice is for a smaller ship and Holland America, Silversea, Regent, and Azamara.