One of Princess' largest ships, this 3,080-passenger vessel pioneered some of the line's most popular features, including an adults-only sun deck and a three-story central piazza that's great for people-watching.
This roomy vessel piles on the activities across a wide spectrum, from mahjong to football rallies and "Sound Of Music" sing-alongs. The "something for everyone" approach is especially successful for intergenerational groups and families, who can also take advantage of the terrific programming for kids. The real trick is navigating it all without getting overwhelmed. Use the free Princess@Sea app to build a customized itinerary on your smartphone -- and also to message members of your party if you need to rendezvous.
Some wizards of design and traffic flow created a labyrinth of small-ship-sized public rooms and outdoor areas, which break the crowds into intimate, uncramped spaces. Unfortunately, this genius wasn't applied to the mass-disembarkations, which disintegrate into grumpy milling and accidental line-jumping -- made worse by the occasional lack of staff onshore to direct passengers. On one sailing, a tour leader climbed off his bus and started helping people. "Someone has to do it, and the Princess employees aren't," he announced.
The service varied as widely as the programming. Sometimes it spiked up to extraordinary, like the captain weaving among icebergs as if the 113,561-ton, 19-deck ship were a speedboat and a housekeeper jogging ahead to open a door for a passenger carrying a full armload. Then it would bottom out: the clerk who couldn't name a pharmacy to refill prescriptions in the first port and a steward suggesting veal agnolotti three times to diners who protested they were vegetarian. But overall, Crown Princess really seems to be trying for -- and largely succeeding at -- a Marriott level of care and elegance.
Most cruisers come from Canada and the United States, with the percentage soaring to around 98 percent on Alaskan routes. The next most common nationality onboard is Australian, with Brits close behind.
The "something for everyone" ethos attracts everyone from honeymooners and retirees to friends and multigenerational groups. Strong children's programs encourage families, and on our Seattle Seahawks theme cruise, 10 percent of the passengers were younger than 18.
Most evenings, Crown Princess runs the gamut from athleisure to smart casual. For the dining rooms, suggested attire includes skirts, dresses, slacks and sweaters or blouses for ladies and long pants, shirts with collars or sports jackets for gentlemen. Nice jeans (no holes, tears or frays) are also acceptable. But on formal nights, some passengers push the boat out with tuxedos and sequined gowns. With prior arrangement, Princess rents formalwear, delivering the items right to passengers' staterooms.
Cruisers should bring raingear to take full advantage of the Sports Deck and outdoor viewing spaces, especially while on routes that venture far north or south. We recommend warm layers, a hat and gloves while the ship threads among the Falkland Islands or the icebergs of Alaska's Tracy Arm or Glacier Bay. This gear might also prove handy for Movies Under the Stars on cooler nights. (Crown Princess provides blankets, too.)
Onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. A daily charge -- $13.95 per person in mini-suites and suites, and $12.95 elsewhere -- is applied automatically to shipboard accounts. This benefits the stateroom stewards, as well as the waiters, housekeepers and support staff across the ship (except the casino dealers).
Crown Princess also adds a 15 percent gratuity to bar charges, dining room wine accounts and treatments in the Lotus Spa. Passengers can write in additional amounts to thank employees for terrific service.
These standard charges can only be modified onboard. If you have an issue, deal with it before disembarking.