My wife and I are in our 50s and we’ve been on 17 cruises (7 Royal Caribbean, 4 Celebrity, 4 Princess, 1 Holland America, 1 Norwegian). This was our second Mediterranean cruise. This trip was an anniversary trip. Our trip started with a ... Read More
My wife and I are in our 50s and we’ve been on 17 cruises (7 Royal Caribbean, 4 Celebrity, 4 Princess, 1 Holland America, 1 Norwegian). This was our second Mediterranean cruise. This trip was an anniversary trip. Our trip started with a flight on Lufthansa out of Chicago O’Hare with a stop in Munich (We love this airport) and then on to Athens for a couple days pre-cruise. We flew roundtrip on Lufthansa but took a detour from Barcelona post cruise to Paris for three days on Joon Air which is a new “modern discount airline” from Air France. We enjoyed all flights.
In Athens we stayed at the Herodian Hotel. This was a pleasant surprise. It’s a boutique hotel literally 987 meters from the Acropolis. Our room faced the Acropolis and was large and modern. The room included breakfast which was a traditional Euro/American buffet style. I’ll post pictures with this review. The staff was welcoming and even left us a nice note welcoming us and congratulating us on our 25th wedding anniversary along with some Greek crackers.
In Paris we stayed at the Hilton Paris Opera. This was another nice surprise. Its located near the Galleries Lafayette and Printemps Department store. The hotel is located only 15-20 minutes from all the major Paris historical spots. Close enough to get to and far enough from the center that you aren’t paying for location. The staff here were also fantastic. We are Hilton Honors members and chose to stay on the Executive Floor. For our anniversary, the Hilton upgraded us to a corner large spacious room that had a large bathroom with heated floors.
I highly recommend staying at both hotels.
This was our second voyage of Crown. The first was in 2008. We enjoyed Crown back then but felt the public spaces were crowed and entertainment was terrible. Crown post drydock is so much better. The décor is just as we remembered and there is a much better use of space. Entertainment is now top notch and matches our experiences on Regal. We have never been fans of production shows, but I have to say that the new Encore show on Crown was spectacular.
We took a cab from the Herodian Hotel (20 euros) to the port of Piraeus. At embarkation we arrived at the Piraeus Cruise Port at around 11:30am. The port was not too crowded, and we were able to check in quite fast…or so we thought. Here was the one negative experience. After the Princess Rep took our passports and all other pertinent information she went to get our room keys….and couldn’t find them. She asked us to wait and she would contact someone to get them. We thought this was odd as it has never happened before. Well, we waited 20 minutes, and no one came to give us our key cards. I finally spoke with an officer who checked and said that there was no request for our keys. After another 20 minutes we were finally given our keys and were headed on the ship. This was the one blip on a spectacular cruise.
I mentioned the dry dock earlier. The dry dock included some very nice updates.
Our Cabin on Caribe Deck 10 Midship (C419) has been updated. We love this location because all the cabins on this deck have nice deep balconies. All staterooms on Crown have been updated with the Princes Luxury Bed. Let me tell you….it’s luxurious!! We usually sleep well on cruises, but this bed was sooo comfortable. Also, our Room Steward Donna was very attentive and efficient.
The pool area updated one bar (MIX) formerly Mermaids and split up the pizza and burger stations. Prego is now Slice and has Stromboli and deep-dish focaccia. Still the best pizza at sea IMHO. The Sundays Ice Cream Bar is now attached to slice and is called Coffee and Cones. The best pool area upgrade is a remake of the Trident Grill. It’s now The Salty Dog Grill (a Salty Dog Gastro Pub has been added inside the Wheelhouse Bar). This is absolutely the best deck food at sea. You can get a burger or chicken sandwich, fries, bacon cheese or chili cheese), all beef hotdogs, and chipotle lime chicken tacos (my personal new go-to deck food!). Other upgrades on Crown include Club Class mini-suites (We didn’t meet anyone who stayed in one) and the shops onboard have upgraded clothing and merchandise.
We always enjoy the Princess main dining room food. The voyage was no different. As part of the anniversary package we purchased, we ate at Sabatini’s (located on deck 16) which is one of our favorite specialty restaurants. We were joined by our main dining table mates who were also celebrating their anniversary. Our server was fantastic!! He was personable and informative. When we told him it was our table mates anniversary, he stopped what he was doing and proceeded to bring out a cake for them! This topped off a wonderful filling meal of traditional Italian food.
As an aside, the anniversary package also included champagne and chocolates in our stateroom, a chocolate cake served at the meal of our choice, a sign and balloons on our door and a picture of our choice with a nice frame. Well worth it!
Our breakfasts were eaten mostly in the Horizon Court Buffet which seems to have gotten smaller bit the food is still decent. Breakfast as all you expect plus an omelet station (you order and they give you a ticket that you hand to a server who brings a freshly cooked omelet to you. I love that they hand you your napkin and silverware as you enter the food section and a server brings you drinks.
Entertainment is throughout the ship and has been upgraded. Our Cruise Director Fernando got on the ship when we did and he never missed a beat. This cruise was during the group stage of the Word Cup and a schedule of all games with viewing locations were in each Princess Patter. Musical entertainment was very diverse and all over the ship. There was plenty to see and do each night. There was of course MUTS which showed movies, concerts and soccer games throughout the voyage.
Ports and Shore Excursions:
Athens: While this was the embarkation point, we had a day and half to visit the Acropolis, eat some great Greek food and walk around the Plaka. I’d spend one or two more days here next time.
Santorini: This is a tender port. We took a ship excursion that included a stop at Santo Winery where we sampled Greek wine, cheese, olives and enjoyed the views of the ship and the island. Then we went to Oia which is the village with all the blue domed roofs. What a place! Spectacular views. After Oia we went to Fira which is the village where you get back to ship by walking down 588 steps to the tender area, riding on a donkey or our personal choice, taking the gondola down. We shopped and ate a traditional Greek lunch with a view of the Aegaeon Sea. The tour ended here, and we were on our own to get back to the ship.
Kotor, Montenegro (Tender stop): Very old city which you arrive sailing through a fjord for 3 hours. I was up at 5:30am filming the entry…We were pleasantly surprised by this port and just took the tender and walked the old city on our own.
Messina (Sicily): We used Joe Banana Tours for this port. The tour we chose was the Godfather Tour. We shared a van with others from CC and visited Castelmola, a hill town above Taormina with views of Mt. Etna and the sea (it was overcast so no views), Savoca which is a local town made famous by Godfather II, Forza d’Agro a medieval town and then Taormina. I highly recommend using Joe Banana tours while in Sicily.
Naples: For this port we used Romeinlimo Tours. Once again, we shared a van with others from CC. Our driver, Alex met us at the port and took us on a ride through the Amalfi Coast to Positano where were enjoyed the views and walked the streets of the wonderful city on a hill. From Positano we went to Sorrento where we had a fantastic lunch, walked along the streets, shopped and sampled limoncello. After Sorrento, Alex took us to Herculaneum. Herculaneum was a resort town not far from Pompeii which is smaller and better preserved due to its closeness to Mt. Vesuvius. RomeinLimo is one of our favorite tour companies and also highly recommend them.
We Disembarked in Barcelona. This was the most organized disembarkation we’ve had. We pre-purchased transfers to the airport and were on our way to Paris!
This was a phenomenal cruise. We can’t wait to sail on Princess again and look forward to planning our next Med Cruise!! Read Less