53 Princess Crown Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Western

I was very disappointed by the current state of Princess. In the past, the food and entertainment were quite good. This time, the food was very poor and the entertainment on the ship was not up to par. The main theater was full a half ... Read More
I was very disappointed by the current state of Princess. In the past, the food and entertainment were quite good. This time, the food was very poor and the entertainment on the ship was not up to par. The main theater was full a half hour before the early show and we were shut out four nights. It is too small for the size of the ship. The activities on the ship were not very good and we spent the days at the pool or reading. They were geared to shopping and the art auction. The ship constantly vibrated whenever we were in motion. It was difficult to fall asleep and it was downright annoying. In 28 previous cruises, I had never experienced this problem. I think the engines need to be looked at. Prior to sailing, I had ordered the 12 water bottle package for $6.99. When it did not show up, I was told they never got the order and had to pay $2.50 a bottle. As for the food, the meat was tough, it was never served as ordered, and the dining room selections were not as I am used to on other lines. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Stayed over night at the Embassy Suites on 17th. Very nice with transport from airport to hotel and from hotel to cruise port. Within walking distance of Publix, Outback, Carrabas, Five Guys, CVS, etc. My DH and I have sailed with ... Read More
Stayed over night at the Embassy Suites on 17th. Very nice with transport from airport to hotel and from hotel to cruise port. Within walking distance of Publix, Outback, Carrabas, Five Guys, CVS, etc. My DH and I have sailed with Princess 14 times but have never taken a 5 day cruise. Wont’t take another either. No comp in Crown Grill for suite passengers or EZ Air for disembarkation. Booked this trip as just a quick getaway before the holidays. Stayed in the Ocho Rios Suite, E732. We prefer aft suites and this one is worn, but quiet and comfortable with a large covered balcony. We have been on the Crown three other times and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but this cruise, yikes! The attitude of the staff, from surly to pre-occupied, was dismal. Horizon Court attendants were like ghosts and when you did ask for a glass of water or lemonade they acted as though you were a huge interruption to their day. The MDR staff were just ok but the menus were repetitive and the food, for the first time for us, was poorly plated and poorly cooked. And the menu items, oh geez. As always, the Crown Grill food was delicious and the service excellent as was breakfast in Sabatini’s. Booked the Sanctuary for the entire week and what is not to love there? Our port were Costa Maya and Cozumel. Costa Maya was interesting but I won’t venture off the boat again should I sail that itinerary again. We have a condo in Cozumel so we “went home”for the day. We have always loved Princess and are loyal to the brand but this was a forgettable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Great Price for a last minute trip. We have sailed on this ships three times now. Embarkation was so smooth, arrived at port about 11:30 a.m. on ship in about 20 minutes. Dropped bags off in cabin (R616) and headed out to explore. Our ... Read More
Great Price for a last minute trip. We have sailed on this ships three times now. Embarkation was so smooth, arrived at port about 11:30 a.m. on ship in about 20 minutes. Dropped bags off in cabin (R616) and headed out to explore. Our cabin steward was great, easy to locate and very friendly, Chai. We set sail on time and off we went to the Western Mexico ports. Smooth sailing with only two little sprinkles of rain. Costa Maya is a port with shopping and a few beaches down the road. We just checked it out and back on the ship. Next stop was Cozumel same here walked through the shops and back to the ship. We have been here many times. There were 5 ships in port this day. Back on ship to sail to Fort Lauderdale. Entertainment could have been better one comedian two different nights, one magician with one show in Explorers lounge could not even get it to see him. The show troupe was good. The food was not up to our normal princess experience. I felt the buffet, just so so. Dining room food the same. We have great servers in DR. We ate at Crown Grill and it was wonderful. Best experience we have had there in over 7 cruises. We purchased a coffee card, not pleased, tasted very weak for brewed coffees. Wanted to try to Salty Dog but it only open at 6 pm, same time as dining and a charge of 12.00 pp for two picks. Should be open for lunch. We had a good time, its what you make of it. Will sail Princess again, its always been our favorite. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This was our 4th time cruising. We were excited to cruise with Princess mainly because we thought Princess is higher class than Carnival or Norwegian. I was wrong. In many ways, they were even worse. Perhaps my expectation was too ... Read More
This was our 4th time cruising. We were excited to cruise with Princess mainly because we thought Princess is higher class than Carnival or Norwegian. I was wrong. In many ways, they were even worse. Perhaps my expectation was too high. Their service was poor. Especially, the waiters and reception desk folks were pretty unfriendly. The food was mediocre at best and their room was pretty old and outdated. The ship was rusted and amenities were just old. This ship needs some refurb ASAP. We found their entertainment was not that great. The comedian was not funny, and magician was just not good. Singers were not great either. One thing I hate the most about Princess cruise is their strict policy on dress code. WTH? We cruise to relax and have fun, not to show off your clothes. I don' want to wear or pack formal clothes to the cruise. They do really enforce the dress code, so be aware. This applies to kids too. Crazy policy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We were in Balcony Riviera 703....lovely room, without a sofa, and great balcony. However, I picked one that vibrated constantly....not terribly and you do did get used to it. It was beside the back stairway/elevators and super location ... Read More
We were in Balcony Riviera 703....lovely room, without a sofa, and great balcony. However, I picked one that vibrated constantly....not terribly and you do did get used to it. It was beside the back stairway/elevators and super location but because of the motors it vibrated..... My mistake. The bathroom was tiny but was totally adequate. Ladies if you need to shave your legs, put a foot on the toilet. Speaking of toilets....we had fits with ours several different days. Waited over 2-1/2 hours one day to have it repaired, but a super nice gentleman came and took 45 minutes to get it working. Then it quit again....oh well. We had THE BEST ROOM ATTENDANT Arvan from the Phillippines. He just could not do enough for us. He kept the room lovely and of course, received an extra remuneration for such a nice job. He is ALWAYS smiling and pleasant and it is so appreciated. We had superior service from our waiter in Crown Grill for my husbands birthday dinner...Borko from Serbia was wonderful. He was lovely and we thank him for making this such a nice, nice, birthday. Our Da Vinci waiters were great....Sehono and Yudi the Jr. Waiter. Thank you fellows for making Dinner so pleasant each evening. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Stefan....Stefan from Romania is a Head Waiter in DaVinci dining.....but where I saw him totally shine was in the Horizon. Stefan did not mind jumping in to help anywhere needed, from delivering an omelet or cleaning a table for new guests ready to eat. Stefan was so very kind to his workers that he really caught my attention. He never "told" a worker to do something, he "ASKED". Now isn't that the way to be a superior......work with your people. Thanks to all our helpers on this cruise....you made our trip so very enjoyable. This ship is going to be refurbished next year, but we did not find it unpleasant this year. It will be nice if they make the complete ship a bit less confusing with locations of everything.....Even after a week, I still was trying to decide WHICH FLOOR DO WE NEED. Others have complained about elevators..we found them good and almost always ready for use. Do not like the location of the Photo Gallery.....it causes the through ways to other parts of the ship to be jammed with people. In fact, during the early evening, the ship seemed too crowded and I just found it unpleasant at those times. Also, sooooo many fussed about the theater being too crowded....If you will just arrive 15-25 minutes ahead, you can pick a seat anywhere. But PLEASE, stop holding seats....if people want to see the show, let them get there themselves. Had trouble getting my "future cruise credit" credited to this cruise. Booked a Future Cruise in December '15 and used it on this trip......actually had to fight to get my few dollars of OBC. Read the fine print and dont LISTEN to the person booking your future cruise while on board. Was very disappointed to NOT get the $100.00 per person OBC that the person in Dec '15 said we would get with a balcony on this trip. We got $25.00 per person instead. I wouldn't have tied up the money for that. Oh well.....we had fun and we thank Princess for a safe, lovely trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My family really enjoy this trip form the very beginning. I'd love to thanks every one who met us in Airport and transported to the Hotel and then to the Ship- it was welcome, pleasant, well organised and easy ( my granddaughter 2.5 ... Read More
My family really enjoy this trip form the very beginning. I'd love to thanks every one who met us in Airport and transported to the Hotel and then to the Ship- it was welcome, pleasant, well organised and easy ( my granddaughter 2.5 years old travel with us ). Balcony Cabin with Spectacular view , excellent service our Stuart, Magnificent Food, Incredible Entertainments , selection of any possible activities for any age groups- we never get enough and never get bored - it was Seven Heaven ! All Princes Crew hard working Team made this trip for us unbelievable!!! Thanks for your Royal Service - We feel like Crown Princesses!!! We definitely looking forward yo plan ours next trip . Podlegaev Family, Vancouver . All the best !!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first time on Princess and we had a nice time. From reading previous reviews, there were complaints about smells and the food, both of which I'll get into. Overall though, we had a nice time. Embarkation - we ... Read More
This was our first time on Princess and we had a nice time. From reading previous reviews, there were complaints about smells and the food, both of which I'll get into. Overall though, we had a nice time. Embarkation - we didn't end up making it down to Galveston until almost 3pm because of heavy traffic in Houston. Once we got there though, the lines went by quickly and painlessly (except for those that don't understand removing metal prior to walking through metal detectors). Once on the ship, the rooms were ready of course, so we went directly there first as we walked on our luggage. All the restaurants were open for dinner, not just the buffet, so that was a nice surprise. Cabin - we had a balcony cabin (BD category), I'm pretty sure we will be getting a balcony every time from now on. Having the ability to step out into the fresh air and have a view anytime you want, definitely worth it. Plus depending what deck you're on, it's pretty private ;) Luckily the only way you were seeing us on the balcony was if I was up against the rail or you were peeking around the wall from an adjacent balcony. Inside was a normal size from what I recall of other cabins. TV was nice enough, mini fridge worked out well, bed was comfy enough, bathroom...it's a regular cruise ship bathroom :) but it was functional. The closet was a decent size surprisingly, along with a cupboard with shelves to store more items. Public Areas - pretty nice I would say. The only bad thing was in the piazza area (atrium, whatever you want to call it), that's where I caught a little of the "smell" that people have talked about. Nowhere else on the ship though and it was only occasionally that I'd pick it up. Fitness center - again, pretty nice. Lots of treadmills, some ellipticals, a few bikes (aside from the spin bikes for the classes only), plenty of lifting machines and free weights. You can definitely get a good workout on this ship, but if you're wanting to use the treadmills, they are packed very early (half of them are closed until 9am so you don't wake up people below). There is a sauna and steam room in each locker room (you don't have to pay for the thermal suite, that's separate and very nice, but I can't see paying $100 for the use of it). There's also a separate pool and two hot tubs (adults only) in the middle of the fitness center (VERY NICE!!!) that are typically free of people, though if the seas are rocky, the pool will be empty (no water), but the hot tubs are still open. Food - pizza is ridiculously good, had to put that in first :) Not 24hrs, but 11am-11pm, same for the ice cream (scoop or soft serve). All the food we had on the ship was very good, I am not sure what people complain about, maybe my palate is not up to Tony Bourdain's, who knows...but I liked it all. We ate in the Da Vinci dining room all but one night, great service and food. Had either pizza or buffet, or both, for lunch. Again, always a good selection and tasty. Always the buffet for breakfast, again, never a bad meal. Definitely, definitely, definitely, go to the International Cafe and have some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk, so good. Usually they just have cookies on hand, but are still relatively fresh. Occasionally you'll catch them fresh out of the oven (one of the girls will come around with a basket of them and a bunch of glasses of milk), do not miss it. Tried several new things on the ship: crawfish etouffee, escargot, pheasant, oxtail. Good to try new things :) Desserts were all pretty good, no chocolate lava cake, but they did have vanilla bean creme brulee every night, very good. Entertainment - the ship shows were ok, nice dancers and singers. Guest entertainers, Duncan Tuck, amazing on the guitar, funny guy too, if you haven't heard/seen his rendition of California Dreamin, it's ridiculously awesome, check it out. AJ Jamal (comedian), very funny guy, had to keep it somewhat PG13, guess Princess doesn't do "adults only" shows. Also saw Steve Moris (tried to see him twice). First time he was in the Explorers lounge, too small for the amount of people that went to see him. Next day he was in the Princess Theater though and plenty of room there, good show, music and comedy. The International Crew show was great, see some regular people singing/dancing/etc, along with a hilarious version of "If I Were Not Upon the Sea". Service - great on all accounts, from the room steward to the dining room to on deck waiters. Everyone was very nice and helpful. Our room steward was Carlito (Aloha forward, starboard side), very nice guy, quick to get anything we needed...he also likes to sing while he takes care of the rooms :) Kids program - we had our boys with us (15 and 17), so they hung out with the other kids doing their activities and general "kid stuff" all over the ship. They enjoyed it, had some video games, lots of activities. Value - seemed like they charged for more things than we've seen on previous cruises, or charged more for some things ($2 for a can of soda, yikes). Other things have changed though too, you can bring a bottle of wine for each paying adult for free (consume in your cabin), bring water or soda with you for free. We ended up just bringing a case of water with us and a few bottles of soda for the kids. Bringing liquor in a bottle is a still a no-no, but bringing a bottle of soda (even if it's opened) is ok...if you catch my drift :) Overall - had a nice time...ship was nice, food was nice, people were nice. I would probably sail with them again, just a different itinerary, getting tired of Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We are a family of five with three teenage kids ages 19, 15 and 11 and this was our third spring break cruise in a row. Our previous two cruises were on the Norwegian Star and Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, so we are gaining ... Read More
We are a family of five with three teenage kids ages 19, 15 and 11 and this was our third spring break cruise in a row. Our previous two cruises were on the Norwegian Star and Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, so we are gaining a pretty well rounded perspective and experience of what each cruise line has to offer. We enjoyed our previous two cruises and enjoyed this cruise on the Crown Princess as well. Each cruise line has strengths and weaknesses, and my review of the Crown Princess will be from that comparative perspective. Port of Galveston Getting to the port of Galveston from the Houston airport was unreasonably expensive and inconvenient. If I relied on the cruise line's own transfer, it would cost $37 per person each way, which for a family of 5 would cost me $370! I spent more time trying to find a cheaper transfer option than I did planning the cruise itself. Other cruisers have had success getting one-way car rentals to/from Galveston using Enterprise but that option was no longer available. I ended up finding a cheap car rental from Houston Hobby. We arrived two days before the cruise so a nine-day full size car rental with tax was only $188. I actually paid $50 to park my rental car for the week at Park N Cruise. With gas my total cost was about $250 round trip for 5 people. Plus we had the use of a car (we went to visit NASA and shopped at Wal-Mart for pre cruise items), and we were able to depart for the airport right after disembarking without waiting for a bus. It is silly that a weekly car rental plus parking and gas is cheaper than van service to/from Galveston and the Cruise lines need to figure out a cheaper way to get their passengers to the port. Adding hundreds of dollars for an airport transfer is ridiculous and I will never cruise out of Galveston again. Embarkation/Disembarkation Smooth and orderly on both ends. We were impressed how early we were allowed to our rooms. We boarded at about 1pm and our rooms were ready, bags arrived shortly thereafter. This was way earlier than we have experienced on other ships we've sailed. It was also a welcome change to do the muster drill while seated in the Club Fusion lounge rather standing in the hot sun like on other cruise lines. We used "express walk off" for disembarking and were out of customs by 8:00 am. The Ship The Crown Princess is a large, beautiful ship, and like NCL and RCL ships it is designed to appeal to many types of cruisers. As such, the four different pool areas each have their own vibe and appeal. At the front of the ship is the Sanctuary, a fee for entry adults only retreat with private cabanas and massages. The most forward main pool area is the party pool with live bands, sexy leg contests and other fun activities. The other main pool is quieter, and has multiple levels and the Movies Under the Stars screen, which plays movies and concerts even during the day, when it is almost impossible to see the screen in the bright sunlight. My favorite is a smaller pool at the aft of the ship, which is surrounded by balconies that enjoy a great view of the ocean beyond the stern. While Royal Caribbean ships emphasize sports (rock walls, wave simulators, mini golf) and Norwegian emphasizes entertainment (Blue Man Group, Legends of Rock, etc), Princess's signature item is the Movies Under the Stars. We really enjoyed the drive in movie like experience, however on some upper levels one must view the screen through Plexiglas railings. They provide some cozy blankets because it can get pretty chilly and windy at night. The Piazza was a nice area, but nowhere near as impressive as the interior promenade "avenues" on the RCL ships. I miss hanging out in a cafe watching people walk by on the RCL promenade. On the Crown it was often difficult to find a spot to see the performances held in the Piazza as the pretty spiral staircases don't make very good bleachers. Staterooms We booked three separate staterooms for our family of five. An aft Aloha deck 12 balcony (category BD) for us, and two side-by-side ocean view staterooms (no triple cabins were left) for the kids. We had mini suites on our previous cruises and the standard balcony stateroom was fine, basically a smaller version of what we were used to. The beds were very comfortable and the bathrooms and showers were small but efficient. The flat screen TV had a large selection of movies, TV shows and other programs. The mini fridge had ample room, as it fit the entire case of Coke Zero I brought aboard with room to spare. Our balcony was relatively small, but private. It's worth noting that the balconies on decks 9 or 10 extend out wide over the tops of the lifeboats so their views are not obstructed, but this leaves those balconies fully exposed to the decks above. I personally wouldn't like this lack of privacy, and actually saw some people from higher decks dropping ice cubes on the lower balconies. Not cool! Our cabin steward (Rodgie) was excellent. Very personable and kept the room neat and clean. There were no towel animals but I never cared for that gimmick anyways. The nightly chocolates were good enough for me. The ocean view rooms were the same as ours except for the good sized windows in place of the balcony. Ours were obstructed view but still had plenty of visibility over the tops of the lifeboats. Overall the rooms were fine with no issues. Dining Room We elected anytime dining and split our dinners between the DaVinci main dining room and the buffet. Overall we ranked the food on the Crown Princess as "hit or miss" with some items excellent, some good, and some not so good. The dining room menu was mostly very good with some glaring exceptions. For example, my wife ordered a prime rib and was served a cut that was two thirds fat. She should have sent it back or gotten another one but she's not that type. I wish I had taken a picture of it to send to Princess. We were also not impressed that margarine, not butter was served with the bread. There were many very good items though, especially the lobster tail, salmon, scallops and other seafood items. The beef wellington was very good too. The desserts were OK, but seemed to have a sweetness level lower than American palettes are accustomed. We noticed that the pastry chefs were Asian, and since we travel to Asia often, we have noticed that lower sugar desserts are common there. Service in the dining room was efficient, timely and polite. At the hour we usually ate (around 7:00 pm) the waiters were so busy there seemed to be no time for them to chat with the guests. They did a great job of getting our orders of multiple courses correct and brought them out promptly and hot. Props to the maitre d who went out of his way twice to find us a table earlier than the ATD guests were supposed to be admitted to the DaVinci DR. Buffet The buffet selections were smaller than on other ships, but the quality was pretty good. Some of the MDR selections were also offered in the dinner buffet. I liked that smoked salmon was offered each breakfast, however quiches were served cold! Very strange. The buffet layout and traffic pattern is the worst I've seen. There are three separate enclosed buffet areas in which you are forced to follow through a narrow, crowded line with a specific entrance and exit. There is little opportunity to "browse" the food selections since you are trapped in the buffet line. This design also makes returning for seconds problematic, as one has to cut in line to retrieve a specific item. Other Food The New York style pizza slices served on the pool deck are very good and quite popular. People are seen eating pizza slices all over the ship, including in the buffet and at MUTS. The burgers at the Trident grill were also excellent. The specialty coffees at the International Cafe were very good and reasonably priced, however for some reason regular coffee is not offered there. Regular coffee (which was also very good) was ONLY available at the buffet on deck 15. This is a major oversight since coffee lovers like us would appreciate access to regular coffee in more than one place on such a big ship. We always enjoyed regular coffees at the cafes on RCL and NCL. Princess needs to fix this. We all got soda cards, which at $36 pp I believe are cheaper than other lines. It was nice that the wait staff was usually OK with only one of us digging the card out of our pockets, and were usually prompt at bringing the sodas despite no additional tip. We have had problems being neglected before, especially on NCL. Entertainment I will start off by saying that our cruise director Kelvin Joy was the best we have had. He was very entertaining, had a great sense of humor and was a great master of ceremonies for many of the ships events. Kelvin just returned to the Crown for our cruise and relieved the previous CD whom wasn't getting very good comments from previous CC reviews I have read. Kelvin, Colin the assistant CD, and CJ the DJ hosted most of the events on the ship and were all very funny. The staff performs a skit at the end of the crew show that is hilarious and is a must see. The main theater shows were excellent, with great singing, dancing and costumes. While the song and dance numbers were enjoyable, they were all very short, only 30 to 40 minutes long in order to fit three shows in per night. The Crown may need to do three shows due to the smaller size of its theater, which we heard only fits about a third of the ships passengers. In spite of its size, we never had to wait for a seat in the theater and it filled to capacity only on the last night of the cruise. While the dancers changed themes each performance, and a couple comedians performed on some nights, there was a surprising lack of variety of performances offered on the Crown. Other ships have also had magicians, hypnotists, acrobats, parades, and even ice dancing. On Norwegian each theater show would be almost 2 hours and have a number of different acts. Princess settles for one short act. Good performances, but too short in my opinion. There was a running joke among the staff about the lack of people up in the Skywalker's Lounge (basically the ship's disco) and it turns out it was no joke. We went a couple times and never saw more than 6 or 8 people up there. The waiters there looked very bored and we actually felt sorry for them. Skywalker's is restricted to ages 18 and older and if they opened it up to all ages they would probably fill the place. I am sure the teenagers would love to dance there. There was an ultimate deck party one night that was pretty fun but not as well attended as one would expect. In fact, it amazed me how deserted the upper decks became at night. I would take some evening walks at about 11:00 pm and would often be the ONLY passenger on the pool decks while over 3000 others were below decks. Youth Programs Being spring break, there were hordes of kids on this cruise and we met many vacationing teachers as well. Our 15-year-old son registered with the teen center and basically used it as a meeting place to get acquainted with other teens. Once the cliques were established the teens wandered around the ship in groups and crowded stairwells in chat circles. The teen center stayed open until 2:00 am, which is too late in my opinion. Most parents want and need to know their kids are back in their staterooms by the time they go to bed, and don't like to search the ship for their teen late at night (one reason for some of my late night walks). We set our own curfews but it was hard to enforce while in "vacation mode" and with no working cell phones. It would be helpful if ship's security enforced a curfew for teens by midnight at least. Wayward teens appeared to be a problem for other parents as there was more than one middle of the night announcement over the ship's PA announcing a missing person. Overall Conclusion Overall we really enjoyed this cruise on the Crown Princess. We liked the ports of call a lot, but since the Crown has already departed for the Mediterranean for the summer, I will not bother reviewing shore excursions here. We liked the ship, the food was pretty good, the entertainment was good and the staff was friendly and helpful. There are certain things we liked more on NCL and RCL but we would still enjoy cruising on Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This review is based on my objective opinion and observations. We try to take one cruise a year. The last time we sailed on board Princess was in 2010. In 2011 we sailed with Celebrity. Last year we opted for a land vacation by ... Read More
This review is based on my objective opinion and observations. We try to take one cruise a year. The last time we sailed on board Princess was in 2010. In 2011 we sailed with Celebrity. Last year we opted for a land vacation by renting a Class A RV for 15 days. We are a family of four and brought along my Mother. I do most of the planning when it comes to vacations. The wife is rather busy with school and the house hold. I have a confession to make. We booked a mini suite on the Emerald deck E730. Yes the one with the extended balcony. And an inside room D720. In order to have the same Muster Station, and not wanting to lose our coveted covered extended balcony, I requested do not upgrade. On March 6, I received a voice mail from our TA. I called her back and she informed me that we had been upgraded to a family suite. Initially my heart sunk as I did not want to be apart from the other room. Our TA informed us that we were now assigned rooms D106 and D102. OK, now I am cool about most of it although I heard people complaining about how windy it is out on the balcony. I also debated on whether to inform the wife that our room assignment changes. We drove to San Antonio on Friday March 8, picked up my mother and from there to Houston. We spent the night at the Double Tree hotel in downtown Houston. We chose this hotel for its location to the Aquarium. We walked to the Aquarium for the little ones to see the place and met with my mother's brother for dinner. The following morning, in order to avoid any potential traffic issues on I-45. On the way down to Galveston, we stopped at Panera for breakfast. We arrived in Galveston around 11 am unloaded our luggage, the stevedore helped us staple the luggage tags, and off I went to park the vehicle. I walked back to the dock, gathered the family and carry one and proceeded to check in. We went through security and filled out the health forms. We had one Black box wine, a 12 pack of Coke Zero and a 24 pack of Perrier. We had no issues at all going through security. Afterwards, we were directed to the main line. I informed the attendant that we were in a suite and she allowed us to switch lines. There was nobody ahead of us. Passports checked, credit cards checked, key cards issued and off we go to the Elite/Suite lounge. As we try to go in, we were asked for our Elite pass. I informed the waiter that we were not Elite but were in a full suite. We were allowed into the lounge and not even five minutes later, everyone in that lounge was escorted to the gangway in order to board the ship. Once on board the ship, we headed to our assigned rooms. At this point, the wife has yet to realize that we are heading to the front of the ship rather than the aft section of the ship. When sailing Princess, we always get a mini suite on the Emerald deck. As we approach the room, I tell the wife that it is confession time. I informed her of the room change. She gives me that look (well I leave it up to you to decide which look). I informed her that we are now in the family suite and I open the door to the cabin. The first thing she noticed is the flower arrangement I order for her. Additionally, all suites come with a flower arrangement as well. The room set up is not bad. The main room is like a mini suite. The bathroom is like that of a mini suite as well, not as fancy as the other suites but include all the amenities that come with a suite. The location of the sofa bed is on the opposite side of the beds because there is an additional sofa bed perpendicular to the other sofa bed. On the opposite side of the 1st sofa bed is a large screen TV with a DVD player and a DVD menu. In front of the 2nd sofa bed is a small table. The diagram shows a total of four chairs and two tables in this living room area. We only had one table and one chair. Between the second sofa bed and the big screen TV is a door that leads to the inside room which can sleep up to four guests. The balcony has the regular wooden furniture that comes with a suite. Two chase loungers with a small table, two chairs with a full size table. The diagram show four chairs and two full size tables. There were no palm trees in our room either. These misrepresentations were not an issue for us. We found the actual room set up to be practical for us. We walked all the way to the back of the ship and took the elevator up to the youth center and check out the Pelican area. We were greeted by the staff inside. Now here is a first that I have never heard before. Please do not construe this as policy. It may have been an experiment for this particular sailing or something that they do exclusively onboard the Crown. Our youngest one is still on diapers but within the age group allowed at Pelicans. The staff allowed us, on a trial basis, to let her enroll into the program with a few caveats. They do not do the diaper change thing would not be allowed to participate with the program while were out on an excursion. Needless to say, we were delighted. Off we went down to the Crown Grill to make a reservation for that night. Then we went to the International Cafe for lunch located at the plaza level. I was disappointed that they no longer make the shrimp salad the way they used to with light oil and lime juice. Now they make it with a cream based dressing and does not taste the same as the shrimp salad we stated back in 2010. After lunch, we went back to our stateroom. Our luggage was already outside our room. We proceeded to unpack and put everything away. We met our cabin steward Yevgen. What an outstanding lad! He went over the perks that come with the suites, told us that he would later bring us our "small" bottles of champagne and went to bring us the appropriate size flotation vest for our little ones. We gathered our vests and proceed to go down to the theater in order to beat the crowd before the Muster alarm sounded. After Muster, we went back to our room and dropped off the vests, then went up to the lido deck for the sail away party. We went back to the room to get ready for dinner. We fed the little ones and took them to Pelican's. We signed the little ones in and we were provided with a pager in case they needed us. Down we went to the Promenade deck and had the wife and mother wait while I went down to Vines to purchase a couple of bottles of red wine. In the past, Vines would offer wines that one could only get there and were not available at the restaurants. This is no longer the case, at least on board the Crown. In the past, we were able to borrow the appropriate wine glasses to use with the wine you at a specialty restaurant. Again, this is no longer the case, at least on board the Crown Princess. So off I go to meet my party at the Crown Grille. We go in and find out that they sell the same wine inside the restaurant. I felt bad for the waiter as he could have received part of the 15% gratuity from the wine. We were finished with our second course and waiting for the main course to arrive when the beeper went off. Off I go to Pelican's. Our youngest one missed us. She gave me a big hug and we both went back to the Crown Grill hoping that everything would work out. Thank goodness for smart phones. Thank goodness for Wow!Wow!Wubbzy. That game kept the little one entertained and we were able to finish dinner, eat dessert without interrupting anyone else's dinner. It also help that we were sitting in an area isolated from other patrons. After dinner we went back upstairs to Pelican's to check out our oldest one and we went back to our room for the night. The next morning we went up to Sabatini's for breakfast. Since this was our first time eating breakfast at Sabatini's the manager confirmed that we were staying at a full suite and proceeded to take us to our table. What an awesome concept! The menu is pretty simple. Whatever you want, however you want it, they will make it. For me, eggs benedict, but instead of Canadian bacon, smoke salmon. By the way, the wines that we drank and recommend (we bought and drank wine six nights) are Chateauneuf-du-pope by Serabel and Le Bocce Chianti Classico. From the bar set up, we had Vodka, Cognac, Scotch, and Gin. We do not drink Gin, and Yevgen swapped the two Gin bottles for Scotch. On Sunday, we had our first Gala dinner. We were also invited to the Captain's Circle cocktail type event which was held at the theater. We chose not to attend this event. Those who know us know that we actually spend a lot of time relaxing at our stateroom. Yevgen also made towel animals for each of the gala dinners. The little ones were delighted. I read many complain about the family suite's balcony being useless out at sea. There were only to instances where the wind was an issue out on the balcony. We simply used the chase loungers and had the wall block the wind. The weather was also great for our uncovered balcony. It was mainly overcast and therefore not much of an issue with sun burn on our way to Roatan. Many have voiced their concern about having a balcony with little ones on board. Our rules were pretty simple, no little ones out on the balcony without an adult being present. If the adult went inside, so did the little ones. Please ensure that one locks the balcony door as our little ones were able to open and close the heavy door when left unlocked. One of my complaints with Princess is that their balconies are always dirty. During this cruise, the glass on all the balconies was actually cleaned while on port by the room's respective steward. Also, the beds were very comfortable. One complaint is the excessive use of salt on the food, in particular with the dinner meals. How bad was the salt? Let me put it this way, I had a hard time removing my wedding band every night at bed time. Another first, at least for us is the charge for Limoncello at dinner. In the past, one would be charged only for the souvenir glass. Now, you get charged for the drink and for the souvenir glass. The Photography staff will not put your pictures aside anymore. Now, they direct you to put your photographs at the bottom of certain display racks. Another perk that we used was the complementary dry cleaning service. We did not have any issues with damaged, discolored, or shrunk clothing. Mostly was simple wash and dry service with a few dry cleanings here and there. One night, we decided to try the new dinner menu at Sabatini's. I had read some bad reviews about the food. On the Crown, Sabatini's is actually located on deck 16, right underneath the tween center. One can hear stumping from the children running around and the sound check from the Adalgio bar next door (maybe it was a sound check from the tween center). The service was great. The food was not that great. The texture of the calamari was at point. Unfortunately, the breading (flour) was soaking in oil and not sticking to the calamari (as compared to the one on the main dining room). The lobster cooked three was also a disappointment. The lobster was too salty and the taste was nothing to rave about. The lobster in the main dining rooms is much better. The lobster served at the Crown Grill was outstanding. Limoncello and cappuccino are no longer included with the dinner price at Sabatini's. I loved their fresh made pasta (that particular night was ravioli night). I also liked their fresh mozzarella. My mother ordered the veal chop which she loved. Another disappointment was that they no longer offer Tiramisu. This may be a non-issue for those who live big cities. But we live in a small town that is 150 miles away from civilization. Therefore we were looking forward to having Tiramisu at Sabatini's. For those booking a room toward the front of the ship please be aware that you will hear the sound when the crew releases the anchor. I thought this would be an issue for those on the lower levels. Regardless, please remember this in order to avoid waking up in a panic. No worries, we knew exactly what was happening. But I just want to forewarn those who may not be prepared for this type of wake up call. Another issued we encountered was on our way to Cozumel. The winds were pretty strong. I would say 30-40 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 60mph. The forecasted high for Cozumel was 72 degrees. So I woke up around 2 am and went to the front desk (Purser's Office) and asked about cancelling our island beach tour. The girl working the desk took a look at the patter to confirm the forecasted temperature and in a condescending tone, looked at me and explained that I could cancel but there would be a cancelling penalty of 100% of the purchased price. I went back to my room and was unable to sleep as I was worried about our little ones. We woke up at 0530 hrs. and headed to the buffet for breakfast. We met our tour guide at the dock who informed us that they were cancelling the excursion due to the weather. Go figure! The DVD player in our room was not working. We reported this to our stateroom steward and had someone come in a replaced the DVD player. Another first for us was having a baked Alaska parade at the anytime dinner room. Compared to our previous Princess cruise, the staff was very friendly and polite. Every time we would walk by an employee we were not only acknowledged but greeted as well. I did witness the crew taking food away from the guests while disembarking at the ports. Regardless of the warning on the patters and with public announcements both via the TV and the speaker system, some still thought that the rules did not apply to them as they attempted to walk off the ship with fruit on hand. Another thing that we witness is a youngster pulling corals out of the sea in Roatan. Luckily the family did not receive a fine. Yes there were plenty of law enforcement personnel on the west end of the island. Another peccadillo was a lady smoking at the casino. For disembarkation, we requested that both of our rooms would be allowed to leave together at the same time. We each received a different luggage tag. Luckily, our room had enough tags for both rooms. The disembarkation lounge is another perk that we enjoyed. We were scheduled to disembark at 1040 hrs. We were off the ship by 0930 hrs. Yes, there were many negatives but the plusses were there as well. The wife and I agreed that this particular sailing was our best one with Princess. We were extremely delighted with the SERVICE provided by the staff at the Crown Princess. The Children's program was superb. I believe that one thing that helped us was that each time our pager went off (a total of three times), we went straight to the club to pick up our youngest one. She only had issued late in the evenings. During the day, she had no problems being for the duration. We always had breakfast and lunch together. With exception to the nights we ate at the Crown Grill and Sabatini's, we always ate dinner together as well. Our oldest one loved the Children's program and did not want to leave the ship at the end of our cruise. We will be back! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We sailed on the 3/23 sailing of the crown princess. Everything about the trip was problem free and enjoyable. We arrived at the port around 11am and walked right up to the suite line with no wait, then had a lounge to relax in with ... Read More
We sailed on the 3/23 sailing of the crown princess. Everything about the trip was problem free and enjoyable. We arrived at the port around 11am and walked right up to the suite line with no wait, then had a lounge to relax in with beverages. Within 20 minutes we were welcomed aboard, went right to our room and started enjoying our vacation. The suite was beautiful, the steward was nice and helpful and we enjoyed all of the suite perks. The french toast at Sabatini breakfast is a winner, as well as the international cafe which we freuqented daily. The Crown grill was delicious, and the buffet and main dining rooms were generally pretty good. The burgers at the pool grill were delicious as was the pizza. We had a blast in all 3 ports and arranged our own tours to save on cost. The debarkation was unbelievable organized, from the luggage, waiting lounge, leaving the ship and the air port transfer were all smooth and the best we have ever experienced. The Princess Pelicans was a great program, diverse activiities and our 6 year old thoroughly enjoyed it. There were 3 sessions a day and he attended most of them. The fitness center was busier than we expected but still had nice ammenitites. All in all we loved the trip and would cruise the crown again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We cruised before on the Ruby 2 years ago. This time we were with our "kids" to celebrate my daughter graduation from HS. She is 18 and my son 21. They has a inside room across hall from us. We had a balcony room A618. We stayed ... Read More
We cruised before on the Ruby 2 years ago. This time we were with our "kids" to celebrate my daughter graduation from HS. She is 18 and my son 21. They has a inside room across hall from us. We had a balcony room A618. We stayed 2 night before cruise at the Galveston Hampton Inn. Nice view of Wal-Mart (LOL it is what it is) and the ocean . Nicely decorated room and hotel. Our room, 518 nice but smelled like something died in the wall, phew! Embarkation was good. Got there about 1100 and were on just after 1200; Waited for about an hour. Right off the bat we noted the age of the passengers. My kids thought they were the youngest on board. They weren't but pretty close with ourselves running right behind them. It felt like you walked in a "retirement home". I never saw more scooters, walkers, oxygen tanks in one spot in my life. Our neighbor, 60 yrs old himself mentioned to me the over whelming age of the passengers. We estimated 70-80% being over 60 and well over 60. Those under 50-30 10%. We took this cruise as it fit our schedule and price. Entertainment: Good. The comedians excellent and the shows we thought. MUTS did not show many movies and had large gaps of time just showing scenic nature shots of Alaska. The pool side band played maybe 2-3 times a day for about a half hour. The cruise out party nothing other than drinks. The Pools: of 4 hot tubs around the two main pools 1-2 were closed much of the cruise. Rarely were they all open. Disappointed and not acceptable to me. The pools were cold most of the time as well. For a ship coming out of Galveston with weather already cool, common gives of something not so frigid. The Food/Dinning; Poor to OK. Very bland or over salted; The dining room food seems to have deteriorated. They featured nightly "home style cooking". They had meatloaf one night as an item or a turkey dinner. If I wanted that I would have stayed home. For what is supposed to be a higher end cruise line and in comparison to before the food in the dining room and the buffet were OK at best. I'm not that fussy but I expected better. Ports Visited: Roatan -- excellent. Belize City -- what a dump. Four ships in anchor off with tenders required, which we like actually, but the port is small and crowed. If you're not doing an excursion don't bother. I don't know why Princess even goes there. Phew! Cozumel. Excellent port. Took excursion on speed boat twister to private island called Paradise. Lunch provided, open bar, wild & fast but save ride 2 $84 each. Lot of fun. Galveston, wish we had more time there. However for a cruise location and if your looking for warm weather and only have 7 days to cram that in like us before heading back up north at least 1-2 days are in cooler weather cruise day wise, FYI so you really get about 4-5 days in hot weather. Next cruise for us will be back out of FLL or MIA. The ship: as cruised Ruby before we knew what we were getting; even so still can't help but feel for a "big" ship how small it is and how little it has to offer in public spaces. Very chopped up. Small dining rooms. Smoking: Despite no smoking in staterooms and balcony we had 1 near us either below or beside who smoked on his balcony. Despite complaints never seemed to go away. The Piazza Atrium, was constantly filled with the smell of smoke coming out of the casino. Wasn't like that on the Ruby. This pretty much ruined the piazza and go to feel for the employees who have breathe that in every day. So next cruise for us will be in sometime in the future. We are going to try Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or even Carnival. At least Carnival I hear has some sort of ambiance of fun I'm told. It was still a nice cruise just not a "higher end" cruise that it should have been. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Just returned this past weekend from a great week aboard the Crown Princess. We have previously done this itinerary from Galveston but I could not remember too much about it so we decided to give it a go since it was a change of pace from ... Read More
Just returned this past weekend from a great week aboard the Crown Princess. We have previously done this itinerary from Galveston but I could not remember too much about it so we decided to give it a go since it was a change of pace from the eastern cruises we typically do in the winter. We arrived in Galveston the day before and used Super Shuttle for our transportation from Hobby airport. I spent a lot of time looking at different options and this seemed the most reasonable. We were a group of 4 adults and chose to book a private SUV at $35 per person. When we arrived there was a slight snafu, I received a voicemail from the company and they told me that it looked as though our flight was now arriving at 10pm instead of 10am. Not sure where they got that from so I called them back and it ended up being their mistake. Now the problem was that because they thought we were delayed they did not have a driver available to take us. I was not very happy and a bit testy from traveling since 3am and after a bit of a back and forth they had the super shuttle van take us by ourselves to Galveston for the same price. The van was perfectly fine and the driver was very nice. We stayed at the Hotel Galvez which we all thought was very nice. I really love historical hotels and the location was right on the beach with great views from the rooms. I only wish it had been warm enough to actually hang out on the beach, it was pretty chilly. There were restaurants within walking distance and a town car that would take you into town and pick you back up for no cost. It was really easy to call them and get picked up when we were ready to go back to the hotel. My husband was excited to stay at the Galvez since it is said to be haunted, he even called months in advance to request the "haunted room". To his disappoint nothing out of the ordinary happened during our stay. The rooms are clean and slightly updated but very small which we expected since the hotel is so old. Our rooms were fine for 2 adults but if we were looking to get 3 or 4 in a room it would be very tight. Check in is at 4pm but we arrived by 12pm and only had to wait about 30 minutes for our room to be ready and the others in our party could check in right away which was really nice. If you stay at the Galvez they do have a complimentary shuttle to the pier but you need to make sure you sign up right away as it does fill up quickly. We ended up getting in the 12pm slot and it worked out great. When we arrived at the pier there was really no wait at all. Dropped our bags off and were on board within about 20 minutes. I thought the check in was very organized, we have preferred check in but the rest of our group without boarded very shortly after us and were very complimentary of the whole process. Once on board we dropped our things off at the room and headed up to the buffet for lunch. The weather in Galveston was sunny but cool so since we would not be hitting the pool we ended up getting back off the ship and walked around the historical strand which is right across from the pier. We made it back on board just in time the muster drill and then we were off! Dining I have to say that we thought the food was very good on this cruise but we were not overly thrilled with the selections on the new menus. Maybe it was because some of our old favorites were missing but I had a harder time choosing something in the MDR at night because not a lot seemed to appeal to me. I did enjoy all of my food, except for what they were calling a filet in the MDR, it tasted almost gamey to me both times I tried it. I always love the fettuccine and we had that as a third main dish to share every night. Loved the ice creams and sorbet selection each night and usually added a scoop to whatever dessert I had. We went to Sabatini's on our first night and Crown grill on our last night and both were excellent and definitely our favorite meals for the week. These are so worth the extra cost! We love to start and end our trips in the specialty restaurants. Afternoon tea was really nice (this was the first time I have gone), a good selection of sandwiches, cookies and pastry. I thought there was supposed to be live music but the occasions we were there is was just music over the speaker system. All in all a very nice experience in the afternoon when there was not a lot going on. We tried to make it to pub lunch but both times the line was HUGE and we didn't feel like waiting an hour plus so we have yet to give that a try. Enjoyed lunches in the MDR and the buffet and found both to have really nice selections during this time. Wish they had more available late night, the cafe caribe was open until midnight but it just seemed to have old left over looking options from dinner that night and nothing great for a little late night snack. Pizza always works though, very yummy. Entertainment We love to do Movies Under the Stars and enjoyed the movies even though most we have already seen. They played Bourne Legacy, Pitch Perfect, Robot and Frank and Premium Rush. My only issue was that the first and last night they replayed the same movie which usually does not happen. The comedians on board were a lot of fun and we enjoyed seeing Lincoln and Argo in the Princess Theater. We didn't attend any of the other shows as they don't usually interest us. We also enjoyed the entertainment in the Piazza throughout the day and evening when we were waiting around for this and that. Ports Belize- We did a princess excursion, the river cruise, Altun Ha ruins and lunch. I really enjoyed this tour but the rest of the group I was with did not. Their biggest complaint was that the river cruise portion was way too long for the type of boat they put you in. I can agree with that, the boat was small and had everyone facing inwards so you always had to turn or stand up to see anything they were pointing out. We did see a lot of wildlife which was great but it did drag on a bit. The lunch was nothing special, you pull up to a building on the side of the river (they called it a resort, I'm not sure why). There was a food line inside for chicken, rice and salad and a soda. It was ok, and by that time we were starving. It's not a lot of food but enough to hold you over until the tour is over. I thought the ruins were wonderful but it was so hot and no shade to be had so definitely wear a hat or bring your sunscreen! We got to climb up some of the structures and get some great pictures but you need to be very careful as the steps can be steep and very uneven. Roatan- This was my first time at this port and we knew it would basically be a beach day. I was expecting something like Princess Cays but I was pleasantly surprised. Mahogany bay was a very nice beach and the water was wonderful! We had a lot of fun and really loved the chair lift that you could take to get to the beach, its $2 cheaper to get the tickets on board the ship. Next time I would love to head out to one of the other beaches and see more of the island. A very pretty port. Cozumel- We had planned to head to one of the beach clubs for the day but the weather was cloudy and it rained off and on most of the day. We took it as a nice break from the sun and decided to walk around town and do a little shopping. We also stopped at Pancho's backyard for lunch which was decent but nothing to write home about. Sea Days- We had three on this cruise since one of our ports got canceled shortly after we booked. I don't love sea days, I find them to be a little boring but I tried to get to some new things and keep busy. We loved the Thermal Suite and used it every afternoon, I don't think it's worth the price they charge but we still tend to purchase the weeks pass. I did feel like there were a lot more people than usual just walking in without having the pass which was annoying since we actually paid for it. People were also just really sloppy leaving towels all over the floor and on the loungers after they left. Our final sea day was cold and rainy, a bust weather wise. This was my only issue with leaving from Galveston, it's not very warm this time of year so your first and last days can be iffy weather wise. We still found a lot to do but it was a little disappointing. Just some other things... This was the first time for us that there was a kiosk near the purser's desk where you could print out your statement without having to wait in line, that was really nice. I did actually find a mistake, a bottle of wine was charged to us in error. The staff at the desk were very helpful and cleared up the charge right away. I thought all of the staff was wonderful and always very helpful. One of the members of our party got a horrible sunburn (her own fault for not wearing any sunscreen) and the buffet staff could see how uncomfortable she was and told her to put plain yogurt on her burns, they even brought her a bunch to put in her cabin fridge. Good to know for the future. We were in cabin R737 and loved our room steward Romel. This is always our favorite location when we do not get a balcony room; we are steps from the aft pool which is really nice. All in all this was a great cruise; I really enjoyed the itinerary and look forward to sailing on the Crown again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
To give you a bit of background information, we are a family of four (husband and self in our mid -forties and our two boys, ages 16 and 13) from the Seattle area. This was our 12th cruise. Transportation from George Bush Airport to ... Read More
To give you a bit of background information, we are a family of four (husband and self in our mid -forties and our two boys, ages 16 and 13) from the Seattle area. This was our 12th cruise. Transportation from George Bush Airport to Galveston: There's been numerous posts on the easiest and most economical way to get from Houston to Galveston....well, I think we found the answer (at least for a family of 4). We flew in Friday, arriving around noon. We had reserved a car through Enterprise, but here's the trick: We rented through the office in Humble, TX (a $10 taxi ride from the airport). So when we landed my husband got the car and the rest of us collected our luggage, then husband came to pick us up 15 minutes later. We casually made our way to Galveston and we stayed one night at The Hotel Galvez in Galveston. Very nice hotel, great location, great pool, free parking and they offer a free shuttle to the terminal. (The only con to the hotel was that the room was a bit small.) Anyways, we kept the car overnight, had fun in Galveston and then the next morning husband dropped the 3 of us off at the terminal around 10am (with the luggage) and he returned the car and Enterprise gave him a free ride to the Tremont Hotel (a hotel right across the street from the terminal) and then he walked over. We were back together around 10:45. So the one way cost including car rental, gas & taxi was approximately $95. It worked great; we saved approximately $60 plus had the independence of having a car for the evening. (We ended up doing the reverse a week later when disembarking). The ship: The Crown Princess is in very good condition and has been kept up well. Embarking and disembarking was easy and organized. The staff was all very helpful and cheerful. The food was typical of Princess ships, entertainment was good (of what we saw - we only went to two comedian shows). The pools were on the cold side, not sure why (we did appreciate pool towels poolside). We loved MUTS. Our boys utilized the teen club (Remix). PARENTS, HERE IS A PIECE OF TEEN ADVISE: If you have kids in either Shockwaves or Remix, get them checked in the first day and have them go to the first night's events. That first night is when kids meet up with other kids and "groups" are formed then. If your child waits a day or two it is much more difficult for them to be included in already formed groups. Back to the ship....This was a primarily older group of passengers, but everyone we met was nice. (We only witnessed one atrocious (pool) chair hog). We gambled (and lost) a bit. The servers poolside did not push drinks at all; they were helpful, but not hovering. And Princess must have upgraded some of their beds, because our bed was insanely comfortable. The only con of the ship is that the cigar lounge has terrible ventilation. It took 3 days to air out my husband's and mine clothes after a few hours in the lounge smoking cigars. Excursions: Our family of four are certified (scuba) divers, so I pre-arranged private dive excursions for all three ports. We were thrilled with our choices of dive shops. If you would like info on that then please feel free to email me at: weskidoyou@q.com. My only other piece of excursion advice is do think long and be well informed when booking excursions. We met many people that did ship's tours that were 8 hours long. People said they were exhausted and hot because the tours were so long. Just a thought. Disembarkation: Again was quick and smooth. My husband left the ship 30 minutes before us (to be at Enterprise right at 9am when they open), meanwhile the 3 of us collected luggage and went through customs and then were picked up curbside. Again a small quirk with Enterprise is that the Enterprise office in Humble closes at noon, so these arrangements only work if your flight times coincide. We had a great time and were once again happy with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 15 years we've sailed a total of 25 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was our second sailing on Princess Cruise ... Read More
My family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 15 years we've sailed a total of 25 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was our second sailing on Princess Cruise Lines. We picked this cruise largely because of cost, sailing dates, and the departure port of Galveston, TX. Overview The Crown Princess is a lovely ship with a pleasant crew, average to above average dining and good maintenance. Basically, it had everything what you would expect from a more upscale cruise line with a few significant weaknesses: their wait staff, specialty dining, long lines, more long lines, and hit or miss lounge entertainment. We are not sure why, but we've rarely been on any other large ship and felt "crowded" except on the Crown Princess. Every venue was packed and there were often long lines to get into anything. We are not sure if the ship just lacks enough public areas or if we were on a cruise where every passenger wanted to attend every offering of interest to us. Embarkation The embarkation process was one of the slowest we've experienced and just the beginning of the "cruise of long lines". We arrived two hours after embarkation began and it still took us about 90 minutes of standing in lines to get onboard. Unlike our experience on the Diamond Princess where our baggage made it to our stateroom before we did, it took several hours for our baggage to show up at our door. This is one reason we try to carry on as much as possible. The Ship The ship is in great shape. All the public areas are updated, modern, and in good repair. Carpets are clean and in good repair both in the public areas and the staterooms. We especially liked the decor of the lounges and bars which were all done in wood. They reminded us of a high-end English pub. It took us several days to get our bearings. This is one of those ships where some of the pubic decks do not span the length of the ship as the kitchen is midship on decks 5 and 6. This requires you to climb a few levels of stairs and then descend back down to reach the Botticelli dining room on deck 6. The folks at the front desk were very helpful and friendly, especially Daniella, who was most accommodating and helpful with a small issue we had with gaining entrance to a wine tasting. Dining Unlike the Diamond Princes that had several smaller, more intimate dining areas, the Crown Princess dining areas are large and surprisingly noisy. They leave you feeling you are dining in a banquet hall as we had to shout at our table of six to be heard. One nice option offered by Princes is that you could also choose from "anytime" seating or the traditional early or late seating. In the main dining room the food quality was average to slightly above average for an upper end cruise line. They did steaks especially well, which is unusual for most large scale food operations. When in doubt on the Crown Princes, go for the steak! We opted for the more traditional early seating dinning option, which typically puts you in the Bottecelli dining room, which caters only to fixed seating. However, we ended up in the DaVinci "anytime" dining room. This meant our servers were kept busy attending to the anytime diners who's tables were continually turning over, as well as the fixed seating diners. Our experience with this was that the service was a tad less personable that what we normally experience in a dining room that is only fixed seating. One puzzling issue we experienced was the unavailability of ordering wine at our dinner on the day of embarkation. We had the early dining option that began at 5:30 pm and were told that we could not order wine before 7pm. This was rather puzzling. We had never experienced not being able to order from the full wine menu. Fortunately, I had brought some wine with me onboard so we retrieved a bottle from the cabin. The specialty restaurants are the Italian restaurant, Sabatini's, and the Crown Grille. The additional charge is a reasonable $25 as compared with other cruise lines that charge $40. However, that extra $15 does buy you a slightly better dining experience onboard Celebrity, Holland America, and Cunard, which feature specialty restaurants that are, well, really special. They have that Michelin star feel which is largely missing from the Crown Princess specialty eateries. Missing from the Crown Princess specialty restaurants is the experience of having a team of three wait staff serving you, most of whom exhibiting a palpable passion for food. On the Crown Princess you are served by one waiter and while the service is attentive and good, it isn't on par with the cruise lines mentioned above. The Crown Grille is a seafood and steakhouse restaurant with dark wood and small dining areas that give it an intimate feel. We found the Crown Grille to be a good value and probably a notch above Sabatini's. While the appetizers and salads were average, the steaks and lamb we had were done to perfection. Sabatini's is more open and has less of a feeling of intimacy than the Crown Grille, however, the experience is still a step above the general dining areas. Our experience in Sabatini's was just the opposite of the Crown Grille. While all our appetizers and pasta dishes were excellent, the entrees we had were not outstanding. I would recommend skipping the veal chop which was dry and tough. Between the two restaurants, we would recommend the Crown Grille. The Chef's dinner was fully booked prior to embarkation, so we were very disappointed we were not able to experience the dinner. While pricey at $95 a person, when we sailed on the Diamond Princess we felt it was a good value and a superior experience to the specialty restaurants We were especially pleased with the coffee on the ship. That may sound like a little thing unless you are a coffee drinker. One of our perennial complaints on other lines is how weak the coffee is. We found the coffee on the Crown Princess quite acceptable. I do wish they would use half and half in the Lido restaurants, rather than whole milk which is put into the container marked "cream." The place on board to get real cream, not half and half, is at the International Cafe. In addition to having real cream, the International Cafe served good espressos and pastries. It was usually packed in the mornings. The wine bar across from the International Cafe was interesting. It featured a tapas with each glass of wine, which was a generous plate of sushi and sashimi. You did not have the option of ordering the sushi and sashimi separately. The bar featured some of the wines by the glass that were only available by the bottle in the restaurants. Unfortunately the first time we went buy the wine bar there wasn't a menu in sight which left us with the impression it was a sushi bar. We didn't discover otherwise until the last day of the cruise. One annoying difference on the Princess line is that the only time juice is available is in the mornings. After then, you've got to pay for juice. Most others have complimentary juice available all day. Another peculiarity is that in the Lido there were no salt or pepper shakers on the table. If you wanted salt or pepper you had to ask a waiter and they would deliver you a small ration. Wine After experiencing how the Diamond Princess catered to wine lovers, we were especially disappointed at our experience on the Crown Princess. Most of the wines were priced at 3x's retail, which were slightly below the 4x's retail charged on Celebrity. We really commend Princes for keeping their corkage fees reasonable at $15 a bottle, as opposed to HAL and Celebrity who charge $25. The Crown Princess has two reasonable wine tasting events, one for $10 and one for $25. We had attended the Sommeliers wine tasting ($25) on the Diamond Princess were very impressed as we tasted 6 wines ranging from $32 to $150 with the average being about $80 a bottle. The Sommeliers wine event on the Crown Princess didn't feature as many high priced wines as the Diamond, the average cost was about $60. We did encounter one flaw in our wine tasting experience. My wife and I purchased two seats to one wine tasting. I arrived early and saved her a seat. She was about 5 minutes late and ended up being turned at the door by Tiziano, who insisted our cabin number was not on the list and there was no one inside waiting on her. He would not even allow her to walk through the restaurant to see if she could spot me. This was one of the most bizarre behaviors we've encountered. The only thought we could come up with for Tiziano's strange behavior is that event crashing wine events must be more common on Princess than other lines. Of course, my wife missed the event entirely and I was left wondering what had happened to her. With the help of Daniella at the front desk and the assistant matre'd, Michael, they refunded the cost of both tickets . One systemic difference on Princess is the lack of knowledgeable wine stewards. During our week on board we never did meet the one sommelier who was on board. It was up to him to look after a total of 5 dining rooms. While I am sure he does an outstanding job, he certainly could use a little support. Most other lines have several stewards serving a dining room, so Princess certainly differs from the competition in this regard. Being wine aficionado's, we brought a bottle of our own wine to enjoy each evening. The two times we ate in the specialty restaurants I delivered a bottle early in the day and requested that it be decanted in time for our reservation. Not once was the bottle decanted, or even opened, upon our arrival in the restaurant. I attribute this to a general lack of wine knowledge by the wait staff. Stateroom Our experience with the Diamond Princess was much different than the Crown Princess. The Diamond had some of the quietest staterooms we've ever had. The Crown Princess was fairly average in that hall noise was easily heard in our cabin and one night we had to endure a party thrown by our neighbors. We do like the cabin layout of Princess, which is different from other lines. Their cabin layout results in a little more space and privacy with a little less storage room for clothes. Our room steward, Richardo, was very attentive and helpful and went out of his way to help us with several requests for packing material. Fitness This is an area in which the Crown Princess is above average. There are a satisfactory number of treadmills and elliptical machines. They also have a good set of barbells and a minimal variety of weight machines. They appear to keep their equipment in good repair as all but one of their cardio machines were in working order the full length of our 7 day cruise. The men's locker room and saunas were a big improvement from the Diamond Princes and were some of the best of any of the 22 ships I've sailed on. The Crown has both a public and private dry and steam sauna that were 170 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a huge improvement from the 105 degrees maximum temperature on the Diamond Princes. Another great feature with their fitness area is the size of the lockers. They are the best designed of any ship I've ever sailed. They have plenty of depth and a separate section for your shoes. The combination locks eliminate having to register at the front desk and that makes a big difference in getting in and out of the locker room in a timely fashion. It's often the little things that count! Unfortunately the Crown Princess doesn't have a spa bar featuring a lighter, healthier fare and a selection of fruit juices and smoothies. The Calypso bar on Deck 15 is the only place on board where you can get a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for $2.75. Entertainment We thought the entertainment was average for most cruise lines. The singers and dancers were talented and performed the standard musical reviews ubiquitous to most cruise lines. The guest comedians and vocal artists were also very good. The theater is unique to most modern ships, which often have two levels and spacious seating with tables interspersed for holding drinks. The Crown Princess Theater has no balcony and the seating is very much like any theater with no center isle and compact seating. Small fold-out tables located in the arms of the seats (like in the emergency row of an airplane) do resolve the issue of what to do with your drink. The one area that didn't meet the standards of other lines was the nightly lounge entertainment. On our cruise they seemed to have over-weighted pianists, quartets, and guitars playing elevator music. There just wasn't much selection of music before or after dinner or charismatic performers that we looked forward to listening to each night. Internet I run a small business and being connected to my staff is imperative, even on vacation. I depend on having a functioning Internet while on board any ship. The Internet was easy to sign up for and operated flawlessly on our cruise. There is an $4 "activation" fee which increases the cost of usage above what is advertised in the package. Internet speeds are ubiquitously slow on cruise ships. I am wondering why airplanes seem to have much faster speeds. Maybe someday the same Internet technology used by planes will become standard equipment on ships! Shopping The shopping experience is ubiquitous to most every other cruise line. There is nothing exceptional to highlight here. Port Talks and Shore Excursions Port and cultural talks were non-existent on this cruise. Getting information on the ports was extremely difficult, if not impossible. As seasoned travelers, we don't appreciate cruise lines that push their shore excursions by starving you for general information on port stops. What made the port experience on this cruise even worse is that about 85% of all the shore excursions were sold out before the ship even set sail! Obviously Princess either underestimated the demand for shore excursions or just wasn't able to secure enough tour operators. We used the Internet onboard the ship to contact several tour companies that were highly rated by www.TripAdvisor.com. Another great place to book private tours prior to departure is by looking under "Tours" and on the chat boards on www.CruiseCritic.com. We've never been disappointed following the advice of previous travelers and typically save 25 to 75% off the ship's prices. We ended up doing relatively well by booking taxies and tours on the dock at about the cost of the ship's prices. Cozumel is very easy to negotiate. There is a well orchestrated taxi service at the pier where the ships dock that will take you to almost any beach on the island. Most of the beaches also have a taxi stand, so returning to the ship is no problem. The cost to town is $8 for three people and $16 to most beaches. Roatan has a wonderful beach where the cruise ships dock. And, while you can take the magic flying chair from the pier to the beach, you can walk it faster yourself (there is a small bridge connecting the beach to the pier) and save $12. We found a little cove full of conch shells and spent the day shell hunting. This was the highlight of our cruise and totally unexpected! Belize City was the low point port. There are all the normal tourist shops at the port. We heard the ruins and zoo were notable, but we were unable to find a tour or taxi driver that would take three of us. They are all around 30+ miles from the city. We settled for a "city" tour that was advertised to be 90 minutes. I felt pretty good about negotiating the $30 fee down to $15, until I realized our tour lasted only 45 minutes. Actually, that wasn't a problem as there wasn't much to see. Skip the city tour and book ahead for a better option! Kid's Club Our kids have always enjoyed the kids programs on board most ships...on this cruise they opted to stay with the parents and enjoy reading in their cabin. My 16 year old decided to give the teen's club a visit but was turned away because she didn't have an adult with her to register her. We never did make it back to get her registered, so I don't have much to report on the Crown Princess kid's club. Summary The Crown Princess is a lovely ship with a pleasant crew, good dining and good maintenance. Basically, it had everything what you would expect from a more upscale cruise line with a few significant weaknesses: their wait staff, specialty dining, long lines, more long lines, and hit or miss lounge entertainment. We are not sure why, but we've rarely been on any other large ship and felt "crowded" except on the Crown Princess. We are not sure if the ship just lacks enough public areas or if it was a coincidence that most passengers were wishing to do what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. We would think twice before booking the Crown Princess again if the main focus would be the ship, like on a transatlantic or transpacific crossing. We would sail on the Crown Princess again given the right itinerary where there was no option on one of the better competing lines. For us the ship's dining weaknesses keeps it from playing more than a supporting role in a successful cruise vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Here's my long trip report on this past 2012 New Year's 7 day cruise we spent aboard the Crown to the Western Caribbean and our pre-cruise in Galveston...hope you enjoy....we did! Our group...2 sets of Greats and the Grands, ... Read More
Here's my long trip report on this past 2012 New Year's 7 day cruise we spent aboard the Crown to the Western Caribbean and our pre-cruise in Galveston...hope you enjoy....we did! Our group...2 sets of Greats and the Grands, Bruce/Jana and son H, plus are kids MP/Traci and grandson Morgan...everyone ages 7 to 85. Day 1 Galveston 27th I am so impressed with Southwest....great people, very caring with disabled pre-board, we had 5 wheelchairs at the airport, comfy seats and great legroom. We'll be using them again in the near future. Susan from Lady Bird limos was waiting for us in the luggage area....we all piled into the van with 10 bodies and 17 suitcases and started our 45 min drive to Galveston. The Hilton is just off the main drag, Hwy 45, into town and right on the sea wall. The rooms are handy, clean and beautiful...staff wonderful, love our bellman Chris. Beautiful views of the angriest ocean I have ever seen...and stormy weather. The Hilton has a lovely pool with swim up bar...which was heated to 90...so swimmable even with 40 degree temps in Galveston. The rooms are handy, clean and beautiful...staff wonderful, loved our bellman Chris. The only negative is the air bed we requested, because of only having double beds....too small for us...it didn't go well that the bed had a leak...oh well. It was a great idea to set up the rental cars through Enterprise....with Galveston stormy and raining...they picked us up at the hotel and got us set up with a van and sedan in no time. We headed out to dinner to a cute local restaurant called Shrimp and Stuff for fried fish, shrimp and oysters...Yum. Very funky, but my half shrimp/half oyster Po'boy and cup of gumbo hit the spot. Everyone was warm, full and happy....counter service with pagers for when your food is ready. They have a cozy, homey feel, perfect on a rainy night. Day 2 Galveston 28th Everyone was up bright and early for breakfast at Waffle House....Mom's find....for of course, waffles. But they seem to have another specialty...hash browns...Smothered (sauteed onions), Covered (melted cheese), Chunked (cubes of smoked ham), Diced (diced tomatoes, Peppered (jalapenos), Capped (grilled button mushrooms), Topped (with Bert's chili) and Country (country gravy) What fun! Our plan for the day was the Johnson Space center, a 30 min drive north....what a great idea. We are all fans of museums and science centers and this is a winner. First thing we jumped on the red tram tour, which includes the astronaut training center and an overview of the buildings and facilities...but the highlight had to be Rocket Park. They have a real Saturn V rocket with capsule inside to walk around and see the magnificent size and how the different stages fit together. NASA lost funding before the rocket could be used. We were lucky enough to catch a docent at the end of his tour and hear part of the details. If you go make sure to find the docent speaking about the rocket...our decent worked at NASA in 1967 as a trajectory engineer. FYI: The tram trip takes 60 to 90 mins, and is completely handicapped friendly with a lift on the tram. We grabbed a bite and then ran over to see the moon rocks on display in the museum....they have the Apollo 17 capsule on display, several flight suits, ejector seats and of course the famous moon rocks. One is available to be touched, one of only 8 in the world available to be touched by the public. Did you know temper foam was developed to be used in the original seats to protect astronauts from the G-force. Morgan loved the Angry birds interactive kids area...we made opening day, so the news crews were there filming. They also have a great gift shop...H couldn't resist getting dad his coffee mug...too cute..."It's not rocket science, oh wait, it is!" We headed back to Galveston for a quick stop at the strand, a beautiful historic area and the well known soda fountain at La King's. Everyone tried a different Shake.... pineapple, butterscotch, chocolate, and strawberry, plus my root beer float...classics and a full double....yum! 6.25 each. Bruce said they were just like back in high school. Don't miss the 100+ long candy counter...Willy Wonka watch out...they even had a substantial sugar free section....plus a wall of salt water taffy. Back to turn in the cars at Enterprise. We walked next door from the Hilton to Landry's for a dinner of seafood...Traci, mom and I shared a platter of oysters Rockefeller and on the half shell, plus some Shrimp Etouffee. The boys had fish and chips and bowls of chowder...all good, all around. Day 3 Galveston/Boarding Crown 29th Everyone had a chance to sleep in this am....our shuttle to the pier was scheduled for 11:30 from the Hilton. The Grands had an early breakfast and the rest of us wondered over to IHOP around 9:30 for pancakes...H found the most amazing Carmel Hot Chocolate...huge, but super sweet. Great waitress and manager who went out of their way in service. Our shuttle was really late....so we didn't get started until 12:30. The terminal was packed, but we found 4 staff with wheelchairs ready to help and off we went....except for the nasty man at the door who wouldn't let minor children and spouses go in the priority door with their families....and was rude to boot.....he almost put his hands on me to block my way....just a bit power crazy huh? This was a very poor reflection on the Galveston terminal authority. The Princess Cruises' motto is 'Escape completely' and I think we did that and much more. Aboard the Crown Princess On first impression, the ship was huge as well as gorgeous. We discovered that the Crown Princess was large enough to carry over 3,000 people, 3,080 to be exact. What features did the cruise ship have you ask? Well, a casino, three duty-free shops, an entire smorgasbord of dining, a wine bar, four lounge bars, a luxurious spa, fitness centre, mini-golf, three pools, two hot tubs, poolside bars, two specialty restaurants, and a coffee cafe-the list goes on, but I can definitely say that being surrounded by all that for a week was absolute heaven. The Piazza The crowning glory is the Piazza, an open-air plaza with the elevator going three floors up. The floors were gorgeous white marble with Romanesque columns flanking the main area. They held jazz performances, comedy acts and piano concerts here throughout the day and there was something about its architecture that was reminiscent of Venice. The International Cafe had tables in the Piazza and you could sit and enjoy enormous portions of three different types of gelato, cold salads and sandwiches, specialty coffees and desserts while listening to some amazing piano music. One of the big up-grades to the Princess fleet is the addition of watching movies on deck poolside, 'Movies Under the Stars' is basically the biggest projector screen you've ever seen in front of literally hundreds of deck loungers, blankets and don't forget the free cookies and milk or popcorn. Our cabin was a real surprise...this is our first handicapped cabin D308; with Bruce's knees the shower, with grab bar is perfect for him...a straight walk in. The ship is looking new...and our room reflects it....H has a new looking sleeper sofa, double TVs, a huge wall of closets, and a comfy queen size bed with down comforter. Our cabin Stewart, Apol, is a darling...and our room is spotless. We got our laundry and pressing ready for tomorrow 9am...I'll report back later on that. The ship is packed and you feel it.....when we tried to make our dinner reservations for 10 we were told there was nothing except 8:30pm...not good with the Grands. Luckily, we ran into our old friend Emil...our head waiter in the Michelangelo dining room and it all worked out....table for 10....5:30pm. The Michelangelo is a cozy, comfortable dining room....our waiters Theerapong and Tharatrip at table 229 had a full station to deal with but our food came out hot and delicious. Most everyone started out with shrimp cocktail, but Traci and I went with the Snapper Mojito....beautiful, but needed the missing jalapeno to make it snap. Everyone stayed with the gorgeous prime rib...perfectly med rare, except H and I, we had the tender tri tip...very nice.....plus a vanilla creme brulee with lemon madelines to finish. Day 4 At Sea 30th Here we are out in the middle of the Gulf....rolling seas and overcast with a windy chill....where is our sunshine? Breakfast in bed was a treat...we are trying to slow down and relax and not race out to every event. Vladimir, our cabin waiter is a dream...trying to find us everything we requested...he even offered to go to the buffet and find the papaya I had requested. I joined MP and Traci in the Horizon for coffee while they had a late breakfast...the Crown has doubled the size of the Horizon's seating....much needed this week...but the lines were ridiculous for the buffet. Hand sanitizers are everywhere, which we appreciate. Service in the Horizon was very attentive with at least 3 staff coming over to get our drink orders. I just don't like the crush of the crowds. ***I later found the Cafe Caribe area in the far rear of the Horizon....bright, spacious, quiet with its own buffet....Perfection. After breakfast, we tried our hand at morning trivia in Club Fusion...15 out of 20....Boo! Mom wanted to hear the shopping lecture....so I went with her to the Princess Theatre...packed? We left after an hour when we found it would go on for another hour??? Two hours on Diamonds International.....Really? Back to the cabin to find MP/T/M for pub lunch in the Wheelhouse Bar....yummy fish and chips with mushy peas, bangers and mash, and the Ploughman's lunch....all washed down with a nice Bass Ale.....crazy busy at 11:50 and the line was twice as long when we left. Service was excellent, but you eat at the tiny little bar tables...with five for lunch it was tight....grab a seat at the bar if you can next time. We all explored or napped for the afternoon....I keep reminding myself this is a vacation, not a trip. Caught up on reading. Everyone had promised to meet at afternoon Trivia for the "Brain Buster"...Ooooh! Bingo had been in the same room so it was way too crowded and we finally found a table. We do trivia because it is fun and silly and .....we want to win. Unfortunately, the German Formula 1 driver threw us for a loop and we should have stuck with our first choices...which were all right...13 out of 20....who knew it was Indonesia instead of Iceland with the most volcanoes? After the trivia game we shot up to the Skywalker lounge for the Plat/Elite cocktail party...tonight's specials...the El Mejor...a margarita made with OJ instead of lime juice...love it....and a platter of guacamole and chips, with some cheese and olives. The drink special was $5. Down the elevator back to 7 for a wonderful dinner at the Crown Grill...little did we know...WOW! The Dining room is beautiful, intimate with an open kitchen...so you can watch your steak sizzle. Be ready for a 2-3 hour dinner...perfectly presented and served by our waiter, Tony. You have your choice of huge steaks, chops, rack of lamb and lobster (4 med to a plate), plus family portions of fries, scalloped potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed corn, asparagus, sauteed mushrooms....all classic steakhouse favorites. We started off with lamb Carpaccio, scallops with smoked bacon and truffle mashed potatoes...go for the delicious Carpaccio...others had lobster cakes with black prawns...H had both. Next course....Black and Blue Onion soup...a twist on the classic with blue cheese topping the crouton....I have to do this at home. On to the main...22 oz porterhouse, rib eye, filet....some chose the sea bass with huge prawns, which looked wonderful....but I can never pass up a rack of lamb...full rack cut into double chops....perfection....amazing! All done to perfection...way way way too much for any mortal.... But that didn't stop us giving dessert a test drive. Dessert...berry apple cobbler....lemon meringue tart....and of course the Fudge Chocolate obsession...all cooked to order. Where's the wheel barrel...take me home. Day 5 At Sea. Happy New Year 31st What a relaxing day....we slept in and had the treat of breakfast in bed again...love Vladimir, our room waiter. We met Mom, MP, H and Joyce for morning trivia...too bad.... losers again at 14 out of 20...drat that "Band of Gorillas" and "Waterloo" from Abba. Up to the pool after dragging Bruce from the Internet cafe....last day of the year for stocks! MP found a table by the pizza parlor....Princess has the best thin crust pizza. beware the slices are huge, at least 2 slices in one. The pizza men are always cheery. They have shrunk the pool area to add to the Horizon dining and the Movies under the Stars.....very crowded and a number of complaints were going around the pool and elevators. The ship is full to capacity and it shows. I got our small change from the front desk...always remember to get this on sea days....port days are always a zoo. The desk also has a pocket-size Patter....ask for it. Love the Piazza....the new Vines has free sushi and Tapas with a beverage purchase.. Need to try. The International Cafe has a nice selection of sandwiches, quiche, interesting salads and of course, pastries. And don't forget Gelato...3 scoops for $1. The bar and coffee lounge is right next door and servers are there to get beverages and help with platters. The piano/musical entertainment is steps away with plenty of comfy chairs and tables. Overall a great area. We are off to the Grapevines wine tasting at 3pm....$10 pp. This is their biggest tasting...a full dining room, and Jan, our sommelier was wonderful and informative. A pleasant afternoon. Dinner is always amazing and Emil is spoiling us with fresh cheese and fruit platters before dinner every night with our wine. Day 6 Roatan January 1st Happy New Year! Today we have plans with Victor Bodden's tours for an Island tour of Roatan. We exited the ship...please be aware: the walk from the ship to the terminal is fairly long and slightly uphill. It looks to be recently constructed....by Carnival. You exit and walk down to the taxi stand where for $2 pp they will take you the mile over the hill to meet the independent tours. Victor is waiting for us and we are handed over to our guide, Leonora and our driver, Rupert and their huge tour bus. We chose Victor Bodden's Best of Roatan Tour and decided to pay the extra $5 per person to have our own guided tour...well worth it. Our guide was in the assigned meeting place and quickly got us on our way. What lovely people....they couldn't be more helpful. We head north on the island to the East side view point...and shopping. Morgan buys a huge seashell for $20 and I find 2 cute Guatemalan bags $10, a wooden salt bowl $5, and cute coconut shell starfish earrings....plus 2 seashell trumpets. Another shopping stop...small oil painting of colorful parrots $20, bags of fresh Honduran coffee beans....which smelled marvelous. Then off to the butterfly farm...$10 pp entrance to see tons of huge butterflies, wild Capuchin Monkeys, jaguar and wild cats.....right in the cage with them. The monkeys loved my dad and wanted to lick his face? Salt lick? Back down the road....to the West end...very pretty...the water is crystal clear and warm. We stopped for a lunch at Half Moon Bay...tasty but expensive....I tried couch..not for me, but the fried shrimp were great....$140 for lunch for the 5 of us. Right on the ocean...it couldn't be a better spot to have a few cold ones. I wished we had brought our snorkel gear...this is the perfect spot for a dip. Next stop....West Bay....the most gorgeous beach on the island...unfortunately; it is jammed packed with people...not our style. Bruce and I have a chat with a real estate broker...crazy prices...I think Roatan has been discovered? Back to the ship... another beautiful day in a beautiful place. If you need help, they do have one wheelchair at Mahogany Bay terminal... Bruce decides the Rose Bowl is more important than dinner, so we leave him to Stanford and go off to our regular table 229 for another wonderful dinner. Belize Day 7 2nd Today we are off to cave tube with Charlie's cave tubing.... We decide to get up and out to breakfast at 8am, the ship docked at 7am...the Crown is anchored off shore as are the other 3 ships and we are tendered in by high speed tender, approx 15 mins. Sunny skies and turquoise seas. We exited terminal tour and the boys in the superman shirts were waiting for us just outside the door....off with Alf and his assistant in a comfy air-conditioned van for the hour ride to the cave site. Belize is a poor country and it is evident all around....tip well and often. The last ten mins of the ride is on a rough dirt road....but the site area is well maintained, clean and well organized. There are large clean restrooms, changing rooms and several restaurants on site. Be prepared with water shoes...the 20 min hike to over uneven terrain and on loose rocks...you carry your own tube and wear a life-vest and headlamp. We had to cross a knee deep river three times...nothing major and the water was perfect. Our biggest mistake was leaving so late...they wanted us off the ship as soon as possible....and we didn't listen...the river was filled with bus loads of tourist and we missed hiking 30 mins up the river to go through additional caves...drat? The river was "refreshing" but I though very comfortable...pleasant in fact. Our tubes were hooked together in line and off we went into the caves for about a 2 mile long ride with headlamps on....very cool. There is a small waterfall in the middle of the cave...and bats. After we exited the caves, we cruised comfortably down the river another couple of miles through lush tropical jungle....the original lazy river. You end where you began and hike a short way back to the central area. We changed and sat down in one of the small restaurants for a little lunch, which way included with our tour...BBQ chicken and beans and rice, and a Belizean beer....Yum. I found time to purchase a Wist shell necklace and bracelet and a stone carving with a sea turtle and Mayan gods. Alf gets us back in the van to head back for the long ride to Belize City....with a short stop at Travellers rum factory....for a tasting. $1 US for 3 tastes of your choice...I go for the cashew wine...nasty...the coconut rum...delicious...and the 5 yr old "5 Barrel" rum....double yum! So I invested in a bottle of the coconut rum for $10 and the 5 Barrel for $15. Highly recommended....this is a must do with Charlie's! Off to the terminal.....but before we enter the door...there is a very nice bamboo drum man...who could resist...not me? One bamboo drum...$10. We passed quickly through security and on to the tender for a quick 15 ride back to the ship by 4pm. We have dinner at 5:30, so just time for a quick shower and change for dinner...plus a bottle of Schramsberg while we sail away....beautiful sunset. Dinner was a dream...venison and quail terrain, gnocchi with sauce Provenal and cocoa crusted pork tenderloin....plus our friend, Emil, was preparing bananas flambe. Pure Evil. Day 8 Cozumel 3rd What a perfect day....sea, sun and snorkeling. Cozumel We had a 9am start time for our glass bottom boat/snorkeling tour with Chi Chi Charters....great great and great. After the long, and I mean long walk from the ship to the terminal and then again through the shopping gauntlet...crazy long. Be aware that there are some peddle bikes (good tip only) for the first half but nothing through the shopping area?? Not ideal for the disabled. Taxis were available...$8 for a sedan and $16 for a 10 person van..Down to Carleta Marina to catch our boat. Amanda met us for final payment and handed us over to Angel and Al, our captain and snorkel guide. We cruised 30 mins in crystal clear turquoise seas to Columbia reef, our first stop. Gear on and jump in. Clear down to the 50 foot bottom...huge schools of colorful fish....which we swam through the beautiful yellow and black stripped Trigger fish and grey groupers.... Barracuda, couch shells, moray eel, stingray, flounder, starfish, and more....I could do this for days...it was like swimming in a huge aquarium. Off to Palancar, Chankanaab Reef and El Ceilo (which means heaven and it is)... No more than knee deep turquoise water and white silky sand....it is truly heaven. This is where Al lays out a table full of snacks...homemade salsas, guac and chips, and fresh fruit while we lazy in the water drinking Coronitas and sodas.....love that! Thanks ChiChi for a wonderful day! Back to the ship by 2pm for a shower....the off to Trivia and a wonderful dinner of escargot, Wellington, and chocolate souffle. Tonight Morgan sleeps over.... and wants breakfast in bed....Hey, Vladimir! FYI: Be aware that the old marina is a natural harbor and there are no piers or landings so the steps down to the boat are at best cuts into the rocks...very steep and uneven. We were able to get Bruce, Kenny, Dad and Joyce down with the help of all of us and the two hands....this was everyone's favorite tour. The new marina is opening soon, but no official date? PS...I love Cozumel...south side hotel area near the national park. Day 9 At Sea January 4th Sleeping in...breakfast in bed.....Trivia, pizza and another wine tasting. This one was $25 pp and started with Vieux Clicquot, so I can't resist? Lovely canapes and Jan is a fantastic sommelier. Plus, plenty of packing up to turn in suitcases after dinner. Tonight another wonderful dinner topped off by Baked Alaska and the parade of waiters. Day 10 Galveston 5th Disembarking was delayed, so we were late by an hour....but it was smooth enough. The terminal is very small and our driver was waiting across the street at Starbucks for us. One quick call and he was at the curb. Thanks Lady Bird Limo...I would trust them in Houston/Galveston again. Rainy and cold...about 49...we headed up the freeway to Houston for a short tour. Past Radiant Stadium and Rice University....too much rain, so off to lunch. Warm gumbo and crawfish bisque.... Pappadeaux's Seafood Kitchen. What a great choice...comfortable, warm, friendly service, delicious food, yummy coffee and the manager bought us dessert since it was our first time. Who could ask for more? Our driver dropped us at Hobby right on time. I am so impressed with Southwest....friendly, helpful, fun. A little overweight, but we were able to adjust quickly and our skycap was so patient. Off we went in 5 wheelchairs and 5 extras...through security...always fun? Happy to be going home......   Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We had no idea Princess Cruises were catered for the elderly, (live and learn). - There was a constant flow of "American" fare, unexciting for us, since we enjoy piquing our palates, frozen seafood-sometimes overcooked, lots ... Read More
We had no idea Princess Cruises were catered for the elderly, (live and learn). - There was a constant flow of "American" fare, unexciting for us, since we enjoy piquing our palates, frozen seafood-sometimes overcooked, lots and lots of beef, no wholegrain breads or pasta/rice, some breakfast items like oatmeal, fruits, yogurt and toast were cut off at 8:00am on day of disembarkation, even though supposed to go to 10 am. (Disembarkation went till 10:30) - Many. many smoking areas on the ship, not well assigned, apparently randomly spaced. We had to deal since it was on the way from buffet to our room, not so great. - Many, many, very, very drunk folks. - Cruise entertainment got old after the first day, was kitschy at best. - Stingy with the good free stuff, like soft ice cream. Had to wait on line (to get served, not self serve like Disney) for a tiny cone with 12 jimmies...and got a snide leer for going back a second time in one day...yet very easy to get buckets of beer-ugh! - All beverage purchases include tip, yet also have a line item on your bill (for you) to fill in a gratuity..no exceptions. Soda for $3.49....we bought the "package" up front, that came with a signature cup, only to find out that waiting on line at bars was a hassle if you were seen with the "soda package cup"...the "tip" was charged up front with the package so crew was not motivated to fill your drink cup at a bar, which was the only way to get your prepaid soda...we would have to wait until all the "tipping" passengers got their drinks first...even though we had been pre charged tip for the 7 day cruise on day one....frustrating and disappointing! - crew are not trained to let you pass when there isn't enough room for two in a pathway... - level of service and courtesy after final, additional "gratuities" are handed out goes down to zero, nil, zilch...btw, gratuities are added to your room charge daily, $11.50 per person per day...not sure how much the working crew members, like cabin stewards and table waiters get, and how much goes to the un-working-maitre' de-type-people! - passenger services proved very inefficient, I called in a request for my daughter's 18th birthday celebration twice, and visited with the request once, was assured room balloons and card, yet nothing came. - beach excursions to Cayman Island are a waste, do your own thing with a taxi...better to find your own in every port except Cozumel. - Princess Cruise website is archaic and unmaintained at best, hard to preplan and prebook because of it. Now the good stuff.. - food available at all hours - room service, although very limited in menu, would deliver within 15 minutes of ordering! Amazing! - lots of elevator space for wheelchairs, well utilized . There were times when we opted to take the stairs, which were almost always empty, to allow one more vehicle and navigator on. - spa very big, great massages and facials, best I've had on any cruise ship. - fitness center huge, well run, well equipped - entire ship was kept very clean, all the time - room stewards are very obliging, as are your dinning room waiters. I substituted the fat loaded second course with a sorbet almost every dinner time and our waiter was always at the ready with it. - The Crown Grill had some of the best lamb chops I've ever tasted, and awesome dessert....$25 per person flat rate, and you have to reserve before you get on the boat... - laundry room well placed, well equipped and maintained, not unreasonably priced - disembarkation was well organized Things that bothered me but may not bother the majority- -There is a very apparent ethnic and social divide among crew...Asians at the bottom, then Hispanic, then Eastern Europeans, British at the very top. -There were apparently less than 1% non white passengers on the ship, awkward for us being 3 of those 30 or so.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My Mom and I got took the 1/7 Crown Princess sailing to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. We had a great experience, we are past Princess cruisers and were very pleased with this cruise. Mom has some health problems, so we spent ... Read More
My Mom and I got took the 1/7 Crown Princess sailing to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. We had a great experience, we are past Princess cruisers and were very pleased with this cruise. Mom has some health problems, so we spent the week enjoying the ship and didn't really "do" the ports. So I'm going to focus on the ship, the service, and the food. Embarkation and Sail-away: My Mom and I are usually early arrivers to avoid the long lines, but not this time. There was alot of traffic heading into Port Everglades @ 1:30pm, but once out of the cab we had no issues quickly leaving our bags with a porter and getting into the building to check-in. We got a wheelchair right at the door and were whisked up to the check-in desks. The line was really short, both for us with the wheelchair and for everyone else. From the time we left our bags with the porter and got through check-in, we were on the ship within 15 minutes. Excellent embarkation, Princess really made it quick and easy. Very organized. We made our way to our stateroom, C504, left out things and then headed up to Horizon Court for a bite to eat. Then back to our stateroom to pickup our life jackets and make our way to Muster Station D (this was to make sure my Mom was able to get a seat). As it turned out there were tons of seats, and the muster drill was a breeze. We were one of 7 ships in port that day, so we waited our turn before getting out just ahead of the Oasis. Beautiful sail-away weather. The Ship: In one word, BEAUTIFUL. This was our first time on the Crown, but she's really beautiful. The layout was very similar to the Caribbean Princess we sailed on last time, so the layout was very familiar and we found it easy to navigate. Everything was clean and well-maintained. The Service: Fantastic. We had an amazing room steward, she was always there if we needed anything. A few of the days my Mom wasn't up for leaving the room and spent time on our balcony, but she came by to see if there was anything we needed and would ask later on how my Mom was doing which was SO nice and considerate. We did anytime dining, so our waiters changed every night, but the service was always great. We tried both Da Vinci and Michealangelo dining rooms. We did find that 6:30-7pm was a very popular time to eat. But the Maitre D was really good about opening new tables up, or sending some of us up to Da Vinci (which generally was open only after the first traditional Early Seating was over) so that we didn't have to wait more then a minute or two at most. Bar service was great. And Anna in the Horizon Court helped my Mom with her plate at the buffet a few times. Then went with my Mom to the table to make sure she had everything she needed, helpful and sweet. Reading some of the past reviews I was a little curious what our experience would be, but we found everyone incredibly helpful and got excellent service no matter where we were. The Food: Excellent, just as we have always had on Princess. As I mentioned, we choose Anytime Dining and we were always happy with the quality of food. We ate in the dining every night but one and enjoyed everything. The menus were well thought out, and the quality of food was great. No complaints. I also ate in the Caribe Cafe one night. Food was good, hot, and fresh. Drink service was really good, my glass never went empty. I also would recommend the Pub lunches in the Wheelhouse Bar. They run this every sea day, and I went both times. Fish and Chips was good. Service was fast and I enjoyed the break from the buffet. Disembarkation: As in the past with Princess, we felt this was handled really well. They now offer a baggage check service that will send your bags all the way to your home airport (course there are rules on airline, flight, etc). It was $20/pp and I initially thought it was too much and didn't see the point. But in retrospect we'll be taking advantage of it next time because I forgot just how crazy FLL can be on the days when many ships are in port. So this is an excellent offering, for sure one we'll be using in the future. My Mom disembarked by wheelchair, so we met in Crooner's Bar at 8:15 and waited for our color to be called. Claiming our luggage was easy, customs was super fast (the wheelchair did save us some line waiting here), and we were on a bus heading to FLL within 15 mins. We had purchased our transfers from Princess ahead of time, so this made things smoother than waiting for a private shuttle or waiting in the taxi line. All things considered, this was a great cruise. I had the chance to attend the format CC meetup during the first sea day and was pleased to see quite a few officers came and met with us. The hotel general mgr, the Maitre D, Lisa (cruise director) and the Captain himself (Nick Nash) came up. The Captain was incredibly personable and funny. My only wish was that I'd been able to take the Ultimate Ships Tour. Sadly it proved very popular and people were chosen by lottery to take the tour. Oh well, next time I guess :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
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 ... Read More
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. Shore Excursions: 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. Summary: 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. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Why I Took This Cruise: On a previous Princess Cruise I purchased a future cruise for $100 and was told that some of the less expensive cruises are right after the holidays, so I decided before Jan. 2011 to take these 4 cruises. . ... Read More
Why I Took This Cruise: On a previous Princess Cruise I purchased a future cruise for $100 and was told that some of the less expensive cruises are right after the holidays, so I decided before Jan. 2011 to take these 4 cruises. . EMBARKATION: For me this went smoothly as I was Platinum and along with the Elites & Suites we had separate lines for embarkation. I took my bags with me, went to my cabin, left the bags there, then went to the International Cafe for lunch & unpacked after lunch & before muster. . DISEMBARKATION: This went quite well. I chose Princess EZCheck for $20, left my bags outside my cabin on Friday night and picked them up in Boston on Saturday; I took my carryon luggage. Sat I was off the ship by 0745, sped thru customs but had to wait more than an hour for the bus to fill up before we went to Fort Lauderdale airport. . BOTTICELLI DINING ROOM TRADITIONAL: This is used for early and late dinner sitting as well as special Princess events. . DA VINCI DINING ROOM (TRADITIONAL AND ANYTIME): This is used for breakfast, lunch and dinner; I had 5:30pm dinner here. It is also used as a meeting place for the muster drill & various Princess events. The dress code here is not enforced. . MICHELANGELO DINING ROOM (ANYTIME): This is used for traditional dining, a muster meeting place, and various Princess events. . SABATINIS (authentic Italian cuisine): This is a specialty restaurant with a $20 cover charge. . CROWN GRILL (steaks & seafood): This is a specialty restaurant with a $25 cover charge. . ICE CREAM BAR AND PIZZZERIA: These are self-explanatory as the Ice Cream Bar serves ice cream and the Pizzeria serves pizza. . HORIZON COURT BUFET & CAFE CARIBE: These are buffet areas; both are open 0600am -- 1200 midnight. As with the Da Vinci dining room, there is a dress code but it is not enforced. When the head waiter was informed of a dress code violation by the passengers he just ignored it. . VINES: Sushi is served here, the Vines staff said there was a charge for food but the Patter said the sushi was free. . INTERNATIONAL CAFE (coffee, pastries, & paninis): When I cruised the Crown in April 2010 this closed at 11pm; now it is open 24 hours and has a $49 card that is good for coffee, tea, hot chocolate and non-alcoholic drinks. There is also a $29 card for carbonated drinks. . TRIDENT GRILL: Hot dogs, hamburgers, & cheeseburgers are the specialty. . KIDS PROGRAM: I asked several parents & children about the kids program & got a positive feedback every time. . POPCORN: I do not have this at home so enjoyed this treat while watching Movies Under the Stars; actually could not get enough. . CASINO: When I go to the Casino I play the slots & allow myself $10 per night entertainment; on this cruise of 28 nights I played only 2 nights. On the last Friday of the cruise I went to the Casino to get rid of some quarters & ended up winning $44.25. This is the place where smoking is still allowed but Princess did have some smoke free nights. Also the Speakeasy Cigar Lounge is located here. . TELEPHONE USE: I took my cell phone along for emergency use only; had no use for it but kept it charged just in case; turned it off when not in use. . INTERNET USE: Although I was given 150 free minutes for a 7 day cruise because of my platinum/elite status I used this only on the last Friday night to check my boarding pass. Internet rates were (in minutes) 500-$175, 250-$150, 150-$75, 100-$55, pay as you go .75 a minute, printing $0.50 per page, activation fee $3.95. . BARS: I only used these as a meeting place for cruise critic events, Mason get together events, to read my nook, or as a venue for different Princess events. . ODOR -- SMOKING POLICY: These being four 7 day cruises there was no odor. It's going to be interesting to see how the Princess "no smoking in cabin rooms" policy instigated on Jan 15, 2012 works; smoking was still allowed in the casino & outdoor areas. My first cruise Jan 7-14 was ok but for Jan 14-21 the cabin next to me (E711) stunk; the smell even bothered the steward. I complained to the front desk & was told they couldn't do anything about it as smoking was still allowed. For the other two 7 day cruises, smoking was not a problem unless you went to the outside areas. . GOLF DRIVING NET, BATTING CAGES, SHUFFLE BOARD, BASKETBALL/VOLLEYBALL COURT, BODY WAVES I had no experience with these. . SPA & BEAUTY SALON: I used the Thermal Spa here and also took advantage of a package that included a shave, haircut, and 2 other things for about $89. Free showers are here for non-spa use; a good deal for tall men and women plus the shower doors close; no shower curtains to worry about. . GALLERIA SHOPS, SHOPPING ARCADE: I found these ideal for killing time as I had no intention of purchasing anything. . SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS: Passenger Services informed me that the specialty restaurants charge $20-$25. The specialty restaurants on NCL Sun started at $10 so that being the case I didn't feel the urgency to try them. The free restaurants & buffet were adequate for my taste buds. . MUSTER: This went well, my muster station for E717 was Club Fusion which was convenient as it was 1 deck below the cabin; muster for cabin E303 was not required as I had already been to a drill. . OBC: I receive OBC's for owning 100 shares of CCL stock and being a veteran. . DRESS: Princess does have a dress code but it is not enforced as they don't want to offend. In the Da Vinci dining room on casual nights I saw men & women in shorts and even women in short shorts. On formal nights I saw men without jackets and ties. . LAUNDRY: I washed then air dried as my clothes were wash and wear & drying took less than 6 hours. The only thing I had cleaned was my jacket as when I got to Elite status laundry was free. Laundry fee to wash & dry was $2 for each machine. . OVERALL RATING: I enjoyed myself for the month and would rate this about 90%. I especially enjoyed EZCheck & sat with a passenger the end of the 1st week who spoke highly of EZCheck so I thought I would give it a try. . CABIN: Cabin E717 non obstructed (measurements are approximate) Room: 14' x 9' & includes 2 beds, 2 tables, desk w/ 1 chair, sitting chair, refrigerator, glass table, and plasma TV Bath: 4' x 2' includes toilet but dimensions do not include counter, sink or shower. Bath Counter: 3'7" x 1'1" includes sink & side storage areas Hall/Entry Way: 7' x 3. Closet space: 6' x 4' includes shelf area given below. Shelves: 1.5' x 1.5' includes 6 shelves plus 1 safe . Cabin E303 Handicap Cabin obstructed (measurements are approximate) Room: 14'x 13 includes 2 beds, 2 tables, desk with 2 chairs, sitting chair, refrigerator, glass table, plasma TV Bath: 7' x 6' Bath Counter: 3' x 1' Hall/Entry: 6' x 6' Closet Space: 7' x 2' Shelves: 8 (approx.) . Both cabins were located on starboard side; E717 was to aft or rear with a small shower, E303 was towards bow or forward with a large shower. The advantage of E303 is it was right near the elevators. Cabin E717 was a short walk to the elevators and very convenient to Horizon Court. The TV's in both cabins was one of these plasma deals, new to me because at home I'm still using a 13" tube type. . MEET & GREET ACTIVITIES: Informal M&G: These were held on each of the four 7 day cruises right after the muster. Only a few Cruise Critic members showed up but those who did had a grand time. Among other things we got to see the ship leaving port from the outside bar. . Meet and Greet: All 4 Meet & Greets were attended by Captain Nick Nash, other officers, & about 25-50 Cruise Critic members. The get-togethers were very informal & provided us question & answer about the Crown Princess & also the sinking on Jan. 13, 2012 of the Costa Concordia. About the only comment the Captain made was that 4000 people were saved in 1-1.5 hours. He told us that Princess has its own simulator in Amsterdam, & the Bridge is now connected to an engine room. . NOROVIRUS: This problem has been around for years. Apparently Princess is doing all it can do without offending passengers. There are always those passengers who refuse to wash their hands or use sanitizers for whatever reason & these are the people who probably spread the virus. . PRINCESS EZCHECK: I strongly advised giving this a try if you are flying as it costs only $20; you put your bags outside your cabin Friday night & do not see it until you arrive at your destination. . COMEDIANS: Most of the comedians mentioned here can be found by doing a search on a web browser like Google. I liked the comedians the best as some of them lasted 2 weeks or less and there was new blood so to speak. . REQUEST AN EVENT BE PRINTED IN THE PATTER: You can request but it is not guaranteed so be prepared for a disappointment. All my requests were granted. My requests went to Passenger Services who forwarded them to Cruise Director Lisa Ball for approval. She called me about the Cruise Critic Cabin Crawl and said she would put the Crawl as a Cruise Critic Activity. . SHOWTIME SHOWS: Most of the shows on the ship I had seen before and one gets tired of seeing the same thing; at least they could have changed the scenery although the Crown Princess Singers and Dancers were truly professional. . TOURS/TRANSPORTATION . GRAND CAYMAN: Walk to town or take a taxi; there is plenty to see around the dock area. Bring your laptop as Wi-Fi is available. . ROATAN: Walk up the hill to the taxi area where there are tours available. We had a tour with Hanno of Bodden Tours, his company is Island Tours, and he gave us a tour of the island stopping at Arch's Iguana & Marine Park & Foster's West Bay for swimming and snorkeling. Then we took a ride through the capital and back to the ship. I would highly recommend this company. . BELIZE: Tours are available here. . COZUMEL: Tours are available here also . PRINCESS CAYS: This is Princess' private beach. The 1st week was nice as I shared a clamshell. . CURACAO: This was my favorite port. Walking to the pontoon bridge you pass many restaurants, a casino, and various shops; some have Wi-Fi availability. There also is a free ferry for use when the pontoon bridge is not working. Curacao can get rather warm, to put it mildly. . ARUBA: Regarding the downtown area, perhaps the best place is the Renaissance Marina Hotel. There is a boat launch that takes guests to a private island owned by Marriot. Regarding cruisers, there is plenty of window shopping & it is inside, away from the heat. Beware I was heard the casino near the hotel doesn't pay well but it still is crowded. For tours try the $20 taxi tour, takes about 2 hours. . DIARY: . PRECRUISE Thursday Jan 5, 2012: Weather: cloudy in Boston; clear in Ft Lauderdale. Got to the airport about 5:30am for a 7:30 flight & it was a good thing because it took quite a while to go thru security. As the airplane came in to land at FLL I saw two liners at the cruiseport which I later found out belonged to Carnival and HAL. At FLL registered at Holiday Inn Cruiseport then went to the Harbor Cafe on 1396 SE 17th St (actually right around the corner from the hotel) for lunch. It may be a good restaurant or dive for a sandwich as the clerk at Holiday Inn told me, but they need a lesson in sanitation; gloves are just not worn. For supper I went to Joe's Restaurant near Publix Supermarket then purchased some last minute items at Publix and noticed they make sandwiches. So now I know where to go for lunch. I went to the Dollar Store & picked up some more last minute items. . PRECRUISE Friday Jan 6, 2012: Weather: light winds, sunny, 65, Fort Lauderdale. Free breakfast at Holiday Inn then walked across A1A without getting killed (I swear the drivers would rather kill you) to Marina Deli. At the Dollar store (which is in the same mall) more last minute items plus 2 ponchos for $1 each. I felt the ponchos were a bargain, sure you use them once but for $1 you don't mind throwing them away. The check-out clerk saw my green beads; I informed her I was going on a cruise, so she gave me some free party favors. Back at the hotel I gathered my laptop and went downstairs & was on the thing until 5pm when I finally went upstairs & saw M.A.S.H. then went to eat supper at Kelley's landing. I crossed A1A without getting hit again until I realized I forgot name tags for the M&G, so re-crossed A1A & went to Office Depot for the tags and Walgreens for other last minute items. . DAY 1 - Saturday Jan 7, 2012: Weather: light winds, clear, 72, 1022.5hpa // Fort Lauderdale // dress casual. The hotel bill was under my door this morning for $400 & while this is expensive on the one hand, on the other the hotel is near shops, malls, restaurants and the cruiseport. I had the free breakfast, packed then took the bus to the cruiseport. Embarkation was rather smooth for Platinum, Elite, and Suite passengers, but you would think that Suite passengers would get extra service since they are paying so much for a cabin. Before the muster I went to the International Cafe where I met Ray. He was a piano player & comedian aboard several cruise ships until he retired; now he teaches piano. My room steward was Romeo & he was superb for the 2 weeks I was in E717. Then it was time for Muster (see above); after muster was supper and my table was near a window as Sue (my Princess consultant) said it would. Stewards for my table 512 were Kateryna from the Ukraine & Grisama from Thailand. At the table were 4 Russian emigrants from the Ukraine; Agnessa (retired accountant), Simon (her husband), Lina, & Efim (husband of Lina). Next at 7:15pm was Showtime with Cruise Director Lisa Hall, the Crown Princess Singers and Dancers, & comedian Rollin Jay Moore; I was not impressed with the comedian. The leader of the orchestra appears to be the same gentleman that was on the Crown when I was her in April 2011. After the evening's entertainment I went to the Laundromat & while my clothes were being washed, I was reading my Nook; air dried the clothes in my cabin. . DAY 2 - Sunday Jan 8, 2012: Weather: winds SE 3, mostly sunny, 78, 1021.7hpa // SEA DAY // formal. I rose early, had breakfast, and then returned to my cabin to get ready for the day. The M&G was scheduled for 11am so I went to Skywalker's with my laptop. Before I knew it time had come and about 25 people showed up. Then to my surprise Officers showed up and finally the Captain. It seems the Captain spent more time this cruise than he did in the April 2011 cruise. For lunch I was at a table with 9 other people & the conversation was interesting; then I strolled back to my cabin. Tonight was Formal Night & I noticed that less and less people are formal. Formal to me consists of pants, shirt, jacket & maybe a tie. Well for men the tie appears to be taking a siesta which is surprising because a tie takes little room to pack. By mistake I took 2 ties & although I have ties to throw out, these two I wish to keep. Supper for me was 5:30pm dining in Da Vinci but I noticed a line so a stopped in at Passenger Services to request 2 meetings in the Platter. Next Showtime at 8:30pm with Cruise Director Lisa Hall and the Crown Princess Singers & Dancers with the Production show Motor City which I have seen before. . DAY 3 - Monday Jan 9, 2012: Weather: winds NE 5, 79, partly cloudy, 1017.3hpa // GRAND CAYMAN // 7-4 // tender // casual. After breakfast and getting ready for the day I proceeded down to Deck 5 & the Michelangelo Room but the tender line was so long and since I have been here before, I decided to go back to my cabin, grab my laptop and work. At first I tried outside near Adagio but ended up inside Horizon Court where I was waited on for coffee and orange juice; this probably due to the fact that most people were ashore. Then it was time for lunch so I went to Da Vinci only to find it closed; walked to Passenger Services & was told only Horizons Court is open on port days. So I went up & met Ray (whom I met on Jan. 7th); as NE Style Clam Chowder was being served I just had to have some but the soup did not compare to that at Legal Seafood's in Boston. Supper was casual dress & this is the 2nd night I arrived at the table 1st. It seems that both Russian ladies are on a no salt diet so they get tomorrow's menu today in order to choose what they will have. This is an advantage for me as it is difficult for me to make a decision. I found out tonight that we will have escargot one of the evenings and Thursday night we will have lobster. . DAY 4 -- Tuesday Jan 10, 2012: Weather: winds E 5, mostly sunny, 83, 1014hpa // ROATAN // 9-6 // docked // casual. I met Debbie & the other 3 people at the International Cafe then we proceeded to disembark and walk to our meeting location. We met Hanno of Bodden Tours, his company is Island Tours, and he gave us a tour of the island. First we stopped at Arch's Iguana & Marine Park next we stopped at Foster's West Bay for swimming and snorkeling. Then we took a ride through the capital arriving at the ship about 2:30pm; time was allowed for shopping. As I did not have breakfast nor lunch upon returning I went to the International Cafe for some shrimp and chicken salad. At Showtime with host Lisa Ball was the production show What a Swell Party. Then I went to Movies Under the Stars & saw Moneyball with Brad Pitt. . DAY 5 -- Wednesday Jan 11, 2012: Weather: light winds, mostly sunny, 79, 1013.2hpa // BELIZE // 7-5 // tender // casual. We were in port with a HAL ship, the Carnival Star, another Carnival ship, and a few others; it was crowded. I took the 25 minute tender from ship to shore; there really was not much to see so after walking around a bit I took the tender back to the ship. The one back was also a high speed tender but a larger capacity boat. After lunch I saw Movies Under The Stars then went back to the cabin. After supper was Showtime with Cruise Director Lisa Ball & Comedian Rollin Jay Moore & Comedy Magician James Michael. Jay talked to fast & he was only funny when he talked about the over 55 people and the noises they make; James was much better but I didn't like his tattoos. I stayed up to see the International Crew Show because there was a skit that was there in 2011 but wasn't there this time; instead there was a harmonica player that was just great (wonder why he is working for Princess?). . DAY 6 Thursday - Jan 12, 2012: Weather: winds SW 3, mostly sunny, high 84, 1013.9hpa // COZUMEL // 7-5 // docked // formal. We are in port today with Oasis of the Seas (Royal Caribbean's 6000 passenger canoe), and the Carnival Paradise. Not as crowded as one would expect because the Oasis used the International Pier. After visiting the shops I went across the street and did not see anything of interest. There appeared to be several Wi-Fi's in the shops area. Back to the ship by 11:30am I went to lunch then to Movies Under the Stars and saw Moneyball with Brad Pitt. After supper I saw comedy Mentalist & Illusionist Wayne Hoffman in the Explorers Lounge; he was great and you can check him out by doing a Google search. Then I went to Club Fusion to get a front row seat for The Newlywed, Not So Newlywed Game Show with host Deputy Cruise Director Chris. One couple had been married 12 days & when asked what condiment he liked, the husband thought he heard condom. Next I went to Horizons Cafe for a late night snack. . DAY 7 Friday Jan 13, 2012: Weather: winds NNE 4, mostly cloudy, 72, 1018hpa // AT SEA // casual. After breakfast I went to the Explorers Lounge for the Cruise Critic Cabin Crawl but no one showed up so I went to the boutique, ended up purchasing nothing, and then went to Horizons Grill for Lunch. Next I went to Movies Under the Stars where Dolphin Tale with Morgan Freeman was playing. At supper I gave the Russian's my card and they gave me their address. After supper I went to farewell ShowTime with Piano Vocalist Kory Simon in the Princess Theater; he was excellent probably because he included a yodeling song. Then I went to the Laundromat & next a midnight snack. . DAY 8 Saturday Jan 14, 2012: Weather: winds WNW3, partly cloudy, 67,1026hpa // FORT LAUDERDALE // casual. Breakfast with 3 couples from CT, FL, & Canada; the couple from Canada & myself are on the next leg to the Southern Caribbean. At 10:25am the B2B cruisers met at the Michelangelo Dining Room & proceeded to customs then back to the ship. This is necessary, takes about an hour at the most so I would suggest you take something to pass the time. I made the invitations to the officers & delivered them to Passenger Services. Last night I purchased 2 T-shirts at the boutique and returned them today for a larger size. Supper tonight was at table 486 with Larry, Pat, Diane, Gladys, Walter, Virginia, and Tony. Then I went to Passenger Services & inquired about Princess EZCheck; my return flight is by Jet Blue & that is one of the airlines Princess recognizes & if I give Princess the necessary information, I leave my checked bags outside my cabin door Friday night and pick them up in Boston. Then I went to welcome aboard Team Trivia Challenge where I joined couples from the UK & the states. We got 16 out of 20 correct which is not bad considering the winner got 17. Next I went to Horizons for a snack & spoke with Sara from the UK who is part of the cruise critic group. She told me that the Captain of the Costa Concordia (that sank off Italy) was arrested for various charges. At movies under the stars was Denver vs. Boston in the NFL playoffs and in the 3rd quarter, Boston was 40 to Denver's 10. . DAY 9 Sunday Jan 15, 2012: Weather: winds NNE 6, partly cloudy, 70, 1026hpa // PRINCESS CAYS // tender // casual. I had breakfast in Horizon Court as I was going to meet Judy (part of the cruise critic group) to share a clamshell with her. I found her at the International Cafe where we agreed to meet. We took the tender ashore and spent several hours in the clamshell, had lunch & returned to the ship about 2pm. The day turned out to be much better than expected as the clamshell had a Southerly exposure which baked us but the water was cold (at least to me). The Captain announced that it will be quite windy, more tonight than last night & we might hear creaks & other noises which is quite natural for this craft at this time of the year. It all was quite humorous & I was thinking that it might have been better if the Captain did not say anything. At the dinner table tonight one couple raved about the rooms on RCC being bigger & the bathrooms larger; that's fine but you are probably paying more. After supper evening activities included Comedy Magician James Michael, Mentalist & Illusionist Wayne Hoffman, 50's & 60's Rockin Dance Party, Piano Man Kory Simon, and Jazzio in the Adagio with the Jazz Cats. Then I went to deck 15 for a late night snack & when I got back to my cabin I noticed tomorrow's meet and greet was mentioned in the patter as requested on Jan. 14. . DAY 10 Monday Jan 16, 2012: Weather: winds NE7, partly cloudy, 81, 1024hpa // SEA DAY // formal. After breakfast I asked Passenger Services if there was a dining room that did not allow shorts for supper on casual nights. The clerk told me that in all dining rooms shorts are not allowed & this rule should be enforced. For formal nights as long as the gent is wearing a long sleeved shirt a jacket & tie are not required. I mentioned to my room steward that the people in the next cabin stunk up the hall with their smoking about the smoking; he told he will get some disinfectant. About 50 people showed up at the M&G, Captain Nick Nash, Hotel General Manager Richard Harry, and Cruise Director Lisa Ball stopped by. When asked to comment on the Costa sinking, the Captain said that 98% of the people were saved; other than that he had no comment saying that the accident will be investigated. At the dinner table tonight Larry said that if he knew there would be so many sea days he never would have taken this cruise. Following supper was the Captain's Champagne Waterfall the Captain welcoming passengers from various countries & at the end recognizing the Cruise Critic group. We were wondering about the waterfall because tonight was rough with the ship dancing quite heavily. This evening's entertainment was Comedy Magician James Michael and the Casino where I donated $10. . DAY 11 Tuesday Jan 17, 2012: Weather: winds ENE 7, partly cloudy, 82, 1016hpa // CURACAO // 1-10 // docked // casual. I had breakfast this morning with Hansi from Wales, part of the cruise critic group. He & his wife said they prefer an inside cabin but if the price difference between an inside & outside is not that great, they will pay the difference for an outside. Yesterday JPG1747 (Judy) said to me that she took a cruise once because the price of an inside was so inexpensive; think I might try this. When we docked at Curacao, I walked the 15 minute walk to town via the pontoon bridge & looked for thank-you cards & disinfectant both of which I could not find. To get back to the ship I took the free ferry as the pontoon bridge was open for a tanker. When I got back I went to the Captains Circle Desk & asked about my elite status; host Dicomes said I would be elite for the Jan 28-Feb 4 cruise. After supper I went to Passenger Services and made a formal complaint about cabin E711; someone in there smokes & it bothers me & my steward. The rep said that for this cruise smoking is allowed and they could do nothing about it. Then I went to deck 5, checked into the Princess website and saw that my cabin for Jan 21- Feb 4 will be E303. The steward let me see the cabin, which is partially obstructed but is a handicap cabin so in 1 way I am glad it is a new cabin but in another I would like to stay where I am. This evening's entertainment consisted of a Classical Concert with the Souvenir Quartet in the Explorers Lounge then I went outside to see the ship leave Curacao & next went to The Ultimate Deck Party on Deck 15. After the snack I stopped to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes in Movies Under the Stars. . DAY 12 Wednesday Jan 18, 2012: Weather: winds NE 5, partly cloudy, 80, 1014hpa // ARUBA // 8-5 // docked // casual. Breakfast and lunch in Horizon Court; at lunch a man went in to Horizon Court with just a bathing suit and no one said anything. A passenger even brought this to the attention of the Head Waiter and nothing was done. Someone at another table said it was money. Apparently the dress code is very lax. I took a walk around town, saw souvenirs & jewelry then returned to the ship & went to the Spa to purchase hair spray to get rid of the smoke odor caused by E711. I made reservations tomorrow at 8:30am for a shave & haircut then walked out on deck to take a picture & noticed a man with a zoom lens so I said "that's a serious camera". We got to talking & he goes to Aruba every year. He showed me several buildings that remain unfinished & have been vacant for several years. His opinion is that they were affected by the economy. Passenger services just called me saying that I would be moving cabins; the cabin for the next couple of weeks will be E303. I was going to tell them I Found out yesterday on the web but didn't. They said about 9am Saturday to call Passenger services and a dolly would be sent & that I did not have to pack anything. After supper I went to the Princess Theater for the Tribute Act to Lionel Richie with Marcus Jefferson followed by the International Cruise Show. The harmonica player was not present; hopefully they are saving him for next week. I later learned that he returned home, his contract was finished. Next the International Cafe for a snack & back to my cabin where I saw in tomorrow's Princess Patter at 10:30am they have the Cruise Critic Cabin Crawl as a Cruise Critic Activity; no big deal, I'm just happy it is listed. . DAY 13 Thursday Jan 19, 2012: Weather: winds E 7, partly cloudy, 79, 1017hpa // AT SEA // formal. Up in Horizons Court for breakfast I sat with a retired teacher from CT. I told him my cousin is a retired teacher from Rockport; he said the name was familiar. I went to the Spa for my haircut, shave, and facial with Adi from England (see Jan 18). Alison from South Africa was there, I met her last April 2011 on the Crown; we greeted each other like long lost friends. Then the Cruise Critic cabin crawl which turned out to be a success; we visited obstructed, mini suite, and balcony cabins; fellow ccer's thanked me but actually they made the cabin crawl a success. After supper I went to the boutique & purchased a miniature flashlight so as to read my Nook in the dim light which exists in the bars. This evening's entertainment in Club Fusion was the Multi-Media Music Trivia & the Newlywed Not So Newlywed Game Show & In Explorer's Lounge was the comedy of Phil Tag; a great entertainer. . DAY 14 Friday Jan 20, 2012: Weather: winds NE 6, partly cloudy, 77, 1021hpa // AT SEA // casual. At the Masons Get-Together in the Crooners Lounge on Deck 7 in attendance were Jeff from MA, Paul from MA, Leigh from Canada, and David & Stuart from UK. We talked about Masons & Shriner's. After lunch I then went to the Youth & Teen Centers to have a look but they requested I return at 5pm as it was currently being used. After supper I washed laundry then went to Showtime with Phil Tag in Explorer's Lounge & Showtime with Kory Simon in Princess Theater followed by a late night snack. . DAY 15 Saturday Jan 21, 2012: Weather: winds SE 3, partly cloudy, 75, 1020hpa // FORT LAUDERDALE // 7am-4pm // casual. I packed my bags & Princess moved me from E717 to E303; the steward allowed me to take the easy stuff. Half of me wanted to stay in E717, the other half wanted me to move; I knew the room would be larger but believe it or not in E717's bathroom there was more storage space. Last night in Horizon a couple from the UK said that airfare cost them 7000 GBP as they flew first class because she had arthritis; I told them they could take a cruise for less than that. One lady at lunch today said that we probably would have better weather than last week (she was back to back). When the ladies left two couples sat down; I informed them that ownership of 100 shares of CCL stock gets you 100 OBC; the gentleman whipped out his phone and we saw that CCL is now down to about 30 most likely because of the Costa incident. My dining table is the same as last week's -- 486 with David, Darleen, Margi, Ade, Tony, Virginia, Paul, and Joseph. For evening's entertainment Welcome Aboard Showtime then a late night snack. . DAY 16 Sunday Jan 22, 2012: Weather: winds SE, sunny, 79, 1019hpa // AT SEA // formal. Got up at 4am as I couldn't sleep, watched TV then went to breakfast. At the M&G about 15 were in attendance. Captain Nick Nash showed up & when asked about the ship sinking in Italy he stated again stated 4000 people were rescued in 1 hour. Besides that he made no comment but said that you never know how you will react in an emergency; you hope you will do the right thing but you never know. He said that Princess has a simulator in Amsterdam where Captains & various Officers are tested. It has been expanded now to include an engine room. After the Captain left the Hotel General Manager Richard Harry arrived & when queried about his responsibilities said that Neville Saldanha, the Maitre d'Hotel, is under him as well as the room stewards. At lunch I met Jim from Virginia who talked about religion; he is with a group of singers that number about 400. Next I went to my cabin, wrote 2 thank you notes & gave them to Passenger Services for delivery. Then I went to the spa & asked how much the Thermal Suite package would cost for 2 weeks; Alison from South Africa waited on me, she admired my red halyard I had so I gave it to her; I met Alison when I was on the Crown in April 2011. This evening's entertainment was comedian Phil Tag and the production show Motor City followed by a late night snack. . DAY 17 Monday Jan 23, 2012: Weather: winds NE 5, partly cloudy, 80, 1017hpa // GRAND CAYMAN // 7am-4pm // casual. I went ashore, asked the information booth where I could get thank you cards & was told today is a holiday. So after walking around town a bit I returned & went to Horizon Court for lunch and sat with a couple from FLA; he ended up reading my palms. The stewards came over and wanted their hands read. He told some of them that they were married and the ages of their children. His wife told me that he can't tell the ages of the children from reading palms. After they left a couple from Nova Scotia joined me; both were in the health field & are now retired. I pointed to a person in a wheel chair and said "he's a big boy". The husband said that when they go to the buffet they take small plates. After supper I saw comedians Alfred & Seymour in the Princess Theater, purchased a DVD, then saw comedian Phil Tag in the Explorer's Lounge followed by a late night snack. . DAY 18 Tuesday Jan 24, 2012: Weather: winds E 6, partly cloudy, 80, 1016hpa // ROATAN // 9am-6pm // casual. We did not make Mahogany Bay as the winds were too strong so the Captain tried Coxen Hole which would have meant tender but the winds were also strong so this port was aborted. Had lunch in Horizon Court then went to the Spa & used the Thermal Suite & shower. After supper the entertainment was What a Swell Party in the Princess Theater and classical music in the Explorers lounge with the Souvenir Quartet. Next I headed to deck 15 for the Ultimate Deck Party & a late night snack. . DAY 19 Jan 25, 2012: Weather: winds E 5, partly cloudy, 79, 1014hpa // BELIZE // 7am-5pm // tender // casual. Due to the lengthy distance from ship to port, Princess used high speed boats. The boat from ship to shore was small & we felt the waves as it rocked & rolled; the one from Belize to the ship was wider with only about 20 passengers thus the ride was smoother. I noticed that when the tender neared the ship, the Captain used the engines to change direction. Later he told me that you only use the wheel in deep water. I went to Horizon Court for lunch & sat with women from CA & Toronto. After supper I saw comedians Alfred & Seymour then the International Crew Show followed by a late night snack. . DAY 20 Thursday Jan 26, 2012: Weather: winds ESE 5, partly cloudy, 82, 1013hpa // COZUMEL // 7am-5pm // formal. Up to Horizon Court for breakfast then went ashore to Puerta Maya Pier where there were souvenir & jewelry shops; as you leave the pier area there are tour busses and taxis. In port today was the Crown Princess, Carnival Paradise, RCC's Oasis of the Seas, and Celebrity Millennium. After touring the port I went to Horizon Court for lunch where I met a couple from Ottawa that said this is their first time on Princess & they like RCC better. After supper comedian & vocalist Gary Delena then the Newlywed Game Show & finally a snack. . DAY 21 Friday Jan 27, 2012: Weather: winds NNE 4, mostly cloudy with showers, 72, 1015hpa // AT SEA // casual. At breakfast in Horizon Court 1 couple said they did not prefer the Southern Caribbean for the days at sea. At the Cruise Critic cabin crawl only 2 people showed up including me; we saw their cabin last week but mine was new so we visited it. I had lunch in Horizon Court then to Adagio for the Masons get together, 5 people showed up, 2 from UK & 3 from the states. After that I went to the spa to visit with Alison who is leaving tomorrow. Next to the Toy & Model Train Enthusiasts Get Together with music director Gordon Hough; there were about 7 people and Gordon is into this big time. After supper I did laundry then went to the Spa to say good bye to Alison & headed to ShowTime with Kory Simon then comedian & vocalist Gary Delana. . DAY 22 Saturday Jan 28, 2012: Weather: light winds, partly cloudy, 69, 1021hpa // Fort Lauderdale // 5am-4pm. For this week's cruise I became Elite & eligible for a myriad of perks; 150 minutes of free internet, priority ship to shore embarkation, priority disembarkation & free laundry. A stewardess came to fill my mini-bar with complimentary beverages; I declined that service but later wished it had been accepted. I had lunch with a couple from Hyannis who seemed to be knowledgeable in cruise travel as they have taken many cruises. I'm going to try Princess EZCheck which means I don't have to check my luggage at the airport; my boarding pass will be issued aboard the ship & luggage is transported from pier to Logan airport; the cost of this is $20. The only problem is that the flight must depart after 11:30am and mine is 11:45 which is cutting things a bit too close at least as far as I am concerned. I delivered the form to the Passenger Services & am going to worry about the luggage until I pick it up in Boston. Supper tonight at table 486 again, same as last 2 weeks with Sonia our waitress; at the table were George & Dorothy. For tonight only we had a couple from NYC; she raises chickens & is a realtor, he is a construction manager. Tonight I went to ShowTime to see Alfred & Seymour, The Orphea Quartet, Duo A & A, and the Elements Resident Caribbean Band. . DAY 23 Sunday Jan 29, 2012: Weather: winds SSE 3, mostly sunny, 77, 1023hpa // PRINCESS CAYS // tender // casual. Arose before 5am, thought I had already woken and forgot to set a wakeup call for 6am, so headed for Cafe Caribe for the continental breakfast only to realize that it was 4:45am. There was a long line waiting to go ashore to Princess Cays & as I didn't think there was that much on Princess Cays I stayed on the ship (actually I didn't want to go). Sometime in the afternoon I took my suitcase out, put it on a seat, getting ready for packing and this was probably the beginning of the end for me as I should have waited for Friday. After lunch I went to the thermal suite & later in the cabin recharged my camera battery & concluded that between now & Fri I will have to recharge my phone. After supper I saw A & A Duo, comedians Alfred & Seymour, and comedian Gary Delena. . DAY 24 Monday Jan 30, 2012: Weather: winds ENE 7, partly cloudy, 81, 1018hpa // AT SEA // formal. At the Meet & Greet this morning about 25 people showed up plus Captain Nick Nash, Hotel General Manager Richard Harry, Cruise Director Lisa Ball, and Deputy Cruise Director Chris. One of the cruise critic members said that his son talked to the founder of cruise critic & her opinion was that Princess is one of the safest cruise lines. After supper I parked myself in the Explorer's Lounge & saw comedian Gary Delena then the Liars Club Gameshow with Deputy Cruise Director Chris & comedians Alfred & Seymour followed by a late night snack. . DAY 25 Tuesday Jan 31, 2012: Weather: winds NE6, mostly sunny, 82, 1015hpa // CURACAO // 1pm - 10pm // casual. I went ashore to meet a cruise critic group that was going to take a tour but as I was unable to locate them I walked back to the information booth, picked up a map then walked to town ending up at the Mikve Israel-Emanuel United Congregation & the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum. This synagogue is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the new world. The Touro Synagogue in RI is the oldest synagogue in the USA. After strolling through the town I returned to the ship as that was all the sightseeing I wanted to do plus it was just too hot. I would have returned by the free ferry but it wasn't working due to the Zuiderdam being in port. There were 4 ships in port today; the Crystal Symphony, HAL Zuiderdam, Crown Princess, & another ship I saw in the evening when we were leaving port. After supper I walked the pier area then went to Dixieland Showcase with the Crown Princess Orchestra, Ballroom Dancing with Gordon & the Orchestra, Classical Concert with the Souvenir Quartet, the Ultimate Deck Party, a snack at Horizon Court, and finally Rise of the Planet of the Apes. . DAY 26 Wednesday Feb 1, 2012: Weather: winds NE 6, partly cloudy, 82, 1013hpa // ARUBA // 8am-5pm // casual. There was a gathering for solo travelers at 9:30am but only Carol and I showed up so we went in town to the Renaissance Marina Hotel, the Crystal Casino, the Swatch Kiosk, and Pearl Gems. I have never heard a female talk so much & when she shopped for that necklace it would have been quicker to watch paint dry. Anyway we made it back to the ship on time & I was the only one that showed up at our table for supper. I told the waitress that I had to be out by 6:30pm & she had me out in time as I wanted to see Alfred & Seymour & the Yes/No Gameshow where you are engaged in a conversation but can't say yes or no or anything similar to those words for 3 minutes. Then to the International Crew Show but left early because I have seen the acts before & went to Cafe Caribe for a late night snack; tonight they were featuring German cuisine. . DAY 27 Thursday Feb 2, 2012: Weather: winds E 8, partly cloudy, 79, 1016hpa // AT SEA // formal. Only 4 people showed up at the cruise critic cabin crawl; we saw partially obstructed cabins E303 & E109 & balcony C752. I had lunch with several people then back to my cabin to pack followed by a visit to the thermal spa & shower. After supper I saw comedian Al Jamal followed by the Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Game. . DAY 28 Friday Feb 3, 2012: Weather: winds NE 6, partly cloudy, 77, 1021hpa // AT SEA // casual I went to the Masons Get Together; there were 4 of us & we had a nice conversation for about a ½ hour. Represented were MA, NH, CT, PA. Then I headed for lunch at Horizons & ended up in my cabin packing & watching a movie. I purchased several magnets & a luggage identification then picked up my DVD's from the Photo Gallery. Before going to supper I played the slot machines in the casino hoping to get rid of my quarters but ended up winning $44.25. After supper I went to my cabin only to find that my luggage tags & boarding pass would not be ready until 8pm so I went to hear Kory Simon in the Princess Theater and Al Jamal in Explorers Lounge. Back at the cabin I found my luggage tags & boarding pass had been delivered then I went to the Internet & printed 2 duplicate boarding passes followed by a late night snack (my last). . Feb 4, 2012 Sat: ESE13 winds, partly cloudy, 73, 30.15 Bar, Ft. Lauderdale ----------------------NNW6 winds, partly cloudy, 38, 30.16 Bar, Boston . TOURS & BUSINESS REVIEW Kelly's Landing Seafood Restaurant: This is right across A1A in the Southport Shopping Center on 1305 SE 17th St. Ft Lauderdale 954-760-7009. The restaurant specializes in seafood and it is not bad but I feel that the menu is overpriced; a similar fish meal can be had at Joe's Cafe for ½ the price. There are plenty of locals here and few tourists and the place has always been crowded as I have been coming here for several years. If you do go don't expect a large establishment for the seating capacity is about 100. . Joe's Cafe: This is located at 1913 Cordova Ft. Lauderdale in the Harbor Shops Plaza near the Holiday Inn Cruiseport. This is not a bad place to eat, the prices are quite reasonable, and it is not touristy. There is plenty of room and a few wide screen TV's so I always sit facing the TV while reading my Nook; however I do question the cleanliness. . H & E Marina Deli: This is across from the Holiday Inn at the Southport Shopping Center 1453 SE 17 St Fort Lauderdale. I've been eating here for several years but something did not agree with me the last visit. The place is not mobbed but local cops like it as well as Floridians; it is not touristy and gets rave reviews in Google. . Publix Supermarket: This is located at 1940 Cordova Ft Lauderdale 954-847-2844 in the Harbor Shops Plaza. When you leave the Holiday Inn Cruiseport, take a left then left again at the 1st traffic light walk straight and voila you are there. About a 10 minute walk at the most and very good for last minute items and sandwiches. I've been going there for years. . Dollar Store: This is located in the Southport Shopping Center 1391 SE 17th St Ft Lauderdale across the street from the Holiday Inn Cruiseport. Yes Virginia, everything in the store is $1 and worth a visit for those last minute items. For a dollar what have you got to lose. I picked up 2 rain ponchos for $1; not bad, use them once then throw them out; besides have you ever tried to fold these things to their original size? . Harbor Cafe: This is located at 1396 SE 17th St Ft Lauderdale 954-467-0363. This is on the same side as the Holiday Inn Cruiseport, take a left on 17th as you leave the hotel, then another left at Taza Restaurant on the same side as the hotel and walk straight. The food is American although in Google seafood is mentioned, but the sanitization leaves a lot to be desired. It does however provide restrooms which is an asset. . Bodden Tours - Roatan: We met Hanno of Bodden Tours, his company is Island Tours; he gave us a tour of the island. First stop was Arch's Iguana & Marine Park, next we stopped at Foster's West Bay for swimming & snorkeling. Then we took a ride through the capital and back to the ship. Time was allowed for shopping and we arrived back at the ship about 2:30pm. I would highly recommend him. You can check him on a search engine like Google. . Princess Cays: If you're a beach person this is the place for you; other than that there is not much here outside of the free lunch. When we were here in January the weather was cool but hot in the sun. A good inexpensive deal is to rent a clamshell which gives you 2 lounge chairs. If you do rent a clamshell, get to the beach early to guarantee a good spot.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We are a family of 5, with 3 older children (late teens, early twenties). We found that there were a lot of older passengers onboard, compared to prior cruises we have taken. Things that we particularly liked on this ship were: the food ... Read More
We are a family of 5, with 3 older children (late teens, early twenties). We found that there were a lot of older passengers onboard, compared to prior cruises we have taken. Things that we particularly liked on this ship were: the food in the main dining room, the cabin steward, the movies under the stars (during the daytime we saw Elf, football, and Modern Family), the frozen drinks. On the negative side, it was often impossible to get an elevator. We walked up the stairs many times, many flights. Plus, at the start of the week there was still a lot of concern about noro virus, so the breakfast experience was not wonderful. The food had to be served to you and there was often a wait and the food was cold. When the Purell machines didn't work the staff would push your hand up to it - which to me seems to defeat the purpose! We appreciated the precautions, but the Purell needs to be handled better. In the evening they had someone squirting it all over your hands wildly at the dining room entrance. We were on Baha deck, center ship and our cabin vibrated a lot from some kind of ship mechanics. We chose this ship due to the ports and had a great time. Tendering was quite organized and I was happy we were able to sit and wait in a dining room for our turn to get on the tender. At Roatan we were able to return to the ship for lunch. Embarkation was easy and disembarkation was even easier. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We flew into Fll on December 23rd and stayed at the Fairfield Inn. We knew that the Crown was suffering from the NORO Virus and would delay embarkation while they disinfected the ship. My husband, my daughter and my 15 year old grandson ... Read More
We flew into Fll on December 23rd and stayed at the Fairfield Inn. We knew that the Crown was suffering from the NORO Virus and would delay embarkation while they disinfected the ship. My husband, my daughter and my 15 year old grandson had a leisurely breakfast and sat out by the pool until about 12:15 when we took the shuttle to the port. We arrive around 1:15, went to the head of the line (we are Platinum) and walked right up to the check in counter. We waited about 5 minutes until they called our number and boarded quickly. We were slightly hungry by that time and since we were on a lower level went straight to the International Cafe where we partook of chicken salad and gelato - yummy. We took our time before checking out our balcony cabins. We had a beautiful sail away view right from our staterooms on the Lido Deck. Had never stayed on the Lido before but really enjoyed it. The weather in FLL was the best we have encountered. Christmas Eve we went to the Princess Theater and enjoyed a short program and met Lisa Ball, CD, again! Midnight services were held for those that wanted to attend I wanted to but unfortunately I was in bed asleep! We enjoyed the band elements and got to talk to Marlon Webster (Malo) on several nights - a friendly energetic guy! His music added a lot to the carribean atmosphere. We also got to know Laura of Chile who worked the International Cafe and Coffee Bar area. Nice and friendly. All the staff was working extra hours and disinfecting constantly. I liked the restroom doors (public) propped open so you didn't have to touch them going in and out. We only went to Horizon Court twice and though there wasn't a lot of food out, it was plenty. The food servers were in front of every station and were gloved. We never touched the silverware, plates, food, etc. Everything was handed to us. That was okay with me. We enjoyed dinner in Michangelo in the evening. Christmas Day was special for the children with Santa visiting and all the children receiving gifts. The only thing we didn't enjoy that we have in the past was the karaoke. In the past we heard good to great singers. This time Princess should have had a GONG to hit!! Our weather was wonderful everyday and the seas were calm. We ziplined in Honduras with Victor Bodden and had a great time. It took a little courage to make the first step off the platform but after a couple times we were okay. The monkeys and macaws are fun to see and play with. The beach at the port was small but nice and the restaurants (open air) had a lunch special of jerk chicken, rice and beans which was very tasty. In Grand Cayman we were the only ship in that day and it was quiet and uncrowded. Nice. We had lunch by the ocean in an open air restaurant called Breezes. We stayed aboard at Belize and Cozumel. Been to Cozumel before and don't care for the armed military everywhere. Anyway, it was great to relax by the uncrowded pool those days. We really have to commend Princess for all their hard work trying to keep the ship sterile and contend with sooo many passengers. The staff was all so friendly and nice even though they were overworked. It wasn't until Thursday that we went from Code Red to Code Yellow. On Saturday the ship was back to Code Green for the New Years Eve passengers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Past cruise experience: Costa (1), Princess (2), Royal Caribbean (2) Princess was my favorite cruise line, so when I was selecting a cruise to get married on it was my first choice. I would like to note ... Read More
Past cruise experience: Costa (1), Princess (2), Royal Caribbean (2) Princess was my favorite cruise line, so when I was selecting a cruise to get married on it was my first choice. I would like to note that while getting married on the cruise ship was amazing, the contractor you are required to go through to make the arrangements is beyond AWFUL (Wedding Experience). I almost cancelled getting married on Princess solely due to having to deal with them (and that was after my whole family booked rooms on the cruise ship). If you can get past having to deal with those awful people, the real Princess staff on the ship are amazing. They fixed all of the stupid errors the Wedding Experience people made to make the day a special one. And I must add their photographer was simply amazing; everyone loved the photos! I think the best recommendation for Princess came from my mother, who had previously refused to go on a cruise. Since I was getting married she had to come, and soon discovered she loved it! I got a call a week after the cruise from her because she wanted to let me know that she was going on another Princess cruise in two months with my dad. Apparently she couldn't even wait until the next season... As for the ship, Crown Princess: GOOD 1) Gorgeous ship. 2) Hand sanitizer with an employee instructing every person to use it in the buffet line. Some people grumbled but that is why so few people become ill on any Princess cruise. 3) Good selection of shore excursions. 4) The staff were amazing with my elderly grandmother. They went out of their way everyday to make her as comfortable as possible. I was very impressed with how well they treated her, and would highly recommend Princess for those traveling with elderly or disabled people. 5) Excellent dinners. The food was delicious, apart from one dish that tasted like potpourri (people at my table thought I was joking until I made them try it). I often ordered two dishes if I was indecisive and no one looked askew at me. BAD 1) Spa treatment. I went in for a massage before my wedding to relax and got corner in the room for the worst sales pitch in my life. And by 'cornered' I mean she physically prevented me from leaving the room by blocking the exit and would not take no for an answer. Previously I have always enjoyed getting a spa treatment on a cruise; but that was such a nightmare that I will never again visit a Princess spa. 2) Breakfast room service was sub-par. They sent the old, stale, items via room service (tasted like from the day before). While we loved sitting on the balcony and sipping their coffee and tea in the morning, towards the end of the cruise we ended up throwing on some clothing to make it to the buffet since the food was literally three times as fresh. We would grab a tray and bring it back to our room. It was disappointing that we could not get decent fare through room service. 3) No game room or other area to gather with family or friends. We ended up taking over part of the buffet area once they closed to play games and hang out (since we had a large family group). The staff would occasionally stop by to ask what we were playing, but they were only being friendly and never tried to get us to move. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our fourth cruise with Princess. We have always been very pleased with our experiences. However, after this cruise we will not be booking on the Crown Princess for future cruises.Embarkation was fast and easy as usually on board ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with Princess. We have always been very pleased with our experiences. However, after this cruise we will not be booking on the Crown Princess for future cruises.Embarkation was fast and easy as usually on board by 1:00 pm to start the trip. But once on the Lido deck we noticed the smell of sewage. I thought it was low tide at the port.With a party of 8 we had no trouble getting in to anytime dining. Dinners were average. The best dinning experience was at the Crown grill.Service was extremely slow sometimes waiting 15 minutes or more for drink once it was ordered at one of the lounges.This is the first time we could not enjoy the pool area or movie by the starts due to the consistent sewage smell through out the whole trip. The cruise staff blamed it on the humidity. The only time we escaped the smell is when we were in port.Disembarkation was easy and painless. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We are younger couple with 2 small children who enjoy cruising and while we did not bring our children with us we have been on several perhaps 50 combined cruises since we were younger ourselves. We drove to the fort lauderdale port and ... Read More
We are younger couple with 2 small children who enjoy cruising and while we did not bring our children with us we have been on several perhaps 50 combined cruises since we were younger ourselves. We drove to the fort lauderdale port and when we got there the boarding was very easy and very fast perhaps 20 minutes from the parking garage to stateroom where it was very clean and the attendant greeted us by name and was very helpful.The buffet that day was nice with seafood, a decent breads and salad bar, and at dinner we were seated promptly and it was very nice. The muster which is normally only 30 Minutes on most cruise lines was over an hour long and we were herded into seating's with these huge life preservers (thank goodness I had already sipped on a pina colada and the couple next to us said they had as well!)The next day we realized that our cruise was mostly young teenagers or 50 and up which is fine because we realize that at some point we will be there with our own teenagers. The food day to day was very unpredictable some days good and then some days being tasteless leaving us ordering room service. My husband even mentioned my cooking was better which is a huge insult to Princess chefs! Our ports were nice, the only Port we did not like was Princess Cays which was the cruise lines personal island, from their white sandy beaches to the water there was about 5 feet of just rocks and drop offs that was almost un passible, most people did not bother going into the water and my heart literally went out to anyone who had a child or any person with a disability. They shut down the food buffets and the bar early, not to mention all the shops on the island were severely overpriced.The staff on the ship was very helpful and nice and I spoke with several other people who said they loved the kid areas. Our cabin was kept clean, and we did have alot of fun. But the Negatives:Like other reviews have stated this cruise line does seem to try to nickle and dime their way thru the week, in order to recieve sushi you much purchase wine, in order to lay out in the adults only area you must pay, and at the end when checking out we were billed a required $150 For tipping when we were never told of this before and had already tipped our servers and attendants extra! When waiting for disembarktion we had to wait in the casino for 40 mins. And they had cut off any air conditioning. And the boat is very chopped up, as in if you would like to get to your dinning room or another area of the ship you must go up the stairs go outside walk about 400 feet, back inside and down the stairs. And also we did the stingray encounter in Grand Caymen, apparently Princess had requested that we all wear our life vests when off the boat in 3ft. Of water which is not worth a serious complaint but still just a little strange.All in all it was a nice cruise, we talked to some very nice people of all ages, the cabin was nice, and I never had a eww this place is filthy moment, the staff was kind. But my first choice will not be Pricess Cruises from here on out unless we have a insane deal! Simply because I was with my husband and able to just relax I think I would have not had near as good of a time! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
It has been several years since my family and I have taken a cruise vacation. We have traveled on NCL (3), Carnival (1), Princess (2) and I sailed on the Dolphin II back in the 80s. My husband (when we are in Canada and several states) and ... Read More
It has been several years since my family and I have taken a cruise vacation. We have traveled on NCL (3), Carnival (1), Princess (2) and I sailed on the Dolphin II back in the 80s. My husband (when we are in Canada and several states) and I are in our 40s and our 2 boys are 10 and 12 years old.We live in Minnesota and flew to West Palm Beach (PBI) the day before embarkation. I'm a bargain shopper and I discovered that the flights to PBI were $130 less per person than flights to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. We rented a car with Avis. We stayed at the Hilton Suites Boca Raton and the rate was $109 and included cooked to order breakfast. It was close to shopping and restaurants. The hotel was okay for a day or two, but I probably wouldn't want to stay there longer.It is finally embarkation day and we are all very excited, especially the boys. We were up early, so we decided just to head out to Port Everglades. It was about a 25 minute drive from Boca Raton to Ft. Lauderdale. We returned the rental car to the Ft. Lauderdale airport and expected a shuttle to take us to the port. An agent informed me that Avis didn't provide a shuttle to the port. I know I have used one in the past, but I wasn't going to let a $15 taxi ride ruin my day.We arrived at the port at 1015 am just as they opened the doors for the waiting area - we were in group 1. My boys waited more patiently than I expected and we happily boarded the ship at 1145am. I took the boys and our carry on bags to the room, while my husband went to the Sanctuary to get our seats for the week. Sorry to those of you that arrived after us, we got the last 2 spaces - one in the sun and one in the shade (exactly what we wanted).In the past, we have stayed in family or balcony staterooms; however, this time we tried an inside cabin to see if we could handle it. Our room was Dolphin 511 and it was very cozy (yes, I mean small). There was enough space for us to change, sleep and it provided a place if one of the boys needed some down time. I was worried about the room smelling like smoke, but it did not. I did not notice any smoking odors in the hallways either. We were able to save money on the cabin, so we had more to spend on activities and the Sanctuary.We got the Ultimate Kids Package for the kids - it was $7 per day plus tax. We got the soda card - don't remember the exact price but under $5 per day. Power hour drink specials were from 4-7pm on port days. Pina Coladas, Singapore Slings, Strawberry Daiquiris and some of the beers were $2.99.The ship was very nice and well maintained. The staff members were pleasant and friendly. I finally managed to navigate around the ship by day 6, but I still had to look out at the ocean to determine if I was headed forward or aft. The husband pointed out to me that in the stateroom hallways the blue carpeting with blue trim was starboard and the blue carpeting with red trim was port. This was very helpful information since I had to look for a sign or odd/even numbers to know if I was on the port side or starboard side.There was an unpleasant sewage odor most of the trip. I noticed it while we were still in port and I just assumed it was a smell coming from the port area. Nope. It remained the entire trip. It was most noticeable in the pool areas. I hope that is remedied soon.The ship felt really crowded. Maybe it is because I wanted to be places when everyone else wanted to be there too. There were many children on the ship - most of them very well behaved. My boys attended the kids program, Shockwaves and they enjoyed their time there. My 10 year old enjoyed it most, he would rather be there than anywhere else on ship. He was also quite fond of table tennis. My 12 year old enjoyed it as well - he is about 1 month from being 13 and was disappointed he wasn't able to join the teen activities. On sea days the boys went to Shockwaves 3 times a day and shore days they went after dinner most evenings. I asked my 10 year old if he liked the kids program on Carnival or Princess better - he prefers Princess (although he wishes they had waterslides).We had traditional early seating in the Botticelli dining room. We sat at a table for 8 and our dining companions also had 2 children. We had a really nice time and our kids got along very well. My boys were more adventurous with their menu selections and tried more new things than I expected. It was definitely a fun experience. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very accommodating and the food was enjoyable. We went to breakfast in the dining room 1 time, but with the boys anxious to get the day started, Horizon Court worked out best. The choices in the HC were fine, but it was almost the same thing every day. For lunch it was pizza, burgers, international cafe or Horizon Court. I'm not a big pizza fan, but I love thin crust pizza and the pizza on the Crown was great.The problem with early seating for dinner - after we picked up the kids from Shockwaves at 10pm - we found ourselves in Horizon Court or Cafe Caribe having a 2nd dinner.We tried the Crown Grill one time and that dining experience took longer than we expected. We had almost a 45 minute wait from appetizers/salads until main course. I had steak and my husband had veal. It was good, but it really wasn't worth the wait or the extra expense. Honestly, the steak I had in the Botticelli dining room on day 6 was better. However, I had the best dessert of the entire trip at the Crown Grill. I had the molten chocolate, fudge something with ice cream. Made my day.We didn't get a chance to see the entire ship or do everything we wanted to do. There was an LGBT gathering every day at 515pm, we were unable to attend - getting 4 people ready for 6pm dinner takes quite a while. We attended 2 shows in the Princess Theater (Destination Anywhere and Motown) and wished we hadn't. We saw Ray Coussins in one of the lounges and he was quite entertaining. We went to MUTS one night to see The Tourist. The seat saving going on there was ridiculous.Sanctuary. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Did I use it as much as I would have liked? No. Would I book it again? Yes.Grand Cayman. I booked a trip with Stingray Sailing. We were in one of the first tender groups and were on the island about 745am. We met Captain Chip and headed to his Catamaran about 815am. There were 30 people on this trip, but it didn't seem crowded. He and his family (Buster and Michelle) are very personable and knowledgeable. My boys were uncomfortable around the stingrays. Eventually, with encouragement from Chip, my 12 year old fed and interacted with the Stingrays. The Catamaran can go to places on the sand bar that are shallow, so we were able to avoid the majority of the crowds. There was also a stop for snorkeling along the reef. The water was pretty rough that day, so it was difficult for my kids to snorkel there. Captain Chip put up the sails on the return trip and had complementary water and fruit and he also beverages for sale. Nice trip, I highly recommend Stingray Sailing.Roatan. I booked the Fantasy Island trip through Island Marketing (about $100 cheaper than through Princess). Roatan did not look like it did when I visited in 1997 - Mahogany Bay reminded me of an amusement park. Our driver was Sovony, she was waiting for us out of the complex and up the hill. She gave us information about the island on our way to the resort. The trip included snorkeling and kayaking. We were able to pick out our place on the beach (the other larger tours that came had to sit in certain areas). We had a nice section of beach all to ourselves. The beach was nice and it was a calm protected bay area. I wouldn't want to stay at this resort, but it was great for the day. The snorkeling was okay, we saw many conchs. It was possible to snorkel out to the reef, but there was boat and seaplane traffic - so it was a little dangerous. There were 3 kayaks and my 10 year old spent most of his time in one of them. There were large iguanas and a monkey on the island. The monkey was quite fond of my 10 year old and played with him for a while. Sovony waited for us and took us back to the ship when we were ready. When we returned to Mahogany Bay, we did a little shopping and stopped at Fat Tuesdays before returning to the ship.Cozumel. I booked Nachi Cocom through Island Marketing. We took our time getting ready and going to breakfast. We grabbed a taxi at 930am and headed to the resort. The taxi was $15 each way and took about 15 minutes. The resort was very nice - there was a pool and a large stretch of beach. It looked like they were about at maximum capacity, but there was still plenty of room and did not seem crowded. I tried a few of the drinks, like the mamasita (tasty), but then just went with Corona and Dos Equis. There were quite a few kids, so my little darlings had others to play with. My 10 year old played in the sand, building castles and collecting shells, while my oldest rented snorkel gear ($17) and spent his time face down in the water. Not great snorkeling there, but he didn't mind. I didn't care for the food, but I'm a fairly picky eater - my kids didn't care for it either. We stayed until about 230pm and a taxi was ready to take us back.Princess Cays. I didn't have anything planned for this day - just a beach day. We didn't rush to get a tender. We had a nice breakfast then packed the beach bag. The place is very nice. The place is also very crowded. We found some chairs, one in the sun and one in the shade. My 10 year old played in the sand and my 12 year old was face down in the water looking at fish. The snorkeling area was okay. The buffet lines were long the entire time it was open. I waited in line with my 12 year old for 45 minutes so he could get food. We decided to head back at 130pm to avoid the long lines for the tender ride back. I don't think the beach day was worth the hassle of the tender ride and the crowds. I think next time I'll stay on the ship.Customs was a little weird - even though one Customs Form was required per family, we had to complete 2 forms. I put the kids on my form and my husband went through solo. My kids were bothered that we all couldn't go through customs together (so was I). We had to explain, once again, that the U.S. government does not recognize our family. It doesn't change the fact that we are a family, just a reminder that things still need to change.It was a great vacation. The weather was perfect with sunny days and high temperatures of about 80 degrees. It was a nice change from the snowy, cold winter we had. And yes, as a matter of fact, I did buy future cruise credits so I can start planning my trip for next Spring Break! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Crown Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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