1 Princess Crown Princess Cruise Reviews for Fitness Cruises to Canada & New England

Thank you to all Cruise Critic members who have contributed trip reports. I found them very helpful while planning my own trips. Slight guilt has motivated me to write this report - my first - since it doesn't seem fair to keep ... Read More
Thank you to all Cruise Critic members who have contributed trip reports. I found them very helpful while planning my own trips. Slight guilt has motivated me to write this report - my first - since it doesn't seem fair to keep benefiting from all of your time/efforts without adding my own contribution to this wonderful website! Ship: Crown Princess Date: Oct. 13-23/2009 Itinerary: Canada/New England (embark - New York, debark - Quebec City) Stateroom: Inside - Riviera Deck Traveler: "40 something" professional (female), solo on this trip, fairly experienced cruiser - this was my 16th cruise (1st on Princess). Previous 15 cruises: - 14 RCL (7 Alaska, 6 Caribbean, & 1 Canada/New England) - 1 HAL (Caribbean/Panama Canal) Most of my observations/comments will be in comparison to the various RCL ships I have been on (Vision/Radiance/Voyager class only). There will be very few comparisons to HAL - my only cruise with them on Zuiderdam was not very good, about all I can say that was positive about my HAL experience was great cappuccino at dinner and a large, wonderful library - that's it. Embarkation in New York: Excellent - Princess shuttle from JFK left right on time (noon) and processing from the pier facility onto the ship was super organized and efficient - I was at the buffet within 30-40 minutes of arrival at the pier. Stateroom: Clean and well laid out - bathroom very similar to insides on RCL, really liked the "walk in" closet aspect to the Princess layout. With mirrors both at the head side of the bed and behind the desk, it seemed very open. Steward was excellent - kept the room spotless, added the top sheet under the duvet upon request (thank you to previous cruisers who recommended this - it felt more comfortable to me, as well), and he replenished the lotion/shampoo/conditioner regularly. I really liked being one deck away from the buffet - quick to run up stairs for various snacks/beverages at all times of the day. I didn't hear any noise from the pool area above, but this may be an issue on warmer weather cruises - rarely was anyone in the pool area due to the freezing temperatures for most of this cruise! Meals: Overall, I thought the food was very good, in both the buffet and dining rooms - comparable to the food on RCL which I always enjoy. (I thought the food on Zuiderdam was terrible - there was very little I liked.) A couple of slightly negative comments regarding the buffet on Crown are following: - The buffet area was VERY cramped/small for the passenger capacity of this ship. Even the smaller Vision class ships on RCL seem to have much larger buffet areas. More than a few people picking up food caused a huge logjam on the Crown - most times when I was up there it was complete gridlock! - The buffet seating area was also very cramped/small for the passenger capacity of this ship. Again, even the smaller Vision class ships on RCL seem to have more tables/seating capacity. On a warm weather cruise, I imagine the outside seating would alleviate this? - You could not pick up your own cutlery/napkin like you do on RCL. Therefore, if your hot food is not already cold by the time you wander around looking for a table, it will certainly be cold by the time staff come by to bring you your cutlery. I ended up "borrowing" a few sets during a less busy time at the buffet, kept them in my stateroom, then brought them with me for the next meal. Breakfast/Lunch - mostly ran up to the buffet, also went to the dining room a few times. The advantage of going to the dining room is that you have at least a chance of having your warm food eaten warm - due to buffet issues noted above, any bacon, pancakes, oatmeal, soup, etc. I got from the buffet were cold by the time I found a table and/or cutlery (until I borrowed the extra cutlery to bring myself). Afternoon Tea - attended 3-4 times and always asked for a table for 2 by myself so I could read. Twice they ended up seating another solo lady with me, which ended up being quite nice as I met two wonderful people that I really enjoyed talking to. Dinner - only went to the buffet the first night (included shrimp/crab) - other nights went to the dining room (Anytime Dining) at 5:30PM - if you get there about 5:25, you are seated right at 5:30 - after that, there seemed to be lines/waiting involved. I went with a "shared table" and met some wonderful people - often eating with the same people a number of evenings, especially since many of us were creatures of habit and went around the same time. I liked both Anytime Dining rooms (Da Vinci & Michelangelo) - didn't notice any difference in service/speed/etc - both excellent. For dessert, I must say the ice cream and sorbet was incredible - the best I have had anywhere! Crew: Excellent - all contacts friendly and professional. I had some initial concerns since I was used to RCL's system of "tip envelopes" instead of an automatic service charge - if they get the tips automatically, would the service suffer as a result? No issues at all! The CD (Ron Goodman) and his staff were very good - I didn't have a discussion with any of them personally, but they ran the various events well and were friendly/energetic without being cheesy. (Zuiderdam last December had a terrible CD, and my most recent July cruise on Serenade had a fantastic CD, so I was curious about the quality of the CD staff on Princess.) Ship DEcor/Services: Beautiful ship - thought it was very similar to RCL. Although I prefer the larger/higher atrium/centrum in RCL ships, overall the dEcor and availability of services were very comparable. Nice artwork, open staircase and elevator areas, and very clean in the public areas (including the washrooms). Service offering similar to RCL, with coffee shop, pastry area, multiple gift shops, etc. (To compare to HAL, I thought Zuiderdam was hideous - of course, this is a very subjective topic! Z'dam dEcor appeared to be designed by a drunk, color-blind, drag queen? Also, Z'dam had extremely cramped hallways, no atrium to speak of, tight/steep stairwells, and ugly artwork - including many black/white photos of old ships that are not very attractive. Felt claustrophobic on her the entire trip!) The only negative comment regarding the Crown Princess in general is that the common areas do not seem to suit a cold weather itinerary - it was way too crowded for the # of passengers. For cold weather cruises where everyone stays inside, you were basically in huge lines for EVERYTHING and forget about getting a seat in public areas. (I'm not sure why this was less of an issue on my Alaskan cruises with RCL - similar cold weather was experienced, yet the RCL designs in both Vision and Radiance class seemed to handle the "everyone inside" situation better? Maybe it is something as simple as higher ratio of passengers on Crown Princess per "square foot" of available inside common area?) I'm glad I didn't pay extra for the coffee card, because even though both the dining room and buffet coffee were terrible, the lines/crowds at the specialty coffee shop were typically so bad it would not have been worth my time to wait? I only found a short line at the International Cafe once - tried a few things and everything was good - but again the lines scared me off - just crazy most of the time, even during port days when you think it should be less busy. If you go on this ship anywhere cold, expect gridlock everywhere but your stateroom. For a warm weather cruise, I imagine the ship size is just wonderful - people distributed outside around the pool or deck areas, and the outside food venues, would take the load off the inside venues. Entertainment: Very good overall - similar to RCL. I especially enjoyed the production shows and the guest entertainers, plus the game shows by cruise staff were also a lot of fun. In particular, Duncan Tuck was fantastic, plus the female lead singer (Angela?) in the band Indigo was a pleasure to listen to. A couple of slightly negative comments related to the Princess Theatre - very small for the passenger capacity! The theatre is much larger on RCL ships, even on Vision class which has way fewer passengers than Crown Princess, plus RCL has more room between rows of seats (and there was no way the bartenders circulating around could get to anyone besides those near the edges). Passengers: I'd say about 60-80% seniors? I enjoyed everyone I talked to - what a wonderful group of people. Since I was on my own, I talked to people everywhere - shows, excursions, dinner, etc. Everyone I met (except one* - see below) was friendly and a pleasure to meet! *Considering I probably talked to over a hundred people in the 10 days, I kind of chuckled when I ran into the "one rude person" that you will find everywhere ..... since the theatre was so crowded all of the time, it wasn't unusual for people to be standing at the back to watch. During one show, I was at the back standing behind a group of "petite" seniors, as I could see over their heads. They were standing a bit back of the walkway, so the bartenders and others could walk through as necessary. One lady (with ample proportions) decided to stand in front of these other ladies, basically blocking both the view of those behind her, plus blocking the walkway itself. The ladies she blocked didn't say anything, so I tapped her on the shoulder and asked politely if she could please move a bit so the people watching behind her could see - she angrily said they should move instead! I shut up, not wanting to cause a commotion and get in an argument, but it was too bad those who had come in before her now had to look through/around her or juggle around in a rather packed area to find another vantage point. Ports/Excursions: Newport - just walked around within a few blocks of the tender dock, looked very nice and I would like to return for a longer visit in the future. Beautiful buildings and friendly people. Since I wasn't on a tour and didn't need to hurry, I waited for the tender rush to be over prior to heading out - had a very short wait as a result. Weather was good - probably a bit chilly for those from warmer climates, but very nice for us "canucks". Boston - didn't get off the ship. This was such a port-intensive cruise, and I had been on 2 tours in Boston about a year ago, so I decided to treat this like a "sea day" and just snoop around the ship, take pictures, read, and relax. Bar Harbor - nice scenery and cute buildings. Weather was super windy and chilly - I was dressed for it (and I'm used to it) but it did make touring a bit miserable. I took a tour called "Cranberry Islands and Cadillac Mountain" - not recommended at this time of year, as pretty well everything like washrooms and food places were closed everywhere we went. The small (40-50' long?) boat that we took to the islands had waves and wind blowing in - for those in the open area at the back, torture!!! Looking out into the waves, they were higher than my head, so very scary and not good for anyone prone to seasickness. The bus tour up Cadillac Mountain was nice - got some great photos - but with the cold wind howling up there, you needed to dress for it. I would say I was dressed for a -30C day at home, and the wind still cut through and chilled me to the bone. Another warning about this tour is that in the approximately 5 ½ hours we were on the tour, there was no chance to buy anything to drink or eat, so if you didn't bring a snack/water with you, you were out of luck. One man really needed a drink of water on the boat and the tour guide let him use her own personal water bottle - very nice of her but sad there were no other options for him. Saint John - weather was good - once again, probably a bit chilly for those from warmer climates. I took the tour to St. Martens/Bay of Fundy - enjoyed it a lot - nice scenery and very good tour guide. I particularly enjoyed talking to the ladies who staffed the restaurant where we stopped for lunch at St. Martens - once they knew I was also from Canada, but from the Western Prairies where they knew the weather was just terrible that week, they were joking around with me, and I really felt "at home" and welcome. Halifax - one of my favorite cities to visit and really enjoyed it once again. Weather was windy but good overall - I did not take a tour, just walked/shopped around the harbor front to the ferry dock (was very glad to be able to grab my favorite coffee here - the Tim Hortons was like an "oasis" to me!), then uphill to the Citadel where I paid the $7.50 to walk around on my own (interesting but would probably not go in again). There is still so much to see in Halifax, so I will have to go back again (and again) in the future. Sydney - port cancelled by Captain Proctor, due to safety concerns about docking with high winds/wave action. I will just have to go back some day! After leaving Halifax, the weather was very stormy. The wind/waves were so strong that evening, and into the night, that the ship was really rocking. Up on deck 14, it was so noisy I could not sleep - great thundering shudders seem to move along the inside of the ship, like it was going to break apart. As an experienced cruiser, I wasn't that intimidated, but for the newbie cruisers, I'm sure they were a bit concerned? The ship was rocking so much, the floor of the gift shop (for perfume/make-up) was littered with all sorts of stuff that had fallen off the shelves. I wish I would have caught a picture of it, as I couldn't believe how much was scattered about! Saguenay - Weather was chilly but again, I just dressed for it. I took the walking tour of Saguenay National Park - loved it!!! Incredible scenery, good bus tour guide, and very good tour guide in the park. The cultural displays at the dock area were nice, and it was very touching to see so many locals gather to say good-bye to the ship when we left. Quebec City - Weather was a bit crazy - rain/sleet/snow/strong winds/chilly!!! (Everyone with umbrellas found them turning inside out.) I had booked the walking tour but after seeing the weather that morning, I was not keen on being outside that long, as I did not have my snowboots with me - only running shoes - and didn't want to walk for hours with drenched, cold feet. For the $29 tour cost, it wasn't worth it. Instead, I just walked around for about an hour on my own, taking the many staircases up to the Chateau Frontenac, plus walking around all of the older streets - loved it!!! A beautiful city - I would definitely like to return some day when the weather is better. Debarkation in Quebec City: Excellent - most people seemed to follow the instructions, to go to your meeting area at the right time. I was in the last group, since my flight wasn't until 5PM. It was very nice to relax in the dining room, with coffee/tea available, reading until my color/# was called. Once in the terminal, again the Princess staff were organized and efficient - a bit of a wait for Canada Customs but nothing major and not in Princess control. After that, pretty well got right on to the shuttle to the airport, sad to leave! Other general comments/comparisons to RCL: • Buffet was open longer hours on Princess, definitely late into evening (or maybe even 24 hours?) - I really liked that - often ran up late in the evening for a cheese plate (very good) or a cookie (OK). • Coffee "included in your fare" (I refuse to say free) is lousy on both RCL and Princess - another subjective topic, of course (however, on RCL I can add a bit of hot water and it is almost OK, whereas the Princess stuff I could only have a few sips before I gave up, even with a bit of water added). • Cold beverages "included in your fare" are better on RCL regarding variety (I missed the lemonade & fruit punch from RCL) - there was only iced tea on Princess (both cold and hot tea are very good on both RCL and Princess). • Wonderful ice cream and sorbet in the Princess main dining room - loved ALL of it (RCL's used to be good, but the last couple of cruises it seemed to go downhill). • Princess dining rooms were very nice, but I really missed the 2 or 3 level dining rooms on RCL - to me, they make meals a more grand event (again, a very subjective topic, as many people may like the cozy feeling of only one level - if you haven't noticed already in my report, I prefer more open/large spaces!). • Many of the Princess shows were repeated a 2nd night, so if you missed one due to conflicting schedules, you could often catch it the next day. • Princess ship announcements were similar in frequency to RCL, the only comment I have is the "main announcement guy" (not the Cruise Director) spoke so quickly, about important stuff like when is the ship cleared in each port, tender instructions, and which deck to exit on, etc that I could hardly understand him .... for people who have slight hearing problems or have English as a 2nd language, there is little chance they would have understood him! (If anyone from Princess reads this, please ask him to slow it down a bit!) • Library on Princess was smaller than on RCL ships, and was only open certain hours, but I did enjoy a number of books - I like a variety of fiction, including mystery, adventure, crime, and "chick lit" - their selection included fairly recent bestsellers, so I was happy. • Daily planners very similar, though the Princess Patter did not have the hours for the various food/beverage locations like the RCL Compass - I really missed that feature. Summary: Although RCL is still my favorite, I would definitely cruise on Princess again if the price, timing, and/or itinerary were better with them for a specific cruise. I had a GREAT trip on Crown Princess, even with the cold weather and bumpy seas! Thanks again to all previous cruisers who have submitted trip reports on this site - hopefully this one will also help others. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
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 3.8
Family 4.5 3.8
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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