The Crown Princess is the largest ship we'd sailed on, and this was apparent from the get-go, as embarkation was a well-organized but lengthy process: 90 minutes from terminal to boat. In the past, we've sailed onto cruise ships. ... Read More
The Crown Princess is the largest ship we'd sailed on, and this was apparent from the get-go, as embarkation was a well-organized but lengthy process: 90 minutes from terminal to boat. In the past, we've sailed onto cruise ships. Not so the Crown Princess. In boarding group 2, we waited as multiple levels of preferred and elite loyalty club passengers made their way onto the ship, followed by group 1. At first glance, the interior of the ship was large and confusing, which made the crew members stationed throughout the entry ways an even more welcome sight, as they directed us to elevators. We dropped our luggage in our stateroom and made our way to a long line for lunch at the buffet. This dining facility is the smallest and least well-laid-out of the ships we've sailed, and we made use of it as seldom as possible. The food was middling good. The dining room offerings were uniformly better at breakfast and lunch. We've never eaten a dinner in a buffet, and probably never will. So we lunched, then went to our cabin to unpack, and began checking out the sundecks.
Our cabin was on deck 10, directly below the 16th deck spa and fitness center, and we used the stairs as frequently as possible. It wasn't long before we gathered in the Princess Theater for the muster drill, led by the cruise director, Dan Falconer. This was a fairly painless process.
Live music was available throughout the days and evenings in various locations on board, which we appreciated. The music was very good. The DJ occasionally blasted tunes too loudly on the sundecks, but it was never long before the Castaway band took the stage. And we enjoyed the mariachis and the showband jazz ensemble in the Piazza. The ship has multiple venues for music and entertainment and we were able to visit all at least once. Each had ample comfortable seating, waitstaff, and excellent music.
As predicted, the ride was a bit bouncy that first evening, and I wore my Seabands to dinner. There was a first night show in the theater, and it was reminiscent of shows on other cruise lines and ships. Missing from the week's lineup: late night comedy shows. Comedy was included in the Tyler Bryce and Steve Moris presentations, and both were fine. The vocalist Alison Ward gave a fine show, but I can always do without the denigrating remarks about other artists. I think we can all agree that some young pop stars' antics are regrettable, but we don't need to hear about them from the performer on stage. The final night's Magic To Do show was the closest we came to musical theater excellence during the week.
We opted for anytime dining, and soon learned that the smart money calls for reservations beginning at 8 a.m. for that evening's table. We had a mix of table-for-two and shared dining. Without exception, we met delightful folks at our tables and enjoyed conversation. Ditto for lunch and breakfast. There were few children on this sailing and they were a pleasant sight: little girls in pretty dresses for dinner, families enjoying vacation, adorable babies. Formal nights were especially nice, as Princess passengers on the whole dress for the occasion. It's off-putting to see people in tank tops, sandals, and ballcaps anywhere near a dining facility, let along dinner on a cruise ship. On the whole, there were fewer passengers toting buckets of cheap beer and more displays of decorum. Smokers were relegated to a few corners of the boat.
Which brings us to the calorie un-do portion of the ship: the fitness center. Spacious, well-equipped and oh-so-busy the first morning of the cruise. But pleasant, as always. Plenty of nice passengers everywhere we went. Another aspect of the ship I want to mention is the public area restrooms: nicely decorated, spotlessly clean, and small vases of fresh carnations at each sink.
The first-run movies under the stars is a great amenity, but showtimes conflicted with either dinner or musical entertainment, and we never made it to a screening. The viewing areas were well organized, and crew brought blankets and popcorn to moviegoers at night.
The first formal night included a captain's champagne reception, and waiters circulated in the Piazza offering glasses of sparkling wine in old-style glasses (not flutes) which was a nice touch. Speaking of the Piazza, the International Cafe was an excellent bonus. Sandwiches, salads and desserts all available for the asking, with seating nearby and nearly always, a musical offering. The second formal night featured lobster tails at dinner and they were of very good quality. Another venue we missed out on was Vines, where you could enjoy a glass of vino and freshly made sushi.
The promenade deck was well-used and had cushioned deck chairs. The bow had decks that were often accessible to passengers. An aft adults-only deck and pool provided a pleasant area to lounge, easy access to food and drink, and whale sightings. The bridge officers would announce wildlife sightings on our days at sea.
The art gallery and the paintings on stairway landings were varied and of high quality. And no, we don't do the art auctions. Happy hour at the Wheelhouse Bar was well-attended and staffed by friendly crew and live music. Princess regulars are hip to the happy hour and were a jolly bunch. On this voyage, we met passengers who'd been on 15 or more Princess cruises. Nearly everyone we spoke with had traveled a long way to reach Los Angeles by air: from Vancouver, Calgary, Washington, the Midwest, Utah and Colorado.
We snorkeled in each of the three ports we visited: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan (easier said than done) and Cabo San Lucas. We also enjoyed touring the zocalo, cathedral, and mercado in Mazatlan, and purchased some lovely Oaxacan embroidered blusas, gazed longingly at the fresh fish for sale, and soaked in a little local color at a fabulous art atelier. A really nice touch on return to the ship was cool washcloths and cups of water.
The last day of the cruise was as good as the first, full of tasty meals, entertainment, good weather on the sundecks, and a little more space in the fitness center. Debarkation was a breeze, as we were in the "walkoff 1" group and at our car by 8:15 a.m. Read Less