23 Los Angeles to U.S.A. Princess Crown Princess Cruise Reviews

This is a short review of our April 18 cruise on the Crown Princess. Pacific Coastal. San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Ensenada Mexico. We received several e-mail's a few days before the cruise telling us to come to ... Read More
This is a short review of our April 18 cruise on the Crown Princess. Pacific Coastal. San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Ensenada Mexico. We received several e-mail's a few days before the cruise telling us to come to the port late because they had to disinfect the entire ship and port terminal due to a Norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. When we arrived at the terminal around 2:30 there was a line along the entire front of the terminal. Once the line started to move it went pretty fast, until we entered the lines for the check in. It took about 20 to 30 minutes to get through that line, but once checked in we went straight to the ship. The food was good throughout the ship in all venues. The first three days there was no self serve. All drinks and food were placed on plates by the staff. Staff kept the tables bussed and would get drink refills for you. Even the dining room tables had no butter or bread. Everything was served. The Captain would announce daily the importance of hand washing along with the number of people who were sick. I believe there were only three cases the entire cruise and one of them was announced the very first morning, making you wonder if they were sick before the cruise started. The weather was cool the entire week so there was almost no one out by the pool. Bars were open but hardly being used. The one thing I did notice was there were no drink servers in the outside areas of the ship. The table bussers would get the drinks from the bar for you. This was also done in the dinning room and buffet. I found this better than having to hunt down a bar server. Not sure if this was due to the virus and all staff were doing all jobs due to no self service. Shows were good. The comedian they had was very good, do not recall his name. They also had a small circus type act and a three piece Mariachi band playing at various times throughout the ship. The casino slots seem a little tight, as do most cruise ships. Art auctions three or four days during the week and the usual shop sales going on throughout the week. This is the norm for most of the cruises we have been on. A little larger attendance due to the cool weather with little pool use. The only minus I had was the shower head in our cabin had a hole in the fitting and you had to turn it away from the entrance in order to keep the sink area from getting soaked. The water pressure was not the best and the hole took a little from the output on top of that. We did not say anything to the cabin attendant about this. Instead, at out first stop in San Francisco on day two I found a hardware store in town and purchased a hand held shower head. This made it much easier to get water to areas where the fixed shower head with the low pressure had trouble. This worked out so well that we plan on taking the hand held unit with us on future cruises. I like it much better than the fixed type. We were assigned a disembarking number and were given instructions to wait in a lounge until our color was called. Our paper said we should be able to disembark at 10:30 and indeed it was 10:30 when they called out color. Took about 10 to 15 minutes in customs line then we were out the door. All in all this was a good cruse with interesting ports. We would like to do this itinerary again the in near future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We are in our 50s and from the Midwest. We try to take a cruise in the late Winter/early Spring every year. Having lived in California for a long time, it was a homecoming of sorts going on this cruise. In order to meet up with some ... Read More
We are in our 50s and from the Midwest. We try to take a cruise in the late Winter/early Spring every year. Having lived in California for a long time, it was a homecoming of sorts going on this cruise. In order to meet up with some family in LA, we traveled into LA on Thursday, rented a car and drove to the Double Tree in San Pedro. The Double Tree was very nice and recommended. Friday, we met up with family and friends and did the TCM movie tour in LA. It was a great time. You can rent a car at Enterprise at LAX and drop it near the port. Simple. Embarkation was a breeze. Being Platinum helped a lot, but we were in the terminal and on the ship quickly. Our friends had a great Caribe Balcony, and we upgraded to our first Minisuite. The cabins were terrific. Our cabin steward, while very nice, and very good, was clearly overworked. This is the first cruise we have been on that it took quite a while for our cabin to be serviced. We put it down to too many cabins. It wasn't his fault. This Crown was a great ship. It reminded us of Ruby, only a bit bigger, and we think it may be our favorite Princess ship. (This was our 12th Princess cruise, so we have sailed on quite a few of them.) Generally, it was in good shape. We have done anytime dining a lot, and on many different ships. This one was the only one on which it appeared confused and crowded. In fact, we skipped dinner a few nights and ate in the International Cafe, which was terrific, or at the buffet. The food and service in the MDR on the nights we did go was so so. The California ports were a lot of fun. We rented a car in SF and did the self guided tour for our friends and met a lot of family. The ship docked at a convenient place, and made it easy to drop off the rental car and walk from Union Square through Chinatown and the Financial District for a fun dinner near the port. Santa Barbara and San Diego were great, too, and we loved the Midway tour. I really don't know why the ship docked at Ensenada. I think they could have found somewhere else in Mexico to go. It was a very unpleasant experience. Entertainment on the ship was so so. You could see the cutbacks. The cruise director's staff worked hard, and did a nice job with the games, etc.. Kudos to them for making things fun. The Happy Hour in the Wheelhouse Bar was also really well done and a lot of fun. The crowds there could have made it difficult, but the waitstaff and bar staff did a good job keeping up with everyone. It is a nice idea and well executed. Disembarkation was a breeze. We walked off, picked up our rental car right near the port and did a SoCal beach tour. Princess air had changed our home bound flights, so we did not leave until 9:30 pm. While it made for a long day, walking along the beaches and having lunch in Malibu were a lot of fun. I think it was even worth getting home at 6:30 am! Overall, we had a blast, but we always do. We could see the cutbacks on Princess which are really unfortunate. I would pay more for the old Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Introduction After years of my family and my partner saying I should go on a cruise, I finally went. Cathy and I originally booked a premium balcony. I kept track of the fare reductions over the months. Starting at $669 per person, the ... Read More
Introduction After years of my family and my partner saying I should go on a cruise, I finally went. Cathy and I originally booked a premium balcony. I kept track of the fare reductions over the months. Starting at $669 per person, the fare finally ended up at $439. I was able to get all reductions except for the last one. That was for new bookings only. However, the Princess customer service representative (CSR) did upgrade us to a mini-suite for a fare of $449. The original fare for this cabin was about $1,000 each. We flew to Long Beach the day before the cruise. Our hotel for the night was the Vagabond Inn - San Pedro. I do not recommend this hotel. The rooms are well worn, the complimentary breakfast nothing to write about, the free Wi-Fi had a bad connection, and, the worse of all, was the complimentary transportation to the pier. There were three ships in port on February 2. Vagabond had one (1!) van to transport people to the piers. We waited about 2 hours before getting to the pier. The Crown Princess left from Pier 46. All that was there was a large tent for the check-in. Considering the amount of people on the ship (about 2800) the check in went fairly fast. Check-in was suppose to start at 1:30; they checked in people at least 2 hours earlier than that according to one person I talked to. Our room was ready when we got on the ship. More detail is available on the deck plans section. We had lunch at the Horizon Court. The muster drill was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. but, due to late arriving passengers, wasn't conducted until 4:00 p.m. Ship Navigating around the ship was somewhat confusing. Once I figured out that the elevators were always on the aft side of the lobbies it became a little easier. It was difficult to go from one end of the ship to the other without going up or down a deck in between. Entertainment and Activities The entertainment was great. On the second night of the cruise was a revue called "Any Destination." The fourth night was a disco revue called "Blame it on the Boogie." Both were great. The performers were full of energy, the technical aspects (lights, sound, etc.) were fantastic, and, if these two shows are typical of shows on Princess, I recommend you make sure you get to see them. The third night was a magician/comedian named Christopher James. He was fantastic. Do a Google search to find out more about him. As far as I was concerned there wasn't a wide variety of activities. There were trivia games, an ice sculpting demonstration, a chocolate making demonstrating, and a 50th Anniversary balloon drop. We didn't attend the balloon drop but did go to the others. They were okay, nothing really to write home about. Service Service was, for the most part, excellent. I noticed that the service was somewhat slow if you ordered a soda or fake cocktail from the waiters in the theatre and during a trivia game. In fact, we never did get a soda during the trivia game. (We had the unlimited soda package) Our room steward was excellent. One thing that did bother me was the customer service desk. Twice we received voice mails asking us to call them. But when I called back they did not know what I was talking about and they would research it and call us back. We never did get a call back. I felt sorry for our room steward because one of the calls was about changing rooms. Aloponio thought we weren't satisfied with him. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I let him know we had no intention of changing rooms because we enjoyed his service very much. On the last night upon receiving our final bill I noticed a charge for something we didn't order. I went to customer service to find out what this was all about. After the CSR waded through a thick wad of paper she found something that said I had used the mineral water - $3.50 plus tip. Neither Cathy or I drink mineral water. I couldn't believe how long it took for them to remove this charge. Port & shore excursions We didn't book any excursion through the cruise line. We took the Skyline Tour on Catalina Island. This is a tour in a 1952 Flxible Bus. It was a great tour! The bus broke down about 1/3 of the way up the mountain. While a few passengers decided to take another bus back to Avalon, the majority of us stayed until a replacement bus came. Our guide Steven was very knowledgeable about the island. I recommend this tour highly. (This tour was not offered by Princess. Even if it was I still would have booked directly with the tour company because I've noticed that the tours offered by Princess are always priced higher than if booked directly with the tour operator.) We walked around Ensenada. Unless you are into cheap trinkets, overpriced jewelry, and pushy salesmen I'd recommend staying on the ship at this port. I know I will be doing that if I go on another cruise that stops at Ensenada. Dining The Horizon Court buffet was pretty good. We ate breakfast and lunch and three suppers here. My complaint here is that they need to get someone from the South to cook the Biscuits and Gravy. Other than that it was decent food. As far as I could tell there was only one day with Mexican food. This was lunch at Cafe Caribe. It was pretty decent food. I grabbed a hamburger at the Trident Grill. Not worth it. The hamburgers are pre-cooked and only heated on the grill. My hamburger was not very juicy. The French fries, however, were good. I like my French fries well done. I told the attendant at the Trident Grill how I liked them and that's the way they came out! The pizzas in the Pizza Bar were pretty good. Though they were thin crust (my preference is thick crust) they were very tasty and served hot. Milk shakes (available for a price or as part of the soda package) at the next door Ice Cream Bar were decent. We dined in the Michelangelo dining room on the second night. We had anytime dining. We tried to go to Michelangelo on the first night but the lie was very long. We made reservations and got right in on the second night. The food was great but the portions small. Disembarkation We were required to be out of our rooms by 8:00 a.m. Like the vast majority of passengers, we were in a self-help group. In other words we had to carry our own baggage off unless we requested to have it taken off for us. What was bad was that for nearly 3 hours we had no place to keep our baggage. It did turn out good though. We spent a couple of hours on the Sun Deck then went to our meeting room. My partner waited with the baggage as I went to customer service to find out about the erroneous charge on my folio (see above). When I returned Cathy told me we were ready to go. We got off the ship about 45 minutes earlier than our scheduled time. Summary My fellow passengers were friendly. I thoroughly enjoyed my first cruise. My favorite place on the ship, due to its quietness and being an uncrowded area, was the Sun Deck at the aft of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
The Crown Princess needs to be reconditioned as it has been some time and it is clearly visible. The staff tries hard to maintain what they can but carpeting that is coming up and paint that is rusting through are clear indications that it ... Read More
The Crown Princess needs to be reconditioned as it has been some time and it is clearly visible. The staff tries hard to maintain what they can but carpeting that is coming up and paint that is rusting through are clear indications that it is not working. Embarkation and Debarkation were done very well and the crew and attendants were both very cordial and competent. The two specialty restaurants were not up to par. Sabatini's in particular did not merit the additional charge as the food was quite salty and for two of the dishes lukewarm at best. The Crown Grille was better but not that much different than dining in the Da Vinci restaurant. The buffet was done well as was the pizza and hamburger locations. Bar service was very well done and the shows were very good. My wife and I will probably look to Celebrity or Holland America for next years cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My wife, adult son and I cruised on the Crown Princess earlier this month on a 7-day "California Coastal" cruise from San Pedro to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Ensenada. This is our eighth cruise on Princess and ... Read More
My wife, adult son and I cruised on the Crown Princess earlier this month on a 7-day "California Coastal" cruise from San Pedro to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Ensenada. This is our eighth cruise on Princess and our 14th cruise overall. Other cruises have been on HAL (2), Carnival (1), and NCL (3). Embarkation was easy and I noticed that they didn't hold up the line getting on the ship by having everyone stop for pictures while still proceeding to the gangway. Instead, those who wanted embarkation pictures taken had them taken just inside the ship and off to one side. We don't have our pictures taken and this is an improvement to keep the line going. We had a aft-facing balcony cabin on the Dolphin deck (D735). We chose this cabin after reading some reviews advising that aft-facing cabins are better than side balconies. The balcony is bigger and it is nice having a different view and less wind. Also, this cabin only has a neighbor on one side so it is quiet. On the down side, I noticed a smell of sewage when I opened the door to the shelves that contain the safe. It was especially bad the first couple of days, but was only a problem when standing near it. The other negative of the aft cabins is the time and effort it takes to get to the front of the ship. It's like walking a block or so. I had read that the third person in our cabin would be on a roll-away bed. That didn't happen. I slept on the pull down bed. Those beds aren't bad, but I recommend asking the cabin steward to add an egg crate to make it more comfortable. Also, in this cabin, the ladder to the pull-down bed was difficult to place without blocking the path to the bathroom. Bottom line is, if money is anything of an issue, I won't pay extra for the aft-facing cabin in the future. A note about elevators and getting around on the larger ships -- avoid the midship elevators and walk the stairs if you're only going two or three flights up or down. By berthing in the back of the ship, we learned just how much faster those elevators arrive compared to the midship elevators. Same with the forward elevators. And, at least on Princess ships, the fancy windowed elevators located midship are controlled by a separate set of buttons than the main bank of elevators. Most everyone will push the buttons for both sets, then catch the first elevator that arrives. This results in many elevators stopping at floors with no one waiting to board. This slows everyone down. Food First, we're dieting, well, at least when we're not cruising, that is. But I wanted to get away from this cruise without gaining 5-7 pounds like I normally do. So, most days I just ate a big dinner and very little else. I only it the Horizon Court buffet once. The food was good, served at the right temperature, and with good variety. Dessert included a Bananas Foster that was made while you wait. Very good. Dining recommendation - if you're on Anytime Dining, make it a point to call the dining reservation people every day that you plan to eat in a main dining room. We like to eat dinner early on most days, and we like Anytime Dining flexibility. But long lines form several minutes before the dining rooms open. The separate line for those people with reservations will move much faster than the (longer) non-reservation line. Main dining room food was very good overall. Good variety, correct temps, and good portions. I don't know if the food gets worse as the evening gets later. But we were happy with the food quality. The food service has slowed down over the years. Expect a dinner to take 1.5 hours to finish with several minutes waiting between each part of the meal. Servers were friendly but appeared overworked. Passengers seemed louder than normal. This may be because the Crown dining rooms are larger than the Sapphire ones (Sapphire is larger and has more dining rooms.) About formal nights - we're anti-formal. Sorry, traditional cruisers, but we just don't dress up. Period. The cruise has two formal nights. We ate at the Horizon Court on one of them and ate at the Crown Grill on the other one. Note that the Crown Grill has no problem serving customers dressed in "resort casual" on formal nights and most diners took advantage of this. (The Crown Grill food was excellent and service was better than in the main dining room. $25 pp surcharge worth it once every cruise or two.) New food option - The Crab Shack. My wife always wanted to try Joe's Crab Shack. Well the Crown Princess Cafe Caribe turns into a crab shack a few nights each cruise. $20 pp surcharge gets you a huge amount of seafood. We had a Royal Steam Pot, including apps, soup, mussels, clams, a sausage, red potatoes, and several crab legs. Really liked the Manhattan clam chowder and the shrimp appetizers. We recommend giving the Crab Shack a try. Ultimate Kids Package - beverage package. For $8/day (incl tip), you can get unlimited soda, "mocktails" (or any virgin cocktail), and real ice cream milk shakes. Of course, this ruins my diet, but I really enjoy the mocktails and the strawberry milk shakes taste great! We get this and a coffee card ($29 + tip for 15 speciality coffees) on every cruise. Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) - the screen on the Crown Princess needs work. Many lights don't work and the movies are played in less than full-screen. A staff person walks around giving people bags of popcorn, but she never seems to get to everyone watching the movie. On other ships you can get popcorn at the ice cream stand, why not on the Crown? On the plus-side, the movies were nearly current. Recommendation - if the lounge seat is wet for MUTS, just turn it over. Normally, the other side will be dry. Production shows, comedy, etc. - get there at least 15 minutes early! Seats fill up quickly and they announce that no seats can be reserved. People argue with each other over the seats. That said, we saw one production show (Blame It On The Boogie), one comedian (Wayne Cotter) and a mentalist. They were all very good, but the shows are a little short (45 minutes). Wayne Cotter didn't tell one joke about life on a cruise ship. That is a plus! Oh, and the Cruise Director (forget the name) sang a medley of Tom Jones songs. Sorry, I really like Tom Jones and this guy just didn't make it. Disembarkation - was easy. It took about 30 minutes of waiting in the lounge followed by another 30 minutes of line waiting to get to the Customs and Border Protection agent. Several porters were available to help get our luggage to our car, which was parked in the lot close to the ship. I'm not commenting on the itinerary, just the ship. The Sapphire Princess is my favorite ship. Unfortunately, it has been repositioned to Japan. The Crown Princess took it's place on the west coast. The Crown is smaller and doesn't have some of the perks that the Sapphire does. The Crown's Thermal Suite, the International Cafe, and the pool areas are all smaller than the Sapphire. The Crown doesn't have Alfredo's Pizza that the Sapphire does (Alfredos serves fresh made pizza with better quality ingredients, with no surcharge). If found the staff on the Crown to be friendly and helpful, especially when I approached them with a smile. The ship was clean and well maintained overall. I'll miss the Sapphire, but I'll still cruise on the Crown. Oh, and the diet - I gained two pounds onboard. Not bad... A final note about fellow passengers. Normally I don't mind how people dress. It doesn't bother me that some people bend/brake the dining room rules. But this cruise had one man who had a political tee-shirt he wore every day while he set himself up for hours in the middle of plaza deck piazza area. He might as well have worn a billboard. This, and another man who spoke very loudly in the dining room about how America should nuke west Africa in order to get rid of ebola (he was serious!) really bothered me. It used to be customary to leave religion and politics aside when you cruise. Is this custom changing? Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We have not been on a large ship cruise in several years. We have done several river cruises which are intimate and provide a very different experience. As we had to be in the LA area visiting friends and family, this seemed like a good ... Read More
We have not been on a large ship cruise in several years. We have done several river cruises which are intimate and provide a very different experience. As we had to be in the LA area visiting friends and family, this seemed like a good way to spend some extra time and see some California spots we had not been to before. We were able to board earlier then anticipated which gave us time to unpack, enjoy lunch and not be hurried before the Muster drill and dinner. The ship is in very good shape. Our room was what we expected for a balcony suite at the aft of the Aloha deck. We decided to do the "anytime" dining which really isn't anytime. The have two lines for dinner, one for with reservations and one without. We usually ate at 7.30 pm and both lines were seated quickly. Except for the first night, service was very good, the food was well prepared with ample variety. My wife has a problem with lactose and she was well looked after. She really enjoyed the special desserts they made for her. Most mornings we also did breakfast in the dining room. Its much more leisurely and you get to talk to some real interesting people if you share a table. But stay away from breakfast in the dining room on the last day of when everyone is disembarking. The line is long and they are short staffed because days off and the additional duties of getting the ship ready for the next cruise. Entertainment was good to very good. We only had one day by the pool because of the changing weather. Since last we cruised we noticed there much less discussion or encouragement about the gratuities. I guess most passengers elect just to have added to their account. The other change was the lack of prodding to complete surveys. I don't know why this is, but it was a chore we do not miss. We are a very active mid 60's couple and partake of the gym or the exercise classes most days. Most of the crowd was probably 75+ plus but they are vibrant and had many interesting life experiences to talk about. All in all Princess did a nice job. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Background Info: My husband and I are both 32. This was our 7th cruise and 7th unique itinerary, our 3rd cruise with our daughter who is 3, our 2nd cruise we’ve taken with other family members, and our 1st cruise with Princess Cruises. ... Read More
Background Info: My husband and I are both 32. This was our 7th cruise and 7th unique itinerary, our 3rd cruise with our daughter who is 3, our 2nd cruise we’ve taken with other family members, and our 1st cruise with Princess Cruises. Our others have been 3x Carnival, 2x Disney, and 1x NCL. I am a travel agent that specializes in Disney and Cruises, so I do a lot of research prior to traveling. We love cruising and wish we could sail all ships and itineraries. We are slowly working our way around the world by sea! We’d like to try out other destinations on their own, but the value of a cruise gets us every time. Travel to Embarkation Port: We currently live in San Diego, so we are able to easily drive to the Los Angeles World Cruise Center. This time, we did Disneyland the day before our cruise. Being it was Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, on Friday nights they host Mickey’s Halloween Party, a special ticketed event. We thought this would be a good opportunity to try that out and see how our daughter would like Disneyland. So, we drove up to Anaheim the night before the cruise, partied, and stayed the night near Disneyland. Hotel Info: We stayed at the Best Western Plus Pavilions, just outside of the Disneyland Resort. This hotel is one of very few that has free parking and we only spent $120 for 1 night. I found this to be a good value, for the area. In comparison, Disneyland parking is $17 per day. With our special event ticket, we did get free parking at Disneyland, but the parking structure was at least a mile from the hotel. The hotel was nice enough. It compared well, on the interior, to another Best Western Plus that we stayed at this summer. The exterior looks like a normal roadside Best Western or other inn/motel. There is no breakfast advertised, but they did have apples and bananas in the afternoon when we checked in and yogurt in the morning when we checked out. We didn’t use the hotel for much other than sleep and a shower. One thing to note is that the A/C wasn’t running in the room when we dropped off our luggage. Normally you probably don’t need it and when we entered it felt cool, despite it being an abnormal 100F degrees that day. Unfortunately, by the time we returned to the room that night, it had gotten a little warm and humid in the room. We were exhausted from our evening at Disneyland that it almost didn’t matter, but we turned on the A/C and slept relatively comfortably that night. In the morning we showered. They had ‘upgraded’ soaps, so they say, but they seemed pretty normal and in really tiny bottles. There was enough for us to use for 1 day, so it fit our needs. There was a hair dryer, an instant coffee maker with a few small coffee and tea packets to choose from, a cooler type of mini-fridge, and a nice TV with local HD digital cable which included various Disney channels ( a nice touch for a preschooler). Cruise Review: Embarkation: Los Angeles World Cruise Center in San Pedro…  We drove ourselves and parked at the pier. Had we stayed in a hotel in San Pedro the night before, we could have gotten free parking at a hotel. I had done the math and it wasn’t really worth it to drive to San Pedro after a long evening at Disneyland. My normal plan is to arrive at the pier around 10:30, good thing we did! When we arrive at the pier, we wanted to drop our checked luggage with the porters. To do this we had to circle the entire parking lot, which included driving past a decommissioned battleship which for some reason slowed down traffic, the berth for Norwegian Sun which also slowed down traffic, large delivery trucks who didn’t seem to know where they were going and slowed down traffic, and finally we got to berth 93 which is right next to the entrance of the pier, where the Crown Princess awaited our arrival. This trip felt like an eternity! We dropped our bags with the porter and our carryon with our family who had taken the shuttle from their pre-cruise hotel (Doubletree San Pedro). They were able to schedule their shuttle to the pier for quite early. I’m not sure of the official start time but they picked 10:15 or 10:30. Knowing that the Doubletree has early options, I feel comfortable with staying there for future LA departures. Anyhow, we tried to escape the baggage drop and get into the parking lot, only to have a crossing guard halt our path for an eternity while he let everyone walk across. The parking lot wasn’t full at all, maybe this is why they have ‘cheap’ parking? $12 a night for parking at the pier, or anywhere in LA, is not bad! Miami, is up to $20 a day, and I think Port Canaveral was up to $15 a day. Long Beach, around 10 mins away, is $17 a day! In Florida, you can find cheaper offsite lots that are safe to use. In LA and Long Beach, you aren’t quite as lucky and have to either stay at a hotel with parking or fork out the $$ to the port authority. We parked, loaded our daughter into the stroller, grabbed our remaining carryon bags. When we got to the crosswalk… the guy wasn’t paying attention and we had to fend for ourselves to cross. Oh the irony! Then there was check-in. For one, it seemed weird that you could enter the cruise building and check-in to the ship before you even go through security. Now that I think back, we were able to check-in at Long Beach before we went through security. In Florida, it seems the other way around. The security is probably all for show anyway, right?! Then there were all these ladies working the port. Oy! First they were all very eager to point you into the right direction, which was mostly nice. But there was this one lady who was rather demeaning about it all. I enquired to find out if Elite level passengers have a special check-in, she asked to see my papers and declared that I did not have ‘preferred’ markings on my boarding pass and should proceed with the rest of the masses. OK lady. When we finally checked in I did receive my Elite card, for being a fully certified travel agent, so that’s what matters. After I had the card in hand, I got plenty of special attention. Getting the card, was a whole experience in itself. One, apparently we made things difficult for the lady checking us in. We didn’t bring our full passport book, we only brought our card. The only foreign port we were visiting was Ensenada, which is a few hours drive away from our house. So, it seemed to us, the risk of losing our passport book infinitely outweighed our likelihood of needing it. Two, this lady is either new or has never entered data on a computer before in her life! The ‘fancy’ scanners for passports couldn’t scan our cards. Yay technology! Then, because our daughter is 3 and we weren’t going to need to fly internationally with her, she didn’t have a passport book either, just a birth certificate. So, this lady had to manually enter all the dates from our documents. She must have needed glasses or something because part way through, when she had to enter my husband’s info a second time because it didn’t save… she declared, that’s weird, they have your birthdays listed as the same date! This is after she said her son and I have the same birthday in AUGUST, the date she now mentioned was in OCTOBER. I was like “um, I think that is the expiration date”. “Oh I see now, yes it is”. D’oh! 100’s of people must have checked in, in the time it took us to. We probably could have been in group 1 to board, but we ended up with group 2/3. Actually, once I had my Elite card, I could have entered with the rest of the loyalty members with priority boarding, but we were happy enough with group 2 and wanted to stay with our family. Either way it didn’t matter much, because boarding didn’t start until Noon! I was somewhat surprised by this, as other cruises seem to start with the special groups no later than 11:45am. The PA system in the building was horrendous. The announcer would come on and you could only catch a few words he said. Between a few of us we could match up our words enough to get an educated guess at what he was telling us. When the group numbers started, that was very clear, as people started moving in large herds. The photo process was interesting. Not sure if it is a Princess thing, or just the way this port building was laid out. We didn’t get a photo taken until we traversed toward the gangway. The security team would scan your card and take your photo with a handheld scanning/photo taking device. It was very efficient, since all they need for your card is a headshot. The group photos were taken, onboard the ship as soon as you stepped inside on deck 7, after they scan you onboard. Most of our grief was due to the lovely city of Los Angeles and it’s Port Authority. It’s surprising that they don’t have a parking garage at the port. Having a garage would open up more space for traveling lanes around the berths. Having to circle the whole port to get to your ships berth is quite annoying. The other big issue was check-in. We are giving the lady the benefit of doubt; we must have been the first people with passport cards to cross her path. We use them every cruise, and have never had an issue. The start time for boarding, wasn’t that late, and can be excused because Princess Cruises tries to uphold the policy that all staterooms are ready at time of boarding. All other cruises we have taken, it is 1:30PM or later that rooms are ready. Embarkation Grade: 3-4, a bonus point is awarded for having our room ready to drop our carry-on bags and stroller! Dining: We didn’t partake in any of the specialty dining at Crown Grill, Sabatini’s, or the Crab Shack. However, the crab shack did pique the interest of my husband and he’d probably try it next time. It was offered at least 2 nights of the cruise, up in the buffet area. They closed off a portion of the buffet and used the seating there. We tried the gelato at the International café for $1.50. It wasn’t as good or creamy as some gelato we’ve had before, but it was still tasty and they gave us 2 small scoops of 3 flavors, 6 scoops total. We often did the buffet for breakfast, which was typical breakfast foods, nothing to complain about, except maybe the eggs, which I’m sure are that weird egg mixture in a carton. For that reason, we did eat in the dining room for breakfast 2 mornings to get my real egg fix. A cruise is not complete until I get Eggs Benedict, which wasn’t on the menu but they will make it if you order it. For lunch, on sea days, we did the buffet because they had a themed buffet back in café Caribe, which seemed to be the only place you could get any kind of ethnic foods. When we were in port, we had lunch while we were out exploring. Next time, I‘m going to pay more attention to the themes listed for the buffet at dinner and try those out, as we really did enjoy what they had to offer. The foods were all fresh and kept warm. I also noticed the food was all served from French looking cast iron cookware, I do believe that helps keep the food warm without drying it out under heat lamps. On the last full day, when we went swimming after Ensenada, I finally got to try the pizza on the pool deck. It was good and I would like to try some of their other specialty flavors, they only serve 3 types of pizza a day, 2 of which are standard flavors: Margherita and Pepperoni. It was definitely better than other cruise line pizza we’ve had and it was served as a full 16”+ pizza, rather than smaller personal sized pizzas. I think I saw that they had 3 full pizza ovens, so I would guess they can keep up with the demand. In the mornings, when we didn’t feel like the dining room or buffet, we’d try out the International Café. We didn’t have enough days to try it out for lunch. Unfortunately, the times we were there in the morning, all they had was pastry. So we got donuts, two of the mornings. They were good, but not quite as good as a fresh donut from a bakery. On future cruises, I would like to eat brunch/lunch here and try the egg sandwiches. I am assuming they make them later in the morning? Or maybe one has to ask about getting one? Either way, I never saw them at the times I was eating at the IC nor did I see any signage saying they’d make one. I know I know, I should have asked! But one does reach a point, on a cruise, where more food choices are not necessary! I do at least. So, that leaves us with the dining room. At dinner, since we were on with a group of 7, I was somewhat coerced a few nights to go to the dining room, when all I wanted was a slice of pizza. I did manage to skip dinner two nights. The first was San Francisco, as we didn’t return until almost 9PM and the second was on the last night.. .when I finally reached the point in which I physically was so full I couldn’t eat any more! I had zero hunger for almost 24 hours. Haha! OK, so the dining room was fabulous. I only had 1 meal that was not so great: the “short ribs”. Every time I’ve had short ribs, they have been amazing… this time they tasted a lot like pot roast! The only appetizer I didn’t care for was the spring rolls… they had no flavor. No garlic or ginger, just slimy cabbage. I did try some other items that were good and very different from my every day palate. The first night, I tried an app called ‘Red Snapper Mojito” which was like a ceviche served in a small martini glass. It was very fresh and similar to eating Sushi, but it was cut into tiny pieces and marinated in a lime juice mixture. Another night, I tried a chilled goat cheese soup. I can’t remember everything I tried, but here are a few of the entrees that were good: Fried Chicken.. yep I did it and it was good! It was offered as a “home style favorite”. I also tried their famous Fettuccini Alfredo which is made with homemade fresh pasta.. .yummy! I also tried a vegetarian dish which was a cheese and leek tart, I think. I ordered a Kalua Pork dish as back up. Actually, it was the other way around. I got the tarts as back up because I was wary about luau style pig, it can be pretty fatty. Both were really good so, joke was on us and we ate more than we should have. Our Executive chef was from Italy, so one night there were many Italian inspired dishes on a menu designed by the chef. I had the fresh gnocchi in red sauce a try and it was fabulous. Oh the desserts! One of the best parts of cruising because we rarely treat ourselves to rich desserts. I ordered soufflé one night.. I don’t know why I do this, but I do it on every cruise and I really don’t care for them… maybe I think that the next person that makes one will “WOW” me. Aside from that, I loved everything I got. A few of the nights they served our desserts and then also offered us Petit Fours… omg… why more food?! The best dessert of all was part of their new ‘Chocolate Journey’. I thought this was rolling out to the fleet next year, but we were lucky and it had already started on our ship. The night I took my journey was a chocolate hazelnut stack thing. It was AMAZING. If you’ve ever tried a French style chocolate with a hazelnut and chocolate filling.. it tastes just like that! If I ever have to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it might be that dessert. The second chocolate journey night, I was much too full from our afternoon snack in San Diego to eat all my dinner, the thought of dessert made me a little ill, but it sounded delicious as well. Dining Grade: 4-5. Food was all very good quality, we just want more variety. Service: Our room steward was good. He didn’t do anything spectacular but he did a great job at getting our room put together. Even if we left early for a quick breakfast, our room was always done up by the time we returned. He was speedy and sneaky, as most time I didn’t even see him in the hallway, yet still our rooms would be done! He even made our daughter a couple of towel animals, which others did not receive and we figured they must be a feature for more family friendly cruise lines. We didn’t have many requests, but whenever we did he was very quick to fulfill them. On a few occasions we had the pleasure of utilizing the bar staff. One time was during the Captain’s Circle get together, where the drinks were free, but the service was still great. We ordered a few cocktails, not on the trays going around, that night and they all came out quickly. The other times we used the bar was during several Happy Hours on board. I don’t see this often, but for 1 hour here or there, they would run a Buy One Get One free happy hour! On our sailing it was 3PM each day, and it got pretty crazy in there. We highly recommend the 24K Gold Margarita. Both times, my husband and I shared 1 order, and it came out as quickly as you’d expect, for such a crazy promotion. We only had to visit guest services twice. The first time, I was asking about the Treasure Hunt booklets on the first day and the guy had to go hunt for them?? The second time, was the last morning, when we noticed a charge from the dining room that we didn’t think we had made. Turns out we didn’t make it, but our family in another cabin did. So we got that switched over after a long debate with the nice woman at guest services. Thankfully she was able to point out what had happened to us and we were all eventually able to understand the situation. We all booked the cruise during a time when a free bottle of champagne was offered. When I used our voucher it was the same Champagne as what was offered, so it didn’t appear on our bill, as it was fully comp’d. The next two cabins traveling with us selected a different, lesser priced bottle of sparkling wine, so they were credited the amount of the original bottle and then charged for the bottle(s) they ordered. In the end, everyone’s wines were free, so yay for Princess! The first night or two, our dining staff seemed very busy and rushed and we didn’t get our dessert until 15 minutes before the next dinner was to start! The first night, we barely made it to the show. The second night we actually missed the one show I wanted see, boo! The next nights were much smoother and our orders went in more quickly. They were very nice and often offered to bring more food than we could ever eat. Be careful mentioning that you are deciding between two entrees! It is very likely that both will show up. :) I do feel like, when a young child is present, that they should put a higher rush on getting their food out. One evening, our daughter fell asleep before her food could get there. Some nights it was quick and others her food was slow to arrive. As always the servers in the dining room are also out and about during the day. We saw our assistant server several times in the buffet, getting drinks for everyone. Service grade: 4 Public Areas: Princess Cruises has beautiful ships. The overall theme of the ship is Italian inspired with nautical touches. There is marble and a Tuscan stone look throughout. The lounges and bars have a classic look with dark wood throughout. The Piazza is central to the ship and is where the service desks, shopping, café, and is where 2 of the main dining rooms are located. The art gallery, library, a few of the lounges/bars, and the casino also have access from the Piazza area. Most of the ‘action’ on the ship is on deck 7 and in the Piazza. The stores on board were filled with very nice things, but were not filled with many things I was interested in buying on a cruise ship. Good for the pocketbook, I suppose! There are 3 dining rooms and I believe we visited all 3 for various reasons. They all looked very similar. Our assigned dining room was Botticelli. It was on deck 6, aft, and the only way to access it was from deck 7 aft. That was slightly annoying, as everyone had to use the same set of stairs or elevators at dinner time. A small plus for this dining room, is there were bathrooms located within the dining room behind the front desk! This was great to have when our daughter decided to drink a gallon of milk and water during dinner and had to use the bathroom 3 times. The buffet on the Lido deck has two areas. My husband and I utilized the Café Caribe in the back more than Horizon Court. This was partially due to Café Caribe being a little less busy because it is all the way AFT. The other reasons, I will cover in the dining section of the review. We did use the ship pools at one point. We went in the pool near the Movie Under the Stars screen which is the Calypso pool. It was the afternoon of the Ensenada port day, and it was nearly empty for the whole time we were there. The pools were very deep and had a short wall surrounding the pools, with an area for overflow of water. I found this nice because it keeps small kids from running straight to a pool and jumping in. The pool was a little chilly, but it was also a warm day, near 80F degrees. The main theater was a little small for the amount of people that seemed to want to use it for the shows at night. But, I do appreciate there not being giant support poles blocking to view of the second level seats! That is one of our biggest complaints from other cruises we have taken. The seats were comfortable and there are hidden trays in the arm of the seat. The lounge that had many of those support poles, had many tv screens installed around the whole lounge, to broadcast what is being done on stage and to show the BINGO screen during games of that nature. The library had many books and a few games to play. The future cruise sales desk had some computers with information on how to book a cruise, there were also puzzles stacked in the corner. They also had a limited supply of mini-brochures. So, if you are interested in shopping a new itinerary to book onboard, I suggest you go there early. The internet café was filled with empty seats. One, internet is slow at sea, and two the Crown Princess is one of a few of their ships that is/has WiFi installed throughout! I wasn’t aware when we boarded, but quickly learned of this feature. You can use your computer, phone, tablet, etc to access the ships intranet. On there you will find operating hours and a list of most activities. We found that some activities didn’t make it onto the internet Patter, so it’s best to double check between both. But, it is nice to not HAVE to carry around your daily Patter with you. Public Areas Grade: 4-5 Entertainment: We saw a few of the main entertainment shows and performers. Unfortunately, we missed all 3 of the main production shows. We were able to see the comedian and also the comedic acrobat twice. We enjoyed both quite a bit. The singers I heard throughout the ship were good. I especially liked this mariachi style trio that performed in the Piazza. Our cruise director and his staff were both funny and entertaining. We enjoyed all the activities they put on for us. In fact, the Cruise Director, Billy Hygate, did a song routine before the comedian put on his set, one night. It made me wish I went to other shows, to see if he did anything else that was entertaining. On the last night, the cruise entertainment staff and crew put on a talent show and it was very funny. A few crew members come out and sing songs and in between the CD staff do little skits that are pretty funny. I hope this show varies ship to ship as it is one of the more unique events we saw on board. As I mentioned we saw the acrobatic guy twice. He was both funny and did balance/strength tricks. The first show of his that we saw was in the Piazza, which was a teaser for his full show in the lounge a few nights later. Both were very good, the manner in which he did his jokes was very entertaining. The stand-up comedian performed in the welcome show and then later on in the big theater. Some of his jokes were the same in both shows, which was disappointing. He was funny, but in a stereotypical kind of way. I didn’t get to see the hypnotist in either the Piazza or the theater/lounge. Entertainment: Hard to judge, but I will give it a 3-4 based on what we saw. Activities/Enrichment: As I mentioned elsewhere, the Cruise Director and his staff were great. We enjoyed their personalities, when we had a chance to see them. In the mornings, I would sometimes watch the Wake Show, to see what was going on and what the different staff members had to say about their particular part of the ship. It was mildly entertaining, and better than doing the ‘nothing’ that occurs between 6AM and 9AM. The show repeats every 60mins or so. If you watch continuously for long enough, you will see it all. There were quite a few events that I wanted to attend, like trivia, Zumba, Movies Under the Stars, Spa Raffle, Arts & Crafts, Casino demonstrations, art auctions, Captain’s Champagne waterfall, group games like Pictionary, Navigation and other seminars. But the timing was almost always not in our favor. We were either out on a port adventure of our own for the day, or the kids club was closed and we didn’t want to drag our 3 year old to an event, or it conflicted with something like dinner! This all helped us realize that anytime dining is the way to go on most ships. As much as we like dining together, in the future, Disney Cruise Line may be the only cruise line we do assigned dining, ever again!! A few of the events that we did get to and I can recommend are the Navigation @ Sea seminar…. If you like history and learning about how cruise or other ships function, this is for you! I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing, because… the kids club closed at 5 and the seminar ran longer than that, and it was my turn to go pick up our daughter. We also saw the Culinary Demonstration. Sit in the front for the best aromas! We thought this would just be a good ‘live’ cooking show type of demo, where we might learn a thing or two about making a dish. What we didn’t know was how funny it would end up being, I highly recommend checking this out. We did make it to ONE whole trivia game, and I liked it a lot, the trivia was actually a bit challenging and had a good variety. We also went to one BINGO game… snore! It was all electronic, done on a tablet type of computer. There were plenty of other activities that weren’t as interesting to us, like dancing classes. The classes ranged from ballroom type dance to country line dancing and tap dance. There was music playing all over the ship. There were piano players, a house band, and a mariachi trio. Never did I hear loud or obnoxious singing or music, so that was nice! We didn’t make it to Karaoke because it always started close to 11PM. Activities/Enrichment Grade: 4-5, lots of choices, just wish I had more time! Fitness/Recreation: I started the cruise with good intentions. The first morning after setting sail, I woke up early, so I decided to get my exercise clothes on and find a spot to run or go to the gym. First, I went to the spa and fitness area and found out nothing opens there until 7am. What?! On other cruises the gym at least opens at 6am! So, I had to go hunt for the running track. It must be the best kept secret on board. There is a deck called ‘sports deck’. It must be there right? Nope. That’s where the youth centers and adults only areas are located. So I go up one more, to the ‘sky deck’, this must be it! Nope, that’s where the night club is located. I go up one more… to deck 19. Finally, I find the jogging track, mini golf, and basketball court. This area is nearly invisible to anyone looking or not looking for it and I believe only 1 out of 4 elevators goes this high. It is out of sight out of mind, I guess. I ran two miles that morning, which was 32 laps. The track was quite short and not terribly wide, especially when an older lady decided it was her right to do her power walk straight down the middle of the track! I had to carefully maneuver my way around her each time I needed to pass. This is the only day I ended up going there. Too bad too because I had meant to go back and try the 9 hole mini golf. The golf, however, looked hard; there were no bricks or other barrier type material to keep the balls on each hole! Since the gym didn’t open7, which was also when the rest of my family was up, I didn’t return to use any of its facilities either. It looked nice, when we took the tour! I didn’t go without exercise this trip. 4/4 of our port days were spent walking all over the place. I think in San Francisco we walked nearly 10 miles! There were fitness classes and Zumba demonstrations, almost daily, but the Zumba was at 9… directly after breakfast. They idea of trying to workout/dance after eating eggs benedict was less than appealing. Next time I will try harder to get to the Zumba class, as I’ve been curious to see what it’s all about! The lack of accessibility of the fitness knocks its grade down a bit. Fitness/Recreation Grade: 3 Kids Clubs: Our daughter loved the Pelican club and couldn’t wait to go back each day. She probably would have rather stayed in there all night than come to bed and stayed in there for entire port days rather than get dragged around by us! We happened to see that there was a count of 30 children between the ages of 3-8, that were on board the ship with her. That is a pretty good sized number, so whenever we dropped her off at the club, there were always at least a handful of other kids there. The pelican room was a good size room and they had plenty of activities ready for them. They played games, did arts/crafts, sang songs, watched movies, built with legos, and had regular play time as well. There was an outdoor area as well, but I’m not sure if they used it. At the start of the cruise we got 1 large printout of the week’s activities. In the past we had seen that each day had its own Princess Pelican Patter. It was nice to get a basic layout of the week ahead, so we could plan our days to the schedule our daughter was given for activities. There were 3 mandatory pick up times each sea day. Noon, 5PM, and 10PM. We have no problem picking our child up and eating meals with her, but this was a bit of an inconvenience. 5PM was 30 minutes before our assigned dinner time and the club didn’t open again until 6PM. So, we had to drag her to dinner with us and when she got bored, someone would have to run her up to the kids club, in the middle of our meal. On port days, you were supposed to book your time in the club by the night before. We only did this on the day we were in Ensenada and it worked out well. Kids Club Rating: 5.5 from our daughter, 4.0 for us. Prices/Rates: Tips and onboard expenses aside, the price of our cruise was less than $100 per person per night. We also got $50 OBC and a bottle of $60 champagne per cabin to enjoy on board! For an inside cabin, I might like to pay a bit less than what we paid, but it was still a great deal for the product we received. Price grade: 4 Cabin: We had an interior cabin A717, Aloha, Deck 12, Category ID. We were 1 cabin away from the AFT elevators. We selected this cabin location to be ‘near’ the kids club, which was AFT on deck 17. We were also 2 decks lower than the LIDO deck where the buffet was located, for easy access to drinks and food in the early morning. We also needed a cabin that had room for 4 and also had similar cabins next door, for our family that was traveling with us. Given the limited choices we had, this was the best pick. The location of the cabin to the elevator bank and stairs was perfect. The location to the spots on the ship we spent most of our time was a bit of a walk. We took stairs when we could, but there were times, with the stroller for instance, that using an elevator would be more efficient, but the waits at peak dining times were bad, due to our closeness to the buffet. The noises from the area in our direct vicinity were minimal. The noises from the thrusters, early in the morning when we arrive at port, or leave in the evening were quite loud. Lucky for me, I tend to get up early, even on vacation. We had some early starts to our port days and the unexpected wakeup call helped in those situations. Our daughter slept through the vibration every time. It wasn’t that loud or disturbing, but just enough to wake you gently if you were in that stage of a sleep cycle. The layout of the room was fantastic. Looking at the floor plan, I was worried that it would feel cramped. Our daughter is only 3, so she doesn’t take up too much space and her bed was only down from the time after dinner through breakfast the next morning. Our luggage fit easily beneath ONE of the twin beds and we found a spot to prop up the stroller in the closet. Speaking of the closet, it is great! I thought I might be bothered by the lack of doors and openly ‘messy’ look of seeing hangers and clothes all the time, but the openness greatly outweighed the messiness. There was room for twice as many clothes as we brought to hang up. We could have used more hangers, and meant to ask for more, but we didn’t run into our steward in time for it to be worthwhile. He was ninja sneaky the first few days of the cruise. Then there is the bathroom. It can always be bigger on a cruise ship, but I don’t have many complaints. I felt the layout was nice. I am smaller than most, so I could comfortable move about. All three of us were inside the room brushing our teeth one night, so that alone is impressive. The shower did seem smaller than some, but I think one always thinks that when they see their shower on a cruise. :) The hair dryer leaves something to be desired, but did in fact dry my hair. It takes a while to get going, but once it reached full heat, it seemed to dry quickly. The air temperature in the room was nice and the control on the wall appeared to work well for what we wanted. The TV, we didn’t use it too much. We mostly caught a movie in the morning while getting ready for the day and at night after picking our daughter up from the kids club. There is a double plug at the desk, in which we could really only use 1 at a time, due to the size of the phone charger adapters. We managed to reach behind the TV and plug in our second phone. We had a double charger, but only one device would charge at a time, they probably have a way to limit the amps going to each outlet. The cleanliness of the room was great, I didn’t notice any areas that were in need of great repair. Though, one of the drawers on a nightstand didn’t work. We had 3 others to use and lots of other shelves and storage spots to stick all our random pieces. To help organize a little, I did bring an over the door organizer to hang on the bathroom door, it worked great for the items I use more frequently. Cabin Grade: 4/5, 5 for an interior cabin. Disembarkation: Being a local, we would normally do self-assist disembarkation and leave the ship ASAP to start the drive home. One: We had a 3 year old and a stroller to contend with, so while we probably could have managed a self-assist, it was easier to have Princess take the bags off for us. We would have picked the earliest time, but Two: we had family that wanted to take the 9am exit because their shuttle wasn’t until close to 10am. We all ended up with 9:15am, which was good except we had to wait to get off with everyone else. Luckily we found a spot in the International Café to sit. We were supposed to be in Club Fusion, deck 7 AFT, but we had some matters to attend to at guest services and people wanted to use their coffee card punches. All the while, the line for US Customs was getting longer and longer! Boy have we been spoiled in the past! It was what it was, but it was a good reminder for us, that it is worth it to take an earlier departure! The wait wasn’t horrendous and the view down the side of the ship was entertaining for the time we had to wait in line. Turns out the luggage is transferred to/from the ship using this forklift/crane type of machinery, with nets underneath to catch bags that might fall into the water. *Gulp!* I wonder how long they had done this without nets in place before the first bags were lost!! I may have been better off not seeing that. Disembarkation grade: 3. I would have liked an announcement over the PA about when groups could get off the ship. Other Observances: There was a high level of older clientele onboard. I think this is generated by the time of year (October, kids in school) and the itinerary (mainly US coastal cities). I also realize this is not a ‘family’ branded cruise line, so it’s not like we expected there to be a ton of younger folks. We also don’t frequent late night events onboard, so it didn’t bother us much at all. But, I do think this attributed to the high usage of the elevators and possibly the somewhat subdued nature of the programming and crowding at the 8PM show time. The portrait photographers were only out for what felt like limited time. The earliest they would start shooting was 5PM and our dinner was at 5:30. Some nights they didn’t start until 6PM. So, if we wanted photos with our daughter we had to rush, on specific nights, to get ready before dinner started. Also, certain backdrops, like the white background, were only available on formal nights. I think they did this to promote their photo studio, in which you could get black and white portraits done, with no sitting fee, but you had to make an appointment. We got a few regular portraits that came out well, which was a nice and easy way to chronical our family for 2014. The negatives that we experienced on this cruise were not deal breakers in the slightest. We had a good time and got to visit cities that we have not been able to before. We would gladly sail Princess again and I look forward to trying more adventurous itineraries and different ships. Value: Given what we paid vs what we experienced, this cruise was a great value. For less than $100pp per night, we got fantastic food, our daughter had a blast in the kids club, and we got to visit wonderful California ports, even if one of them is where we currently call home. My daughter and I usually go to the San Diego Zoo during the week, so my husband doesn’t get to go as often, so it was a nice treat for him and for our family that has never been to this Zoo. Value Grade: 4   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Staying at the Crown Plaza L.A. Harbor was a great jump-off point to this cruise. I think it took maybe five minutes to get to the port in the free shuttle that the hotel provided. I will say that there was quite a bit of confusion over ... Read More
Staying at the Crown Plaza L.A. Harbor was a great jump-off point to this cruise. I think it took maybe five minutes to get to the port in the free shuttle that the hotel provided. I will say that there was quite a bit of confusion over who was driving us and the discussion looked to get quite heated among staff members. They should know better than to let that play out in front of the guests, but nevertheless, we got on our way. The cruise terminal is set up a bit differently than the others that we've been on. You hand your baggage over to the porters, period. On other lines and cruises, you can always carry your own luggage inside and drop off, but that's not an option here. Don't be weirded out by that (our bags were to our room before we were somehow). The inside of the terminal was pretty nice, if not standard. You were broken down into groups by deck, which is a really smart idea, I think. The only confusing part was that they don't tell you the floor number, only the name of the deck. People were unsure of where to go and I think some of that could've been avoided by also listing the deck number. Getting checked in was a breeze, as was security. Now for the negative. After they take your picture (which is done on a handheld device, rather than a bulky terminal) they lead you outside. There was a gentleman directing the hoards of people towards the Crown that was incredibly rude. He was yelling at people to get into one of the four lines. Not wanting to budge into those lines in front of people, others were cautious due to what those in front of them were doing (which I thought was polite, to be honest). This guy just wouldn't shut his trap. "Why do you think we have all of these lines, people?" Either today was his last day or he clearly missed Customer Service 101. On all of our cruises this was the rudest employee that I have ever come across. It really set things off on a bad tone. Also, let me rewind a little here. There is an abnormally large (compared to our other cruises) group of senior citizens here. I don't even mean those spry 80 year olds running amok, but wheelchairs and walkers were everywhere. For this guy to be reprimanding anyone, let alone this group of people is/was completely unacceptable. I'm not sure that he heard me, but I remarked that I hope the customer service is leaps and bounds ahead of this onboard. Dining This is one major reason that I get excited to cruise. Don't judge me, you know I'm not alone! To be honest, I was not wowed. I had high expectations for Princess Cruises but I actually have had several better meals on Carnival. Dining Room Presentation in the dining room was on par, if not below, that of Carnival's. I think I was teased too much by the pictures of dishes that Princess puts out on their Instagram. That plating was nowhere to be found on this ship...very disappointing. There was also no lemonade in here, which is really odd to me. They had the iced tea, but strictly forbade lemonade...really? One dish that stood out, however, was the Brasato. This is a braised beef dish that really worked. It could have used more sauce, but compared to the other items I tried, was wonderful. Luckily, they had good service, but I've come to expect that, anymore. Breakfast in the dining room was nice but too long. They also didn't serve french toast or just regular toast, which are other puzzling decisions. The orange juice was delicious, and again, the service was great. Buffet The buffet was good for the most part. The dinner buffet always had something good on it, but quite often, nothing stellar. The worst thing I had was probably a steak dish that listed it being in a wine sauce. I think they actually just poured a bottle of wine over the steak once it was grilled. The alcohol was way too strong, like it was not cooked off and then reduced. Ew. The fruit was barely ripe, as well. One night I got some good watermelon, but more often than not, it was very, very light pink and had no flavor or was really dark pink and slimy. The shining star here were the fruit tarts. I think they had them every night, but they didn't always replenish them when they were gone. It was a nice, light dessert with good flavor and fruit that was actually ripe. Couldn't get enough of it. You could have lemonade here (rejoice!), but you had to find a server, as they only had water and tea in the machines. Is lemonade so expensive, they have to control it that tightly? I've never come across this in my years of cruising and I must say: Not a fan. Breakfast was pretty good here, too, I have to say. The buffet at the back of the ship didn't have as much, but it was much more quiet and seating was easier to find. The french toast was pretty good, even though it was prepared and sitting under a heat lamp. The oatmeal would've been delicious but the lack of anything crunchy (walnuts would have been great) turned me off of it. The fruit parfait with muesli had no flavor, but the cold muesli prepared with milk and fruit was fantastic. We never got to the Wheelhouse Bar, but certain days they had an English pub-type menu with fish and chips. There just wasn't enough time in a day on a cruise with such a great itinerary. Public Areas This ship was laid out very well, I thought. The bars were all comfy and mostly spacious. Seating wasn't too terrible to find, either. The bottom floor of the atrium contained some nice spaces, that other ships I've been on didn't. The best place here was the little deli where you could get prepared sandwiches, salads of all kinds, and desserts (donuts in the morning, for example). Right next to that was a coffee bar with lots of variety, and not horrible pricing. All around these areas was seating, almost like you were in a piazza in a quaint little European town. The next few floors upwards contained the guest services desk, shops, casino, and a few lounges. Everything was laid out nicely and didn't get clogged with people, as everything seemed just a little wider than I'm used to. For instance, on many Carnival ships the photographers are all jam packed in a few open areas and with people waiting in lines, the ability to maneuver through these areas can be difficult, to say the least. Here, however, the hallway outside of the steakhouse was so wide that this wasn't ever an issue. It also didn't hurt that they had far fewer photogs on board. The setup of the Explorers' Lounge was unlike anything I'd seen before. Instead of it being tucked away in the bottom aft of the ship, it was right on a main floor, smack in the middle. It was open to the hall so you could see what was going on in there and even sit outside of the lounge if you wanted to enjoy the music that was being played within. Great setup. I believe this was due to age of the crowd, but elevators were never available. You'd wait five to ten minutes and one would never show up. By the second day we just resigned ourselves to the fact that we'd have to take the stairs. This wasn't a bad thing as the exercise can't hurt anyone. Again, we aren't sure if it was the cruise line, the itinerary, the time of year, etc. that put us on a ship with older folks. One of our favorite spaces was the top deck when they ran Movies Under the Stars. There were pretty current movies alternated with some football games each night. They had popcorn that they brought around, and we all went to grab hot chocolate, too. Blankets were even available! The Princess Theater was pretty nice looking, but we never could get in! The first night, they were actually turning us away at the door, telling us that there will be another show later. Again, a first on a ship for me. The next night, it was packed again, but we got to slip in the bottom floor and saw how small it was! I couldn't believe it. I figured that Princess passengers would be really into the shows, and accordingly, have a large theater with great shows. The shows may have been great, but we'll never know. My advice is to go very early; our schedules were just always off. Room We got a balcony room (BD, I believe) on deck 11, called Baja. You have to remember the name/number of your deck along with your room number because they don't put the floor number in with the room number. For instance, on other lines we've been on, room 1135 would be on floor 11. On the Crown, we were on floor 11 but our room number was B7xx. Why make it so difficult? The room was set up differently than any ship that we've been on. Instead of a wall of closets upon entering the room, there was a little hallway that housed the door to the bathroom and then a long clothes rod on which to hang your stuff. It definitely wasn't as nice to have your clothing in full view with nothing to hide it. The bathroom is right there as well. It's small, like on any ship, but nicely laid out. It was clean and well lit, not really any complaints here. The rest of the room is nice, as well. There was a desk instead of a couch like I like, but it worked for us. The bed felt really hard at first, but I slept like a baby most nights. The mirrors were placed well and there were actually two outlets at the desk in which to plug our gadgets. They were a little snug to fit both things, so maybe bring along an adapter/extender if that's allowed (don't know). The balcony was great, too. The door was a sliding one, which is another first for us. That alleviated the issue of all the slamming we normally get annoyed by. We were with the people in the next room and had our balcony open to theres, but due to the doors' locations, the chairs were always in the way to walk back and forth. We just ended up using the opening to talk, rather than move. Itinerary We were so excited to do this particular cruise. Normally, we are in the Caribbean, which is great when you're in the mood for it. I like exploring and seeing different scenery and LOVED our Alaska cruise. Once we saw a California coast cruise, we knew it was perfect for us. I won't get into the specifics of each port, as I do that on the blog. Suffice to say that San Francisco and San Diego were our favorites, followed by Santa Barbara. Ensenada was almost a terrible experience. There really isn't much there and what is is pretty depressing. We weren't even going to go out of the little shopping area, but were talked into it. I'm glad we did because we found some really nice, authentic souvenirs. It's a bit sketchy and there were even little kids (I'm talking like 4 years old) trying to sell you stuff. I know they needed a 'distant foreign port' on the itinerary, but it wasn't great one. At the same time, I do hope the tourism dollars helps out there and goes towards the locals. Summary We all had a great time on this trip. Mostly, that was due to the ports. The ship was really nice, the crowd a bit different than we've experienced before, however. The food was a bit of a letdown as was the theater situation, but the room (with balcony), public spaces, and service (once on the ship) made up for it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This cruise features the best of California in 7 days with a taste of Mexico. This was our second California Coastal and first on the Crown Princess. Embarkation was very easy. We are Platinum and boarded very fast when called. The Crown ... Read More
This cruise features the best of California in 7 days with a taste of Mexico. This was our second California Coastal and first on the Crown Princess. Embarkation was very easy. We are Platinum and boarded very fast when called. The Crown was in great condition. I actually loved this ship. We have been on several Princess ships, and the Crown was my second favorite only to the Ruby, which is its sister ship. The ice cream bar has improved with nice dishes and caramel added if you request. The new chocolate series of desserts added in the dining room were wonderful! The weather was great for most all of the days. My brother and sister in law got the unlimited drink package, which runs about $400 with gratuity each for the full 7 days. They seemed to love it. You get a sticker on your cruise card, and with each drink ordered (water, any alcohol beverage, soda, etc.) you have to sign for each drink and it has a zero balance. Also, they could only order one drink at a time and once every five minutes. I thought this was interesting. We did not get the package, but enjoyed watching them order everything from fancy waters in the dining room to fancy foo foo drinks. Lots of fun. The dining room service in the Anytime Michaelangelo dining room has not so good. This cruise we noticed very slow dinner experiences and the waiters seemed almost to be going through the motions. We loved all the ports. In Ensenada, we did the LA Cetto/ Donna Lupe excursion. We loved it!! You get a free bottle of wine when boarding the bus after the LA Cetto portion. Great tour and a fun time. All in all another great Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our 6th cruise with Princess and while everything was okay nothing was really great except the food in the specialty restaurants. The best way to describe this cruise was flat. The service and food was fine but the crew seemed to ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise with Princess and while everything was okay nothing was really great except the food in the specialty restaurants. The best way to describe this cruise was flat. The service and food was fine but the crew seemed to just be going through the motions. There weren't a lot of smiles, conversation or friendliness from the crew. This was the first time that we didn't write a recommendation for a crew member because no one went above and beyond and gave exceptional service. In the past we've written 5-6 recommendations. The food is getting tired. In the last 5 cruises we've done it's basically the same menu and the food tastes the same. There is nothing new (other than the new chocolate desserts) and we didn't think there was anything amazing there. The service and food in the specialty restaurants was very good and we especially liked the new Crab Shack that they are doing. We also did the Chef's table which as always was amazing. We noticed that the outdoor decks seemed worn and dirty and several areas were in need of paint and varnish. This was the California Coastal Cruise and it was a nice, relaxing cruise with enjoyable ports and easy to see on your own. This cruise felt like a gap cruise between the Alaska cruises they had done and the Hawaiian/Polynesian that they were going to do. The entertainment was very unexciting both in the Princess Theatre and the bars/lounges. We still managed to have a great time but will not sail on Princess for a while. Maybe this was just a dull ship and cruise but we'd been on the Crown before and it wasn't this bad. This was our first time with Platinum benefits and we did enjoy the little perks that that entailed but not enough to cruise on Princess for a while. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Ship: This was my 8th cruise but first on Princess. I was with my mom and she cruises Princess at least once a year. I thought the ship was clean and in good shape. There are so many bar/lounge options, several pools, etc and the ship ... Read More
Ship: This was my 8th cruise but first on Princess. I was with my mom and she cruises Princess at least once a year. I thought the ship was clean and in good shape. There are so many bar/lounge options, several pools, etc and the ship never seemed really crowded to me except for a few occasions: lifeboat drill, trying to get off the ship in Victoria and waiting in line for dinner, etc. We liked Crooners and went there every night before dinner for martinis. It is a great spot to people watch and the waiters were great in there. The only crew member who took time to learn our names was Anthony in Crooners. Usually on past cruises it seemed like more of the staff tried to remember you by name. We had a mini-suite and it was perfect. Food: The food in the dining room was pretty bland and not that good. It did improve as the week went on. We went in The Horizon Court to make cheese and fruit plates to have in our room for cocktails on our balcony. The HC had a lot of options, some of them pretty random, and I had a hard time finding something that looked good other than the cheese and fruit. The pizza by the pool is excellent, it is pretty sad when your best meal on a cruise is pizza, but that was the way this cruise went. My mother said that the dining room food on the Crown was by far the worst food she had had on any Princess cruise. They usually go on 2 week cruises, if I had been on the Crown for two weeks I would probably be dreading dinner in the dining room by the end of the cruise. The options just were not very appealing on the menu and the presentation was boring. I am not a picky eater and understand that when cooking for 3,000 people it isn't going to be gourmet. I'd give the food in the dining room a C. Also, we had anytime dining and never made a reservation. 2 nights we waited in line over 30 minutes, our fault for not making reservations but the people with reservations were waiting for over 30 minutes too, just in a separate line. The the maitre d's still seemed unorganized and crowd control could have been handled better. On my next cruise I would just go ahead and book the late seating for dinner. We always ended up wanting to eat around 8:00 anyway and I think you would get better service if you had the same waiter every night. Ports: I enjoyed this itenerary very much. We booked excursions through Princess for each port and they were all good. In Santa Barbara we went to two wineries in Santa Ynez. That was probably my least favorite tour, it was basically just a trip to see 2 tasting rooms and sample 6 or so wines at each venue. I'm glad we did it though because it was a really pretty drive and we were back in time to enjoy Santa Barbara a little bit too, so it was like two trips in one stop. The same for San Francisco, the wine tour there was excellent and we had lunch in Sonoma and still had time to walk down to Pier 39 before we got back on the ship. We had beautiful weather the first four days. It was rainy and chilly in Astoria but we still went on our tour to Cannon Beach and Seaside. I'm glad we booked that tour because it didn't seem like Astoria had much going on. Victoria was gorgeous and we loved the tour to the Butterfly Garden and Butchart Gardens- amazing! Miscellaneous: Embarkation was very quick for us. We were dropped at the port around 1:00 and on the ship within 20 minutes. That is a definite perk of being a Princess Platinum cruiser (my mom). A few things were very unorganized though. Getting all of the tour groups off the ship in Victoria was chaos, it took almost an hour. I think the Crown needs to work on staggering times for things so you don't have 500 people trying to get off the ship at the exact same time for tours booked with Princess. Even if they staggered the times by 15 minutes it would have helped. Also, the airport transfer to the Vancouver airport was great until they dropped us off. If you were taking a Princess airport transfer to the airport they sent your luggage to the airport on a truck. So hundreds of people were standing in line trying to get their luggage at the airport, it was a mess. Overall: Average food doesn't make or break a trip for me and we had a fabulous time. I would recommend this cruise because of the itinerary and I enjoyed the ship. I would definitely sail on Princess again, but probably not on the Crown because of the food. I have been on NCL, Royal Caribbean and Carnival and Princess is definitely my favorite because it's not cheesy. The majority of the passengers seemed to be older and laid back BUT that probably had to do with the itinerary. No silly games and loud music by the pools, it was a very relaxing trip.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
To begin, I must say everything went quite smoothly from the beginning to the end of this cruise. My wife and I are in our early 60's and have now cruised 20 times (18 with Princess and 2 with Norwegian). This cruise on the Crown ... Read More
To begin, I must say everything went quite smoothly from the beginning to the end of this cruise. My wife and I are in our early 60's and have now cruised 20 times (18 with Princess and 2 with Norwegian). This cruise on the Crown Princess was a most memorable one that we won't forget. Our journey started out the day before (Friday May 2) on a direct flight with Southwest Airlines from Milwaukee to Los Angeles (LAX). We arrived there at 11:00 AM, collected our baggage and headed outdoors in search of a "Super Shuttle" van. A month earlier, I booked transportation on line with Super Shuttle from LAX to the Crown Plaza in San Pedro. The cost was (senior discount) was $17.00 per person one way. The dark blue vans were easy to find and very convenient. We arrived at the Crown Plaza in about 35 minutes which included dropping off some folks at another location. We were able to check in early a little after 12 noon. Being a IHG member, the girl at the front desk upgraded us to a corner suite on the seventh floor. Believe me, that really started our week off on the right track. It was a great room with some nice views (4 large windows being on a corner). I will be staying at this hotel for sure in the future when cruising out of San Pedro. They have complimentary shuttle service to the cruise terminal which we took advantage of the next morning. The hotel has several restaurants and pubs nearby. Two blocks behind the hotel on 6th Street was the San Pedro Brewing Co. (brewpub). A great place for good beer and food. We spent a couple hours there in the afternoon. For dinner we walked a couple blocks towards the harbor where the maritime museum is. Right next to it was a great Mexican restaurant called the Acapulco Restaurant & Cantina. Up and down this street are several restaurants to choose if looking for something else. Back behind the Crown Plaza on 6th and 7th Street and in between are many little shops, restaurants and pubs to explore. Saturday morning we found a great little place called "Happy Diner" on Centre St., fantastic breakfast! Also on Friday afternoons they run a vegetable and craft market on 6th Street (two blocks long). We really had a nice day in San Pedro. After a good nights sleep, it was finally cruise time (Sat. May 3). We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:00 AM. Check in was a breeze, but we were then directed to the Princess elite area where we waited till roughly 12:30 PM to board. Time went fast talking to other passengers. Once onboard, a great week began! We first headed to our cabin on Emerald deck (E207). We had an obstructed ocean view room which was great for us. We unpacked our carry on bag and I was able to place my cruise critic poster and Brewers magnet on the outside of our cabin door. We joined the cruise critic roll call for this cruise which I will talk about later. After this was done, we headed off for a light lunch and some dessert at my favorite place onboard. The "International café". I'm known to indulge in a few sweets, believe me, this was the place to get my fix! After a few hours exploring the ship, it was time for the muster drill. Our main luggage had arrived when we went back for our life jackets. The drill took place in the casino for us, then it was back to the cabin to unpack for the week. Afterwards, we headed up top side for the sail away. What a beautiful day it was, plenty of California sunshine and 80 degree temps. It was onwards to beautiful Santa Barbara, our first port stop the next day (Sunday May 4). Now before I talk about port stops, I would just like to mention a few observations I had of the Crown Princess. First off, there was no signs of the norovirus being present. The Crown did encounter this problem on a few cruises before us, but everyone seemed healthy, lively, happy and just having a good time the entire week. Princess employees were constantly keeping the ship clean and in tip top shape. Hand cleaning dispensers were every where. I even seen them in front of the casino entrances. Santa Barbara, what a gorgeous day it was! We arrived at 7:30 AM. This is a tender port, so life boats were used to get us ashore. We booked a Princess excursion touring Santa Barbara by Trolley. The main aspect of this tour was to see the Santa Barbara Mission that was founded in 1786. It was worth the visit, beautiful place and grounds. Afterwards, we cut our tour short and had the driver drop us off at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. What a place this was to see. We were able to climb the stairs to the top of the clock tower for impressive views of the area. The interior of this courthouse is unbelievable in it's Spanish style of architecture. Beautiful woodwork and paintings throughout. A must to see! Next up was a two block walk over to State Street, the main thorough fare of the city. It has many cafes, pubs, boutiques and every store you can imagine on it. A great place for a casual stroll on a beautiful day. Thanks to Jim & Diana from our cruise critic roll call, we were able to visit the newly just opened Santa Barbara Market Place. It's located just off State Street on Victoria Street. It has many specialty shops along with a bakery and restaurants. We especially enjoyed having a glass of wine and beer at the "Wine Plus Beer Bar" there. The owners were great with a nice selection. Our day ended with one last stop at the "Santa Barbara Brewhouse" near the tender port. It's located straight down on Bath street on Monticito Street. What a great little brewpub we discovered last year during a cruise to Santa Barbara. We had to go back and have a beer and say hi to the owner we met last time. Before I continue on to the next day (Monday May 5), I want to tell you who our captain was. John Foster from Liverpool, England. We had the chance to meet him later in the week at the "Captain's Cocktail Party" for platinum and elite members. What a nice guy, he spent some quality time speaking to the crowd. He didn't rush off, told some funny stories and jokes about his career at sea. I also found out that he will be transferring to the new Regal Princess this year. I'm glad as we will be on the Regal November 9th. The cocktail party was nice being held in Club Fusion, but what I really liked was the invitation stated come in casual attire. I normally miss these events because they require dress up clothes. It's more relaxed this way. We also enjoyed sitting with Don & Sylvia from our cruise critic roll call. The most traveled passenger was Marcia Macdougall of southern California, 938 days at sea. I would also just like to mention that our cruise director was Neil rose from Kent, England. His assistant was Bernie (a gal) from Brazil. They had a great supporting cast that made all the events fun throughout the week. Monday being our first sea day, was a lot of fun. At 11:00 AM in Skywalkers Lounge we had our cruise critic meet & greet. First I would just like to thank Ann from Brea, California for organizing this. She did an excellent job and also sent invitations out to many of the Princess staff to come join us, which many did. The Maitre D Ignazio D'Agostino showed up and spent a lot of time mingling with us. We really had a nice turn out from our roll call group. Conversing with people for several months on line and then finally meeting everyone was a pleasure. It was really nice getting to know Rob & Adaris from Port dover, Ontario, Don & Sylvia from Portland, Danny & Dana from Long Island, NY, Adele and her mother Mary from the San Diego area, Jim & Diana from Vancouver, BC and so many others through out the week. I was able to take many pictures at this event and many will be posted on our roll call thread. During our two sea days, the other being Wednesday May 7th, was more about relaxing and eating more food, especially desserts. You know me. Anyway, we did make time to go to the "British Style Pub Lunch" on sea days in the Wheelhouse Bar. The pawns (actually shrimp) and fries were my favorite. During these days at sea, we did spend a fare amount of time in the casino, but as usual, no luck. A few movies were also shown in the theater during these afternoons. We saw "12 Years A slave". Many good movies were shown during the week on "Movies Under the Stars". The only problem was, it was too chilly on the top deck at night to watch. San Francisco was our next port call on Tuesday May 6. I woke up very early this morning, 6:00 AM. The reason being I wanted to be top deck coming into San Francisco Bay and going under the Golden Gate Bridge. I was up on top by 6:15 AM, perfect timing as we were just approaching the bridge from several hundred yards out. I was able to take some fantastic pictures on both sides of the bridge. It was also very cool seeing the city of San Francisco from the ship and then watching us dock at pier 35. While passing the famous pier 39, you could see all the seals moving about and making their loud arking noises on a quiet, still morning. The day was another perfect one being sunny and around 70 degrees. Next up, we had a 10:30 AM Alcatraz tour we booked on line a few months back. Alcatraz is run by the National Park Service, so go there and the site will direct you to the right place to buy tickets. Prices are reasonable and they have a senior discount. The pier for the Alcatraz tour is at pier 33, just a short block or two from where we were docked. The ferry seems to hold a couple hundred people that takes you to the island. I do recommend you buy tickets early and far in advance as many tours and time slots sell out. We loved the tour, they show you a 17 minute movie about the history of it. Then you do roughly a 45 minute audio tour with headsets of the prison. The stories are amazing to hear. One highlight for me that day, was meeting one of the prison guards that worked there from 1957 to 1963 when the prison closed. He wrote a book about his experiences there. I was able to chat with him and bought his book which he autographed for me. I also got my picture taken with him. We were so happy we did this tour and I highly recommend it for anyone. After the tour we headed over to pier 39 to browse around and see the seals. We did not leave till we enjoyed the popular chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Believe me, it was delicious. Then it was off to Ghirardelli Square to enjoy a hot fudge sundae. Again, very tasty and delicious! What a way to end a great day in San Francisco. Back onboard, the entertainment was great during the whole week. The comedy vocal impressionist, Jason Neistadt was really funny. Another comedian later in the week was Derrick Cameron, another talented guy, very funny. One other show my wife and I really enjoyed was the "Mexican Powerhouse Diva" , vocalist Teresa Lopez. She performed two shows in Explorers Lounge. What a singer! We actually went back to see her second show, she was that good. The Princess singers and dancers were also very good. we caught two of their three shows during the week. "What A Swell Party" and "Disco-Blame It On The Boogie". We also took in some game shows during the week which were fun, like the "Marriage Game Show", "The Majority Rules Game Show" and the "Liars Club Game Show". Other fun events that week were the "Runway at Sea Fashion Show", the "Rock N' Roll" night in Club Fusion where we danced up a storm. We also attended the culinary demonstration in the Princess Theater and then toured the galley afterwards. The executive chef Antonio Costantino and the Maitre D Ignazio D'Agostino were hilarious. Another event we attended was the Princess Grapevine in the Michelangelo Dining Room. Good wine and you actually learn something about it. One thing we never made was bingo, that's a first for us on a cruise. The joke of the cruise was, who's going to the disco lounge in Skywalkers? The cruise director would always ask that question after shows and everyone stayed quiet. We were an older crowd onboard, not to many late night partiers on this ship. Now for our port stop in Astoria, Oregon on Thursday May 8. It was a cool and very rainy day. I was glad they had shuttle buses running into and back from town. Well worth the $7.00 cost per person. We ended up having a blast here, the rain did not dampen our mood. We went too 4 micro breweries on this day. The Fort George Brewery & Public House, Astroria Brewing Co (Chart House), Wet Dog Café & Brewery and the Buoy Beer Company. We ended up meeting with Danny & Dana from our cruise critic roll call. We really had lot's of fun and laughs. The beer was going down good! I can't believe we participated in a photo bomb while this couple was having their picture taken, blame it on the beer. Everyone we met in Astoria was so welcoming and friendly. A great little town! The next day Friday May 9 was our last port stop in Victoria, BC. What a beautiful, clean city, The day was pretty decent too. We walked into town which took about 30 minutes. We strolled by some beautiful hotels near the wharf and as we got near downtown. People in this city really pride them selves with beautiful flowers and shrubbery around their homes and businesses. We ventured over to the Empress Hotel, a center piece of the city. What a beautiful structure, especially inside. Thought about having afternoon tea there, but at $59.95 per person, it was quite pricey. The little desserts they served did look delicious as we walked through. We ended up finding a little Dutch Bakery & Café on a side street. We had a dessert lunch that was awesome. We finished the day doing some tourist shopping before walking back to the ship. Once back, it was time to start packing the suitcases for the next day disembarkation in Vancouver. I couldn't believe the week was coming to an end. We also printed out our airline boarding passes at the internet station onboard. Many people were. The next day in Vancouver (Saturday May 10) we were up early at 5:30 AM to get ready. We had Princess bus transfers ($29.00 per person) to the airport and had to be in the dinning room at 7:15 to disembark. That didn't happen till 8:00 AM. Our bus driver did a wonderful job explaining and pointing out sights during the drive to the airport in Vancouver. It took about 30 minutes to drive there on the bus. The cruise terminal we docked at is called "Canada Place", it really is a beautiful structure in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Some day I would love to spend a few days here before or after a cruise. Now to wrap up this review, I would just like to mention we never ate in the dinning rooms or specialty restaurants onboard. We enjoy the buffet or catching light meals at the International Café. The food was well prepared for our tastes and very good. We always look forward to Bavarian and Italian night at the Horizon Court Buffet and the Princess desserts are always tops in my book. We had a wonderful week of cruising on the Crown Princess. We even talked about doing this itinerary again in the future. It was fun!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Cruise 4/19/14 through 4/26/14. My Mom and I took this cruise as a short getaway from the San Francisco Bay Area. We flew from San Jose, to LAX via Southwest, then boarded a Super Shuttle shared van to take us to the Pier at San Pedro. ... Read More
Cruise 4/19/14 through 4/26/14. My Mom and I took this cruise as a short getaway from the San Francisco Bay Area. We flew from San Jose, to LAX via Southwest, then boarded a Super Shuttle shared van to take us to the Pier at San Pedro. Upon arrival at the port we were surprised to see a huge mob of passengers waiting to board the ship, and another large group waiting for pick-up to leave the port. We were told that the ship had arrived late, and that boarding would begin at 2:00 pm. It was about 1:30 when we were finally able to board. The ship is although very clean, is just okay, no frills. I really expected it to be much nicer than it was especially since I have traveled on Princess 11 times. We had an inside cabin on Caribe Deck 10, stateroom C720 which is pretty far aft. The room was spacious, and pretty nice. We did hear the engines and feel the vibration pretty heavily when arriving and departing a port. However it was a pretty quiet cabin during the night, and the gentle rolling movement did lull us to sleep every night. Our cabin Stewart Ariel Santa Cruz from the Philippines was very good. We found the beds to be very hard, so we asked for egg crate mattresses, and blankets which he quickly addressed. The penny machines in the casino were a lot of fun, especially the one called Striking Tiger, and the Wild Wolf slots. The elevators were the worst. A constant wait, and a real pain. The gym was great, lots of machines. The food in all the venues was good. We had anytime dining, but unlike the Sapphire Princess (my fav Princess ship) the Crown only has 2 anytime venues for the evening meal besides the buffet. On deck 15 in the buffet I would like to see a free ice cream machine in the to go with the desserts. I loved the stir fry's, the balsamic vinaigrette and the daily cupcakes at lunch time. Delish. Service, terrible and slow. Most of the time we had to get our own coffee, and water. I heard numerous complaints about this from others as well. We picked this cruise based on itinerary. All of our excursions were DIY. Be sure to book all your excursions on line before the cruise in order to save money. San Francisco - Weather was bitterly windy (in the 50's) dull and cold. Thank goodness I had my winter parka. We did the Hop on Hop off bus run by Grayline. I booked it through Viator.com which I have used numerous times in Europe. Very good narration by the driver and beautiful overview view of the city sites. It was excellent. In San Francisco the ship docks at Pier 35. The ticket from Viator tells you to go to Pier 33, but this is not correct, because the bus does not stop there. Instead, catch this bus at Pier 39 which is about a 5 minute walk from where the ship docks. Sit on the benches facing the Embarcadero right next to the Aquarium and the bus comes by there every 30 minutes. You can call them to see what the time of arrival is. Santa Barbara - Took the Old Town Trolley. We got it for $17.50 each on line, $19 p/p at the trolley. The cruise pax paid $35 p/p for the this same trolley. The website stated "Black Out Period for Cruise Passengers" however, there does not seem to be an issue if you grab the trolley at the Stearns Wharf & State Street corner next to the dolphin statue. Again excellent 2 hour tour with ability to Hop On and Hop Off at any of the 12 stops. San Diego - Also took the Trolley which is the best deal in town. Takes you all over to the best sites in SD for about 2 hours. Awesome. You pick it up at the restaurant right next to the cruise port (I think it is called Anthony's but I could be mistaken) which is a short 5 minute or less stroll. Ensenada - No comment as we stayed on the ship. Disembarkation - Again a nightmare. We had the early self walk-off, which was supposed to leave the ship at 7:45 am. However we were held up by Customs (not the ship's fault) and didn't leave the ship until about 8:20 or so. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
First the good stuff - California coast has some wonderful destinations and iconic sights including LA itself for the Holywood scene, San Francisco for the Golden Gate Bridge and street scenes, beautiful Santa Barbara for beaches and ... Read More
First the good stuff - California coast has some wonderful destinations and iconic sights including LA itself for the Holywood scene, San Francisco for the Golden Gate Bridge and street scenes, beautiful Santa Barbara for beaches and shopping, San Diego wonderfully bright and fresh - can't really saÅ· the same though for Ensenada in Mexico which was a little bit 'iffy'. Not so good The ship (Crown) was OK but it is showing its age a little bit now, and lacks the sparkle that the newer ships today have. Food was fine both in main dining and in the buffet. Staff, our steward (Standly) was excellent and kept our mini suite in tip top çondition and he always had a smile. Can't say the same for the so called guest services/front desk team most of whom looked like they were sucking lemons most of the time, really it felt like they did not want to be there at all ! A word of warning if buying gifts on Crown pre cruise as they will not be in your suite when you arrive - all you get to hand out are pieces of paper, how rubbish is that ! And if you order flowers they may not be in your suite when you board which sort of defeats the purpose and when you make a complaint to the so called CUSTOMER team well you may as well talk to the nearest wall for all they seemed to care. Boarding - I've never seen longer queues. We were picked up at LA hotel by coach and dropped (dumped) at cruise terminal. We were amazed at the length of the lines and all the Priness staff just left us to fend for ourselves - they really need to sort this out. Leaving the ship though was very smooth with no issues at all. Entertainment - shows were very short, about 30 minutes and while they were OK they were over in no time. Also their timing made it difficult for those of us on màin dining at 8pm. Bars and other entertainment was ok too though on this cruise many folk were off to bed early it seemed. Could definitely do better and I've seen better on other cruises. We've cruised with RCI, MSC, Carnival and now PRincess and I would rank them in that order. So while we really enjoyed the cruise (fabulous weather in April helped) and the destinations I was a little disappointed more so by some staff (except steward and main dining waitress/waiter who were very good) that really seemed to give the impression the paying guest were an annoyance to their day........... So overall I would do this cruise again for the destinations but would hope to see an overall happier and customer friendly crew - but I would not pre buy gifts again - I really don't understand their approach here unless of course it's about saving a few dollars. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Our family was on the April 5, 2014 California Coastal cruise with the norovirus outbreak that made national news. We occupied three mini suites aboard the Crown Princess. One of us contracted norovirus. The previous cruise also had a ... Read More
Our family was on the April 5, 2014 California Coastal cruise with the norovirus outbreak that made national news. We occupied three mini suites aboard the Crown Princess. One of us contracted norovirus. The previous cruise also had a norovirus outbreak and embarkation was delayed several hours to sanitize the ship so there was a long line and no lunch. Once the cruise began, the staff seemed slow to respond to the new norovirus outbreak. It wasn't until nearly half way through the cruise before handrails and elevator buttons were being regularly cleaned. Infected passengers were confined to their cabins with their non-infected cabin-mates. Normal cabin-cleaning service stopped, and a slower less-reliable sanitizing teams came. Fresh linens and towels became scarce, beds were unmade, room service slow and inaccurate, plumbing clogged, and it took many calls and trips to the front desk to get the simplest tasks done. For those uninfected, the food was bland and flavorless. Not necessarily low quality, although certainly not high quality, but reminiscent of tasteless hospital food. Several steps below Las Vegas buffet food. There were no salt and pepper on the table because of norovirus outbreak. I bought my own seasoning in San Francisco and brought it to the dining room. In the main dining room or buffet, the hot entrees were cold. Amazingly, frozen desserts were served cold. The itinerary had two sea days in a one week cruise. There should have been port stops in Catalina and/or Monterey, especially considering the banal activities and bad food. Our dinner server worked extremely hard and efficiently. She had only one helper and she was obviously overworked. Through no fault of hers, we didn't have enough time to look at our menus and felt rushed by the frantic atmosphere. Dinner was not a relaxing experience. I've been on many cruises, and have never had this issue. In most of the dining rooms and especially the buffet, beverage service was slow or never came. My water glass was empty more often than partially full. During some meals we had no beverages. I have been on about ten cruises from the low end to Oceania, including a Princess cruise in the past. I thought Princess was a decent cruise line before this cruise. Even the few Carnival cruises I've taken were better. I realize that because of the norovirus outbreak, it is unfair to judge Princess by this cruise. That said, when faced with challenges, does an organization rise to the occasion or flounder? Taking everything into account, this cruise was unbelievably bad. It really had a low-budget / bargain feel and I'll not travel with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Sailed one of the California Costal cruises on the Crown. Embarkation was a three hour line to board through one door with no explanation and incredibly poor communication from anyone representing Princess. Ship was bland in decor, really ... Read More
Sailed one of the California Costal cruises on the Crown. Embarkation was a three hour line to board through one door with no explanation and incredibly poor communication from anyone representing Princess. Ship was bland in decor, really no wow factor and way too crowded. My least favorite ship in over 85 cruises. Our cabin steward vanished after night three and on night five another one showed up and never seemed to understand when to turn the room down at night and never replenished any elite amenities. The Horizon court was the worst casual eating restaurant at sea, always confusing, crowded and food was poor. We ended up eating in Sanatinis most nights just to escape the mediocre food and crowds. Crown Grill was rushed and nothing special The ports were all fine and a highlight of this cruise. Everything else about the Crown was so mediocre, I most likely will not sail Princess again with so many nicer cruise options available Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My wife and I are just back from the May 26, 2014 California Coastal Cruise aboard the Crown Princess. Here are a few pros and cons of the experience. CABIN We had a balcony cabin, forward on the starboard side. The cabin itself was OK. ... Read More
My wife and I are just back from the May 26, 2014 California Coastal Cruise aboard the Crown Princess. Here are a few pros and cons of the experience. CABIN We had a balcony cabin, forward on the starboard side. The cabin itself was OK. Even though we had a balcony, the room only had two chairs, no loveseat. Décor was serviceable, if a bit bland—everything except the carpet was beige. TV was a decent-quality flat screen. Balcony furniture seemed new and was comfortable. Best part of the room was the bed! Extremely comfortable. We had the steward add the egg crate mattress topper, and slept like babies. The bed in “king” formation seemed wider than most as well. Excellent thermostat control in the room—did a nice job of keeping the room temperate without burning up or freezing. We asked for and got the plush robes instead of the standard waffle weave; not sure if it mattered that we were “gold” level past passengers. Room steward was excellent, very much the “silent butler” type. He was efficient and inconspicuous. FOOD This was our biggest disappointment overall. Food was just…mediocre. Wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t tantalizing, either. In the dining room, rather than feeling we had many good choices, we felt we were having to stretch to put together a satisfying meal. It felt like with most of what we ate, the “hot” food was rather cold, and the cold food was somewhat warm. The buffets had a lot of choices, but it all had that “served with a feed scoop” feeling to it. Not a lot of style or subtlety to any of the food, sauces or presentation thereof. We never could quite figure out what was going on with the Caribe buffet. It was supposed to be the “alternative” buffet, serving slightly more exotic fare. We got to eat there once the first sea day. After that, it never seemed to be open. It was scheduled to be, but every time we went by, it was closed. Many days, it was only set to be open 5-6am (!) for continental breakfast. Weird. Breakfast buffet was serviceable. I tried the made-to-order omelet station one fairly slow morning. I ordered, then stood there for maybe 10 minutes. Still no omelet. The guy in front of me canceled his order, and I followed suit. The system just didn’t seem to be working smoothly. They were trying to cook them on a central grill, rather than the usual guy working a couple of pans set-up. The grill cook couldn’t seem to keep up with the (modest) demand. We ate in Crown Grill one night. The food was marginally better there, but still nothing we’d return to if it were a land-based restaurant. We didn’t try the limited room service menu. The “Anytime” dining didn’t really work for us. The service was terrible—the sensation was of the service staff throwing your food on the table and running off. They seemed harried, never had enough time to, say, check back and see if your food was OK, and just weren’t engaged with the diners. You have to make a reservation every day (via phone, and prepare to be on hold quite a while), and if you don’t, you stand in a very long line to be seated. About half way through, we switched to traditional dining, and the service was vastly improved: much more timely, more friendly, more coordinated, no daily phone reservation, wholly a better experience. The ship did have a nice selection of sugar-free desserts throughout the cruise, and the breads were excellent. But overall, I’d give the food about a 4.5 out of 10. CABIN We had a balcony cabin, forward on the starboard side. The cabin itself was OK. Even though we had a balcony, the room only had two chairs, no loveseat. Décor was serviceable, if a bit bland—everything except the carpet was beige. TV was a decent-quality flat screen. Balcony furniture seemed new and was comfortable. Best part of the room was the bed! Extremely comfortable. We had the steward add the egg crate mattress topper, and slept like babies. The bed in “king” formation seemed wider than most as well. Excellent thermostat control in the room—did a nice job of keeping the room temperate without burning up or freezing. We asked for and got the plush robes instead of the standard waffle weave; not sure if it mattered that we were “gold” level past passengers. Room steward was excellent, very much the “silent butler” type. He was efficient and inconspicuous. SHIP Again, eh. We kept saying, “this ship feels rabbit-y!” There’s just not a lot of flow (IMHO) to the design of the ship. Seems like you’re always having to detour around something—a panel on the deck, a potted plant to get to your buffet table, needing to go down a deck to get forward where you want to be. It just wasn’t smooth navigating on board. The Movies Under The Stars seemed lame. (Note to Princess: really? MUTS was your best choice for an acronym for this feature?) The screen was atrocious. Maybe it was impressive when the ship was built, but in the era of Jerryworld’s high-def megascreen, the image quality here was pathetic and nigh unwatchable. Handy tip: if you want to go out on top of the flying bridge, go onto deck 15 Forward, and just keep going. There are a couple of beige, unmarked doors all the way forward—just walk through those, and you can go up 5 steps onto that area. Quite a nice view back along the side of the ship. But hang on—it’s windy up there! Overall, the ship was well maintained. Unfortunately, that did not extend to the mini golf area. Throughout our week-long cruise, it was “closed for maintenance,” though no one seemed to be maintaining it in any form or fashion, nor was it in particularly bad shape. I think they just didn’t want to mess with it. I find that really annoying, that they offer something like that as a sales point an enticement, then don’t appear to make any effort to make the feature available. The pools and hot tubs seemed to be open and closed with no rhyme or reason. A pool would be closed, but the hot tubs next to it open. We were in port in Ensenada on the warmest day of the trip, and the pool was closed. Very odd. No signs, no explanations—just random closures. It felt like there was a real shortage of just plain fun events on board. No shuffleboard court. No putting challenge. No ring toss for goofy prizes. Everything was geared toward getting more money out of your pocket: “Free acupuncture analysis” to see if they can get you to buy an acupuncture session, “free aging analysis” to see if you need to buy some botox, “free lecture on precious gems” that you can buy in the jewelry store, “free foot analysis” to see if…something is wrong with your feet, presumably—that sort of thing. Take a tour and decide for yourself, but we thought paying extra for the thermal suite facilities ($109 for the week!) wasn’t worth it at all. The saunas were miniscule, and the whole area seemed like a stuffed-away afterthought. You could only get a pass for the week, which was a drag, too. Just not a good value. We toured the “Sanctuary” area as well, which also didn’t seem worth it. It really came down to it being a different set of deck chairs behind a railing…for 20 bucks a half day. You could request sun or shade “on a space available basis.” And it was located on a windy part of the deck, underneath massive, LOUDLY-flapping international flags! It wasn’t much of a “sanctuary.” They did seem to limit the number of announcements on board, and we always appreciate that lack of intrusion. Tenders ran smoothly in Santa Barbara. Not too much waiting. PORTS We did enjoy the itinerary. No place we hadn’t been before, but each was a fun, “simple” stop, enjoyable and easy to get around. For SF, highly recommend getting a Streetwise map before you go, then getting a 1-day MUNI pass from Walgreens when you arrive, and just seeing the city on your own. Easiest city on earth to get around in! We highly recommend riding Segways in Golden Gate Park. We found this place on Yelp, and it’s the way to go—you get to scoot around on your own at your own pace, aren’t stuck in a tour, and get to go a longer time at a cheaper price! Nice, friendly owner will help you get ready to go, even if you’ve never been. Ton of fun—our most fun outing on the trip! Check it out: http://www.yelp.com/biz/segway-sf-bay-san-francisco Santa Barbara has a shuttle you can take into town from the port for 50 cents. The line seemed long and the sun was hot, so we just took a cab to the far end of State Street for 8 bucks. We walked most of the way back, then grabbed the shuttle to the ship. A $9 shore excursion! BTW, try McConnell’s ice cream! Fantastic! In San Diego, we stopped at the Tourist Info center right on the pier, bought two all-day transit passes for $6 each, got a map and took off on our own. We had to walk a few blocks to catch the 7 bus to Balboa Park, but it was easy enough. Then we went to Old Town for lunch by bus, then took the Green Line train back to the ship. Easy, fun and cheap! And ho-hum Ensenada, we treated as another sea day. : ) We didn’t do any ship shore excursions—no need to in these cities, IMHO. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION High praise to Princess for the boarding process. It was by far the fastest, easiest and most pleasant we’ve experience in about a dozen cruises. Part of that may be due to the terminal building in San Pedro, which is well designed and very comfortable. Disembarkation was OK. We did the walk off with our luggage. The process got delayed by customs, as usual, it seems. They had 7 customs officers on duty (the max appeared to be 8) to handle an entire ship. Thus, the bottleneck. But all in all, it went fairly quickly. OVERALL We enjoyed the trip. Being locals, it was nice to not fly anywhere to get on board. The ports were pleasant, and having two sea days was relaxing. It was an “easy” trip, no big hassles or challenges. The ship was OK and the food was a drag, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. And for $550 for a balcony, for food, transportation and lodging, it was still an excellent value. Overall, we’d give the trip about a 6.5 out of 10, with high marks for the itinerary, price and simplicity of the experience, and low marks for the ship layout, food and feeling of always being squeezed for money. Bon voyage!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
First off let me say this was our first cruise with Princess and it was just so-so. Ship- The ship it self was very clean and very beautiful. The ship however tend to rattle and shake quite often. We missed having a nice viewing area in ... Read More
First off let me say this was our first cruise with Princess and it was just so-so. Ship- The ship it self was very clean and very beautiful. The ship however tend to rattle and shake quite often. We missed having a nice viewing area in the front of the ship but the gym was where it is normally on different ships but the Crown had it in the back of the ship with the Mini Golf above it so you could hear the balls rolling if people were playing. I must say though Princess does an excellent job with the design and the decor of the inside of the ship. Cabin- We had two inside cabins. They layout was GREAT! Best inside cabin we have ever had. The only downside was our room rattled like no other. Crew- The crew is what saved this cruise. Every single one of them was super nice and helpfully. Service/Food- Embarkation was soooo slow waiting in line for about an hour and half, we got off the ship relatively quickly tho. The food was just ok throughout the whole cruise, very hit and miss. The pasta's were great but everything else was ok. The main dining room experience was one we have never had before. Our poor head waiter was all by himself. We had no bar or assistant waiter the head waiter did everything. Every once in a while a drink guy would come by to help but not often. We felt so bad for our guy, he was running all over the place. The main dinning took FOREVER, at least 2 hours plus. We ate the Crown Grill which was AMAZING! Highly recommend eating there, worth the $25. Overall- Our cruise was just ok, nothing ever really wowed us. Would we cruise with princess again maybe, many people who we talked to on board who have cruised with princess said something seemed off on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We’ve cruised with Princess 25 times and this was our second time on the Crown. We took this cruise I because it was close to home and was an easy, short break with no flying involved.  We generally have had nothing but great ... Read More
We’ve cruised with Princess 25 times and this was our second time on the Crown. We took this cruise I because it was close to home and was an easy, short break with no flying involved.  We generally have had nothing but great experiences with Princess but this trip will not go down as one of our favorite cruises. Unfortunately, we boarded a ship that was still infected with Norovirus from the previous voyage and that affected everyone on board, both crew and passengers, in one way or another. Embarkation was delayed because of deep cleaning after the ship had arrived from a 49 day voyage around South America.  There had been a couple of outbreaks of Norovirus on board and it wasn’t contained. Boarding was delayed until 3PM and led to over 3000 people piled up in a hall that was inadequate for the task.  We were admonished for daring to use countertops to fill out health forms, even though that seemed to be a reasonable use for them.  Passengers were ordered to get up from sitting on the floors and to leave the port and return at a later time.  Where were people supposed to go???  It was a poor way to treat passengers, some of whom had been traveling for hours and many of whom were elderly and disabled. Once on board, we found Code Red was in full effect in all the dining areas.  We weren't told much of anything about why, until it became inevitable.  We knew from Cruise Critic and our Roll Call what the problem was. We were not allowed to serve ourselves in the buffet, pick up a plate, get a cup of coffee, put ketchup on our food.  Everything had to be done for us.  Even in the dining room, the waiters had to salt our food for us. Eventually, the captain told about the Norovirus and we got used to daily lectures about washing our hands after using the bathroom.  We were told we were all in this together.  He never told us how many people were affected, only that numbers were increasing or stabilizing.  However, the media in all the ports we went to knew, because Princess kept issuing press statements giving them information.  The ship staff could have been much more transparent.   By the end of the cruise over 120 passengers and 30 crew were sick, Princess confirmed to the media, but not to us, the passengers on the ship.  Despite the Code Red restrictions, passengers continued to get sick all week and were confined to their cabins.   We bought our own salt and pepper shakers in one of the ports and took them with us when we ate.  It became very tiresome to have to ask for every item we wanted.  I learnt to request hot water and milk separately so I could make my own tea at the table with my own tea bags and sugar I picked up from Starbucks in port. We found our way of dealing with the restrictions but it put a damper on the vacation. We spent a lot of time at sea in heavy fog with the horn sounding every minute or so. The weather in ports was mostly warm and pleasant, although we tendered in Santa Barbara in dense fog that did not lift until early afternoon and it meant a very slow tendering process as the local coastguard insisted on escorting each lifeboat to shore. For all the deep cleaning that was apparently going on, I never once saw a crew member cleaning elevator lobby areas or buttons.  I saw tables wiped down but never chair backs, which were touched more frequently.  I noticed one coffee spill on the marble floor near the Lido elevators that remained there for over 24 hours, meaning that floor was not cleaned.  Were the menus ever cleaned? We were allowed to touch those. And cruise cards being handed back and forth? I’ve seen much more rigorous enforcement of hand sanitising on ships with no Norovirus outbreak than I saw on the Crown. There were so many inconsistencies.  Salt sachets were handed out only on request in the buffet but freely available at the burger bar.  I was not allowed to order a medium rare burger at the burger bar because of Code Red, but could have a medium rare steak in the Crown Grill. It was maddening.   We thought the ship was in great shape and was aging well.  The carpets looked rich in color and recently replaced.  We think there is less and less to do on the ship during the day that is not sales related.  There were no port lectures and no enrichment talks, but it was a short cruise with only two sea days.  Evening shows are cut down to 30 minutes.  There were lines everywhere, the worst of which was a 75 minute wait for Anytime Dining on the first formal night which meant an enormous line of 100 people snaking all the way through the Piazza on Deck 5 and down the cabin hallway.  I have never seen anything like that before. Dining was a mixed bag.  The food was fine, although one night we ordered the gourmet burger option, waited a long time to have them custom cooked medium and medium rare, and when they arrived they were both cooked to death and the worst burgers we've eaten in a long time.  We didn’t complain because our table of eight waited so long to get their food anyway, and our specially cooked burgers were apparently the hold up. I can’t remember any waiter coming and asking how our meals were.  The breakfast menu has not changed in the 20 years we've been cruising with Princess. I do wish the menus were a little more innovative and with the times, offering things like brown rice and Greek yogurt instead of the same old standard fare. Formal dress code observance was down to about 25% and people thought nothing of going into dinner in open necked shirts and casual pants.  Nothing was ever said. We felt like the odd ones out in our formal wear surrounded by people in the most casual of clothing. I hate to see formal night disappear, but most of the passengers ignore it and the staff don’t enforce it. It is dying. The gym was excellent and had  great quality equipment in it.  Thankfully, it was rarely crowded and was a wonderful part of the ship. We appreciated the wrap around Promenade deck. Our cabin girl took great care of us and the onboard tailor repaired a torn pair of pants for me for free, which was much appreciated.  The cabin was quiet and restful, with a deep balcony and midship location.  The mattresses never bother us, although the pillows could have been better. We were quite happy. We had a wonderful meal in the Crown Grill one night which was worth every penny.  It wasn't a bad cruise but the whole Norovirus issue hung over everyone constantly and created a lot of negative vibes and a lot of dinnertime conversation.  Even drop off boxes at the passenger services desk and make up samples in the boutique were removed.  Everything we queried was blamed on Code Red.  Eventually we realized the entire cruise was going to operate under Code Red restrictions and they would never be lifted. We know how great it can be on a Princess cruise and I hope we experience that again on another ship soon, but it wasn’t to be on this one. Our dinner companions on the final night were on their first cruise and we sat there and tried to convince them not to be put off and to try again on another cruise. We looked forward to disembarkation so we could finally "escape completely" and get away from the stressful experience on board the ship.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
On our California Coastal cruise, we were not informed that the previous cruise had the Norovirus on board. We were held at embarkation for approx. 2-3 hours additional.We found out later that they were trying to "clean" the ... Read More
On our California Coastal cruise, we were not informed that the previous cruise had the Norovirus on board. We were held at embarkation for approx. 2-3 hours additional.We found out later that they were trying to "clean" the ship. Once on board everything seemed OK. Then each day we kept being informed about the growing number of people that had contacted the disease during our trip. Obviously, the ship needed more cleaning. A pet peeve on this trip was the "Anytime Dining". Only one dining room was available between 5:30 and 8:00 for Anytime dining. Two became available after 8:00. There were long lines, and even though we showed up at 5:30-5:45 every night, we constantly were being given pagers. Why you ask!!!!! Because Princess allowed reservations!!!!. Large groups were making reservations for 6:00PM through 7:00PM, which meant all of these tables were reserved, and Anytime diners without reservations had to wait until these folks finished their meal. A few times we were whisked to another Dining Room. Once, when this happened, we were sent to a "Set Seating" dining room at 7:15. My wife had pre-ordered her "Gluten-Free" meal at the Anytime Dining room the night before, and this "Set Seating" dining room couldn't find it. She had to remember what she ordered, and then they had to prepare it gluten-free. We had our food thrown at us, since we were in a dining room where second seating started at 8:00PM. We left without any dessert at 7:58, being rushed out the door. We also noticed that, although it was very nice of the pizza makers to prepare a gluten-free pizza for my wife, they were tossing the dough for every pizza without gloves on. While normally this is not the most sanitary way to do this, it was INSANE to do this when there was a Norovirus on board. Princess has been verbally told and written to, with no response. We have always been very happy with Princess, but feel that this trip was the worst experience we ever had. While it may not stop us from doing another Princess cruise, we shall attempt to get set seating, and hope to see if there had been any misadventures on a prior cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We took the 7 night California Coastal cruise leaving LA on April 5. We have cruised with Princess before and have come expect a certain level of service and accommodations - The cruise ship is beautiful and the food is better than ... Read More
We took the 7 night California Coastal cruise leaving LA on April 5. We have cruised with Princess before and have come expect a certain level of service and accommodations - The cruise ship is beautiful and the food is better than average, Other than that this cruise was a disappointment. Embarkation - We were asked to fill out the standard health questionnaire when we arrived at the terminal. Nobody gave us the opportunity to ask if the ship was healthy --- it was not. We were told that boarding would be delayed so the crew could complete a deep cleaning of the ship due to novovirus. So the passengers were held in the terminal for an extended period of time (over 2 hours). It was crowded and disorganized and the line made an announcement that the fire marshall determined that too many people were in the building ... they suggested that we take a walk and have lunch in the local restaurants. Like someone is going to walk nearly a mile to the nearest restaurant with their carry on bags. Novovirus - We found that the buffet was no longer self serve, in the interest of stopping the virus all stations were manned by staff members to serve the food. Buffet service was inefficient and just clumsy the whole week. Staff was stretched very thin -- we noted significant decline in all levels of service throughout the ship for the entire week. Passengers were not allowed to touch salt and pepper shakers, sugar packets or coffee creamer ..... everything had to be served by the staff leading to poor service in other areas. Spa - I paid to use the thermal suite in the spa, thinking I would enjoy day use of the facilities. I was wrong. The Lotus Spa should be renamed the Lotus Treatment Suite. There are plenty of treatment rooms for paid services but very little in the way of spa amenities. In the ladies locker room there is insufficent space for dressing and only the handicapped shower provides adequate modesty - why would they use glass shower doors with large stripes of clear glass in a shared shower area? The spa has one weak water fountain, not appealing on a ship with live novovirus - no provision for ice water (a standard at every other spa I have visited). I overheard a lady ask if there was any lotion available - nope, they only provided hand soap with shower gel and shampoo in the shower stalls. If you do go to the spa, bring the pool towel from your cabin, the towels in the spa are not large. The thermal suite is nice, but they don't have robe hooks near the specialty showers -- you have to leave your robe on the floor as you step into the shower (wearing a bathing suit since the thermal suite is co-ed)....doesn't seem very sanitary does it? Duty free - I bought a bottle of cologne from the Duty Free shop. Due to the novovirus there were no testers available either on a self serve basis or behind the counter...so I bought something I know I like. I certainly felt foolish when I checked on line - in less than 2 minutes I found 3 websites where I could have bought the same product for less than $39 .... I paid Princess $62. So, buyer beware when trading with the duty free shop -- they will take advantage of you. Disembarkation -- Same as the boarding in reverse. My group was held a full hour after our appointed departure time and when we arrived at the customs area we found that there was absolutely nobody there. It felt like someone forgot to tell the passengers it was time to leave. I'm fairly certain that if I had reported recent illness on my health questionnaire they could have denied me access to the cruise --- it would have been nice if the passengers were given the facts and offered the opportunity to reschedule to another date or another ship. The whole cruise was just "off".....service in the restaurants was not up to par, we never saw our cabin steward, bar service was very slow and every call to room service resulted a cautionary message that it would take at least 90 minutes for delivery. Combine the poor service with my feeling of being ripped off by the fee for the spa access and duty free overcharges --- I'm not sure I will be cruising with Princess again.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We were on the Crown Princess and the Coastal 4/5 thru 4/12 and invited guests to join us for their first cruise, what a mistake! First, We arrive at the dock, we were met by a person from Princess telling us to leave and come back in 3-4 ... Read More
We were on the Crown Princess and the Coastal 4/5 thru 4/12 and invited guests to join us for their first cruise, what a mistake! First, We arrive at the dock, we were met by a person from Princess telling us to leave and come back in 3-4 hours as there was a problem with the ship, but it was being corrected and we could check our bags, and we would be loading in 3-4 hours and we would be told at that time what the problem was . My Wife and our friends stayed as I went to go get lunch and bring it back as we were not going to board for hours. When I got back, I was informed they were boarding...we proceeded to check in we told to wait in the waiting area before the metal detectors. As we sat and waited we were then told the Fire Dept says the building is beyond capacity and to leave! We stayed, then later they started calling groups, not 1 then 2 then 3, but rather groups 1-7. A mad rush of pushing and shoving! Then they call groups 8-12 (we were 10) we were pushed and shoved thru and told FASTER FASTER!. Once on the ship were were told the ship was having a Norovirus issue! I have a a non contagious autoimmune disease and this would have been very helpful to know BEFORE I came on board not after. Once we made it to our room we were told to go to the muster station for the drill. All but one of the elevators were reserved for luggage and our friends, one of which uses a cane and my Wife who has bad knees were told they had to use the stairs, if they had a problem call the front desk so we were herded down the stairs to station A. After we made it back to our room, we found our luggage 50ft down the hallway. Things continued to be "off" with this Ship. On Monday, were given a paper to fill out regarding disembarkation information, rather early in the cruise I would say! While watching Movies under the Stars the film ended 15 min before the end of the film, no explanation, they just shut it off. On Tuesday, our friends, whom we invited to join us , ordered coffee on the deck, when the person brought it he reached for the tray, the server told him "is this your first cruise?" he said yes, we are here with friends, the server then told him "perhaps your friend should teach you proper etiquette"! We told them this was NOT like our previous cruises on Princess. One other significant problem was when we went to the Trident grill to grab a burger as the food in the restaurants was bland, and the buffet food was uneatable, when I had ordered, the cook finished my order then took my Wife's and started preparing hers, after 10 minutes of waiting for condiments (we were not allowed to do it yourself due to the virus outbreak) my Wife asked if he could serve me, he then put up his hand to her in a "stop" motion, the stomped off. We walked away but did find a person on deck to report it to. On a lighter note, when we were in Port at Ensenada, we walked to the little market on the shore where the Celebrity ship was docked, the store keepers were wearing masks, one of the Celebrity passengers said, they are wearing masks because of those people on that other ship, that gave us a nice feeling. Friday night in our room my Wife started feeling sick, but did not say anything because we were getting off the ship at 0800 and figured it was nothing. They the dropped off a questionnaire asking were we had ate for the past week, only half the form was missing. The next morning my Wife went to the urgent care, yup, she has what they believe to be Norovirus, so she is now off work for at least a week and I have it now as well This was our third Princess cruise, and this crew seemed to just be annoyed about being there. I contacted Princess and was sent a form letter that made no sense stating they were glad everything went well ! I then called the corporate number and was told I could complain but it would do no good. We will NEVER go on the Crown again, and with the response from Princess's corporate may look for a new cruise line Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My husband, 96 yr old father and I just returned from a 7 day California Coastal cruise on the Crown Princess. This was the single most miserable experience I have ever had aboard a ship. It began at the Port in LA. We arrived at 12 noon ... Read More
My husband, 96 yr old father and I just returned from a 7 day California Coastal cruise on the Crown Princess. This was the single most miserable experience I have ever had aboard a ship. It began at the Port in LA. We arrived at 12 noon and were abruptly informed by the luggage handler that no one was being allowed on board for three hours, until 3pm. That a bus could take us to shops and we could buy food, but my father was unable to tackle that, and we would have lost our place so we were compelled to wait without explanation in the cold for 2 hours, with no food or drink and my father freezing. As we waited we did talk with a woman who had just gotten off the ship. She said that they had just returned from a 49 day cruise around South America, and that more that 600 people had the Norovirus. She said that it was quite a problem and that there were still 300 sick when they left Chili. Our stress levels increased. As we waited in the cold we tried continuously to get information from the Princess port staff, no one would confirm or deny anything. As the crowd grow there was pushing, frustration and anger among the waiting passengers. After 2 hours we were finally let into the port building. The port staff was rude and not accommodating. One particularly aggressive and nasty Princess port employee, Gloria, refusing to let both my husband and I to stay with my aged father. During that time we were told without explanation that the ship was being "sanitized". We were less than thrilled to know that we were about to get on a ship that had clearly had problems. My father required a wheel chair assistance to board. Per the Port, Princess decided to board all wheel chair passengers last. So we sat for another hour before were permitted on the ship. As we watched group after group board my father became so angry that I feared he would have heart attack. The cruise left more than an hour late and due to the required safety meeting we were forced to miss our 5:30 assigned dinner seating. The restaurant manager of the DeVinci dining room saw fit to have my 96 yr old father stand for over 45 minutes because we missed our seating stating that he had no tables. When we were finally seated I counted 22 empty tables. As we waited I made my first of several complaints to the Pursers desk where all I said fell upon deaf ears. Interestingly all the passengers I talked with had similar experience in that he staff at the Pursers desk was unaccommodating, ineffective, basically useless! We continually asked for information regarding the status of the health ship and no employee seemed to know anything. By the time we reached our first port, San Francisco, it was reported in the local news there that there were already 37 sick passengers (and crew) with Norovirus. That number nearly tripled by the time we hit our 3rd port, San Diego. Among other unpleasant things the Captain saw fit to make nighty loud speaker announcements containing the words diarrhea and vomiting literally just as we were being served our dinner. Those were two words I wished never to hear at meal time, thus more stress. In an effort to curb the spread of the disease Princes did not permit self service in the buffet, which was fine except they were grossly understaffed to serve the food which caused long lines, confusion and lots of people gathering around exposed food, more stress. In addition, the person that the entrance of the Horizon Court did not see that all were using the hand sanitizer, she just handed out plates so HOT that they were difficult to hold which was almost painful. Room service turned out not to be an option as there were many times they did not even answer the phone due to high volumes. There were special cleaning carts on our deck with masked attendants who had large bright red plastic bags which made it clear that we were in a contaminated area. There were other announcements daily reminding people not to touch the elevator buttons, handrails or anything else and to wash hands...day after day. It was like being 12 yrs old all over again, except as a captive. As the cruise progressed passengers became leery of each other, staff became more and more stressed, and some activities suspended. No one was happy about having to gather in large groups anywhere. Everyone was concerned that they would be next to catch this very unpleasant thing. This had become beyond stressful! We were told by some passengers that chose to get off the ship early that they were charged $300 per person and had to pay their own way back to LA. After one of several complaints Fidel at the Pursers desk sent a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries as compensation, what a joke considering that this trip cost several thousand dollars. While in port I reached out to Princess several times on the phone, the internet and on the ship and have had NO RESPONSE. IF my father had gotten this thing it could have killed him, believe me that was a constant fear! To me the bottom line is that Princess knew this ship had a problem well before it reached LA. Princess should have offered us a choice as to whether or not we wanted to be on this ship. This was a miserable and pathetic experience that was supposed to be the cruise of a lifetime and it has taken us two days to decompress from the stress. This has left me never wanting to get on a ship again. Thousands of dollars were paid to basically be held hostage and treated poorly by Princess! "Escape Completely", that's their promise, the reality is that all we wanted to do was escape...FROM PRINCESS! From my prospective Princess owes us financial compensation, for one miserable experience!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
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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