400 Princess Crown Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our second cruise; the previous one was also with Princess in the Caribbean. We like to spend a lot of time on shore and treat the ship as a place to spend evenings and dining. The Southern Caribbean Explorer was perfect for this. ... Read More
This was our second cruise; the previous one was also with Princess in the Caribbean. We like to spend a lot of time on shore and treat the ship as a place to spend evenings and dining. The Southern Caribbean Explorer was perfect for this. Out of the seven days there is only one day at sea. We set sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico. First port of call was St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. followed by St. Kitts, then Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, a day at sea and finally back to San Juan. On our first cruise we let Princess book our flight and it was horribly early in the morning. This time we booked our own flight but purchased the transfer from the airport to the ship. We arrived in San Juan around 6pm and had no problem finding the Princess Cruises staff. They had us take our luggage out to the curb, it was put on a truck and we boarded a bus. The ride from the airport was uneventful. We arrived at the dock and there was a little confusion as to what happens to our luggage. I vaguely remember from the last cruise that it would show up at our cabin by the time we boarded. When we arrived at the cabin only half our luggage was there. I went to the customer service desk and was told it should be on board but they are still delivering it to the cabins. Unfortunately, the half of the luggage missing was all mine. At 8pm we had the muster drill and then we went to the buffet for dinner. We couldn't go to the dining room as I did not have the proper attire. I wasn't in too much of a panic and assumed my luggage would be at my cabin when we returned from dinner. It was not. It was now 10pm and the ship set sail at 11pm. I went to the customer service desk to find a number of people complaining about missing luggage. I spoke with someone and they assured me that in the many years they had been working for Princess, they had never lost someone's luggage. They could not give me a guarantee that my luggage was on board so I ask what if it was not. They indicated they would provide me with clothes from the shop and a tuxedo rental for formal dining. I felt a little better. At 11pm the ship set sail and there was still no sign of my luggage. A number of pieces of luggage were left at the customer service desk. The tags had been lost and there was nothing with a name or cabin number on the luggage. I was hoping that my luggage was amongst the other luggage but it was not. I spent the rest of the evening wondering what I was going to do the next day. The shop did not open because it was 11pm by the time we set sail and they could not open the shop while we were in port. The first time the shop would be open would be after we set sail from St. Thomas. This was not a good start. I was having a little trouble falling asleep but by 12:30am my luggage finally arrived. I had been walking around the ship enjoying the night air so I did not see it arrive but I did see numerous porters delivering luggage to other cabins. The staff at the customer service desk had suggested that the tags fell off and they couldn't determine which cabin it went to but when I looked at the luggage, the Princess Cruises tags were still attached and perfectly legible. Over the course of the next few days, talking to people on shore excursions and others at dinner, we found that people who arrived at 1pm walked on the ship with no difficulty but others who arrived later (as Princess recommended) often had a 2 hour or more wait to get on board. Everyone noted how the luggage was late to arrive at their cabin. The final explanation from the staff was a problem with the computers delayed people boarding and everything just got backed up. SHIP INFO: Accommodates 3,080 passengers, has a length of 952 feet, a weight of 113,000 gross tons, Bermuda registered. It has five dining rooms: Traditional dining in Botticelli Dining Room on deck 6, Anytime dining in Michelangelo (deck 5) or Da Vinci Dining Room (deck 6), Specialty dining in Crown Grill (steak & seafood) or Sabatini's (Italian). For cabins with a balcony they also provided Ultimate Balcony Dining. For casual dining there was Vines (wine and seafood bar), 24-hour International Cafe, Cafe Caribe, Trident Grill (burgers and hot dogs), Pizza and ice cream, Horizon Court, Afternoon tea and 24-hour room service. SERVICE: The service at the buffet was okay. It was often hard to find staff. I later learned that although the ship was listed as 3,080 passengers, this was if there was only double occupancy. The ship was sold out and I'd estimate well over 4,000 passengers on board. The service at the dining room was much better. At the buffet they could not control how many people came into the buffet at any given moment and the number of staff remained constant. At the dining room there was occasionally a wait. Some people complained they had very long waits. We were fortunate to never have to wait for a seat at the dining room. Staff were very polite, helpful and engaging. Even with Anytime dining (different table and wait staff) by the end of the cruise staff were recognizing people and addressing them by name. SHORE EXCURSION: As I book a trip with another cruise line, I find the shore excursions to be incredibly similar. The selection is therefore on par with most other cruises of the same size. The staff on the shore excursions were for the most part transportation. They didn't seem to add a lot of value and a friend taxi driver could have been a better choice. I took three scuba diving excursions for certified divers. There was typically 1 guide (dive master) to 11 divers. Many of the divers were recently certified and with only one guide they did not break us into experienced and novice divers. This made it difficult to keep close enough to the guide to see if he was pointing out anything interesting. On one occasion I was at the back of the pack. All of a sudden everyone stopped and huddled in a group. This is when I realized that the guide was missing. We waited for a few minutes on the bottom of the sea and fortunately the guide returned. When I spoke to the Princess dive master, he was disappointed to hear of my complaints and informed me that the contract with Princess required the dive operator to have 1 dive master for every 6 divers and at most a 1 to 8 ratio. STATEROOM: As we only use the cabin as a place to sleep, we always go with an inside cabin. An interior double is approximately 160 square feet and very well laid out. The room was incredibly clean. The bed was very comfortable and the sheets were divine. We always had a good supply of towels. If you want to reduce the cleaning of towels I think you'd have to tell your room steward. The sign indicated, towels left on the racks would not be cleaned; even when we left the towels hung up, our steward would give us fresh towels. As someone who spent half the trip in the water it was nice to have a clean fresh towel waiting for me every day (sometimes twice a day). DISEMBARKATION: Leaving the ship was much better than arrival. The night before all the appropriate paperwork was at the cabin. We put out luggage out before we want to sleep. We kept a carry-on each for a final change of clothes, toiletries, etc. and these had to be carried off the ship by us. On the dock at San Juan we found hundreds of pieces of luggage but within minutes we found ours and headed outside to the buses. There was a small wait for a bus but once on the bus our luggage was placed underneath the bus and we headed to the airport. SUMMARY: The cruise was good. I'd say we got our money's worth. It felt like a disappointment however because our first cruise was so much better. The number of triple or quadruple occupancies plus the problems with check-in and luggage made it slightly less than I was expecting. I may sail with Princess again but for now I'm going to try a few other cruise lines to see if there is something better in the same price range. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
BACKGROUND We are a married couple in our early 40's. We have cruised 10 times in the past 7 years. We have been on NCL, Carnival, HAL previously. This was our 1st Princess cruise. THE ADVENTURE BEGINS Delta cancelled our original ... Read More
BACKGROUND We are a married couple in our early 40's. We have cruised 10 times in the past 7 years. We have been on NCL, Carnival, HAL previously. This was our 1st Princess cruise. THE ADVENTURE BEGINS Delta cancelled our original flight into San Juan and moved us to a later flight.It got into San Juan at 2:20 instead of the original 12:40PM. This did not seem like a big deal- it was. ARRIVAL IN SAN JUAN 1st, booking your own taxi is easy simple and inexpensive. We got our bags and within 20 minutes of landing we were in a taxi leaving the airport. We arrived at the dock at 3:00. Many previous reviews had written about the nightmare of getting on this ship in San Juan. Some, however, had said it was easy. Princess stated on the cruise documents to arrive after 2:00 PM for faster embarkation. At 3:00 PM, the line stretched outside of the dock and down the side along the bay. We are talking several 100 yards long. The line and process were very un-organized. At 5:00 PM we had managed to get from outside the terminal dock to the entrance of the building. Of course long lines bring out the worst in people. Lots of cutting in lines, bribery to willing "cruise plus" employees, and some very angry people in line. We get upstairs to check in and more lines. Let me emphasize, this was NOT a unique issue but an ongoing and deliberate strategy of Princess to under staff this area. At 6:30, fully 3.5 hours after arriving, we walked onto the ship. We were laughing that at least our luggage would beat us to the room-wrong, it showed up around 9:00 PM. This was the worst situation we have ever encountered anywhere. My suggestion is if you want to cruise Princess out of San Juan, arrive no later than 1:00 PM or after 5:00 PM. THE ROOM Mini Suite, nice, average size for the category. The only complaints were the rusty furniture and really cheap amenities. THE FOOD The buffets were, well, buffets. Nothing special, nothing really that bad either. Anytime Dining-That is what we did and had no real issues. We only actually ate in the dining rooms twice on the cruise. Average "faux" haute cuisine. Not terrible, not great, but OK. Special Venues- We ate 3 times in the Crown Grill and twice at Sabatini's. Better quality ingredients, better service, atmosphere. If they would have more changes to the menu during the week, we would probably eat there every night. That cost us $280, less than 2 massages in the spa. To us, very worth it. BELLS AND WHISTLES One of the principal reasons for trying our Princess was all of the new little twists that they offer. THE SANCTUARY Now, this sounded good, a private adults only area that you could relax without children screaming and the constant "touring" of wandering male cruisers to see the "sights". $20 a day PP ($10 for the 1/2) REALITY Wow, did Princess blow it!, great idea - poorly executed. 75% of the area is covered in a heavy screen. The 25% that was left was the sunning area that was out along the pedestrian walk way (private??). The spa pool is NOT part of the sanctuary and you had to go out and around to use it. The sunning area was packed all of the time and the shaded area was pretty much empty. The only thing they are selling is privacy and you do not get any of that. Waste of Money THERMAL SUITE Great idea, a private, exclusive relaxing area.A steam, dry sauna, aroma therapy area, heated lounge areas and a couple of rain forest or misting showers. Both for male and female guests. $130 per couple for the cruise REALITY The steam area was OK, the "mild sauna" was a joke. Heated bench, no other heat. It was about 75 degrees in there. The aroma room was broken, the mist shower was broken and the other showers were on 15-20 second timers. The area was not policed so people would wander in, look around, talk a bit, leave the doors open, etc. Waste of money MUTS This really sounded like fun. REALITY The screen itself was neat, bright, good resolution. Old release family style movies or football games mostly. MINI GOLF Fun, free and something to do. Not exactly anything more than a putt putt on a wobbly boat. They do need to re-furbish it, it's getting a little ragged. INTERNATIONAL CAFE Little hidden gem, nice place to grab a bite. Wish they had desserts at night though. ENTERTAINMENT Average shows, some very good piano players, great doo-wop group, liked the walk by Explorer's lounge. CASINO A lot of table games and very few slots. That is fine with us as we generally play mostly table games. But, I think it kept a number of potential players out. They had $5 minimum on most nights and a few $3 minimums on others. PORTS OF CALL ST THOMAS We went over to St. John. We took a taxi to Red Hook and a short ferry over. You can pay for an excursion if you want, it's a little over double what you can do it yourself for. Great beaches, small island atmosphere. ST. KITTS We did the Princess Kayaking tour. Fun deal, a little hokey. But, I understand you are trying to fill up 3 hours in tour time when most of the participants could never paddlefor half that long. But, a very good time- in spite of the rain. GRENADA- Attack of the street sellers, I felt like I had a big bulls eye on my forehead.Stay on the boat BONAIRE- The polar opposite of Grenada. Friendly people, clean town, no pressure sellers. We walked down to Divi Resort (about 15 Min to your right)$20 a piece for all day and a lounger. It turned out that this was where the Princess took people on their tours. They paid $80 we paid $20, hmmmmm. ARUBA- We went to Palm beach. There is an independent company between the Hyatt and Occidental that will sell you a lounger for $5. Great atmosphere, no beach hawks, clean and a great beach.Note- The Playa Linda (next to the Hyatt) has a mini market (beers $2.00) and a cooler is $6. SAN JUAN- FILL UP THE BOAT- AT ANY COST Princess offers a "local" deal to fill up cabins in San Juan. That means you have some fairly large packs of local families and non-traditional cruise passengers on the ship, predominately in the buffets, covered pool areas and any other "free" public areas. I noticed that several of the inside rooms listed 4 passengers stuffed in the cabins. I would question if this strategy is beneficial to Princess. From my standpoint, I would never go on another cruise where this had been done to this extent. It cheapened the experience. It definitely effected the morale of the service staff.They were bringing cases of sodas, beers, water and bags full of groceries. Maybe, this is the price we pay due to the larger and larger mega ships with more rooms that must be filled. Princess markets an "upscale" product. This is selling out your product and your loyal cruisers for a few bucks. OVERALL The Princess experience is not bad. It has a few issues, some related simply to being in San Juan, some more related to trying to be "everything to everyone". I would consider Princess again, but, I would never do Princess out of San Juan again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
My wife and I have never cruised before, and it is not terribly likely that we'll cruise again soon. This method of travel was mostly irksome to both of us - we vastly prefer to get away from "touristy crap" and on Princess ... Read More
My wife and I have never cruised before, and it is not terribly likely that we'll cruise again soon. This method of travel was mostly irksome to both of us - we vastly prefer to get away from "touristy crap" and on Princess it seems like it's a nearly perfected marketing machine from start to finish chock-a-block full of touristy crap from the charmingly cheese-tastic to the horribly tacky. I should mention too that this cruise was paid for by my parents - it was a cruise for our whole family (there were 6 of us in all - mom, dad, sister, her boyfriend, me and my wife), which is an awesome idea and something we've often talked about doing, but never really tried to do before now. My mother especially is in love with the Crown Princess - I don't think there's any good rational reason for her affection except for a cunning sales job by her travel agent - I suspect there's got to be some kind of booking kickback and no doubt she made a mint from this booking for the 6 of us. If it hadn't been for my parents making all the arrangements (yes, they paid, they make the rules. That's how it works, usually. :-) my wife and I would have definitely given serious consideration to booking everything on our own from flight arrangements to and from Puerto Rico as well as the shore excursions and tours. All of that aside - and not wanting to look a somewhat extravagant gift horse in the mouth - I'd like to start with all of the positives that we enjoyed during this cruise. 1) Our room steward was awesome. Pol was his name; he's from the Philippines. He said he was going to rotate onto a Scandinavian cruise ship in a few months, so you may miss out if you book on Crown Princess after March 08. My parent's room was 5 cabins down from ours, so Pol was their steward too; they loved him. My sister's steward was not as good, she told me, but I don't know his name. 2) Both my wife and I very much enjoyed having a balcony. We often had morning coffee and a roll before starting our day. This was pretty nice. 3) We both purchased the "unlimited soda" plan for $27/each which covers unlimited soft drinks from bar service. Cans and bottled water are NOT included. 4) The Crown Grill was the best dining experience on the entire ship. It was certainly by far the best dinner we ate on board the ship. (More about the food later). Suffice to say that the $25 cover is worth it. Service in the Grill was also *outstanding* - just excellent. Certainly in line with the best restaurants we've eaten at. (More about the wait staff later as well... sadly, most of it is very negative.) 5) All of the musicians I heard on board from the jazz trio playing the Wheelhouse Bar to the string quartet in the Piazza were quite talented. I also enjoyed the Big Band "Princess Orchestra" but I know that's kind of an anachronism for someone who's 33. My parents, my wife and I were in Club Fusion for karaoke and the crowd was pretty young. As soon as it was over, the big band started up and the young crowd cleared out and the silver hair set came in, fresh from the first dinner seating. I love how old people all seem to know how to ballroom dance. Some of them were quite good, fun to watch, actually. 6) I liked the pain aux chocolat, but most of the other pastry was grocery store quality. 7) The "adult only" areas are *definitely* the way to go - most of the other areas were too loud, too crowded and just plain not relaxing. I suppose there's only so many sunburned fat old men in speedos that you can tolerate before you really want to find a good alternative. We discovered The Sanctuary on Day 4 of our 7 day cruise. We spent our entire "at-sea" day there. It's marvelous - highly recommended. Really, the only way the area could be better was if it contained its own private pool and hot tub. Also, the Terrace Pool was at the aft end of the passageway on our cabin deck, it was also adult only and had a 24 hour bar - we spent a lot of time there. I especially enjoyed going for a swim just before sunset and watching the sun go down over a cocktail. The only disturbing truly thing about the pools were several signs which contained the sentence this review is headlined with. Apparently there is a serious issue with diapered people (not babies either!!) using the pools. Now on to the negatives: I didn't know anything about cruising before we went on this voyage. I didn't even think to check the Internet for a cruise rating website like this one until we were already on board the ship. I'm sort of glad I didn't, or I may have been even more disappointed. Just browsing through the reviews of this ship and our itinerary, some are very high and some are focused on a specific deficiency in service or dining. I think now that cruising as a vacation just really isn't for my wife and I. Next time we go to the Caribbean, I think it's much more likely we will choose a single island, a place to stay (like St. Kitts' Rawley Plantation Inn) and that will be that. I guess overall, I'd say we were both disappointed with many of the ship's food experiences. The dining rooms have the trappings of fine dining, but the most charitable and accurate way to characterize the cuisine is to say that the menu promises much more than is delivered. Perhaps it is just that my wife and I are spoiled by too many authentic fine dining restaurant meals - and I should mention too that my sister's boyfriend is a sous chef at an Italian restaurant in Kansas City - none of us were terribly impressed with many of the entrees - many were cold, too salty, overcooked, not seasoned properly, etc. The starters/small plates by and large were fairly good. The rolls and breads were good. The butter on the ship is French and quite good. Dessert was also sadly disappointing in many cases. It was obvious that much of the ship-board food had been pre-made and reheated, or frozen and thawed. One dessert my wife ordered with great anticipation was the "semi-frozen cookies and cream" which actually tasted freezer burnt (just like ice cream that has been in and out of the freezer too much -- crystalline, icy and unpleasant tasting.) Overall, I'd say the seafood entrees were the the least offensive and best prepared, at least from the entrees that were sampled at our dinner table. We had some of the surliest waiters I've ever encountered. One was Romanian - he rolled his eyes at our table three times during dinner when asked simple and unoffensive questions. I had to basically talk my sister into rejoining us for table service dinner for the rest of the cruise. It was appalling - I think this "automatic tipping" really hurts the service quality overall. Think about the pool of tips that are available. There were 3100 passengers, each paying 10.50 per day per person. That's over $220,000 per cruise in the "tip pool" and there are 1200 crew (not all of whom share in the pool) which averages to $27 in tips per day per crew member whether they generally deserve it or not. In my opinion, there were a couple of waiters who would've not only NOT been tipped had been in a real restaurant I would've made sure the manager knew how horrible our service was. As it was, the head waiter didn't seem to care too much. Even complaining at the purser's desk was next-to-ineffective. This is BY FAR the most unforgivable experience throughout the week - during our "passenger survey" we made sure to elaborate on how poor the service given had been. My advice: remove the "discretionary" hotel charge from your bills and pay the waiters in cash directly as you find good ones. Then try to request them in the future. I'm really into "slow food" and "eating local ingredients" so I was really disappointed that the cruise line couldn't be bothered enough to feature fresh local ingredients from each of our stops. I realized a bit later that most cruisers probably *don't* want this experience - they want to eat cheeseburgers and fries - leave all the "scary unknown" food to those poor islanders. Lunch ashore was usually a hundred times more interesting and a thousand times more enjoyable. Outside of dinner time, we sometimes went to table service for breakfast and lunch, but after a couple of inedible breakfasts (including one of the most disgusting eggs benedicts I've ever tasted in my life - I don't know what kind of sauce was on this plate, but it was not hollandaise!) we started grabbing fresh fruit, a couple slices of toast and fruit juice at the buffet in the mornings, eating lunch ashore, or grabbing pizza (which I liked - the crust was gotham-style thin and I thought quite tasty - but my wife didn't care for the tomato sauce at all - she would have hot dogs from the pool side grill.) Shore excursions are very very expensive if you book them through the cruise desk. In general they're at least twice as expensive if you book them yourself or go ashore and make your own arrangements. In Grenada, for example, my wife and I hired a taxi for a private tour around the island at $15 a head - $30 in total. We proceeded to spend the next 5 hours seeing most of the southern part of the island at our pace and with our extremely entertaining and knowledgeable tour guide/driver Eustace. Another example. In Aruba, I booked the "Harleys in Paradise" bike rental/guided tour for $349. There's a Harley dealership on Aruba that books full-day rentals for $163 which includes a half-day guided tour, half-day on your own. (In Aruba, by the way, traffic obeys U.S. traffic laws by and large. This was a good thing; I didn't want to try and learn how to properly brake and shift with UK motorcycle controls.) Additionally, we were told that due to "Port Congestion" our scheduled call to Bonaire had been cancelled and replaced with a trip to Isla Margarita, Venezuela. I think nearly everyone on board was disappointed by this change - it was really the only shore excursion my wife and I had planned to do together. Perhaps in the future, we will have the chance to visit this island. In conclusion, it was wonderful to spend a lot of time with my family members and I loved many of the islands we visited. I just wish the food was better, the service staff was significantly better and that the marketing efforts to sell you stuff on the ship weren't so over-the-top pervasive. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
First of all we will begin with a few positive things. Embarkation was a dream come true. Walked right through! The ship itself is nice enough. Not any nicer, in my opinion, than any of the 6 Royal Caribbean ships or the 5 Carnival ships I ... Read More
First of all we will begin with a few positive things. Embarkation was a dream come true. Walked right through! The ship itself is nice enough. Not any nicer, in my opinion, than any of the 6 Royal Caribbean ships or the 5 Carnival ships I have been on, and not any worse. The cabin, however, was nicer. Closet was much bigger in its own little hallway and open from floor to ceiling which gave you MUCH more room. There also seemed to be more room to put your clothes away. The room itself seemed to be larger. We had another couple who traveled with us and this was their first cruise and they had no problem with anything the entire cruise. However, they had nothing to compare this cruise with in the past. So everyone needs to keep that in mind while reading this posting. The food was completely edible. I have always had the problem in the past of trying to narrow it down to 2 or 3 appetizers to order so that I don't appear to be a total "pig" at dinner. That was not a problem on this cruise. Luckily for me, the shrimp cocktail was "always available" and became my standard appetizer. The waiters were good about just putting about 20 shrimp on one plate and serving it to me that way. The dinner selection was basically the same way. There was a slim selection of entrees to chooses from. I had the same steak 4 nights. One night, I had no entree, which was on the evening when they had the lobster. This is the first cruise I have returned from where I have not had to go on a diet when I got home. I only gained one pound instead of the normal 7! There were no midnight buffets...none of those grand displays of all the carved chocolates and vegetables into cute little critters. Second, we had opted for the anytime dining which in theory was a good idea. I like being able to go to dinner whenever I wanted, however, I think it maybe part of the reason the service in the dining room is so severely lacking!?!? That is the only reasonable explanation I have been able to come up with so far. It would honestly take the waiter 15 minutes to come back with your ice tea after you order it. Now that wouldn't be bad if it was crowded. However, we were usually in the dining room by 5:30 and our waiter had only our table so I don't know which part of the ship he was disappearing to get this tea but it must of been very far away! Even when you asked for refills it was the same way. Service was slow for everything in the dining room. I guess there is no incentive since all the tips go into one general pile and it is just split among the group. I guess I got spoiled on Carnival and Royal Caribbean where the waiters were very attentive and expected the same treatment from the waiters on Princess. I didn't find that on any of our 7 nights. There were several people in the casino that I talked with that were voicing the same concerns about the service and the food...so evidently it wasn't just our group that was feeling that way. Princess does not do the towel critter on your bed. So don't look for them to cheer you up when you go back to your room at night. I guess it being the more upscale line they are they are above all that. We did book 2 excursions from the ship. The one doing the highlight in Grenada was very good. However, they really need to make the stop in Grenada a little bit longer. There was only time for the excursion. Absolutely NO time for any shopping. I don't know why they have to leave by 2:00. Even if they only extended it an hour it would help a little bit. The should also extend the stop in St Kitts, as it too is a beautiful island. We had to leave it by 3:00. What's wrong with another hour there? I mean we we were in Bonaire from 11-7, we can cut an hour off there and add it onto Grenada or St Kitts! OK..next point. Onto the shows. They hold the comedy shows in a little lounge that has a bar that only holds about 200 people. If you want to see it you had better go early. Like about and hour to and hour and a half early to get a seat. Show starts at 8 so skip dinner. Oh and by the way, the show is going to last over an hour so you probably won't be able to make dinner afterwards. Doesn't make any sense to me. So we thought we would just go to the 10:00 show. Still no seats. It was like this all week. Guess they have not gotten the message that the show really needs to be held in a spot that is big enough to hold more people. Needless to say, we didn't get to see any of the comedy shows, the marriage show, the liar show. At least the production shows were held in the theatre which does seat plenty of people. The casino was small but we didn't do too bad in it. Usually we lose about 90% of what we take to gamble. This time we only lost about 60%. So on the aspect we came out winners. There were quite a few multi denomination machines which were nice. They have even gone to the system where you can put your money on your card and move between machines so not only is your gambling coinless it is also ticketless. Debarkation was quick and easy. We had booked the City tour with the rum distillery tour. We had a 7 pm flight and didn't want to spend all that time in the airport. It was an ok tour and it sure beat sitting in the airport. Over all it was a decent cruise. Would I cruise with Princess again. Probably not. I can cruise with Carnival for about $800 less(they give a military discount) and Royal Caribbean for about $500 less. Both give better service and have much better food selection and food taste. I had wanted to try Princess and at the time they had an itinerary that met my needs. Next time, I think I will just save my money! 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Sail Date February 2008
Summary This trip review is looked at from two angles: the ports themselves and the cruise experience itself. I will not deal extensively with the various ports (since other reviews last year have done marvelous jobs at that already and, ... Read More
Summary This trip review is looked at from two angles: the ports themselves and the cruise experience itself. I will not deal extensively with the various ports (since other reviews last year have done marvelous jobs at that already and, for the most part, these cities have been unchanged for the past 400 years, so I don't think one year between reviews justifies a need for further evaluation. I will, however, try to provide some pointers gained from our experience. Overall, for the price, we got our money's worth. We got the itinerary we were looking for; the ship was well run; the cabin adequate and well kept; the food acceptable and the service was as to be expected if not better. That said, there were disappointments and from those disappointments, while not many, tainted the cruise experience such that we will think twice before picking Princess again, if only for the purpose of seeing how other cruise-lines operate. The food was only "acceptable"; there was a lack of information; Princess seemed to nickel and dime you; and disembarkation for St. Petersburg was terrible; and Princess' constant pushing of their on-board shops versus buying on land, turned us off. Background My wife and I are in our late 50s. This was our fourth cruise having taken three previous cruises on NCL. We have traveled extensively in Europe always on our own making our own travel arraignments and going it alone. We decided to try a cruise this time to Europe and picked Princess for a number of reasons: the itinerary - visiting all of the Baltic capitals seemed to be ideally suited for a cruise; Princess had anytime dining which is a must for us; the cruise started in Copenhagen as opposed to England which meant that we did not have to chance bad seas in an English Channel crossing and it gave us more time to see more of Copenhagen which we thought we would need; with the US dollar being so low, we thought that this would be an affordable way to see Europe; and we picked Princess to see how NCL compared to other cruise lines. We picked a balcony cabin because we felt a porthole cabin would be too claustrophobic although we knew from experience that the minuscule time spent on the balcony meant that the extra money spent would be a waste. (Wouldn't it be nice if ships offered a choice between using the extra square footage as a balcony or inside the cabin.) Flights Traveling from the West Coast, we knew we were in for a long haul. From experience, we knew flying business class (obviously!) was the way to go if we could manage it. Using a whole lot of miles, we cashed in those for round trip business class tickets on Delta. We flew through Atlanta straight to Copenhagen. (A note here: try to avoid Heathrow if you can. Not only is it a mess of an airport, they charge you very high airport taxes and fees as opposed to other airports.) I have to say, the Delta service was extraordinary. The food was better on the plane than on the ship. And the service was 100 times better than on the ship. (Why is customer service not high on the list (or even, it seems, a concern) for cruise ships? I realize that pre-arraigned fixed tipping creates a loss of incentive, but, they don't tip airline stewardesses and stewards and they show, at least, a modicum of interest in customer service.) We left early for Copenhagen to allow us to arrive a day before the cruise embarkation. This extra day allowed for potential airline screw ups - delays and lost baggage, neither of which occurred - and for extra time sightseeing in Copenhagen which we really did not need. This extra day eliminated that need for any more time in Copenhagen after the cruise, but we scheduled an extra day because Princess had warned us (in their general brochures) not to schedule a morning flight. I believe that we could have made it to our 11 AM flight and saved time and money. Copenhagen Hotel We stayed at the Marriott. It was well located and we could use points (to again avoid being hit by the lowly US dollar.) Oftentimes, we have been (and you may be) tempted to try the local flavor hotels, especially the older or smaller quaint ones. In my humble opinion, most times, unless you are in a particularly small town or cultural setting, stick with the plain vanilla Marriott. No surprises. The rooms, service and amenities are pretty much as you expect in the US. You won't get too much of the local flavor, but when you are tired and just want a hot shower and a good bed, you want no surprises. Using points also gave us access to the Executive lounge. This was a godsend. They provided free continental breakfasts and afternoon appetizers, all the beverages (including alcohol) you could want, and free internet service (including computer). Given the cost of food, this extra was worth the cost of admission alone. Embarkation If I could give some advice, it would be to go to the ship late in the afternoon and give yourself some time to get to the dock. The late sailing time (8 PM or so) enables you to spend time during the embarkation day in Copenhagen to sightsee until about 3 or 4. Why rush to get to the ship only to sit there for hours or spend money going back to central Copenhagen. The Marriott does offer a shuttle bus, but it leaves around 11. Thus, we decided to take a taxi. However, if you are taking a taxi to the dock, late afternoon will hit rush hour traffic. Plus, and this is important, taxis (from the city center or city hotels) don't like to go to the cruise dock for embarkation because it is usually only a one-way fare for them. They will give you some excuse for not taking you there - "no room for your bags", but have the doorman help you get a taxi that will take you there. It may take some time finding one who will, hence, give yourself about an hour. You can take the local bus or train, but I think that is more hassle than it is worth. If you take the train (or local bus), you have to drag your bags to the train station and then drag them from the train depot to the cruise pier. That last leg looked to be about 3/4 mile, crossing busy roads. I saw people doing it and they were huffing and puffing and not looking too happy. The bus stop is located close to the train stop. The cost of the taxi was about $45. Sure it is more expensive, but you are on vacation and you can make up the cost elsewhere in the trip. Processing for embarkation by Princess was a breeze at that time of the day. Ship As I said, we got our money's worth even though there are criticisms. Remember, you are on a mega-cruise (McCruise?) and volume business is what its all about. So, while we all should expect 5 star service, we (me included) need to remember that we are not paying for 5 star service. So, with that expectation, I believe, that on the whole, Princess delivers. The Crown Princess is a huge boat. It holds over 3,000 passengers and another 1,200 or so crew. That is both good and bad, I suppose. With a large boat (OK, ship), you may be less subject to rough seas. And, a large boat gives you more places to roam, especially important on a longer cruise - over seven days. However, there are crowds everywhere. The gift shops; deck chairs, buffet lines and tables and other common areas always seemed to be crowded. Food. Food is always a biggy in cruise reviews and for good reason: that seems to be the favorite (only?) thing to do on the ship - eat. I thought the food in the dining rooms was fair to good. The salads always seemed to be a little limp, but the otherwise, the rest of the dishes were OK. My complaint here would be the selection. There was not a whole lot of selection for the entrees. In the buffet restaurants, Horizon Court and Caribe, the food was barely OK to lousy. The selection did not seem to change at all, especially for breakfast and lunch. Desserts were good, however, and there was never a shortage of food. There were also burger and pizza bars at no additional charge. Other critiques: the specialty restaurants were a hefty add-on charge - we did not try one this cruise as our experience has been that they just were not worth it and in speaking with someone who did, they concurred; charging for ice cream - lousy ice cream too; (Tip: if you want ice cream, go to the pay dessert/tapas bar next to the coffee bar and pay for the gelato - same price, but better ice cream). And, at the start of the cruise, at what must have been a cost savings attempt, Princess had servers at the buffet line doling out the portions. There must have been many complaints as this practice ended after a day or two. Credit to Princess for changing if this indeed was what happened. Finally, the coffee is almost undrinkable at all of their restaurants (not the coffee bar). Go to the coffee bar and figure on spending a few bucks every time you want coffee. Service. The service for general needs, as with on most all cruises, was timely and adequate. What seems to be the universal criticism, however, is the attitude of the servers which, at best can be described at times to be ambivalent, at worst, disdain. On this cruise, I found that to be only partially true. It was true in the buffet restaurants, but not so in the sit-down restaurants or our cabin steward. Our cabin steward always had a smile and a hello for us. And, on the whole, with a few exceptions, the wait staff in the sit-down restaurants were eager to please. At the specialty bars, etc., the service was good, if not very good. Criticisms. A few. 1. Nickel and diming by Princess. What is this with charging for a place to go for some peace and quiet? Princess charged something like $15 for a half day in the "Sanctuary" lounge. Will Princess next charge for deck chairs? They are already charging extra for food: specialty restaurants, ice cream. Tip: if you want someplace inside to go for peace and quiet during the day, go to the Skywalker Lounge at the stern of the ship. It is absolutely vacant, they leave you alone (or you can order a drink) and you get a terrific view. 2. St. Petersburg. Princess misleads you when they say that you can only use their tours otherwise you will need a visa. You can book with any number of local tours directly. (See my comment below on St. Petersburg.) And it was just a mess in debarkation. I realize that the Russian immigration only provides six or seven agents to process the whole boat. However, for Princess to reserve all but one of them for the Princess tours and then hold everyone back onboard until there is absolutely no one in line was just ridiculous. As a consequence, we were left waiting for an hour before we got off and thus, held up our tour group. Tip: No one tells you, but when Princess tells you to go to the lounge to get a debarkation number, go there a full hour or more before you need to get off the boat. 3. Debarkation in Copenhagen. See comment below. 4. What happened to ATM machines onboard? (Tip: You'll need cash in a few places for local transportation. While they say ATM machines abound in Europe making travelers' checks a thing of the past, in all of the ports we hit, ATM machines were hard to find in the immediate pier area. There is a cash conversion machine on-board, but, of course, you need cash. We finally resorted to just giving US dollars for tour guide tips.) My last bit of criticism has to do with Princess's warning about buying from local vendors and constantly pushing their own on-board shops to buy things. Their warning: you can't be sure that what you are buying locally is the real deal or if it breaks or is not the real thing, getting satisfaction once you get home. This, of course, is all true. However, in my opinion, this really hinders the diversity and choice of what you can buy. For example, amber jewelry is a big shopping item on this cruise. While you have a nice array of choices on-board, they can not compare with what you will find in, say, the old town of Gdansk. So, while I agree you will take a chance if you buy locally ... there should be another option -- Princess could have considered to do as some other cruise lines do: pre-screen various merchants who will agree that they will be customer responsive to Princess passengers and have their stores indicate that they are an "approved store". (Princess can charge a fee for this to make up any money they loose from on-board sales.) While the price of goods will likely be made higher for going through this certification option, at least you would be afforded an opportunity to buy locally with less fear. It would not only support the local merchants, but give you a greater selection of items. Ports of Call. As I mentioned, I will not give a blow by blow recount of our visit in each port and what they had to offer. Rather, I will try to give a few tips that will hopefully make things easier and better for your brief stays. All in all, you will not have sufficient time to do everything you want to do in each and all of the ports. To think that you can do all you want to do in, say, Stockholm in 5 or 6 hours is unrealistic. So, make a list of what your priorities are and develop a plan on how you might try to accomplish that. For example, if your target sites are spread around, see if a Hop-on-Hop-off (HOHO) bus will get you there. Or, think about taking a guided tour provided by Princess. Given the dollar's value, the price of a Princess guided tour is not much more than a HOHO bus. And, listen to John Lawrence's talks on the various stops. He has good practical insights on what to do and how to get around. His talks were invaluable. My conclusion is that you will see most of what you want to see in each city, but you will feel rushed and you will not get a good flavor of the city. Stockholm. You have a very short time here. We wanted to see the Vasa Museum, then the local palace and do a bit of local shopping and walking around. The Vasa is located away from the city center. So, we opted for a Princess city tour that took us to the Vasa and then back into town for a tour of the armory. Forget the armory, it is a total waste of time. But, do see the Vasa as it is indeed impressive. Our Princess tour also did not leave us any time to stroll around the old town streets. That was a big disappointment for us. If we had it to do over again, either we would go it alone or we would take the city tour, but do our own thing when they got back to the old part of town. Helsinki. There was not anything really in particular we wanted to see except the Rock Church. So, we opted for the HOHO. You can catch this at the dockside, but be aware that they DO NOT take credit cards, contrary to Mr. Lawrence and the local tourist guides dockside. They'll take US Dollars, but likely at a poor exchange rate. Walking the Esplanade was disappointing and not worth doing. The most fun was the open market. St. Petersburg. This will be the highlight of your trip. Spend your money and energy and take a two-day tour of as many sights as you can fit in. You will likely never get back here and the history is very interesting. Listen to John Lawrence's talks if you are not familiar with the history. It will enliven your experience. And, my suggestion is to take a local-based tour. Permit me here to plug Alla Tours http://www.alla-tour.com/ We booked with them. (There are others such as DenRus, but we liked Alla's itinerary.) Don't worry, Alla does not ask for any payment up front or credit card info. The tour package was equivalent or better than Princess. It was also cheaper. And, they use only 21 person vans, rather than huge buses. That makes getting off and on the vehicles much quicker - something you will do frequently on the tour. You can also customize and reserve one for your own group. Alla was always eager to please us. And, the tour guide, Elena, was excellent, just excellent. Every expectation of the tour was realized, which was good since St. Petersburg was expected to be and, in the end, was the most significant stop of the cruise. Just give yourself plenty of time - at least an hour -- to get off the boat to meet up with your tour group. Tallin. This was somewhat of a disappointment. You can walk to the old town, but it is a hike - a good 30 to 45 minutes and some of it uphill. And, once there, we did not find it too exciting, just souvenir shops, basically. Gdansk. Go into Gdansk and do not think about staying around the boat and walking into Gdynia. Directions into Gdynia would be too complex and John Lawrence did not even want to try. Plus, it did not look like there was much there. Either take a Gdansk-on-your-own for the transportation to Gdansk or a city tour which is only about $10 more. We were pleasantly surprised. The old town with all of its shops was much more interesting than expected and better by far than Tallin. There was much in the way of amber if that is what you are looking for. Oslo. Two things were on our itinerary here: Vigeland Park and the Noble Peace Prize site. Since Vigeland Park is outside of the main part of the city, you will need transportation. We took the local trolley car. You will need local cash to buy your tickets - two tickets for a round trip. Give yourself time to get the tickets as it will take you a few minutes to figure out the machine (no English here) or to wait for those in front of you to do the same. If the trolley comes before you can get your ticket, enter the car at the front and pay the driver the cash. It will cost you a bit more, but, maybe like our driver did with some folks, because there was such a crowd of tourist needing tickets and he wanted to stay on schedule, he just took off. I don't know if he ever did get the fares from those folks. We were there on Sunday and just about everything was closed. Probably good too, because Oslo is supposed to have the highest cost of living in the world. As for the Noble Peace Prize, you have two options: the Noble Museum and the City Hall where they present the Prize. We took the Museum tour (tour is free, but there is an entrance fee). I think we might have gotten just as much out of the experience to go to the City Hall and take there free tour (with entrance fee). But, the museum has a lot, if you want to spend the time. Disembarkation in Copenhagen. If you are going to the airport to fly out that day, take a Princess bus. If you are not, take a taxi. The Princess will get you off the boat early in the morning to meet you plane if you take their bus. However, the bus charge is something like $45 per person. A taxi into town is $45 for the whole car. Finally, at the airport, give yourself plenty of time for security checks. We had our passport checked three times and had to go through two metal detection machines. Finally, mellow out and be happy. You are on vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We selected Crown Princess because of the ten-day itinerary from Copenhagen and also because many friends had told us that Princess was a wonderful cruise line and we should try it.This was our fourth cruise, the previous three fantastic ... Read More
We selected Crown Princess because of the ten-day itinerary from Copenhagen and also because many friends had told us that Princess was a wonderful cruise line and we should try it.This was our fourth cruise, the previous three fantastic cruises being with NCL. The price was more expensive for an equivalent room on NCL so I guess I had higher expectations from Princess from the beginning. Embarkation ran smoothly and quickly. However, we were on an SAS inclusive flight from London and we arrived at the ship with only an hour to spare before the ship left port. Thus everyone else had already boarded. Nora, our cabin steward was excellent. She was always friendly, helpful and did a wonderful job. We found the ship to be clean and the atrium and dEcor in many of the main rooms was tasteful and attractive. Generally the Crown Princess staff were friendly and helpful. Our tours were well organized and we thought our guides were excellent. They all spoke very good English and gave us interesting and informative tours. Disembarkation and embarkation at the ports ran smoothly on every occasion. The weather was beautiful the first three days but then it turned cold and wet and we hit gale force 8 winds with rough seas. Variable weather is to be expected on a Baltic cruise. I was pleased that Princess took safety seriously and cancelled our visit to Poland because it was too dangerous to go in. Thus we had an extra day at sea. But I was disappointed that there were no contingency plans when this must happen several times in a season. Organization onboard was terrible - they were still showing the cruise director talking about what to do in Poland on TV when they had already announced we weren't going. It was 2 pm by the time the new schedule for the day was delivered to our stateroom - by which time we had missed several things we would have attended. There were quite a few things I felt lacking. For example, where were the hand sanitizers? After so much attention had been given to notifying us about how a virus can spread rapidly onboard, hand sanitizer was sadly unavailable. I saw only one bottle in the buffet. On every NCL ship we have been on there is hand sanitizer at the entrance to every restaurant and other public rooms and as you get on and off the ship in every port. And there were no folded towel animals on the bed every evening, which are always fun to come back to. It is the little extras on a ship that add to the enjoyment of a cruise. We chose anytime dining and discovered that Princess had not really got this worked out yet. At first we couldn’t understand why we were in line waiting for a table when many people were walking past us straight in to dinner. I found out that half the anytime dining restaurants were set aside for reservations. So I called reservations and asked for a table at 7 pm. The response was that reservations were only for 6:00 pm or 8:30 pm. That is not anytime dining! We found food to be average with occasional wonderful menu items. Menu choice was limited – particularly breakfast, which became boring very fast. We ate at Crown Grill one evening and really enjoyed our meal. It was worth every penny of the cover charge. Food was cooked to perfection and service was excellent. All in all we had an enjoyable cruise but we wouldn’t rush out to choose Princess over NCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
My family and I have cruised before with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises. With this being our first Princess cruise, and hearing so much about how great Princess was compared to Royal Caribbean, we decided to give Princess a try for ... Read More
My family and I have cruised before with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises. With this being our first Princess cruise, and hearing so much about how great Princess was compared to Royal Caribbean, we decided to give Princess a try for a change. Check-in was extremely quick and organized. I would have to say that it was very efficient and extremely quick. We checked in at prime time (around 1pm-2pm) and had to wait outside for a little but once inside the tent, check-in was quick and smooth. We had a Balcony Oceanview Room which was amazing. I thought the room was large and had plenty of space. The bathroom was a little smaller and tighter and they give a lot of space for closet space (which I thought could've been slightly smaller to allow more bathroom space or room space). With it being a newer ship, launched in 2006, we thought the Atrium would be grand with high ceilings and a larger space but it only covered maybe 4 floors when the entire ship itself had 19 decks! It was small and tight and felt like a mediocre type of Atrium. We were definitely not impressed. We had traditional dining, which we always love when cruising. The dining room was mediocre as well. It definitely did not have that luxury or affluent feel to it. It felt like a normal dining room. The food selection was average as well. We were definitely not impressed with the food or quality of the food in the traditional dining room. I ordered soups for the first few days and soon realized that all their soups are incredibly salty. There weren't as many choices of dishes as I would prefer especially for pasta dishes and even during their Italian themed night ... We did try the Crown Grill and Sabatini's which are the specialty restaurants on board which cost a small fee but definitely well worth it. The food quality was a lot better and there were more choices. We probably would've eaten at these every night if we had tried them earlier on during the beginning of the cruise. The buffet food is horrendous ... just tastes like cheap cafeteria food that I would eat back in Elementary school. It was disgusting ... We were also not impressed with the service or the friendliness of the staff. Our dining room waiters and the stateroom steward were great but overall, we felt that most of the workers we encountered whether at the buffet, casino, gift shops, etc, no one had smile on their face nor did they even look like they were happy being there. You can tell they were just unhappy workers. And a lot of them serviced us without being nice and were almost rude. Definitely disappointed in the staff service. We also felt that there were not enough activities available. We felt that the ship itself was mainly targeted to senior citizens. There was not much of a focus to younger adults (around late 20's-early 30's). My husband, sister and I were so bored one night that we wanted to play video games which are only available at the Teen Center and they would not allow us to play them even though there were NO ONE inside the Teen Center (it would only allow 13-17 year olds in there). Not only were we rudely turned away but we were turned away from a location that was completely empty. We did take a few shore excursions which I think were great. They were extremely organized and used great local agencies that had great tour guides who were extremely well informed and spoke great English. We were disappointed in one tour which was in Gdansk, Poland. We took the Ez-Gdansk tour and the tour guide could not speak English well, was hard to understand. The Movies Under the Stars was great. We had popcorn and blankets which really helped a lot during the cold nights but that was definitely something that I enjoyed. The Fitness Center and Spa were nice and large. There were lots of machines available and even fitness classes. I was surprised that there was no large jogging track. It was extremely small and I was surprised how people could use it without getting dizzy. Entertainment on board was average. We went to a few shows that were somewhat entertaining. The musicians were great and I thought the String Quartet did a great job. Overall, you couldn't tell that there were 3,000 passengers on board. They did a good job organizing it and making sure that not everyone was crowded into one area. I was also disappointed that the Ice Cream Bar was not included in the total package and you had to pay for the Ice Cream. It wasn't even good ice cream ... they also sold bottled water on board which costs an arm and a leg for and I drink a lot of water. I should've stopped in town and bought water at the local grocery stores to bring on board. The port destinations I thought were great. The only one I probably wouldn't be too excited about was Gdansk, Poland. There really wasn't much to see and it's an hour away from the port. We definitely not impressed. Some of the photographers were rude and not very nice. They were definitely frustrated working with people. Internet access is very expensive and not widely available. Overall, we were really disappointed in our cruise. We thought we would expect a much grander ship and better service and better food than Royal Caribbean and ended up getting less than average everything. We decided we're going to stick with Royal Caribbean from now on ... Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My wife and I have travelled on several different cruise lines and consider ourselves to be able to be objective and discerning in our opinions. We have covered different parts of the cruise spectrum from medium priced to an expensive ... Read More
My wife and I have travelled on several different cruise lines and consider ourselves to be able to be objective and discerning in our opinions. We have covered different parts of the cruise spectrum from medium priced to an expensive line. We chose the Crown Princess having been very satisfied in the past and because the sailing dates were convenient for the time we had available. The Cabin Steward was excellent and the service in and to the cabin was beyond reproach. The cabin was always re-made early and was kept spotless. Information while on board was adequate through the Princess Patter. However, we we not aware of the world going on through any means other than television. No world Newspaper appeared to be available. Dining was somewhat hit and miss and as a result generally unimpressive. Food was often served cold and the choice of menu unimpressive. We are non meat eaters. Whilst every meal offered fish, the choice was very poor. Salmon was on the menu every day with very few alternatives. It used to be possible to have a flambe as a sweet. No more is that an option. The fresh fruit was very unimaginative. Have grapes gone out of fashion? The Baltic cruise is about St. Petersburg in large part. We were advised that we should travel with a ships cruise as it was expensive and necessary to obtain a Visa. That is a misrepresentation of the truth. We arranged to travel with a local Agent. They provided us with proof that they would obtain the paperwork. They did so and we approached the customs with some trepidation. We were ready with the documentation which was not requested by the official at the gate. The entertainment in the main theatre was very disappointing. The shows appeared to be under rehearsed and the single acts were of a poor standard. The various side shows were much better. Embarkation and disembarkation was handled expertly. Little time was wasted both on reaching the ship and leaving for home. All flights were on time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My mom and I went on the Baltic Cruise, which included Berlin instead of Oslo unfortunately. The reason we chose Baltic is because i was born in Russia (I´m 30) and my mom lived in St. Petersburg after she married. It was a chance of a ... Read More
My mom and I went on the Baltic Cruise, which included Berlin instead of Oslo unfortunately. The reason we chose Baltic is because i was born in Russia (I´m 30) and my mom lived in St. Petersburg after she married. It was a chance of a lifetime to go back to our roots (it was my mom´s dream to see the wonders of St. Petersburg and to show them to her daughter).. The first and most important thing that anyone going on a cruise with Crown should know is that they will charge you for everything and anything they can, by charge i mean OVERcharge. First of all, I arrived via Barcelona to Copenhagen, my mom via NYC. We took a taxi to the port. The cost was 40e for both, Princess charges 45e per person- don´t waste your money. We embarked the cruise hassle free in the afternoon and were ready to sail. I read the booklets in our cabin to see how life on the cruise would be. Rather than talk about the ports, all great, i want to talk about how Princess overcharges on every and any little thing. I felt they were just nickel and diming us to death. TIPS- This angered more than anything else. Princess charges you $10-$11 per person per day without question for tip. There was no prior notice about this charge before booking. What they did was take the choice out of your hands. I loved our waiters at Da Vinci and our cabin stewart and would have loved to make a choice about how much and who gets my tip. It´s terrible that we had to leave the ship embarrassed that we couldn´t hand an envelope with money to our favorite staff. If you have money to spare than great but if you are travelling on a budget than forget it. It angered me that this was not explained at all prior to booking. Internet- 75c a minute or $55 for 100 minutes- TERRIBLE! No where have I ever seen such a charge for internet use. I live in Barcelona and have used many different internet stations and this was really disgusting. Princess knows that this is the most common way to stay in touch with relatives and business so they just charge how much they want knowing people have no choice. On top of the severe price, the internet was soooo slow that you wasted $5 just waiting for the page to load!! Drinks- $45 per person for the Coke "deal". The tip I suggest is only getting one of these "packages" and sharing with your cruise partner. Their free choices was water, iced tea and coffee. The iced tea and coffee were disgusting so Coke was your only choice. Considering how much money they are getting from everything else on the cruise they could have let soft drinks be free.... yeah right. ATM and Exchange- another joke. $5.50 to get money, are you kidding?? On our last day we needed money for a taxi back to the airport. First we had to use the ATM then exchange the dollars for crowns. Don´t get fooled by the exchange computer, they charge $3.30 for the process, the screen says you will get (for example) 350 crowns but instead you get 300 plus U.S. dollars for the rest. Casino- My mother and I don´t gamble but we tried a quarter machine and I won $11, that made up for the loss at the ATM and exchange. In cruise Store- Don´t waste your money. As much as Princess tries to convince they have the best deals at every port, they´re wrong. There are many beautiful shops with cheap good and better selection at every port. The prices for little "chachkis" like key chains are from $19.99 and up! Don´t let them fool you, amber is at every port and better priced. Tours- All are severely overcharged! Don´t waste your money at Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm, or Copenhagen. Tallinn is an easy walk from the port and and a beautiful walk through town. Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen can be done much cheaper through Hop on Hop off or river tours. I would recommend St. Petersburg be done through a tour outside of Princess, cheaper and probably a better lunch. We did the tour through Princess because we were led to believe this was the only way. The tour guides were great, the lunch was a joke (we had chicken both days of the tour), and the price... through the roof. Berlin- why in the world they chose Berlin as a tour is beyond me. three hours by train to get there and three hours to return $300. My mom and I chose to stay in town. We heard from other passengers the train ride was terrible and exhausting. We happily walked to Warnemunde and a short ride to Rostock- both beautiful little towns and much more fun than a 6 hour train ride! Finally, i have to commend the waitstaff at Da Vinci, the head waiter, for always seating us at the table for two by the window and our steward who was always smiling and helpful! My final warning, be prepared for no less than spending another $1,000 on top of your cruise charge. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Crown Princess by BJBRown Baltic Sea August 8-18, 2008 BACKGROUND: The following review will be colored by the fact that my husband and I are independent travelers. We enjoy renting an apartment in a foreign city, shopping at the ... Read More
Crown Princess by BJBRown Baltic Sea August 8-18, 2008 BACKGROUND: The following review will be colored by the fact that my husband and I are independent travelers. We enjoy renting an apartment in a foreign city, shopping at the local markets, using the local transportation system, using the local currency and essentially "living on the economy." We were traveling with my sister-in-law and our 14 year old nephew, and I think their review might be somewhat different from ours. As for me and my husband, we will not take another Princess Cruise. ITINERARY: Our cruise began in Copenhagen, with stops in Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Gdynia (for Gdansk), and Warnemunde (for Berlin). CRUISE REVIEWS, FINDING CRUISES, PACKING, ETC: Ed Schlenk has provided an excellent overview of finding reviews, cruises and other details about traveling. His review can be found at: http://www.cruisereviews.com/PrincessCruises/StarPrincess53.htm PRECRUISE: MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO - Whether you are an independent traveler or not, if you are taking a Baltic Cruise you should buy the Baltic Treasures CD by John Lawrence. I attended every one of his lectures on the cruise, and he not only gives information about the ports that we will visit, but HE GIVES INFORMATION ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FOR INDEPENDENT TRAVELERS. His web site is: www.johnlawrencecd.com PRECRUISE: OTHER - As we are independent travelers, we wanted information about Russian visas, docking piers, public transportation to ship, public transportation in port, internet capability and one of our party wanted to leave the cruise a day early. Below is a list of our precruise attempts to get information from the Princess Cruise line. PRECRUISE: LEAVING THE SHIP - I sent a fax to Princess Cruises six months before our cruise requesting information on leaving the ship early. There was no response. After a week, I called and was told that it wasn't a problem—I just had to clear it with the Purser and then clear customs. As it turned out, this information was wrong. It appears that anybody can leave the ship any time that they want (when the ship is in port). We did try to check out with the purser on Day 9, but the lines on the last several days of the cruise were 30+ minutes long. We simply walked off the ship, there was no customs, and our credit card was charged in full (including the 10th day of tips that we obviously did not use). Also, there is tremendous pressure to have your luggage transferred to and from the ship to the airport. Since we were using public transportation, we just walked on and off with our luggage. (We felt safer this way as on Day 4 of the cruise there were still 60 people who still did not have their luggage from their inbound arrival.) PRECRUISE: RUSSIAN VISAS - We have a friend in St. Petersburg that we wanted to visit when we stopped at this port. Therefore, I wanted to get a Russian Visa so that the four of us could spend time with our friend and have a personalized tour of the city. Granted, this is expensive. The cost of the visa is now $131 and then there are some mailing costs, too. (But this was cheaper than the Princess excursions). Also, we had to get an official invitation from our friend to include with our visa application. I was strongly discouraged by both the Princess Cruise line and my travel agent from getting a visa. When I asked for a letter of confirmation of the cruise (which the Russian Consulate said that cruise lines give), Princess Cruise did not send a letter. They would only give me a copy of my receipt which I already had. My travel agent said that he looked on the web at a blog subscribed to by 2500 travel agents, and no one recommended getting a Russian Visa. I simply persevered and obtained visas through the San Francisco Russian Consulate. (The Russian tourist agency DenRus (www.denrus.ru) is another place to go for independent travel in Russia.) We were told by Princess that independent travelers would need not only their passport and visa, but a photocopy of the photo page of our passports and a Standard Tourist Confirmation. Neither of these were requested by Russian customs. In fact, since we were visiting a friend, we did not have a Standard Tourist Confirmation, and I was nervous about that, but we had no problems. The best advice that a friend gave me was that when applying for a Russian Visa and you don't understand what they are requesting, just write a letter of explanation. This worked fine. We received our visas and passports in two weeks. PRECRUISE: PORTS OF CALL - It took another long call to Princess Cruises to get a list of ports where we would be docking so that I could determine how best to get into the city. I'm sure that the reason this doesn't go on the cruise site is that the cruise line wants to sell their excursions. I think it would be a nice gesture to put docking information, maps and public transportation on the web site, since I don't believe that it would hurt their excursion income at all. PRECRUISE: INTERNET ACCESS - Yet again, I called the 800 number to find the cost of internet access. I was told that if I brought my own computer the cost would be $.50/minute, and if I used their computer it would be $.75/minute or I could buy plans to reduce the cost. One of the first things we learned onboard was that there was no $.50 plan if you brought your own computer. A simple approach to this is: If you like communicating by e-mail and surfing the web DO NOT TAKE A CRUISE. As a practical matter, regardless of how they may CLAIM they have internet access, it is so slow and expensive and frustrating you will wish you had never logged on. It took 21 minutes to send one e-mail at one point. At 50 cents a minute that is more than $10 for an e-mail!! The system is down more than it is up. The on-site personnel are available only a few limited hours per day (the remainder of their day no doubt spent in therapy - who would want that job?). The line to complain, get credit for lost minutes, etc. was constant. The same problem affects laptop use. We were given a preposterous reason for why it was down so much: Their satellite was at the equator and we were so far North! Sure, I'll just bet the Captain - mildly interested in where the icebergs might be - had to wait 21 minutes for his GPS to respond. This was an example of one of the most frustrating and insulting parts of this experience: The staff treated us like we were idiots. We got more answers of a nonsense nature than you can imagine. My feeling is that the only words the staff should be allowed to utter are "Get on the bus". PRECRUISE: CURRENCY - We obtained currency for all the countries that we would visit before we left the US. The ship does dispense local currency from machines—I don't know what the exchange rate is but there is a fee of $3.50 per transaction. CRUISE: PURSER'S DESK (SERVICE COUNTER) - I was amazed at how little information that I received, and the information that I did receive many times was wrong. This service counter had no information about the internet, about the pictures taken onboard or about tours. We were directed to different areas. When I asked about public transportation in St. Petersburg, I was told that there was none. Funny, as I took the free bus to the gate. When we reported a very noisy stateroom, someone came to look but nothing happened. When I asked about the train service in Copenhagen, I was told that there wasn't any. I don't remember where we found the information, but we ended up walking off the ship and walking about 15 minutes to the Nordhavn station. CRUISE: MEALS - We chose the Personal Choice dining option which meant that we could have breakfast between 7-9am, lunch between 12-2pm, and dinner between 5:30-10:00pm. We only had to wait in line once for dinner, and after a few days found that we could make reservations. The food was good, but not excellent. I did have a very bad breakfast one morning which I started to write up on the evaluation slip. When I showed the evaluation to the waiter to let him know that I had marked the food bad but the service good, he told me that if I turned that it in he would get a black mark against his name. Interesting way to run a ship. Another thing that was a surprise to me was that soft drinks cost $2 each as did special coffee drinks. You can buy soft drink cards ($42) and coffee cards which makes it a little cheaper if you drink a lot of soft drinks and coffee. We only tried the buffet once and found the food to be terrible. None of the four of us ever went back. CRUISE: BEST VALUE - By far, the best value was the Chef's Table. For $75 each, we had a tour of the kitchen and an hors d'oeuvres party with delicious food, lots of champagne and gorgeous carved fruit and vegetables. Then we moved to the main dining room for entrees, white and red wines, a lobster and veal dinner, after dinner drinks, roses for the ladies, cookbooks for each couple and two complimentary pictures—one of the entire group and one of our group. The only negative was that there was too much food—everything else was fabulous! CRUISE: WORST VALUE - We signed up for two wine tastings—one for $9.95 with four wines and some explanations, and one for $25. for six wines with food pairings. With the latter, there were simply two more wines served with some hors d'oeuvres with no descriptions of why one wine might taste better with one food over another. We were disappointed (again!). CRUISE: FUNNIEST EXPERIENCE - We were traveling with my husband's sister. For his birthday, she wanted to surprise him with the "Chef's Table" dinner. She called the 800 # prior to the cruise and was told that she would have to book the dinner when she was onboard. The first thing that she did when we boarded was to make a bee line for the Purser's Desk. They told her that they would put her on a waiting list but that they did not know when the dinner would be scheduled. She told them that this was a surprise so not to have any contact with my husband. The Chef's Table schedulers then managed to not only call him and slip an invite under our door, but they CHARGED THE DINNER TO US as well! What a surprise! This is going to be a family joke for years to come. CRUISE: CLOTHING - My husband and I don't enjoy dressing up, so I was glad to see that the dress code was not enforced. We did try to look presentable, but we chose comfort over style. CRUISE: TOURS - We thought all the tours were overpriced, so we did all the cities on our own. We just walked off the ship, and either took public transportation or walked into town. We enjoyed the leisurely pace of our tours very much. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Crown Princess just made its first voyage from Ft.Lauderdale and while I have cruised Princess before (caribbean princess) I was a little disappointed with this trip. We have always had the best experience with embarkation, this time it ... Read More
Crown Princess just made its first voyage from Ft.Lauderdale and while I have cruised Princess before (caribbean princess) I was a little disappointed with this trip. We have always had the best experience with embarkation, this time it was delayed due to computer issues. After finally getting on board, some passengers cards did not work at their cabins, mine was one of them. We waited an hour to have them reprogrammed,remember this is our vacation time, the staff should have done something to make the process less stressful for the passengers. After receiving my card I went from the 6th floor to the 14th floor only to find the card still did not work,once again I wasted more time. Day two-the Princess Platter advised all passengers to go to the lounge before we disembarked to enter St.Maarten for immigration purposes. I went to check this out and found it was an error on the Purser Desk. After speaking with someone in charge and explaining that they should make an announcement to the other passengers, it was never done, so again several passengers were inconvenienced. WHY!!!! My luggage did not arrive until very late and when it did it was soaking wet. My new dresses were ruined. They did dry clean my clothing for no charge but no apology. WHY!! I decided to get my hair cut and the hair dresser cut it incorrectly that they had to have someone fix it, another nconvenience. The dining room personnel were not very friendly, they had no interaction with the passengers,is it because the tips are automatically charged to your stateroom??? I felt that the staff did not pamper the passengers as they have on other cruises. I have also cruised RCCL one thing about RCCL is that they treat every passenger with the utmost care. Princess has to take some lessons. n Yes, Princess is cheaper,but they also have a good reputation and I heard several passengers say the this was their last Princess cruise. As next year is my 40th anniversary, I am now looking at both RCCL and Princess. When we cruised Caribbean Princess (4 times) we had no issues, everything was great. I have an idea, Crown should take lessons from Caribbean and maybe the staff will see that treating the customer with care will always pay off. Sorry Crown no comparison to Caribbean Princess, Crown needs more lessons. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Crown Princess Sailing - October 5 through 12 This was our fourth cruise but first and last on Princess. I strongly believe each cruise is what you make of it and for the most part my husband and I had a great time. However, we will ... Read More
Crown Princess Sailing - October 5 through 12 This was our fourth cruise but first and last on Princess. I strongly believe each cruise is what you make of it and for the most part my husband and I had a great time. However, we will not consider sailing on Princess again. Upon arriving at the port, we were shuttled into the terminal and waited for close to an hour for check in. We had all the paper work completed and the 2 min check in was more like 15 min due to a new computer software system and the struggles of the staff to click through all the new screens. Not a real big deal. Luckily our stateroom keys worked which was the exception not the rule. We proceeded to the stateroom and then the rest of the ship. The balcony room was nice - ample for two people with a fair amount of storage. The balcony was wonderful and we spent a good deal of time on it enjoying the cruise. We had lunch at the Horizon Cafe. The dinner was in the Botticelli Dining Room. Food was OK - not great! Waiters were more interested in making sure we knew how important it was to rate them an Excellent each and every night. Disembarking for Princess Cay was not great - it was more like herding cattle. If you are an elite passenger all members of the ship's staff made sure you were taken care of. One elite passenger was disheartened to see the "Green Card" passengers getting onto "their" tender...and made a very rude comment. Karma got them because their elite cards did not work when they tried to get off the ship. They ended up on the "green card" tender... The second and third night meals were outstanding - we paid extra for the balcony dinner and dinner at Crown Grill. If all the food and service were like that, we would have been overjoyed. The only other highlight for food is the outstanding pizza made fresh from 11:00 AM on (plus it did not cost any extra). Ice cream, real coffee, and soda all cost extra... Negative comments include rude "elite" passengers all over the ship asking for special services from the crew and receiving it. Per Passenger services - all passengers are treated equal...Too bad they are blind. Food in the Horizon Court was the same every day for both breakfast and lunch (Nothing exciting). Dinner choices sounded fancy with fancy culinary terms but in the end were very plain. Waiters tried to sell the Princess Line Cookbook because they got points..... Again not the kind of atmosphere I was paying for. Again, the wait staff wanted us to know that if they did not get an excellent they would be called into the office and questioned and even demoted to a lower position. Other positive highlights included the Lotus Spa - we enjoyed all our treatments and would go back to do that again. Only other comment is that we were much more successful planning our own excursions. We did one Princess Sponsored excursion, which was the Marigot Shopping Express. It was a beautiful ride to the other side of the island but once there we were in a tourist trap without the "shops, boutiques, and cafes of this typical French-Caribbean town." Never saw them.... Spent time speaking to the tour desk to be told the only thing that was provided on that tour was transportation. No credit or refund. Overall, we had a good time because the Caribbean is beautiful and we were able to entertain ourselves. Looking forward to other cruises but will look at different lines first. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
I will start off by saying my husband and I are in mid-late twenties and decided to spend our honeymoon on the Crown Princess. We were truly Blessed to actually take our honeymoon right after the wedding with so many of our friends waiting ... Read More
I will start off by saying my husband and I are in mid-late twenties and decided to spend our honeymoon on the Crown Princess. We were truly Blessed to actually take our honeymoon right after the wedding with so many of our friends waiting until never to have their honeymoons!!! Embarkation was a breeze. We packed bottles of champagne in our suitcases and had no problems with Princess. Once aboard the ship...the plaza was beautiful!!! The ship was nicely kept up. Stateroom was small but nice. Other cruisers: older but friendly cruisers. Not as young and/or diverse as we would have liked. Activities were geared toward the older cruisers ie one activity on the ship was bridge (uggghhh) Food: Was average, best night was lobster tail and king prawn night. The beef Wellington was tasteless!! Many nights we found eating the below average pizza better than the formal sit down dinner. Much of the food was bland (we figured due to the average age of cruisers being 55 the food was pretty tasteless). We were very disappointed with the taste of the food. Activities: as I mentioned earlier unless you plan on playing bridge or dominoes the activities are very limited. We ended up doing our own thing majority of the time. Good thing it was our honeymoon and we didn't really care about ship activities. Ports: St. Thomas and Bahamas were beautiful. Grand Turk and St. Maarten our least favorites, but nice beaches. Shows: Motown show and the magic show were ok but we walked out on the Country show...wasn't our taste. MUTS was the highlight of our evening (we traveled across the US to watch a movie and eat popcorn!!!) Disappointments: the extra hidden fees aboard the ship (international cafe, ice cream bar, crown grille, and Sabatini's= added fee), older/non-diverse cruisers, limited drink selection for no charge (tea/water), quality of food, and activities. Summary: We had fun only because it was our honeymoon and we just wanted to spend time with each other and relax. But for future cruises we will choose a different cruise line and return to Princess when we are 50+. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Background Information: We selected this cruise based on price, departure date, and itinerary. We were traveling for our honeymoon, and this was our first cruise. Ship Info: The ship was not as clean as I expected it to be (especially ... Read More
Background Information: We selected this cruise based on price, departure date, and itinerary. We were traveling for our honeymoon, and this was our first cruise. Ship Info: The ship was not as clean as I expected it to be (especially the windows). However, our stateroom was very clean and our cabin attendant was excellent. BIGGEST COMPLAINT: The boat rocked...ALOT...this was not normal we were told by other passengers who had cruised many times before. The waters were not rough at all, yet people were stumbling all over the place because the boat moved so much. My husband and I spent our first "at sea" day lying in the room sick ordering room service because we couldn't stand up. The roomer onboard was that there was some sort of problem with the stabilizers. Best advice if you go...don't use the gym (I think running on the treadmills while all this was going on did us in)...and get a room as low and in the middle of the ship as you can get. Activities: Lots of activities on board but more geared toward an older crowd (we are in our early 30s). The comedian on board was decent. Princess pop star was fun to watch. The shows in the theater were far from Broadway but entertaining none the less. MUTS was great...but bring warm clothes...the adult movies are in the evening and it gets chilly. Thermal suite is not worth the money for the week pass, because you won't use it on the port days if you have excursions planned...and most of the people I saw in there just walked in and didn't pay (they don't really monitor whether the people in there paid or not). Service: Dining room service was hit or miss (we had the anytime plan so we didn't have the same server each night). Our first night the server was beyond fantastic, most of the nights were so-so, and we had one night where the guy was just terrible. Shore Excursions: Best of St. Martin was nice...but not alot of time to shop in Margot, Meagans Bay in St. Thomas was FANTASTIC, Chukka Buggy Tour in Grand Turk was ok...but get the early tour...we did the late one and got eaten alive by mosquitos (the tour takes you into some wooded areas)...I counted 28 on one arm alone. Embarkation: Excellent, quick, and very organized. Stateroom: More room than I expected. Should have asked for a sheet in addition to the one blanket they give you...husband complained about that...he got warm at night. Disembarkation: Excellent, well organized, very efficient. Pros: Price, Ports of Call, Lots of seafood on the menu (we love seafood), Crown Grill (worth the extra $25 per person), & MUTS Cons: Too much movement on ship, too many kids in adult areas, not enough choices on the buffets, food choices for lunch were not great, sushi was beyond bad, too many announcements in the mornings (not great for people who like to sleep in on vaca), too many "extra charges" for things, spa was very expensive, elevators were REALLY slow. Overall we had an ok time...I think that maybe cruising just isn't for us. It just felt like we didn't get the kind of rest we would have liked, and there were always crowds and lines everywhere. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We sailed the Crown 11/30.. A little background. My husband and I are 58/61 respectively. This was my 16th cruise, altho, my first with Princess. Have previously sailed Celebrity, RCCL, HAL, Carnival and NCL.. We were really looking ... Read More
We sailed the Crown 11/30.. A little background. My husband and I are 58/61 respectively. This was my 16th cruise, altho, my first with Princess. Have previously sailed Celebrity, RCCL, HAL, Carnival and NCL.. We were really looking forward to this cruise. Our last cruise was last Valentine's Day week with NCL and we were terribly disappointed with it. Actually thought Princess would be more compatible with RCCL or HAL.. was not expecting Celebrity quality. However, we found it to be somewhere between NCL and Carnival. Definitely did not think I would consider Carnival better, but in all honesty I do. We flew out the day before and stayed at the Airport Hilton. Altho' a very nice hotel, would not recommend because of the location. No restaurants near, need to eat at the hotel which was rather pricey and not very good. They did provide a shuttle to port ($9 per person) which was a benefit. Embarkment when relatively smooth.. We arrived around 11am and were on the ship within 45 minutes. Checked out our cabin, purchased our soda cards and had lunch in the Horizon Court.. Food good, not great. Had a balcony cabin on Carib.. Nice cabin, large balcony. Had requested an egg crate for our bed and down pillows, both had been taken care of. Had a wonderful cabin stewart, Ariel,.. probably one of the best we have ever had. Very attentive. Dining was truly the biggest disappointment on this cruise. We had anytime dining and found it best to make reservations to avoid a wait in the evening. The wait staff were good to excellent, depending on the night. The food was not what we had hoped for. Ceasar salad was always warm and drenched with dressing. Make sure to ask for it on the side. Steaks were terrible... all the beef had a strange flavor. We even noticed this in the hamburgers up by the pool. Rest of the food was average at best.. Dining has always been a very important feature for us and we would gladly pay a little more and have excellent food as we once had. It seems to me that ever since Cruises started having the alternate dining venues, the quality and consistency of the food in the main dining rooms has consistently gone down hill. Entertainment was average. Both main productions were below par with other cruise lines. The best entertainment was the couple from the UK. Excellent voice, good comedy and he certainly can play the guitar. We loved the Wheelhouse lounge.. One thing I will say for Princess they offer lots of choices for those of us that love to dance. All in all, we will probably not be cruising with Princess again in the near future. The ship was beautiful, but there was so much lacking in other areas.. Just not what we had hoped for. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background Information: This was the 4th cruise for DH and I. Our first was Celebrity; then 2 on Royal Caribbean. It was our first Princess Cruise. It was also our last Princess Cruise. Our Celebrity Cruise was wonderful. The two ... Read More
Background Information: This was the 4th cruise for DH and I. Our first was Celebrity; then 2 on Royal Caribbean. It was our first Princess Cruise. It was also our last Princess Cruise. Our Celebrity Cruise was wonderful. The two RCCL cruises were on very big ships. We were convinced by many people that the Crown Princess was a beautiful ship and that its primary competition is Celebrity. We were also convinced that although there are 3000 guests onboard, there was a small ship feel on this ship. We decided to try it. Hotel: We flew in the night before the cruise (Saturday night). We stayed at the Hilton in Ft. Lauderdale near the airport. The hotel was nice. We chose this hotel because it has a restaurant onsite. However, when we arrived, checked in, and asked the front desk where the restaurant was, they directed us. What they neglected to tell us was that the restaurant was closed at 2 p.m. so that dinner can be prepared. We were sent by the restaurant staff to the bar. Service at the bar for the restaurant food was very slow. We had breakfast at the hotel in the morning. Food was okay, but pricey. Saturday night we had dinner with several couples from cruise critic at the Quarterdeck - Moderately priced with decent food. We enjoyed meeting our CC board friends. Embarkation: We arrived at the Port terminal around Noon and received #8 for boarding. The terminal was full of people and we thought embarkation would take 'forever'. We were pleasantly surprised. Once they started calling numbers, check in was quick, easy and well organized. We started the trek from the terminal to the ship. Every couple of feet was a photographer wanting to take our picture. Note to Photographers - Stay out of the passengers faces. We see you there. We don't need our pictures taken every 50 feet! If we don't look interested, leave us alone! Ship Information: Our cabin was on the Caribe deck. We had an extra large balcony (thanks upgrade fairy) in the forward part of the ship. Elevators are placed well. Cabin was clean and well designed. As soon as possible, we made our reservation for Sabitini's. We then went to buffet for lunch. We had traditional dining reserved (confirmed in writing) for the second seating. We noticed that our Sea Pass said "anytime". We found out where to go to get this corrected. I waited online for close to 30 minutes only to be told to speak with the Maitre D that evening. We arrived at the dining room a few minutes early so that we can speak with the Maitre D, however, we couldn't get into the dining room until it was 'time' - more waiting. I stood behind someone who was speaking with the Maitre D. By the time the gentleman had finished, there was a line over to the side. One of the staff members wanted me to go to the back of the line. Fortunately, everyone on line knew that I had been there for quite some time, so I was next. Maitre D confirmed that we had the reservation, gave us a temporary table and told us that we would receive a note in our cabin with the correct table for the next night (We are still waiting - one of several notes we never received). The second night we met our tablemates and enjoyed their company for the rest of the cruise. We are still in touch with our new friends. We found the ship to be poorly laid out. We figured out the carpet color for port and starboard. However, once on Decks 5,6,& 7, and the pool/buffet decks, I would get very confused as to which way to go to get to the dining room, buffet, forward, aft, etc. The traditional dining room is aft. However, it is located behind one of the anytime dining rooms. You can't go through the anytime dining room to get to the traditional. You have to go up one deck or down one deck, walk all the way to the aft elevator, and then go to the correct deck. If you make a mistake and go forward when you should've gone aft, you have to go start all over again. Not a good system for hungry people. Casino: large, nicely set up, not crowded. However, blackjack tables use a continuous shuffle machine. Now the pools: We found the pools to be discriminatory against everyone who is not young and/or agile. Both main pools on the Lido deck are identical. You step down onto a tiled platform that gets wet from the pool. There is a ladder that you use to go into the pool. But here are the problems: 1) the shallow end of the pool is 5'3" (deep end is >7'). Therefore, shorter people (I'm 5'2") can't stand in the pool - you have to swim, tread water, and/or 'bob'; 2) there is no shallow/wading area in the pool; 3) There are no ledges or steps around the pool on which to sit and get your legs wet; 4) if you do manage to sit down on the tiles, unless you are young and agile, there is no graceful way to stand up. The Terrace Pool located aft on the Riviera Deck is slightly better - it is 5'2" all the way around, but there are steps in the pool that you can sit or stand on. However, there are not enough deck chairs! Movies under the Stars - Nice touch. Enjoyed the Josh Groban concert and Wall-E. No Midnight Buffets at all. We know that most ships have stopped the midnight buffets. The RCCL and Celebrity cruises each had 2 midnight buffets - one on Caribbean night by the pool which had scrumptious fruits, vegetables, desserts served during the pool party. The other was the Grand Buffet on the last formal night. It's amazing the artistry and creativity these chefs have. This was missed on the Princess cruise. Also missing from the Princess cruise - THERE IS NO OMELET STATION!!!! We also never found the "free" ice cream or cookies and milk in the afternoon. We did order the Ultimate Balcony Dining for breakfast. There is a charge, but the breakfast was worth it. Two problems: I don't eat pig meat (DH does). I was assured that the quiche would be made without the bacon (it wasn't - therefore remained uneaten). In addition, they were supposed to bring the food at 9:15 - they showed up at 8:00 (the knock on our door woke us). The order form did say 9:15. Ports: We've been to St. Maarten and St. Thomas before on other cruises. St. Maarten we took a cab to Orient Beach. Beautiful beach. Beach chairs have gotten pricey, but we rented them anyway. Rained the day we went to St. Thomas. We went to the old Synagogue (walking distance from the ship). Beautiful historic building. We then took a cab to Paradise Point. By the time we took the cable car up to the top, it was raining very hard. We had lunch and I had a Bailey's Bushwacker - try it, you'll like it! Princess Cays - waste of time. Very crowded, seats close together. Everyone wants to eat at 11:30 so lines were long. We tendered over, took pictures, got wet, tendered back to the ship where we had a quiet afternoon. Grand Turk - port had just reopened 2-3 weeks prior to the cruise. Also waste of time unless you scuba dive or snorkel. More crowded than Princess Cays. You have to go through the shops to get to the beach or pool. Only sardines in a can are packed closer together than the beach chairs on Grand Turk. The water is full of rocks and the sand slopes downward. I fell on the rocks, scratched my toe, got out of the water and DH and I went back on the ship. The other problem with Grand Turk is that we didn't arrive until 1 p.m. The ship stayed in port until 7 p.m. It got dark at 5 p.m. (it was November). Why we had to stay until 7 p.m. when it was dark at 5 is anyone's guess. Sabitini's - WORTH THE EXTRA MONEY - fantastic food, great service. Phenomenal! Dining Room for breakfast - stops seating as early as 9 a.m. Buffet for breakfast - hard to find a table especially on port days when everyone is trying to eat before getting off the ship. Photographers continued to be everywhere all the time. Hard to get away from them. Coffee card was a waste. The coffee in the buffet and dining room was not bad. We did go to international cafe several times during the cruise; however, not enough to get our money's worth for the card. We would've been better off just paying the $1 for the 'real' coffee or the money for the specialty coffee. Lounges were nice. We went to a couple of shows. There were seats available in the theater and the couple of shows we saw (salute to Motown and salute to Broadway) were wonderful. Lobster night was not on a formal night. Didn't make sense to anyone. I participated in the "On Deck for the Cure". Thanks Princess for partnering with the Susan B. Komen org for breast cancer awareness, education and cure. Staff - for the most part they were friendly and helpful. Disembarkation was smooth. Only took a couple of minutes to find our luggage and get through customs. We took a shuttle from the ship to the airport (worth the fee). Appeared to be a little disorganized finding the right bus, but no problem. In summary, this cruise was mediocre. As a result, it will be a long time until DH and I cruise again and never again on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Embarkation & Debarkation We flew out of Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale the day before our cruise was to set sail. We booked a room at the Courtyard Marriott Airport. For whatever reason, it took us longer to get to the hotel from the ... Read More
Embarkation & Debarkation We flew out of Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale the day before our cruise was to set sail. We booked a room at the Courtyard Marriott Airport. For whatever reason, it took us longer to get to the hotel from the airport than it took for us to get to FLL. The hotel was only operating one shuttle bus and there were quite a few of us so the shuttle got filled up quickly and we had to wait for him to drop off the group before us and then come back to get us. We loved the hotel. The room was great, the hotel was clean, and the staff was very helpful and friendly. The only drawback to this hotel is that the only dining options nearby are a mediocre seafood restaurant and Subway. If you want something else, you'll have to take a cab. There is also no shopping other than a Bass Pro Shops. The breakfast buffet offered by the hotel is an excellent value and quite tasty. The hotel offers a shuttle to the cruise port and unlike the shuttle from the airport, it was run very smoothly. We arrived at the port a little after 12:00 and this has got to be one of the quickest embarkations ever. There was a line to get into the building but once inside, there was absolutely no waiting. I think we were on the ship within 15 minutes of getting off the shuttle and most of that time was taken up by security. Debarkation went just as smoothly. Once they called our color number to come to the dining room, our seats weren't even warm before we were called to debark. Our bags were waiting in the terminal and the customs area was adequately staffed so we were off the ship in record time. The Ship The Crown Princess is a beautiful ship. It's very tastefully decorated and one of the easiest ships to navigate in our experience. We liked our balcony cabin but thought it felt a little cramped compared to our cabin on Carnival Legend. I don't think the cabin was smaller. It was just a different layout which changed the feel of the room. I only have three complaints about the ship itself. First, it rocks entirely too much and too severely. The very first night, we experienced a very rocky ride on our way to Princess Cays. There was also an awful rocky ride on our way to Turks & Caicos. This was truly the worst night of the cruise. It made it very difficult to get out and enjoy myself in the evening. My husband wasn't affected as badly as I was but dutifully stayed with me. Both nights, I spent the night curled up in bed because I was just too seasick too move. I threw up twice that night because I was so sick. We went up to the Lido deck the next day and saw that the ship was rocking so severely that most of the water had sloshed out of the pools. They had to refill the pools when we finally docked in Turks & Caicos. The worst we experienced on other ships when they rocked was difficulty walking in a straight line so this experience was very annoying to say the least. It bothered me so much that when we got home, I did some research about the Crown Princess and found that stability on the water has been a problem for this ship since her maiden voyage. Second, the ship has no real walking deck. There is a track on the Sports Deck but you have to walk around it like ten times to get in a mile. We took the tour of the ship on the first day and the assistant cruise director suggested using the Promenade deck for walking instead. I tried that on the day we docked in Princess Cays. I realized that the deck is not a complete revolution around the ship. You run into some stairs at one end and have to go up and down the other side to get to the other side of the Promenade deck. I don't necessarily have a problem with this but two things interrupted the flow of my walk. First, they cordoned off half the deck for tender operations to shore in Princess Cays so that was half the deck that I could not get to. Second, with the amount of elderly people on this ship, I was constantly running into them trying to make it up or down the stairs. They move slowly so I had to spend quite a few minutes waiting for them to get out of the way. I finally gave up and went to the gym to work out on the elliptical. Perhaps, my biggest problem with this ship is their smoking policy which we were not aware of when we booked the cruise. Obviously, we are non-smokers. As most passengers tend to do, one of the first things we do when we get to the cabin is check out our balcony. As soon as I opened the balcony door, I was hit by cigarette smoke. The cabin directly to our left was occupied by smokers who were on their balcony enjoying the first of many cigarettes during the cruise. We found out later in the day that the cabin directly to our right was also occupied by smokers. The end result is there was always someone smoking on their balcony and we weren't able to enjoy our balcony like we have on previous cruises. On the two port days when we did not really leave the ship, we were able to enjoy our balcony for most of the day because the smokers were gone, thank goodness. Other days, we'd either just open the curtains and look at the view from inside the cabin or stick our noses out to see if the air was clear before we went out there. We could also smell smoke as we walked down the hallways as well. I can understand allowing smoking in designated areas like the lounges and upper decks but why the cabin areas? Non-smokers should not have to suffer through this. We cannot avoid our cabins. We can avoid the lounges and upper decks. Activities For people in our age group (mid 30s) and younger, the Crown Princess has few activities of interest. My husband and I dubbed this the movie cruise because we spent a lot of our time either watching the afternoon movie in the Theater or watching MUTS. They had some really good selections and we got a chance to catch up on movies we've been wanting to see. We noticed the large number of elderly people on the ship and this appears to be the Crown Princess' core clientele because the daily activities reflected it. One of the activities was for grandparents to get together and compare pictures of their grandchildren. They even managed to make karaoke boring. On a ship where about 80% of the people are in the same age group, they all tended to like the same kind of music. So, it felt like everyone was singing the same song over and over again. We attended a few trivia events and they did make some attempts to appeal to the youngest people on the ship by offering activities using the Nintendo Wii. We took in a few shows and they were actually quite good. They seemed to only have one band that played everywhere on the ship. We'd see them on the top deck and they'd play later at night in the lounges. We would have liked more variety in this area. They also had a string quartet that played in the atrium at various hours. We went to see a comedy magic show on the first night and the performer really sucked. He has not mastered the art of timing and dragged out his tricks and jokes way too long. Food The food on the Crown Princess was a disappointment overall. We enjoyed the breakfast buffet every morning and enjoyed the lunch and dinner buffets for the first two days or so. After that, they started to go downhill. My husband and I are not picky eaters but we felt like that on this cruise. We like our food simple, hot, and hearty. There was very little of this to be found on the Crown Princess. There was lots of seafood and cold salads. Even in the dining room, beef was very hard to come by on this ship. We perused the dining room menu every day to see if anything sound appetizing. Most of the time, the food selections sounded weird and we opted for the buffet. On Italian night in the dining room, almost all the selections were pasta dishes with no meat other than the selections they serve every night. On other nights, it was mostly chicken and seafood on the menu. The buffet wasn't much better. The seafood theme was repeated throughout most of the cruise, with the crab and lobster legs appearing on the buffet at least 3 times that week. There was a German theme one night on the buffet and it was really just a selection of sausages, cold deli meats and weird cold salads (mackerel & potato salad anyone?). We've been to Germany and ate quite well while we were there. This is not all they eat over there. I got to the end of the line and the only thing on my plate was watermelon. I spotted some deviled eggs and excitedly put some on my plate. BIG MISTAKE. They were the nastiest things I have ever eaten. Very rarely do I spit food out once it's in my mouth but I just couldn't get that nasty thing down. We started eating exclusively from the grill for lunch and dinner around the 3rd day of the cruise. The grill food was good overall. The pizza was OK. The sauce was too salty for my taste, the crust too thin, and they only offered 3 kinds. The room service menu is very limited...mostly salads and sandwiches. We ordered room service a few times and overall the food was good. Few of the items we ordered arrived the way they're described on the menu. The menu stated the veggie sandwich is served on whole grain bread. Both times I ordered it, it was made with white bread. The grilled ham and cheese sandwich was delivered encased in a coating of egg and fried up like French toast. This was not mentioned on the menu and would have been nice to know before I ordered it. The dining room actually had pork on the menu on the last night and we were tired of burgers, hot dogs and pizza, so we chose to eat in the dining room. The pork dish I ordered was good and my husband liked his steak. We chose anytime dining and had pleasant table mates. The waiter was excellent. But this was not enough to make up for the lack of variety and appetizing food in other areas. Service This is where the ship shined. Everyone we encountered on the ship was friendly and helpful. We were lucky enough to get the best steward we've ever had on a cruise. Jeffrey was attentive, genuinely friendly, and we could tell he takes great pride in doing a good job. He was absolutely wonderful. Other than a few nights of wanting to strangle the captain because of the rough ride, we really enjoyed the staff. Ports We prefer to explore the places we visit and there is nothing to see in Princess Cays other than the beach so we stayed on the ship. In St. Maarten, we booked the Best of St. Maarten Beach tour through the cruise line. We enjoyed a tour of the island with a few stops along the way. The tour included about 2 hours at Orient Beach where we enjoyed lounging in the sun. The bus dropped us off near the cruise ship to do a little shopping and we walked back to the ship when we were done. St. Maarten was our favorite stop of the cruise. We didn't book any excursions for St. Thomas because I grew up there. I know the island inside out. From our balcony, I was able to enjoy watching the ship dock in Crown Bay. Apparently, the smokers on either side of us decided to sleep in that morning. It was a truly beautiful sight. For some reason, St. Thomas is the only port where we had to show our passport. I'm really not sure why. It is owned by the US, after all. There is a small shopping area right at the pier but, other than the iguanas sunning on the rocks, nothing really interesting. Since we were the only cruise ship in port that day, we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the stores open. We spent most of the day walking around and doing a little shopping. We left St. Thomas and finally arrived in Turks & Caicos after the ride from hell. We didn't book an excursion here either mainly because of the hurricane that had recently hit. We were slightly amused to see the ship offering a hurricane tour to view the devastation...very tacky. After the ship docked and my stomach settled a little, we got off the ship and walked around the cruise terminal area. There's not much going on here other than Margaritaville. We bought a few souvenirs and some overpriced candy and headed back to the ship. We have never been on a cruise where we couldn't wait to get home. I was so happy to see Fort Lauderdale and just get my feet on solid ground again. I doubt we will ever book a cruise on Princess again. We booked this cruise because we wanted to try other cruise lines and still plan to try Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. It's going to be a while before we do that though. Right now, It's back to Carnival for us so we can fall in love with cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was only our second cruise, the first was on Royal Caribbean. In all fairness to Princess, it appears we simply prefer RCCL's way of conducting business better. Embarkation: Once the process opened and was running, we ... Read More
This was only our second cruise, the first was on Royal Caribbean. In all fairness to Princess, it appears we simply prefer RCCL's way of conducting business better. Embarkation: Once the process opened and was running, we were processed right onto the ship very quickly. The longest wait was self-imposed; we arrived VERY early. Otherwise, we waited about 5 minutes to get our identification pictures taken. The process seemed disorganized at first, but actually ran quite smoothly. Buffet Dining: Twice the buffets served king crab legs and lobster claws. They had several popular seafood dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the food served at the buffets, but overall they served a limited variety. My wife is a choosy eater and was forced several days to eat a burger from the grill rather than anything the buffets offered. Almost everything had mushrooms or seafood in it. They were also laid out poorly. Related foods like breads and butter, salad and dressing were not located near each other. Condiments were spread over several different areas and took quite a bit of time to find. Lines formed randomly and long-wait items like toast or omelets were placed mid-line causing traffic jams. Formal Dining: Our formal dining experience was very disappointing: We requested "Traditional dining, second seating", when we booked the cruise and that selection was confirmed in our cruise paperwork. When we arrived onboard, they had us as Anytime Dining. When brought to the maitre d'hotel's attention, we were told the assigned room was booked solid and we would have to stand in line for Anytime Dining. When we finally obtained an assigned seating the next day, we were placed at a table of 10 with no other occupants. The servers there were highly attentive; some of the best we've ever encountered. But, we made the mistake of requesting a table for two instead. At that table, we met the waiters from hell. After each course we sat for more than 20 minutes without any service. Thus, we only used our assigned seating twice. Luckily, the buffets served the same food as the dining rooms, so we didn't miss anything by going to the buffets. Ice cream was served for about an hour each day. Otherwise, you had to pay extra for any other ice cream served. Why make you pay based solely on time of day? Service: Service was very sporadic. Some people, like Corina at Anytime dining or our cabin steward Judy, were exceptional. Others were outright rude. As an example: After waiting about 5 minutes to get a refill of my water at the buffet, I snagged a passing server and asked him to refill both of our drinks. He took our cups, refilled them, and gave them to the people at the table next to ours. I quickly called him over and told him the mistake. Without a word, he walked to the other table, took those cups, and put them on our table. No apologies, no admission of a mistake, and no mention to the other couple. We had to tell them what happened and ensure they didn't use those cups. We left the meal at that point in disgust. At most dining locations and virtually all of the bars, staff will wash dishes, talk amongst themselves, or quickly disappear into the back room while patrons wait to be served. The ship itself: The interior of the ship is beautiful and tastefully decorated. We thoroughly enjoyed features such as "Movies Under the Stars" and the rear pool area. My best guess for the incessant and often dangerous rocking of this ship must be that they were running with too-little ballast. Nearly everyone that had cruised before said they'd never felt a ship rock like this one did. People were continually bumping into each other and stumbling. This was with relatively calm seas. The ship seemed inadequately maintained as well. On our previous cruise, at every port, staff washed every window and cleaned and painted the hull. On this cruise, I never saw anyone actually maintain the ship. Our balcony glass was so dirty I couldn't see through it. Entertainment: We loved the entertainment. We like to dance and found several venues and bands that accommodated us. They had a "Big band" dance with the Crown Princess theater band that was excellent. The Cindy Chavez and Epithany bands were excellent playing a wide variety of music very professionally. Overall, they did a wonderful job in this area. Tours: We only took one tour and loved it. It was the full-day sailing catamaran to St. John's Island. It wasn't well described in the sign-up area, so very few people attended. Only 13 of us went on a sailing, snorkeling, open-bar, AYCE buffet adventure. We swam with and fed a barracuda, utterly relaxed while sailing, snorkeled with sting rays, sunned on a deserted beach, swam in crystal clear waters, and did a mini-tour of the sights of southern St. Thomas. This tour is a hidden treasure! Ports of Call: All our favorites: At Princess Cay, we discovered a very active and beautiful reef; some of the best snorkeling of the trip! Sadly, there was very little control over the reef area, and some people walked over the coral to go swimming. Hopefully, Princess will realize the reef is as big an attraction as the swimming and place some controls over its use! We particularly love St. Maarten. We simply spent the day on the local beach sunning. Prices for drinks were 1/3 that of the ship, and we found some exceptional bargains on clothing and souvenirs. At St. Thomas we took a spectacular tour of St. John (see Tours). Finally, Grand Turk is still recovering from the effects of hurricane Ike: the main beach's sand has all washed away and left nothing but sharp rocks. Simply swimming next to the designated swimming area (on Governor's Beach, I later discovered) provided perfect sand to swim and sun. The swimming pool area was beautiful, refreshing, and well maintained. Value: When we asked, we were told that the $10.50 per day gratuity was included in the price of the cruise. Imagine our surprise when we opened our detailed bill to discover that this "gratuity" was charged over and above the cost of the cruise. Had we known we hadn't already paid it (and known how extremely poor some of the service was on-board), we would definitely have canceled the gratuity from the beginning and simply given it all directly to our room steward. This, plus the utter lack of free coffee and tea outside of the buffets, made me feel that the value of this cruise wasn't very good. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background: We are a couple in our early-mid 40's. We have been on 3 previous cruises, all with RCCL, an all on the Voyager class of ships( Navigator, Mariner and Adventure). Previous cruises have been spent with our 3 children but ... Read More
Background: We are a couple in our early-mid 40's. We have been on 3 previous cruises, all with RCCL, an all on the Voyager class of ships( Navigator, Mariner and Adventure). Previous cruises have been spent with our 3 children but this one was just the two of us. We decided we should try another cruise line and this was an 'extra' cruise so Princess is was. This review is intended as a comparator to RCCL and as with all reviews is highly subjective to our tastes and previous experiences. Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal around noon. There was a very long line that stretched down the entire length of the building. It took us about 1 hour to reach the front of the line. Upon arriving at the front of the line we discovered that this was the security check line. The line split into 3 separate security lines. It seemed to me that the security people were overwhelmed as on officer was looking after 2 metal detector lines as well as the handicap line, so when someone 'beeped', or a wheelchair went through the line everything came to a screeching halt. After finally clearing security we had our cruise cards and we on the ship within 5 minutes. The cabin: We went directly to our cabin , which was a standard balcony. It was fairly similar to he cabins we have had on RCCL. Notable differences (all be it small differences) we did not like the decking on the balcony. It was a hard pebbly plastic that kind of hurt your feet. It did keep the balcony clean as dirt fell through the holes. The RCCL ships have a shower door instead of the curtain which is nicer. The layout on the Crown was slightly different and there is a hallway outside the bathroom. We preferred this as it gave the cabin a roomier feel than on RCCL. Considering the pettiness of the items mentioned the cabins were essentially the same and we were quite comfortable. One note: we were three decks above the 'suite' decks, all of which had larger balconies. These balconies all stuck out further than the balconies above them. The result is if you are in one of these cabins and wanted to stand or sit next to the railing everyone above you could see you. Small thing for some but we would not feel comfortable with the lack of privacy. The Ship: Very nice. Clean, well maintained. The Piazza was very elegant and comfy. Lounges and bars were well placed so you never had to travel far to get a drink. We did not like the chopped up feeling of the ship. It seemed that getting from point A to point B sometimes meant going up or down a deck. I think that is part of the small ship feel that Princess is going for but it was a bit of a pain. We also usually like to go on deck up to the bow which is covered on this ship. Again small thing. The Staff: Our cabin steward was very friendly and efficient as were our waiter and asst waiter. I don't think we ran into anyone all week who was rude or unfriendly. There were a few times when we had trouble seeing a display or entertainment in the piazza because the staff were watching also. Not really a big thing but it did get a little bothersome a couple of times. The Guests: We did find the average age of the passengers to be older than we are normally used to. I am not sure if it was the time of year or if this is a Princess thing. As a result we found the entertainment and activities geared more to an older crowd(more about that later). Everyone was well behaved as far as we were concerned with no obnoxious events taking place. The entertainment: We actually only attended one show which was the illusionist. I had read that he was amazing and was the best show on the ship. He was okay at best. Nothing spectacular. While the illusions were pretty good they were nothing new and we had seen them tons of times by other illusionists. We were really tired the night the comedian was on but I heard he was fantastic. As stated earlier the entertainment seemed to be directed at an older demographic. The second last show was a 'tongue in cheek look at the Cole Porter era'. The name that tune kind of activities we 50's, 60's and Disco era tunes. And the activities during the day included bridge lessons, connect four tournaments etc. We are used to things like ice skating, rock climbing and dodge ball tournaments so this was a bit of culture shock for us. The Food; A big sticking point for us. The buffet- very crowded and difficult to navigate. The food was just okay. If you got to the buffet early enough if was fine as you could move around as you wanted to. The Pizza - was okay, nothing to rave about, nothing to complain about The Trident grill - I thought the burgers, fries and hot dogs were good. I had read multiple complaints but they tasted okay. The only complaint was the length of the line. They seemed understaffed. The guys working there were the hardest working members of the crew. They did a great job they were just understaffed. Room Service - We only had it once. We usually have it each port day but the selections were very limited. International Cafe - Breakfast was just pastries, lunch there were salads and sandwiches. The sandwiches were delicious and we enjoyed them very much. Dinner was weird stuff. Ice Cream - you have to pay for the ice cream on this ship and it's not great. Not worth the money. On RCCL they have low fat yogurt machines , and I usually eat my weight in it before the end of the week, so I really missed this. The Dining Room - Great service. Food was fair at best. We are not seafood eaters nor are we very adventurous. This is our problem not Princess' but it severely limited our choices. The salads were good. The Prime ribs was just okay as were most of the beef selections. Most of the beef came covered in a brown gravy that my wife did not care for. The accompanying vegetables were quite often unusual. We are dessert people, and the desserts ( to be blunt) sucked. The only halfway decent dessert was the Baked Alaska (which was pretty good). The rest were just yucky. Not very sweet. Food is such a subjective topic. We did not really enjoy the meals although the fettucine alfredo was delicious. The food may have been fabulous but just not our kind of food. My advice, you can't really decide about the food unless you try it yourself. The ports: Princess Cays - We rented a clamshell, sat in the sun, ate the BBQ lunch, swam and snorkeled. IT was a very relaxing and enjoyable day. Loved Princess' tender process, it was well run. St Martin - it rained all day but we had planned on shopping anyway. This was our 3rd trip here in as many years. Despite the rain we managed to spend lots of money and exhaust ourselves in the process. St Thomas - Also our 3rd visit. This year we took a ship excursion. It was the champagne sail to St John. I can't say enough nice things about this trip. The crew of the cat was fabulous, the scenery was gorgeous and the snorkeling was stunning. Best excursion we have ever taken. Highly recommended. Grand Turk - again we rented a clamshell and crashed on the beach. Surprisingly the snorkeling here was pretty good right near the ship. The reef is not very pretty but the numbers and variety of fish were impressive. I almost did not take the snorkel gear because I did not expect much. Disembarkation: Best I have ever seen. It is very organized and efficient, very well done by Princess, much better than RCCL. That's it. We had a good trip. I think we are just RCCL kind of people. Would I travel with Princess again, probably yes, we did did put a deposit down on a future cruise, but it would have to be an itinerary that RCCL did not offer or be one fabulous deal Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was only my third cruise, the second to the Eastern Caribbean (my first was last year on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas - which was great.) I was with my fiance and his family, who have been cruising for 18 years, and ... Read More
This was only my third cruise, the second to the Eastern Caribbean (my first was last year on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas - which was great.) I was with my fiance and his family, who have been cruising for 18 years, and they are all platinum members of Princess' Captain's Circle, but it had been a few years since they'd been on the line - definitely pre-Carnival. Before we left, my fiance kept going on and on about how great Princess was, and how excited he was to be back. What a total disappointment for all of us!!! I had fun, because I was with my fiance's family, but the ship itself was not at all what we expected. The ship had just come out of two weeks of dry dock, and let me tell you, the crew used this excuse for just about everything. It was obvious it was a brand new crew that had likely never worked together, because nothing seemed to gel. In addition, things that should have been taken care of while in dry dock, like replacing burnt out light bulbs in cabins and deck fixtures, were not. The food was TERRIBLE. The buffet was so awful that by the last day, we were taking one bite of everything just to eat something. And since they usually only had one or two of the four SMALL buffets open, it was always packed, so getting your food took forever. There were very few healthy choices, especially for breakfast. Everything, eggs included, were swimming in oil. And all the meat was pork, which my fiance and I don't eat! No beef or turkey sausage or bacon. (We even learned that the meat sauce used in the pasta dishes AND the meatloaf in the dining room were made with pork!!!!) Dinner was not much better. Occasionally there would be something on the menu that had flavor, but it was rare. The menus were also un-inspired, especially the American themed dinner on the last night. The best food on the ship came from the pizza parlor - IF you wanted to stand in line for thirty minutes to wait for it! While the 3 pizza makers worked their tails off, there just was not enough supply to meet demand, and the kids were ALWAYS in line. And there is no free ice cream on the ship!!!! Unlike Royal Caribbean there is no 'round the clock soft serve yogurt....you have to PAY for soft serve! We were on the ship during Christmas week, which also happened to be Hanukkah - but you'd never now it, despite having so many Jews on board. While the ship was decorated to the hilt for Christmas, there was one tiny menorah on deck 5, which I only noticed the last night we were onboard. The first night, my Aunt & Uncle went to the Hanukkah lighting service, and said it was a disgrace - they didn't even have a Menorah! And they definitely didn't have the latkes the Princess Patter promised. The excuse? "We were in Dry Dock, so we're not prepared." What kind of an answer is that??? The temperature in our cabins was ridiculously hot, even at the lowest air conditioning setting. My fiance's brother complained about his cabin being too warm, and was told by the front desk that his room had been checked via computer in the engine room and it was a perfect 21 degrees celsius, and therefore, it was fine. Well, it wasn't fine....it was HOT. They finally came to the cabin to "fix" the situation after 4 days of complaining. And speaking of the cabins....they sure could use a facelift. They seemed tired, and the bedspreads looked like they were from the seventies. However, as compared to Royal Caribbean, there is more closet space in the Princess cabins. Common areas were often dirty....bathrooms were not cleaned regularly. There did not appear to be a lot of cleaning staff on board. Shows were ok - there was an illusionist on board, who was cool for the first few tricks, but it got old pretty fast. One night, which happened to be Christmas, the entertainer in the MAIN theater, a singer, appeared to be DRUNK, and kept rambling on about his echocardiogram....it was so bad that people were streaming out of the theater. We tried to complain, but nobody seemed to care. The crew show was fun. But the best entertainment on board was relegated to the last day in the piazza. It was an acapella doo-whop group that was outstanding - they should have been part of a show in the main theater, they were that good. A few bright spots....Service in the dining room was EXCELLENT. Our family of 9 had late seating, and after the first night, our waiter and jr. waiter knew exactly what we liked and had the correct items waiting for us on the table. They rocked, as did our room steward. It was nice that there were two smoke free nights in the casino, one being on a formal night, so your clothes don't smell terrible at the end of the evening. We also loved that our group could open up our balcony partitions so that our balconies adjoined. That was cool. Oh, and we loved watching the old first season reruns (including the pilot) of Love Boat!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We cruised on the Ocean Princess in 2002, and actually had our Vows renewed on this ship. I had heard from reading many reviews, that since Princess was purchased by Carnival, that many things had gone down hill. We were to see that for ... Read More
We cruised on the Ocean Princess in 2002, and actually had our Vows renewed on this ship. I had heard from reading many reviews, that since Princess was purchased by Carnival, that many things had gone down hill. We were to see that for ourselves. What we noticed, and it may not be a big thing to anyone else, but it matters to us, was the whole Dining Room experience. Although the food was fine, we did not at any time feel we were in a 5* classy venue, but a Mom and Pop diner where your meals were plunked down in front of you, and served so fast, it was like "here's your hat, what's your hurry". The other aspect, that we have never seen on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean, was the attire that was let into the main Dining Room. Jeans and tank tops, on both men and women, shorts and flip flops fall short for the many people who took the time to pack "Smart Casual". We actually went to the Buffet 2 nights, as I felt too uncomfortable and overdressed in what I had brought. As I said before, this is just our opinion of what we like on a cruise. Though every employee we met on the ship was extremely helpful and always had a hello, I agree with a previous reviewer about the "Coffee King" guy in the International Cafe. He was the rudest and surliest person I have ever met on a ship.... and yes, he would only give you 1 coffee, even though we had purchased 2 coffee cards. Island night was a disappointment from last time, no buffet, no ice carvings, no fruit carvings, no drinks in coconuts, etc. Did we have a good time..... of course we did. We loved our cabin, it was the roomiest, and had the most hangers ever. We love that Princess has the pool on the very back deck, quiet, close to the bar, and the Horizon Court. We did not like that there was hardly any places to dance after dinner, some nights none. We had 3 people in our party that had never cruised before, and they thought everything was wonderful, having nothing to compare it to. Would we go Princess again???? If the price was low enough, I get fed, my bed made, and nice sunny weather...... sure. Would it be my first choice..... no, we will go with Celebrity and pay a bit more...... for a lot more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
This is going to be a very short and sweet review! My sister and I chose the Crown Princess the week of March 22-29. The previous two years we sailed Celebrity Summit and sister ship Millennium. Overall we both were pretty disappointed ... Read More
This is going to be a very short and sweet review! My sister and I chose the Crown Princess the week of March 22-29. The previous two years we sailed Celebrity Summit and sister ship Millennium. Overall we both were pretty disappointed with Princess. We felt as though most of the employees on the ship weren't nice and didn't want to be bothered. Of course we met some people that were friendly, particularly the bartenders :) Things that we liked about the Crown Princess: Movies under the stars More drink servers at the buffet and at the pool Sabatini's The food at the international cafe Embarkation/disembarkation was a breeze The sanctuary (It's worth the extra money and I got extra towels) The numerous pools on the ship! Plus you could always find a chair! Pizza was great :) Things that we didn't like about the Crown Princess: The buffet had no rhyme or reason! Wasn't sure where the line started people just going from counter to counter, did NOT like the set up! It was always very difficult to get a pool towel, yes I know we had them in our cabin, but I think it's nice to have them easily accessible to those that want more than one! The fitness center wasn't very user friendly! The ceilings were very low and when you were using a piece of fitness equipment it felt like you might hit your head! The yoga class was a joke, I'm not sure if the instructor had ever taught a yoga class?? The Spa layout was absolutely terrible! They had treatment room's right in front of the seating area. Although my massage was fantastic, I thought it was odd that they didn't have any males working in the spa. I personally like to have a male give a massage, just my preference :) The food wasn't that great in the dining room or buffet. The even bigger problem was my sister being a vegetarian ended up eating pasta almost every evening. Celebrity had a dedicated menu for nearly every meal for vegetarians, not Princess. That was my fault I suppose! When we made the reservation they asked if you were vegetarian so I "assumed" they would have a specific menu. We had a really bad experience at the Crown Grill. We had called the dining reservation number three times to find out if they would have an alternative menu at the Crown Grill for my sister. Each time they told us it was up to the chef! Never a straight answer as far as what the chef might possibly have on the menu for a vegetarian. The night of our reservation we went to the restaurant to find my sister would be eating steamed veggies. So we said forget it and ended up at Sabatini's for the 2nd time. I understand the Crown Grill is a steak house, but if someone would have given us an upfront answer that nothing but vegetables would be prepared we would have made other arrangements. We chose anytime dining and felt EVERY time we had asked for a smaller table they gave us attitude. It was only a request and I understand they have very few tables that accommodate 2 or 4 people. Overall, this was a great vacation! However, we will be cruising with Celebrity next time. I just wasn't impressed with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We have only cruised once before, and that was on the NCL Jade, which was also an 11 night Mediterranean cruise.After reading reviews of the Jade and comparing them to the Princess, we thought we were in for a treat. Gosh we were wrong as ... Read More
We have only cruised once before, and that was on the NCL Jade, which was also an 11 night Mediterranean cruise.After reading reviews of the Jade and comparing them to the Princess, we thought we were in for a treat. Gosh we were wrong as the Jade topped Princess in almost every category.1. Embarkation- Very easy and most likely due to our arriving late and most people having boarded already. Can't fault Princess on this.2. Public rooms- Nice for the most start. I believe we were sailing with 3k people, and not once did the ship feel crowded. I liked that very much.3. Cabin- Absolutely atrocious. We had an inside cabin and it was tiny. The beds were horrible and needed to be replaced. The bathroom was tiny. Nothing really positive to say here. There were only 3 power jacks in the room, and you can only use two of them! The two on the desk were so close together that you could only use one at a time. The other power outlet was in the bathroom. Another problem is that we heard the Italian(or Portugese/Brazilian) couple next door yelling at each other every day. Their TV noise came in loud and clear too. The bathroom had the messy curtain and little shampoo bottles, plus the shower head came up to the bottom of my chin! Forget about dropping the soap as I had to worry about being violated by the bar and spout trying to retrieve it. The  toilet was right next to it, which was right next to the sink. I preferred to use the public restroom over our cabin one. This is compared to the NCL Jade which had a glass enclosed shower which was much bigger with soap dispensers built in. A glass door for the toilet so someone can be in the shower while another is using the toilet, without feeling uncomfortable. So in effect, I would say the cabin was the worst part of the ship. I'm sure that others in larger staterooms had better experiences. We basically had only 1.5 sea days so we felt it wasn't worth paying double to book a balcony for our trip as we are port/itinerary fanatics.4. Fitness Center- I would say above average in equipment and such. Each cardio machine had its on TV with headset, but there was a huge problem. I'm 6'6 and I could not use any of the cardio machine except for the bikes as my head hits the ceiling. This limited my program to only the bikes and the machines. Also, people working there tried to sell services to us, which we didn't like much.5. Rates- We paid $799 pp for a 12 night cruise. You can not beat that in your lifetime. That is just a little bit less than half of what we paid for our Oceanview on NCL the prior year.6. Dining- We only ate in our dining room twice. Our waiter was horrible as he didn't really speak any English and was very forgetful. We would sit with other people and they would receive their appetizers before we would only place an order. We found out that the buffet had very similar offerings to what was offered in the dining room. So why waste time when we could serve ourselves? The buffet ranged from really good to really bad. Speaking with people who have cruised with Princess before, they felt like with the cut in prices, they cut food quality as well. We ate at the Crown Grill price and that was absolutely delicous with very good service. Their chocolate fudge dessert is outstanding!7. Entertainment- Sadly as we are port junkies, we were usually too tired to do stuff in the evenings after we showered and dined. We took in a couple of Movies under the Stars and found it very hard to hear as well as cold. The video quality was a big negative too.8. Service- This is another one that ranged from very good to very bad. It started off awful as everyone seemed like they were hung overr and did not want to help the first couple of days. Many other people shared our same experiences. Some examples were at the buffet for dinner I ordered a diet coke. The waiter showed attitude and just dissapeared. He didn't return with the diet coke until after we had ate dessert. Another time I was walking with a dish and a kitchen employee ran into me and then gave me a stern look and continued walking without saying a thing! I was ready to tackle him. A few days into the cruise it was like somebody flipped a switch and everyone became happy and polite for the majority of the cruise. Of course there were a couple of bad apples here and there, but the vast majority were very polite and cordial. 9. Shore excursions- We did not take any with princess and only did one guided tour in Florence. After that one we decided that it wasn't worth the money and we enjoyed going off on our own in every city. We rented cars in Monte Carlo(100 Euro for a Smart) and Corfu(80 Euro for a Peugoet Convertible),  and an ATV in Santorini for 15 Euro. Each was a blast and we had great times. Now my beef with Princess relates to them transferring non excursion people to a good area. What upset me the most was a 7 Euro charge for a shuttle to the main area in Mykonos. It was only a two minute ride and it should have been supplied for free by Princess. Another problem was in Athens where there was a shuttle to the main terminal at the port, and then we had to walk for maybe 20-30 minutes and find the metro station. NCL gave us a free shuttle to the train station the prior year. Again, I am unsure if that has changed due to the economic climate.Overall- I should not really complain so much about a cruise we paid so little for, but there were other people on the cruise who paid much more than us and some feel the same way I did. Cruising on Princess is supposed to be a nice experience and they usually demand a hefty price compared to other cruise lines like NCL. If these two were the same price, we would definently rather cruise on NCL than Princess. For our next cruise we would like to try Celebrity as the people we met in Santorini who were on the Celebrity Solstice seemed to be very pleased with their ship. So in final, we probably will not cruise on Princess again unless it is an absolute great deal and the cheapest around. I would look around more if you can. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This was a great trip! We did all of our research on Cruise Critic and this made the trip for us! Our Background - My husband and I are both in our 40's and wanted to try something different. Our main focus when deciding on which ... Read More
This was a great trip! We did all of our research on Cruise Critic and this made the trip for us! Our Background - My husband and I are both in our 40's and wanted to try something different. Our main focus when deciding on which cruise to take is the port stops. We have done many Caribbean cruises and one Mediterranean cruise. We have sailed with NCL, RCCL, Carnival and did one with the R1, which is now Oceania. This was our first Princess Cruise. Overall - The ship is very nice. It was clean and easy to get around. Even though it is a large ship with 3000 passengers, it never felt too crowded for the most part. The ship has great stabilizers, better than any other cruise we have been on. The cabin seemed to be a bit bigger but I think it may be a better floorplan that made it seem this way. The beds were not comfortable but they will bring you an egg crate for your bed if you request one. We had an interior cabin and it was fine. We couldn't beat the price! Service - The first day, we noticed a different from past cruises. There were staff every where helping people find their cabins and other locations on the ship. After that, it was typical of what we had on other cruises for the most part. We received good service throughout, not great but good. The staff was very friendly and seemed to be trying very hard. The one thing we did notice on this cruise was, the staff couldn't answer 80% of our questions. It became quite comical! I don't blame them but rather their training. They tried very hard. NOTE: Do all port/tour research before your cruise because nobody on board can help you make a decision or answer any questions about the ship's tours or sites at the port in general, not even the people working at the shore excursion desk! One staff member told us, "I do not have any time to go ashore so we don't know." Food - Very average and similar to what we have had on past cruises on different cruise lines. My husband eats mostly seafood and he did not like the food on this ship. I do not eat most seafood and found the food to be average, some dishes better than others, typical "cruise-type" food to me. We ate in the buffet some nights and there was a good selection. Entertainment - Because this cruise was very port intensive (which we love!), we didn't worry about the entertainment aspect of the cruise when researching. I do have to say though that the entertainment was the worse ever for us. I am not sure why but it was very poor in our opinion. We did enjoy two nights - a comedian and a comedian/juggler from France. We did a Carnival cruise this summer on the Fantasy and the entertainment was far better. The two cruise directors were great but I can't remember their names. They tried very hard and you did see them out and about. We arrived in New York the day the cruise departed but we took advantage of our one day in New York. Because embarkation at Red Hook in Brooklyn was so fast and easy (the best we have ever had), we had half a day to explore Brooklyn and New York. We decided to take a take a taxi to the end of the Brooklyn Bridge and walk the bridge. This was a great experience with beautiful views. Hundreds of people from all walks of life were walking the bridge. We then walked around New York - Wall Street, Battery Park, etc. Great experience! The ship left that night at 7:00. Beautiful views of the city and Statue of Liberty! Other ports: Sydney - This port was canceled due to bad weather so we had an extra sea day. We watched movies in the cabin all day because the entertainment and activities that day was not very good at all. Saguenay, Canada - I spent a ton of time trying to figure out what to do in this port and couldn't find a lot of information. We didn't book a tour in advance and waited to get on board to ask them about this port. None of the ship's staff (not even the shore excursion desk) could help us. We decided to get off the ship without a plan. This port was quite a different experience. This port has only been open for tourism for 3 years and it was obvious. We did enjoy ourselves though. The people were very friendly and wanted you to have a good time in their little town. There were many locals at the dock in costume handing out candy, blueberry juice and homemade cheese. We did two things: The hop on/hop off bus that you can purchase tickets for at their tourism center that is at the pier (only $10 per person) and a tour to Bec Scie, which we also purchased tickets for at their tourism center. We didn't think the tour on the hop on/hop off bus was interesting. Actually, we would not recommend it unless it is very cold or if someone in your group has trouble with mobility. There really isn't anything that interesting that you see. We did enjoy our tour to Bec Scie, which was absolutely beautiful and only a 15 minute drive. It cost $35 per person and included a one hour guided tour through the forest and to see waterfalls. The guide explains things about the waterfalls, the forest, and talks about the Salmon's trip up river, etc. This tour is on an uneven path and there are stairs to climb at several points. To see some pictures, you can do a search for Bec Scie on "google images". Would we go on another Princess Cruise again? Yes, if the price is right and the ports are of interest to us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
The 15-night cruise on the Emerald Princess gave us an excellent look at the Canada and the US eastern seaboard. We hit 9 ports, missing one (Corner Brook, Newfoundland) because of weather and had an overnight in Quebec City. We ... Read More
The 15-night cruise on the Emerald Princess gave us an excellent look at the Canada and the US eastern seaboard. We hit 9 ports, missing one (Corner Brook, Newfoundland) because of weather and had an overnight in Quebec City. We thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary. We do not understand why Princess uses ships designed for tropical cruises (no covered pools or deck areas) for their northern itineraries. The weather was cold and we could not go outside; we had the same problem on the transatlantic cruise on the Emerald Princess. However, Princess needs to step-up if they want to remain a 5-star cruise line. Food was predictable and the beef was chewy and flavorless. Only a couple of nights with good entertainment - too many repeats of the same show with one public room being used in the evenings for passenger-participation games. After over 50 cruises, this is the first cruise where I felt the staff was a bit surly, especially in the purser's and tour offices. And speaking of tours, they were some of the poorest for the cost and the tour staff was completely unorganized when on shore. We usually go on ship sponsored tours just in case there is a problem but this experience may cause us to rethink that policy. Many people blame the Carnival takeover for the drop in quality, but the 19 Carnival cruises we've been on have been far superior in food and entertainment. After 9 cruises on Princess, we are now looking at other options. Princess has the edge in their itineraries but at this point, that is all. Maybe, they are trying to compete in a price market and their quality is suffering. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Crown Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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