Sail Date: June 2006
Cabin:Dolphin Deck Class - Minisuite with balcony Despite some issues, the Crown Princess is a big, fabulous ship and we had a great time and shall return. I would characterize the overall experience as traveling on a modern marvel with ... Read More
Cabin:Dolphin Deck Class - Minisuite with balcony Despite some issues, the Crown Princess is a big, fabulous ship and we had a great time and shall return. I would characterize the overall experience as traveling on a modern marvel with a Titanic-like aura, with many luxury hotel amenities, beautiful piazza, but with some interesting design flaws, and uneven service this was only the crew's second time out which was mostly in need of tuning. The crew has not yet mastered handling these crowds at key times. We were a party of six, our second, but the others had lots of cruise experience. The best comparison in terms of equipment/amenities within class (what we expected) is with the Holland America Zuiderdam  with the same mini-suite accommodations, HA was 10% cheaper (ordered same time in advance) and had somewhat better room amenities. Those comparing to large Carnival ships found the Crown Princess better in most ways but at a premium. We all hope that the Crown Princess can sort out the deficiencies noted below, which must be dealt with if it wishes to stay competitive with other high-end big cruises. One complaint is that there were too many people complaining about almost everything  too picky. . Physically, the ship itself is fabulous  all shiny, clean and new, with the best deck layouts and flow. Elevators  cannot take the traffic at dinner-time, and especially when the ship is shooting pictures. Several breakdowns and stalls and two that were creaky, which freaked out the occupants. Many were in X and R modes (taken out of service) when most needed. Worse, unlike most ships of this size, you cannot reach all the important lower floors on all the elevators and sometimes you feel like you are changing trains at Jamaica with a long walk between tracks. Internet  a universally shared opinion of embarrassing for a new ship of its class and certainly the worst anyone had experienced on a modern ship in the past two years. This included WIFI or their equipment. I mean, we're not talking a bunch of streaming kids here, but a 50+ crowd who just wanted their email. All charges were refunded. The three level piazza is really well done in marble, wood and metal.The Ship was always clean and orderly and the public bathrooms were beautifully appointed and always clean.. Dining Anytime Dining worked very well for us (although we locked in, just for the asking, a table by a window for the remainder of the trip ); others that went from room to room reported that it went well for them. Michelangelo was our nightly choice and the dining room food was better than our first cruise. Very attentive service and a great Maitre´D. Our waiter (Catalin) and his helper (Chukimon) were a great team. Always a good featured meat and fish choice. Salads and desserts were very good. Great fettucini. I would recommend skipping the premium restaurants - The Crown Grill  a classic steak restaurant - all appetizers and seafood entrees very good, but the non-prime steak was a mediocre ¾ grey-ish porterhouse (and not 22oz) that was cooked anywhere from rare to well and tough  quite a shock for an extra $25. Cooked too slowly (you can watch them) over a warm grill covered by a pan  not a good sign - and - Sabatinni's  a lavish, multi course affair where the food was ok with exceptional and friendly very-Italian service; still not worth it. Buffet While not as good as HA, I liked the buffet and was always able to concoct a sensible selection of heathy things and treats. The room(s) were big enough to literally get lost in. Hearty breakfast selection with all the normal stuff. Lunch varied - Seafood (especially fish), soups, pasta and veal dishes were always excellent. Generally a good selection, but not as diverse as Holland America. There was always a good featured meat and fish choice. Sushi, Asian, Mexican and pasta bars (rotated by day) were very good. No free fruit juice or lemonade.Avoid steak, torneados, and filet mignon; rib roast is better. Salads were awful - all salad dressings lacked imagination and had that Marie's Blue Cheese sweet mayonnaise base which was especially not welcomed in the Caesar and ranch dressings; found none that I liked. Fast food was ok - nothing memorable; very disappointing hot dogs (were supposed to be Nathan's - no way.) Pizza and burgers were good, Adagio was the best bar (quiet and elegant with terrific music), but all the bars were very good. Stateroom - Our mini-suite stateroom on the Dolphin deck was exactly as described - spacious and laid out very well, and very nicely appointed, and since it was brand new - no stains. As we live less than a mile from the embarkation point, we over-packed (6 bags) and just filled the walk-in closet. Good roomy bathroom but no make up mirror. No DVD player but two TVs. Room service, complimentary fruit, mini bar were fine. The sitting area was away from the bed and this allowed me to watch late night TV without bothering my wife. Entertainment and on-board activities were mixed. I missed the printed daily news summary that I was used to each morning on HA. There was plenty to do on board. The Bridge class and games were my favorite and just excellent  this program may take time to grow but was greatly appreciated on at sea days and we had excellent bridge directors  Ann and Bob. Did not have this on prior cruises. Started out slow but ended up with three or four tables  learned a lot. Wine tasting  excellent both times. Shows  Really need work. On the last cruise we went to the show every night  we lost interest after the second night. And not enough seats. Orchestra was the best part. Mediocre programming compared to other cruises and way below that for HA. A bunch of white people singing Motown did not sit well with the over-50 crowd  the cast couldn't pull it off. Casino  seemed very small and overcrowded for a ship this size  our last ship had almost 50% less folks and had more tables and slots. You should never have to wait for a slot machine. Smoking was not under control or segregated. Sun deck and pools  hung out in the aft adult pool very comfortable and quiet, but all reports were very good  lots of space. Movie under the stars a nice amenity. Live music  Adagio and Piazza music were excellent. Sore point  unlike many ships, there was no real piano bar that folks could sit around and sing along. Very sensible smoking policy with good isolation (other than casino); bars sell loose packs. Cigar Bar was excellent and well appreciated by a regular crowd of 10 men. Duty Free Shop  worst we have ever seen  can't even get a large bag of chips? Poor liquor selection. Cannot buy a carton of cigarettes for use on board (another first). However, this was more than offset with a liberal policy of bringing duty free alcohol and cigarettes on board and drinking it did not have to check them in at the gangway at each port. Ports of call - didn't really interest me and even stayed on board for St Thomas. Tortola was fun for a day trip. Loved old San Juan. Took no fours. I had the misfortune of passing a kidney stone ever early on Saturday morning and was in the worst pain. The ship's nurse retrieved Dr Salmon from her morning shower who gently examined me straight away in the very modern and well-equipped medical center  better than most out patient facilities. Not really much to be done about me but ease the pain. Very luckily the stone passed an hour later. Cost me 80$, including the Vicodin. Favorite moments; Leaving NY was simply the best; lounging in our minisuite and balcony; Adagio for cocktails; Stern deck outside Adagio, especially for smokers  usually empty at night and plenty of lounges in the day; dinner with our party, Cigar lounge; walking the promenade deck after dinner; San Juan is the best port of call; returning through New York Harbor at dawn. Worst moments - Disembarkation at San Juan  the fact that you have clear immigration here, an American port, is nothing short of ridiculous, as was the approach to ease the pain taken by Princess staff. You are given a time slot but you can also go earlier if you like and guess what, everyone did. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Now that I have returned home, took a nice long shower in a normal-sized tub,and visited my chiropractor I would like to give my impressions of my Crown Princess experience. First, I want to praise the crew and the passengers both with and ... Read More
Now that I have returned home, took a nice long shower in a normal-sized tub,and visited my chiropractor I would like to give my impressions of my Crown Princess experience. First, I want to praise the crew and the passengers both with and with out medical training for working together to make sure everyone was okay. Many of the passengers knocked on cabin doors to make sure everyone was all right or to find out if they needed medical attention. When the need arose everybody worked as a team. The Crown is a beautiful ship, not glitzy but elegant. All the entertainment, shops and service restaurants are located on decks 5,6 and 7. The layout of the ship was good and convenient. There was good traffic flow. Due to the newness of the ship, many of the staff / crew were not familiar with the layout and amenities of the ship. The two production shows we saw were good. We also enjoyed the piano player in the Crooners Bar (along with 52 types of Martinis) as well as the one in Adagio. The country night was very disappointing,and the disco was ok. The entertainment around the pool was limited. The best entertainment we found was the Movies Under the Stars around one of the main pools. You could watch movies all day, while swimming. In the evening they covered the lounges, put out blankets and served popcorn. It was great fun to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show under the stars at midnight. Make sure you get to the pools early. Many people were hogging the better chair locations and then disappeared for hours. Some even took chairs in two locations and never used the chairs at all. Even though there was a 30 minute limit regarding unused chairs, it was not enforced. Children, for the most part, were well behaved and controlled by their parents. There are several pools and hot tubs around the ship. Santuary, which is a child free area charges $15:00 for each half day or around 4 hours. The food both in the dining room and the buffets were excellent. We also found that the dining staff were extremely friendly and accommodating. We did not eat in the two premium restaurants, Sabbitini's (Fine Italian)or Crown Grill (steaks and chops). We were thoroughly satisfied with the anytime dining in the Da Vinci and Michelangelo Dining Rooms. The charges in the premium restaurants ranged from $20.00 to $25.00 with an extra $7.00 if you want lobster. There was a wine and sushi bar (Vines). The sushi was limited in what was pre-made so you could not be sure how long it was sitting out. There was a $1.00 a piece charge. The international cafe served great cookies, sandwiches and certain desserts free of charge. There was a charge for gelato, ice cream and coffee/tea, unless you had it with dinner or during the buffet. Pizza was made fresh and tasted great. They had a grill that made fresh hot dogs(ok) and hamburgers(overcooked and tasted like hockey pucks). We took a cabin with a Balcony for the 1st time after 10 previous cruises. We were was very satisfied with the cabin. The exception was the shower. Who ever designed the shower should be shot, it was so tiny, that you had to be a contortionist or very creative to get clean. It was surprising that a cabin with so many comforts and amenities should have such a poorly designed shower. Excursions: We took the semisub/snorkeling in Grand Turk. Forget about it. Go have a drink and a Cheeseburger in Paradise at Margaritaville and have it while sitting in the pool. Ocho Rios, even though the excursion was poorly organized, the Dolphin Encounter/Dunns Falls are not to be missed. Just be careful of all the pushy locals and the drug pushers. Two teens from our cruise, got busted. At Grand Cayman don't miss the turtle farm and stingray swim. It was great hands on experience. All in all, other than an exciting end to the cruise, charging for some things that should have been included and little inconveniences here and there, it was a most enjoyable trip. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Crown Princess 07/02/06 - 07/11/06 Eastern Caribbean itinerary NYC (Red Hook) Brooklyn pier departure Travelers: Marshal (46), Patti (45), our daughter Sarah (17/18), and Marshal's mom Elaine (69) from Pittsburgh, PA area Cruise ... Read More
Crown Princess 07/02/06 - 07/11/06 Eastern Caribbean itinerary NYC (Red Hook) Brooklyn pier departure Travelers: Marshal (46), Patti (45), our daughter Sarah (17/18), and Marshal's mom Elaine (69) from Pittsburgh, PA area Cruise history (Marshal and Patti): Celebrity: Horizon ('96), Century ('98), Mercury ('99), Infinity ('02), Constellation ('04) RCCL: Grandeur of the Seas ('01-also Sarah), Explorer of the Seas ('05) NCL: Sun ('02-also Sarah and Elaine) HAL: Zuiderdam ('03 and '05) Princess: Grand ('03-also Sarah), Golden ('04) Itinerary: Day 1  Depart NYC 5:00pm (but not really) Day 2  at sea Day 3  at sea Day 4  Grand Turk 7:00am-2:00pm (but not really) Day 5  San Juan, Puerto Rico 9:00am-6:00pm Day 6  St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 7:00am-3:00pm Day 7  at sea Day 8  Bermuda (West End/Dockyards) 9:00am-5:00pm Day 9  at sea Day 10  Arrive NYC 7:15am Cabin Info: We had 2 cabins on Aloha deck 12  Category BD (balcony) cabin A243 for Elaine and Sarah who were both celebrating birthdays on the cruise, and Category JJ (inside) cabin A245 for Marshal and Patti. Arrival and embarkation info: Our alarm rang at 3:50am on departure day (after going to bed around 12:45am!) and we loaded up the car and drove from Pittsburgh to Mercer (about an hour north) to pick up Elaine. We then drove straight across PA on I-80 to NYC and arrived at the Red Hook Pier in Brooklyn at 12:35pm. We handed our luggage over to the baggage handlers and joined the line to enter the terminal at about 12:45pm. The line was much longer than it first seemed, as it wound into the terminal and snaked back out before getting to the part of the terminal where we needed to enter. Marshal parked the car and joined us in line. (We were able to park quite close to the terminal.) It took us 1.5 hours to get from the end of the line to our cabin, which didn't surprise me as we had arrived at the peak of the crowds. We skipped the embarkation photo (who wants a photo of someone who has only had 3 hours of sleep and has been riding in the car for the past 8 hours??) and the cruise card photo was taken at the entrance to the ship. Getting through the check-in process seemed to take a while, even though we had filled out all of the forms online ahead of time. The Cabins: Our inside cabin seemed much smaller than other ships that we've been on. Perhaps we're just not used to having an inside cabin  the only other one we had was on the NCL Sun, but I don't remember it being this small. Our kids were in an inside on the Grand and I don't think that cabin was this small either. Upon entering the cabin, we were in a short hall. Off to the left was an alcove  as you turned and entered the alcove the bathroom door was on your left and a tall, narrow cupboard with a door was straight ahead. On your right is the area for hanging clothes, with a shelf above and shoe space below. This area does not have a door on it. The tall cupboard contained the safe and (I think) 4 other shelves. These shelves were deep and held a lot. We quickly found out that anyone coming out of the bathroom needs to be careful opening the door in case the other person is standing at the tall cupboard where the safe is  the bathroom door will hit the person if the door is opened all the way. Past this alcove where the bathroom and closet are you practically run into a small round table. There really isn't space enough in the inside cabin for this table, but we sure used it for a lot! Beyond this table is the bed with a nightstand on each side (each nightstand has 2 drawers and a shelf). To the left of the round table is a desk/make-up area with a chair, the TV, the refrigerator and another storage cupboard with 2 shelves. There are also many mirrors in the room  one over the desk, a large one behind the bed, one in the short hallway near the cabin door (full length  very nice to have) and one in the bathroom. Lighting in the room is much better than I remember it being on some other ships. We didn't have trouble seeing to get clothes out of the closet and there is a nice set of lights over the desk to use for makeup. The hair dryer is also in this area, but I brought my own as I have long hair and the cabin dryers are not powerful enough for me. The bathroom is tiny  a shower with a curved opening is to the right as you enter the bathroom, then the commode at an angle, and the sink/mirror is on your left. There are shelves on one side above the sink to hold your toiletries. The only thing that can be plugged in the bathroom outlet is a razor (or a nightlight). Hair dryers and curling irons must be plugged in near the desk. The water coming out of the sink faucet in our cabin wasn't much more than a trickle at the beginning of the cruise  by the end, it seemed like it had increased a bit, but still wasn't a full stream of water like it should have been. Water pressure in the shower was great and there is a separate control for the water temperature so you can figure out how hot you like it and set it for that temperature every time. Marshal liked the inside cabin because it was very dark and he slept more soundly, but I really missed the balcony we usually have. Sarah and Elaine were across the hall in A243 and it was a very similar setup to ours, except a mirror image. I actually never looked at their bathroom, but I assume it was the same size as ours (and they didn't have the problem with the sink faucet like we had). The twin beds in their room were along the right wall so that they had access to the balcony and the desk area was beyond the beds on the same wall while the TV and refrigerator were opposite these on the left wall. They had 2 chairs in their cabin and more room to move around. Their balcony was fully covered and had a small table and 2 small silver chairs on it. My mother-in-law was having problems with her sciatic nerve and had trouble sitting in any of the chairs in her cabin or on the balcony. When Sarah and Elaine had their balcony door open, there was a horrible noise in the cabin  Sarah said that when she pushed up on the area over the balcony door the noise lessened, so I don't know if it is a structural defect or what. I'm sure the bugs will all be worked out eventually! The Ship: This wasn't our favorite ship as far as the way it is laid out. It is an absolutely gorgeous ship, but the things that we love on a ship were missing. We like to sit on lounge chairs in the shade and this ship has very few of those available (there are a gazillion lounge chairs in the sun, but not much shade to be found, even to move a chair to). There are a few near each of the 2 center pools, but those always disappeared very quickly. They seemed to be taken by sun lovers and then the people who saved them would sit out in the sun by the pool all day long and the chair would remain virtually empty all day long except for towels and books. The only day we were able to get a couple of lounge chairs was the day it was pouring rain. People had saved the chairs with their towels, as usual, but after the rain soaked everything the deck hands removed them. Many days the Princess Patter contained this statement: "As a courtesy to your fellow passengers, there will be no reservation of Deck Loungers. Personal items and towels left unattended for 30 minutes will be removed. The claim desk for removed items is located midship on Lido Deck 15 Port side." However, this was not enforced. When Marshal asked a deck hand about it, the deck hand told him they couldn't do anything about it. Marshal spoke to someone at the Service Desk about the problem and the person told him it wasn't a problem  that the deck hands remove things after 30 minutes. He even showed Marshal where that policy was printed in the Patter and didn't understand that it doesn't do any good if it's not enforced. Oh, well& The other area on a ship where we can usually find lounge chairs in the shade is the Promenade deck. On the Crown, there are no lounge chairs there, only straight-back chairs (although the backs do recline) without anyplace to put your feet up. People were taking 2 chairs and sitting on one and putting their feet up on another one in order to have the effect of a lounge chair in the shade. I joined them a couple of days when I got tired of sitting in the hard plastic chairs on the pool deck, but with everyone using 2 chairs the chairs are in short supply on the Promenade deck. Ok  I'll get off my lounge-chairs-in-the-shade soapbox now. I know we can't be the only ones who need/want to be in the shade though, so I thought I'd better explain the situation on the Crown. The Passengers and the Pools: As we expected the majority of the passengers were from the NYC/NJ area. The age range ran the gamut from babies to 80+ year olds and I'm guessing that the median age was somewhere in the 40's. We had 500 kids/teens on board our cruise. I didn't notice any kids running wild, but the noise level near the pools was certainly high (not sure it was only the kids making the noise though). There are Youth Security personnel wandering the ship in yellow shirts and they seemed to do a good job keeping the kids out of the adults only pools (which are the aft pool and the swim-against-the-current pool). They didn't, however, make the kids get out of the hot tubs at the 2 center pools, even though there were signs at each hot tub indicating they were for Adults Only. Pools were very crowded on sea days. Sarah and I wanted to swim in the current pool one day, but Marshal said it was so full of adults just standing in the water that there wouldn't have been room to swim. We did swim there a couple of days though, and it was fun. There are only about 10-12 lounge chairs near this pool, mostly in the sun (depending on time of day and which way the ship is headed, loungers on one side might be in the shade). The Sanctuary is above this pool and looks awesome, but we didn't spend the $15/half day to sit there. The Entertainment: Most of the bars/lounges where shows are held are on deck 7, the Promenade deck. Club Fusion is aft, then the Explorer's Lounge, Crooners Bar, Wheelhouse Bar and the Princess Theater. If you are interested in going to the 8:30 shows, you need to get there early to get a seat. The shows that were in the Explorers Lounge, in particular, filled up quickly and the seats in the back do not offer a good view of the stage area. They had an entertainer who performed upside-down a lot, and I couldn't see anything that he was doing from where I was sitting. We went to most of the shows in the Princess Theater and several in the Explorers Lounge. Here are the shows that were on our cruise: Sunday  Princess Theater: Welcome Aboard Showtime (comedian Steve Morris) --- Steve started out slowly, but was very funny by the end of the show. Monday  Princess Theater: Production Show "Destination Anywhere"; Explorer's Lounge: Comedy Showtime (Comedy Impressionist Mark Verselli) --- We went to see Destination Anywhere  it was very well done. We didn't see the impressionist. Tuesday  Princess Theater: Production Show "Destination Anywhere", Comedy Showtime (Steve Morris); Explorer's Lounge: Variety Showtime (Steve Patient) --- Steve Patient put on an awesome juggling/comedy show. Later in the week, Steve taught a juggling class in the Piazza and Sarah learned how to juggle. Wednesday  Princess Theater: Celebrity Showtime (Glenn Smith); Explorer's Lounge: Variety Showtime (Magic of Eric Bedard and Physical Comedy of Uber Rossi) --- We weren't impressed by either of the shows in Explorer's Lounge. The magician didn't seem to really do much magic and Uber Rossi was upside down a lot and couldn't be seen by anyone who wasn't in the first 2 rows of the lounge. We didn't go to hear Glenn Smith, the "dynamic entertainer" from Las Vegas. Thursday  Princess Theater: Comedy Showtime (Steven Scott); Tropical Island Night deck party at Neptune's Pool --- I'm having trouble remembering which comedian this was  sorry! We stopped by the Tropical Deck Party, but didn't stick around very long. Friday  Princess Theater: Gala Showtime (Annette Wardell  opera singer), International Crew Show; Explorer's Lounge: Maurizio in Concert --- Annette Wardell was an awesome singer and put on a wonderful performance (and I'm not a huge opera fan). The crew show is not to be missed. We didn't go to hear Maurizio. Saturday  Princess Theater: Motor City production show; Explorer's Lounge: Variety Showtime (Bob Arno) --- We didn't care for the Motor City show. In our opinion, it was not up to the level of the other production show, but some of the people near me seemed to really like it. Bob Arno is the "World's Only Legal Pickpocket" and was very funny and informative. Sunday  Princess Theater: Celebrity Showtime with Antonio Salci in Concert; Explorer's Lounge: Comedy Showtime (Kenny Byrd) --- We didn't attend the concert so I can't comment on it. Kenny Byrd ("Ventriloquist with a Twist") was hilarious and is not to be missed if he is on your cruise. Monday  Princess Theater: Farewell Showtime (Comedy & Characters of Ralph Harris) --- This guy was hilarious! In addition to the entertainers, there were many options to choose from if you wanted to listen to music or dance or participate in games. Each day there was a schedule of entertainment in the Piazza. There were jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, body balancers, towel folding demonstrations, chocolate demonstrations, etc. Sarah liked to stop by and see what was happening there throughout the day. The Food: Well, if you are someone who likes French toast or pancakes in the buffet in the morning you'll probably be disappointed. The French toast looked and tasted like it was deep-fried instead of cooked on a griddle. In our opinion it was not edible. The pancakes were not much better. We ended up going to the dining room for breakfast everyday, something we've never done on any other ship. There were fried eggs (over easy) in the buffet, kept warm under heat lamps, which were tasty and the sugar doughnuts were good. There were no "kid-friendly" cereals in the buffet  the only ones we saw were "bland and boring" according to my daughter. She was interested in Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes or Rice Krispies or something similar and they had Corn Flakes and Shredded Wheat instead. There was a larger selection of cereal in the dining room (Rice Krispies, Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran). I'm a fairly picky eater, as is Sarah, so we tended to eat pizza, or hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. Marshal and Elaine sometimes ate at the buffet and other times ate pizza or burgers. Marshal kept hoping to find some Mexican food on the buffet for lunch, but never found any. From what I've read, he may have needed to look in the Café Caribe to find the Mexican food. We signed up for anytime dining and ate all our dinners in the Michelangelo dining room. We tended to head to dinner between 6:30 and 7:00pm and never had to wait for a table. We asked for Dan and Mihai's table every night and they were an awesome wait team. We had the best service! They quickly learned what we liked and went out of their way to get us what we wanted. Sarah asked for a plate of raw carrot sticks the first night and they would ask every night if she wanted them again. We tended to like the white rolls best and they always had extra white rolls for us. Marshal and Sarah never ran out of iced tea and Coke, and every time I took a sip of water, one of them appeared to refill my glass! If you have the good fortune to be at their table, tell them we said hello& The food in the dining room for dinner was quite good. Dan would tell us every night which were the best dishes to order, so that may have been part of the reason that we had very few meals that we didn't like. On the second formal night we were unable to get a seat in their area. We hadn't made reservations because we hadn't needed to up until then. We ended up at another server's station (a grumpy Portuguese waiter whose country had just lost the soccer game!). I ordered Beef Wellington that night and was disappointed in it (Dan wasn't there to recommend the good stuff!). The Fettuccine Alfredo was delicious and I often ordered a small portion to eat before my main course. Marshal tried several different pasta dishes as sides before his main course and he loved most of them. The chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven that are at the International Café are awesome! I highly recommend them! The ice cream bar, Scoops, was very reasonable priced. I guess there was free ice cream sometimes in the buffet? I never saw any, but I didn't look very hard either. Activities: There are many things to do during the day, ranging from ceramics to mini golf to basketball to dance lessons to quizzes and puzzles and the list goes on and on. Sarah and I painted ceramics one day and that was fun. There is an extra charge for the ceramics. We painted them on the first sea day, but didn't get them back until the last evening and they were warm so they must have just fired them. One of Sarah's coasters had gotten some paint dripped on it from someone else's item and it had a couple of other marks on it that weren't there when we painted them. They do warn you not to get any paint on the ridge that sticks up on the bottom of your piece, as it will stick to the kiln and your piece will break when it's fired. The Ports: NYC: Well, by now most of you probably know that our cruise was delayed due to a problem with the fuel. We didn't leave NYC until almost 1:00am. The captain came on the speaker (even in the cabins) at about 12:40am to let everyone know that the fuel was loaded, the ship was about to leave, and that we would miss Grand Turk and be compensated $200. per person because of it. I'm not real sure why he had to tell us this when he did  we had gone to bed a couple of hours earlier (we still hadn't caught up on the sleep we missed the previous night and were exhausted after our long drive). I can understand that he didn't want people to get upset if they didn't know we were leaving and missed the sailaway, but for those of us that were sleeping it was not fun. I had really been looking forward to sailing out of the NY Harbor, but just couldn't stay awake when we were delayed. The compensation was unexpected and we're grateful that they gave it to us. I would rather have seen the sailaway and gone to Grand Turk, but now we have a good reason to cruise out of NYC again! We've been on other cruises that have missed ports of call and not been given anything for it. Our total bill ended up being something like $82.00 for 4 of us, so the extra $800.00 came in handy! San Juan: Sarah and I took a Princess excursion and went horseback riding near the rainforest. It was lots of fun! The scenery was beautiful and we were in and out under the trees so we weren't out in the hot sun the whole time. Our only complaint was that they took 40 of us out on the trail at the same time. The horses did not respond well to the reins; they seemed to be trained to respond to the whistles and "noises" made by our guides. When they whistled at them, the horses would speed up and trot for a couple of minutes. The paths were narrow  only wide enough in most places for 2-3 horses to be side by side. With so many in the group, other horses were constantly running us into when they decided they wanted to move ahead in the pack. I lost track of the number of times that my legs were smashed by other horses. And, even though the minimum age was listed as 12, there were quite a few younger kids who didn't even try to steer their horses away from other people, which made things more difficult. We let Princess know that 40 horses in the group was twice as many as what there should have been  I hope they take heed and fix this. I ended up with bruises on the inside of both of my calves. Marshal took his mom around Old San Juan. They took a cab up to the fort and then wandered back down through some of the shops to the ship. St. Thomas: This was a shopping day for us. We spent the morning downtown and Sarah and I took a few minutes to hunt down a cache near the ship (http://www.geocaching.com/ in case you don't know what I'm talking about). Bermuda: This was our favorite stop. We really didn't get to see much of Bermuda as we stayed right in the Dockyard area, but we took the Segway tour of the Dockyards and had an absolute blast! Sarah and I have wanted to try riding on a Segway ever since we first heard about them and when we found out there were tours in Bermuda, Marshal called and made arrangements to go (http://www.bermuda.com/activities/segwaytours/). Calling wasn't necessary as the yellow double-decker bus that Robert runs his business out of is easy to find as you get off the ship. He was even on the pier on his Segway, drumming up business, when we got off the ship. Robert was an excellent tour guide and was very knowledgeable about the area, as he grew up in Bermuda. He took us into the Maritime Museum and around the Dockyard area and gave us a great history lesson. The best part was riding on the Segway though! And now we have a good reason to go back to Bermuda so we can see the rest of the island! Disembarkation: We arrived back in NYC around 4:15am. I happened to wake up and decided to turn on the TV to the Princess cam to see where we were. I watched us approach a bridge (Verrazano?) and watched for about 30 minutes. I wish I'd been awake enough to go up on deck and watch the whole approach. The Crown Princess offers passengers the chance to sign up for Express Walk-Off Disembarkation. You need to register for this ahead of time, but if you sign up, you are the first ones off the ship. You must carry your own luggage though. You don't put your luggage out in the hall like you normally would on the last night of the cruise. You keep it all in your cabin and when your color number is called the following morning you make your way down to the exit with your luggage and you're off! The hardest part of this system is trying to get an elevator to put your luggage on. Every elevator that stopped on our deck was already full of people and luggage. We finally got on one that was going up and then rode it all the way to the top and back down. The lines of people trying to get off the ship were huge  lots of people must have opted for the Express Walk-off. There appear to be a few bugs in the system, but we were off the ship and on our way out of the parking lot by about 8:25am (our number was called about 7:50). The parking cost $164 and we paid with our Visa card as we drove out of the parking lot. If you are someone who keeps his credit card in a wallet in your hip pocket and your credit card is bent, it will get stuck in the machine. Try to use a card that is nice and flat. Overall impression: The Crown Princess is a beautiful ship! I don't know that we'll book this ship again, however, as the lack of lounge chairs in the shade is something that was a problem for us  we go on cruises to sit in lounge chairs and read and we want to be comfortable. We are more likely to book one of the ships that have a covered pool where there is plenty of shade. There is always something going on and it is easy to stay entertained. If you're a sun lover, then the Crown Princess is for you! Enjoy! Patti Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
The headline here is that Crown Princess is a beautiful ship, incredible in every detail, but there are many kinks to be worked out after the recent listing incident. We departed on July 29 from the brand spanking new Brooklyn Cruise ... Read More
The headline here is that Crown Princess is a beautiful ship, incredible in every detail, but there are many kinks to be worked out after the recent listing incident. We departed on July 29 from the brand spanking new Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Wow! What a great experience for us. We live in Manhattan, so it was literally 45 minutes from our door to our cabin. The facility is modern, and embarkation was a breeze! Amazing. We will look to New York cruises more often now. There is still some visible damage to the CP after the near disaster of several weeks ago. Some shattered window panels on the pool deck still not replaced, and several cabins still uninhabitable (pool water rushed in). Upon boarding we asked a crew member "How was it?" referring to the listing incident. They turned white as a ghost (not a reassuring sign). We also learned that the ship listed about 30 degrees, not the 15 we had read in news reports. Just a few more degrees and the ship would have capsized. OK, back to our cruise. Several elevators were also still out of service, which made wait times intolerable. Cabin: Excellent. Food: Over the top excellent. We had the best food on this cruise, and we have sailed many times. Staff: a little surly, not as friendly as past Princess cruises. But they warmed up over the week, Still stinging from their near death experience no doubt. Good: The Sanctuary, Gym (no fees for classes!), cuisine, and dining room staff Not so Good: Plumbing issues, LIFTS that well, don't Still, a great cruise. Why we will continue to sail with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
From the EXQUISITE Crown Princess. EXQUISITE Crown Princess. Beautiful ship. Cabin was gorgeous and roomy. Plenty of closet and shelf space. This is the first time I could totally unpack and hang up my husband's and my clothing. ... Read More
From the EXQUISITE Crown Princess. EXQUISITE Crown Princess. Beautiful ship. Cabin was gorgeous and roomy. Plenty of closet and shelf space. This is the first time I could totally unpack and hang up my husband's and my clothing. AWESOME bedding. We did ask the cabin stewart for the eggcrate padding and he quickly added it to the bedding. Thanks Regie. The only downfall to the cabins (everyone was complaining) was the shower's size. You'll see what I mean. 20" TV in our cabin. DH loved that, not the channel selection though. Good and plenty movies just a limited amount of channels. As I said the ship is awesome and what a smooth ride. The crew were great (only a few could use some happy juice or something). But the majority were wonderful and aimed to please. Entertainment was alright. Robert Smith. was awesome at poolside and at Explorer's. Sarge was wonderful! We attended only two of the shows in the Princess Theater and they were good. We also enjoyed the Crew's International Show. Just wish the Cruise Director's Staff would allow more of the crew to perform. Only four crew members performed. But in all it was good. The bands that performed were also good. We went into the casino a couple of times and just for fun played a few slots. Like I said, just for fun. Dining: We mostly ate in Cafe Caribe. We did go to the dining rooms Michelangelo's and Davinci and they were good also. But the food in Cafe Caribe was wonderful, no waiting, we watched the sunset, lots of variety, eat at your own pace because you served yourself. If you found something you really enjoyed, just serve yourself a little more if you like. Wine and other drinks were offered by a evening dressed wait staff. It was great! We just enjoyed Cafe Caribe as a dinner option. Horizons and Cafe Caribe was also the choice for breakfast though it did get a little boring for my dh with the same choices day after day. (He's a picky eater.) But to me the choices were many and plentiful so don't be put off by that. Pizza was great, especially during MUTS. Trident Grills burger and fries were good. Especially the fries. Haven't had fries that good in a while. Make sure you have the cheesecake in the dining rooms. We would go down from Cafe Caribe (deck 15) to one of the dining rooms just to have the cheesecake for desert. It wasn't a problem at all. And we did have the chocolate chip cookies everyone raved about. They we're good! It was hard keeping dh away from them. Ports: Grand Turk What a beautiful day we had there. Hot and sunny. We didn't do an excursion. We just ventured out on our own. This island seems to be up and coming. Margaritaville was very nice. The swim up pool was a blast. The beach was nice, but rocky. I think it has potential in the future. Ocho Rios We've been to Jamaica many times so since it was a cloudy and very humid day we did some shopping, visited Margaritaville there and headed back to the ship where we could really enjoy this jewel. Grand Cayman We did an independent city tour. We stopped by the turtle farm and also visited the place called Hell. We were told that the snorkeling was great there but we don't snorkel. Port Canaveral Been here many times also so we didn't venture off the ship. Again a great day just taking our time enjoying all the ship has to offer, leisurely lunches, plenty of open lounges, hot tubs and pools. Crew was falling over themselves waiting on the passengers who stayed on the ship and there were quite a few. MUTS (Movies Under The Stars) We both loved it! We watched quite a few movies under the stars (even though one movie "Inside Man" was cut short( will tell you about it below). During the day the movies played without sound but they made available for $2.50 an small receiver with headphones that worked great. The decor of the ship is just awesome. There are still a few little minor quirks that need to be worked out. Tip: Bring air freshener for your bathrooms. ;-) Embarkation: Brooklyn Red Hook Cruise Terminal We live in NJ so we took the train over then took a cab to the cruise terminal. Princess may have a small problem and I reported this to one of the Princess employee's because in trying to catch a cab outside of Penn Station on 7th Ave, I remembered CC members posting to make sure the cab driver knows how to get to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Well we asked ten (10) cab drivers along with the man who assists you in getting a cab if they knew how to get there and they all said "No". Finally one cab driver stepped up and said he knew exactly where it was and gladly took us. He told us that all of the cab drivers know how to get there, they just don't want to go there. My husband and I were guessing that they didn't want to go at that hour (it was about 9:30 am) because it was so busy in midtown. But still this doesn't hold good for Princess. A Princess employee said she would definitely report it. (More below) Embarkation: We finally get to the cruise terminal and we see passengers who have just gotten off the Crown. Everything runs pretty smoothly at the new cruise terminal. Areas are cordoned off for everything whether you are dropping off, picking up, getting a car service or taxi. Very organized. We were dropped off by our taxi, fare was $25.00 including the bridge toll and because he was nice enough to step forward and bring us we tipped him $10.00. Got inside the terminal where Princess is located, we were early so they weren't signing anyone in yet. While we were waiting this is when I had the opportunity to speak to a Princess employee about our taxi situation. I loved the restrooms, they were unisex. So the men had to wait too. LOL Passengers started lining up, we went through security screening, they scanned all of the baggage you carried with you and then we got in line to be issued our sail and cruise cards, and whatever else they needed to get you signed in. (ex. your passport, etc.) We were given a number and shown an area to wait to board the ship. Nice big spacious area with 52" flat screen TV's to watch. The only thing is I would suggest everyone bring a sweater or jacket. As warm as it was the day we were leaving it was freezing in that area. The air conditioner was blowing so hard the ladies hair was being blown in all directions. After awhile we searched for a corner to get out of the draft. Other than that the cruise terminal was great. We all then boarded the Crown Princess when they called our number (we had number one, early birds). Disembarkation: We got all of our forms and instructions a day ahead of time so we filled out what we needed to and tagged our luggage accordingly. We were doing Express Disembarkation so we had navy tags with the number 3. At first we headed down to the Explorer's Lounge to await our number to be called. But in my husband's travels he found out that many of the Express passenger's waiting to get off were down on Deck 6 so we headed down there. Quite a few anxious passenger's waiting to get off but we all waited patiently. They let the Platinum passengers off first and then they started call the Express passengers by number. We went right through customs with no problem. Were directed to the taxi stand across the street to awaiting taxis. Plenty of security around and by 8:50 we were at Penn Station waiting for our train. Walked in the door at our house at 10:00 am. For us this was a wonderful cruise for our first time with Princess Cruises and we look forward to sailing with them again. Oh....yeah, while we were waiting for the ship to dock at the port, I spoke to a brand new ship's crew member. Said it was his first ship and sailing experience. He is from England and every time the ship comes into the NY Harbor he loves to be on deck watching the Statue Of Liberty as she goes by. Gives him a thrill every time. He also said that he sailed on the Crown Princess out of Italy! Wow, what an experience he said. He got to be involved in all of the celebrations. He is also going to sail out of Italy again when Crown Princesses sister ship "Emerald" sails out next March 2007. Looking forward to our next cruise on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
Background information -- Were 57 and 53 and our children are 20 and 16. This was our seventh cruise and our first on Princess after 3 on NCL and 3 on Holland America. Were pretty low-key and love HAL, but HAL is no longer sailing in the ... Read More
Background information -- Were 57 and 53 and our children are 20 and 16. This was our seventh cruise and our first on Princess after 3 on NCL and 3 on Holland America. Were pretty low-key and love HAL, but HAL is no longer sailing in the Caribbean in the summertime, so we thought wed try Princess. It has a great reputation, and we thought it would be fun to try a larger ship and anytime dining. Travel to port of embarkation -- We always like to arrive at the port city a day ahead of time, both to ease stress and give us an extra day of vacation. We drove to Manhattan the day before and treated ourselves to an Italian dinner and a Broadway show. We then drove to Red Hook the next morning, checking out at 10 a.m. Despite directions from both Cunard and Mapquest websites, we got lost (signage was very poor) but eventually got to the port by 11 a.m. There was plenty of parkingin fact, when we sailed, the lot was only half full. Check-in was smooth as silk, and then we waited comfortably in the terminal until boarding began shortly after noon. Our rooms were immediately available. Hotel info -- We stayed the night before at the Hampton Inn Manhattan Times Square North. It was very clean and comfortable, a short walk to restaurants and Broadway theaters, and offered a very nice complementary breakfast in the morning. Stateroom -- We stayed in Baja 246, a standard balcony room, and our children were right across the hall in Baja 248, a standard inside room. The Baja deck was a good locationmidway between decks 7 and 15, where most of the action is, so we were able to walk rather than take elevators. Our rooms were immaculate. In addition to beds, our rooms were furnished with two night tables with sizable storage space, a desk with some more storage space, a small cabinet that held a small refrigerator, a desk chair, a chair with arms, and a small round table. The staterooms were small (and the bathrooms miniscule) and the chairs and space not really conducive to relaxing. We had a long closet rod with plenty of hangers but just a few small shelves, so we hung as many clothes as possibleincluding T-shirtson hangers. Our balcony comfortably accommodated two chairs and a large round table, all in wire meshperfect for a relaxing room service breakfast. Ship info -- The Crown Princess is the most beautiful ship weve been on in seven cruises. Take a special note of the flooringthe carpets and tiles in the public areas are simply magnificent! Many of the public areas are finished in warm, light wood tones that add a real note of refined elegance. The Crown was more than twice as big as any ship wed ever cruised before, but it has so many public areas that it never felt crowded (except in the pool areas, which we avoided). We all agreed, however, that we like smaller ships better. We found it hard to remember where everything is located, and its quite a hike to get anywhere. I wore a pedometer on one day at sea, and I walked over seven miles! Just getting from our room at the forward end to the Caribe Cafe for an early morning cup of coffee was a quarter mile walk (taking the stairs rather than the elevator). For such a large ship, however, we were disappointed by the lack of quiet indoor spaces, shaded outdoor spaces, and a game room. We love to read and play board games on cruises, and we had a hard time finding comfortable spaces to do this. We were also disappointed that the outdoor promenade deck is so narrowit made brisk walking difficult. The new piazza area at the bottom of the atrium is a wonderful innovation! Princess keeps it hopping with fun demonstrations, street performers, and elegant live music. The International Cafe is open 24 hours and has wonderful food not available anywhere else on the ship, including donuts and pastries in the morning, and salads and sandwiches as lunchtime, and awesome fresh baked cookies most of the day. The Vines wine bar is also a nice innovation. Twice we treated ourselves to a pre-dinner flight of three wine samples, which was great fun. One disappointment here: the only complementary beverage available in the piazza area to go with all these great treats is watera cup of regular coffee costs $1. Dining -- A split decision here: I love to try all kinds of food, and I thought the food everywhere was great. I dont expect top-flight gourmet food from kitchens cranking out meals for over 3,000 people, and the food exceeded my expectationseverything I tried tasted delicious. I mostly had fish for dinner, and it was always perfectly prepared The rest of my family, however, prefers simple meat-and-potatoes type cooking and was frustrated by the lack of items to their liking, even in the Horizon Court/Caribe Cafe. The only chicken entree offered the entire week, for example, was plain roast chicken; the side dishes never included things like peas or plain mashed potatoes; and the soups never included basic comfort foods like ordinary chicken noodle or vegetable beef. Yes, there were always hamburgers and pizza available for lunch and always steak and plain roast chicken for dinner, but these got boring after a few days. And the steaks were our only dining disappointment: my husband and son like them medium-well, which the kitchen seems incapable of preparing. Every steak they ordered arrived well done if not leathery. They tried ordering medium but those arrived medium rare. We all agreed, however, that the desserts were awesomethe best weve ever had on a cruise -- beautiful and delicious! Activities -- We played Scattergories, went to the cooking show, saw the Price is Almost Right, and played in a couple of music trivia games (my husband won the '50s music trivia contest!). All were great funthe staff did a great job getting us all to laugh even when we scored a zero in Scattergoriesand we wish Princess had even more of these kinds of activities. We also went to a couple of the Scholarship@Sea lectures on old movies that were okay. While Movies Under the Sun/Stars is a great innovation and lots of fun, because kids are always around its pretty much limited to light family entertainment. My son saw "Capote" and "Good Night and Good Luck" in the Explorers Lounge, and we wish that more of these kinds of dramas were shown indoors during the day. Service -- The entire staff always greeted us cheerfully, and service was almost always prompt, courteous, and efficient. Some staff volunteered helpful information, such as explaining how Anytime Dining works. My major complaint with service is that Princess hides too many of its treasures under the proverbial bushel basket. The International Cafe and Horizon Court/Caribe Cafe have no menus posted, for example, and I couldnt get a floor plan of the ships decks, which would have been a great help navigating such a large ship. But the best/worst example of this is the free ice cream offered in the Horizon Court from 3:30-4:30 each day. There is no announcement of it in the Patter, and to get to it you must walk past a sign that says, This side closeduse other side!!! We were initially disappointed with the Anytime Dining staffwhile our waiters were professional, they were distant and seemed too busy to check if our food was too our liking. On our fourth night, however, we struck gold with Eugene and Valentin in the Michelangelo Dining Room, who were not only professional but warm and solicitous. We requested a table in their area every night for the rest of the cruise. Entertainment -- The entertainment on the Crown Princess was, overall, the best of any ship weve cruised! We ended up eating early just so we could see the shows in both the Princess Theater and the Explorers Lounge. We especially like what Princess calls variety entertainment: magicians, comedians, jugglers, and the like, and they were almost all great, especially comedians Rick Starr and Ross Bennett, juggler Randy Cabral, and pianist Glenn Smith. The best act by far, however, was hypnotist Steve Baynerwed never seen a hypnotist before and laughed until we cried! The one clunker was impressionist comedian Mark Verselli, who wasnt funny, didnt do good impressions, and had an amateurish delivery. Virtually no one laughed, and a lot of people walked out. The other entertainers were so good that we were wondering who hired this guy! Shore excursions -- We took only one shore excursion: the Champagne Catamaran Sail & Snorkel from St. Thomas to St. John. It was absolute heavena beautiful boat ride and the best snorkeling weve seena coral reef teaming with all kinds of beautiful fish. In San Juan, we simply got off the boat and walked around Old San Juan for a bit, enjoying the old architecture. At Grand Turk, we took a taxi into town and simply walked around for an hour. It was fascinatingmaybe one of the last chances to see a Caribbean island before it gets covered with glitzy hotels. The taxi drivers looked on themselves as tour guides and gave us a fascinating drive and narration of the islands culture and politics. Bermuda was our favorite stop, however. We took a ferry over to Hamilton, walked around, ogled the businessmen in their Bermuda shorts and had lunch, then took a bus back that drove by all the beautiful beaches along the south coast. What an incredibly lovely island! We cant wait to go back there. Disembarkation -- We were told that disembarkation would begin around 7:45 and that the staff aimed to have everyone ashore by 9:30, so we got the kids up at 6:30, ate breakfast at 7:30&.and waited. And waited. And waited. Disembarkation didnt begin until 8:30, and our color (about midway through the list) wasnt called until 10:30. We were asked to vacate our rooms after breakfast and wait in the public areas on the Promenade deck, which meant that 3,000 people were all crammed onto one floor. It was a miserable experiencepeople sitting on stairs, teens sleeping on the floor in the hallways, lots of luggage from people using the express walk-off option, bathrooms crowded and dirty. It felt like steerage on the Titanic! And to rub salt in the wound, the International Café was baking fresh cookies for the next cruise and wouldnt give us any!!! It was a shame to end such a great cruise on a sour note. Summary -- While not perfect--no vacation is!--this was a wonderful vacation and a fun cruise for us. Any shortcomings were minor and didnt keep us from having a great time. We would definitely consider another Princess cruise, especially if they add an all-Bermuda itinerary! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
This is our second cruise with Princess and our ninth overall. We traveled with three other members of our family, two of whom are confined to wheel chairs. Overall, the cruise was a disappointment. As we look forward to our yearly ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Princess and our ninth overall. We traveled with three other members of our family, two of whom are confined to wheel chairs. Overall, the cruise was a disappointment. As we look forward to our yearly cruise with my sister and family. We arrived via car at Red Hook and parking and entry to the ship went wonderful. Out of the car in on the ship in less than half an hour. No adjoining rooms with doors on this ship which is a small bother when traveling with friends and children. My sister had a mini suite which was very nice and our bal room was a bit small but nice. Did not see our steward, but I'm sure he will show up. Wanted two robes and could not get the safe to work, and the sink did not hold any water. On day two after still not seeing the steward I called down and they sent up someone to fix things. The safe needed a second visit as the batteries kept falling out inside the safe. The steward saw us that night and said hello. I had spilled some coffee on the floor going out to the bal and it stayed like that the whole cruise. Our room was not made up one night and we were displeased with the room service. New ship very good traffic flow. Never seemed to be a lot of people. One problem is that the Main dinning room is on 6 aft and the handicapped seating for shows is on six forward. You can not walk aft to forward on six so you need to take the lift up to seven go forward than back down to six. After dinning this can take up to half to three quarters of an hour with wheel chairs. The shows were very good. Much better than our last on RC. Overall, food and service in the dinning room was sub par. We had at least one item misordered at each meal. On four or five nights a course did not not show up at all. I did not withhold tips for the service but I did think about it. I know the ship had a tip a few months ago but there were a lot of things that did not work or were broken. Auto doors on deck 15 (8 in all) nuts and bolts all around. The children's pool was never opened. Went to the Crown Grill one night ($25) and the food was outstanding but it served as a reminded of how good the food used to be on ships. Pizza was v. good but I dislike having to pay for ice cream and $39 for a soda card is a rip off. Movies under the stars v.nice but with all the outside music and sounds not a lot of places to just relax. All in all a good but disappointing cruise. Stayed on ship in San Juan. Bermuda, St Thomas, nice. (did some snorkeling and swimming). Turks very pretty but nothing there. Did not see any fish at all. The return was good but disembarking took hours. We arrived in port at 6:50 am and did not get off ship until after 12 noon. There was a shortage of Customs people. Not Princess' problem but they need to come up with better way of handling people. When long delays happen as you leave the ship, it's what your last memories are, and affects coming back, and I don't know if I will. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
During the Memorial Day Weekend the decision was made to go on a cruise. My wife and I had never been on a cruise but had heard wonderful stories from relatives who had been. My brother in law and wife had strongly recommended Princess ... Read More
During the Memorial Day Weekend the decision was made to go on a cruise. My wife and I had never been on a cruise but had heard wonderful stories from relatives who had been. My brother in law and wife had strongly recommended Princess Cruises, so after 3 days of studying everything there was to know about cruises, We decided on the Crown Princess. We left our home in NJ about 11am and arrived at the terminal at 12:15pm. Everything about embarkation was totally organized and well laid out. We drove to the ship,dropped off our luggage and parked our car (cost $164) and entered the terminal building. We were on the ship by 12:45pm. We proceeded to our room which was very nice, small but comfortable and well laid out. We were sharing the room with our two teenage children. We went to have lunch and took a tour of the ship. Later in the day we met our steward a terrific guy nicknamed Zaldi and then watched the ship leave port. The kids enjoyed the teen activities and made several Internet friends during their stay. They felt the counselors were very helpful and enjoyed the different activities that were arranged. We decided to book excursions for St.Thomas and West Bermuda. We tried booking excursions in Grand Turk but were shutout and just decided to take a taxi to town. ($5 per person for a 10 min. ride) We weren't really impressed, so after a short walk in town, we came back to the pier. We thought about going to Margaritaville, but decided we could have hamburgers for free on board and save the $12 burgers outside the ship. In St. Thomas we went on a ferry and bus tour of St. John. It was about 4-1/2 hrs and was very nice and well run. We never got to Bermuda because of bad weather conditions (hurricane) but, the ship refunded the charges for that excursion. The staff was wonderful, our waiter Radu and Guillermo were excellent. All of the staff was great except for a busboy in the Crown Grill who asked us what type of water we wanted with dinner. When we didn't want Pellagrino and were happy with tap water (the same water served in all the other dining rooms) he rolled his eyes and walked away. Thankfully, the waiter scowled at him and things settled down. The food was average the first four days, the breakfast buffets included a large selection of items, but it seems because of the large quantities of food produced at one time that quality sometimes slips. The French Toast was crispy, like a stale cookie. The pancakes were also crispy, and tasted like they had been there since June. We generally ordered the continental breakfast in our room, since we are not big breakfast eaters and also because of the poor quality of some of the items on the buffet. The fresh fruit was excellent, and the coffee was good according to my wife. Lunch was adequate. The buffets had different themes everyday for lunch and dinner. A few days for lunch they had a oriental theme, the sushi tasted like the stuff in supermarkets, cold and stiff. On the other hand the Vino bar had excellent sushi at a dollar a piece. Dinners were ok the first four days but there was not much selection for picky teens. My daughter had the standard pasta specialty Fettucine Alfredo, but found it lacking in flavor and cream. I enjoyed the appys and some of the soups, but the filet mignon tasted processed. The last five days the food seemed to improve with the lobster tails, lamb and king crab legs. It was very impressive having the waiters removing the shell from the lobster meat. Our soda and drinks were always refilled without asking. Deserts were good. the kids loved the Princess loveboat desert. They had seconds every dinner. The pizza bar was very good and the trident grill was ok as long as the hamburgers weren't sitting around getting dryed out. The biggest complaint about the food was the night we reserved a table at the Crown Grill. $25 extra per person and an extra $9 if you wanted the 12oz Brazilian Lobster Tails or a whole broiled or steamed lobster. I had the whole lobster. It was tasty and well cooked as was the side dishes. On the other hand the lobster tails were awful. They had absolutely No flavor. They tasted like they had been sitting in a pail of water for days. My son also order a Kansas City cut steak. It was so overseasoned with garlic, it was not edible. Most of the food in the Crown Grill was so overseasoned with garlic you would think they were trying to hide something. Finally the deserts were average, I had a chocolate souffle that tasted of cheap chocolate and lard. I took several trips to the casino and participated in a few tournaments (blackjack and slots). The library was adequate and had a selection of games and books. An enjoyable evening was spent at the movies in the stars. It was very well laid out with comfortable beach chairs and blankets, and they even supplied popcorn. The entertainment was good at times, and very good at other times. Sarge was a comedian, who put on three shows, the first two being very funny, the last was boring. Of course that was the night of rough seas, and I think Sarge might have been a little green. We caught two other comedians at the lounges who were very good. The musicals were ok, but I wouldn't go to a theatre to see them. The bands in the theatre and in the clubs were very good. The cruise director is boring and annoying. Always repeating himself, and no imagination. We participated in the soda cards(about $40 each with surcharges). We had to drink alot of soda to make it worthwhile, but it was convenient. Finally, disembarkment in one word "TERRIBLE". You are given the choice of express checkout, which means carrying all your bags down the stairs (you can forget about getting an elevator the first or last day). The first day we walked up 6 flights to have lunch. You have to be out of your room at 8am on the final day and wait in a lounge. The first hour was standing, the last two was sitting. Yes it took 3 hours to leave the ship. Overall, I would say for the price we had a great time. We spent about $5,000 for 4 people for 9 days. The ship was beautiful, the staff was great, the food was average, the entertainment good. The excursions good, the activities were ok, the fitness center beautiful and the miniature golf was a joke. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
I will start off by saying I am a travel agent so when I cruise I look for the good, the bad, and the ugly so I better know how to serve my clients when I am looking for the right cruise ship for them. On this particular sailing I had 4 ... Read More
I will start off by saying I am a travel agent so when I cruise I look for the good, the bad, and the ugly so I better know how to serve my clients when I am looking for the right cruise ship for them. On this particular sailing I had 4 other cabins with me so some of my comments here came from others that were sailing with me. Embarkation: I have mixed feelings about how this actually went. I think for the normal no problem passenger that is not in any way handicapped or needs special assistance this went very smooth. I myself had no problems and I would have been able to walk right on the ship when my number was called. The glitch comes with the fact that I had two people traveling with me that had both rented electric scooters due to mobility issues. This became a nightmare. The people at the cruise port had no idea what we needed to do to pick up the scooter that was suppose to be waiting outside. My clients were given specific instructions via the company, which I would never recommend to pick up their scooters at the gangway over by security. We asked several different workers and not one person had a clue where we needed to go. This in itself became a very frustrating process. We were finally able to locate someone that was able to get the information after about 2 hours of trying. Most of us managed to get on the ship then at approx 230pm. We were there at 11 if that paints the picture. However due to problems with the scooter one of my clients rented (not a fault of the cruise line, a fault of scoot-a-round) she didn't get on until right before last call. This was not a great way to start her cruise. After all those hassles were done we tried to get our cruise in full swing. Public Rooms: I think this ship is beautiful. I didn't get the wow factor I like to feel when I enter the main area of the ship but she is very elegant in design. I thought the layout was a little choppy but all in all I found most of the public rooms very appealing. The two areas I felt needed major improvement were the lack of seating in the buffet areas and the worst main show room I have ever seen. There are not even enough seats for half of the people sailing. I don't know whom thought that would work but it certainly does not. If you wanted to get a decent seat with people you were sailing with you had to arrive very early to do that. It was always standing room only with people sitting on the steps etc. I think this is a major flaw in this ship and it became frustrating night after night worrying about finding seats. The entertainment staff will actually take seats from you for others to sit in if your husband or wife is in the restroom and that seat is open. I heard more passengers then not complaining about this every single night. I sailed on the Caribbean Princess her first year out and never found this to be an issue on this ship. They should have kept that design and seating. Another area that I felt they really changed was MUTS (movies under the stars). This is such a great concept that it was one of the reasons I chose this ship. My husband and I sailed the first year the Caribbean Princess was out. They gave you a list of movies that were playing and you actually received movie tickets in your stateroom. The area was closed off and the seats were all cushioned with blankets before the movies started in the evening. You arrived for your show and presented your tickets. It felt like a real treat to go on the ship and enjoy this. On the Crown they only cover some of the seats&no movie tickets are used and you just walk up and sit down. I think that removed some of the charm of MUTS. I wish they would do it the way they did when this gimmick first started because it was really a nice touch. Cabins: We had a balcony cabin and found it to be great in size. The bathroom was a little smaller then most we have been in but I love the concept of the walk-in style closet. I thought the balcony furniture was very uncomfortable but we dealt with it. I had two in my group that had a balcony handicapped and also an inside handicapped and their rooms were plenty big enough to maneuver in a scooter. Fitness and Spa: I did not personally use the gym or spa services. Two in my party did and really enjoyed them. They did state they felt the prices were a little higher then on some ships but that they felt the services they received were very professional. The Sanctuary area was pretty much empty during our sailing. I feel this space does not warrant the 15-dollar half-day fee they charge. If they lower the fee it might be put to good use. The one area we did attempt to use was the miniature golf or putting area. This was a joke. There are no barriers so the balls roll all over the place from one hole to another. Several people attempted to play but got frustrated because of this and just picked up their balls like we did and called it quits. Dining and Staff: Well I must say my group had mixed reviews. I can tell you that the cookies got an A+ from everyone, as did the pizza that is offered. The ice cream was not a huge hit with anybody in our group. I did not like the fact that the buffet was not open 24 hours like offered on the Caribbean Princess. The International Cafe was nice but the food never changed from day to day. It was pretty much always the same offerings with maybe a different type of quiche. The buffet areas offered the typical buffet food. I found it to be a little boring. I thought the hamburger and hotdog grill offered pretty good food. Now for the dining room service and food. We started in the traditional dining room for early seating but because I added a couple late in the season we got our table switched and ended up in the anytime dining room but for a set time. Our staff was wonderful and very accommodating with the handicapped people in our party. The food got mixed reviews. I personally found it to be quite good and enjoyed most of what I ordered. If you didn't enjoy something or wanted more our wait staff made sure you got it. They made our dinner what it was and we enjoyed going each night. The Princess Love boat Dream was always a huge hit. I think that is a favorite dessert of mine. No one in my group tried the alternative dining so I can't comment on that. Entertainment: Overall I thought the entertainment was just OK. Nothing really stood out. The shows were so-so but then again I don't expect Broadway. I think part of the problem with the shows at night is by the time you get your seats you are so frustrated over the lack there of that it is almost not worth going. We did also take in some of the dance classes, 50's night, Princess Idol etc and found them to be entertaining. Bingo was expensive and you even have to buy a bingo marker&.they don't use the punch out cards which I found just another way to make money. The ship was pretty much asleep by 1AM. Not much going on after that time. Our group had an age range from 22-70 and both felt that they didn't offer enough choices on this sailing to keep them from being bored. I also felt that from all the ships I sailed this one was pretty boring as well. I would like to see more things being offered in all areas of the ship. The plus to the entertainment was the cruise staff. Omar was our CD and he and his staff were fantastic. They were more involved and guest interactive that I have seen on any other ship I have sailed. My hats off to the cruise staff for doing such a wonderful job on this ship. Service: A+ in all areas. I felt the buffet, cabin, cruise, deck staff was just fantastic and I must give them the credit they deserve. This is certainly a strong point on this ship. I don't think you could have asked for a more attentive crew then we had. Ports of Call: Our first port of call was Grand Turk. They were not kidding when they say nothing is there. I actually liked it that way. We got off the ship and went to the beach on the right side of the pier. It was not crowded at all. It was a little rocky and I would recommend water shoes. The snorkeling was fair but the beach shell collecting was amazing. There are a few little shops but nothing major. Margarittaville was fun for a quick stop before heading back to the ship. I am sure over the next few years they will build this area up so I am glad I got to see it before that happens. I would not have to go back to this port but I certainly would not rule out a cruise because it stopped here. Another port of call was San Juan. We took a taxi over to a beach but found it to be very boring. Much like you would see in FL. So we played in the water for a few. Grabbed a few rays and headed back to Old San Juan. We went back on the ship for lunch and then headed back out to do some sightseeing and shopping. There is a free shuttle that will take you to the fort on top of the hill. This place is amazing. We were fortunate while we were at the very top for a storm to roll in over the water. Because of this we saw several waterspouts, which made our day. After watching them for a long time we then walked into the shopping district and bought a few bags from the Coach and DB outlet. You know how ladies are with their shopping. After we finished shopping we grabbed that free shuttle back to the ship. There is a fantastic duty free shop right at the port&they give plenty of free liquor samples&my husband loved that. The last port of call we actually made it to was St. Thomas. I have some issues with this port because Princess has signed on for Crown Bay and there is nothing there at this point. I am so used to Havensight that this was a real let down for me. We took a taxi for 20pp, which was round trip and headed over to Coki Beach. This was my 3rd visit to the island but first to this beach. We all love to snorkel and let me tell you this was some of the best we have done both walk in and by boat. I would go back tomorrow if I could. We spent the majority of our day there. There are a few local vendors there selling things and you can get munchies and beer and also rent snorkel equipment. This beach is right next to Coral World, which we were going to do, but we enjoyed the snorkeling so much we didn't want to stop. Our taxi that dropped us off then took us to Charlotte Amalie (sp) where we had about an hour to shop and we bought a couple pieces of jewelry. After that she took us back to the ship. All in all it was a very enjoyable day. Unfortunately due to weather conditions we were not able to go to Bermuda. This was a huge disappointment but nothing we can blame the cruise line for. My daughter and son-in-law got engaged last year on a ship in Bermuda and this was their honeymoon sailing so it was more disappointing for them to miss this beautiful port. Value: I would say this was a great value for the money we paid. We got a great rate and I would sail this same thing again if the price were right. Overall: If I am being honest this was not my favorite cruise or ship. I thought it had some major flaws in design and flow and that some of the food areas were lacking. I also felt the entertainment as far as the main shows needed improvement. However on the upside a cruise is what you make it and we took what we had and made it work. Was it my best cruise ever? Not by a long shot but it was not my worst either. I was with a great group of people and we did enjoy each day we had. Would I recommend this ship? Probably because everyone expects different things when they are on a ship. I would tell my clients about the showroom issue to make them aware of it, but besides that this ship would be fine for somebody looking to take a cruise. We all have different views and opinions and I think being an agent I tend to view things from a different view then the normal passenger. On that note I had a client that just came off this ship the day we got on and sent me flowers when I got home because they had the best cruise ever. They loved the ship, service and overall experience they had so it can't be that bad. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
I. Background Information. We are a couple in our mid-30's. We have both traveled on 3 previous cruises with 3 different cruise line carriers, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian, so we do have something to compare with on this ... Read More
I. Background Information. We are a couple in our mid-30's. We have both traveled on 3 previous cruises with 3 different cruise line carriers, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian, so we do have something to compare with on this cruise to be evaluated right here. Crown Princess, though, was our first Princess cruise. From past cruising experience, I have now yearned for the largest, newest ships that carry the bells and whistles. My emphasis in what I look for when cruising is for fine dining and spectacular entertainment with a wide array of activities from which to choose, when on the ship. So these are some of my focal points. We have taken previous cruises throughout Hawaii, the Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, & Eastern Caribbean. Now with this Princess cruise, this marks our 4th cruise this time going through the North Atlantic shipping lanes on the Crown Princess. II. Hotel Information. We chose to book a hotel reservation for just ONE night before the cruise in the New York City area. I'd have liked to spent a few days before or after the cruise in New York. However, it seems that New York City has become so expensive to stay in, that it makes it ridiculously impossible to stay anywhere in Manhattan as you'll pay $250 to $350 per night for a decent hotel room with a private bathroom to be in the center part of the hub of New York City. My advice to the reader is to stay in the outskirts such as Newark or nearby JFK airport as we did to avoid the exorbitant hotel costs. One such place as the one we stayed was the Days Inn at the JFK airport, in the town of Jamaica, New York. This hotel is a 4-5 story hotel which cost $80 per night for 2 people, plus tax brought it to $96 total for 2 people. The hotel is about 2-3 years old at the time of this writing which is October 22, 2006. There is a free continental breakfast serving a number of muffins, pastry treats, coffee, orange juice, cereal, milk, and bagels. The fly in the ointment and caveat to watch for, is the area it is surrounded by and a major weakness is that there is no restaurant at the hotel, and none nearby. The Holiday Inn Express is located at a stone's throw right next door to it. Plan on ordering for room delivery instead of walking or driving as there is no restaurant nearby. Don't try taking chances on foot. Although we were successful in going on foot, and finding a fried chicken slop shop, greasy spoon restaurant....in retrospect, I would not chance it by doing that again. You'll be just fine as long as you don't venture out on the streets by foot. Even by car you'll be okay. The staff at this hotel was accommodating and professional. I will recommend this hotel and would stay there again. This hotel would not be good for those who require godzilla-sized rooms, though. The rooms are incredibly small, but the bathrooms are lovely and gorgeous, well-appointed with marbled tile everywhere from floor to the walls and modern amenities in the room/bathroom. The bathrooms looked too good to be true for a Days Inn! III. Traveling to the SeaPort/Pier of Embarkation The Brooklyn, New York/ Red Hook seaport is a new one for New York City. Getting there from your JFK airport area should cost about $40 per taxi ride, (October 2006 rate). We had 5 of us with 7 pieces of luggage and had a minivan take us for $45. However the cabbie and his company tried to stick it to us for $70. I put up a lot of resistance, getting hot around the collar, as we were quoted the night before that it would be $45. In the end, $45 is what we settled on as the cabbie gave up and swallowed the quote we were given. Coming from the Red Hook Brooklyn Pier back to LaGuardia's airport, the cost was EXACTLY $29.30. It is metered from the seaport to LaGuardia, but is flat-rated from the seaport to JFK airport. So there. That's your rates for October 2006. Upon arriving at the pier where the ship is docked, I couldn't help but notice the piling-up of cars by the curbside, and we were early too, arriving at 11 AM. Boarding of the ship was about 12 noon. However, even in spite of these cars, mostly cabs and limousines, a good management system expedited the traffic flow well, in arriving at the dock. However, it's a different story when leaving as a mass exodus of folks leave all at once. IV. Ship Information. This ship, Crown Princess, was the newest and among one of the largest in the Princess fleet at the time of this writing, (October 2006). We embarked on a 9-day Caribbean cruise and Bermuda/North Atlantic cruise on October 9, 2006. Its gross tonnage is 112,894 tons, length is 951 feet, passenger capacity is 3,150, cruising speed is 22.5 kts and entered into regular service in June 2006. The crew capacity is 1,200. There are elevators located forward, mid-ship, and aft. Not all elevators service the same deck. For instance, the aft elevators went as high as deck 19, but the mid-ship elevators only go to deck 15, the Lido deck. This makes for some confusion as it's not the same, so you'll need to take note of being mindful as to which lifts take you to which deck. It will be a wise idea to study the layout of the ship very well before boarding. It can take a person a couple days or even 3 days to fully learn well your bearings without getting loused up as to which side you are heading, port & starboard &/or aft & forward. The gangway is located on deck 4. However, when embarking and disembarking it is deck 7, the promenade deck that you'll be using at the Red Hook pier in Brooklyn, New York. V. Stateroom. With a new ship as the Crown Princess, does come a new re-design of the interior staterooms over the other ships I had been on with other cruise lines. The short entrance hallway inside the entrance door is no longer cluttered with swinging closet doors. Instead the closet space is open, has no doors to the closet, and faces downwind opposite from the lavatory. The bedroom area was large enough for us and the 2 mirrors at the desk and behind the bed were a nice touch to make for a larger look to the room than it actually is. This was a clever design. The bathroom is still, as usual, a very tight, cramped and inadequate space that is allotted to the guest passengers. Upon sitting on the commode, my knees and face were practically upon the sink, since I am a tall individual 6' 2". This is okay, I thought, if you're expecting it to come out of both ends, since my mouth was upon the sink while on the commode, but otherwise is an unusually cramped design, as all interior stateroom cabin bathrooms are. The shower stall is also very tightly cramped. This time the shower spicket is NOT removable. This means you must squat if you are over 6 feet tall, to get under the shower head. Very obese people will have difficulty fitting in the bathroom's shower stall in the interior stateroom is my prediction. There is a small refrigerator that is equipped in the stateroom and is hidden behind one of the closet doors next to the desk in the stateroom. It's not advertised and does not scream out at you, so you must look for it. There were a goodly amount of wooden hangers provided on the closet shelf with only one closet shelf for hanging clothes. Each stateroom cabin has a safe. However, I had a problem with the use of mine so I ignored it and stored things in my suitcase for which I had a lock to my suitcase instead. There are no bathtubs in the interior stateroom. Balcony staterooms on the Dolphin deck did have a tub. The telephone inside the cabin stateroom does have an option to set your own wake-up calls. The automated menu for setting wake-up calls was not clear, and could pose some trouble for those people that don't understand the system. The air conditioning in the stateroom cabin is weak. There is a crate covering the air vent, restricting the rate of cool air that comes from the ceiling. For those requiring a very cold stateroom, well, it's just not going to happen on this go-around. There are sodas supplied in each stateroom for purchase. Cost is $1.50 (October 2006 pricing), and 1 liter water will cost you $3.34, (October 2006) pricing. The stateroom steward attendant will re-supply the soda and water as you deplete the supplies and visits your stateroom twice daily. No tipping is required as the Princess cruiseline automatically sticks you with a $10 per person per day fee for all the services of the ship that include the stateroom service, dining services, maitre' D, head waiter & assistant waiter. So don't worry about having to tip any more. You can opt to have the $10 per person per day fee removed if you'd rather tip directly by way of envelopes at the end of the cruise. Any discretionary tipping done by envelopes is to be done the last day or two BEFORE the END of the cruise in one lump sum, to the persons of your choice. Shower pressure and water pressure in the bathroom was excellent for a cruise ship, I thought. The toilet was unpluggable and has such enormous suction! Soap and shampoo are both provided FREE of cost. There is laundry service available onboard your Crown Princess cruise ship. There is full-serve and self-serve options available. Self serve will cost a $1.00 per load to wash and $1.00 per load to dry. There are also ironing boards, 2 of them, in the laundry room on my Dolphin deck toward the aft. There is also powered detergent sold in the laundry room. Full service to wash a shirt is expensive as in $4.00 per shirt. It costs additional to have the laundry dry cleaned or pressed. Your best bet to do laundry is while in a port or near the middle of the cruise. Don't wait until the end of the cruise while at sea, because you will wait painfully for a washer and dryer. There were only 2 washers and 2 dryers on my port side in the aft. Another hint is that specials in pricing aboard the ship show up when the ship is docked at port, so you can often find discounts in the Lotus Spa being offered on a day in port. Remember these guys don't make money when the ship is docked at a port, so they need to perform some incentive to keep guests on the ship. One such way is by offering discounts while it's docked at the pier. As for the bedding, these are newer beds, (October 2006 writing), and as such there is some springs in the mattresses. They're not the 4-6 inch foam mattress that were used years ago on the older ships. I found the mattress to be extra firm, with a hard bounce. It was not a pillowy, hammock mattress. This was the first ship of the 4 ships I've been on that did not have the traditional overlaying sheets and cover blankets. Instead, all you get is a comforter pull-up and that's it. I prefer the traditional overlaying sheets and cover blankets instead. There is seemingly more drawer space and storage space relative to other ships I've been on, but don't get overly excited, as it's still not your bedroom at home by any stretch of the imagination. My advice to the reader is to PACK LIGHTLY!! If you don't really need to pack certain clothes, then don't do it. Chances are you may find that you've brought too much for the drawers to accommodate and then you hem and haw over the inadequate storage space when you arrive. Another VERY IMPORTANT word of advice I'll pass on, is to clear the shower drain NIGHTLY from any long hair that collects over the top of the drain. This will absolutely help in poor drainage situations and will help you to avoid disappointment from a shower drain that overflows. Ours did not overflow, but on my last cruise the drain did overflow, so go easy and watch for clogged hair and keep the drain clear of hair. VI. Dining. Dining on a cruise ship is one of the focal point areas that I look forward to. On this Crown Princess, dining was indeed a highlight, IN THE MAIN FORMAL DINING ROOMS, and I believe I'll rate it near the tops, again relative in comparison to the other 3 cruises I had been on. This is strictly speaking about the main formal dining rooms that I am writing about here, and NOT the slop shop, run-of-the-mill buffet lines. The nice aspect of this Princess ship is that the food is not too fancy to where it becomes exotic and unliking, as was the case in my first cruise with a different cruise line. Of the different categories of food, as in beef, chicken, lamb, seafood, & turkey, I believe the greatest strength on this Crown Princess sailing was its seafood. It was always fresh and abundant, having been found on most menus daily. Here, they do not skimp at all on seafood. If you just look for it, you'll find it every day of the cruise, in different forms and varieties from clams, to mussels, to shrimp, to crab legs, to lobster, to scallops. This is a seafood lover's dream for sure. The lamb and prime rib were excellent quality even right up to the last night of the cruise when I had the prime rib, or equivalent. There were at least 3 different nights where I saw the filet mignon available. The first night it was thin and served not quite the way it's supposed to be as in the thick cut. However, later in the cruise, it was the known traditional thick cut and of high quality as you'd expect it to be. There was a night of Lobster tails served towards the end of the cruise on one of the last sea nights in the formal dining rooms. These were excellent, better really than the Crown Grill, I thought, and so did a couple others in our group as well. There were also a couple nights of getting Snow Crab legs, once in the buffet in the Horizon Court on the first night, served cold. I felt that these were too salty. On another night the Snow Crab legs were served again in the main formal dining rooms, conveniently split for you, and served warm. The Shrimp was awesome, everywhere, every place....and I mean large Shrimp too! If there was ever a weak spot in the food, I'd have to put it in the category of side dishes, as I felt there could have been more pizzazz infused to the vegetables, to ramp them up a bit. Some melons also were too underripe, (cantaloupe), and watermelon was lacking in flavor. Some of the steaks were chewy and required a work-out exercise of the jaw. Desserts --- Again, I'd rank this area at the tops as well, when it comes to desserts. Desserts on the Crown Princess, overall, I felt were top-notch, and first class outstanding. This is speaking of the formal dining rooms and not the slop-shop buffets. Further enhancing the desserts was the supplemental International Cafe' which served a variety of cakes on the lower deck of the Plaza level, where your themed Piazza atrium and main staircase lays. This is a hot spot not to be missed! They're also serving warm, baked oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip cookies. Although I did not know of any midnight chocolate buffet as was observed on many other cruiselines, you didn't need one here as there's plenty of desserts with chocolate bountiful in many aspects of the desserts in the formal dining rooms. The presentation of the desserts was artistic quite often. Since I'm neither a chocolate or fudge lover nor a custard lover either, this ruled out some desserts for me. My partner was constantly getting a variety of cakes from the International Cafe' for which there is no extra charge for any of the cake slices they served. She loved them all!! Gelatos are served there for an extra cost, but the panini sandwiches are all free. You must try the chicken sandwich, which I absolutely loved, as it is a seasoned chicken sandwich, and not just a plain chicken sandwich. It had to be the best sandwich I had onboard was that chicken sandwich, because of its wonderful blend of seasonings. ....And I live in the seasoning capital of the south...New Orleans!! I always ask them to heat-up the sandwich though, as it's served cold otherwise. Okay, what about the pizza and burgers up on Lido deck 15 of the Trident Grill?? I did try out both the pizza and the hamburgers. The hamburgers are just spectacular!! You've gotta get up there and do it at least once! Big, thick, meaty burgers, nicely dressed every time, served hot off the cooking area were satisfying, very appetizing and memorable. In stark contrast, though, I felt that the pizza was pretty disappointing, too thin, being onion-skin thick and droopy & poor ingredients, too. It was a sad story in the pizza department for the Crown Princess and this area needs improvement are my feelings on that end. Advice here --->> Go to the main, formal dining rooms for the best quality of food, especially for dinner and lunch. I just loved the beautiful peach tablecloths in the formal dining rooms that appeared during the morning hours. The color accentuated a nice elegant touch of class. Avoid the Horizon Court buffets, whenever possible, as it is ALWAYS a MAD HOUSE up there, with not enough seating, is what I've heard from other buddies. I got up extra early for a couple tour excursions, when I had to go there, so I had first choice when having to go to the Horizon Court, since I didn't have the time to sit and wait on the formal dining room servers. My worst meal during the entire cruise was the first lunch meal on the day of embarkation in the Horizon Court buffet. The buffet serves run-of-the-mill cafeteria food. Though you will get in and out faster with the buffet lines, than you will with the formal dining rooms, you will take a cut in quality of food in the buffet, as I found that out on the first luncheon of the day of embarkation. Average time to get in and out of the formal dining rooms depends on the size of your table. The larger the table, the longer it takes. You can be at a large table of 10-12 people for as long as 2 hours to 2 1/2 hours if they're big eaters and big gabbers. Or if you're just a table of 2, then you'll be in and out of the dining room in as little as 30 to 45 minutes, if you eat quick and small portions. So budget your time accordingly to maximize all the activities on the ship that are offered in your Princess Patter, the ship's listing of daily planning activities. After all, a very long dinner that goes into overtime can cause you to miss a show or two, much less let alone a movie or some other activity. It happens to us every time we cruise. A word about the Crown Grill. This was the first time I'd ever decided to up the ante and try out what's often referred to as a "Specialty Restaurant", in this case named the "Crown Grill" which requires a commanding cover charge fee. So I figured to give it a go on the newest and largest ship in the Princess fleet. Well, the summary of it is, I was disappointed in doing so. It turns out that the food in the Crown Grill really is NO better than the food in the main dining room. In fact, as I mentioned briefly above, the lobster in the formal dining rooms tasted juicier than in the Crown Grill, and was bigger in the formal dining room. After woofing down my 6th lobster tail, I felt I was beginning to get my money's worth. I topped it out at 10 lobster tails. Now, here's the key to the Crown Grill. It was a $25 admittance fee. If you wanted a 1 1/2 to 2 pound Maine full lobster, you then need to pay an additional $9 for each one on top of the $25 admittance fee, (cover charge). You can choose the live lobster of your choice in the tank in an undisclosed location, they never mentioned to us. Or you can alternatively choose a 12 oz. Brazilian lobster tail, but you must also pay an additional $9 on top of the $25 admittance fee. Finally the third option, if you're into the lobster bit is to go with the regular 4 oz. lobster tails at no additional charge, either grilled with roasted garlic or broiled with lemon. I tried both. I also had a filet mignon steak as well. We ordered a few appetizers, too, none of which were memorable, nor writing home about. I felt that the Crown Grill restaurant was merely nothing else but a pap: it's overplayed hype. I expect even better quality of food in a specialty restaurant, with probably even better service. Nope. The quality was still the same as in the main formal dining room and so too was the service. So, lesson learned is that I will not be doing specialty restaurants again, as it is a waste of money. VII. Activities. You will find activities chocked full of action packed things to do while on board. However, you must follow your Princess Patter guide to the listing of activities closely. The Patter is not well laid out on its timeline by the way time lines go. For instance, the time line of events during the day separates itself from, activities held in the bars, lounges or theatres, such as Princess Theatre and Club Fusion/Explorer's Lounge from the rest of the time line that is printed, so it's a bit annoying by the way the Patter is constructed & laid out. A true time line will list ALL activities together without separation. Anyone that has an old Patter will see and understand that it's not well laid out at all. However, once you come to follow its annoying layout, then you will truly find that there is a boatload of activities from which to choose. There is no reason why anyone should be in their cabin stateroom at all, other than to sleep in, or to make a change of clothes. Yeah, there's THAT many activities to choose from. It ranges from the more sedate activities such as the Movies Under the Stars on the top decks to the whacky, wild pool games held in the Neptune's pool. Or alternatively, you can choose to attend a computer class workshop, or take part in Bingo, or even the Price is Right game show, that they re-create with an audience. Hot tubs are available but are jammed with people, except near the aft of the ship. The Movies Under the Stars is the hallmark of the Princess cruise line and there continues to be popular demand for it & its shows. The big screen runs shows all day and through the night up until around midnight or shortly thereafter. They even held an NFL football game on the outdoor big screen up on the pool deck, and suntanning decks. Indoor movies were hosted in the Club Fusion lounge down below the upper decks. They have the usual spa, which is named the Lotus Spa, which is a full treatment and wide array of services to choose from for ultimate massaging and pampering, which comes at a hefty price for which the fees need massaging themselves! In the sports department, there is opportunity to play some basketball on deck 19, a mini-golf putting area, or jogging in the usual fitness area, inside or outside, on the top-most decks. We could go on and on about activities, but instead it's suffice to say that there's plenty to see and do, and good opportunities to participate in them. I was a judge in one of the pool games. I wanted to be a participant but got there too late, casually gabbing around on my way up to the pool. The Sanctuary, an adults-only area in the forward part of the ship is a quiet area to meditate with yoga-like tunes that play on, though there is no yoga held there though. Yoga sessions are held in the indoor fitness room down below. The fee to use the Sanctuary is still $15 per half day to keep a lid on crowd control, as was a preliminary problem with its inaugural maiden voyage. In the Sanctuary, there are extra puffy lounge chairs set amidst an artificial terrace of trees, plants, and astroturf. Sector screens installed above, partially obscures the sun from beating down, but the entire area is still open-air to the elements. While relaxing there, a menu of smoothies is offered for a fee, and some light food dishes are offered for free after you pay a nominal fee for a service charge. You may also opt for a massage for which you must pay for, inside one of two tents there in the Sanctuary. Just below the Sanctuary is a deck where the Buddha statue sits among another adults-only small pool area. There's no fee to use the adults-only pool. The Calypso Reef pool was situated right beneath the Movies Under the Stars. The Neptune pool gets rather deep at 7 ft 6 inches, and I found it difficult to sustain pool volleyball, but hey, I managed a long 45 minute game of 6 on 6 pool volleyball by leaping from the sides of the deep end. In other areas, I attended and participated in the champagne waterfall that was built and poured upon one night. This was an interesting experience, and got many pictures of this venue with good music played and the cruise director staff was in full swing on this one, going well past midnight. I can even recall a tour of the galley which was a very popular turn-out of guests on the ship to the tour. Kitchen & cooking demonstrations were offered onboard the ship, typically in the Piazza, the ship's themed Italian atrium, at the foot of the main staircase steps. Also taking place in the Piazza are a few street performer acts. One does magic, the other does a juggling act. I didn't get to see the juggling act, but I understand from others it was entertaining and full of energy. I did see one of the magic acts, but I was disappointed. Even sitting up close, it was difficult to see his card tricks. The rest of the audience didn't seem overwhelmed either. I suspect a different choice of magical acts should be in order for a better crowd-pleasing audience, as this one didn't make the grade, from what I see. I will address the evening entertainment, or after-dinner shows of the Princess Theatre in the sub-section titled "Entertainment" down below. VIII. Service. I've got some mixed feelings about this gray area. Service was typically decent, but not spectacular. This is the first cruise where I felt more like a number than a person. I guess this is what happens on the larger ships. I was pleased with the efficiency with the "anytime dining". I was much concerned that service would take a big hit in the anytime dining since it's not the same server throughout the cruise, which otherwise comes to learn what it is you want each night, but it was in fact satisfactory, better really than I had expected in terms of receiving food in a timely manner. As usual, when it came to the drinks, the assistants were a bit tardy and behind the eight ball on getting the beverages as in milk and chocolate milk. This has been the same on other cruise lines too, though. Many was the time where I noticed the staff putting themselves before the guest, and I just wasn't sure if the staff really wanted to be working on the ship. I kind of get the feeling that several staff members acted as though they were doing a favor for us, rather than with the energetic desire to please. This crew seemed to lack enthusiasm and spirit. At least a few times, crew members cut in front of me, rather than allowing me the right of way, when walking through the public areas and hallways, on several occasions. This prompted a point to ponder, and made me feel as though they owned the ship. So this was disconcerting in that sense. I didn't let it bother me during the cruise, though, but it's still something noticeable I recall after the cruise finished that was disturbing. This is not applicable to the cruise director's staff. This is only applicable to the service staff, as in the folks whom you tip -- dining wait staff, room stewards, deck attendants, etc. The room steward goofed a few times in not providing adequate supplies. Also the guests in our cabin stateroom on the previous cruise before us, left a horrible smell of body odor and the room steward was unable to expunge the odor and he was not even equipped with air freshener. This is the first time that I think the dining staff actually finishes ahead of the room steward on this go-around with this particular cruise. It's usually the other way around. The cruise director's staff tried hard to please and entertain by attempting to be comical and they deserve credit for trying so hard and being so consistent from day to day, without any let-downs. I think the cruise director himself, Omar, should have had as much energy as his staff did. But with Princess catering to older crowds, I think it explains why the cruise directors are not as hyped-up in behavior. With me still being a younger person, I appreciate the ramped-up "la-la" cruise directors. Service at the purser's desk or guest relations desk was standard, and as usual, there's plenty of times when they did not pick up the telephone due to understaffing of a ship that seats nearly 3,100 berths. I did not find all the purser's desk staff to be accommodating to requests. Some staff were better than others and more willing to cooperate, such as removing an erroneous charge or two that was tacked on to my billing account. Here's a warning to the reader. The purser's desk or guest relations desk will be filled with a long line toward the last sea day of your cruise. The wait can be 30 minutes or longer. Therefore it is best that YOU check-in periodically during the cruise, as in the middle of the cruise, to ask for an inquiry printout of charges to your charged account, so's that you can settle those disputes before the last day rather than letting the billing disputes pile-up at the last day. Service at the Crown Grill restaurant: It started off really great, as we were the first ones in at 6 PM. Then as it filled up with other folks, we lost the personal service touch connection with our server. He had too many others to tend to, and the great service we started with began to take a hit. Well, it was not major. But it was about the same kind of service we got in the formal, main dining rooms in which there are about 4 different tables assigned to a server. Generally there are 2 small tables and then 2 medium-sized tables assigned bringing the total to 4. IX. Entertainment. Alright, I am ONLY using this section to describe the entertainment quality for the after-dinner shows, featured in the Princess Theatre. Since I'm not a lush, I cannot comment on bar entertainment or lounge entertainment, as I'm never found in either one of those places. The first few shows in the Princess theatre which included a comedian or two AND a production show of singers and dancers were all absolutely OUTSTANDING and FANTASTIC and I'd put it up to any other show production. I especially enjoyed very much the show production named, "Destination Anywhere". I thought it was quite creative in design, presentation, and expressed itself very well with dynamite costumes and good music. I give that particular show an A+, for the cruiseline on the Crown Princess. It had a strong ending to it too. The "Motor City" show which came a few nights later was not as superb as the "Destination Anywhere" show, but it still fell within the reasonable bounds of good taste. A couple of fine black comedians rounded out my top 3 comedians, with the other third one being a white guy who appeared on the Jay Leno show some time ago. The very first black comedian was pretty good. Then, later on during the cruise, Tony Tillman, I think was one of the black comedian entertainers who I thought was the absolute best. He was best because he had it all----it was a one-man band act. I felt he really established a strong connection with the audience which makes him a success. He played the role as an actor, a comedian, a singer, and a dancer, all grouped into one. He was THAT outstanding and that good!!! He's a keeper. Princess ought to do everything in their power to keep him! I'm a hard grader and I rarely give a standing ovation, but this was a rare moment in which I did. I could hear it in the roar of the crowd who was with me on this one. He made a connection with the audience that few can do. He's not a young man either; he's a good bit older. He came out gleaming with energy, bursting with smiles, and really looked like he enjoyed what he was doing. Those who thoroughly enjoy their job are usually pretty darn good at doing the job they do! Finally he did a farewell tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. at the end of his show. It was classy and finished off with charming style, his entire show. A job very well done, I must say!!! Good job on his fine work. Once we got past St. Thomas, the nighttime shows in the Princess Theatre began to tank (go down) in quality. It was noticeable. They had an international crew show, which was amateur entertainment put on by the crew of the ship. Then there was a show skit put on by the cruise director's staff. While there was some graphically, perverted sexual jokes contained therein, the rest of it was mostly meaningless, reminiscent of an untalented high school show production that has little substance. But it was creative in design, though, nonetheless and others may find it amusing or otherwise entertaining, if a laugh is what they desire out of it, rather than true talent. One of the last comedians who appeared twice, back-to-back nights in the Princess Theatre was absolutely the worst. There were people getting up and leaving during the 830 PM show is what I heard. I went to the early show at 7 PM. The 7 PM crowd was a bit more forgiving as I saw only one or two couples get up and leave, but this guy was bad. He was not funny; he was goofy. There's a difference. We missed getting a better comedian since our cruise did not stop in Bermuda as it was scheduled to in order to pick up probably a better comedian. (Well, I don't see how the next comedian could be any worse). I would have liked to see more variety in the Princess Theatre for the after-dinner shows. They really were locked onto 2 breeds of shows: #1.) production shows and #2.) comedians. The shows toggled back and forth between these two types of shows, comedians and production shows. Production shows means singers and dancers. I would like to see more variety such as full-scale stage shows of juggling and Cirque du Soleil contortionist types of shows. Contortionists shows I find most amazing, but it just did not happen on this cruise. The juggling acts by the street performers in the Piazza are small-scale, short-lived with little turn-out. So I dock Princess for not incorporating more VARIETY in its nighttime, after-dinner shows. Also there's not enough space in the Piazza atrium to host enough people for the skits and gatherings that is required. X. Shore excursions. --- Grand Turk --- The first ship-sponsored tour excursion we did was the New Waves Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure at Grand Turk. At a cost of $49 per person, I think it is reasonably priced to go out to 2 different snorkeling sites on a power boat, with all snorkeling equipment generously provided for use at no extra cost. A goodly amount of time was provided at both sites. I brought with me my underwater camera to capture images of the different kinds of coral rock including brain coral, leaf coral, tubepipe coral, and occasional fish which became more prevalent and pronounced at the 2nd site we stopped at. You have to have the willingness and strength to swim out to the coral which is about 100 ft away from where the boat throws anchor. The boat throws anchor in a sandy spot below the boat. It cannot dump you right over the scenic coral because dropping anchor over coral damages the coral and ruins the reef. You are given a vest for which you can inflate, a mask, snorkel tube, and fins. So's all you need to do is kick with the fins that are provided. Be sure to bring sun cream as you'll be hurting without it. The water can be shallow in some spots above the reef, and you must take care as not to stand up nor touch or kick any of the coral as you will damage it. Some coral can severely cut you too, so be mindful not to come into contact with the coral reef rocks of any kind. I felt the 2nd site we stopped at was better. There were more fish and different species of fish with blue/black, blue/yellow, and poka-dotted redfishes. There were even camouflaged fish blending in with the color of the coral. The leaf coral was purple and believe to have gotten some good photo shots. So there's more marine life at the 2nd stop and the coral was equally as good as the first site we stopped at. No lunch is provided. There are shady spots on the boat as well as open spots. When seas are rough be sure to take dramamine or bonine BEFORE getting onto the boat, as you could get motion sickness & can even hurl, (blow chunk), if you don't take some motion sickness relief an hour BEFORE getting on the small craft boat. I felt a bit queasy in my stomach, too, when the boat was sitting stationary idle waiting for everyone to board to go to the next site. My recommendation in Grand Turk is to take a water tour of some sort. Enjoy the reefs. Either take a scuba or snuba or snorkeling tour, or a catamaran rather than a land tour. There is nothing, absolutely nothing to see on land in Grand Turk. Carnival cruise lines basically owns the dock and Margaritaville. Some folks like Margaritaville which is a short walk from the pier. It's basically a pool hang-out place where you drink either beer or hard liquor and spend money in the shops. They have dancing and doing the conga, with more pool side games. It's all the same things you can basically do on the ship as what Margaritaville is, so don't waste your time there, and take advantage of nature's resources by visiting the underwater world in Grand Turk. There is a free beach right there on the dock side of where the ship is parked, so you need not pay for a beach excursion over to Governor's beach. The beach is right there next to the ship. It's practically a stone's throw away from the ship. --- San Juan, Puerto Rico --- I've been to San Juan twice in 6 months now. Both times it has been to different parts of the El Yunke Rainforest. This time I took the horseback riding tour along the foothills of the scenic El Yunke Rainforest. This was a decent tour. I first thought and expected that we would just have a horse walking tour the entire way, as I've been told these tours are sedated and slow. However, to my pleasant surprise we trotted several times; trotted, but not galloped. It was a nice stretch of country. I don't think, that the tour was priced well though. I think it is overpriced by much to much at $98 per person. It should be more like half that, but the very long bus drive, I think ramped up the cost. We had a chance to stop and go into a river after getting off the horse for an intermission break. It sure would have been great if Princess cruise lines told us to bring our swimsuits and that there'd be a chance to go in for a swim into the rushing river, but it was not announced by Princess cruise lines. The tour operators were willing to please and patient too. They took pictures at anytime and anywhere we requested. These tour operators provided better service than even some of the ship's service crew on board! The horses were small. With me being 6' 2", I felt I dwarfed my horse, and that was one of the larger horses in the crop. A few of them were fiesty and kicked around some on the trail. One even stood up on his hind legs and did a 360 turnabout, misbehaving'. It didn't bother me any since it wasn't my horse. The horses are trained to do what the other horses around them do, usually in a generalized statement. They follow each other, generally at the same pace. I recommend to the reader that your back be in good condition with no weaknesses or ailing back problems if you're deciding to do this particular horseback riding tour. Your general health should be in good condition and unlike what the tour description reads, this is not a smooth riding horse ride. There are rough moments when trotting, particularly if you're not adept at moving with the motion of the horse. But for me and my partner, trotting was the funniest part of it, since we are not skilled with horseback riding at all. Notice: do NOT put an elderly person on this horseback riding tour, as I do not recommend it for the elderly. Elderly meaning anyone over 60. In other areas--->> Old San Juan, if you're going to do a walking tour is very doable on foot. One of the old forts is within walking distance for most folks below the age of 60. The other fort on the northeast tip is much further away and is doable by only those who have good physical health and generally the younger crowd who has lots of energy in them, as it's quite some distance to get to that other fort. There are hills in Old San Juan's streets with lots of brick roads. If you've ever been to the French Quarter in New Orleans, this is very reminiscent of the architecture and style of the buildings in the French Quarter in New Orleans. There are plenty of shops and restaurants serving up Spanish and Puerto Rican food. We especially liked the Churrascos served in the Old San Juan Sheraton Hotel right near the dockside. She particularly likes finding places that serve Amarillo's, very sweet, fried plantains, served hot. So do I. There is an entrance fee to both of the forts, whichever ones you decide to take a closer look inside. You can tour the outside of the forts and get outside pictures, but to get inside the forts, requires an entrance fee, somewhere around $5 to $10, I believe. --- St. Thomas --- This is one of the U. S. Virgin Islands. It is a hilly island. I chose to do the skyride to Paradise Point. I thought it was a bit costly. Here's a rare moment in which the cruise line actually charges LESS, yes, LESS than if you bought the ticket on your own. On your own the ticket up and back from Paradise Point if you buy it at the ticket counter costs $18 for an adult. Princess charges only $15. How about that? If you are big into taking pictures of the lagoon, harbor, cruise ships from above, and hilly scenery, then it's probably worth doing this 4 minute skyride tour. But if you are not into taking pictures and don't care to take pictures of this island, then it's not worth the money spent. My hunch is that lots of folks do take it. Hence, the cost is overinflated, I think to keep a lid on crowd control. It is a really, really nice view from the top. Majestic pictures can be taken. Someone touring from Colorado would laugh and simply call these hills. However if you've lived all your life in Florida, then you'd call these mountains. It's a relative term. There are now 2 docking sites in St. Thomas. The original docking site for the cruise ships is Havensight where all the hustle and bustle of shopping is at. The newest seaport is now Crown Bay or Crown Point. At the time of this writing which is October 22, 2006, this is a spin-up pier and the pier is in its infancy with basically no shopping nearby, but some are in the process of being constructed. It'll take you $4 to $5 to catch a taxi shuttle to go to Havensight from the new pier and another $4 to $5 to come back, (October 2006 pricing rates). There are plenty of shuttles all around the area. This is a pleasant little island here in St. Thomas. There's plenty of opportunities to shop at the Havensight shopping district or in downtown Charlotte/Amalie. You can also find many water sport activities being offered in one of the diving shop outlets I visited in Havensight. Parasailing cost is $69, and this was NOT a ship-sponsored tour. It included an 8 - 12 minute ride of parasailing at 600 ft. into the air. It is an exhilarating rush of fun. Pricing in shops is pretty good, too. I found some good deals on apparel. --- Bermuda --- Does Bermuda really exist?? For the 2nd or 3rd time in a row, this cruise ship Crown Princess has MISSED Bermuda. They're telling me that it is a narrow channel that the ship must enter and the reef nearby is very shallow. Therefore the ship is very sensitive to winds and seas governing its entrance into the 14 mile stretch of channel that it must approach from the northeast to make it to West End. The captain was too insecure about taking the ship into Bermuda for what he blamed it on the winds being too strong. The captain of the ship was overexaggerating the current winds and forecast winds in a "c.y.a." call that was made, but I will go as far as to say that Princess cruise lines could have and most certainly **SHOULD** have taken measures and steps to avoid the cancellation of Bermuda: They could have used tenders. The seas were only 4 - 5 feet. The skies were mostly sunny, no squalls, no showers, no tropical storms, no hurricanes either. They could have used tenders to get us there to Bermuda, and they could have used tugboats to guide our ship into the channel, much the same way that tugboats were used to guide Freedom of the Seas out of the Aker Finnyards last winter with the chunks of glaciers there in those pictures I saw a year ago. Here in Bermuda there were only 15 kts of wind the entire day. It is irrational to expect less than 15 kts of wind in the open Atlantic Ocean to bring the Crown Princess into Bermuda. If you're not regularly going to make it into Bermuda, then take it off the port of call listing. This has happened repeatedly, missing Bermuda. Realizing this does not discuss the shore excursion of Bermuda, but there is no tour excursion to discuss since we were unable to make a port of call there. However, the readers of Cruise Critic users need to know that there's a good chance of not seeing Bermuda from the Crown Princess. The bottom line is this: Do NOT consider taking this cruise JUST FOR BERMUDA. This ship, since it is a large ship, has missed Bermuda on several occasions. Knowing that the weather was better than what the captain stated, AND the fact that Princess should have taken steps such as tenders to get us to Bermuda or tugboats to guide it in, is leaving me with a bad close to the cruise, since the weather really was good. I have to dock points off from Princess and this affects my overall rating of this cruise. Points will be taken off accordingly at the end. Missing Bermuda is a tragedy in and of itself. The weather was fine and Princess made a bad call because of a captain that was insecure with his abilities, is what I speculate. I believe there's more to it than just the weather as to why we missed that port of call in Bermuda, and it's all speculation. XI. Children's Clubs. As with all other ships I've been on, yes there is a place for children on this ship. There is a specially designed kiddie pool near the aft of the ship which is adjacent to the children's playtime area hangout. It is on one of the upper decks at the aft of the ship. There is also an inside playland for them to tinker around too. I know nothing of this club since I have no children and knew of no children who participated. This is an October sailing, and as such, nearly all children are in school at the time of this sailing. XII. Disembarkation. We were on Dolphin deck so this meant we were among the last 1/4 of the guests to leave the ship. This was fine with me. It meant I got to sleep in later. I got up around 8 to 815 AM when the ship arrived at 7 AM. I grabbed a bite to eat at the breakfast buffet as it was the only place open for eating up until 9 AM. We got off the ship around 1030 AM. They said we were part of the Gold colored group due to get off between 930 AM and 10 AM, but instead they ran behind in getting us off about 30 minutes later. We stayed in our cabin staterooms until we could stay no longer as the room stewards kicked us out and told us we had to wait in one of the public area rooms near the atrium's Piazza. The reason for getting exiled from our stateroom is that the room stewards must prepare and ready the room for the next crop of guests boarding the ship in just as little as 3 hours from the time we get off! Yeah! It's that quick the turnaround time. There's no chance for the room stewards to catch their breath, so they need every minute that counts. Leaving the Red Hook, Brooklyn Pier was a much different story than embarking. It was slower and congested. We got charged by the cabbie for the time it took in long one-lane traffic pulling away from the seaport. We used the YELLOW cabs that pulled up to the pier, as they are the cheapest. Insist on only the yellow cabs, if you're looking to save some dollars. Otherwise, limousines are available too as well as luxury Lincolns at a rate of about $70 to either airport. Waiting in line to get out of the seaport in one-lane traffic with the yellow cab tacked on an additional $3-$5. Still, for a rate of $29.30 to go from the seaport to LaGuardia airport for 5 people, and 7 pieces of luggage, it's the best deal in town, in an otherwise very pricey city....Hey this is New York!! Whatsa matta?? XIII. Summary. This cruise had all the ear-markings of being among the highest ranked cruises I had been on for the past 4 I have taken, but because of the captain's ineptitude call to miss Bermuda and willfully choosing to skip Bermuda in the absence of any bad weather, has simmered my rating and toned it down on this particular cruise. It's a crying shame because we didn't have to skip Bermuda, as said by way of using tenders or tugboats, even in the shadow of his inability, in lieu of missing it altogether. The layout of the ship's deck plans I found to be most confusing, hard to keep up with, and the elevators did not all reach up to the same decks, adding to the confusion. Just about the last several days of the cruise when I about had the ship's layout confirmed, our cruise was coming to an end. The elevators did not take as long as some others' claimed in earlier cruises. I found elevators to be quite timely really. I did not feel crowded on this ship. The only severe waiting times I encountered was re-boarding the ship at Grand Turk in the long lines there to get back on and one of the formal nights had a waiting time to get into the anytime formal dining room. Then again, I suspect this was not a completely full ship either. Dinner service and most importantly food quality was a definite highlight. Princess excels in the seafood category, offering generous, fresh portions and great variety daily. In some cases you don't have to go finding it. It'll come to you! This is a definite strong point beating the others in food quality. The same goes for desserts. Again Princess excels in this category as well. This was the most consistent rock-solid category was quality of food and desserts, and mind you, I'm a hard grader. Entertainment was fantastic during several of the after-dinner shows, but as said, near the end, in the last few shows, the quality tanked with a couple skunks appearing at the end requiring the need to wear nose clips to the last few shows, because of a poor comedian twice in a row, bringing down the rating some. So entertainment ran hot and cold, with lack of consistency. Interior cabins, (which I had), are beginning to see a revolutionary design change in the configuration and placement of closets and storage space which is a move in a better direction, so a good plus is there. Bathrooms continue to be tightly cramped and that comes out being a minus. Service on the ship was standardly decent, but not spectacular. The crew did just what they needed to in order to get by. No one went above the call of duty to please, was my recollection. They were adequate, but nothing more. The attitude was neither negative nor positive, just neutral. I've seen occasionally better service elsewhere, in a peppy, more cheered environment. Activities on board the ship were a-plenty and bubbling at the seams, as there was so much offered to see, experience, and participate in. There were 2 formal nights on this 9 day cruise, with plenty of formal pictures taken and casual pictures offered too. I only skimmed the tip of the many activities because there was so much. Most of the greatest, appealing attractions occur between the hours of 5 PM to about Midnight. So you have to pick and choose one activity over all the others, even though you'd like to see them all at the same time. This strategy is done to prevent overcrowding at any ONE of the many entertainment venues is what the cruise director, Omar told me inside the Wheelhouse Bar during one of the last nights of the cruise. In arriving at the final rating of this cruise, I really should have docked it down to a 3 1/2 star rating because of the missed port of call to Bermuda, but cruise critic doesn't allow for half-stars. Consequently, 3 1/2 rounds up to a 4 star ranking, the highest I've given, and I'm being overly generous here because I've weighted heavy emphasis on the dining quality of food and the activities aboard the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
Crown Princess Review Back to Back Oct 27-Nov 11, 2006 New York - San Juan This was my 3rd and 4th cruise with Princess. I have also been on 4 Carnival and 3 NCL cruises. I am a farmer and scrimp and save all year for a cruise. I am in ... Read More
Crown Princess Review Back to Back Oct 27-Nov 11, 2006 New York - San Juan This was my 3rd and 4th cruise with Princess. I have also been on 4 Carnival and 3 NCL cruises. I am a farmer and scrimp and save all year for a cruise. I am in my early forties and I took my disabled 69-year-old mom. My mom is disabled from a stroke and can not walk. She gets around with an electric scooter. We booked a handicapped cabin. The door to get in the cabin is wider so she could drive her scooter in the room. We talked to many people who were disabled and needed handicapped cabins but they were all booked. They mainly needed the wider doors so they could get their mobility devices in their cabins. Some of these disabled pax went to the pursers desk asking if they would check to see if some of the people in the handicapped cabins were not in need. In other words able bodied. The pursers desk refused to check. They told them all the handicapped cabins were booked. period. I know for a fact that there were able bodied people booked in some of the handicapped cabins. Some of the ship is not accessible to wheelchairs or scooters. The spa and very aft pool has stairs so they are impossible to use. This was too bad because these were the quiet pools. We had to use the two central pools. One was loud because of MUTS and the other had wild pool games. There are a few automatic doors, which my mom loved. The remainder of the doors were manual and were very heavy to open. It was impossible for mom to open the door and drive thru the door at the same time. This was fine when I was with her as I opened all the doors for her. My mom relied on kind passersby to open them for her when she was alone. We went into LGA one day early, just in case. If you are reading this, please always go in a day early if at all possible. You always think it won't happen to you. We arrived in ORD to find out our flight to LGA had been cancelled. We waited in ORD for 8 1/2 hours standing by for any flight to LGA. We finally got on a flight at 8:30pm we arrived into LGA at 1:30am. We would have missed the cruise if we had not gone in a day early. We had a great night at the Pan American hotel. The staff there was so nice and the room was great. The next morning the staff at the hotel got us cab to take us to the pier. It happened to be a gypsy cab. The driver spoke very little English and drove us to Red hook in Brooklyn. He couldn't find the ship. He took us to a barge ship. We could see the Crown Princess but the driver couldn't get us there. I finally saw a sign that said cruise terminal. I told the taxi driver that way and pointed to the sign. Apparently he doesn't take advice from back seat drivers. I was wondering if we were going to make it to the ship by the time it sailed. It was now 2pm. The driver finally spotted other taxis and followed them to the Crown Princess. Suddenly the $35 we had agreed on at the hotel rose to $40. I shouldn't have given it to him but I didn't know any better and gave him the $40 he requested. We got there around 2pm and we just breezed thru embarkation. It took us a max of 10 minutes and most of that time was walking to get on the ship. The ship was beautiful and everything just gleamed inside like it had just been polished. We found our way to the room with no problem. We were in an inside cabin on the Lido deck. Great location, close to everything. We loved our cabin even though it was inside. We decided to save money and be able to cruise for two weeks in an inside instead of one week in a balcony. ;-) The cabin was very nice with plenty of closet space. Our beds had the nice new duvets everyone is talking about. The pillows were wonderful and we each got two. The beds were a little hard in my opinion but we slept fine. We didn't go to the dining room on the first night as we were looking forward to the seafood buffet. Crab, Lobster claws and shrimp, all you can eat. We gorged ourselves. Food -the food in the dining room was always great. Great selections. I always ordered seafood, since I just don't get enough of it here in Kansas. Shrimp, Crab legs, Lobster, crawfish, and scallops...I had them all. I never had a bad meal. We always dined in the Da Vinci Dining room. We had personal choice dining. However, we liked our table, fellow cruisers and waiters so much we decided to all meet at the same table every night at the same time. So the first leg of the cruise we felt like we had traditional dining. On the second leg we did personal choice. We always requested to sit with others and met wonderfully nice people each and every night. Some waiters were great some weren't. It was hit and miss. The Grill served hot dogs, hamburgers and fries. It was nice to quickly grab something by the pool. Pizza was passable. Several times we got burnt pizza. The bottom crust was black and tasted burnt.......it was inedible. Even when the pizza wasn't burnt it was just so-so. After 1am the pizza and grill closes and their is nothing to eat except room service and a small offering of a few small cold sandwiches, a few cold salads and a few desserts in the International cafe on deck 5. The Caribe cafe on deck 15 was not open 24 hours like we heard it would be. It closed at 11pm. The Caribe cafe served different nationalities of food every evening for dinner. One night would be German and the next Italian etc. We loved the first 3 days at sea. After all the flying and running around it was so nice to sleep late and do what ever we wanted whenever we wanted. The second day out of New York we had rough seas. Thankfully, we don't get seasick. We found it fun and exciting. There were alot of seasick people. We saw quite a few people in the buffet holding napkins up to their mouths. It was gross. Please, if you are prone to seasickness don't come to the buffet, in consideration of others. We took advantage of the continental breakfast room service cards most mornings. This consisted of cold cereals, pastries and juices etc. The coffee was never warm or hot. We were lucky if it was lukewarm. Room service was wonderful if you ordered something cold. If you order anything hot it will arrive cold. Hot sandwiches and French fries were always cold. Again coffee was lukewarm at best. Don't forget to tip for room service. Room service is not included in the automatic tipping. We always tipped $2.00. Entertainment-some shows were great others were not. Sarge was great!!! Not only is he a great comedian but also a singer and a talented pianist. The show room was always standing room only on Sarge nights. He said he would be doing a one-man show opening in New York in January so I don't how much longer he will be doing cruises. We had another great comedian on the second week. His name was Rodney Johnson and he was also very funny. The dancers and singers in the production show were wonderful. So talented. We enjoyed the Motown show. The other two production shows weren't the greatest. The dancers and singers were always great but the shows were the problem. Who every made those shows should be fired. The assorted jugglers, comedians and acrobatics were poor. It wasn't even worth going to shows those nights unless you are very bored. Room stewardess-We had Merilynn from the Philippines. She was a real sweetheart. Just a doll of a girl who kept our room clean and made our beds. She found our nightgowns under our pillows after the first night and after that we always had our nightgowns put on our beds in different shapes every night. We loved visiting with her and finding out about her life. One night she even came in our cabin while we were dressing for formal night and helped us choose what dresses to wear. She was getting married in June and her and her husband were going to continue to work on cruise ships together and save money until they can return to the Philippines and open a business. I wish them both the best of luck. Princess told us before the cruise that we would be docking at Pier 4 in downtown old San Juan. However, I found out from cruise critic we would be docking at Pan American pier. Princess never did tell us or many other fellow cruisers of this change. Pan American pier is terrible. There is nothing around there and it is not a pretty area. Had to take a taxi to get anywhere. We didn't dock at Havensight in St Thomas. Instead we docked at the Crown Bay pier around 4 miles from town. It is in an industrial area. There is nothing there. The pier stores are built but they are empty and none of them are opened yet. To get to town you have to take a safari taxi at $4.50 per person. Then you have to wait until the whole taxi is full before they will leave. We did not like this pier at all and neither did anyone else we talked to. We made it to all our ports of call. We enjoyed Dominica and St Lucia the most. They are the most beautiful islands. The pier in Dominica is very dangerous in my opinion with many cranes loading and unloading big cargo containers right in front of you and big fork lifts driving around you etc. We felt so bad for a little stray dog at the port that we saw from the ship at the end of the day. It was so thin and looked so lonely. If anyone that reads this goes to Dominica and is a dog lover, please take some food and feed it to this little dog. My pet peeve of cruising is late arrivers from ports of call. The ship tells you to be back on board at 5:30pm so we can leave at 6pm. People are strolling down the dock at 6:00pm like they don't have a care in the world. That is so inconsiderate of other cruisers. At one port the gangway was in and we were almost ready to leave when a cruiser ran up to the ship. They had to put the gangway back out to get him on board. It took them a long time to get the gangway out again. Served him right. I got a flu in the middle of our cruise. Just a sore throat and cough. I was scared to go to the ship doctor because I thought I might get quarantined. Finally I went to the doctor because I felt so horrible. The nurses were all so nice. I received excellent care from the doctor. He advised me it was just a virus that would have to run its course. He gave me Tylenol, cough syrup and an antibiotic. The total cost of the visit including the medication cost $110.00. I didn't think that was bad. I think I would have paid just as much back in the USA. The doctor didn't mention anything about the Q word. Thankfully, this sickness didn't affect my stomach so I fed, fed, fed and fed my fever. ;-) Additional charges-I found alot of additional charges, more than the last time I cruised Princess. I don't drink soda so I had no need for a soda card. Fresh brewed coffee is additional and available on deck 5. Espresso and Cappuccino are also additional. You can purchase a coffee card. I heard hot chocolate was free in the dining room thru someone on cruise critic, however, they now charge for it. I did order it but found it to be watery and hardly lukewarm. The only thing to drink in the buffet is water, ice tea, coffee or tea. I really missed not having lemonade or some fruit juice. The anytime ice cream by the pizza bar is additional. You can purchase an ice cream card. Candy is available and again it is additional. The sanctuary is a quiet place for adults only but is additional at $15 per person. These additional charges on Princess are getting ridiculous. After a soda card, a coffee card, and an ice cream card. The cost of your cruise just went up $100. I prefer the cruise lines that don't nickel and dime you to death. We took in a movie at MUTS. The movies during the day are loud and annoying. No relaxing by that pool during the day. However, at night it was great. Nice loungers, with blankets in case you get cool. Omar, the cruise director, told us about MUTS at one of the shows. He told us how there would be ushers, popcorn and candy. He really made it sound good. So one night we went. We never saw any ushers. There was no popcorn available that night (I don't know why) and if you wanted candy you had to go and purchase it. We enjoyed the TV shown on this cruise. Usually the TV channels on cruises are very few. However, we got quite a few channels. We enjoyed CNN and alot of new movies we had not seen from theaters a few months ago. We liked the navigation channel, that showed us where we were, times and temperatures etc. If there wasn't any good shows that night we enjoyed going back to our cabin, taking in a movie and ordering cold room service. There is free ice cream on the closed side of the buffet from around 3pm to 4pm everyday. Sometimes it was 3:30pm to 4:30pm. We didn't make it very often as we were often doing something else but we made it a few times. This is not posted anywhere in the Princess Patters. I would have never known about it if I didn't read about it on cruise critic. I don't know why they choose to hide it. The ice cream was great but some of the flavors were unheard of. There will be four different flavors each day. One day one of the flavors was Cantaloupe. I kid you not. It was delicious..... I loved it and wished they had offered it again. Transition day-this was a mess. There were around 30 of us who were in transit (back to back) passengers. Thankfully, we had the same cabin on both legs of the trip so we didn't have to pack and move. We choose to sleep till 9am and went to hunt out breakfast at 9:30am. Everything was closed. The dining room, all buffets, the grill, the pizza place, and room service were all closed. We couldn't find anything to eat. I called the purser's desk to ask for some advice. They told me I would have to wait till 12:30pm when the buffet would open again. Mom and me went back to our cabin and breakfasted on our remaining chocolates from several nights before. We were trapped all morning on a ship where everything was closed. Everything on the ship stops for disembarkation. At 12:30pm all in transit passengers were told to go to a dining room to meet. We were led in a herd by a crewmember down and waited in line to clear customs and then we were all led back on board. Moo! The crewmember took off up the stairs not telling us where we were going. My mom cant walk and her scooter cant do stairs!!! So we had to wait on an elevator but we didn't know what deck to go to. We stopped at each deck up. We depended on other pax who were kind enough to wait on us. The crewmember couldn't have cared less. After an hour in line to go thru customs. We finally got back on board after 1:30pm. We went directly to lunch in the buffet. We were starved. I can't believe Princess would treat back to back passengers like this. We really disliked this day. The next few days weren't too fun for me since I was sick. I slept alot. We repeated some ports on the second leg and those days we decided to just stay on board. I still managed to enjoy myself somewhat on the second cruise. Disembarkation-I had a 12:25pm flight. Make sure to take proof of your return flight time if you have an early flight. Your tickets or flight itinerary. The ship will not let you off unless you have proof. I was told by the purser's desk that there was no way was I getting off early unless I had proof. Thankfully, I found my flight itinerary in my cabin. (I thought I had thrown it away) It took me 4 trips to the purser to finally get appropriately colored luggage tags. First they told me to come back the next morning, then they told me they had to check with a supervisor and come back later. Then again I was told a phone message would advise me in our cabin in the afternoon. After no message or contact I again went down to the pursers desk to wait in line. Finally, 4th time lucky, they gave me the correct colored luggage tags. We had to be out of our rooms by 8am. Princess told us someone would be checking colors so not to try to go down to deck 7 to disembark early. They said that you would be denied and sent back to wait. We did not go down until our color was called. We heard many cheaters whispering in line about how they shouldn't be in line because their color wasn't called yet. However, we found no one checking to make sure you were the correct color. Our color was called at 8:30am but there was a long line and we finally walked off the ship at 9am. After standing in line to get off the ship, finding your luggage, going thru customs, and getting a taxi. It can take a long while to get to the airport. We got to the airport a little after 10am. The San Juan airport was an absolute zoo. We had to wait for 40 minutes to just check in for our flight. Then the security line was out the door. I just couldn't believe how long the line was. They were not making exceptions for people with early flights in the security line. We waited in this line for 1 hour. Some people missed their flight just waiting in the security line. We made our flight.........just. I just hate to think of what would have happened, if we were later getting off the ship, if there was a line at customs or if a piece of our luggage went missing. I am sure in that case we would have missed our flight. Never again will I book a flight before 2pm in San Juan. Just too stressful. We really enjoyed our cruise. We are just thrilled to have our beds made, someone else to cook for us and at the same time being taken to wonderful ports of call. We had a wonderful vacation. The bad thing is now that we have done a back to back, I don't think I will ever be able to do a 7-day again. Just too short. ;-) Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
We arrived at the San Juan port at 2:25 on Nov. 4. Embarkation was a disaster. The line was out of the building, out to the street. We were told that due to problems with Customs when the ship arrived in the morning, embarkation had not ... Read More
We arrived at the San Juan port at 2:25 on Nov. 4. Embarkation was a disaster. The line was out of the building, out to the street. We were told that due to problems with Customs when the ship arrived in the morning, embarkation had not yet begun. People stood in the blazing sun with no cover over them. No water or drinks were provided. There was an empty soda machine. To top it, people that arrived via cab were dropped at the front and allowed to cut the line, until one passenger went to the Security Guards and complained. Then people who arrived were told to drop their luggage and go to the end of the line. Once we got into the pier building (which was not air conditioned and had no fans so it was also terribly hot) the process went smoother - we were lined up in rowed seating and rows were called in order to embark. You went to the deck you were assigned to and check in took 3 minutes if your had express check in. Then it was another 10 or so minutes to get through security. The entire process took 1 hour and 10 minutes. However, our disembarkation was quick, so I would think the problems on Nov. 4 were due to this being the first cruise out of San Juan and hopefully, it will not happen again. We had a balcony room on the Baja deck. We loved the room. The room was the largest of any ship we've been on. The balcony was comfortable for two chairs and a table. The bed was super comfortable - better than my bed at home. We had asked for a foam mattress topper, which we weren't given but didn't need at all. The bathroom was small as any cruise ship bathroom - I quickly learned to shave my legs before I got in, cause you can't do it while in there. The water was hot and plentiful and the water pressure was good. The room and bathroom were spotless. The t.v channel changer didn't work so well - we had to bang it to put the t.v. on and it came back on a few times after we turned it off and there was no sleep timer. It took awhile to get the safe thing down - we found that if you closed it gently and didn't bang it closed, we had no problems closing it. Our room steward was Alfredo and he was terrific - he would get ice if we asked quickly and extra towels and brought us a top sheet quickly, as the duvet was too warm for us. The ship is just beautiful. The ship is classy looking with beautiful wood, plenty of places to sit, and gorgeous marble tiling. We thought too many elevators were reserved for embarkation - if you didn't have a suitcase, you couldn't find an elevator to move around the ship. I was with my 75 and 77 year old parents, who just could not walk the stairs to see other areas of the ship. And I heard that some people had problems with the employees on the elevators being very impolite when they asked if they could take one of the reserved elevators, although I personally did not experience that. It seemed that some of the employees were stressed during embarkation. We did find a kind English girl who allowed my parents to get on one of the reserved elevators at about 5:30, saying that there were already 2700 people on board the ship and she didn't understand why they were still reserving so many elevators at that point. We had ordered gifts to be delivered to all of our clients who were traveling with us. One couple who had their room upgraded never received theirs and it took three trips over three days to passenger services before it was rectified. We also asked for robes on our cruise personalizer for all clients - no one got them unless they asked for them during the cruise from the room steward. The couple who had their room moved also received a delivery of flowers to their room for someone named Tammy for her birthday. They called passenger services to report the error and no one ever came for them and they felt that passenger services didn't really care. They went down to the passenger services desk as well and then went to the table where the flower service was located to try and ensure Tammy got her flowers. Even the flower desk didn't know who Tammy was or where the flowers needed to be delivered. We do hope Tammy got the flowers that someone paid for. Several of the people we traveled with asked about church services on Sunday. There were none. Passenger services told them that unless that had a volunteer on board who would hold the service, they had no religious services. These cruisers said this was the first cruise line that had no services onboard. ENTERTAINMENT - we felt the shows started out good and kind of went downhill as the cruise went on. We saw the Motown Review the first night and enjoyed it. We arrived at the theater at 8:00 and had no problem getting seats. The place didn't really start filling up until 8:15 or so. The next few nights, we went to the Explorers Lounge for the comedy shows. Get there early - we had a tougher time getting seats there than at the Princess theater. We found you needed to get there at least a half hour or more before the shows. The first nights, we enjoyed the comedians - Tony Daro was excellent the second night and Rodney Johnson the third. After that, we felt the comedians went downhill. One night the comedian showed a boring 10 minute video or himself with various Hollywood celebrities before he even came on. On Friday night, we went to the half filled Princess Theater for the final show. That was the first time I saw the cruise director, Omar, in person (saw plenty of him each morning on the Princess channel in the room.) The last night, the show was terrible. The house lights were left on when the comedian performed and as soon as the lights went out, half of the audience left - had the lights been extinguished, I am sure we would have seen the audience walk out during his show. We left when the lights went down as well and went to one of the lounges. We enjoyed the singers in the bars and we really enjoyed the theatrics in the Piazza during the day and night. There was a great a capella group, a funny juggler, a funny Italian comedian, a piano player. Don't pass these up - if you are in the area, stop and see what is going on. On the last formal night, there were more people watching the entertainment in the Piazza than almost anywhere else. We made a Dance Heads video one day - the grandkids are still laughing about their Grandma in a cartoon bikini! We did some dance lessons with Lisa, the Deputy Cruise Director who was always out on the ship - she was lovely. We felt that the formal portrait process was set up in areas during formal night that really were inconvenient to passengers trying to get around the Piazza. They were set up in between some of the elevator banks and in front of the restaurants. We had a few winners in the Casino in our group as well. On the third night of the cruise, two people sitting next to each other at two slot machines each won $250 within minutes of each other. Someone won at the slots on the second to last night and one player of Let It Ride won all his money back on the last night of the cruise. FOOD - we found the food to be only okay. My husband is a travel agent and we polled over 40 passengers while on the ship - only a handful enjoyed the food. the rest thought it was only okay or poor. Many of those who cruised on Princess before said that the food is much better on other ships and that the food was the worst on the Crown that they have encountered. On the first night, we ate at the buffet which featured shrimp, lobster claws and crab legs. It was fine. They did have excellent calamari!! The second night, we ate in the DaVinci dining room (as well at dinner Tuesday and Thursday). We arrived at 6:00 and there was no wait, we immediately were seated. The menus in the dining room are heavy on fish, which is a problem for people like me who just don't like fish. I had filet mignon and it was fine - it was a little well done - it seemed the filet was cut in half in order to cook it better and it looked like liver but tasted delicious. Two people had salmon and didn't care for it - they thought it tasted too fishy. I happen to love the cold fruit soups on cruises and ordered them each time we dined at the restaurants - they were okay, but very thin. Dessert was great and the appetizers were good. When we ate there on Tuesday, there were three fish meals on the menu, which totally turned me off - I had the steak that is available at all times, which was good. SOme of the items that our fellow travelers mentioned they liked on the dining room menus were the Fettucini Alfredo, some of the soups, and the steaks. After that, we decided to try the Cafe Caribe buffets - more on that later. I did eat there again on the last formal night because my parents wanted lobster, which they enjoyed. I again had steak that night. We also had breakfast there, which was the only place you could get oatmeal! We did enjoy breakfast - the eggs were cooked as you asked and hot, the pancakes were fresher and you got real toast that you didn't have to wait 10 minutes for to go through the one toaster in the buffet. The third night we ate in Sabatini's and the food was delicious. Our server was Joseph and he loved my Dad - kept calling him Mr. Calabria, as he was born in Italy. There was so much food, I skipped soup and just asked for a taste of the macaroni and ravioli, which were delicious. Two people at our table ordered the fish soup they had and did not enjoy it - they felt the soup tasted more like a fish sauce then a soup. The rest of the food was magnificent, especially dessert. We had our lunches and the remainder of our dinners in either the Horizon Cafe or Cafe Caribe (For dinner). I enjoyed the pannini and specialty sandwiches for lunch, the salads and fruit. One day, there was an Asian theme to the food, which I also enjoyed. But the rest of the meals, the menu was heavy on Caribbean flavoring and food choices, which many people aren't crazy about. By the end of the cruise, the group of 14 we were with finally figured out that there was a real lack of American food - plain meat and potatoes. Someone longed for turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes - you could get turkey scollopini and coconut mashed potatoes. We felt the Caribbean menu just went too far and would have preferred more American food. I found the hamburgers and pizza at the grill more to my taste. Many people we asked felt the same way. As many people have mentioned, the set up of the buffet is not the best. For instance, for breakfast, the single toaster that took a long time to toast a piece of bread was right in the middle of the hot food. It would have been better to put that on a back counter along with the ketchup, jellies and jams, etc. You had to go back in through people who were getting food to get to sauces, etc. On the last night, I saw that there was horseradish sauce at the entrance to the buffet, so I figured they must have beef somewhere and I was right - it was in the middle of the buffet. This was a slight inconvenience they should look to correct as it doesn't take a rocket scientist to arrange the food in a more efficient manner. The prime rib served was very good in the buffets. ISLANDS: First stop was Barbados. We did the 4 WD and Monkey Encounter. When we were ready to go, the last guy that got on our open truck told us he worked for the cruise ship (he was a deejay) and that Princess sends a ship employee on all excursions. That was a first for me on any cruise line and I think it was a good thing. The Monkey Encounter was awesome - monkeys ran right through and around your legs. It was a great encounter. There were other animals and the most tortoises I have ever seen. It was quite comical to see them lumber down the path in single file when the food was brought out. We then were taken on a tour to the East side of the island to see where the locals surf. Our driver took us to a high mountain top and drove partially down a dirt road. We asked her if she was taking us down what seemed like dirt on a cliff and she said she was indeed, this was the 4 WD part of the tour. I tried to tape it - all you can see as the truck went down the path is the camera being jostled and people screaming bloody murder. I really thought the truck was going to tip over, but we arrived safely on the other side. We spent a half hour on the beach (but were told not to go in the water) at a small souvenir table and small restaurant. Next stop was St. Lucia. We took the Best of St. Lucia by Land and Sea excursion. We had a lovely catamaran cruise to the Pitons and a swim of about an hour. We were accosted by several Island residents on canoes trying to sell us souvenirs off the canoes which was annoying. They were pretty persistent. We then were taken to a bus to drive to the volcano. Unfortunately, the bus drops you off near the mud baths and they then tell you to walk down a steep hill to a souvenirs stand. This was impossible for several elderly and handicapped people on our tour, but the tour guide kindly got a bus to come and pick us up and take us down. We then went to a plantation for lunch and a tour of the plantation. Food was very spicy. In fact, we were offered what we were told was Creole Chicken and my Dad swore it wasn't really chicken. He found the cook later and she told us it was the native chickens on the islands, which taste and look slightly different than the fat chickens we are used to in the U.S. Then we got on the bus and took it back to the ship. That was a long drive and took nearly an hour to get back to the ship. I would recommend a catamAran cruise only on this island, but we spoke to others who did the cat cruise only and they felt they only got a short amount of time in the water. Next stop was Antigua. Some of us were too tired to do any excursions and went into town for some shopping and then we went back to the ship. That was the first time I actually had time to go swimming on the ship. Next stop was St. Maarten. Several of the guys did the Bubba Bottom fishing tour - almost all of them caught fish. I stayed on the ship to enjoy swimming again and when they came back, we took the ferry to Phillipsburg to shop. We found that of all the Islands, St. Maarten was the cheapest. Forget about St. Thomas - the shops were twice as much at they were in St. Maarten. Absolute vodka was $6.99 a bottle and a carton of cigarettes was $10 and change here. We don't smoke or drink, but you could not beat those prices anywhere on any of the other islands. Last stop was St. Thomas. We took one of the open air taxi's at the dock into town in the a.m. I am not certain what the deal is with those - they would not take any money from us until we got outside the gates. They then stopped and collected $4.00 from each passenger. Make SURE you tell them you want to be let out near the P.O. - we spoke to people who were on the prior cruise and they didn't know to do that and were let off in a part of town that wasn't near the major shopping area. We stopped at a few stores and found the prices to be more than twice what we paid for items in St. Maarten. We took a regular cab back to the ship (make sure you tell the driver back to Crown Bay). In the afternoon, we did a ship excursion to St. John to swim at Trunk Bay. The beach was magnificent and the fish were plentiful. We had eight with us and we all felt that was our favorite excursion off the ship. We were also the last excursion back to the ship - the ship was waiting for us to leave. But it was the fastest we got an elevator coming back to the ship that day! Several of our group of 14 took cabs at each port to various beaches rather than do excursions through the ship. Their excursions probably cost half of what ours were going through the ship. They asked cabs to pick them up at certain times from the beaches, and the drivers did it on all islands. They were able to rent chairs and canopies or umbrellas at each beach. They did have a problem trying to get to St. John though - the cab they took from the ship wouldn't take them to the dock for the ferry to St. Johns - it dropped them in town and they had to get another cab to the dock. They then missed a ferry and had to wait another hour for the next one. By the time they got to a beach in St. John, they didn't have a lot of time to spend. That time they said they wished they had done the St. John's excursion with us. Disembarkation was fine. We were red 4 and our color was called at 9:15. Finding your bags in the terminal was a problem - they just put the bags in color order, not numbers, so you do have to hunt through all of the color to find your bag, but this is not any different than any other ship we've been on. We took a porter (who also helped find bags) and he took the Customs Forms for us - all we had to do was show our i.d. We took the Princess transfers to the airport. We were on a bus quickly, but had a bus driver was was very loud and continually beeped the horn trying to amuse us.Cabs ar plentiful and lined up in the road outside the pier if you'd prefer a cab. I rated the cruise 7 out of a 10. I loved the ship, the ports and excursions. The food and entertainment wasn't a deal breaker for me, I would not hesitate to recommend Princess to others. In fact, we have another Princess cruise booked for March of 2008. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
30+ cruise for the 40 something married couple. Have travelled on all the main line cruiselines. Have only cruised Caribbean and Mexico. Pros: 1. Ship is gorgeous and very clean. 2. Layout is very similar to other Princess ships, so ... Read More
30+ cruise for the 40 something married couple. Have travelled on all the main line cruiselines. Have only cruised Caribbean and Mexico. Pros: 1. Ship is gorgeous and very clean. 2. Layout is very similar to other Princess ships, so it's easy for repeat Princess passengers to find their way around. 3. Itinerary! WOW! Great islands! 4. Cabin, plenty of storage and room to move around. Enjoyed the balcony and the bathtub! 5. Full ship but didn't have trouble getting a deck chair. 6. Disembarkation was quick. 7. Pool bar service was plentiful. 8. Sanctuary cabana couples massage...excellent. 9. Casino handled the crowds pretty well. 10. Chocolate chip walnut cookies, Yumm! Cons: 1. Embarkation was a disaster (first embarkation from San Juan - hope this is a one time issue!) 2. Food - mediocre. 3. Entertainment - mediocre. 4. Elevators - some not working, the others stop at every floor even if no one is calling them? This wasn't the best Princess cruise I've been on, but I've been on a lot worse. Food was probably my biggest letdown. Shore excursions: Barbados: Golfing at Barbados Country Club...guys had a great time. Malibu Beach Break and Distillery Tour, interesting and a beautiful beach. St. Lucia: Redruit Beach - Very nice Antigua: Antigua Beach Break - Runaway Beach, nice St. Maarten: Orient Beach - are beautiful as ever St. Thomas: Megan's Bay - my favorite still. Crown Bay pier isn't operating completely yet, so there is no shopping nearby. San Juan: new pier used was obviously not prepared for the number of disembarking and embarking passengers on Day 1! UGH! Princess really didn't handle the long lines in the blazing sun very well either. Thought there was going to be a riot when people started cutting line! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
Background: There were two of us traveling both in our early 30's with no children. This was my first cruise ever and my DH's first time on Princess having cruised with RCI 3 times before. The main reason we chose the Crown ... Read More
Background: There were two of us traveling both in our early 30's with no children. This was my first cruise ever and my DH's first time on Princess having cruised with RCI 3 times before. The main reason we chose the Crown Princess was for the itinerary  five ports on a seven day cruise. San Juan Pre-Trip: We flew in to San Juan the day before embarkation and stayed at the Hotel Normandie. It markets itself as being in Old San Juan and it is at the very edge if at that. A cab ride is necessary to get to most places which was fine. The hotel overall was very nice  contemporary furnishings gave it a cool factor  plush, no, but comfortable before getting on the boat, yes. Embarkation: Official start time in our documents was 1:00 pm with the note to arrive at 2:00 or later to avoid the crowds. Even with all of our stalling, our excitement had us at Pier 4 right at 1:00. There was a small line waiting to get through the gates. We also found out after waiting for a few minutes that you need to drop your luggage off with the luggage porters first before getting into the line. A little confusing since we had not received luggage tags before the trip but we managed to figure it all out. After passing through the gates we moved through the line, were through security and on the boat in about 45 minutes. Overall Ship: This being my first time on a cruise ship, I was amazed it really was a very well done ship. Not overdone to the point of being kitchy, but very classic with high quality materials. As has been said a number of time in reviews, there never felt like there were 3,000 people on this ship. Due to the ship being chopped-up or just having a whole lot of smaller areas, you never really felt that crowded. This was different for my DH who is used to the much larger open spaces  especially the pool areas on RCI. It took a little time to figure out the ship's layout, but once we did, it was not too bad getting around. While we did use the stairs a majority of the time as added exercise, when we chose to use an elevator we never ran into that many problems. We did figure out that when you are in the center bank of elevators, not all of the elevators operate on the same call switch. In order to call all of the elevator banks you have to go around and push 3 sets  while this probably leads to elevators stopping and no one getting on (sorry), it is also the best way to get an elevator. Cabin: We had a balcony room on the port side toward the aft section of the ship. While the room was not overly large there was plenty of storage for all of our luggage. The bed was perfect for me but a little firm for my DH  a common complaint I often hear from him that I do not just attribute to the crown. The balcony was a great place to relax, read, snack, etc. Also, being on the port side on this itinerary allowed us great views of every island. There is nothing like getting up in the morning, stepping out to the balcony and looking at a tropical island. Our room was attended by Chya Pat who did a very good job. We too had issues with the safe that did not creep up until our last day on the boat - very odd but we dealt with it. Food: This is an area that can be summed up by great, good, and fair. We were never completely blown away by any of the meals but had some very good food considering meals being prepared for 3000 folks each time. For breakfast we joined the masses in the Caribe (more continental style) and Horizon Court. Each time we took our plates back through Caribe and out to the deck/pool/bar area at the rear of the ship. A nice touch to eat breakfast outside. The buffet areas are cramped and took some navigating and dancing with your fellow cruisers. For dinners we chose anytime dining. The first night was hectic as everyone chose to wait until after 8:00 pm muster to eat and we did have to wait 20 minutes (time enough for a drink) before our table in Michelangelo was ready. On our next night we chose DaVinci to compare and decided to make a standing 8:30 reservation each night there. Godwin, who ran the front of the house, was amazing and took care of us each evening putting just the two of us at a table that could fit four  it is nice to have a little extra room. We never went hungry at dinner and each night there was at least one fish, one chicken, two beef/pork, a vegetarian, and a pasta dish in addition to the standard alfredo, steak, chicken, and salmon that were on each night. Through the week, we had some very good meals and some just okay. On the second formal night we chose Sabatini's and royally stuffed ourselves on the 14 different items placed before us. The food quality was a small step up from the normal dining room and we were glad we used the stairs all week after eating there. Other areas where we grabbed food was the International Cafe  yes, the cookies are good; the pizza bar  great pizza; and vines sushi  a good value and good sushi. Bars: Over the week we found ourselves returning to the same haunts each night. First stop would be Vines for a flight or just glass of wine. While the wine list was pretty good, I would expect a few higher end wines to be offered here. The prices are in line with what I generally would expect, if not a couple of dollars less. We then found ourselves at the bar in the Explorer's Lounge. The bartender was amazing and took care of us each night trying out some new drinks on us which was nice. On our second formal night we also stopped by Adagio before dinner; a very sedate bar with some great choices. It was nice to have so many different choices for bars, each with a different feel/menu/etc. Whatever you were in the mood for, you could get. Entertainment: Unlike most cruisers, we only made it to one of the shows. We hit Destination Anywhere which was pretty good. Keeping it in perspective that this is not Broadway they did a great job. Wherever you went around the ship you could always hear live music and unfortunately sometimes we had to turn the other way because you can only stand so much 5th Element and Ruben Ruiz. While not our favorite, there was a large offering of Latin themed music on the ship as there was a large Spanish speaking population on board. MUTS is a neat concept and we took advantage of it multiple times and you have to love being able to watch football, both college and NFL was cruising through the Caribbean. Also, for once in my life I found a string of luck in a casino, while I walked away with a little extra money each night, I also had closes reeking of smoke. The price you pay I guess. Spa/Exercise: We used both the gym and the Lotus Spa Services. To our surprise, the gym was relatively busy each afternoon we went. They have the latest equipment with individual TVs for the cardio. However, having the latest equipment is not always the best  the new Precor machines cause some careful maneuvering to keep a person over 6'1" from banging their head on the ceiling. This lead to some disappointment in the gym. We also got massages in the Lotus Spa. There was a glitch in our appointment and we showed up about an hour and half early. Instead of sending us back they offered us full use of the thermal spa and facilities while we waiting  a nice recovery. Service: For the most part this was very good. As mentioned above, Godwin in DiVinci, provided excellent professional service but due to anytime dining you never really mesh with your wait staff like you do in traditional dining. Some of the waiters were very good while some we were glad not to have a second night. All of the bar staff we encountered was excellent. For the first half of the trip, the person manning the International Café food area was down right rude and put off if you did not order something that you had to pay for. Luckily, at mid trip he was replaced and we had great service when we stopped by for an afternoon snack. Unfortunate service was received at the Passenger Services desk. After leaving an underwater camera aboard a SCUBA ship in Aruba, we were told there was nothing they could really help us with. We were told to come back after we left port in 3 hours and maybe someone would have turned it in. At a minimum we were hoping for the phone number of the dive company. See below to see how through our leg work this was resolved. Ports of Call: St. Thomas  We went off on our own and had pre-arranged a sailing trip on Highpockets out of Red Hook. This was an amazing day. Kathleen (captain) and Billy (first-mate) did a great job. At a maximum, they only take 6 passengers and were on with only one other person. We sailed some, snorkeled some, ate some, and overall just had a great relaxing day of being taken care of. If you want to do something a little off the beaten trail I would recommend this. It is an all day trip so we did not have time to do any other exploring. St. Kitts  Probably our least favorite port of call. We struck out on our own and wandered through the town. If we go back here we will probably book an excursion. Grenada  One of our favorite ports of call. Like in St. Kitts, we struck out on our own but unlike St. Kitts, we found a great city with wonderful people. As one of the local shop keepers advised us  explore the city on your own and do not pay someone offering to take you through the city. Once we got away from the port we found many friendly faces and some very cool photo opportunities. We did make it into the spice market where as expected we were converged upon  we relaxed and had a great time bargaining and laughing with the ladies. Bonaire  We were most looking forward to this day for the SCUBA diving. We booked the trip through the ship and used Yellow Submarine Dive Shop. Wow is all there is to say about diving Bonaire. We were done in enough to walk around the port and enjoy some local libation. After rushing back to ship we were disappointed that 3 people were able to squeeze out more time then we did in Bonaire. Aruba  We booked another SCUBA trip through the ship and used Red Sail Sports. We dove two wreck sites and had another amazing day of diving. My DH left his dive camera on the dive boat (see above) and after no help from the purser's desk we stumbled upon the Red Sail Sports retail store in Havensight and within 30 minutes they made calls and the dive camera delivered to us from the other end of the island. We spent the rest of the time in Aruba, walking around the numerous stores and once again managed to enjoy some local brew. At Sea  One day of rest  there were 20-30 ft. seas that started soon after leaving Aruba which lead to some careful drink holding and skillful walking down stairs. We chose to hit the pools where we had no issues finding chairs (maybe the rough seas scared people away). Disembarkation -- Due to our late flight (3:45 pm) out of San Juan we knew we would be one of the last groups off the ship. We cleared out of the room by around 8:00 and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in DiVinci. You are allowed to wait in pretty much any of the public areas on decks 5, 6, and 7. While we saw people crowding many areas around Explorers Lounge and the stairs in the Piazza, we waited in the Princess Theater which was only about ¼ full. Our color/number was called at 10:45 and we were through customs, had our bags, and to the airport via taxi by 11:30. Very smooth process. Overall  In the end this was an amazing trip. Was it the best cruise experience ever? Even though I have nothing to compare it to, I felt there were some areas of service and food that were lacking. My DH could compare the cruise with RCI and found some areas better, some worse, but mainly just different. He felt this ship's average age was about 10-15 years older than the RCI crowd which is probably a result of itinerary and on time of year. Due to the older crowd he did not feel the vibe of constant activity like on RCI. For my point of view, it did not bother me too much. Bottom line - when on vacation you just have to remember to relax, enjoy yourself, you are on vacation. Will I sail with Princess again - most likely. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
Crown Princess  November 11, 2006 About us- Mom & Dad, mid 30's, son 11 and daughter 9. We were joined by friends, also in their mid 30s with a son, 8. This was our 1st Princess cruise, 9th overall, cruising RCI (4 times), ... Read More
Crown Princess  November 11, 2006 About us- Mom & Dad, mid 30's, son 11 and daughter 9. We were joined by friends, also in their mid 30s with a son, 8. This was our 1st Princess cruise, 9th overall, cruising RCI (4 times), Disney (3 times), and Carnival (once) in the past. We choose Princess for this cruise because of the combination of new ship and a new itinerary several ports we have not had a chance to visit in the past. Embarkation/Disembarkation  Embarkation was quick and easy. The week prior to ours, which was the Crowns first cruise out of San Juan, we had heard the stories of how it took forever for passengers to get on. We decided to take our chances and went to the pier around 11:15 am, there were around 50 or so passengers waiting outside to get in at that point. Sometime close to noon they let us go in the building and by 12:30 we had our room cards, duty-free liquor and we were on the ship. Disembarkation was a disappointment though. I'm not a big fan of how Princess or RCI does this process and I don't know if it was the customs agents that slowed the process, but it was about 12:45 when we finally got to go, and there were still several color groups to be called after us. From 9:30  about 10:20am, they stopped calling any color groups to disembark. Not sure what the delays were, but this felt like a long process. If they are going to disembark by floors, they should let the last floors to disembark have the ability to stay in their staterooms a little longer. I still like Disney's system the best, just line up and leave when you are ready. I'm willing to bet that some of the passengers who embarked on 11/18 are not going to be as happy with the embarkation process as we were. We stayed in mini-suites on the Dolphin deck, D722 & D724. The stateroom layout worked very well for us. The large closet area next to the bathroom made for a nice dressing area while the kids were still sleeping. When the beds are down for the night, there is too much furniture in the room and you can't get to the balcony without climbing over a table or the sofa-bed. We asked for the table and chair to be removed and that layout worked much better. A definite plus over any other ship we've been on is the ability to open the dividers between balconies. We spent more time on our balcony with our friends than any cruise we've ever taken because of this. The room was a solid A+ with our group. The laundry room was right across the hall from us and came in handy. $1.00 per wash or dry, very nice clean facility with double entry doors so you could not hear or smell anything from the hallway. We had the anytime dining for this cruise. We were a little apprehensive as we have always done early dining in the past, but I think we all enjoyed going when we wanted. We also decided to skip formal nights altogether this cruise and enjoy the buffet a few nights. Twice we ate diner in the main dining room and it was fine both times. The first time however, our waiter seemed to rush us thru and we had very little interaction with him. The second time we had Stephen from Grenada and he was a great waiter. I think this is why we can't decide if we really like the anytime dining better than traditional. Since we didn't want to make a set reservation every night and we had different waiters each time, we did not have the opportunity to make a personal relationship with a waiter. On the other hand, going to eat when you are ready and not on the ships schedule is very convenient. Probably the only negative to the dining room is the menu itself every night. Choices seemed to be more limited in the dining room than on other lines. We also ate at the Crown Grill one night, this was very good and well worth the charge. The buffets were also very good, we always found something great to eat. The Caribe Cafe ended up being a second home to us as it was always less crowded. The pizza was a favorite of all of ours, probably the best cruise ship pizza we've ever had. On the other hand, the famed chocolate chip cookies didn't do anything for us, we couldn't ever get them warm and they were just ok. The macadamia nut cookies at the International Cafe were really good though. The ship layout is very different from other ships we've been on, and my personal taste probably leans more towards the wide open promenades of the Voyager class RCI ships. I never could get a feel for where I was and getting around seemed confusing. For us to go to the pools, we would take the aft elevators up to deck 15, but then we would have to walk thru the Horizon buffet with our pool towels while people were eating. Our running joke for the week was you cant get there from here. I'm still pretty sure that the only way to get to some parts of the ship is to jump off the front, swim underneath, avoid the props, catch the rear ladder and climb back on. This ship is full of intimate spaces and its easy to forget to check them all out to see which one is hopping every night. I think we did make it to all the bars to at least check them out, but I'm not sure. I really liked Adiago's with its Olive choices as a great before diner spot. We had researched the ship and the boards for quite awhile before taking this cruise and knew the layout would be like this, we just didn't know how we would like it until we experienced it. People watching on the large promenades and gathering in central locations like that is probably something our family would rather have next time. Princess does a good job of crowd control as we never felt like we were among 3000 passengers until disembarkation, lol. Service/Staff  Excellent, not sure there's much more to say about that. Our room steward was very good, he did a great job of keeping us loaded with ice and we appreciated that very much. Normally however, we do find a particular bartender that we enjoy and go back to every day. Not sure if its because of the number of choices for cocktails, or that we just had cocktails on our balcony more this cruise, but we never did find that one bartender to go back too. Coffee- This has been such a heated topic on the boards that it deserves its own section. We like coffee and were a little nervous about the bad syrup coffee that we decided to pack our own coffee maker. It was just a cheap $10 one from Wal-Mart that brewed straight to two thermal mugs. Small, light and not a pain to pack. We actually found the syrup coffee to be pretty good though. We ended up packing the coffee maker up on the last night and giving it to our cabin steward along with a bottle of rum and an extra cash tip. He seemed very grateful, so it was still worth bringing the coffee maker just to give it away. MUTS- Another heated debate on these boards, so I'll give it its own section as well. We liked it. At times I guess it could be loud, but most of the time during the days, I had a hard time hearing it over the pool noises. I was glad I had read about bringing a radio as I took my mp3/fm player to the pool and used it on 98.1 fm to hear the movies better during the day. I could not hear the movie sounds from other parts of the ship and it seemed like most families enjoyed this pool in the afternoons. Dress codes- Again, we decided to skip the formal nights as that meant a bunch more clothes and shoes for the four of us, but from wandering around the ship on formal nights, I will have to say I have never seen a more formal ship. It sure seemed like tuxes were more the norm than suits, but we did see a lot of nice suits and a few sport coats (with and without ties). There was also a lot of ballroom dancing on this ship, something I know nothing about, but the people that did participate all looked wonderful dancing in their formal gowns. At the buffet on formal nights, people from formal dress to tank tops joined us and we never felt out of place. It was a great option for us to stay casual all week and not worry about it. We also did see some jeans and dress shirts wandering around the dining rooms on formal night, as well as at the Crown Grill, which surprised us. Fitness Center- Right before we left, we had read reports stating that you have to make reservations to use the treadmills. The spa staff laughed at me when I called to ask about that, just show up whenever you want. The fitness center opened right at 7 or a touch later every day and there were a lot of people waiting when the doors opened. Most of the treadmills would be full first thing, but by 7:30 there was always a few open when we went by. Ports  St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire, and Aruba. St. Thomas is a favorite of ours. We went to Coki beach this time and have done Megans Bay before also. Megans is a prettier beach, but Coki has awesome snorkeling and we love Chef Leslies jerk sauce from his grill at that beach. The new Crown Pier will be nice when its done. I don't shop at the pier, so this didn't bother me at all. St. Kitts was new to us and we took a taxi to Turtle Beach. The cab was only $6.50 per person each way, but the beach was rocky and not very nice. We've never been hit up for massages so much in our lives as at Turtle Beach. We all would have picked something different if our hind sight was working better. Grenada was our 1 ship excursion, the river tube rafting. The excursion itself was excellent; we all really enjoyed it, even if the river part was a touch on the short side. Getting to and from the excursion was a different story, that's one crazy bus ride. Not being one for heights, taking a cab to 1910 feet above sea level on winding black top roads with huge drop offs scared the crap out of me. The views from the top were incredible, but again, that bus ride& We had no idea for Bonaire until right before we left, and our friends saw something about The Plaza resort. We walked, about 12 minutes from the pier to the resort and paid a $10 fee per guest to use the beach and pool. The snorkeling here was great as well. There are some nice coral formations here, and while the fish might not be as plentiful as Coki, we all agreed that we saw more variety and much larger fish in Bonaire. We also saw a really cool eel that was half aqua half purple. Aruba was a rain out. The night we left Bonaire, we went thru thunder storms all night and Aruba was basically flooded, all shore excursions cancelled. From past experience, Baby beach was great but it sounded like the roads were flooded and nobody could get there. We just wandered the shops and went back to the pool, the day cleared off and it was a decent pool day. Kid program  Our kids are pretty familiar with the programs from Disney/RCI and while they had fun on Princess, Princess comes in last in this one. My 11 year old felt that they didn't have enough board games or planned activities, just hang out and play on the playstations. Princess also saved me a ton of money by not putting in a real arcade. We plan on letting the kids spend so much each cruise in the arcade, kind of like an allowance. But Princess only has 4 video games in a small room, that was a disappointment to the kids. Also, on Princess if your kids want to stay past 10pm for the late night (babysitting) parties, you must sign up no later than 9pm. Not sure why that is, but we tried to let our kids sign in on a spur of the moment plan change one night at 10 and they couldn't. Like RCI and Disney, there is a $5 per hour per child charge for this service. Princess was very lax about bringing booze on board. They did have two guys sitting at the duty free  please be honest and give us your booze table, we wandered how they screwed up to get that job. I never saw them take anything and we watched boxes of booze walk right past them. We were at least discreet and kept it out of sight in our carry on. I like buying local beers from the islands that aren't for sale on the boat. I would think the cruise lines would all start stocking up on local beer from each port. In Aruba for instance, they could have a Polar and Balashi beer bucket of the day and sale local beers for profit. Our group liked to play the music trivia games at night the DJ Richard hosted. While they were fun, usually around 20 questions, it seemed like he flew threw them just to get it over with. Granted, there weren't too many groups playing, only 2 of us one night, we all thought he could have made it more of an event. The music trivia's lasted about 15 minutes most nights. We all thought that maybe he could give bonus points by having a member of each team come sing part of a song, or show some video clip questions, or dance along to a certain Michael Jackson dance video (like Thriller). Make the trivia into more of a hour long fun event, and get a few of us to let loose on the dance floor for points, just my thoughts on that matter though. Elevator Etiquette  This is nothing specific to Princess, just bugs the crap out of me. If you want to squeeze into the elevator, fine you are welcome to do so. However, when it stops on the next floor and people need off, move! So many people would just stand there and we basically have to push around them to get off, I think they were scared that if they got off, they wouldn't be able to get back on. Overall Observations  This was a great cruise, we had a great vacation. We had thought about booking another cruise with Princess while on board, but pretty early on we all agreed that we missed things from other lines. This is nothing against Princess, we would definitely cruise Princess again if the right itinerary came up, or on a Alaskan cruise in the next year or two, but for the Caribbean, which is all we've done so far, we would lean towards RCI or Celebrity. (Disney has just out priced themselves to be considered anymore, imho.) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
My husband and I cruised again on Princess -- this time with 8 other family members (5 of whom had never been on a cruise). We flew into San Juan the night before embarkation (booked our own air travel) for our Southern Caribbean Cruise ... Read More
My husband and I cruised again on Princess -- this time with 8 other family members (5 of whom had never been on a cruise). We flew into San Juan the night before embarkation (booked our own air travel) for our Southern Caribbean Cruise over Christmas. Its ports of call were St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire and Aruba. Despite heading to the Port in San Juan at 12:30 to embark (my FIL did not want to tour the City even though we didn't have to be on board until 9pm), it was an absolute breeze. From the time we checked our luggage to the time we were in our Stateroom (Caribe 434), it took only about 45 minutes....and that's including embarking (slowly) with two 80-year old passengers. The San Juan Port is considerably cleaner and more organized than the Fort Lauderdale Port, from where we've embarked previously. Our room was what we'd expected (we've always booked this category -- Oceanview Balcony, midship). The mattress egg crate which I'd ordered before our trip was not on the bed, but our Steward, Doru, was great our whole trip and made the change for us before the evening. Our bags arrived within a few hours and we were able to unpack early, which was nice. The only bad thing about the room was that on a few of the windier nights at sea, the sliding glass door creaked and banged terribly. We have no idea what it was and no one could figure it out. (It would only creak and bang in the middle of the night when it was really windy). At first we thought it was a lounge chair banging against the window...but, that was not it...It was annoying, but we survived...okay, *I* survived....DH is not as patient. ;-) Our first port was on St. Thomas. We had booked the Mini-Boat & Snorkel adventure. However, when we were getting ready to leave for the excursion, they asked if anyone was pregnant (I was 10 wks. along), and as a result, they wouldn't allow me to participate (the miniboat ride was too rough). I had researched all our excursions fully (for level of activity/risk/etc.) and consulted my physician about each of them before our trip. No where on any of the Princess documentation, or anything I'd found online, was there any such warning communicated to us (and no one from Princess knew). Fortunately, they did not argue with refunding our excursion fee. Instead, that day, we shopped through the downtown area. It was fine, but I probably would have chosen to spend my day doing something else, had I known. There were an infinite number of jewelry stores on the island. If you're looking for some deals, you could get them there, it seemed. The next port was St. Kitts (on Christmas Day). We booked the excursion, Kayaking the Southeast Peninsula. It was one of the short days on the island and we had to be back to the ship by 1:30. So, that was really all we were able to experience of the island. But, our bus tour guide was great! It took about 30 minutes to get from the Port to the starting point and he was really informative about the history of the island, the industry, agriculture, etc. The excursion was really wonderful, too. It was one of the more active ones available, but we had a few really non-athletic people with us who did fine on the 2.5 mile trip along the coastline. It was beautiful, too. After returning from the excursion, I had the Lime & Ginger Salt Scrub service in the Spa. I'd had it before, but I remember it being better. This was really quick (supposed to be 25 minutes), but it was definitely shorter than that. Our First Formal Night was that night and the ship was exquisitely decorated. We ate in the DaVinci Dining Room, had great service and our servers were a lot of fun. On Grenada, we did the Hike to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls. That was DEFINITELY the most difficult excursion we did. DH and I did not bring hiking boots (gladly). Instead, we brought old cross-trainers that we did not care if we had to toss afterwards....which we did. It had rained several inches the day before, so the trails were really slick. Several times, we found ourselves more than ankle-deep in thick red mud. The scenery was gorgeous, though. The hike down was difficult because you really had to have a good sense of balance and be sure-footed. And, the hike back up was difficult because it was really steep. Plus, it was nearly 90 degrees that day. So, we drank most of our water (be sure you carry some!) On Bonaire, we laid low. We spent some of the late morning shopping in the cute little town, then we sat at an outdoor cafe and enjoyed some local fare. In the afternoon, we had massages in the Spa, which were pretty good, but not fantastic. Our favorite port was definitely Aruba. Because we got bounced from the snorkeling excursion on St. Thomas, we were able to get on the Catamaran & Snorkeling excursion in Aruba (since the catamaran was a smooth ride, that wasn't an issue for me). That was A LOT of fun! And, it was probably the best value, too. We stopped two places: a shipwreck and a coral reef, plus, it was open bar (okay, the value was for the OTHERS in our group ;-) ), and we also stopped at a beach, where we were given a full barbeque lunch. That night was our Second Formal Night. Our final day, was a full day at Sea. We got up early and had breakfast and found spots by the pool -- where we stayed until mid-afternoon. The ship was crowded, but not as bad as we had anticipated. We sat, however, under the MUTS screen -- which I do not remember as being so LOUD!!! It was really too loud, we thought. Our disembarkation was really easy. We left our bags out the night before, when we went to dinner. We had booked a Tour for the morning in San Juan, so we were able to disembark the ship early. That was nice. The tour was good and a perfect way to spend the extra time before our late-afternoon flight. Princess brought our luggage to the airport, so we didn't have to worry about it and we just claimed it when our Tour brought us directly there afterwards. We then checked our bags with our airline. It was all very simple. Overall, the trip was great. We actually liked the Caribbean Princess Ship a little better, though. The entertainment seemed to be better on that ship, than this one. We thought they'd really get some amazing entertainers, especially for the Holiday. The comedians were good, though. Our favorite was a guy named Sarge. We actually can't wait to see him when he comes to our City. We never got a chance to try Sabbatini's or the Crown Grill. Both were booked for the entire week. We did the Anytime Dining option, but ate every night at 6:15 pm (our reservation time...not exactly "anytime"), in either the DaVinci or the Michelangelo Dining Rooms. Our service was much better in the DaVinci. And, we were actually a little disappointed in the photography. They did not take pics at every port when you disembarked (like they usually do) they only took dinner pics two nights out of seven, and they only offered B&W photography one night, when they've offered it multiple times on previous itineraries. That's about it. It was a special treat to spend Christmas that way! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
Crown Princess Southern Caribbean Cruise Dec. 9 - 16, 2006, Cabin BD335 ITINERARY: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba. At St. Thomas and Grenada we did not dock in the main harbor so there was not much to see or ... Read More
Crown Princess Southern Caribbean Cruise Dec. 9 - 16, 2006, Cabin BD335 ITINERARY: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba. At St. Thomas and Grenada we did not dock in the main harbor so there was not much to see or visit near the ship. The weather was perfect this time of year. PRE-CRUISE: We made our own flight arrangements and flew from Denver to San Juan via Miami on Dec. 8. A Princess representative greeted us near the baggage area and directed us to a waiting bus. We had signed up for the pre-cruise hotel package and were driven to the San Juan Marriott. This hotel is undergoing renovation. Our room had a nice balcony with a view of the ocean, but was quite small and had things in need of repair. For some unknown reason we were placed in a handicapped room. The hotel staff was very courteous. Overall, we felt the hotel was considerably overpriced. There was little available as far as dining at the hotel. My husband ordered food at the Chinese counter in the casino, but the counter people had considerable difficulty understanding English which made ordering problematic. EMBARKATION & CABIN: The transfer to the pier from the hotel went smoothly. We waited in the hotel lobby from noon to 1:00 with about 16 other people. At the last minute our pier had again been changed. We were to have left from the Pan American Pier, but on the day of embarkation we were pleased to see the van was taking us to the main pier adjacent to Old San Juan. I believe the previous long waits in the hot sun that people have experienced (including our son and his wife) have been at the Pan American Pier. Check-in went very smoothly, and we were up in our cabin 335, Baja Deck, within 55 minutes of arriving at the pier. The cabin was identical to a previous cabin we had had on the Star Princess. It was spotless and certainly roomy enough for two people with a large closet containing 3 dozen wooden hangars. The only difficulty was that the beds were in the wrong configuration. This was quickly remedied for us. We found that the safe in the room worked. The trick is to not leave the safe door open longer than a few moments. Close it immediately after inserting or removing your items or it will start beeping and create a problem. Also no alarm clock is provided in the cabins so be sure to bring your own or use the telephone wake-up service. SHIP: The ship is lovely and all the Christmas decorations were beautiful. I do feel though that having added 500 passengers to this size ship, they should have also increased the amount of public space. Instead, the space is somewhat smaller than the Grand class ships. This is partly due to the fact that the Sanctuary, which charges a fee for entry, now takes up part of what was previously public space. Also the area around the aft pool seems to have less room for deck chairs. There was the usual saving of deck chairs where one person would mark a whole group of chairs for his friends to use at their leisure. Note: If you think you will need help navigating around the ship, bring along a photocopy of its layout from the Princess website. All that is provided on the ship is a cross section card listing what is located on each deck level. This is not very helpful if you need to know how to get from one place to another, e.g. the fixed seating dining room can only be reached by using the rear elevator. DINING: We skipped the afternoon Horizon Court Buffet the first day because we knew we would then not be hungry for an early dinner. Our luggage was delivered outside our cabin door at 4 pm. At 5:30 we headed down to the Da Vinci dining room for dinner, since we had chosen Personal Choice dining. Our waiter was Greg from Hungary. He was an excellent and efficient waiter with his fellow waiter, Arman. We reserved table 480 for all the following evenings and were very pleased with the attentive service we received. I ordered room service breakfast each morning, and it was always delivered promptly. My husband preferred the Buffet breakfast. We always had lunch at the Buffet. If you choose carefully, the food there is quite adequate. The exception is the coffee. The coffee dispensers often just put out hot water with sometimes just a few seconds worth of brown fluid. I never could seem to get one cup entirely of coffee! The taste of this syrup coffee is dreadful, but this has been commented on many times in Cruise Critic already. The food at the dining room was excellent except for a couple of items. The Beef Wellington was not as good as on the Star and the Brandy Alexander pie was totally devoid of flavor. The lamb shanks and prime rib were particularly tasty. ENTERTAINMENT: The theater productions did not seem to be as good as those we had seen on the Star Princess and no programs were handed out as previously had been done. They should get rid of the comedians and do more production or musical shows in the theater. The 5th Element in the Explorer's Lounge isn't the best group in the world, but we thought the lead guitarist was good. We went to Club Fusion several nights. Why is it that Princess does not change its routines? The 50's night and 70's night, although entertaining, were exactly the same as we had seen two years ago. The passengers had to do Elvis and Tina Turner imitations. How about thinking up something new? The Skywalkers Nightclub had a rather disinterested DJ, but people were still enjoying themselves on the dance floor. Movies under the stars we could do without. The loud audio of the movies day and night can be tiresome. SERVICE: We found all crew members to be friendly and courteous to us. DISEMBARKATION: We waited in one of the lounges and were among the first to be called because we had signed up for a post-cruise tour. It was not a problem to locate our luggage. It is a good idea to mark your bags with distinctive tags so as to be able to spot them in the sea of black luggage. Our flight had been cancelled and replaced by a 6 pm flight. So rather than being stuck at the airport, which does not have nearly enough seating, we decided to take a tour to kill some time. We toured the Bicardi plant and San Cristobal. The tour driver had to be reminded that we were supposed to stop at San Cristobal. Apparently she had not checked her tour agenda. There are some magnificent views to be seen from the top of this old fort. Also we were a bit rushed on the tour. Although the tour reservation information specifically stated in bold type that it was only for people with flights leaving AFTER 4 pm, we had people on the tour bus with a 3 pm flight. SUMMARY: We enjoyed this cruise and would do it again if we had to do it over because it had the itinerary we were looking for. We do prefer the 2,600 passenger ships to a ship of this size. Next we are considering cruising to Hawaii or the Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2007
It's been a fifth cruise for me and my wife, on a fourth cruise line. The overall impression was positive, especially considering value for the money. But there were some annoying glitches that do not allow me to rate it at the top. ... Read More
It's been a fifth cruise for me and my wife, on a fourth cruise line. The overall impression was positive, especially considering value for the money. But there were some annoying glitches that do not allow me to rate it at the top. Embarkation process was a disaster, the line winded from about 500 feet OUTSIDE the terminal, all the way to the ship. We've spent 2.5 hours from the time we arrived at the pier, to the time we stepped on board. Many passengers we've spoken to confirmed that this was their worst embarkation ever. Considering that this was lunch time, I advise future passengers to take some food / beverages with them. We were very grateful that the duty free liquor store in the terminal was having a liqueur - tasting event that cheered us up. The ship is new, well-designed, decently sized cabins are comfortable. There was something wrong with elevators: they were extremely slow. After waiting for two-three minutes some passengers lost patience and walked up or down. As a result call buttons remained presses, and the elevators stopped at almost every floor, making the ride even slower. It was a major disappointment, especially since this was a new ship, and it was so big (19 decks). For younger passengers this provided an extra opportunity to exercise, but for older passengers this should have been a major problem. Breakfast and lunch were very decent - three buffet restaurants had a very good selection of tasty food. One annoying thing was the absence of free beverages except coffee and iced tea. Juice was served only at breakfast, in tiny glasses. As a result many passengers had to take 4-5 of them, so there was always a shortage at the stand. There was plenty of juice in bars, but for sale. Dining was probably the best experience on the cruise. Fixed-time dining was unavailable at the time of our booking, so were were signed for the "free dining". Having experienced it on Norwegian cruise, we were a little concerned. However, during the first dinner we were offered to reserve a table at the same time for the remainder of our cruise. So we were served by the same team of waiters, and did not have to wait for a table. Those who did not make reservations, had to wait with beepers like in a popular shopping mall restaurant on Friday night. The waiting staff was EXTREMELY professional and courteous. The food was very good. This was perhaps the best dining that we've had on all our cruises. We have taken two snorkeling tours that were OK, but overpriced for the service provided. The first boat (Sea Cow on Bonnaire) did not have a restroom and we were told "boys to the left, girls to the right". The second boat had two restrooms, but both were not working and overflowing with smelly stuff. In conclusion, and with the above caveats, this was a good cruise, and we would recommend it to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
We are in our 40-50's and been on 46+ cruises.....from NY Boarding at San Juan's pier 4 was a breeze and we were onboard by 1pm Our cabin was comfortable but not well cleaned. On arrival we found various debris and dirt on the ... Read More
We are in our 40-50's and been on 46+ cruises.....from NY Boarding at San Juan's pier 4 was a breeze and we were onboard by 1pm Our cabin was comfortable but not well cleaned. On arrival we found various debris and dirt on the carpets and under the bed. Our cabin steward was friendly and did his best to keep us in ice and fresh towels. The ship is beautiful and very similar to the Caribbean Princess. Upon walking around we were surprise at how many broken window had simply been taped over with plastic sheeting. There were at least 10 large glass panels in the Lido and upper decks that should have been repaired after 8 months! In addition 2 hot tubs were broken and never put in service during our 7 day run. The food in the Horizon/Caribbean cafe was fair....not great....but there was always something we liked. The dining room(any time dining)was efficient and we never had to wait. The food was hot and delivered promptly. We never felt rushed ....but it never took very long either. The food was occasionally good! Sabatini's was a good meal and I would recommend it. Our biggest complaint was with Princess Corporate, and the "superbowl" party. This was to have been held in MUTS, but to everyone's surprise, Princess had sold all the best seating on three levels to a "private party" AKA "Interstate Building Materials Corp. for 25 dollars per hour per person......which left the other 2,950 passengers to find a seat around the pool which left hundreds of passengers with no where to go! This was a slap in the face to all the "ordinary " passengers who had were denied access to the superbowl party. In addition we tried to make reservations for the Crown Grill And Sabatini's thru princess before the cruise , but were told that this was not possible, and had to be done on board. Although we were among the first to board, we found that "Interstate" had booked Sabitinni's thru Princess and had the entire restaurant for most of 2 nights. Shame on you Princess you really got a lot of your Elite and Gold cruisers pissed off big time. AS always Princess provides the most and best entertainment of the cruise industry....you wont be bored All in all it was a pleasant week but if you ever cruised on Princess 4,5 or more years ago, you will sadly see that it has come down a long way baby! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
This was our honeymoon cruise departing San Juan on 2/10/07. We're 50 & 46. We've cruised previously with Royal Caribbean twice and Carnival once but our travel agent suggested Princess this time. We've loved RCI but are ... Read More
This was our honeymoon cruise departing San Juan on 2/10/07. We're 50 & 46. We've cruised previously with Royal Caribbean twice and Carnival once but our travel agent suggested Princess this time. We've loved RCI but are trying others just to determine which fits us best. We used the cruise line transfer from airport to ship and that went very smoothly. Arrived at port at approximately 2:30 and got right on the ship; no lines. We were impressed how they made everyone boarding clean their hands with a squirt of antibacterial gel to avoid a major illness while cruising (this was also evident at the entrance to every dining room & buffet throughout the cruise... a very good idea). We went right to our cabin to change into shorts or a swimsuit. We always pack a casual bag for the change but I normally do not include dinner clothes; those come in the checked baggage. Well, our bags did not arrive until after 8:30pm so I was forced to wear my little swim skirt to dinner as a regular skirt paired with a little tank top! Note to self: pack dinner clothes in that carry on! We specifically booked a cabin on Caribe deck: the balconies are twice as large as on all other decks and are partially covered. You have plenty of room to sun yourself if you choose or stay in the shade on your chaise and read a book. Loved it!! The cabin was average but well laid out. Carpets were stained but the rest was very clean. Our steward, David, was not very visible but kept our room immaculate and brought us robes when we found we had none. Whenever we needed him we called on the phone and he quickly appeared. We did anytime dining: food was average and service slow. Nothing unacceptable but it could have been better. Room service was quick even if the choices were limited. I can't rave about anything except Sabatini's. It is well worth the $20 per person charge. You order your entree and dessert only; then they bring you small portions of everything on the menu. This is excellent food and, with 3 servers, excellent service. It takes about 2 hours. I would highly recommend this to all. One caveat: eat lightly through the day because it is so much food you can barely eat your dessert!! Our itinerary took us to Barbados, St.Lucia, Antigua, St.Maarten & St Thomas. We took the catamaran to the Pitons on St. Lucia and that was wonderful (I got seasick but that wasn't their fault). On Antigua we took the island tour w/beach break: tour wasn't much to see except Shirley Heights and the beach was very nice; not worth $84 each. Our best time was on St Maarten with the Segways on the boardwalk. Excellent instructor and tons of fun once you got the hang of it. Lotus Spa: being it was our honeymoon I booked the Ritual Bath and Couples Massage. Well, they advised they didn't have a couples bath on the ship (even though I booked it through the website for this ship) but they did have a Razul (a mud room). Both the couples massage and mud room were wonderful!!! Our masseuse's were wonderful and spent about an hour with us. After the couples massage up on deck in the Sanctuary in a private canopy (all very private and you modestly covered at all points), they take to you the Razul. It is a small bathroom suite with a private steam room and shower. They give you bowls of different things to use on your bodies and instructions on how to use each (nothing naughty). Then they leave you alone for an hour. The massage and Razul was the most relaxing, sensual and funny experience for both of us (you have green goop all over you at one point and you just have to laugh). My husband actually said "whatever you paid for this, it was worth every penny". I would recommend it to all, but it does have a hefty price tag($326/couple). We were so relaxed we could barely move!!! The ship is beautiful and very classy. Even the hallways to the cabins had woods and brass. I have nothing but raves for the public rooms. We caught one show at the Princess Theatre that started like all cheesy cruise shows but when they got to the 3rd number things really got great: costumes, choreography (the London scene had a very dark theme but was great), and the singing. We caught one comedian in the Wheelhouse Bar and he was average. We were always too tired to catch other shows. We would certainly book with Princess again based on this voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
This was my first cruise (my partner's third), sailing March 31st 2007. I'm a Primary School teacher, so have to travel during the easter holidays. Living in Yorkshire, England meant we departed for our cruise during the ... Read More
This was my first cruise (my partner's third), sailing March 31st 2007. I'm a Primary School teacher, so have to travel during the easter holidays. Living in Yorkshire, England meant we departed for our cruise during the afternoon of Friday 30th March 2007. We flew British Airways from Manchester to Gatwick and stayed overnight at the Sofitel Hotel at the north terminal. We departed the following morning with Thomsonfly from Gatwick South for an 8 hour flight. It certainly didn't seem long, but I was rather stiff when we headed for immigration, which was not a good experience. We were one of the last to be 'processed' and it took over an hour to be finger printed and photographed. Check-in at the port was swift and our luggage arrived some hours later (having retrieved it from outside another cabin). If I hadn't gone looking for it, we would not have found it. Strange, as both tags clearly showed E104! The size of the ship was overwhelming at first. With over 3,000 passengers I thought it would get crowded - it never did! It was very easy to find your way around and there was plenty to do. Loved the 'Princess Patter' - thought that was very cute! We chose 'traditional dining'. We were placed with two other couples who were completely out of our age range (we were 28 and 30 years old at the time). They were much older. One couple only sat with us for one night! The buffet restaurants were very good. An easy way to get fat! There was also a pizza parlour, burger bar and ice cream parlour - all serving excellent food. For an extra payment you could go to Sabatini's or Crown Grill. We chose Sabatini's. Oh, god, they brought out so much food! Never again but a good experience. We did a mixture of Princess excursions and some of our own. The best were through Princess. At least you always knew you'd be back on ship in time! Best excursion was St. Lucia land and sea tour. However one American did spoil it by getting plastered (drunk) before we'd even started the land tour! The entertainment could have been better, although Sarge was good. There were a couple of other comedians on board too. It was the first time I had encountered Americans. There were only about 600 Brits, the rest American / Canadians. Enough said! The amenities on board were okay. I didn't feel comfortable in the spa. Felt out of place. Many in there were health freaks and stared alot if someone dared enter that normally wouldn't. The hairdressing service is good. The lady who put my hair up on the last formal night was very pleasant to talk to. The pool was dominated by American kids during the first week, not so much the second. As kids are, everyone else is invisible. But glad to see many enjoyed themselves. We booked this year (2008) holiday 24 hours after getting back from the Crown Princess. We're travelling on the Sea Princess on March 22nd 2008, embarking at Montego Bay. Again we booked an inside cabin on plaza deck, but excellent value. What else do you need when you go for the sun and sight-seeing? Hope to see some of you there! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
My husband and I were on the 3/31/07 Crown sailing. For the most part we had a wonderful time, but unfortunately this was our first and last Princess cruise. We have been on 4 Carnival cruises in the past and found that the Crown Princess ... Read More
My husband and I were on the 3/31/07 Crown sailing. For the most part we had a wonderful time, but unfortunately this was our first and last Princess cruise. We have been on 4 Carnival cruises in the past and found that the Crown Princess was missing certain amenities that we are used to. Embarkation: We had an early afternoon flight out of Newark, which put us in San Juan around 4:00 pm. This was the first time that we didn't pay for transfers to the ship and found it quite easy and a lot cheaper to get a cab to the pier. Since we arrived later in the afternoon, we practically walked right onto the ship. Our luggage arrived at our cabin several hours later. Ship: The ship was very clean and absolutely beautiful. We went the week before Easter, so it was sold out. The pool areas were nice, but crowded. There was a lot of "chair saving" and we could never find even just one for our belongings. MUTS (Movies Under the Stars) was ok. I think that it's a neat idea, but that part of the ship always smelled like sewage, so we didn't last long the night that we went to watch something. Cabin: We found our inside stateroom to be a nice size with a lot of room to move around. The shower situation was a different story. It was extremely tiny and the showerhead was not detachable. My husband and I are both of average build and had a hard time. We were also upset to find out that there weren't any pay-per view movies in the room. We're not into shows or are we big party animals, so we look forward to watching a movie at night after supper. As for the service, our room steward did the bare minimum every day. Most of the time I was hunting him down for something or another. Food: I expected the food to be better than it was. I'm not sure if it was just the ship, or if it's the Princess line in general. We had anytime dining, which was very convenient, but we did better at the buffet. The Horizon Court was a nightmare...a terrible layout. There was a lot of pushing and shoving through the lines. The Cafe Caribe was a lot better. The most disappointing part of the buffet was the drink choices, or lack of. Princess only offers coffee, iced tea and water. We are use to the lemonade or fruit punch that was on Carnival. I ended up getting a soda card and sharing the drinks with my husband. The pizza was good and the ice cream was delicious. It's a shame that you had to pay extra for the ice cream. The dessert looked better than it actually was, but the fruit was very good. We definitely did not gain as much weight as we normally do on vacation. Excursions: I choose the Crown for the itinerary and was not disappointed in that area. We booked an excursion through Princess for every port and had a good time everyday. St. Thomas-Catamaran to St. John for snorkeling, St. Kitts-The Scenic Railway, Grenada-Scenic Tour and Beach, Bonaire-Scenic Tour and Aruba-Boat Ride to Palm Beach. I just have two minor complaints about the excursions. The locals would not leave us alone in Grenada on the beach. It made for a long 90 minutes. As for Palm Beach in Aruba, it was too commercialized for us. It almost felt like Ocean City, Maryland in July...if the water was brown, of course. I don't want my review to discourage anyone from a future Princess cruise. I'm sure that some people won't care about movies in their cabin, doing acrobatics in the shower to rinse the soap off or having juice on the buffet. Everyone is entitled to there own opinion, but we'll stick with Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Beautiful ship! We boarded in San Juan around 12:30. Embarkation took around 30 minutes from time the cab dropped us off until we were onboard at our cabin. First stop at St.Thomas, we did a little shopping. We stopped there on a Sunday so ... Read More
Beautiful ship! We boarded in San Juan around 12:30. Embarkation took around 30 minutes from time the cab dropped us off until we were onboard at our cabin. First stop at St.Thomas, we did a little shopping. We stopped there on a Sunday so most shops closed around 2 pm, some a little later. Next stop was St.Kitts where we did the Southern Peninsula by 4x4. That was a excursion with a lot of good scenery, and we stopped at a small beach for about 45 minutes. Next day we stopped at Grenada, where we just shopped in the little mall at the port. There are a lot of nice little shops to pick up souvenirs. If you venture out of the shopping area there are a few street vendors and you will get hassled by the cabbies for taking a tour of the island. There are also cabbies working inside the mall area, but they are kept from badgering the visitors by the security and police inside the mall. Next up Bonaire. We sailed and snorkeled on the Woodwind! This was a highlight of the trip. We sailed around to an area where the cruise tours do not go and there was only a few other boats in our snorkeling area. Our boat took a maximum of 25 persons. I think we had 22 on our sail. We had a GREAT time! This trip leaves from the Flamingo Resort which is a short walk from the dock. Our final stop was Aruba. There we made the mistake of taking an excursion offered by the ship. This was on a Red Sport Sailing catamaran. We must have had close to 60 persons onboard if not more. The equipment they had was inexpensive and the whole experience was not near as nice as the Bonaire experience. The dive sites were nice and even unique. The second stop that we made was over a sunken ship, the problem was the number of people in the water looked more like the start of a triathlon! People all over each other. Onboard the ship we had a nice cabin. Great service from our steward. We had late seating in the dining room which we made most nights. We enjoyed the menu and service. Our wait staff was decent, but not the best we have experienced, but good. The most amazing part of the whole trip was our experience in the specialty restaurants. We went to Sabitinis and experienced a delay of about 40 to 45 minutes from the kitchen, according to the waiter. We didn't really care since we were with friends, we had time for conversation and visiting. The dinner took about three and a half hours! We also visited the Crown Grill and also had kitchen problems. This restaurant is billed as being based on the Sterling Steak Houses on the other ships with additional items on the menu. Well we had a real problem in getting a stead that was Medium. After some time they managed to get one not Well done. Staff was almost running from table to kitchen all the time, and not very efficient. The dining experience at Crown Grill took around three hours. It all comes down to what you make of it, and since we were with friends and could laugh at our dining misfortunes, and we enjoyed our trip. Had we been traveling alone and experienced all this, we would probably not have had as good of a time. We have sailed the Caribbean Princess and the Crown Princess and do not feel that I would do the large ships again. We really enjoy Celebrity, but they have pretty much dropped the 7 day itineraries from Florida that we enjoyed so much in the past. We will probably try some of the Princess smaller vessels in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email and I will answer them as best I can. Sincerely, Rob Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
To start with I had read many many reviews of the Crown Princess and was still totally surprised! First to give you some background My wife(50's) and I (almost 50) are experienced cruisers (11 and 7 respectively) as a matter of fact ... Read More
To start with I had read many many reviews of the Crown Princess and was still totally surprised! First to give you some background My wife(50's) and I (almost 50) are experienced cruisers (11 and 7 respectively) as a matter of fact we took the original Crown Princess to Alaska for our Honeymoon....Completely different. My wife and I are from Atlanta; we booked our own air, first to Orlando then to San Juan (we booked through Spirit air both times, which was great) We spent our night before the cruise in Orlando at the amerisuites....don't do it, we shouldn't have done it but hindsight is 20/20. Then on the 28th we flew to San Juan, I was in a w/c so we boarded quickly without incident. The Ship is Gorgeous! I don't think there are enough adjectives to describe this vessel...the pictures floating (yes pun intended) around the web don't do it justice as you were walking around the ship it felt as though you were walking into several different resorts! The ship is massive...we never saw the whole ship during the week, unless you count the outside..which seemed to go on for blocks. Our cabin was an inside cabin, it looked larger than it was, the bathroom was a disappointment for a ship this large you think they might have sprung for a bigger shower! The shower was small and hard to navigate, I guess the extra space went to the closet which was large and easily navigable.The bed was another disappointment I felt that goldilocks never would have slept there (too Hard!) but I'm sure Washington did; the mattress felt as though it was made in 1776! We had anytime dining; we didn't request this but due to a mistake by my travel agent...that's what we got and we were pleasantly surprised! We had had the freestyle dining thru NCL when we cruised with them and it was a nightmare.....Princess seems to have the know how to make things work the way they are designed to work! Service in both anytime dining areas was superb! We ate in whichever one was closest at the time we decided we were hungry and never missed out on superb service....the food I must say was also a surprise. The best way to put it is the ship and food are mismatched..... A ship of this magnitude and grandeur should have service and food that one would find in only the finest restaurants, the service not only lived up to this standard but on occasions surpassed it! Sadly the food fell short the majority of times with the exceptions being the Lamb, veal and pumpkin soup. My wife doesn't like Lamb or Veal so...... you can fill in the blanks. As far as the entertainment goes we saw one show in the princess theater (motown show) and that was pretty good. The other entertainment in the lounges tended to be not that good(my wife commented that perhaps the lounge acts were discovered during amateur karaoke night) The Ports were fantastic! We did only two tours provided by the ship the atlantis submarine in St Thomas and the Mangrove by skiff in Bonaire...both were great not only did they highlight some of the beauty located on these islands they were also educational (about the environment) The other Islands we arranged our own tours. One word about Grenada...most of the reviews I had read about this Island were negative...We found just the opposite...sure some of the locals are aggressive when it comes to selling stuff but from the reviews I had read I was led to believe these people were worse than the merchants in Jamaica this is not the case as a matter of fact when you said No the first time (a decisive NO) then they left you alone until you walked by them again but at least they take NO for an answer. Disembarkation was a breeze once again I was in a w/c (a little clarification here; I was not in a w/c until right before the cruise and I was because I was unable to walk far or stand for long periods..a condition I hope will be a memory soon a painful one at that) Would I go on Princess again.....YES Would I sail on the Crown again.....YES Would I have anytime dining again.....NO Princess does it well but my wife and I Prefer traditional dining As far as the entertainment I would check out more of it instead of the small sampling we did. Food: I would hope that Princess expands their menus. All in All A Great Cruise that could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
The Crown Princess left from NY which was a treat going by Statue of Liberty and the city sky line. Trip to the dock in Brooklyn from Long Island was tough - easy to get lost so give yourself plenty of time. Boarding was fine except as ... Read More
The Crown Princess left from NY which was a treat going by Statue of Liberty and the city sky line. Trip to the dock in Brooklyn from Long Island was tough - easy to get lost so give yourself plenty of time. Boarding was fine except as guests in a suite we were told we'd get expedited boarding. Actually, we boarded with everyone else and even had to wait b/c one of the escalators wasn't working and they had to board and disembark in shifts. Fresh flowers were in our suite. We ordered appetizers from room service which we had to pay for - a cheese platter and shrimp platter. Baggage took awhile to get delivered - we almost were late for our 8:15 dinner seating. The suite was gorgeous, roomy and comfortable. Ship is lovely. Even though it's big, it never felt crowded. Our suite was on Aloha deck, in the back of the ship overlooking the stern of the boat - absolutely gorgeous and roomy. No noise ever because no one ever walked by. We were three women relatives traveling together on our annual cruise so we book the suite and it works perfectly. There's a tub in the bathroom complete with bath salts, a full stall shower, separate toilet and sink area, a vanity equipped with make-up mirror and blow-dryer, a mini-bar with sink etc. Two TV's. Full walk-in closet, plenty of storage for three women who always pack too much! A very large balcony where we usually opted to have breakfast every morning. BEWARE - order by 9:30 am, even for the so-called Late Riser breakfast, otherwise you can't get dining room breakfast, just regular room service breakfast. Service could have been better - no NY Times synopsis delivered in the morning. Our steward told us we could pick one up at the purser's desk. No butler service like Celebrity which we really enjoyed on another past cruise. However, we could order six (6) canape's every evening delivered to the room to have with cocktails. Tea in the dining room in the afternoon was lovely - wonderful tea and sandwiches. Dinner in the Botticelli was so-so. Service was rushed - we constantly felt under pressure to order and eat quickly, even though we had the late seating (8:15). We explained to the waiters several times that we wished to slow down but they never got it. The fettuccine Alfredo was always wonderful but the rest of the selections each night often, not always, left something to be desired. Nothing stands out. However, the Crown Grill was exceptional, everything including the service and well worth the $25 cover charge per person. Sabatini's was also good but not as warm and personal as the Crown Grill. Adagio, the bar next to Sabatini's, was beautifully furnished and great service, never crowded, always with a piano player. We brought wine with us onto the ship and paid a $15 corking fee each nite. The wine list was good and did offer some reasonably priced choices but we had our favorites with us. Vines Wine and Seafood Bar offered minimal Sushi for a price. The International Cafe was a great place for coffees and sandwiches, salads and fabulous deserts, a nice change from the lunch buffet. The lunch buffet at Caribe Cafe was great - really good selection, fresh salads, but could be very crowded at times. The ship was exceptionally clean and well-cared for. Shopping on board was nothing spectacular but they did have some good sales on beach bags, evening bags and other odd things. We took full advantage of the spa which was expensive but fun. Renee was the best. There's always the hard sell but once you get past that, it's usually fine. Formal night was nothing that special compared to other cruises we've been on. We attended the Captains cocktail party - again, nothing special and frankly, the captain and crew were a bit stand-offish, not at all interested in hearing about our surviving the fire on the Star Princess last year. I ran every morning on the promenade deck - the jogging track is so small, you get dizzy going around it. The Movies under the Stars was great but get there early to get a good seat. The adult only pool or Terrace pool was lovely as the noise level was much less than the regular pool. Tough to get seats though. And there was no one around to assist in moving the lounge chairs - people were putting their lives at risk by carrying lounge chairs down the stairs. Again, the staff was not very helpful or friendly. That's a generalization - Iliyan in the Vines Bar was great as was the staff in Adagio and the Crown Grill. Like quite a few cruises on the Crown Princess before us, we didn't make Bermuda - weather was not conducive to a stop there according to the captain. We wound up rescuing a sailor at sea on about a 40 ft. sailboat who was sailing from England to Rhode Island and ran out of food and water four days before we heard his MAYDAY. That was an exciting event. San Juan is great - we've been there before so we did our own thing this time, lots of shopping. PR has a tax now so it's not as cheap to shop there as it used to be. WE had drinks and lunch at Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan, home of the original pina colada which was the best we ever had. And lunch was great too. St. Thomas is always great - we went on the champagne catamaran sail and snorkeling cruise to St. John - absolutely fantastic!! Still had plenty of time to shop, which we did a lot of as prices were great. Turks and Caicos was a lovely surprise. Margaritaville is a cute spot, great pool and fabulous margarita's and hamburgers. Lots of Jimmy Buffet stuff and some good shops. A word of caution for the power snorkeling excursion - we thought it would be easier than the regular snorkeling we did on St. John but no, much more difficult. 1st of all, the beach where you begin is filled with coral and rocks and very low water so you really have a very difficult time getting yourself out to where it's deep enough to use the power snorkel. And snorkeling over the Ledge in 5000 feet of water was great for me but quite intimidating for some others. It was also a bit rough and cloudy the day we were there which made things even more difficult. It's a strenuous excursion. Entertainment on board left a lot to be desired. We usually attend the shows after dinner but after 2 very amateur performances (with the exception of one or two dancers), we opted for drinks in one of the bars with a piano player or singer. Entertainment daily in the atrium was a truly lovely touch - classical music played by a quartet on some days, an acrobat on others or a magician. Our suite was so nice and comfortable that we would often retire to play scrabble there and have cocktails in our suite - the balcony was very large allowing yoga practice in the mornings. Nine days seems to be the perfect amount of time to truly relax and get to know and enjoy the ship. Leaving from NY was great, something different from the Ft. Lauderdale or Miami cruises. Disembarkation was the usual - again, as suite guests we were told we'd get expedited disembarkation. Instead, we were allowed to wait in one of the lounges where coffee and Danish was available. Nice, but we waited for over 1 ½ house to disembark - so much for special treatment for suite guests!!! I would rate this cruise as "good" but will probably go back to Celebrity next year for better service, better dining room fare and better entertainment. Read Less
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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