2,152 Princess Crown Princess Cruise Reviews

We are from CA. We drove to Lomita and stayed at the Eldorado Motel so we could leave our car and take a shuttle to the cruise port. The motel is ok for the price and our car is watched over while we are gone. It was less than just parking ... Read More
We are from CA. We drove to Lomita and stayed at the Eldorado Motel so we could leave our car and take a shuttle to the cruise port. The motel is ok for the price and our car is watched over while we are gone. It was less than just parking at the port. This was the shortest cruise we have ever taken and we didn't know what to expect. Embarkation was very smooth and there was no waiting. I did carry on wine and had to go to the wine table but there was no line there either. Our cabin was E 632, obstructed view. As I knew, there was really nothing obstructing the view. When we went to a tender port, there was a lot of clanking noise somewhere outside. It was not really a problem. The ship was nice and was the newest ship we have been on. It was also very crowded feeling. There was a line for coffee, pizza, ice cream and drinks. We were rarely lucky enough to get a seat anywhere on the ship out of our room. The Crown does not have a covered pool and once when we did get loungers in the shade, the band started playing and it was so loud we again left to find a quieter spot to read. We had traditional dinning and it was very nice. The service on the ship was very good. The entire ship's staff were pleasant and we did feel pampered. The food as a whole was good with a few misses thrown in. The first night dinner was a tad slow but everyone was still on a learning curve. It improved by the second night. We did not go to any shows. We love the MUTS. We felt a little bored on this cruise. We have been on cruises over a month and still never wanted to disembark. We were ready to leave after 7 days. There was not much to do during the day for us. The zumba was better than on some ships. The tv guide is on the tv now and so you can't look ahead to see when movies are repeated to plan when and where you want to view a movie. I still dislike the liquid soap and shampoo/conditioner. We never used them. Reminds me of a cheap motel.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was our second cruise on this itinerary, but our first on the Crown Princess. We booked a mini-suite, and were in cabin 110 on the Dolphin Deck. We found the boarding process in Long Beach to be a bit more cumbersome than our December ... Read More
This was our second cruise on this itinerary, but our first on the Crown Princess. We booked a mini-suite, and were in cabin 110 on the Dolphin Deck. We found the boarding process in Long Beach to be a bit more cumbersome than our December cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, but when we boarded our stateroom was ready so we went there first to drop off our carry-ons. Upon using the bathroom in our cabin we discovered that the water from the bathroom faucets was brown. We notified our cabin steward, who told us they were doing some maintenance. The following morning we had the same problem with the water and reported it to passenger services. We informed them that we would be using the bottled water provided in the fridge (usually $3.50) so that we could brush our teeth, etc. and we did not expect to be charged. We never got an explanation as to why the water was brown, but we were also very careful to run the water for a while before using it and NEVER drank it! We found the dining staff in the Michelangelo Dining Room ot be most accomodating, with the head waiter, Alfredo, taking charge of my dining experience and ensuring that I was served gluten free bread and a special gluten free dessert each night. Each evening he provided he with the menu for the following night so that I could pre-order my meal. After the first night he even remembered our cabin number. The entertainment was excellent, with the exception of the Elton John tribute, which we walked out of during the second song because it was so bad! Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
For a "cruise to nowhere" it was OK. We wanted to get away and the price was right ($99 plus port fees/taxes). Not a lot of time to see much entertainment, but we did see one of the new ones with special effects - excellent (and ... Read More
For a "cruise to nowhere" it was OK. We wanted to get away and the price was right ($99 plus port fees/taxes). Not a lot of time to see much entertainment, but we did see one of the new ones with special effects - excellent (and of course I can't remember the name). The singers and dancers were very good. The buffet was as usual - hot food barely warm, but it was good. We tried traditional dining for the first time (thought we couldn't make too bad of a mistake for 3 days). Our table was perfect. A 2 top next to another 2 top and no one else was nearby (table 72). The only bad thing was we had the late seating and we are not night people. Unfortunately, our steward was one of the few who only did the bare minimum. Found some trash left by the previous occupants, no ice in the fridge (a bucket of cold water, so I know he didn't check it). No sodas/water in the fridge (no problem, cuz we don't use them, but still they are supposed to be there). No hand lotion until the last day (with an apology). The Kleenex box was empty. Oh well, it saved me leaving an extra tip. We had A343. Neglected to check the deck ABOVE us. There was a large service area directly above our cabin. There were loud bangs all day and into the night until about 11 PM. Doors slamming, heavy items being moved. Would not get this cabin again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Our group was five couples re-connecting for a quick weekend cruise. All local folks, we like these little local cruises as it is so easy leaving from home. Princess does a great job with these and we've enjoyed many of them, out here ... Read More
Our group was five couples re-connecting for a quick weekend cruise. All local folks, we like these little local cruises as it is so easy leaving from home. Princess does a great job with these and we've enjoyed many of them, out here on the West coast we don't have too many choices for local cruising anymore. Embarkation was very easy, we arrived around 1pm and pretty much walked right on board, while the dining room had closed at 1:30pm, we dropped off our stuff at our cabins and went to the buffet to eat. The food in the Horizon Court was as expected, not great but your standard buffet fare. Most of us had interior cabins, getting a great deal from Princess, and everyone had good things to say about them, comfortable beds, bedding and clean, friendly helpful service. The Crown is having some real problems with her plumbing in the public restrooms all over the ship. On two of the three nights there were multiple closed or un-usable facilities on decks 5,6 and 7.....not cool. Our other disappointment involved the "smoking lounge" called the Speakeasy right off the casino. We've been on the Sapphire and Golden which had really great smoking lounges that had complete bar service and wonderful ventilation that made your time there very pleasurable. Here is was very small with no bar, too few seats and NO VENTILATION. The smoke was so thick that our friends could not be in there with us, I only enjoy a cigar while on vacation, it's a treat......but cigars are not allowed up on the pool deck with the other cigarette smokers, so this was our only option. One would come out of there smelling awful.....not pleasurable. The "my time" dining worked out well for us, as a party of ten we would make a reservation in the morning for us and could get in at 7:30 or 8:00pm if we could not get there by 5. They did a pretty good job with the super bowl, showing it at MUTS, and Fusion Lounge, then opening the Explorers Lounge as well. Debarkation was a disaster, as we had to dock at berth 46 which is 2.5 miles down from where we left as there were two other ships in port that morning. Getting to our waiting lounge at 7:45am and waiting till 9:20 to be called, only to walk down two floors and snake around the atrium until we got to Michealangelo dining room to have customs process us. There were 4 agents for all 3400 passengers.....then get bussed up to where our cars were. It was a taxing end to a fairly nice weekend. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We go on this cruise every year as we enjoy the Christmas festivities and ports. This was the first time on Crown, the ship famous for the noro virus outbreaks but we continued as planned even when we saw ships were switched. We find ... Read More
We go on this cruise every year as we enjoy the Christmas festivities and ports. This was the first time on Crown, the ship famous for the noro virus outbreaks but we continued as planned even when we saw ships were switched. We find checking in to always go quick, but it's too bad they segregate "platinum" from 'elite" princess repeat guests and again ,2nd year, we were put in an uncomfortable crowded area to wait while a handful of elite were in an almost empty more comfortable waiting lounge. We agree with other reviewer regarding problems with this ship really rocking. First time ever ever we had a cabin that creaked and had so many noises any nights were useless to try to sleep through. We noticed the loud creaking sound allover the ship especially on the ends. Maybe this ship was not built as good as Sapphire or as sound proofed, or it was our bad luck to have a noisy loud cabin. And when we entered our cabin a handle was missing for the refrigerator and a mis matched replacement knob was on a drawer, over all tacky. We should not be allowed to enter cabins until they have been looked over first. On a positive note the room steward we had was one of the best in many years of cruising we have ever had. Everything we asked for was immediately provided. We found the ship really chilly in most areas, with 90% of restroom facilities out of order, faucets out of order, soap dispensers not dispensing and the ones working dispensed little little droplets of soap. So we wonder about the ship's noro virus precautions when lack of working facilities and soap dispensers most definitely must contribute to the enabling of the virus. It was annoying. Overall the ship appeared clean. We had confirmed 2nd seating and were basically ignored by the supposed head waitress and assistant for up to 1/2 hour after being seated and through out meals. The waitress seemed rushed with too many tables and just gave us a menu after a long wait, no greeting, walked away only to return later later with zero suggestions. We had to practically yell out to the assistant for water. The food was terrible (we were in Boticelli). We tried 3 different times and then went to the specialty restaurants and even Horizon buffet . The specialty restaurants were very good, we thought the Italian the better one with better service and food. We love all the ports but Cabo is way too short, Mazatlan should have less time. For Cabo you have to get up so early for the excursions its ridiculous. If the ship scheduled better we'd not have had to rush. Getting on a rocky tender at 8 am not my idea of a vacation. The shows were the normal cruise ones, but we really like the Christmas events though out the week, just makes the holiday trip really nice. I mentioned all those negatives but over all we were so happy to be able to go and just enjoy cruising, but those were just things we noticed or experienced that have not happened on other trips. We loved the captain who even came tour meet and greet. His announcements were understandable and clear. The staff overall was great, attentive, and polite. The week ended too soon. Disembarkation was organized and fast. Probably because it had been announced there were about 30 noro virus outbreaks and they probably needed to really clean before the next cruise. We will go again and hope this ship improves as we love Christmas cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We decided to do a family cruise over Christmas, and 10 of us booked 3 cabins. I had completed the online check-in, so getting boarding cards was fast & easy. The embarkation was fairly smooth, but we did have to wait a bit in a very ... Read More
We decided to do a family cruise over Christmas, and 10 of us booked 3 cabins. I had completed the online check-in, so getting boarding cards was fast & easy. The embarkation was fairly smooth, but we did have to wait a bit in a very large waiting area for our group number to be called. Our cabins were ready, but my and my wife's cabin was configured as 2 twins instead of a single. A quick word to the room attendant, and they reconfigured the room while we were out & about the ship. I've been on Royal Caribbean & Carnival, and I was somewhat disappointed with the buffet dining area - very badly laid out, making it congested and difficult to quickly get to items. Food was so-so, typical of buffet food you'd get in Vegas. The pizza, though, was excellent, and many, many slices were eaten during our trip. I chose to get a unlimited beverage card, and my wife got the soda card. It was a little spendy, but having 3 whole days at sea gave me plenty of opportunity to get my money's worth. The drinks and bartenders were all very friendly and quick, and they didn't skimp on alcohol choices. A lot of top shelf liquors are available and virtually all are included in the $10 limit. Grey Goose, Ketel 1, Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Glenfidditch, Glenlivet, Dewar's, Maker's Mark, Jack Daniels, and others were all available. Also nice to be able to use the drink card for espresso and other specialty coffees. I don't know if it was just due to the weather, or if the ship's stabilizers weren't working right, but the ship rocked a lot more than any other ship I've been on, especially bad on the final day. I don't suffer motion sickness, but my brother-in-law's family does, and they all had a bad final day. Even when the ocean looked calm, I could feel motion, which I never experienced on my Carnival & Royal cruises, even way back in 1991. One unfortunate incident was my middle daughter might have got a little sick (vomiting) on the second day (Monday), and when my wife went to the medical center to get something to settle her stomach they suspected she was infected by Norovirus, and restricted her to her cabin for 24 hours! Very unfortunate, since she couldn't join us in Puerta Vallarta the next day. Luckily she's 16 and had been zip lining before so she could stay onboard alone, and wasn't devastated. She was only sick for a few hours, and her sisters never got sick, so we suspect it was a bad hot dog, because that was the only thing she ate that no one else had. The captain did announce several times during the cruise there were suspected Noro cases on board, and buffet service was altered so the staff would give you your selections, you couldn't get food yourself. They were also very vigilant with making sure everyone used sanitizer before entering meal areas. We enjoyed Puerta Vallarta & Mazatlan, but felt the time at Cabo was just too short. Having to use tenders to go ashore didn't help because time was short as it was. We didn't book any excursions through Princess, but found excursions on shore at very good prices. Zip lining in PV was excellent, as was the ATV outing in Cabo. About 1/2 the price of the official excursions. We had 5 "kids" with us (12, 13, 16, 17, 19), and the middle ones enjoyed the 13-17 teen club quite a bit, especially the evening dances. My 12 year old never went into the kid's club, and the 17 year old also only went a couple times. Having the option for them to sign themselves in & out of the club was a big plus. One thing my kids missed was being able to go into the nightclub (21 & over only), and we also didn't go in there, but the one time we went by it was fairly deserted anyways. The service staff were excellent, friendly and accommodating. We were disappointed with the entertainment, very dated and not our taste. The Billy Joel impersonator was very good, but only if you like that sort of music. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
It is our first cruise, and while we had a good time my husband and me, we must say that it was almost impossible to forget the two thousand + passengers onboard. Acitivities on the boat were full or crowded, dining was always an issue ... Read More
It is our first cruise, and while we had a good time my husband and me, we must say that it was almost impossible to forget the two thousand + passengers onboard. Acitivities on the boat were full or crowded, dining was always an issue between 6 & 8pm. We were told by an employee that it was difficult to manage so many people, and that we had to make reservations by 8am sharp. Hum...so much for the relaxing atmosphere. Overall, the service was very friendly when provided by kind, humble staff. Yet, the Eastern staff (Ukrainian, serbians...)was not as friendly, and definitively not humble. Food was very good, but stay away from any "so called" French food. The chefs are not up to the task, beside very good quiches and fresh fruit tarts. As for the meals, mistakes were corrected, apologies stated, yet two of our evenings were spoiled, and no reparation was done! The room was very small, yet we spent a lot of time in it, as we do not like crowded places. We strongly recommand the "Zipline in the Jungle" in Puerto Vallarta. Soooo much fun!!!!!! Although their picture packages are very expensive compare to other excursions along the trip. Overall, a good experience, but not as relaxing as expected.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons. Pros: The pizza ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons. Pros: The pizza was AWESOME!!! Always fresh, hot, thin crust, nice sized pieces, and there was always cheese and pepperoni available along with a special for the day. Great selection of alcohol under 10$ which was included in the all-inclusive beverage card. The bartenders did not skimp on the amount of booze in the drinks. Our stateroom attendant was great! She was very attentive, our room was always clean, and available to meet our requests/needs. Deck 7 was our favorite. It is an open deck and we would walk around the ship a lot. There were several places throughout the deck to sit, read, and relax. They had a British Lunch a few times during the week and the Fish and Chips were GREAT!!! The disembarkation was very well organized, smooth, and efficient. Recommend letting cruise line get you to where you need to go (for us LAX). We paid 20$/person to go to the Crab Shack and it was worth it!!! Delicious seafood and portions! For entertainment we enjoyed Movies under the stars, bingo, and the exec chef demonstration. We were GRATEFUL that they televised the NFL games on the big screen Sunday and Monday night. We appreciated that they hand sanitizer throughout the ship and at the entrances of food stations. Although we didn't have kids with us, It was a nice touch that they had Santa circle the boat on the tender on Christmas day for the kids. Overall, service was great and employees were friendly. CONS: Food in the Horizon Court buffet was so-so to below average. My husband had a piece of andouille sausage that he said tasted like throat spray.....and he eats everything! For a cruise in the Mexican Riviera we were surprised there wasn't more Mexican food? We wished our time in Cabo was all day instead of just 1pm... The tender took some time getting to and from the shore. The internet packages were overpriced so we opted to just quickly check our e-mails paying 80 cents per minute!! If you purchase the all exclusive beverage package you better drink! Doing the math, it equates to drinking $50/day whether it be booze, soda, specialty coffee, etc. We did make good use of getting large bottles of water which were $3.50 each. We expect it to be crowded when there is >4,000 people on a ship but...It seemed like there was never anywhere to sit for meals and there was always a long line when waiting to be seated for dinner (we were anytime dining). Overall we had a good time!!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We have not been on a large ship cruise in several years. We have done several river cruises which are intimate and provide a very different experience. As we had to be in the LA area visiting friends and family, this seemed like a good ... Read More
We have not been on a large ship cruise in several years. We have done several river cruises which are intimate and provide a very different experience. As we had to be in the LA area visiting friends and family, this seemed like a good way to spend some extra time and see some California spots we had not been to before. We were able to board earlier then anticipated which gave us time to unpack, enjoy lunch and not be hurried before the Muster drill and dinner. The ship is in very good shape. Our room was what we expected for a balcony suite at the aft of the Aloha deck. We decided to do the "anytime" dining which really isn't anytime. The have two lines for dinner, one for with reservations and one without. We usually ate at 7.30 pm and both lines were seated quickly. Except for the first night, service was very good, the food was well prepared with ample variety. My wife has a problem with lactose and she was well looked after. She really enjoyed the special desserts they made for her. Most mornings we also did breakfast in the dining room. Its much more leisurely and you get to talk to some real interesting people if you share a table. But stay away from breakfast in the dining room on the last day of when everyone is disembarking. The line is long and they are short staffed because days off and the additional duties of getting the ship ready for the next cruise. Entertainment was good to very good. We only had one day by the pool because of the changing weather. Since last we cruised we noticed there much less discussion or encouragement about the gratuities. I guess most passengers elect just to have added to their account. The other change was the lack of prodding to complete surveys. I don't know why this is, but it was a chore we do not miss. We are a very active mid 60's couple and partake of the gym or the exercise classes most days. Most of the crowd was probably 75+ plus but they are vibrant and had many interesting life experiences to talk about. All in all Princess did a nice job. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I've taken 17 cruises and decided to take a longer vacation with my favorite cruise line Princess! Mostly wonderful sunshine and calm seas for the entire trip. Ship moved well through the waters. Visited Hawaii Somoan Apia, PagoPago ... Read More
I've taken 17 cruises and decided to take a longer vacation with my favorite cruise line Princess! Mostly wonderful sunshine and calm seas for the entire trip. Ship moved well through the waters. Visited Hawaii Somoan Apia, PagoPago and Tahiti. Quite the adventure. Was very happy with my cabin as obst ocean view was a glorious view port side. embarkation was effortless since our plane was delayed and a close departure ensued. We selected anytime dining and found our choices of table mates varied as cruisers were from many diversified countries. Food selection was basic food always tastey but not up to Princess as far as Ohed or ahed!! Service quite slow .Everyone friendly and courteous. Felt like home after just a short time. Our ports were mostly tenured and not run efficiently. Time was short so this was important to me. Always found ship clean and tidy. entertainment was every night with new entertainers taken when they could. Cruise director stood in for a wonderful rendition of Fiddler on the Roof !! Cruise enthusiasm was great on such a long voyage until Noravirus appeared. Deflated the spirit. Found 10 sea days not long as everyone found their own space on the ship. The islands are memorable since Naturalist was inspiring and motivating. Quodos to her!! This was a bucket list cruise Glad I shared this adventure with my travelmate and husband. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Background Info: My husband and I are both 32. This was our 7th cruise and 7th unique itinerary, our 3rd cruise with our daughter who is 3, our 2nd cruise we’ve taken with other family members, and our 1st cruise with Princess Cruises. ... Read More
Background Info: My husband and I are both 32. This was our 7th cruise and 7th unique itinerary, our 3rd cruise with our daughter who is 3, our 2nd cruise we’ve taken with other family members, and our 1st cruise with Princess Cruises. Our others have been 3x Carnival, 2x Disney, and 1x NCL. I am a travel agent that specializes in Disney and Cruises, so I do a lot of research prior to traveling. We love cruising and wish we could sail all ships and itineraries. We are slowly working our way around the world by sea! We’d like to try out other destinations on their own, but the value of a cruise gets us every time. Travel to Embarkation Port: We currently live in San Diego, so we are able to easily drive to the Los Angeles World Cruise Center. This time, we did Disneyland the day before our cruise. Being it was Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, on Friday nights they host Mickey’s Halloween Party, a special ticketed event. We thought this would be a good opportunity to try that out and see how our daughter would like Disneyland. So, we drove up to Anaheim the night before the cruise, partied, and stayed the night near Disneyland. Hotel Info: We stayed at the Best Western Plus Pavilions, just outside of the Disneyland Resort. This hotel is one of very few that has free parking and we only spent $120 for 1 night. I found this to be a good value, for the area. In comparison, Disneyland parking is $17 per day. With our special event ticket, we did get free parking at Disneyland, but the parking structure was at least a mile from the hotel. The hotel was nice enough. It compared well, on the interior, to another Best Western Plus that we stayed at this summer. The exterior looks like a normal roadside Best Western or other inn/motel. There is no breakfast advertised, but they did have apples and bananas in the afternoon when we checked in and yogurt in the morning when we checked out. We didn’t use the hotel for much other than sleep and a shower. One thing to note is that the A/C wasn’t running in the room when we dropped off our luggage. Normally you probably don’t need it and when we entered it felt cool, despite it being an abnormal 100F degrees that day. Unfortunately, by the time we returned to the room that night, it had gotten a little warm and humid in the room. We were exhausted from our evening at Disneyland that it almost didn’t matter, but we turned on the A/C and slept relatively comfortably that night. In the morning we showered. They had ‘upgraded’ soaps, so they say, but they seemed pretty normal and in really tiny bottles. There was enough for us to use for 1 day, so it fit our needs. There was a hair dryer, an instant coffee maker with a few small coffee and tea packets to choose from, a cooler type of mini-fridge, and a nice TV with local HD digital cable which included various Disney channels ( a nice touch for a preschooler). Cruise Review: Embarkation: Los Angeles World Cruise Center in San Pedro…  We drove ourselves and parked at the pier. Had we stayed in a hotel in San Pedro the night before, we could have gotten free parking at a hotel. I had done the math and it wasn’t really worth it to drive to San Pedro after a long evening at Disneyland. My normal plan is to arrive at the pier around 10:30, good thing we did! When we arrive at the pier, we wanted to drop our checked luggage with the porters. To do this we had to circle the entire parking lot, which included driving past a decommissioned battleship which for some reason slowed down traffic, the berth for Norwegian Sun which also slowed down traffic, large delivery trucks who didn’t seem to know where they were going and slowed down traffic, and finally we got to berth 93 which is right next to the entrance of the pier, where the Crown Princess awaited our arrival. This trip felt like an eternity! We dropped our bags with the porter and our carryon with our family who had taken the shuttle from their pre-cruise hotel (Doubletree San Pedro). They were able to schedule their shuttle to the pier for quite early. I’m not sure of the official start time but they picked 10:15 or 10:30. Knowing that the Doubletree has early options, I feel comfortable with staying there for future LA departures. Anyhow, we tried to escape the baggage drop and get into the parking lot, only to have a crossing guard halt our path for an eternity while he let everyone walk across. The parking lot wasn’t full at all, maybe this is why they have ‘cheap’ parking? $12 a night for parking at the pier, or anywhere in LA, is not bad! Miami, is up to $20 a day, and I think Port Canaveral was up to $15 a day. Long Beach, around 10 mins away, is $17 a day! In Florida, you can find cheaper offsite lots that are safe to use. In LA and Long Beach, you aren’t quite as lucky and have to either stay at a hotel with parking or fork out the $$ to the port authority. We parked, loaded our daughter into the stroller, grabbed our remaining carryon bags. When we got to the crosswalk… the guy wasn’t paying attention and we had to fend for ourselves to cross. Oh the irony! Then there was check-in. For one, it seemed weird that you could enter the cruise building and check-in to the ship before you even go through security. Now that I think back, we were able to check-in at Long Beach before we went through security. In Florida, it seems the other way around. The security is probably all for show anyway, right?! Then there were all these ladies working the port. Oy! First they were all very eager to point you into the right direction, which was mostly nice. But there was this one lady who was rather demeaning about it all. I enquired to find out if Elite level passengers have a special check-in, she asked to see my papers and declared that I did not have ‘preferred’ markings on my boarding pass and should proceed with the rest of the masses. OK lady. When we finally checked in I did receive my Elite card, for being a fully certified travel agent, so that’s what matters. After I had the card in hand, I got plenty of special attention. Getting the card, was a whole experience in itself. One, apparently we made things difficult for the lady checking us in. We didn’t bring our full passport book, we only brought our card. The only foreign port we were visiting was Ensenada, which is a few hours drive away from our house. So, it seemed to us, the risk of losing our passport book infinitely outweighed our likelihood of needing it. Two, this lady is either new or has never entered data on a computer before in her life! The ‘fancy’ scanners for passports couldn’t scan our cards. Yay technology! Then, because our daughter is 3 and we weren’t going to need to fly internationally with her, she didn’t have a passport book either, just a birth certificate. So, this lady had to manually enter all the dates from our documents. She must have needed glasses or something because part way through, when she had to enter my husband’s info a second time because it didn’t save… she declared, that’s weird, they have your birthdays listed as the same date! This is after she said her son and I have the same birthday in AUGUST, the date she now mentioned was in OCTOBER. I was like “um, I think that is the expiration date”. “Oh I see now, yes it is”. D’oh! 100’s of people must have checked in, in the time it took us to. We probably could have been in group 1 to board, but we ended up with group 2/3. Actually, once I had my Elite card, I could have entered with the rest of the loyalty members with priority boarding, but we were happy enough with group 2 and wanted to stay with our family. Either way it didn’t matter much, because boarding didn’t start until Noon! I was somewhat surprised by this, as other cruises seem to start with the special groups no later than 11:45am. The PA system in the building was horrendous. The announcer would come on and you could only catch a few words he said. Between a few of us we could match up our words enough to get an educated guess at what he was telling us. When the group numbers started, that was very clear, as people started moving in large herds. The photo process was interesting. Not sure if it is a Princess thing, or just the way this port building was laid out. We didn’t get a photo taken until we traversed toward the gangway. The security team would scan your card and take your photo with a handheld scanning/photo taking device. It was very efficient, since all they need for your card is a headshot. The group photos were taken, onboard the ship as soon as you stepped inside on deck 7, after they scan you onboard. Most of our grief was due to the lovely city of Los Angeles and it’s Port Authority. It’s surprising that they don’t have a parking garage at the port. Having a garage would open up more space for traveling lanes around the berths. Having to circle the whole port to get to your ships berth is quite annoying. The other big issue was check-in. We are giving the lady the benefit of doubt; we must have been the first people with passport cards to cross her path. We use them every cruise, and have never had an issue. The start time for boarding, wasn’t that late, and can be excused because Princess Cruises tries to uphold the policy that all staterooms are ready at time of boarding. All other cruises we have taken, it is 1:30PM or later that rooms are ready. Embarkation Grade: 3-4, a bonus point is awarded for having our room ready to drop our carry-on bags and stroller! Dining: We didn’t partake in any of the specialty dining at Crown Grill, Sabatini’s, or the Crab Shack. However, the crab shack did pique the interest of my husband and he’d probably try it next time. It was offered at least 2 nights of the cruise, up in the buffet area. They closed off a portion of the buffet and used the seating there. We tried the gelato at the International café for $1.50. It wasn’t as good or creamy as some gelato we’ve had before, but it was still tasty and they gave us 2 small scoops of 3 flavors, 6 scoops total. We often did the buffet for breakfast, which was typical breakfast foods, nothing to complain about, except maybe the eggs, which I’m sure are that weird egg mixture in a carton. For that reason, we did eat in the dining room for breakfast 2 mornings to get my real egg fix. A cruise is not complete until I get Eggs Benedict, which wasn’t on the menu but they will make it if you order it. For lunch, on sea days, we did the buffet because they had a themed buffet back in café Caribe, which seemed to be the only place you could get any kind of ethnic foods. When we were in port, we had lunch while we were out exploring. Next time, I‘m going to pay more attention to the themes listed for the buffet at dinner and try those out, as we really did enjoy what they had to offer. The foods were all fresh and kept warm. I also noticed the food was all served from French looking cast iron cookware, I do believe that helps keep the food warm without drying it out under heat lamps. On the last full day, when we went swimming after Ensenada, I finally got to try the pizza on the pool deck. It was good and I would like to try some of their other specialty flavors, they only serve 3 types of pizza a day, 2 of which are standard flavors: Margherita and Pepperoni. It was definitely better than other cruise line pizza we’ve had and it was served as a full 16”+ pizza, rather than smaller personal sized pizzas. I think I saw that they had 3 full pizza ovens, so I would guess they can keep up with the demand. In the mornings, when we didn’t feel like the dining room or buffet, we’d try out the International Café. We didn’t have enough days to try it out for lunch. Unfortunately, the times we were there in the morning, all they had was pastry. So we got donuts, two of the mornings. They were good, but not quite as good as a fresh donut from a bakery. On future cruises, I would like to eat brunch/lunch here and try the egg sandwiches. I am assuming they make them later in the morning? Or maybe one has to ask about getting one? Either way, I never saw them at the times I was eating at the IC nor did I see any signage saying they’d make one. I know I know, I should have asked! But one does reach a point, on a cruise, where more food choices are not necessary! I do at least. So, that leaves us with the dining room. At dinner, since we were on with a group of 7, I was somewhat coerced a few nights to go to the dining room, when all I wanted was a slice of pizza. I did manage to skip dinner two nights. The first was San Francisco, as we didn’t return until almost 9PM and the second was on the last night.. .when I finally reached the point in which I physically was so full I couldn’t eat any more! I had zero hunger for almost 24 hours. Haha! OK, so the dining room was fabulous. I only had 1 meal that was not so great: the “short ribs”. Every time I’ve had short ribs, they have been amazing… this time they tasted a lot like pot roast! The only appetizer I didn’t care for was the spring rolls… they had no flavor. No garlic or ginger, just slimy cabbage. I did try some other items that were good and very different from my every day palate. The first night, I tried an app called ‘Red Snapper Mojito” which was like a ceviche served in a small martini glass. It was very fresh and similar to eating Sushi, but it was cut into tiny pieces and marinated in a lime juice mixture. Another night, I tried a chilled goat cheese soup. I can’t remember everything I tried, but here are a few of the entrees that were good: Fried Chicken.. yep I did it and it was good! It was offered as a “home style favorite”. I also tried their famous Fettuccini Alfredo which is made with homemade fresh pasta.. .yummy! I also tried a vegetarian dish which was a cheese and leek tart, I think. I ordered a Kalua Pork dish as back up. Actually, it was the other way around. I got the tarts as back up because I was wary about luau style pig, it can be pretty fatty. Both were really good so, joke was on us and we ate more than we should have. Our Executive chef was from Italy, so one night there were many Italian inspired dishes on a menu designed by the chef. I had the fresh gnocchi in red sauce a try and it was fabulous. Oh the desserts! One of the best parts of cruising because we rarely treat ourselves to rich desserts. I ordered soufflé one night.. I don’t know why I do this, but I do it on every cruise and I really don’t care for them… maybe I think that the next person that makes one will “WOW” me. Aside from that, I loved everything I got. A few of the nights they served our desserts and then also offered us Petit Fours… omg… why more food?! The best dessert of all was part of their new ‘Chocolate Journey’. I thought this was rolling out to the fleet next year, but we were lucky and it had already started on our ship. The night I took my journey was a chocolate hazelnut stack thing. It was AMAZING. If you’ve ever tried a French style chocolate with a hazelnut and chocolate filling.. it tastes just like that! If I ever have to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it might be that dessert. The second chocolate journey night, I was much too full from our afternoon snack in San Diego to eat all my dinner, the thought of dessert made me a little ill, but it sounded delicious as well. Dining Grade: 4-5. Food was all very good quality, we just want more variety. Service: Our room steward was good. He didn’t do anything spectacular but he did a great job at getting our room put together. Even if we left early for a quick breakfast, our room was always done up by the time we returned. He was speedy and sneaky, as most time I didn’t even see him in the hallway, yet still our rooms would be done! He even made our daughter a couple of towel animals, which others did not receive and we figured they must be a feature for more family friendly cruise lines. We didn’t have many requests, but whenever we did he was very quick to fulfill them. On a few occasions we had the pleasure of utilizing the bar staff. One time was during the Captain’s Circle get together, where the drinks were free, but the service was still great. We ordered a few cocktails, not on the trays going around, that night and they all came out quickly. The other times we used the bar was during several Happy Hours on board. I don’t see this often, but for 1 hour here or there, they would run a Buy One Get One free happy hour! On our sailing it was 3PM each day, and it got pretty crazy in there. We highly recommend the 24K Gold Margarita. Both times, my husband and I shared 1 order, and it came out as quickly as you’d expect, for such a crazy promotion. We only had to visit guest services twice. The first time, I was asking about the Treasure Hunt booklets on the first day and the guy had to go hunt for them?? The second time, was the last morning, when we noticed a charge from the dining room that we didn’t think we had made. Turns out we didn’t make it, but our family in another cabin did. So we got that switched over after a long debate with the nice woman at guest services. Thankfully she was able to point out what had happened to us and we were all eventually able to understand the situation. We all booked the cruise during a time when a free bottle of champagne was offered. When I used our voucher it was the same Champagne as what was offered, so it didn’t appear on our bill, as it was fully comp’d. The next two cabins traveling with us selected a different, lesser priced bottle of sparkling wine, so they were credited the amount of the original bottle and then charged for the bottle(s) they ordered. In the end, everyone’s wines were free, so yay for Princess! The first night or two, our dining staff seemed very busy and rushed and we didn’t get our dessert until 15 minutes before the next dinner was to start! The first night, we barely made it to the show. The second night we actually missed the one show I wanted see, boo! The next nights were much smoother and our orders went in more quickly. They were very nice and often offered to bring more food than we could ever eat. Be careful mentioning that you are deciding between two entrees! It is very likely that both will show up. :) I do feel like, when a young child is present, that they should put a higher rush on getting their food out. One evening, our daughter fell asleep before her food could get there. Some nights it was quick and others her food was slow to arrive. As always the servers in the dining room are also out and about during the day. We saw our assistant server several times in the buffet, getting drinks for everyone. Service grade: 4 Public Areas: Princess Cruises has beautiful ships. The overall theme of the ship is Italian inspired with nautical touches. There is marble and a Tuscan stone look throughout. The lounges and bars have a classic look with dark wood throughout. The Piazza is central to the ship and is where the service desks, shopping, café, and is where 2 of the main dining rooms are located. The art gallery, library, a few of the lounges/bars, and the casino also have access from the Piazza area. Most of the ‘action’ on the ship is on deck 7 and in the Piazza. The stores on board were filled with very nice things, but were not filled with many things I was interested in buying on a cruise ship. Good for the pocketbook, I suppose! There are 3 dining rooms and I believe we visited all 3 for various reasons. They all looked very similar. Our assigned dining room was Botticelli. It was on deck 6, aft, and the only way to access it was from deck 7 aft. That was slightly annoying, as everyone had to use the same set of stairs or elevators at dinner time. A small plus for this dining room, is there were bathrooms located within the dining room behind the front desk! This was great to have when our daughter decided to drink a gallon of milk and water during dinner and had to use the bathroom 3 times. The buffet on the Lido deck has two areas. My husband and I utilized the Café Caribe in the back more than Horizon Court. This was partially due to Café Caribe being a little less busy because it is all the way AFT. The other reasons, I will cover in the dining section of the review. We did use the ship pools at one point. We went in the pool near the Movie Under the Stars screen which is the Calypso pool. It was the afternoon of the Ensenada port day, and it was nearly empty for the whole time we were there. The pools were very deep and had a short wall surrounding the pools, with an area for overflow of water. I found this nice because it keeps small kids from running straight to a pool and jumping in. The pool was a little chilly, but it was also a warm day, near 80F degrees. The main theater was a little small for the amount of people that seemed to want to use it for the shows at night. But, I do appreciate there not being giant support poles blocking to view of the second level seats! That is one of our biggest complaints from other cruises we have taken. The seats were comfortable and there are hidden trays in the arm of the seat. The lounge that had many of those support poles, had many tv screens installed around the whole lounge, to broadcast what is being done on stage and to show the BINGO screen during games of that nature. The library had many books and a few games to play. The future cruise sales desk had some computers with information on how to book a cruise, there were also puzzles stacked in the corner. They also had a limited supply of mini-brochures. So, if you are interested in shopping a new itinerary to book onboard, I suggest you go there early. The internet café was filled with empty seats. One, internet is slow at sea, and two the Crown Princess is one of a few of their ships that is/has WiFi installed throughout! I wasn’t aware when we boarded, but quickly learned of this feature. You can use your computer, phone, tablet, etc to access the ships intranet. On there you will find operating hours and a list of most activities. We found that some activities didn’t make it onto the internet Patter, so it’s best to double check between both. But, it is nice to not HAVE to carry around your daily Patter with you. Public Areas Grade: 4-5 Entertainment: We saw a few of the main entertainment shows and performers. Unfortunately, we missed all 3 of the main production shows. We were able to see the comedian and also the comedic acrobat twice. We enjoyed both quite a bit. The singers I heard throughout the ship were good. I especially liked this mariachi style trio that performed in the Piazza. Our cruise director and his staff were both funny and entertaining. We enjoyed all the activities they put on for us. In fact, the Cruise Director, Billy Hygate, did a song routine before the comedian put on his set, one night. It made me wish I went to other shows, to see if he did anything else that was entertaining. On the last night, the cruise entertainment staff and crew put on a talent show and it was very funny. A few crew members come out and sing songs and in between the CD staff do little skits that are pretty funny. I hope this show varies ship to ship as it is one of the more unique events we saw on board. As I mentioned we saw the acrobatic guy twice. He was both funny and did balance/strength tricks. The first show of his that we saw was in the Piazza, which was a teaser for his full show in the lounge a few nights later. Both were very good, the manner in which he did his jokes was very entertaining. The stand-up comedian performed in the welcome show and then later on in the big theater. Some of his jokes were the same in both shows, which was disappointing. He was funny, but in a stereotypical kind of way. I didn’t get to see the hypnotist in either the Piazza or the theater/lounge. Entertainment: Hard to judge, but I will give it a 3-4 based on what we saw. Activities/Enrichment: As I mentioned elsewhere, the Cruise Director and his staff were great. We enjoyed their personalities, when we had a chance to see them. In the mornings, I would sometimes watch the Wake Show, to see what was going on and what the different staff members had to say about their particular part of the ship. It was mildly entertaining, and better than doing the ‘nothing’ that occurs between 6AM and 9AM. The show repeats every 60mins or so. If you watch continuously for long enough, you will see it all. There were quite a few events that I wanted to attend, like trivia, Zumba, Movies Under the Stars, Spa Raffle, Arts & Crafts, Casino demonstrations, art auctions, Captain’s Champagne waterfall, group games like Pictionary, Navigation and other seminars. But the timing was almost always not in our favor. We were either out on a port adventure of our own for the day, or the kids club was closed and we didn’t want to drag our 3 year old to an event, or it conflicted with something like dinner! This all helped us realize that anytime dining is the way to go on most ships. As much as we like dining together, in the future, Disney Cruise Line may be the only cruise line we do assigned dining, ever again!! A few of the events that we did get to and I can recommend are the Navigation @ Sea seminar…. If you like history and learning about how cruise or other ships function, this is for you! I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing, because… the kids club closed at 5 and the seminar ran longer than that, and it was my turn to go pick up our daughter. We also saw the Culinary Demonstration. Sit in the front for the best aromas! We thought this would just be a good ‘live’ cooking show type of demo, where we might learn a thing or two about making a dish. What we didn’t know was how funny it would end up being, I highly recommend checking this out. We did make it to ONE whole trivia game, and I liked it a lot, the trivia was actually a bit challenging and had a good variety. We also went to one BINGO game… snore! It was all electronic, done on a tablet type of computer. There were plenty of other activities that weren’t as interesting to us, like dancing classes. The classes ranged from ballroom type dance to country line dancing and tap dance. There was music playing all over the ship. There were piano players, a house band, and a mariachi trio. Never did I hear loud or obnoxious singing or music, so that was nice! We didn’t make it to Karaoke because it always started close to 11PM. Activities/Enrichment Grade: 4-5, lots of choices, just wish I had more time! Fitness/Recreation: I started the cruise with good intentions. The first morning after setting sail, I woke up early, so I decided to get my exercise clothes on and find a spot to run or go to the gym. First, I went to the spa and fitness area and found out nothing opens there until 7am. What?! On other cruises the gym at least opens at 6am! So, I had to go hunt for the running track. It must be the best kept secret on board. There is a deck called ‘sports deck’. It must be there right? Nope. That’s where the youth centers and adults only areas are located. So I go up one more, to the ‘sky deck’, this must be it! Nope, that’s where the night club is located. I go up one more… to deck 19. Finally, I find the jogging track, mini golf, and basketball court. This area is nearly invisible to anyone looking or not looking for it and I believe only 1 out of 4 elevators goes this high. It is out of sight out of mind, I guess. I ran two miles that morning, which was 32 laps. The track was quite short and not terribly wide, especially when an older lady decided it was her right to do her power walk straight down the middle of the track! I had to carefully maneuver my way around her each time I needed to pass. This is the only day I ended up going there. Too bad too because I had meant to go back and try the 9 hole mini golf. The golf, however, looked hard; there were no bricks or other barrier type material to keep the balls on each hole! Since the gym didn’t open7, which was also when the rest of my family was up, I didn’t return to use any of its facilities either. It looked nice, when we took the tour! I didn’t go without exercise this trip. 4/4 of our port days were spent walking all over the place. I think in San Francisco we walked nearly 10 miles! There were fitness classes and Zumba demonstrations, almost daily, but the Zumba was at 9… directly after breakfast. They idea of trying to workout/dance after eating eggs benedict was less than appealing. Next time I will try harder to get to the Zumba class, as I’ve been curious to see what it’s all about! The lack of accessibility of the fitness knocks its grade down a bit. Fitness/Recreation Grade: 3 Kids Clubs: Our daughter loved the Pelican club and couldn’t wait to go back each day. She probably would have rather stayed in there all night than come to bed and stayed in there for entire port days rather than get dragged around by us! We happened to see that there was a count of 30 children between the ages of 3-8, that were on board the ship with her. That is a pretty good sized number, so whenever we dropped her off at the club, there were always at least a handful of other kids there. The pelican room was a good size room and they had plenty of activities ready for them. They played games, did arts/crafts, sang songs, watched movies, built with legos, and had regular play time as well. There was an outdoor area as well, but I’m not sure if they used it. At the start of the cruise we got 1 large printout of the week’s activities. In the past we had seen that each day had its own Princess Pelican Patter. It was nice to get a basic layout of the week ahead, so we could plan our days to the schedule our daughter was given for activities. There were 3 mandatory pick up times each sea day. Noon, 5PM, and 10PM. We have no problem picking our child up and eating meals with her, but this was a bit of an inconvenience. 5PM was 30 minutes before our assigned dinner time and the club didn’t open again until 6PM. So, we had to drag her to dinner with us and when she got bored, someone would have to run her up to the kids club, in the middle of our meal. On port days, you were supposed to book your time in the club by the night before. We only did this on the day we were in Ensenada and it worked out well. Kids Club Rating: 5.5 from our daughter, 4.0 for us. Prices/Rates: Tips and onboard expenses aside, the price of our cruise was less than $100 per person per night. We also got $50 OBC and a bottle of $60 champagne per cabin to enjoy on board! For an inside cabin, I might like to pay a bit less than what we paid, but it was still a great deal for the product we received. Price grade: 4 Cabin: We had an interior cabin A717, Aloha, Deck 12, Category ID. We were 1 cabin away from the AFT elevators. We selected this cabin location to be ‘near’ the kids club, which was AFT on deck 17. We were also 2 decks lower than the LIDO deck where the buffet was located, for easy access to drinks and food in the early morning. We also needed a cabin that had room for 4 and also had similar cabins next door, for our family that was traveling with us. Given the limited choices we had, this was the best pick. The location of the cabin to the elevator bank and stairs was perfect. The location to the spots on the ship we spent most of our time was a bit of a walk. We took stairs when we could, but there were times, with the stroller for instance, that using an elevator would be more efficient, but the waits at peak dining times were bad, due to our closeness to the buffet. The noises from the area in our direct vicinity were minimal. The noises from the thrusters, early in the morning when we arrive at port, or leave in the evening were quite loud. Lucky for me, I tend to get up early, even on vacation. We had some early starts to our port days and the unexpected wakeup call helped in those situations. Our daughter slept through the vibration every time. It wasn’t that loud or disturbing, but just enough to wake you gently if you were in that stage of a sleep cycle. The layout of the room was fantastic. Looking at the floor plan, I was worried that it would feel cramped. Our daughter is only 3, so she doesn’t take up too much space and her bed was only down from the time after dinner through breakfast the next morning. Our luggage fit easily beneath ONE of the twin beds and we found a spot to prop up the stroller in the closet. Speaking of the closet, it is great! I thought I might be bothered by the lack of doors and openly ‘messy’ look of seeing hangers and clothes all the time, but the openness greatly outweighed the messiness. There was room for twice as many clothes as we brought to hang up. We could have used more hangers, and meant to ask for more, but we didn’t run into our steward in time for it to be worthwhile. He was ninja sneaky the first few days of the cruise. Then there is the bathroom. It can always be bigger on a cruise ship, but I don’t have many complaints. I felt the layout was nice. I am smaller than most, so I could comfortable move about. All three of us were inside the room brushing our teeth one night, so that alone is impressive. The shower did seem smaller than some, but I think one always thinks that when they see their shower on a cruise. :) The hair dryer leaves something to be desired, but did in fact dry my hair. It takes a while to get going, but once it reached full heat, it seemed to dry quickly. The air temperature in the room was nice and the control on the wall appeared to work well for what we wanted. The TV, we didn’t use it too much. We mostly caught a movie in the morning while getting ready for the day and at night after picking our daughter up from the kids club. There is a double plug at the desk, in which we could really only use 1 at a time, due to the size of the phone charger adapters. We managed to reach behind the TV and plug in our second phone. We had a double charger, but only one device would charge at a time, they probably have a way to limit the amps going to each outlet. The cleanliness of the room was great, I didn’t notice any areas that were in need of great repair. Though, one of the drawers on a nightstand didn’t work. We had 3 others to use and lots of other shelves and storage spots to stick all our random pieces. To help organize a little, I did bring an over the door organizer to hang on the bathroom door, it worked great for the items I use more frequently. Cabin Grade: 4/5, 5 for an interior cabin. Disembarkation: Being a local, we would normally do self-assist disembarkation and leave the ship ASAP to start the drive home. One: We had a 3 year old and a stroller to contend with, so while we probably could have managed a self-assist, it was easier to have Princess take the bags off for us. We would have picked the earliest time, but Two: we had family that wanted to take the 9am exit because their shuttle wasn’t until close to 10am. We all ended up with 9:15am, which was good except we had to wait to get off with everyone else. Luckily we found a spot in the International Café to sit. We were supposed to be in Club Fusion, deck 7 AFT, but we had some matters to attend to at guest services and people wanted to use their coffee card punches. All the while, the line for US Customs was getting longer and longer! Boy have we been spoiled in the past! It was what it was, but it was a good reminder for us, that it is worth it to take an earlier departure! The wait wasn’t horrendous and the view down the side of the ship was entertaining for the time we had to wait in line. Turns out the luggage is transferred to/from the ship using this forklift/crane type of machinery, with nets underneath to catch bags that might fall into the water. *Gulp!* I wonder how long they had done this without nets in place before the first bags were lost!! I may have been better off not seeing that. Disembarkation grade: 3. I would have liked an announcement over the PA about when groups could get off the ship. Other Observances: There was a high level of older clientele onboard. I think this is generated by the time of year (October, kids in school) and the itinerary (mainly US coastal cities). I also realize this is not a ‘family’ branded cruise line, so it’s not like we expected there to be a ton of younger folks. We also don’t frequent late night events onboard, so it didn’t bother us much at all. But, I do think this attributed to the high usage of the elevators and possibly the somewhat subdued nature of the programming and crowding at the 8PM show time. The portrait photographers were only out for what felt like limited time. The earliest they would start shooting was 5PM and our dinner was at 5:30. Some nights they didn’t start until 6PM. So, if we wanted photos with our daughter we had to rush, on specific nights, to get ready before dinner started. Also, certain backdrops, like the white background, were only available on formal nights. I think they did this to promote their photo studio, in which you could get black and white portraits done, with no sitting fee, but you had to make an appointment. We got a few regular portraits that came out well, which was a nice and easy way to chronical our family for 2014. The negatives that we experienced on this cruise were not deal breakers in the slightest. We had a good time and got to visit cities that we have not been able to before. We would gladly sail Princess again and I look forward to trying more adventurous itineraries and different ships. Value: Given what we paid vs what we experienced, this cruise was a great value. For less than $100pp per night, we got fantastic food, our daughter had a blast in the kids club, and we got to visit wonderful California ports, even if one of them is where we currently call home. My daughter and I usually go to the San Diego Zoo during the week, so my husband doesn’t get to go as often, so it was a nice treat for him and for our family that has never been to this Zoo. Value Grade: 4   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Staying at the Crown Plaza L.A. Harbor was a great jump-off point to this cruise. I think it took maybe five minutes to get to the port in the free shuttle that the hotel provided. I will say that there was quite a bit of confusion over ... Read More
Staying at the Crown Plaza L.A. Harbor was a great jump-off point to this cruise. I think it took maybe five minutes to get to the port in the free shuttle that the hotel provided. I will say that there was quite a bit of confusion over who was driving us and the discussion looked to get quite heated among staff members. They should know better than to let that play out in front of the guests, but nevertheless, we got on our way. The cruise terminal is set up a bit differently than the others that we've been on. You hand your baggage over to the porters, period. On other lines and cruises, you can always carry your own luggage inside and drop off, but that's not an option here. Don't be weirded out by that (our bags were to our room before we were somehow). The inside of the terminal was pretty nice, if not standard. You were broken down into groups by deck, which is a really smart idea, I think. The only confusing part was that they don't tell you the floor number, only the name of the deck. People were unsure of where to go and I think some of that could've been avoided by also listing the deck number. Getting checked in was a breeze, as was security. Now for the negative. After they take your picture (which is done on a handheld device, rather than a bulky terminal) they lead you outside. There was a gentleman directing the hoards of people towards the Crown that was incredibly rude. He was yelling at people to get into one of the four lines. Not wanting to budge into those lines in front of people, others were cautious due to what those in front of them were doing (which I thought was polite, to be honest). This guy just wouldn't shut his trap. "Why do you think we have all of these lines, people?" Either today was his last day or he clearly missed Customer Service 101. On all of our cruises this was the rudest employee that I have ever come across. It really set things off on a bad tone. Also, let me rewind a little here. There is an abnormally large (compared to our other cruises) group of senior citizens here. I don't even mean those spry 80 year olds running amok, but wheelchairs and walkers were everywhere. For this guy to be reprimanding anyone, let alone this group of people is/was completely unacceptable. I'm not sure that he heard me, but I remarked that I hope the customer service is leaps and bounds ahead of this onboard. Dining This is one major reason that I get excited to cruise. Don't judge me, you know I'm not alone! To be honest, I was not wowed. I had high expectations for Princess Cruises but I actually have had several better meals on Carnival. Dining Room Presentation in the dining room was on par, if not below, that of Carnival's. I think I was teased too much by the pictures of dishes that Princess puts out on their Instagram. That plating was nowhere to be found on this ship...very disappointing. There was also no lemonade in here, which is really odd to me. They had the iced tea, but strictly forbade lemonade...really? One dish that stood out, however, was the Brasato. This is a braised beef dish that really worked. It could have used more sauce, but compared to the other items I tried, was wonderful. Luckily, they had good service, but I've come to expect that, anymore. Breakfast in the dining room was nice but too long. They also didn't serve french toast or just regular toast, which are other puzzling decisions. The orange juice was delicious, and again, the service was great. Buffet The buffet was good for the most part. The dinner buffet always had something good on it, but quite often, nothing stellar. The worst thing I had was probably a steak dish that listed it being in a wine sauce. I think they actually just poured a bottle of wine over the steak once it was grilled. The alcohol was way too strong, like it was not cooked off and then reduced. Ew. The fruit was barely ripe, as well. One night I got some good watermelon, but more often than not, it was very, very light pink and had no flavor or was really dark pink and slimy. The shining star here were the fruit tarts. I think they had them every night, but they didn't always replenish them when they were gone. It was a nice, light dessert with good flavor and fruit that was actually ripe. Couldn't get enough of it. You could have lemonade here (rejoice!), but you had to find a server, as they only had water and tea in the machines. Is lemonade so expensive, they have to control it that tightly? I've never come across this in my years of cruising and I must say: Not a fan. Breakfast was pretty good here, too, I have to say. The buffet at the back of the ship didn't have as much, but it was much more quiet and seating was easier to find. The french toast was pretty good, even though it was prepared and sitting under a heat lamp. The oatmeal would've been delicious but the lack of anything crunchy (walnuts would have been great) turned me off of it. The fruit parfait with muesli had no flavor, but the cold muesli prepared with milk and fruit was fantastic. We never got to the Wheelhouse Bar, but certain days they had an English pub-type menu with fish and chips. There just wasn't enough time in a day on a cruise with such a great itinerary. Public Areas This ship was laid out very well, I thought. The bars were all comfy and mostly spacious. Seating wasn't too terrible to find, either. The bottom floor of the atrium contained some nice spaces, that other ships I've been on didn't. The best place here was the little deli where you could get prepared sandwiches, salads of all kinds, and desserts (donuts in the morning, for example). Right next to that was a coffee bar with lots of variety, and not horrible pricing. All around these areas was seating, almost like you were in a piazza in a quaint little European town. The next few floors upwards contained the guest services desk, shops, casino, and a few lounges. Everything was laid out nicely and didn't get clogged with people, as everything seemed just a little wider than I'm used to. For instance, on many Carnival ships the photographers are all jam packed in a few open areas and with people waiting in lines, the ability to maneuver through these areas can be difficult, to say the least. Here, however, the hallway outside of the steakhouse was so wide that this wasn't ever an issue. It also didn't hurt that they had far fewer photogs on board. The setup of the Explorers' Lounge was unlike anything I'd seen before. Instead of it being tucked away in the bottom aft of the ship, it was right on a main floor, smack in the middle. It was open to the hall so you could see what was going on in there and even sit outside of the lounge if you wanted to enjoy the music that was being played within. Great setup. I believe this was due to age of the crowd, but elevators were never available. You'd wait five to ten minutes and one would never show up. By the second day we just resigned ourselves to the fact that we'd have to take the stairs. This wasn't a bad thing as the exercise can't hurt anyone. Again, we aren't sure if it was the cruise line, the itinerary, the time of year, etc. that put us on a ship with older folks. One of our favorite spaces was the top deck when they ran Movies Under the Stars. There were pretty current movies alternated with some football games each night. They had popcorn that they brought around, and we all went to grab hot chocolate, too. Blankets were even available! The Princess Theater was pretty nice looking, but we never could get in! The first night, they were actually turning us away at the door, telling us that there will be another show later. Again, a first on a ship for me. The next night, it was packed again, but we got to slip in the bottom floor and saw how small it was! I couldn't believe it. I figured that Princess passengers would be really into the shows, and accordingly, have a large theater with great shows. The shows may have been great, but we'll never know. My advice is to go very early; our schedules were just always off. Room We got a balcony room (BD, I believe) on deck 11, called Baja. You have to remember the name/number of your deck along with your room number because they don't put the floor number in with the room number. For instance, on other lines we've been on, room 1135 would be on floor 11. On the Crown, we were on floor 11 but our room number was B7xx. Why make it so difficult? The room was set up differently than any ship that we've been on. Instead of a wall of closets upon entering the room, there was a little hallway that housed the door to the bathroom and then a long clothes rod on which to hang your stuff. It definitely wasn't as nice to have your clothing in full view with nothing to hide it. The bathroom is right there as well. It's small, like on any ship, but nicely laid out. It was clean and well lit, not really any complaints here. The rest of the room is nice, as well. There was a desk instead of a couch like I like, but it worked for us. The bed felt really hard at first, but I slept like a baby most nights. The mirrors were placed well and there were actually two outlets at the desk in which to plug our gadgets. They were a little snug to fit both things, so maybe bring along an adapter/extender if that's allowed (don't know). The balcony was great, too. The door was a sliding one, which is another first for us. That alleviated the issue of all the slamming we normally get annoyed by. We were with the people in the next room and had our balcony open to theres, but due to the doors' locations, the chairs were always in the way to walk back and forth. We just ended up using the opening to talk, rather than move. Itinerary We were so excited to do this particular cruise. Normally, we are in the Caribbean, which is great when you're in the mood for it. I like exploring and seeing different scenery and LOVED our Alaska cruise. Once we saw a California coast cruise, we knew it was perfect for us. I won't get into the specifics of each port, as I do that on the blog. Suffice to say that San Francisco and San Diego were our favorites, followed by Santa Barbara. Ensenada was almost a terrible experience. There really isn't much there and what is is pretty depressing. We weren't even going to go out of the little shopping area, but were talked into it. I'm glad we did because we found some really nice, authentic souvenirs. It's a bit sketchy and there were even little kids (I'm talking like 4 years old) trying to sell you stuff. I know they needed a 'distant foreign port' on the itinerary, but it wasn't great one. At the same time, I do hope the tourism dollars helps out there and goes towards the locals. Summary We all had a great time on this trip. Mostly, that was due to the ports. The ship was really nice, the crowd a bit different than we've experienced before, however. The food was a bit of a letdown as was the theater situation, but the room (with balcony), public spaces, and service (once on the ship) made up for it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our 6th cruise with Princess and while everything was okay nothing was really great except the food in the specialty restaurants. The best way to describe this cruise was flat. The service and food was fine but the crew seemed to ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise with Princess and while everything was okay nothing was really great except the food in the specialty restaurants. The best way to describe this cruise was flat. The service and food was fine but the crew seemed to just be going through the motions. There weren't a lot of smiles, conversation or friendliness from the crew. This was the first time that we didn't write a recommendation for a crew member because no one went above and beyond and gave exceptional service. In the past we've written 5-6 recommendations. The food is getting tired. In the last 5 cruises we've done it's basically the same menu and the food tastes the same. There is nothing new (other than the new chocolate desserts) and we didn't think there was anything amazing there. The service and food in the specialty restaurants was very good and we especially liked the new Crab Shack that they are doing. We also did the Chef's table which as always was amazing. We noticed that the outdoor decks seemed worn and dirty and several areas were in need of paint and varnish. This was the California Coastal Cruise and it was a nice, relaxing cruise with enjoyable ports and easy to see on your own. This cruise felt like a gap cruise between the Alaska cruises they had done and the Hawaiian/Polynesian that they were going to do. The entertainment was very unexciting both in the Princess Theatre and the bars/lounges. We still managed to have a great time but will not sail on Princess for a while. Maybe this was just a dull ship and cruise but we'd been on the Crown before and it wasn't this bad. This was our first time with Platinum benefits and we did enjoy the little perks that that entailed but not enough to cruise on Princess for a while. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Overall, an enjoyable cruise. For the most part, the staff and crew were kind and gracious. The other passengers, however, were rude and pushy. That might have been in part to their average age being "deceased". There were more ... Read More
Overall, an enjoyable cruise. For the most part, the staff and crew were kind and gracious. The other passengers, however, were rude and pushy. That might have been in part to their average age being "deceased". There were more scooters, walkers and wheel chairs than an AARP convention....not that there's anything wrong with that....but elevators have a capacity limit in both number and volume. They didn't seem to understand that and forced themselves in. We used Princess Ez-Air and flew the day of departure from DFW to Vancouver (not my idea but the others in my party were willing to chance). After much praying and breath holding, no problems or delays. Arrived in Vancouver right on schedule and thru Canadian customs in about 45 minutes and onto the bus to the dock (used Princess transfer also). Arriving at the dock around 2:30P related to no lines and directly aboard after signing in. Muster drill was conducted without hitch and upon returning to cabin luggage had arrived. Off to dinner in Crown Grill as comped by being booked in a suite. Met cabin steward on return: Manuel; a delightful young man who was efficient and respected our privacy. Victoria excursion was booked thru Princess: Buchart Gardens and Butterfly gardens. Buchart was delightful; butterfly garden was disappointing. Seattle was also Princess sponsored trip to Columbia and Ste. Michael wineries. We were early arrival and Columbia adjusted accordingly even though is is mostly just a gift shop. Ste. Michael is just across the street so we were also early (45 minutes) arriving there too. They however, made no adjustment....we simply had to wait. The "tour" was educational but the facility was disappointing. The "tasting" was as poorly conducted as any we've participated in. Astoria we joined in a group of golfers on the cruise and played Gearhart golf club, reportedly oldest course west of the MIssissippi; a seaside links course; beautiful. San Francisco we had booked a walking tour of the Italian neighborhood on our own. It was a delightful 5 hours with John our guide and 6 other folks (none from the cruise). The samples were divine and included locally roasted/ground coffee, an artisan bakery, wood fired pizza, pasta, and a confectionary shop. Santa Barbara we arranged for a private tour to Solvang and onto the family wine estate, Demetria. A great day with our limo driver/guide Maria from SB Chauffeuring & tours. Beautiful drive back to the dock thru the San Ynez valley. Disembarkation was a disaster! Princess sets aside a special lounge for Elite and Suite passengers to await disembarkation. That's a finite number of guests, known to the crew/staff. How could they not choose a venue large enough to handle the known number? Long story short, we STOOD in the corner of the Wheelhouse bar for 2.5 hours waiting for our turn to get off the ship. No excuse for this poor planning. Only other complaint was lack of security. They use private security folks to check passenger cards re-boarding the ship at each port. We had to show our ship card 5 times to reboard in San Francisco. After reboarding, I was standing on our balcony watching the goings-on on the dock and in the course of about 30 minutes watched two private vehicles breach the port security thru un-manned gates; drive their vehicles along the dock, the UNDER THE WALKWAY the passengers were using to reboard the ship and down the edge of the dock to about mid-ship where they were finally confronted and made to turn around....not leave, but simply turn around. They both went back about half-way and parked adjacent to the front of the ship and were still there when the ship departed.????? This was our second cruise with Princess, both in suites. We had absolutely NO complaints on the Alaska cruise we took two years ago. IMHO, the service may have slipped a notch or two since....nothing that couldn't be corrected, but we're not going to be in a hurry to return for a year or two. We prefer traditional dining and enjoyed every evening with our wait staff. The food was perhaps just above average, but nothing to shout about. Our favorite meal of the day was of course breakfast in Sabatini's; still the best suite perk. I made a comment about wishing I had Nutella to spread on my croissant and from the next morning on a jar was waiting on our table! The only entertainment we attended was the ship's production of "Disco-Blame it on Boogie". Above average show with familiar songs and good dance numbers. A couple of the singers were perhaps not native english speakers and it told in their performances, just enough to be distracting, Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Let me start by saying this was our second trip to Alaska, last year we went on the Carnival Miracle and had a fabulous time. We had cruised before as well on Carnvial and Royal Carribean. This trip was nice but we expected an upgraded ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was our second trip to Alaska, last year we went on the Carnival Miracle and had a fabulous time. We had cruised before as well on Carnvial and Royal Carribean. This trip was nice but we expected an upgraded experience since Princess is supposed to be a step above Carnvial. I won't discuss the weather as it will never be the same and shouldn't be a decision if you choose this cruise, it's Alaska it might be cold and rainy or you make luck out to a sunny trip. Alaska and the ports were amazing as always. This review is based on the cruise line itself and our experiences. We have severe food allergies which were handled very differently on both trips. I will share positive and negatives as well as comparing the two. Observations: The Princess ship was more elegant and refined in its design, as Carnival is much more playful and themed. We had very few children on both trips but the Princess ship had a much more mature crowd with most couples we spoke with on their 30th-50th cruise. Food was very similar quality on both ships. Carnival does has their chocolate melting cake every night which my husband missed. I enjoyed having crime brûlée every evening on Princess. Princess has the international cafe which is a nice treat. Activities throughout the day and entertainment were also similar on both lines. We really enjoyed the comedians although I think Carnvial has a better lineup. Our cabin steward did a great job and the ship was very clean. Positives: Princess had all of the NFL games on which was a huge plus for my husband on sea days. The gym was much nicer, cleaner and with newer equipment. The yoga classes were great. If you have no food allergies, the international cafe had a large assortment of pastries every morning, and treats throughout the day. We are gluten and soy free and the dining rooms had a great bread for all meals, muffins for breakfast and scones for tea time. Negatives: As I stated we have food allergies and they were not handled well on this ship. My husband has intolerance while I am anaphylactic in reaction. We let the ship know ahead of time and onboard we have multiple issues with allergens in our food. My husband was sick multiple times. We would order ahead every night to find out the next night that they hadn't been able to change a dish or they made some things that were done so poorly they were Inedible. We found for breakfast we were safer in the buffet and asking for very specific ingredients that they could cook in front of us. We did find a head waiter team about half way through the trip that seemed to care and take these issues seriously but overall it was handled very poorly. No one seemed to care was the theme. When we traveled with Carnival the customer service was outstanding. They would go above and beyond. The Princess team seemed to be there just to do there job, and not much more. I was a little disappointed at how rude some of the servers were. My husband and I were surprised to have had much better service on our past Carnival trips. We both agreed we wouldn't choose Princess over Carnival. We enjoyed ourselves but wouldn't rush back to Princess anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Background: My husband and I are in our 50s. This was our first cruise on Princess. This was our first time doing an Alaskan itinerary. We've done four Carnival cruises and seven Norwegian (NCL) cruises. We went on this cruise with ... Read More
Background: My husband and I are in our 50s. This was our first cruise on Princess. This was our first time doing an Alaskan itinerary. We've done four Carnival cruises and seven Norwegian (NCL) cruises. We went on this cruise with friends who are in their 60s. This was their first time on Princess. Pre-cruise: We flew into Anchorage the day before the cruise. We stayed at the Microtel hotel. We arrived late night and having had made prior arrangements with the hotel, they sent their shuttle van to pick us and other late-arriving hotel guests. Quick and easy. A nice way to end a l-o-n-g day of travel and get to the hotel for some much needed rest before the fun of cruising began. The hotel had a complementary breakfast buffet. Bananas, waffles, boiled eggs, cereal, oatmeal, coffee, orange juice, milk, water. Super way to start the day. We were going to walk to see the area, but quickly found the surroundings were of a neighborhood. Too far to walk to shopping or downtown, so we returned to the hotel's front desk to see about transportation to downtown Anchorage for some shopping. The nice gentleman working the desk called for a taxi to come pick us up. Later we got another taxi to return back to the hotel for getting our stuff and checking out. The taxi to downtown was approximately $13.00 and the same amount coming back to the hotel. We added a $5 tip to each trip. While downtown we popped into an information center, then walked along the street, stopping in several of the stores there. We hit the jackpot in one store because their prices were extremely good since they were having an end-of-season sale. We bought many items and, now home, wish I had purchased a few more items. I’ll have to remember this regret next time we go to Alaska in September! ;-). Transportation to Whittier (port) from Anchorage: We had made prior arrangements with the company (Alaska Cruise Transportation) to pick us up for transportation to port in Whittier. We chose the option that included a stop by a wildlife viewing area. I had never seen the majority of wildlife they have, so I was looking forward to it since it might be the only time during the trip to see some of these animals. There we saw moose, elk or caribou, musk ox, bison, eagle. The stop at the wildlife viewing area was extremely short...too short for us to see all of the animals they had and go to the restroom and get a snack. So we saw as many of the animals as we could, went to the bathroom, and got a snack. I'm glad we chose the animal stop because it was the only time we saw some of the animals during the vacation. The transportation was good, got us to port safely and on time. We'd use this company again if available and reviews were still good, but we'd skip the animal stop since we did it this time. Port and getting on ship: Whittier is an extremely small town, with not much to do or see (at least that we were able to find before the trip), so we just got on the ship once we arrived. Checking in was easy. There were two or three employees who made getting from the atrium and onto elevators a drawn out process. Soon, people ignorned the employees and went around to other elevators. Why they tried to keep a line and funnel people to certain elevators made no sense as it caused a back up of people wanting to get on and out of the area. Once we got an elevator, we quickly got up to our deck then cabin. This was our first time at being able to take our carry-on bags to our cabin immediately upon boarding and that was nice. On NCL and Carnival we had to wait for the cabins to be ready before taking our things to the cabin. Later, on the last day (disembarkation) we found out how Princess is able to accomplish this - you have to have your things - and yourself - out of the cabin by 8 a.m. That gives them the necessary time to prep the rooms for the next passengers. Early in, early out rather than what I was used to - late in, late out. Either way works for us. Ship (Crown Princess): The ship was clean and in good repair except for one area of ceiling in the Horizon Court buffet. There they must have had a leaking issue as we saw black discoloration on the ceiling, a sponge in the wooden fixture on the ceiling. We talked with one of the buffet attendants about this. A day later there was a yellow caution stand-up sign saying wet area and a bucket there. That's when we noticed the rust on the white ceiling panels. Don't know how we didn't notice the rust before then. Guess we were too focused on the discoloration and the sponge. A nice feature provided by the ship is the kiosk where you can swipe your card and get a print out of your onboard account. The kiosk was sitting outside one of the shops. It's a great way to avoid the busy times at the guest services desk. There is a variety of artwork around the ship. It made it interesting to explore. Some of the art I liked, some not-so-much. But it kept me happy and busy so no time was spent reading or doing my usual Sudoku puzzles. There are a lot of areas to sit in the sun or in the shade, depending on your mood or needs. I liked the large, tastefully decorated public areas and lounges. Some of the seating was on the smallish side for plus-sized people, but there were also settees, loveseats, and benches available in many of the venues, so finding a comfy seat isn't too difficult to do :Cool: I loved the multi-layered decking outside. It made it easy to find good viewing areas for scenery, relaxing in the shade, worshipping the sun, being in the crowd, or catching a quiet moment to yourself. The promenade deck is where you can walk around the ship on deck seven and eight. Down here you can hear the waves and get a better sense of being at sea. For such a big ship with a large passenger count, I was continually surprised at how uncrowded the ship felt and the vast amount of open area we had out on deck much of the time and in some venues many, many times. The only times and places we found it crowded are the usual - breakfast in the buffet, maybe a lunch or two in the buffet, the early performances in the theater, and some of the lectures in the theater...and of course, occasionally in different points around the decks during glacier and wildlife viewing (but people were very good about not hogging places and would view, take pictures, then move on to another spot so others could take a turn - at least in my experience). Like I said earlier, it's such a large ship so finding a good spot was pretty easy to do. I was disappointed in not finding a shuffleboard court , though. Our obstructed ocean view cabin was of nice size and well laid out. The picture window was larger than I expected it to be. We had found pictures of the ship's cabins on the internet and thought the obstructed view was okay, but in person we were happy to find the view better than expected. It was obstructed, but I didn't have to stand on tip-toes in order to see over the tender boat...so I was one VERY happy cruiser!!! The closet location was excellent - right outside the bathroom door. It was long, open, with more than enough hangers for us. Shelf storage above the hanging items (life jackets located here). Below the hanging items is ample floor area for luggage storage, shoes, and room for our small pop-up laundry hamper to sit (very convenient!). A storage cabinet with a door stood between the open closet and the bathroom. It had approximately six or seven shelves - the safe was located on one of them. The bathroom was of good size, a nice counter top to sit things on while showering and getting ready. Three small shelves along one side. A couple of glasses were on one and the other two could be used for keeping items in the bathroom, if desired. The shower, however, was dinky! It's adequate to shower in if you're small to moderately plus-size (which we are), but would not be fun if you are very plus-size or want to shave your legs while showering. Thank goodness I shaved them before the trip, and I’m old enough the hair doesn’t grow as fast anymore :D. You may end up bumping the walls, knocking yourself out, or covered in shower curtain :o. I wasn't too crazy about the placement of the wall bottles of shower gel and shampoo/conditioner - a little too low. The room wasn't too far from a set of elevators. There was a crew area across from our cabin door. There wasn't much noise coming from this area except for the last night when luggage collection was going on, but really the noise wasn't bad and didn't last too long into the night. Since it was a forward cabin, it was quite a walk to and from the buffet, but that can be a good thing :-) . Food: We ate all of our shipboard meals in the buffet this trip - excellent. We got pizza from the pizza station once - very good. They have a couple everyday selections and a third choice that changes each day. I ordered a cheeseburger, french fries, and iced tea from room service late one night - good. Hubby and I ordered a white chocolate mocha for me and a hot chocolate for him at the International Cafe - good. Lol, I had "try a Cronut" on my list of things to do on this trip, but my lazy self just never made it to I.C. early in the day to get one, so it'll be on my To-Do list on a future sailing. If I can’t wait that long, I’ve seen a poster in a Dunkin Donuts store that says they have Cronuts. The Buffet: The variety of foods available in the buffet blew me away!!!!! They had different themes each day. There was a lot of seafood available throughout the voyage. I've always been impressed with the variety and freshness of fruit available on NCL, but Princess outdid them :eek: :Cool:!!!!! Amazing. The selection of side dishes, meats, vegetables, eggs, pancakes, cheeses, breads/pastries,......Just simply amazing! There were so many dishes I'd only seen in magazines, on television, or in recipe books, but had never made or found in a restaurant to try, but they had many of the items in the buffet - so it's not too hard to guess what I did. I tried a bit of each of them :-) . Thanks to Princess for providing this unexpected happiness! Hubby and I thought the vast majority of items we tried were very good to excellent. One of the items I wasn’t too happy with was the iced tea. I’d read posts on Cruise Critic saying the iced tea on Princess wasn’t very good, but I'm pretty easy to please, in my opinion, so thought I’d be fine with it. I'd been happy with the available iced tea on Carnival (2002-2008) and NCL (2007-2013), but the iced tea on Princess wasn’t very good. In fact, it burned my throat on one occasion, and my friend said she had the same sensation on another occasion. Weird. We had a big problem with the heat in the front sections of the Horizon Court buffet. We could not sit in this area because of the heat. I think it was coming from the open kitchen area in the middle of the ship between the buffet lines. We found the back section of seating more cooler due to doors opening to the back of the ship deck helped cool this area. One note about employees we encountered in the buffets. They were the friendliest by almost always saying hello/good morning/good afternoon/ good evening when passing by each other. When entering the buffet line, greet us with a good morning/afternoon/evening, welcome, have a pleasant breakfast/lunch/dinner. Or they’d ask if they could help us find a table, or if they could carry a plate of our food to a table for us, or get us something to drink (juice, tea, coffee, water, sometimes offer to sell us bottled water), or refill our cups. Or they’d stop by our table and make observations of the day’s events, tell us about the ship, ask how our day/evening was going, ask about any plans we had for the day/evening, things to do in port, what we’d done in port, the scenery, events going on on the ship that day/evening, how their day is going, which ships and itineraries they’ve worked on previous cruises, where they’d be going after the final Alaska cruise (which turned out to be our cruise), … We really enjoyed being greeted and returning the greetings. We appreciated the offers of help at finding tables, assistance with plates, offers to bring us drinks and refilling them. Most of all, we liked the employees stopping by to converse with us about themselves/ship/itinerary/scenery/us/previous jobs, current job, ships, itineraries, future jobs, ships, itineraries. The only thing I didn’t care for was the amount of times they stopped by to offer drinks and refills. Most often there were too many stops. On rare occasions too few stops to our table. It reminded me of a restaurant chain the four of us eat at a lot back home. There are many times when the chain restaurant’s employees stop by the table too often, causing disruptions in the conversation and in eating our dinners. Then I got to thinking about the Brazilian Steakhouses or Churriscarias (sp?) on land and on Norwegian (NCL) cruise ships. In these, you are provided with a card that you turn up a certain color if you want more meat(s) right now or turn to another color if you don’t want any meat(s) right now. A card with service, please on one side and we’re fine at the moment on the other side might be a good thing to use in the Horizon Court. That way the tables not requiring drinks or refills at the moment wouldn’t be using up time the employees could be using on tables that would like drinks or refills at that time. Just a silly thought on my part... Alcoholic Beverages: I ordered a few different drinks during the cruise, with one drink being the most purchased - and purchased in many venues. The consistency of one drink varied greatly in one of the venues, and between venues. I quickly gave up ordering in the venue that had too great a consistency. Another problem across the board, no matter where I ordered a drink, was the fact way too much ice was put in the glasses. I even mentioned it to one bar tender - along with the lack of quality of the drink (way too little alcohol content, too watery taste). The drink I had so many problems with is one listed in their drink menu that can be found on tables in each venue, therefore a reciped drink of the ship’s. I expected quality and consistency with each and every one of those drinks I purchased. A shame that didn’t happen, because if inconsistency and lack of quality happened to me, it probably happened to other passengers as well. I’m sure it affected the number of drinks I ordered, and would be surprised if it didn’t affect the number ordered by anyone else if they had the same experience. I also learned quickly not to order a drink outside near a pool or hot tub. On the two occasions that I did, the drinks were not in an appropriate beverage container for the drink. I'm not into small plastic dining room cups for my alcoholic beverages. I understand the need to use plastic near pools and spas. That's fine. But give me a plastic cup (clear, preferably) of the appropriate size and shape for the drink I've ordered. We found that the drinks were in very small glasses, as compared to NCL and Carnival, and the drinks were more expensive. Not a good value! One thing we liked was that the staff were not pushy when it came to selling drinks (as they are on Carnival and NCL). If I want a drink I’ll ask or signal a server or go up to a bar, I’m happy with that, and that’s the way it was on Princess - cool! Entertainment: Hubby and I went to a couple of comedy shows featuring Carlos Oscar. - hilarious!, a couple of production shows (Blame It On The Boogie - good, Motown - okay, if I recall the names correctly) a naturalist lecture on animals found in Alaska and Canada - very good, and Libby Riddles' Iditarod (sp.?) talk - very good. Hubby and I enjoyed one night of the show band playing big band music in (I believe the venue's name was) Explorer's. We didn't stay to see them on another night for a couple of reasons (not able to find a seat and that was the venue that had the varying quality of drinks so I wanted to move on to another venue). One night they were supposed to start at an advertised time, and we were there at that time, but the band wasn’t. They were like 10 minutes late. Then they stopped at the set time to stop. Are you kidding? Show up late then don’t make up that time? And that became a sore point with us about the entertainment. All of the entertainers didn’t seem to play for very long periods of time considering how many hours there are in a day. Too many hours between live entertainment. In fact, hubby and I noticed and discussed the lack of live entertainment our first day or so on the ship. Too quiet, and not as much fun as the first day or so on all of our prior cruises. Again, I’m not too picky - really I’m not - but I didn’t care much for some of the entertainers :blush:. Some entertainment drew bigger crowds than others. Big band music (which I love, in part because it’s not as readily heard everyday) drew a smaller crowd than the 70s music show in the lounge drew - a packed house. I like 70s music, I grew up with 70s music, but I can hear that any time. Hubby and I went to the venue holding Karaoke a couple of times, mainly because of a lack of other entertainment going on, or what was going on wasn’t up to par for us or not of interest to us. We used to like Karaoke back when we sailed Carnival, but then we came to the conclusion that Karaoke was a cheap form of entertainment for the cruise line, so we aren't into it like we used to be. The first time we stayed to hear a whopping three people sing. When they weren't singing one of the Karaoke hosts sang. The second time only one person, besides one of the hosts, sang. We stayed maybe two or three minutes. The venue was large, yet very few people were in there either time when we stopped in. Spent a few minutes in a venue where the band Tons of Fun was playing. Skywalkers. Nice venue day or night. During the day is great because you have all that glass to look out at the ship and the scenery. Spent more time here during the day than during the night. Night time it's dark with dim warm white and colored lighting. There was either canned music or a DJ playing in there when I stopped by for a few minutes one night. Since I'm not into either one, I didn't stay long or come back on other evenings. Movies Under The Stars. I absolutely loved watching movies on deck on Carnival Liberty, and I still remember the movies that I watched there and when re-watching them at home, I think about sailing on the ship, watching the movies. So I was r-e-a-l-l-y looking forward to watching a movie or two during this cruise. Seemed like there was one thing or another that kept me from making it to a movie - either we were dining, or seeing a show, or I'd already seen the movie and wasn't interested in seeing it again, something else was going on, or the volume was too loud and the sound quality wasn't very good. I was determined to get to MUTS on the last night of the cruise, no matter what. The last night instead of a movie, music shows were aired. Oh well. The evening was fabulous - comfortable temperature, only a few people around, choice of chairs, so we sat there and watched a few minutes of some group I didn't know, though I think Paverotti (sp?) was to be showing. I'll just have to give it another try on a future cruise. The entertainment was [b]not[/b] up to my wishes or expectations - too much dependence on karaoke, canned music and DJs. Playing times of music too short, and there were too few sessions of them. Either too few trivia sessions - or they were held at times when other things were going on or when we were off ship, too few movies on cabin tv playing on continuous loop, too few airings of movies on MUTS (two showings seemed to coincide with dining or other entertainment going on. Movies on television played at strange times - too early, during dining, or during other entertainment, that I didn’t get to watch any of the ones I would have enjoyed watching once back in my cabin for the evening. I found a continuous loop of a movie during one of the last nights of the cruise, but unfortunately it wasn’t one of the movies I wanted to see. Casino. Spent some time here most nights playing slots. Won a bit, gave most back. The best night was a no smoking night. The place was packed with people. I've read reviews where people say no smoking nights aren't busy, well, this was not the case the no smoking night we went. Really enjoyed it. There were lots of slot machines, but not as many as on other ships/cruise lines I've sailed on before this cruise. Overall the casino seemed more open/uncrowded somehow, though the area where the slots I played a lot was a little cramped at times. Maybe due to the arrangement of machines there? Itinerary: Absolutely fabulous! The cruise started in Whittier, went to Hubbard Glacier, Margerie Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Day at Sea, ending at Vancouver. The only way to improve it would be to lengthen the stay in Ketchikan :-). Along the way we saw whales, seals, porpoises while sailing. Officers/Staff/Crew: The personnel working in the buffet were pretty attentive, almost constantly asking if they can carry something to the table for me, getting drinks, refilling drinks, asking how our day is going, how the day went, how is the cruise going, how did the cruise go, were we having a good time, did we see this, did we go to that, talking about something that would be going on on ship, talking about the scenery, the area, the towns, excursions, their jobs, ... The entry way attendant into the buffet lines almost always said good morning/evening. Almost every time we'd pass by an employee of the ship, the employee would say good morning/evening/hello. Our cabin steward took good care of our cabin, provided items we'd request (supplies, towels, sheet for the bed). He introduced himself the first day and would say hi when we'd see each other. I don't know how many cabins he had to take care of, but he seemed to always be in a hurry. Overall, there were lots of hellos, can we get you fill in the blank, can we help you fill in the blank, and general pleasantries, but there were few smiles or genuine warmth. There were a couple of exceptions, and that was refreshing - I truly enjoyed seeing these people. I wasn’t all that wowed with the cruise director or the job he did with scheduling entertainment. Too few activities/shows with too many overlaps = entertainment missed or no entertainment to be had. I’ve said and posted that if one is bored on a cruise, they had only themselves to blame for that condition, but now I may see their side of things. I truly am fairly easily to please entertainment wise (as said by many people who know me), but I struggled this time. Veterans Appreciation get together in one of the lounges one afternoon was appreciated and attended by quite a few former military people. We (Hubby and I) went with our friends (he retired from the military after 20 years and his wife). It was a nice touch by the personnel, the ship, and the cruise line that they provided champagne/sparkling wine for making toasts to the veterans, their spouses, the current military, and to those who died while serving their country. Setting Out Luggage For Pick Up On The Last Night: It was kind of confusing for us as it's done differently than we'd done on Carnival and Norwegian (NCL). Instead of putting luggage out in the hallway for collection before going to bed (or midnight) the last night, we were instructed to put luggage out in the hallway for collection following evening dinner. Disembarkation: This was different, in a way, than what we'd done before in that they provide a list of times when each color is to disembark. During the cruise a paper is given to each cabin asking what time you would like to disembark. We chose a time and way we wanted to get off the ship (late and independent, since we were going to be spending the night in Vancouver and wasn't going to be doing an excursion or airport transfer with/through the ship). Our area to wait to be called to leave the ship was in the casino. The list they provided helped us keep up with who was leaving next. Getting off the ship was easy. Finding our luggage in the port building was easy. In Summary: I had been worried about cruising on Princess but found out that I shouldn't have been afraid at all. It was somewhat more formal than some of the cruises I've been on, but it's not too hard to fit in. The majority of cruisers on this trip were in the mature category than my other cruises have had, but that could be due to time of year, itinerary, because we’ve gotten older. The itinerary was superb! And boy, did we luck out in the weather department! Only a little mist or drizzle a couple of times - once early in the morning for a very brief time then clearing up into a beautiful day, and one evening while whale watching from the front of the ship during sailing, for a little bit of time then ending. The food was of amazing variety and quality, ranging from very good to excellent (except for the iced tea :mad:). The entertainment was hit or miss - in quality, quantity, length, amount, and attendance. Our ship booked excursion - Skagway railroad and motorcoach was good (but I wouldn’t have wanted to pay more than we did for it). Personnel were attentive and did their jobs. But felt they were a little cooler than what I’ve experienced on previous voyages on other cruise lines. The ship was beautiful and interesting to explore. Just wish I’d been able to spend more time enjoying all those amazing venues and outdoor spaces. We liked everything about our cabin but the coziness of the shower (will just have to keep plugging away at the gyms or add an extra Zumba class...and remember to again shave legs before getting on the cruise ship :P). All-in-all, it was a fantastic cruise, the only negative for me was the entertainment and I know that would most likely be different on a future sailing. And there probably will be a future sailing on Princess because they have terrific looking itineraries - and that has become one of our top factors when taking a trip.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was a vacation of a lifetime for us. We took a little over 3 weeks to travel around out west which included Seattle, Vancouver, cruise to Alaska, and land tour up to Fairbanks. Our cruise started in Canada Place, Vancouver, and since ... Read More
This was a vacation of a lifetime for us. We took a little over 3 weeks to travel around out west which included Seattle, Vancouver, cruise to Alaska, and land tour up to Fairbanks. Our cruise started in Canada Place, Vancouver, and since we stayed at a place downtown getting to the port was within walking distance for us. Everything there went very smoothly. We arrived about 11;00am and were on the ship by noon. We had lunch at the buffet and found the food to be very good there. We then proceeded to our room which was a suite on the Lido deck forward. (L107) The room itself was very nice with a separate room which had a full couch, sliding door to our deck, and large size tv with DVD player. The only downsize to this room is the deck. It is very large but the viewing area on top of the bridge is right by your deck so there is absolutely no privacy on your deck at all. You can reach out and touch the people standing on the viewing deck and since this is mainly a sight seeing cruise that area is filled with people at least 75% of the time. This was very disappointing for us as this is never mentioned in the fine print when you book this cruise. We did ask what could be done about this but since this was the last northbound cruise for the season it was fully booked and no other suites were available. We were given a little onboard credit but we would have been happier In a regular balcony room and would have saved a ton of money. I would never book a suite on Princess again. You do not get the perks like you do on NCL. Just to give you an example the fresh flower arrangement on Princess is 3 mini carnations in a vase in the bathroom. On ncl it's a beautiful flower arrangement in your living area like one you get delivered from a florist. There are other differences that can be checked out on cruise critics boards if you are interested. So why did we pick Princess over NCL for this trip? Well from our research on an Alaskan cruise we found that Princess owns Alaska when it comes to a cruise and land tour so we decided that for this cruise we would try Princess. And other than our suite it did not disappoint. We found the food in the main dining room to be very good. Most items were very good to excellent. We also like having the same table every night with the same people and the same wait staff. That is the only downsize for us on NCL. We did have breakfast in sabatinis as this was a suite perk and this was very nice especially on days when you were glacier cruising. The food and service there were excellent. We never did the dining room for breakfast or lunch so cannot comment on those. We did lunch mostly in the buffet or room service. We were very happy with either of those choices. We ate at the crown grill one evening and it was excellent. The ports we went to were: Ketchikan - we did the duck tour which was ok, and the lumberjack show which was also ok. We also walked around town and did some shopping. Juneau - here we did the Mendenhall glacier bus tour. This is a must when visiting Juneau. There are many different options when choosing to go to the glacier just pick anyone that interest you and you shouldn't be disappointed. We also did the Mt. Roberts tramway which brings you way up this mountain then gives you an awesome view of the area. You can also do hikes from this area and you can go up and down the tram as many times as you want during the day. And again we walked around the town and did shopping. Skagway - here we did the 8 hour bus and train ride on the white pass train. We took the bus up to carcross and emerald lake then the train back to Skagway. The sights were awesome and the history amazing. Next was the 2 days of glacier cruising which is something that is totally awesome. Since this was a fall cruise there was not a lot of calving of the glaciers - they said spring and summer are best if that is what you are looking to see. With doing the cruise that is doing the inside passage there is very little cruising that is not within view of land and/or mountains. Very much different from a Caribbean cruise. Again this cruise is all about what you see. If you have never done a balcony cruise this is the one to splurge on doing one. And it really doesn't matter what side of the ship you are on as you go up a passage and then come back down the passage so everyone gets to see everything on both sides. If you are traveling with other people I would suggest you book rooms near an elevator on both sides of the ship. Then you can go back and forth between the rooms in case there is any sea mammal viewing going on. As far as ship activities we did not do much. We did go to the comedian and he did a great show. We did not care for the theatre at all. If you wanted to sit in the middle you had to sit in a row of 50 seats. So if you needed to leave for any reason you would have to disrupt 25 people to get out. Not a good design at all. Also there are no balconies in the theater like on other ships. We love NCL theaters so much better and also there suite guests get reserved seating. Now for the land tour. We did the on your own tour going from the ship to Mt McKinley first. This was about a 4 hour bus ride with a stop in Wasilla for lunch. After arriving at the princess lodge we did the river jet boat ride in talkeetna. We were able to get tickets through our Alaska tour saver book which saved $70 over the princess price. Since we were spending the night I felt safe in doing a non princess tour here. This was a great tour. But you should also know that the 5 hour tour mentioned in the excursion list on princess includes the 2 hour bus ride back and forth from the lodge to talkeetna. So the actual jetboat ride and tour is only about 2 hours long. I thought that was a little deceiving saying it was a 5 hour tour. We did get to see the top of Mt. McKinley on this tour and at the lodge. The base of the mountain was covered In fog. But everyone said it was awesome for us to just be able to see the top. However the next morning there was not a cloud in sight and we saw the whole mountain which was breathtaking. They said that only about 30% of the people who visit McKinley actually get to see it so we felt pretty good that we got to see it and take some awesome pictures. Next we went to the Denali lodge. Here we went to the music of Denali dinner show. It was ok. We arrived at the lodge just 10 minutes before this started so the whole night just felt rushed. the food ok and the show was a little corny. The next day we did the natural history tour into the park. Very disappointed as we did not see any wildlife. Of course this is not the tours fault. If we had had more time here we would have done the tundra wilderness tour as we were told by people who did it that you definitely see wildlife. Then we headed on our train ride to fairbanks. This is a beautiful ride in the dome train. The views are just awesome but again no wildlife seen. Ate lunch on the train and it was good. After arriving in Fairbanks we did the Salmon bake at pioneer park. I would suggest you do this on your own and not thru princess. Just do the bake not the show. the food was great, salmon, king crab, prime rid, fish, salad bar, and dessert barn. The next day we were done with our princess tour and then did our own thing. We stayed 3 nights at a place called Arctic Roots Farm. Here we had our own log cabin that was just beautiful. We rented a car and drove to cold foot Alaska which crosses over the arctic circle. This was an amazing 10 hour drive but well worth it. We also did an afternoon visit with Mary Sheilds the first woman ever to complete the Ididarod race. This was a must do if you ever visit Fairbanks. It was just awesome to sit down with her and listen to her tell of her adventures. She also shows you her sled dogs and you get to play with them. Next we stayed one night at the riverside resort. We had our own cottage right next to the Chena river. This was very nice and would stay there again. Then we spent 3 nights at the aurora borealis lodge up in clearie summit - about 10 miles outside of Fairbanks. We choose this place as the rooms are set up to see evening viewing of the northern light. They also wake you up by Walkie talkie during the night so you don't have to wait yourself if the aurora comes out. Since seeing the northern lights was the main reason we spent an extra week in Fairbanks (and it was on DH's bucket list) we were quite concerned that we hadn't seen it by our next to last day there. But we did get very lucky and we did get to see it our last night. The pictures are just totally awesome and this whole trip is just something we will never forget. Overall the crown princess was a beautiful ship and we did enjoy our cruise very much. If I did another Alaska cruise I would do princess again if I was also doing a land tour. (We were also told that by doing the Kenai peninsula tour you would see more wild life). Otherwise I would do an NCL ship and do a suite for the perks it comes with. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My husband & I cruised on the July 26th sailing of the Crown Princess on the Voyage of the Glaciers southbound from Whittier to Vancouver. ABOUT US: It was my sixth or seventh cruise (I've lost track); his first. I've been ... Read More
My husband & I cruised on the July 26th sailing of the Crown Princess on the Voyage of the Glaciers southbound from Whittier to Vancouver. ABOUT US: It was my sixth or seventh cruise (I've lost track); his first. I've been on Royal Caribbean, Holland America, NCL and American Hawaii (RIP), but this was my first Princess cruise. We're in our late 20s with no kids, but we are not into partying or drinking at all. We like natural scenery, photography, eating and relaxing so we fit in well with the older crowd on Princess. PRE-CRUISE: We did a week in Alaska before the cruise that we arranged independently. We flew into Anchorage, did a day trip to Katmai National Park for brown bear viewing at Brooks Falls, drove to Denali National Park where we took the shuttle bus to Wonder Lake, and then drove to Seward where we explored the Kenai peninsula and Kenai Fjords National Park by kayaking to Aialik Glacier and hiking the Harding Icefield trail. Then we drove to Whittier, returned our car and got on the ship. Our first week in Alaska was spectacular but very hectic and we booked the cruise for two main reasons: 1) to see Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and 2) to relax and have a "vacation to recover from the vacation" after our very busy first week. I booked the cruise about 6 months out, and the price fell quite a bit after I booked it (steadily, not all at once). I kept calling Princess and they kept giving me price adjustments to the lower fare, even though sometimes the lower fares were advertised as "new bookings only." This was hugely appreciated and definitely started off our cruise on the right foot with very positive feelings about Princess. I highly recommend checking the price after booking but before final payment and asking for a price adjustment if it drops. FOOD: Overall, I thought the food was satisfactory but not outstanding, probably average or slightly better than average compared to my previous cruises. We ate dinner in the dining room every night (anytime dining) and ate breakfast and lunch in either the dining room or the buffets (there are two, both on the Lido deck – the traditional Horizon and the Caribe, which serves Caribbean fare). Breakfast in the dining room was the most unimpressive meal on the ship. Eggs ordered over medium came out almost raw with the whites not cooked, hashbrowns were a quarter-size patty that tasted worse than McDonalds, etc. The breakfast buffet was the usual mid-range hotel quality, but the French toast was great and there were made-to-order eggs that I think were better than those in the dining room. Generally we preferred lunch in the dining room, but it’s not served on port days (which I found annoying) and we didn’t have time for a sit-down lunch in Glacier Bay, so we only took advantage of it a few times. I had a sole meuniere at lunch in the dining room on our last sea day that was probably the best meal I had on the ship. There’s also a poolside grill with hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and very good pizza, and the International Café is open 24/7 and has good pastries and also little sandwiches and appetizers. There’s also a British Pub Lunch on sea days, and reindeer chilli and fish chowder served on deck in Glacier Bay (both free). One thing that Princess does that is unique is that in addition to the usual appetizers, soup/salad, entrée and “always available” choices at dinner, they have two pastas – their signature fettucine alfredo and a pasta of the day – available as either appetizers or entrees every day. We are big pasta lovers and had one of these almost every day and found them to be generally very good. The dining room desserts were underwhelming but the “Love Boat” heart-shaped chocolate mousse was very good and always available. My husband had never cruised before and found the food pretty bland. We both found it amusing that they came around with fresh pepper and offered it to you no matter what you ordered – they even offered it for a Philly cheesesteak. Maybe they are trying to mask the blandness of the food. The food at the buffet for lunch was adequate, but we definitely preferred the dining room. The most annoying thing about the buffet was that it was very crowded and there wasn’t enough seating at peak times. I did like that the buffet has waiter service for drinks so you don’t have to walk around carrying heavy trays loaded with food. We never ate at any of the restaurants with an upcharge because the free food was more than satisfactory. Our first day, we went to dinner fairly early, around 6 pm and getting a table for 2 was no problem (although I found that they seemed to want to force you into sharing even when there were lots of open tables for 2 or 4 – if you want to sit alone you’ll have to be somewhat insistent about it). The second day, which was a formal night, we went around 8 pm because there was good glacier viewing until after 7, and we were told (after waiting in line for about 15 minutes) that the wait for a private table was indefinite. Since they couldn’t even quote us a time, we shared a table with 4 other people and our meal took way longer than we like. After that, we made a reservation for a private table every day. I recommend doing that. Even with a reservation, we frequently had to wait a few minutes, which was frustrating. You can only make a reservation on the day of, but we never had a problem getting a reservation even in the late afternoon. Menu and food photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/123726325@N05/sets/72157646139180645 CABIN: We had an interior cabin on the Lido deck. The cabin was big for an interior cabin and very well organized with a lot of closet space and a big (for a cruise ship) bathroom. We had closet space to hang all of our clothes up and then could stack our suitcases, which saved a lot of space. I debated getting a balcony cabin (if you’re ever going to get a balcony cabin on a cruise, Alaska seems like the place to do it) but then decided to just go with the interior cabin, partly because our first week in Alaska was very expensive and I was looking to save money and partly because I figured we’d be out on deck when there was anything scenic anyway. I really regret not getting a balcony cabin. In Alaska it’s impossible to comfortably spend hours on deck and so I would have to retreat to the room to warm up and then I’d feel like I was missing scenery, whereas if we’d had a balcony I could have mostly stayed inside but easily popped out every 10 minutes to take a photo. I highly recommend a balcony cabin if you can afford one, even though Princess’s inside cabins are very good for inside cabins. The bed was very comfortable and I slept like a baby, finally away from the bright Alaskan “night” after 8 days of very restless sleep. SERVICE: Service was very friendly but inconsistent. Our cabin steward Glenn was great, we had no complaints about him at all. He never disturbed us and whenever we returned our room was always made up. The service in the dining rooms was generally ok, but far from perfect. We got the wrong meal a couple of times and once the hot chocolate I ordered didn’t arrive until after we had eaten our food. One night I ordered tea & mignardises off the dessert menu and only got tea, no mignardises. Of course I had plenty of food, and could have gone to the buffet for additional desserts, but these little lapses in service were noticeable. My husband hates wasted food and was upset that they brought us things we didn’t order a few times and wouldn’t take them away, and they always brought more bread without asking if we wanted it. On the first formal night, the waiters were very pushy about a champagne breakfast, asking each person at our group table several times if they wanted to order it and leaving forms about it on the table, even though every single person said no the first time around. I do agree with other reviews that there was more upselling than I remember on previous cruises. SHIP: I thought the ship was beautiful and well-maintained and I do not understand comments about wear and tear showing. The piazza (atrium) area is particularly beautiful. The elevators were of course crowded, and it’s annoying that people take them down 1 floor, but that’s not the cruise line’s fault. My biggest complaint about the ship is that the Lido Deck (where 2 of the pools are) was always absolutely soaked to the point that there was sometimes standing water on the deck. I understand that Alaska is rainy, but it seemed like absolutely nothing was being done to dry the deck. Our room was on this deck and it got to the point that I couldn’t wear flip flops anywhere on the ship, because trying to get back to our room across the slippery deck in flip-flops was death defying. ACTIVITIES: We didn’t take advantage of a lot of the activities, due in part to the fact that we only had one true sea day and also the fact that they were (in my opinion) somewhat poorly scheduled. For example, on our first full day, we didn’t have scenic cruising until after 3 pm, but aside from a few naturalist talks, there wasn’t a whole lot going on during the day. They scheduled a formal night that night, which I found odd, since we didn’t leave the glacier area until around 7, meaning everybody had to get ready after the glaciers & descended on the dining rooms around 8 pm. Then there was a comedian/vocal impressionist at 10 and the Newlywed Game at 9:30 – we wanted to go to both but they conflicted and we went to the comedian since we were still eating at 9:30 (on previous cruises I’ve done, the Newlywed Game is a daytime activity that doesn’t conflict with shows/dinner). There were no poolside/on deck activities but that makes sense because it’s Alaska. Perhaps due to the limited number of activities, there were very few onboard announcements, which was nice. The comedian/vocal impressionist was decent, although a lot of his impressions seemed to go over the heads of people under the age of 60. There was another comedian who did two shows; he was pretty funny and his two shows are different so it’s worth going to both. Note that his act is audience-participatory, so if you come late or sit up front beware you may be part of the act. We went to a production show on the final night, and it was ok but not amazing. EMBARKATION/SAILAWAY: We were at the cruise terminal by 11:30 and were disappointed when they announced they would not begin checking people in until 1 pm. However, they started checking people in shortly after noon and we were on the ship by 12:30. Overall, embarkation was very smooth. We went straight to the dining room and had a nice, relaxed lunch – I love that the dining room is open for lunch on embarkation day. Our stateroom was ready as soon as we got onboard, which was great. Luggage arrived around 4 pm. We were supposed to sail at 8 pm. We ended up being quite delayed (they said because they were still loading luggage, although I heard later in the week that there were some late-arriving passengers) and we did not sail until almost 10 pm. This was a little frustrating because there was good scenery for at least an hour after sailaway and possibly longer. As it was, we went to bed around 11 pm, which was later than we wanted, and we still felt like we might have missed some scenery. HUBBARD GLACIER: We lucked out with weather at Hubbard Glacier. It was overcast and drizzly as we entered Yakutat Bay but by the time we reached the glacier it was partly sunny and a balmy (for Alaska) 60 degrees. Thanks to the lack of fog and ice in front of the glacier, we got incredibly close to it (closer than any ship this season, they said) and watched it calve over and over again for more than an hour. I think it was calving about once a minute on average. Hubbard is the largest tidewater glacier in N. America (6 miles across and 76 miles long) and incredibly active. It was spectacular and definitely the highlight of our cruise. I did find it pretty annoying that the ship’s photographers came around bugging you to take a photo on the glacier days. It’s fine at dinner, where people can decline if they’re not interested, but when you’re standing on the deck with a huge camera pointed at the glacier, trying to capture a calving, it’s pretty distracting to have the ship’s photographers repeatedly tapping you on the shoulder, “Turn around for a photo with the glacier, ma’am!” I’m trying to TAKE a photo of the glacier, thank you very much. Perhaps thanks to the large number of people with balcony cabins, the decks were fairly uncrowded and it was easy to move around to different places, you didn’t have to stake out a spot. Since there was nothing going on scenery-wise until after 3 pm, I went to a naturalist talk in the morning – I found her talk fairly slow-paced and repetitive but her on deck commentary about the glaciers & wildlife was adequate (certainly better than the Glacier Bay park rangers the following day). GLACIER BAY: Glacier Bay was honestly a pretty big letdown after the spectacular Hubbard Glacier (and our pre-cruise trip, which included hiking and kayaking to glaciers). We did get closer to these glaciers than we did to Hubbard (1/4 mile) but we got plenty close enough to Hubbard. These glaciers didn’t calve nearly as much – Margerie calved a handful of times in an hour and I didn’t see Lamplugh calve at all - compared to Hubbard, which seemed to be calving every minute or two. The weather also didn’t help – it was partly sunny and about 60 in Hubbard, and raining and around 50 in Glacier Bay. The commentary from the park rangers was absolutely terrible, I thought. They went on and on again about the same scripted factoids but failed to point out anything that was actually of interest. At one point the ranger casually said, “As you can tell from the bear on the shore, this area is rich in wildlife…” Seriously? You can tell us 852 times why glacial ice is blue, but you see a BEAR and you mention it ONCE, casually, without telling anyone where it is? The ranger was particularly annoying, going on and on about what a peaceful, undisturbed wild place this is (it would have been a lot more peaceful if she would have shut up) and telling a long, boring story about her own kayaking trip where she saw humpback whales and bears, the only point of which seemed to be to make us feel bad about all the wildlife we weren’t seeing. (Jokes about the rangers’ repetitive commentary were the funniest part of the comedian’s act that night.) SKAGWAY: We booked a tour to the Yukon through Frontier Excursions, not through the cruise line. We did a 3.5 hour tour called The Yukoner that went just across the border. They also offer a longer tour called Yukon Discovery that is more similar to what Princess offers, but you'll save quite a bit of money booking it directly. The longer tour goes to Emerald Lake, which would have been nice, but also includes a BBQ lunch and stops at a taxidermy museum and a dog sled farm which we not only didn't care about, we actively did not want to do (we are animal lovers & heard the dog sled farms are very depressing with dogs chained up and howling, etc). We cared about setting foot in the Yukon and good scenery/wildlife and for that the shorter, cheaper tour seemed much better. We were not expecting this scenery to be spectacular in comparison to what we saw pre-cruise and also at the glaciers, but it was disappointing even with our lowered expectations. It was overcast when we left Skagway but as soon as we set out, it started raining and very thick fog set in so we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. We skipped a whole bunch of scenic viewpoints (which was objectively the correct decision, since we couldn’t see anything, but it was still disappointing). I was really thinking the whole trip was a waste of time and money, but as we approached the Yukon the rain and heavy fog let up, and we were greeted by a beautiful cinnamon-colored black bear right by the road, whom we observed for 10 minutes or so. On the way home, the clouds cleared considerably and we saw some mildly nice scenery and stopped at the viewpoints we skipped on the way out. Still, had we not seen the bear, the trip would have been quite a disappointment, and the bear sighting of course cannot be guaranteed. I was extremely unimpressed with our guide, who didn’t spot any wildlife on her own (the bear was spotted by other people on the bus), insisted we had seen a brown bear because of its light brown coat when people on the bus, including us, pointed out that it clearly had the tall ears and short claws of a black bear and lacked the brown bear’s distinctive shoulder hump, and at one point actually started to drive the bus away from a viewpoint with two people still outside. JUNEAU: Today we went to Mendenhall Glacier (on our own, not through a Princess tour). The ship docked early (6:30 AM) and we were at the glacier before 8 AM (we had to take a cab -$40 with tip –because the Glacier Express “blue bus” does not do its first run from the cruise dock until 9 AM. We went so early because the ship naturalist said the best bear viewing was first thing in the morning. We did not see any bears when we first got there but still felt it was well worth being the first ones there because we had the beautiful glacier to ourselves. It was still beautiful later in the day, but it had lost some of its majesty when it was overrun with tourists. Even after viewing numerous tidewater glaciers and hiking the Harding Icefield Trail with great views of Exit Glacier, we still felt Mendenhall was gorgeous and very worth it. After taking a few photos, we hiked the East Glacier Trail, which was mildly scenic but nothing to write home about. We wanted to do West Glacier Trail, which is supposed to be spectacular, but the trailhead is not near the visitor center and looked to be several miles away according to the map – I think you need a car to do that one. To the left of the glacier, there’s a stream that has salmon in it in late July and August and they’ve built an elevated platform over it so people can watch the salmon and any bears that come to feed on them without any harm to bears or people. After our hike, we went back to the bear viewing area and were lucky enough to see a large male black bear (this one with a very dark black coat) fish (unsuccessfully) and then wonder around in the woods right near the platforms munching on berries and leaves. Thanks to the platforms, the bear seemed totally unconcerned with all the people trying to photograph him. We didn’t get good photos, because of the crowds and the fact that the bear was hiding behind shrubs and bushes, but it was still fun to observe him for a while. However, unlike our excursion in Skagway, where the bear was the only thing that really made it worthwhile, Mendenhall Glacier is certainly worth a visit even if you aren’t lucky enough to see a bear. We took the blue bus - $10 per person per way – back to the cruise dock. On the southbound cruise, a few hours after you sail away from Juneau, from around 7 pm to 8 pm, there’s a very good whale watching opportunity. Unlike other supposed whale watching opportunities (into and out of Glacier Bay, in Johnstone Strait, BC on our sea day), where I only saw one whale or none at all, there were TONS here – I saw probably 20-25 humpbacks over that hour, including a mom with calf and several that came very close to the boat. I think this is definitely the best whale watching opportunity of the whole week. If you want to see whales on the cruise for sure, schedule your dinner to avoid this hour. KETCHIKAN: After gloomy, overcast weather all week, we arrived in the rainiest city in Alaska to brilliant sunshine and warm (by Alaska standards) temperatures. I think it broke 70 degrees, if not, it was definitely high 60s. We didn’t have an excursion planned and unfortunately I had to do a fair amount of work, so we walked around Ketchikan a bit to the Totem Heritage Center which was mildly interesting and probably worth the $5 admission fee, and then walked along Creek Street, which is quite picturesque with brightly colored buildings on stilts (just don’t tell the people you’re showing your photos to that they were once brothels and are now extremely touristy shops). We did some shopping and then observed a harbor seal in the creek eating a salmon. We got back on the boat around 3 pm and took advantage of the nice weather by going swimming for the first time all week. The adults-only pool was freezing cold, but the other two pools were a good temperature and not too crowded. If I ever do another cold weather cruise, I’ll certainly look for a ship with an indoor swimming pool; I really missed swimming regularly. SEA DAY: I went to a culinary demonstration/galley tour in the morning. The culinary demonstration was alright, although the maitre d’hotel and head chef were a little too into their not very funny comedy routine. It was also a little horrifying to see how much butter, cream and cheese went into the mushroom risotto, a dish I make at home that can be very flavorful without butter or cream and with a much smaller amount of cheese. The galley tour was badly organized. There were hundreds of people in attendance and they led us down into the dining rooms while we waited and waited and waited…I eventually got bored and left, before we ever made it into the galley. There was a shopping event taking place in the dining room at the same time, which seemed like poor planning. The patter said we would be passing through Johnstone Strait, “one of the best places in the world to see killer whales” sometime after noon. Around noon, we went outside but couldn’t see any land at all. We frantically tried to find the naturalist or someone who could provide us more information, to no avail. We finally discovered a map outside the gift shop, which indicated that we wouldn’t get to the whales until 5:15 pm – you would think they could have provided something more detailed than “sometime after noon” or at least made an onboard announcement. We had afternoon tea in the dining room, which was fun – they serve you tea and come around with pastries, cookies and sandwiches. Around 4:45, I went out on deck to look for killer whales. Johnstone Strait is very picturesque and I saw a couple more humpbacks, but the killer whale eluded me. DISEMBARKATION: We had an early tour in Vancouver that we were supposed to check in for at 10:15 AM so we opted for walk-off disembarkation. We were assigned 7:45 AM (other walk-off times were 7:25 and 7:35), which was pretty much perfect since Princess requires you to be out of your stateroom by 8 AM. As soon as we arrived at our meeting point they made the announcement that we could disembark and we had no line getting off. This was so smooth I will never do regular disembarkation again. Plus if you walk off, you get to keep your luggage with you and don’t have to put it outside your stateroom before dinner on your final night. In Vancouver, I went whale watching with Wild Whales Vancouver, which was spectacular. We observed a pod of killer whales for an hour & the company was great – I highly recommend them if you want to see killer whales in Vancouver. For the price paid (which was less per night than most of our hotels in Alaska, and included food and transportation) I was very satisfied with the cruise, and cruising is a good way to see tidewater glaciers. I wouldn’t hesitate to take another Princess cruise if the price and itinerary were good, but I also wouldn’t seek out Princess above other lines.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I depend a lot on reviews so I feel obligated to write one in return. We arrived at 1 to a big huge mess. We had taken a taxi to be dropped off right near the entrance only to be asked to turn around and go back to the street. We lined up ... Read More
I depend a lot on reviews so I feel obligated to write one in return. We arrived at 1 to a big huge mess. We had taken a taxi to be dropped off right near the entrance only to be asked to turn around and go back to the street. We lined up for an hour just to the entrance of the security check in when a rep told us to get out of line to drop off our luggage. She did not tell us that we would lose our place in line for doing this! Luckily, another volunteer was compassionate and we probably fell only 10 minutes back from our previous spot. After that, it was another 2 hrs through immigration/customs before reaching the Princess counter. If you are reading this Princess...please do not have similar embarkation times to another ship in the same terminal. I loved our cabin. Our "obstructed view" cabin was barely obstructed! We were on the 8th floor which was perfect because it was only one flight down from the promenade deck where most activities took place. We were also safely on the other side of the buffet for which my belly was grateful. We were not directly in front of the stairway/elevator but close enough for it to be handy. Our stateroom was clean. The tv programs need updating. I am now "platinum" on Princess and they are still showing the SAME programs. Please update! Our window was good and we could enjoy glaciers without venturing outside. We had our first experience with "anytime" dining which was great. The servers were all excellent. The food was mediocre at best. It was subpar compared to other ships and the desserts were all way too sweet. Let's just say it was average but not fine dining. The 24 hr international cafe had some great salads options. There is always something to be found at the Horizon Buffet. I actually enjoyed the food there much more but it's nice to be served once in awhile. There are much better options on Celebrity. Sorry but true. The gym was crowded and I never used it. I actually had enough room in my modest stateroom to work out! We never bought anything on the ship. The photo gallery took good pictures but way overpriced. Why not sell the prints electronically? I would have bought many files if so. I really enjoyed the silent policy on the ship. I cannot tell you how many times I have been annoyed with constant announcements in the stateroom. Peace and quiet was such a delight. The ports were excellent. I booked all of our excursions privately to avoid higher charges. Island Wings in Ketchikan (fine), took public bus to go to see eagles on the beach in Juneau (could have skipped this), Sockeye bike ride in Skagway (LOVED), Major Marine Surprise Glacier tour in Skagway (Very good and saw more wildlife during those 5.5 hrs than in 7 day cruise). Then we took the cruise back down to Vancouver. Skagway Floats in Skagway (good, not too eventful but I was travelling with my mother and she liked it a lot), Mendenhall Glacier (just take a $10 one way bus from the stands off the ship..this was phenomenal must see!), and then went on a mapped walk in Ketchikan (great if you are there during the salmon run)! Seeing Glacier Bay National Park is breathtaking. We saw College Fjord northbound but with bad weather and Hubbard Glacier southbound. All the glaciers are a must see and you will be very humbled by its beauty. Throughout the cruise, you feel that you are walking in nature and beauty. I think everyone should go on an Alaskan cruise. It is visually stunning! Disembarkation was a breathe! Thank goodness! All in all, a good cruise. Weather plays a major part. Staff is nice, food could be improved. Entertainment was ok. Commercialization was a bit much but bearable. For the price that we paid, we are very satisfied. The value is outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Sailed from Vancouver on the 5th of July 2014. Not a good start EMBARCATION horrendous over 3hours. As a non Us citizen we expected some formalities despite clearing customs and homeland security in Los Angeles on the 2nd of July having ... Read More
Sailed from Vancouver on the 5th of July 2014. Not a good start EMBARCATION horrendous over 3hours. As a non Us citizen we expected some formalities despite clearing customs and homeland security in Los Angeles on the 2nd of July having arrived from Sydney. We arrived at the dock in Vancouver to find massive delays and queue's outside the embarkation doors. The facility was clearly not manned or equipped to service two large ships due to depart within an Hour of each other. Princess, Holland America, the Port of Vancouver and US Homeland Security need to jointly sort this situation out if the want customers/tourists. Having finally boarded the ship we had immediate access to a well prepared mini suite and our cabin attendant was prompt to ask for any needs we might require. The cabin was well appointed and roomy. The larger balcony proved to be of benefit despite fairly average weather. We took aboard the two bottles of wine the cabin was allowed and enjoyed a pre dinner drink whilst getting ready for dinner. Dining.. we had requested late sitting in the Main Dining Room to be seated with other passengers including a couple from the US. We had contacted our Princess representative in Australia and these seating arrangements had been confirmed. On our arrival for Dinner we found that we had been allocated a table for two. After many discussions with the concierge we were seated at a table for 6 though 2 never arrived. However the two other passengers sharing the table were excellent company and good fun. They had also had to move to that table as their seating arrangements were not as they expected. The first night the table service was very ordinary and the second night worse causing both couples to complain. To their credit the table staff and their supervisor rose to occasion and the dining experience for the remainder of the cruise was very enjoyable. Two of the table were gluten free and every night the head waiter would come and discuss the next nights menu so that suitable and very good meals were provided. We ate several lunches and breakfasts in the Horizon Court Buffet and were pleasantly surprised as before the trip we had read some bad reviews from members on this site. The ports of call were enjoyable. In Juneau the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale watch tour was extremely good. We were lucky enough to Orca's several times during the cruise and were especially lucky to witness Humpback Whales grouped together doing bubble feeding a large school of fish. The entertainment in the theatre was enjoyable as well as in other public areas of the ship. The on-board self service laundry that is not available on a lot of ships was used twice by us and is good facility. In summary we enjoyed our cruise on the Crown we would not say it was above cruises we have enjoyed on Princess and Costa but would be happy to those who ask we would sail on Princess again if the itinerary and dates we were looking for matched a Princess itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Things to keep in mind as you read this: 1. First time cruisers. 2. Spouse is out of her comfort zone and is not adventurous. 3. 75 year old mother is in cabin right across hall. 4. Ship is huge with 3000+ people. 5. Expectation is ... Read More
Things to keep in mind as you read this: 1. First time cruisers. 2. Spouse is out of her comfort zone and is not adventurous. 3. 75 year old mother is in cabin right across hall. 4. Ship is huge with 3000+ people. 5. Expectation is that everything is paid for. 6. Not expecting a medium to hard sell to buy extras (Think time share presentation!!) 7. Weather was horrible with two days at sea that were very rough. 8. Two out of the three of us ended up getting sick 4-5 days into the cruise. On July 4th 2014 three people embarked upon their first cruise. The cruise included a land tour immediately following the water portion. Three celebrations would occur on this cruise: A 30 year anniversary; A 75th Birthday; 32 year retirement. We arrived in Vancouver and stayed overnight at the Quality Hotel in Richmond. I would highly recommend this hotel as an alternative to the higher priced downtown hotels. Saturday morning we took a taxi to the docks. The taxi cost $35 and delivered us right to the cruise entry area. I would highly recommend this mode of transportation. Porters then took all of our luggage which eventually showed up in our rooms. More on this later. We entered into a line that moved right along through customs and security. We had arrived at this area around 11:00. We then entered an area with chairs and this is where the cruise line took over. Someone made the decision to start boarding early and off we went. We were immediately stopped to take the embarkation photos. Let me stop right here and say that unbeknownst to us this was the first of what we found to be very intrusive picture taking. We also did not know that these pictures would be displayed for all to see and of course would be available to purchase for $20 per page. Each "page" consisted of either one 8x10 or a collage of three photos. Every time we turned around it seemed the cruise line wanted to take another photo. We started to say no very quickly. I'm talking about every port you stop at, every time you sit down to dine, as you walk through the picture gallery, etc... After stepping on board there were plenty of Princess employees to help us find our cabins. My wife and I had a balcony room and right across from us my mom had her room. (See description of cabin.) We found that Princess placed employees that spoke and understood english at strategic locations. However many, many, employees seemed to neither understand or speak english. We found this to be a problem when we would ask someone for directions or a general question about the cruise. As a matter of fact the only people who knew anything about our specific cruise was the people at the 800 number. You really, really need to know your own personal itinerary!!! The employees on the ship know only about their own area or specialty. Don't get me wrong every single employee we met tried to help us. Our head waiter for our dining room visited our table every evening. Our room steward was fantastic. Our server was also fantastic. Everyone had a job to do and did it well. As I said earlier every time we turned around it seemed that Princess was trying to sell us something or there was an extra fee. From the pictures to the bingo to the markers for the bingo cards to the so called auction to the drink programs to the specialty dining to the exorbitant fees for the Lotus Spa and the hard pressure sale of their products to the cost for the Sanctuary to the tour of the kitchen and then have to squeeze by the table where they are selling cookbooks and then at the end of the tour going into a room where they are selling leftover items from previous cruises. It all got to be to much and frankly turned us off on future cruises. Now let's talk about the tipping. Princess charges $11.50 per day per person for tips. Other then your tour director if you take a land tour there are no other tips you HAVE to give. Tips are also automatically added onto any bar tab. When you break it down this is really not to bad. However it does make you stop and think how much are the people who are personally serving you getting?!? As soon as possible after boarding I would highly recommend going to the main desk and opting out of this tipping charge. Then give your room steward a good tip right from the start as well as your server and assistant server. In other words tip those people who actually serve you. With regards to #4 above. Anytime you stick 3000+ people in an enclosed area there will be problems. If you try to go to a show or any event for that matter GET THERE EARLY!!!! I don't care how big the ship is, if you do not like a lot of people around you don't go on a cruise. Also it is impossible to sanitize a ship this big when you only have 4 hours to do so. By the time we disembarked I would unscientifically estimate that half the ship had some sort of cold or ailment. My mom ended up almost having to go to the hospital and did go to the ER after getting home. She was diagnosed with bronchitis. I am still getting over whatever I had. Cold like symptoms. If you can I would recommend taking antibiotics right when the cruise starts. Now the food and dining. Immediately after boarding the ship the buffet's were open for lunch. It was fantastic. As a matter of fact we found the buffet's to be better then the traditional dining. They seemed to have almost the exact same choices as we were given. We did a traditional seating for dinner at 6PM. First of all breakfast. You go to the buffets for breakfast. I kid you not. They have everything you could possibly think of for breakfast. Lunches are a different matter. When we were at port we wanted to dine at a local restaurant which we did. We even had dinner at Skagway. there was always a buffet open on the ship. The first dinner was a bit hectic for everyone passengers and servers. It settled down after that. The way the traditional dinners work is that you are given a menu. This menu will have 6 or 7 appetizer choices, a couple of soup choices, a couple of salad choices and 7 or 8 entree choices. Every night there are special choices in each category. You really can order whatever you want off of this menu. You want one of each appetizer...go for it. Let me make one thing clear. Except for lobster night there are no "high priced" choices. All of the prime steaks are at the Crown Grill. All of the specialty seafood is at the Crown Grill or Sabatini's. The food was good but I still think the buffet is the better value. SIGN UP FOR TRADITIONAL DINING but other then the formal nights and/or lobster night go to the buffet. And you can go to any of the dining rooms and view that nights choices and make your decision then. One more thing...If you do decide not to attend your traditional dining seating please let the dining room know. In addition to these there was also an ice cream bar, a poolside grill (great hamburgers), a pizza area, and the international cafe. All of these areas had free food. There was a charge for milkshakes. Specialty dining......We did two specialty dining options that I would like to mention. As part of a promotion we received a voucher to attend one specialty restaurant. We choose Crown Grill. Hands down probably one of the best porterhouse steaks I have ever had. If we ever go on another Princess cruise I would definitely pay an extra $25 and do this again. Another "specialty dining" we did was an in room champagne breakfast. You can pick the time you want this served. We choose the day and about the time we were going to get to the glaciers. It was fantastic. More food then we could ever have eaten. And high quality food. I would highly recommend this option. Drink programs. We did not purchase a program. Frankly I don't see how this is a good value. You have a fridge in your room. No you cannot bring alcohol onto the ship. But unless you are an alcoholic there is no way one person is going to drink $56 worth of booze in one day. You can bring pop and water onto the ship. So at the first port buy some! Or just get your pop fix at the port itself. The cost for a bottle or can of pop on-board is not that bad either. I don't see how the cruise lines are making money off of this unless people are just clueless or filthy rich. NOTE...I did purchase the coffee card. This is the only beverage option that you can share if you like and if you don't use all of the punches you can take it on the next cruise or give it to someone else. Excursions.....The one Princess excursion we went on was very well organized and the tour guides were well spoken and informed. The decision to book tours ahead of time is a personal one. KEEP IN MIND that you have until 6PM I believe to cancel any tours for Monday morning (our cruise started on Saturday). After that any pre-booked tours have to be canceled at least 48 hours prior or you will forfeit your money. No negotiating. When we got sick, which we had no control over, we tried to appeal to many people to no avail. We ended up paying for an excursion we were to ill to go on. Based on the lines I saw many people wait to book their tours on-board. i will say this...We were offered the same tour that we had to cancel later that same day with an extra thrown in. We also heard of tours that were canceled due to lack of enough people signing up. So good luck with the excursions. On Board Activities...On board activities were plentiful. Of course the obligatory casino. We attended dance classes, bingo, cooking demonstration and kitchen tour, comedian, art auction, band performances, stopped to watch some movie under the stars, and went to the Sanctuary pool and hot tub (Free). The minerature golf course and basketball courts were in sad shape. The fitness center looked pretty nice. My wife and mom got some things done at the Lotus Spa on the very first day. They ran some specials. Princess Patter....The Princess Patter is a "newspaper" that shows up in your mailbox which is just outside of your cabin, later in the evening. This paper will list all the events upcoming for the next day. Weird things to take with you.....take a highlighter with you to highlight those things in the Princess Patter you are interested in...take some regular tape with you to tape those things you will need for the next day on the obligatory big picture in your room or the mirror...maybe take some packing tape with you to send stuff in priority mail boxes back home...get a pair of comfortable water proof shoes to take the place of maybe two pairs...extension cord...don't forget chargers...binoculars...camera(s)...For women-Take at least 1 dressy sweater and a pashmina/extra large scarf for your shoulders. Some of the areas of the ship are rather chilly. Do Not Take....A LOT OF CLOTHES....Believe it or not at the very first port there were nice jackets for sale at numerous shops for only $20...t-shirts $10...sweaters and hoodies $15...hats 3 for $10....These prices were consistent at every port we stopped in...Both men and womens items. And you need souveniers! Men...Take one pair of dress shoes...one or two pair of dress pants..and 3 or 4 shirts to match them. Any more then that would be overkill. I wore shorts on the ship and jeans on land. The weather was chilly on our cruise. Debarkation...I don't care what the Patter says...Get to your debarkation point at least 10 minutes early. This like everything else was well organized. That's about it. We did take a land tour in conjunction with the cruise through Princess. Two days at Princess Denali and two days at Princess McKinley. By the way Mt McKinley and Mt. Denali are the same mountain! We had a fantastic tour guide and except for being sick had a great time. I would highly recommend this add on. HOWEVER...The train ride was horrible. 10 1/2 hours on a slow moving train looking at the same scenery over and over. Even though it is included in the price I would skip the train and find alternate transportation to the lodge. After further consideration if it hadn't been for getting sick we would have had a very good time. There are many things that I wish I would have known beforehand and I have tried to convey these in this review.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We were very impressed with the food in the main dining room and the horizon café and found the staff to excel in the service they provided. The International Café was also a pleasant surprise and it was great to be able to get a light ... Read More
We were very impressed with the food in the main dining room and the horizon café and found the staff to excel in the service they provided. The International Café was also a pleasant surprise and it was great to be able to get a light meal at any time of the day. It did however need a bigger seating area with only a very small number of tables being available. The ice cream bar was a disappointment serving only diary soft rather than "real" ice cream. We did find that the ship appeared quite aged with many of the public areas being dark and poky. The lifts were also very slow to respond when called and were often over crowded WE found that the boat was best suited to those who like the BIG ship experience and that you were only getting to know all the areas at the end of the cruise. Possibly a smaller boat is better for the Alaska cruises given that much of the time is spent ashore rather than on the boat. The production shows looked dated and were not particularly impressive. The Cruise Director seemed sounded like she should be running an English holiday camp however her assistant Bernie had great enthusiasm and a real bubbly personality. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
In preparing for our Alaska cruise, I read all the reviews. I figured that I had better write one, so future travelers can learn from my experience too. I booked this cruise directly through Princess. Our first Princess rep. left her ... Read More
In preparing for our Alaska cruise, I read all the reviews. I figured that I had better write one, so future travelers can learn from my experience too. I booked this cruise directly through Princess. Our first Princess rep. left her position, so when I called to talk to our new rep, the guy answering the phone said, "I'll be your rep.". I just figured that Princess would have assigned somebody to our booking but, that wasn't the case. Our new rep. seems to be out of the office alot and does not return voicemails. For this reason, I will probably not book another cruise directly though Princess again! Our embarkation was from Vancouver on June21. We had flown into Seattle the night before and took a shuttle from SeaTec ($40 booked through Princess). The shuttle left 45 minutes past it's advertised departure time but otherwise the 3+ hour drive was uneventful. Canada Place (the pier) on the other hand, was a different story. We were over 3 hours waiting to board the ship. Had heard that the Crown Princess and another major ship, had docked at the same time so there were probably close to 5000 people trying to board. The last thing we had to do is fill out and sign a health question sheet but they did not give us a pen to do this with. Once we boarded the ship, we were told that the elevators were down so we took the stairs to our room on the Caribe deck. Our cabin was Interior, pretty much in the center of the ship. I was impressed with the room size. The ship departed close to the time that it was suppose to and sailed under the Lion's Gate bridge which was awesome to see. The first full day of sailing was good up until early afternoon on June 22 when the water became a little choppy and you could feel the boat sway. This ship movement was for about 8 hours but then it became smooth for the remainder of the trip. We picked the anytime dining plan and ate our meals early (as soon as the restaurants opened). We had no problem with seating. There were two formal nights on our cruise. We participated in one of them and did not feel like getting dressed up for the second one so we ate at the Horizon Buffet that night. I felt that the food, at all venues, was ok but nothing spectacular. We did eat at the Crown Grill one night and that was excellent. Our ports of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway were wonderful and I had planned them on my own which was less expensive than booking through the ship. Our day sailing Glacier Bay was wonderful. We had found on table in the corner of the Lido deck (out of the wind), got our coffee and watched as the ship sailed by the beautiful sights. Finding ourselves there at lunch time still, we got pizza (which was excellent) and continued our viewing. The next evening we were at College Fjord which, in my opinion, was even better than Glacier Bay. We included a land tour option to our cruise which I highly recommend. The cruise ended at Whittier and exiting the ship went smoothly. Our luggage was transported to the Denali Princess Lodge while we board the train for a 9 hour trip. We did the Tundra Wilderness tour through Denali National park (8 - 9 hours) which I believe was better than the shorter History tour. Our stay at the Princess McKinley Lodge was wonderful as was our night at Captain Cook in Anchorage. I was very impressed with the organization of Princess as far as our luggage and the transportation from one location to the next. At times, I felt that we were always being shuttled someplace, but it has to be that way when you are part of a tour. We did rent a car and do a couple of days on our own, touring the Turnagain Arm area.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Hotel: Doubletree San Pedro - the hotel is nice, and beautifully located right on the marina, but the first room they gave me was so noisy that I and to request a change. They have two or three rooms whose front doors give onto a balcony ... Read More
Hotel: Doubletree San Pedro - the hotel is nice, and beautifully located right on the marina, but the first room they gave me was so noisy that I and to request a change. They have two or three rooms whose front doors give onto a balcony right above the reception desk. You hear everything - music, luggage, front desk clerks, telephones - I mean everything. Of course, the room the replaced it with was at the very far end of the hotel - A very long walk for a partially disabled guy like me! But at least the 2nd room was quiet! Dinner the night before the cruise at 22nd St. Landing. Delicious grilled sea bass - not cheap, but worth every penny. Embarkation was delayed, so there were hundreds and hundreds of people waiting in the terminal, but at last we got on and made our way up to the Horizon court buffet. I was pleasantly surprised by the food. It's been my experience that the first lunch buffet on Princess is mediocre at the very best, but this time the food was good. Our stateroom was ready, and it was a standard Princess balcony stateroom. Bed was very comfortable, everything was clean and the bathroom looked a bit updated, but of course the shower was tiny as always. I had two stewards - one left when we were in San Francisco, but both of them were good. The ship: Yes, the Crown is a bit older, but I thought it was in very good shape. It's a bit different than the other Princess ships I've been on - the Vista lounge on other ships is 'Club Fusion' on the Crown, without the bench seating. Crown Grill is where Sabatini's is on other ships, etc.,etc. No problem, really. The one problem is that the Crown takes more passengers than the Grand/Star/Golden, but the many of the public rooms are the same size, which means they fill up quicker. The International Cafe area was always packed with people, and there were lines every night for dinner...even if you had a reservation! On the good side, unlike the Grand and Golden, the changing rooms in the spa/gym area have showers, sauna and steam rooms, so that is a definite plus. Food: Unlike some other folks on my cruise critic roll call, I thought the MDR food was quite good - didn't have a single bad dinner there, and the maitre'd at DaVinci was very helpful. Buffet food was good too - always a good variety to cater to every taste. the only disappointment for me was at Sabatini's. The special pasta when i went was spaghetti carbonara, which had way too much egg, and ended up very heavy and gloppy. And I had the veal chop, which was tough. Lastly, I got a glass of wine, which was good, but very skimpy for the price. Service: Great - absolutely no complaints - Princess appears to have made a concerted effort in the past couple of years to improve on service, and it shows. Entertainment: Fair, with one glittering exception and one piece of eye candy: The acts they had in the theater (hypnotist, impressionist) were mediocre. However, the classical quartet (Magdalena Quartet) was probably the best classical ensemble I've seen on a cruise. They ladies were good, and that was evidenced by the people (like me), that made it a point to attend their performances, rather than just listening for a few minutes while passing by. The eye candy was provided by a very muscled - and shirtless- young man performing acrobatics in the piazza. Ports: Well, you can't go wrong with Santa Barbara and San Francisco, especially when the sun is shining. I actually didn't get off the ship until Victoria, as I live in the SF bay area and have been to Santa Barbara many times. Disembarkation was very quick and easy. Overall, I had a nice, relaxing time, and the ship and crew made it a good vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Cruise 4/19/14 through 4/26/14. My Mom and I took this cruise as a short getaway from the San Francisco Bay Area. We flew from San Jose, to LAX via Southwest, then boarded a Super Shuttle shared van to take us to the Pier at San Pedro. ... Read More
Cruise 4/19/14 through 4/26/14. My Mom and I took this cruise as a short getaway from the San Francisco Bay Area. We flew from San Jose, to LAX via Southwest, then boarded a Super Shuttle shared van to take us to the Pier at San Pedro. Upon arrival at the port we were surprised to see a huge mob of passengers waiting to board the ship, and another large group waiting for pick-up to leave the port. We were told that the ship had arrived late, and that boarding would begin at 2:00 pm. It was about 1:30 when we were finally able to board. The ship is although very clean, is just okay, no frills. I really expected it to be much nicer than it was especially since I have traveled on Princess 11 times. We had an inside cabin on Caribe Deck 10, stateroom C720 which is pretty far aft. The room was spacious, and pretty nice. We did hear the engines and feel the vibration pretty heavily when arriving and departing a port. However it was a pretty quiet cabin during the night, and the gentle rolling movement did lull us to sleep every night. Our cabin Stewart Ariel Santa Cruz from the Philippines was very good. We found the beds to be very hard, so we asked for egg crate mattresses, and blankets which he quickly addressed. The penny machines in the casino were a lot of fun, especially the one called Striking Tiger, and the Wild Wolf slots. The elevators were the worst. A constant wait, and a real pain. The gym was great, lots of machines. The food in all the venues was good. We had anytime dining, but unlike the Sapphire Princess (my fav Princess ship) the Crown only has 2 anytime venues for the evening meal besides the buffet. On deck 15 in the buffet I would like to see a free ice cream machine in the to go with the desserts. I loved the stir fry's, the balsamic vinaigrette and the daily cupcakes at lunch time. Delish. Service, terrible and slow. Most of the time we had to get our own coffee, and water. I heard numerous complaints about this from others as well. We picked this cruise based on itinerary. All of our excursions were DIY. Be sure to book all your excursions on line before the cruise in order to save money. San Francisco - Weather was bitterly windy (in the 50's) dull and cold. Thank goodness I had my winter parka. We did the Hop on Hop off bus run by Grayline. I booked it through Viator.com which I have used numerous times in Europe. Very good narration by the driver and beautiful overview view of the city sites. It was excellent. In San Francisco the ship docks at Pier 35. The ticket from Viator tells you to go to Pier 33, but this is not correct, because the bus does not stop there. Instead, catch this bus at Pier 39 which is about a 5 minute walk from where the ship docks. Sit on the benches facing the Embarcadero right next to the Aquarium and the bus comes by there every 30 minutes. You can call them to see what the time of arrival is. Santa Barbara - Took the Old Town Trolley. We got it for $17.50 each on line, $19 p/p at the trolley. The cruise pax paid $35 p/p for the this same trolley. The website stated "Black Out Period for Cruise Passengers" however, there does not seem to be an issue if you grab the trolley at the Stearns Wharf & State Street corner next to the dolphin statue. Again excellent 2 hour tour with ability to Hop On and Hop Off at any of the 12 stops. San Diego - Also took the Trolley which is the best deal in town. Takes you all over to the best sites in SD for about 2 hours. Awesome. You pick it up at the restaurant right next to the cruise port (I think it is called Anthony's but I could be mistaken) which is a short 5 minute or less stroll. Ensenada - No comment as we stayed on the ship. Disembarkation - Again a nightmare. We had the early self walk-off, which was supposed to leave the ship at 7:45 am. However we were held up by Customs (not the ship's fault) and didn't leave the ship until about 8:20 or so. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Crown Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.5 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.5 3.8
Shore Excursions 5.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.5 4.2
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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