My wife and I cruised recently on the Crown Princess from Venice, on to Dubrovnik, Croatia, then to Corfu, Greece, as well as Katakolon, Greece, followed by Mykanos, Santorini and Athens, then topped off with 2 days at swa, then a day in Naples and finally disembarking in Rome, Italy.
The Crown Princess is a huge ship and the service onboard was very good - be it help from the Front Desk, Room Service, or even service in the Da Vinci Dining Room (one of two Anytime Dining Rooms onboard).
We were upgraded to a Mini-Suite with Balcony across from the Passenger Laundromat services, which at first concerned us, thinking that there would be constant traffic - this was not the case and we NEVER heard a peep from anybody using the room, so this was excellent. The bed was so comfortable and having a full bathroom with tub, made for much greater living space.
Embarkation and Disembarkation were absolutely painless and only took minutes each time. Very professionally run.
Now for my two complaints. The first revolves around the entertainment. Showing the same acrobatic act 5 or 6 times during the cruise IS NOT entertaining after you've seen it once. Having 75-year old british comedians come onboard telling corny jokes IS NOT entertaining. Four theatre shows on a 12-night cruise IS NOT entertaining. Princess, your cruise director isn't doing her job!!! Instead of having 17 mediocre theatre performers, do like Holland America has done, reduce that to 7 or 8 professional high-end performers plus two dancers and make them perform multiple different broadway shows throughout the cruise. 20-minutes of so-so singing and dancing, hardly qualifies for entertainment. I found that the shows were a little risque too, such as the Roxanne number in Destination Anywhere (a hodge-podge of singing and dancing with no real point). Dancers pretending to do the nasty on stage isn't for everyone. Surely, Princess can entertain passengers without stooping to this level.
Greg Scott, the violinist was excellent - more of him and less of has been comedians is in order. The magic show/comedy routine was also lame - either the person is a magician, or a comic!!! Seldom do people excel in both areas and the shows proved that.
The International Crew Show, was a desperation move, to fill an empty evening. 3 very good crew members performing is excellent, but you can't bill the 3 acts as a show. Filling in with lame crew staff skits like "Fountains", where the cruise director and her team spit water at each other to music, or "If I Were Not at Sea", in which the same cruise staff sing and act a song in which one performer continues to grab his female colleague's breast multiple times IS NOT entertainment - in fact, if an employee of mine were to either grope the boss, or vice versa, it would be sexual harassment. I know it's a show, but really! If that's all the excitement the cruise director can dish up for entertainment, then Princess you have a problem.
Food on the Crown Princess was not that spectacular. Of course you know that buffet dining will be hit and miss - it's hard to please everyone all the time in a buffet, but the Da Vinci Restaurant was not so special either. My wife and I both had a rib-eye one evening and it was like shoe leather. The soups were good onboard as was the fettucini alfredo, but aside from this, our experience in the main dining room was not what we would have expected.
We did partake in the Crown Grill experience where Princess charges a $25/head cover charge for upscale dining. My wife had the Filet Mignon and it was superb. I had the Porterhouse Steak (a T-Bone) and I wasn't too happy with the grizzle, nor the cut of the meat. Remember this is the premium restaurant - not the buffet, so expectations on my part were high and I was disappointed.
If you are a soda drinker, buy the soda card on Day 1 for unlimited sodas. We went to buy two (one for each of us) and we were told "No need, just buy one". Throughout the cruise, we had no issues with this except for one server, who tried to make it look like she was doing us a favour, by giving us two cokes for one soda card.
The photo team onboard is excellent and they take a gazillion photos of you during the cruise. Don't rush to buy them as you see them. Instead, pool all of your photos together somewhere in the photo display area and towards the end of your cruise, simply choose the best ones. At $25/sheet, having 20+ photos in hand could prove to be one of the most expensive purchases if you aren't careful.
I highly recommend taking the Ultimate Ship Tour ($150/person), which takes you behind the seens of the ship, allows you to speak with key crew members about the ship, provides each person with a Princess Bathrobe ($90 in the boutique) and a Chef's coat to impress your friends when you return home. Sign up for this at the Front Desk upon boarding.
The mini-suite with balcony is an excellent size room Deck 9 Aft. Equipped with a full bathroom, this stateroom had plenty of room. Fitted with a king size bed, the sofa bed folds out into a queen size bed and there is a fold-out bunk which folds into the ceiling to house a 5th person in the room if required.
The balcony is a large size (about 7-feet x 9-feet), but does not have any overhang, so people in balconies above you can look right onto your balcony.
The room is convenient to the back elevators for the Horizon Court (Deck 15 Aft) buffet and also is in close proximity to the laundry facilities.
There is a full walk-in closet, a desk, two flat-screen TV's, a mini-bar, a safe and an additional closet with shelves for items that wouldn't normally be hung up in a closet.
The room has dual thermostats for those with differing preferences wrt temperature.
I highly recommend this room.