Crown Princess Cruise Review by BellsRUs
- Sail Date: July 2006
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Interior
Travelers: Marshal (46), Patti (45), our daughter Sarah (17/18), and Marshal's mom Elaine (69) from Pittsburgh, PA area
Cruise history (Marshal and Patti): Celebrity: Horizon ('96), Century ('98), Mercury ('99), Infinity ('02), Constellation ('04) RCCL: Grandeur of the Seas ('01-also Sarah), Explorer of the Seas ('05) NCL: Sun ('02-also Sarah and Elaine) HAL: Zuiderdam ('03 and '05) Princess: Grand ('03-also Sarah), Golden ('04)
Day 1 Depart NYC 5:00pm (but not really) Day 2 at sea Day 3 at sea Day 4 Grand Turk 7:00am-2:00pm (but not really) Day 5 San Juan, Puerto Rico 9:00am-6:00pm Day 6 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 7:00am-3:00pm Day 7 at sea Day 8 Bermuda (West End/Dockyards) 9:00am-5:00pm Day 9 at sea Day 10 Arrive NYC 7:15am
We had 2 cabins on Aloha deck 12 Category BD (balcony) cabin A243 for Elaine and Sarah who were both celebrating birthdays on the cruise, and Category JJ (inside) cabin A245 for Marshal and Patti.
Arrival and embarkation info:
Our alarm rang at 3:50am on departure day (after going to bed around 12:45am!) and we loaded up the car and drove from Pittsburgh to Mercer (about an hour north) to pick up Elaine. We then drove straight across PA on I-80 to NYC and arrived at the Red Hook Pier in Brooklyn at 12:35pm. We handed our luggage over to the baggage handlers and joined the line to enter the terminal at about 12:45pm. The line was much longer than it first seemed, as it wound into the terminal and snaked back out before getting to the part of the terminal where we needed to enter. Marshal parked the car and joined us in line. (We were able to park quite close to the terminal.)
It took us 1.5 hours to get from the end of the line to our cabin, which didn't surprise me as we had arrived at the peak of the crowds. We skipped the embarkation photo (who wants a photo of someone who has only had 3 hours of sleep and has been riding in the car for the past 8 hours??) and the cruise card photo was taken at the entrance to the ship. Getting through the check-in process seemed to take a while, even though we had filled out all of the forms online ahead of time.
Our inside cabin seemed much smaller than other ships that we've been on. Perhaps we're just not used to having an inside cabin the only other one we had was on the NCL Sun, but I don't remember it being this small. Our kids were in an inside on the Grand and I don't think that cabin was this small either.
Upon entering the cabin, we were in a short hall. Off to the left was an alcove as you turned and entered the alcove the bathroom door was on your left and a tall, narrow cupboard with a door was straight ahead. On your right is the area for hanging clothes, with a shelf above and shoe space below. This area does not have a door on it. The tall cupboard contained the safe and (I think) 4 other shelves. These shelves were deep and held a lot.
We quickly found out that anyone coming out of the bathroom needs to be careful opening the door in case the other person is standing at the tall cupboard where the safe is the bathroom door will hit the person if the door is opened all the way.
Past this alcove where the bathroom and closet are you practically run into a small round table. There really isn't space enough in the inside cabin for this table, but we sure used it for a lot! Beyond this table is the bed with a nightstand on each side (each nightstand has 2 drawers and a shelf). To the left of the round table is a desk/make-up area with a chair, the TV, the refrigerator and another storage cupboard with 2 shelves. There are also many mirrors in the room one over the desk, a large one behind the bed, one in the short hallway near the cabin door (full length very nice to have) and one in the bathroom. Lighting in the room is much better than I remember it being on some other ships. We didn't have trouble seeing to get clothes out of the closet and there is a nice set of lights over the desk to use for makeup. The hair dryer is also in this area, but I brought my own as I have long hair and the cabin dryers are not powerful enough for me.
The bathroom is tiny a shower with a curved opening is to the right as you enter the bathroom, then the commode at an angle, and the sink/mirror is on your left. There are shelves on one side above the sink to hold your toiletries. The only thing that can be plugged in the bathroom outlet is a razor (or a nightlight). Hair dryers and curling irons must be plugged in near the desk. The water coming out of the sink faucet in our cabin wasn't much more than a trickle at the beginning of the cruise by the end, it seemed like it had increased a bit, but still wasn't a full stream of water like it should have been. Water pressure in the shower was great and there is a separate control for the water temperature so you can figure out how hot you like it and set it for that temperature every time.
Marshal liked the inside cabin because it was very dark and he slept more soundly, but I really missed the balcony we usually have.
Sarah and Elaine were across the hall in A243 and it was a very similar setup to ours, except a mirror image. I actually never looked at their bathroom, but I assume it was the same size as ours (and they didn't have the problem with the sink faucet like we had). The twin beds in their room were along the right wall so that they had access to the balcony and the desk area was beyond the beds on the same wall while the TV and refrigerator were opposite these on the left wall. They had 2 chairs in their cabin and more room to move around. Their balcony was fully covered and had a small table and 2 small silver chairs on it. My mother-in-law was having problems with her sciatic nerve and had trouble sitting in any of the chairs in her cabin or on the balcony.
When Sarah and Elaine had their balcony door open, there was a horrible noise in the cabin Sarah said that when she pushed up on the area over the balcony door the noise lessened, so I don't know if it is a structural defect or what. I'm sure the bugs will all be worked out eventually!
This wasn't our favorite ship as far as the way it is laid out. It is an absolutely gorgeous ship, but the things that we love on a ship were missing. We like to sit on lounge chairs in the shade and this ship has very few of those available (there are a gazillion lounge chairs in the sun, but not much shade to be found, even to move a chair to). There are a few near each of the 2 center pools, but those always disappeared very quickly. They seemed to be taken by sun lovers and then the people who saved them would sit out in the sun by the pool all day long and the chair would remain virtually empty all day long except for towels and books. The only day we were able to get a couple of lounge chairs was the day it was pouring rain. People had saved the chairs with their towels, as usual, but after the rain soaked everything the deck hands removed them.
Many days the Princess Patter contained this statement: "As a courtesy to your fellow passengers, there will be no reservation of Deck Loungers. Personal items and towels left unattended for 30 minutes will be removed. The claim desk for removed items is located midship on Lido Deck 15 Port side." However, this was not enforced. When Marshal asked a deck hand about it, the deck hand told him they couldn't do anything about it. Marshal spoke to someone at the Service Desk about the problem and the person told him it wasn't a problem that the deck hands remove things after 30 minutes. He even showed Marshal where that policy was printed in the Patter and didn't understand that it doesn't do any good if it's not enforced. Oh, well&
The other area on a ship where we can usually find lounge chairs in the shade is the Promenade deck. On the Crown, there are no lounge chairs there, only straight-back chairs (although the backs do recline) without anyplace to put your feet up. People were taking 2 chairs and sitting on one and putting their feet up on another one in order to have the effect of a lounge chair in the shade. I joined them a couple of days when I got tired of sitting in the hard plastic chairs on the pool deck, but with everyone using 2 chairs the chairs are in short supply on the Promenade deck. Ok I'll get off my lounge-chairs-in-the-shade soapbox now. I know we can't be the only ones who need/want to be in the shade though, so I thought I'd better explain the situation on the Crown.
The Passengers and the Pools:
As we expected the majority of the passengers were from the NYC/NJ area. The age range ran the gamut from babies to 80+ year olds and I'm guessing that the median age was somewhere in the 40's. We had 500 kids/teens on board our cruise. I didn't notice any kids running wild, but the noise level near the pools was certainly high (not sure it was only the kids making the noise though). There are Youth Security personnel wandering the ship in yellow shirts and they seemed to do a good job keeping the kids out of the adults only pools (which are the aft pool and the swim-against-the-current pool). They didn't, however, make the kids get out of the hot tubs at the 2 center pools, even though there were signs at each hot tub indicating they were for Adults Only.
Pools were very crowded on sea days. Sarah and I wanted to swim in the current pool one day, but Marshal said it was so full of adults just standing in the water that there wouldn't have been room to swim. We did swim there a couple of days though, and it was fun. There are only about 10-12 lounge chairs near this pool, mostly in the sun (depending on time of day and which way the ship is headed, loungers on one side might be in the shade). The Sanctuary is above this pool and looks awesome, but we didn't spend the $15/half day to sit there.
Most of the bars/lounges where shows are held are on deck 7, the Promenade deck. Club Fusion is aft, then the Explorer's Lounge, Crooners Bar, Wheelhouse Bar and the Princess Theater. If you are interested in going to the 8:30 shows, you need to get there early to get a seat. The shows that were in the Explorers Lounge, in particular, filled up quickly and the seats in the back do not offer a good view of the stage area. They had an entertainer who performed upside-down a lot, and I couldn't see anything that he was doing from where I was sitting.
We went to most of the shows in the Princess Theater and several in the Explorers Lounge. Here are the shows that were on our cruise:
Sunday Princess Theater: Welcome Aboard Showtime (comedian Steve Morris) --- Steve started out slowly, but was very funny by the end of the show.
Monday Princess Theater: Production Show "Destination Anywhere"; Explorer's Lounge: Comedy Showtime (Comedy Impressionist Mark Verselli) --- We went to see Destination Anywhere it was very well done. We didn't see the impressionist.
Tuesday Princess Theater: Production Show "Destination Anywhere", Comedy Showtime (Steve Morris); Explorer's Lounge: Variety Showtime (Steve Patient) --- Steve Patient put on an awesome juggling/comedy show. Later in the week, Steve taught a juggling class in the Piazza and Sarah learned how to juggle.
Wednesday Princess Theater: Celebrity Showtime (Glenn Smith); Explorer's Lounge: Variety Showtime (Magic of Eric Bedard and Physical Comedy of Uber Rossi) --- We weren't impressed by either of the shows in Explorer's Lounge. The magician didn't seem to really do much magic and Uber Rossi was upside down a lot and couldn't be seen by anyone who wasn't in the first 2 rows of the lounge. We didn't go to hear Glenn Smith, the "dynamic entertainer" from Las Vegas.
Thursday Princess Theater: Comedy Showtime (Steven Scott); Tropical Island Night deck party at Neptune's Pool --- I'm having trouble remembering which comedian this was sorry! We stopped by the Tropical Deck Party, but didn't stick around very long.
Friday Princess Theater: Gala Showtime (Annette Wardell opera singer), International Crew Show; Explorer's Lounge: Maurizio in Concert --- Annette Wardell was an awesome singer and put on a wonderful performance (and I'm not a huge opera fan). The crew show is not to be missed. We didn't go to hear Maurizio.
Saturday Princess Theater: Motor City production show; Explorer's Lounge: Variety Showtime (Bob Arno) --- We didn't care for the Motor City show. In our opinion, it was not up to the level of the other production show, but some of the people near me seemed to really like it. Bob Arno is the "World's Only Legal Pickpocket" and was very funny and informative.
Sunday Princess Theater: Celebrity Showtime with Antonio Salci in Concert; Explorer's Lounge: Comedy Showtime (Kenny Byrd) --- We didn't attend the concert so I can't comment on it. Kenny Byrd ("Ventriloquist with a Twist") was hilarious and is not to be missed if he is on your cruise.
Monday Princess Theater: Farewell Showtime (Comedy & Characters of Ralph Harris) --- This guy was hilarious!
In addition to the entertainers, there were many options to choose from if you wanted to listen to music or dance or participate in games.
Each day there was a schedule of entertainment in the Piazza. There were jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, body balancers, towel folding demonstrations, chocolate demonstrations, etc. Sarah liked to stop by and see what was happening there throughout the day.
Well, if you are someone who likes French toast or pancakes in the buffet in the morning you'll probably be disappointed. The French toast looked and tasted like it was deep-fried instead of cooked on a griddle. In our opinion it was not edible. The pancakes were not much better. We ended up going to the dining room for breakfast everyday, something we've never done on any other ship. There were fried eggs (over easy) in the buffet, kept warm under heat lamps, which were tasty and the sugar doughnuts were good. There were no "kid-friendly" cereals in the buffet the only ones we saw were "bland and boring" according to my daughter. She was interested in Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes or Rice Krispies or something similar and they had Corn Flakes and Shredded Wheat instead. There was a larger selection of cereal in the dining room (Rice Krispies, Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran).
I'm a fairly picky eater, as is Sarah, so we tended to eat pizza, or hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. Marshal and Elaine sometimes ate at the buffet and other times ate pizza or burgers. Marshal kept hoping to find some Mexican food on the buffet for lunch, but never found any. From what I've read, he may have needed to look in the Café Caribe to find the Mexican food.
We signed up for anytime dining and ate all our dinners in the Michelangelo dining room. We tended to head to dinner between 6:30 and 7:00pm and never had to wait for a table. We asked for Dan and Mihai's table every night and they were an awesome wait team. We had the best service! They quickly learned what we liked and went out of their way to get us what we wanted. Sarah asked for a plate of raw carrot sticks the first night and they would ask every night if she wanted them again. We tended to like the white rolls best and they always had extra white rolls for us. Marshal and Sarah never ran out of iced tea and Coke, and every time I took a sip of water, one of them appeared to refill my glass! If you have the good fortune to be at their table, tell them we said hello&
The food in the dining room for dinner was quite good. Dan would tell us every night which were the best dishes to order, so that may have been part of the reason that we had very few meals that we didn't like. On the second formal night we were unable to get a seat in their area. We hadn't made reservations because we hadn't needed to up until then. We ended up at another server's station (a grumpy Portuguese waiter whose country had just lost the soccer game!). I ordered Beef Wellington that night and was disappointed in it (Dan wasn't there to recommend the good stuff!). The Fettuccine Alfredo was delicious and I often ordered a small portion to eat before my main course. Marshal tried several different pasta dishes as sides before his main course and he loved most of them.
The chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven that are at the International Café are awesome! I highly recommend them! The ice cream bar, Scoops, was very reasonable priced. I guess there was free ice cream sometimes in the buffet? I never saw any, but I didn't look very hard either.
There are many things to do during the day, ranging from ceramics to mini golf to basketball to dance lessons to quizzes and puzzles and the list goes on and on. Sarah and I painted ceramics one day and that was fun. There is an extra charge for the ceramics. We painted them on the first sea day, but didn't get them back until the last evening and they were warm so they must have just fired them. One of Sarah's coasters had gotten some paint dripped on it from someone else's item and it had a couple of other marks on it that weren't there when we painted them. They do warn you not to get any paint on the ridge that sticks up on the bottom of your piece, as it will stick to the kiln and your piece will break when it's fired.
NYC: Well, by now most of you probably know that our cruise was delayed due to a problem with the fuel. We didn't leave NYC until almost 1:00am. The captain came on the speaker (even in the cabins) at about 12:40am to let everyone know that the fuel was loaded, the ship was about to leave, and that we would miss Grand Turk and be compensated $200. per person because of it. I'm not real sure why he had to tell us this when he did we had gone to bed a couple of hours earlier (we still hadn't caught up on the sleep we missed the previous night and were exhausted after our long drive). I can understand that he didn't want people to get upset if they didn't know we were leaving and missed the sailaway, but for those of us that were sleeping it was not fun. I had really been looking forward to sailing out of the NY Harbor, but just couldn't stay awake when we were delayed.
The compensation was unexpected and we're grateful that they gave it to us. I would rather have seen the sailaway and gone to Grand Turk, but now we have a good reason to cruise out of NYC again! We've been on other cruises that have missed ports of call and not been given anything for it. Our total bill ended up being something like $82.00 for 4 of us, so the extra $800.00 came in handy!
San Juan: Sarah and I took a Princess excursion and went horseback riding near the rainforest. It was lots of fun! The scenery was beautiful and we were in and out under the trees so we weren't out in the hot sun the whole time. Our only complaint was that they took 40 of us out on the trail at the same time. The horses did not respond well to the reins; they seemed to be trained to respond to the whistles and "noises" made by our guides. When they whistled at them, the horses would speed up and trot for a couple of minutes. The paths were narrow only wide enough in most places for 2-3 horses to be side by side. With so many in the group, other horses were constantly running us into when they decided they wanted to move ahead in the pack. I lost track of the number of times that my legs were smashed by other horses. And, even though the minimum age was listed as 12, there were quite a few younger kids who didn't even try to steer their horses away from other people, which made things more difficult. We let Princess know that 40 horses in the group was twice as many as what there should have been I hope they take heed and fix this. I ended up with bruises on the inside of both of my calves.
Marshal took his mom around Old San Juan. They took a cab up to the fort and then wandered back down through some of the shops to the ship.
St. Thomas: This was a shopping day for us. We spent the morning downtown and Sarah and I took a few minutes to hunt down a cache near the ship (http://www.geocaching.com/ in case you don't know what I'm talking about).
Bermuda: This was our favorite stop. We really didn't get to see much of Bermuda as we stayed right in the Dockyard area, but we took the Segway tour of the Dockyards and had an absolute blast! Sarah and I have wanted to try riding on a Segway ever since we first heard about them and when we found out there were tours in Bermuda, Marshal called and made arrangements to go (http://www.bermuda.com/activities/segwaytours/). Calling wasn't necessary as the yellow double-decker bus that Robert runs his business out of is easy to find as you get off the ship. He was even on the pier on his Segway, drumming up business, when we got off the ship. Robert was an excellent tour guide and was very knowledgeable about the area, as he grew up in Bermuda. He took us into the Maritime Museum and around the Dockyard area and gave us a great history lesson. The best part was riding on the Segway though! And now we have a good reason to go back to Bermuda so we can see the rest of the island!
We arrived back in NYC around 4:15am. I happened to wake up and decided to turn on the TV to the Princess cam to see where we were. I watched us approach a bridge (Verrazano?) and watched for about 30 minutes. I wish I'd been awake enough to go up on deck and watch the whole approach.
The Crown Princess offers passengers the chance to sign up for Express Walk-Off Disembarkation. You need to register for this ahead of time, but if you sign up, you are the first ones off the ship. You must carry your own luggage though. You don't put your luggage out in the hall like you normally would on the last night of the cruise. You keep it all in your cabin and when your color number is called the following morning you make your way down to the exit with your luggage and you're off! The hardest part of this system is trying to get an elevator to put your luggage on. Every elevator that stopped on our deck was already full of people and luggage. We finally got on one that was going up and then rode it all the way to the top and back down. The lines of people trying to get off the ship were huge lots of people must have opted for the Express Walk-off. There appear to be a few bugs in the system, but we were off the ship and on our way out of the parking lot by about 8:25am (our number was called about 7:50).
The parking cost $164 and we paid with our Visa card as we drove out of the parking lot. If you are someone who keeps his credit card in a wallet in your hip pocket and your credit card is bent, it will get stuck in the machine. Try to use a card that is nice and flat.
The Crown Princess is a beautiful ship! I don't know that we'll book this ship again, however, as the lack of lounge chairs in the shade is something that was a problem for us we go on cruises to sit in lounge chairs and read and we want to be comfortable. We are more likely to book one of the ships that have a covered pool where there is plenty of shade.
There is always something going on and it is easy to stay entertained.
If you're a sun lover, then the Crown Princess is for you!
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