Crown Princess Cruise Review by Nliedel
- Sail Date: July 2006
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Premium Balcony
Overall. Until the tilting this was, hands down, one of the best cruises I have ever had. Just outstanding in every single way, in large part due to the company I was with. The ship was stunning in every way.
My friend from Cruise Critic planned a trip for her family. Her children are 18 and 20 and did not want to spend their summer with mom, when they could have their friends hanging around so she brought me along! A chance to leave my darling husband, two toddlers and the older two boys for nine days? How fast can I sign up? Im a writer, so can work anywhere. I figured I could make this a working vacation. Note to self, 5,000 words in seven days does not work make. Next time leave the work at home and just have fun.
7/10: Flew down to Philly and met my roommate in real life for the very first time. Felt a little odd, but Ive been posting to Carols stuff for years and felt like I knew her already. We are both funny and flexible travelers who dont put up with malarkey. In other words, good traveling companions.
We had a lovely dinner with my Ironman training partner, Rhonda and I went to bed early. This was going to be a theme for the cruise for me.
7/11:N Woke up at the hind-end crack of dawn. Another theme for me. I dont sleep well on vacation. I get the feeling I am missing something good and cant sleep. An Ambien helps. Showered and transferred my luggage tags to the luggage. This is my first stupid, Nancy-ism. I left my cruise documents in Carols house! Its not a problem, but I felt like a moron.
We drove to a hotel where we boarded a shuttle bus for Brooklyns Red Hook Pier. We wended our way around Eastern Pennsylvania for a couple hours picking up other folks, who just happened to be Cruise Critic Members in part! Delightful to chat with them on our way. I was the only non easterner so people enjoyed pointing out the sights to me and telling me where we were. I still need to dig out a map and figure it all out.
We arrived at the Verazanno Narrows Bridge about 10:50 or so and proceeded to the pier. The day was hazy so the Statue of Liberty was a tad hard to make out, but then THERE SHE WAS! I was moved to tears looking at her. Stunning and a real sense of& I just cannot explain came over me.
We got to the terminal about 11:15 or so and dealt with my lack of documents easily. This was the easiest, most together boarding I have ever experienced. Two minutes and I was through security and up at the counter. The ladies there were nice and efficient. I waited to meet, rude New Yorkers and it was in vain. I consistently had the stereotype destroyed all cruise! Delightful people. Not harsh or rude or demanding in any way.
The boarding began by a number they handed you at noon. We were in the third group and were boarding the ship by 12:15 in the afternoon. Carol and I went right to the cabin, which was clean and neat and ready to go. Our robes were not there, but this was not a surprise. They were delivered later. I know I have the timeline wrong here, so bare with me. At some point we met Vicente, our steward. He is outstanding. He consistently remembered our extra towels and the gigantic bucket o ice we requested. Delightful too.
I called home and gloated a bit, then headed toward the food.
Now the days run together and if I try to do it by day, until the last day, it will be wrong. Individual reviews to follow.
Overall I am going to give a nod to RCI here. The food was very good, but RCI is just a shade better. This is a subjective area, so hear me out. I was disappointed by the Horizon Court. Please NOTE: the different areas have different food. If you dont see an area you like please proceed to another at any meal BUT breakfast (when all are the same). The food is good and the service very good, but not stellar in any way. Its a Las Vegas style buffet and more along the lines of Luxor and Mandalay Bay than Bellagio. Most people would be pleased with it. Im a foodie so you get that perspective.
International Cafe: People have been griping about the charge there. I found VERY few things charged (ice cream) and there is a list. Its dead in the middle, but in general things in the middle round case and the Ice Cream case are charged items. Everything else is included and very good. They have Strawberry Shortcake Torte thats TO DIE FOR! Thank God they only served it one day or I would have gained weight and not lost it. Excellent sandwiches there too.
I did not have sushi in the wine bar (additional charge), but was told, by several passengers, it was outstanding.
Dining Rooms: I am going to lump them together. They are all excellent and the service level is consistently high. A couple nights we got so-so servers. Good, but missing that special something you cruise for. Most of the time the servers were engaging, smart, funny and matched our needs for more or less attention and time in the dining room to perfection. I prefer breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room. When traveling with my family I always do that. This time I was with others, so bowed to their wishes (and they to mine as well).
The food. Memorable nights food wise, included the second formal night (the last night of our abbreviate cruise). I detest lobster onboard a ship, normally. This lobster was outstanding, both in presentation and taste. I cannot complain one bit. The Beef Wellington was delicious.
Ive looked online for the menus to trip my memory, but cannot find them. Rats! Most nights I had fruit for dessert and it was outstanding. Just fresh and ripe, presented beautifully.
Afternoon Tea: It was outstanding. Do not miss this at all. Lovely music, delightful waiters, white gloves.
Lovely. Not enough drawer space for me, but the closet was HUGE! I will never again sail without a balcony. I had one for the very first time and it was wonderful. We had the AFT C752 on the Caribe deck. WONDERFUL!
The entertainment was delightful. The Cruise Directors friendly and engaging, remembering my name (I did win a Semi Final Round for Princess Pop Star. Was not able to attend the finals because of the, tilt.). The first and third night Comedian, Richard Harris, was very funny with no blue notes. The production show did lack some of the flashy sets RCI is famous for, but that would have detracted from the singers and dancers, who were great. There was a singer I was not so fond of, but most of my party loved her, so I will not mention it again. I am going to chalk that up to me alone.
Trivia contests and poolside games were a hoot. Someone told me that they dont have, Those type of games on Princess, go to Carnival with what I thought was a disdaining sniff. That person was wrong, they sure do! If you want to avoid them avoid the Neptune Pool.
Princess Pop Star: I won! The second night I tried. There were no finals because of the abrupt end to the cruise.
MUTS: Too loud, too loud, too loud. Overall I do not like MUTS. Some LOVE it. I think its quite a distraction during the day.
Well I thought Id seen it all on a cruise, but no. Even jaded little ole me was shocked. One group had a stuffed Rhinoceros named Charlotte (we played trivia with them) who got her own lounge chair by the pool. Another man had a bikinid blow up doll that got her own lounge chair, right by the pool. I worked out several mornings at six am and the loungers were already mostly full of crap. I was horrified. The cake was taken by a family of stuffed bears holding chairs, complete with drinks and books to read. I wanted to hurl the lot of them overboard.
Nickel and Diming
I read a lot of complaints about it and was prepared ahead of time. I did NOT feel dunned for money at every turn. I was careful about the things I selected. There was a lot of ice cream available for free at lunch and dinner in the dining room so no need to buy it elsewhere. I thought the prices were right in line with other cruise lines.
Small and unspoiled. There is not a lot to do there if youre a shopper. If you like to hit lovely beaches or snorkel, or better yet dive, then this is your place. Margaritaville is nice for some people, with a swim up bar in the pool.
We did the clear bottom kayaking and the snorkel. Gorgeous reef structure right off the beach. Rocky bottoms so wear water shoes. Cant say enough good about the clear bottom kayak.
As always some bozos were arrested in Ocho for buying drugs. Just dont do it.
We went with Peat Taylor and despite the shock of a flat tire (fixed in no time) it was wonderful. Did the Dunns River Falls climb. Its a nice thing to do and I loved it. I was not hassled, but I must have an off-putting look. Others in our party were. Still no one came back hating Jamaica from my group. The difference? They took my advice and booked a tour. DO NOT just wander in Jamaica. This is not the US and one of the poorest islands. Its lush and gorgeous and NOT for everyone.
Are we back in the US? I see Pizza Hut. Sigh. I hate that. Must we Americanize everywhere we go?
We went with Captain Marvin. Some people in our party thought there were too many people on the boat, that is until they saw the other boats at Sting-ray City! They really pack em in. We did the half day tour that included snorkeling in Coral Gardens and the edge of the wall. I saw what looked like a black tipped shark and a moray eel peeking out of a crack in the rocks (I detest eels). Saw many sting-rays, until we got to Stingray City. So superb! Just heaven on earth to be with these creatures in the water, almost a hundred of them. I draw the line at smooching on a sting-ray, but my roommate had no compunction about it and macked on hers twice!
Back to Georgetown and we shopped for ten minutes, before heading back to the ship. Our tender had an engine go out, so it was an interesting journey back. Turns out this was foreshadowing!
The Space Center. What can I say? It was one of those, Proud to be an American moments that leaves you breathless. I did think they herded us like sheep (bah) and was not happy with that, but we had little time there. Everyone needs to see it once.
The Thing with the Tilt and the Screaming:
Lots of people have read my account. Dont know what more to say. Crew? Outstanding. Perfect? No, but they kept us informed. My little group of people hung out and consoled one another. CNN called me. YES CALLED MY CELL looking for video. Sharks. Even if I had it, Debbie, at, Anderson Cooper 360 as not going to get it. I found her insincere and snarky. I did grant local interviews, but its over.
Was it terrifying? Yes, absolutely. Did I think I was going to die? Yes, yes I did. Thank god my husband and children were together at home, because if I had been hit by that TV I would not be here and they would have a wonderful parent to love them. Am I okay? You betcha. Still not sleeping, but I suspect that many of us are not. This too shall pass.
To the man on the Caribe deck asking me how much I thought he could get in a lawsuit, five minutes after it happened, shame on you!
To the lady crewmember in the suit asking me if anyone was missing from our party. Thank you. I hope your wrist is okay. To do your job in such pain and try to brush people off so you could help others -- What a wonderful and dedicated young woman. I wish I caught your name.
To the members of Cruise Critic who are Doctors and Nurses and I personally know went to help in the dining room with triage, you are my heroes.
To the staff that got no rest and cleaned up THEN served us a lobster dinner. Bless you! To the passengers who put on their formalwear and decided to look good in the face of adversity. You made me smile on a bad day.
To the people who offered me cell phones and a shoulder and smiled while they were scared to reassure others. Wow. What an honor to have met you.
This was a bad end to a lovely cruise, but I booked her again for next year and I am taking the family.
Id just like to thank anyone and everyone who made this one of the best cruises of my life until the last day and then who shone like diamonds when the chips were down. I am a dedicated Princess sailor now. Yes, I will still sail RCI, but Princess youve won my heart.
Does this sound all. Ra-Ra for Princess? Maybe it does. Still, the food was good, the entertainment excellent and except for one bad Cosmo (someone needs to re-train a bartender) I really cant complain. The last day was atypical so I will not dwell. Quick Note about the Casino. Some have complained it was too small. For what? Vegas? It was plenty large for me and yes, I gamble.
Fitness and Recreation: I worked out a lot. The swim against the current pool is great. You do need to be a strong swimmer though. I do triathlons and 20 minutes tired me out. Had problems finding a treadmill most days. A little patience fixed that though.
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