Crown Princess Cruise Review by jscruise
- Sail Date: July 2006
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
Embarkation: We arrived at Pier 12 around 10:15 AM and were standing at check-in by 10:30. We were assigned group 3 and were on board and in our staterooms by 11:45. All in all, this was the most efficient and well organized check-in and embarkation in 11 cruises. The Brooklyn terminal is clean and comfortable (although possibly a bit cold for some...some areas are like a wind-tunnel).
Staterooms: -We booked two adjoining mini-suites on Dolphin Deck (D221 and D219). We have sailed in a mini-suite before on Norwegian Sun and another couple on a mini-suite on the s/s Norway. Overall, the decor was understated, but classy, with earth tones of tans, greens and medium-toned wood. The bed was comfortable (maybe a bit on the hard side) and space, both for moving about and storage was excellent.
-I was a bit concerned with the exposed balcony, but we ended up loving it as we could sit out and read (and get a tan) for half the day and have shade for the other half. We did open the division between the two which worked out wonderfully.
-Our stateroom stewardess, Cristina, was excellent. The room was always clean and she worked exceptionally quickly. We were always greeted by name when we met in the hallway. -One complaint that I have about the stateroom is the bathroom. We found the bathroom to be a bit small, although it did have a bathtub. The bathroom in the Sun's mini-suite felt larger and better designed. In addition, I am 6'2" and the shower head is set up for someone that is no taller than 5'6". Be prepared to squat if you're taller than that.
Interior Public Areas: -I found the ship to be beautifully decorated. The atrium is particularly attractive with warm wood tones, marble, granite and tile. The lounges were all comfortable, and again, decorated attractively.
-My personal favorites were the Piazza, Explorers, and the Wheelhouse.
-The Princess Theater, although providing great sightlines, was probably one of, if not the worst, big-ship theater I have ever sat in. It is far too small for the size of the ship. In addition, my 290 pound body had a very difficult time fitting in the seats comfortable (that could be my fault though...). Finally, the room was ALWAYS warm.
Outside Areas: -The deck areas of the ship are well designed and nicely outfitted. I found that I could always get into one of the pools or hot tubs without being overwhelmed with people. I particularly found the small pool and hot tub next to the small children's slide/pool in the rear of the ship to be quite empty every day. -I can't really comment on the availability of deck chairs, as we had that wonderful balcony. It did seem, that if you tried, you could find one.
-MUTS...We did not watch a movie on MUTS, but I must say that it is an interesting concept. If their was something we were interested in watching, we would have used it. I was initially a bit concerned with reports of the loud noise, but realistically, it is only heard in the MUTS pool area.
Dining Rooms: We chose anytime dining and never had to wait more than five minutes for a seat. We found the waitstaff, with one exception, to be excellent. Two in our party had purchased the soda package and our sodas were always refilled in the dining rooms without having to ask. The food was EXCELLENT. I would rate it a step above NCL and two steps above RCI. I loved the variety on the menu and the many, many "always available" options. Some of our personal favorites were the Fettucine Alfredo, ALL soups, and ALL beef offerings and the Princess Love Boat Dream. Only one of our party is a seafood eater, so no comment here. The dining room food really was that good.
Buffets: I did not like the selection of the buffets or the quality of the food for either breakfast or lunch. I won't get into specifics because I'm such a picky eater but I always found a way to make up for the lack of a quality buffet. In addition, I did not like the fact that a juice, like lemonade, was not provided at lunch.
Other Casual Dining Venues: -The Pizza was by far the BEST pizza I have had on a ship. Incredibly tasty. In fact, it was better than any pizza here in Northern NJ. I already miss it.
-International Cafe...Surprisingly underused. I loved this place. I went here immediately following any meal to get those unbelievable cookies and anything else that was available. The Gelato was good and reasonably priced at only $1.50 for three large scoops. Eat here...OFTEN...you'll be glad you did.
Entertainment: -This is the one area where I feel Princess lags behind the competition. I found Destination Anywhere boring. I actually fell asleep. Motown was terrible. Not one voice that resembled anything as excellent as the Motown sound. What a swell party was the best effort of the three, but still not as good as the worst seen on NCL. -The guest performers were good. Nothing special, but enjoyable.
-Sarge was excellent. Do not miss him. -And now a note about James Lay. All I will write here is what I wrote on my comment card at the end of the trip. "James Lay is one of, if not the worst cruise directors I have ever sailed with. An audio recording would serve more of a purpose." He is incredibly boring, not funny, and says the exact same thing every time he makes an announcement over the PA or opens a show.
Ports: The ports on our itinerary consisted of Grand Turk, Casa de Campo, DR (replacement of San Juan due to Tropical Storm Chris), St. Thomas and West End, Bermuda. I only got off the ship in two of these ports.
*Grand Turk--My wife loves to dive and this is where she chose to dive. She thought that the diving was as good if not better than her experience in Grand Cayman. She loved it. As I could stay on the ship and never get off, I decided to sleep in and enjoy the quiet ship. The island looks quite deserted although the beach and pool look quite nice. I almost wish I was not as lazy so I could have enjoyed the water.
*Casa de Campo--Because of the late decision to change to Casa de Campo, no tours from the ship were available. There were two places to go according the the literature...a shopping village/marina and a castle/home complex above the river. Although the scenery looked lush, we decided not to pay the $7pp taxi fee and again enjoyed the quiet ship.
*St. Thomas--There is a shopping village right outside of the terminal area. We did not shop here. We took the taxi ($4 pp) to town (about 10 minutes, no more) and walked around. We made the typical souvenir and liquor purchases and returned to the ship via taxi. We have been to St. Thomas many times before and felt no need to stay. If the weather was better, we would have taken the taxi to the beach, but it was pretty crummy out.
*West End--This was our 4th time to Bermuda and irrespective of only being able to dock at West End, Bermuda is our FAVORITE port we have ever been to and I find it very difficult to imagine any port topping Bermuda. If you would like to shop, take the water taxi from West End to Hamilton ($4). My mother and wife always likes to stop in the Irish Linen Shop and Triminghams (which to her horror, has apparently gone out of business). My father and I enjoy A.S. Cooper men's store and the English Sport Shop. If you are looking for artwork at a reasonable price, stop by Carole Holding's shop on Front Street. Walking around the dockyard is worth it. There are some nice shops including Davisons which is good for cheap T-shirts or souvenirs. If you don't mind the heat, my final recommendation would be Bermuda Glassblowers at the dockyards.
Disembarkation: -One word...A DISASTER. I don't know where to begin, so I'll just make a list. *The bags are placed so close together in the terminal that you can barely walk. *There are almost no porters to help you with your luggage. You are not told this initially, so you get off the ship, find you luggage (if you can) and then are told to walk to the other side of the terminal to get a cart. Now I don't mind getting my own luggage, but come on, let me know this ahead of time. *One of our bags (tagged with White 3) was placed with Gold 1. We looked for 45 minutes. When we finally found it, it was in a fenced off area. One of the workers was standing near it and I asked her to check the name, and sure enough, it was ours. She proceeded to bring it to me but was stopped by one of the terminal bosses (it appeared who began to yell at her for helping me. I tried to explain what was happening to him, but during my first sentence, he cut me off but telling me I couldn't get it and he turned his back on me and walked away. At this point, I became irate and he threatened to bring homeland security over, which I told him to go ahead and do. At this point, the woman who I think runs the terminal (she made announcements on embarkation, etc to board came over and told him to give me the back. At this point he did apologize. *There were only 7 customs agents working when there are 16 available stations for them to be working at. This caused great delays. All in all, it took 1.5 hours between when we left the ship and when we finally left the terminal. Not a great way to end the trip.
Regardless, I was thrilled with the Princess experience and now rate her as probably my favorite line along with NCL. I would love to see Princess bring another of their ships to the east coast as I hate to fly and vacation during the summer (I teach.)
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