Crown Princess Cruise Review by bklynguy
- Sail Date: June 2006
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Despite some issues, the Crown Princess is a big, fabulous ship and we had a great time and shall return. I would characterize the overall experience as traveling on a modern marvel with a Titanic-like aura, with many luxury hotel amenities, beautiful piazza, but with some interesting design flaws, and uneven service this was only the crew's second time out which was mostly in need of tuning. The crew has not yet mastered handling these crowds at key times.
We were a party of six, our second, but the others had lots of cruise experience. The best comparison in terms of equipment/amenities within class (what we expected) is with the Holland America Zuiderdam with the same mini-suite accommodations, HA was 10% cheaper (ordered same time in advance) and had somewhat better room amenities. Those comparing to large Carnival ships found the Crown Princess better in most ways but at a premium.
We all hope that the Crown Princess can sort out the deficiencies noted below, which must be dealt with if it wishes to stay competitive with other high-end big cruises. One complaint is that there were too many people complaining about almost everything too picky. . Physically, the ship itself is fabulous all shiny, clean and new, with the best deck layouts and flow. Elevators cannot take the traffic at dinner-time, and especially when the ship is shooting pictures. Several breakdowns and stalls and two that were creaky, which freaked out the occupants. Many were in X and R modes (taken out of service) when most needed. Worse, unlike most ships of this size, you cannot reach all the important lower floors on all the elevators and sometimes you feel like you are changing trains at Jamaica with a long walk between tracks.
Internet a universally shared opinion of embarrassing for a new ship of its class and certainly the worst anyone had experienced on a modern ship in the past two years. This included WIFI or their equipment. I mean, we're not talking a bunch of streaming kids here, but a 50+ crowd who just wanted their email. All charges were refunded.
The three level piazza is really well done in marble, wood and metal.The Ship was always clean and orderly and the public bathrooms were beautifully appointed and always clean..
Dining Anytime Dining worked very well for us (although we locked in, just for the asking, a table by a window for the remainder of the trip ); others that went from room to room reported that it went well for them. Michelangelo was our nightly choice and the dining room food was better than our first cruise. Very attentive service and a great Maitre´D. Our waiter (Catalin) and his helper (Chukimon) were a great team. Always a good featured meat and fish choice. Salads and desserts were very good. Great fettucini. I would recommend skipping the premium restaurants - The Crown Grill a classic steak restaurant - all appetizers and seafood entrees very good, but the non-prime steak was a mediocre ¾ grey-ish porterhouse (and not 22oz) that was cooked anywhere from rare to well and tough quite a shock for an extra $25. Cooked too slowly (you can watch them) over a warm grill covered by a pan not a good sign - and - Sabatinni's a lavish, multi course affair where the food was ok with exceptional and friendly very-Italian service; still not worth it.
While not as good as HA, I liked the buffet and was always able to concoct a sensible selection of heathy things and treats. The room(s) were big enough to literally get lost in. Hearty breakfast selection with all the normal stuff. Lunch varied - Seafood (especially fish), soups, pasta and veal dishes were always excellent. Generally a good selection, but not as diverse as Holland America. There was always a good featured meat and fish choice. Sushi, Asian, Mexican and pasta bars (rotated by day) were very good. No free fruit juice or lemonade.Avoid steak, torneados, and filet mignon; rib roast is better. Salads were awful - all salad dressings lacked imagination and had that Marie's Blue Cheese sweet mayonnaise base which was especially not welcomed in the Caesar and ranch dressings; found none that I liked.
Fast food was ok - nothing memorable; very disappointing hot dogs (were supposed to be Nathan's - no way.) Pizza and burgers were good,
Adagio was the best bar (quiet and elegant with terrific music), but all the bars were very good.
Stateroom - Our mini-suite stateroom on the Dolphin deck was exactly as described - spacious and laid out very well, and very nicely appointed, and since it was brand new - no stains. As we live less than a mile from the embarkation point, we over-packed (6 bags) and just filled the walk-in closet. Good roomy bathroom but no make up mirror. No DVD player but two TVs. Room service, complimentary fruit, mini bar were fine. The sitting area was away from the bed and this allowed me to watch late night TV without bothering my wife.
Entertainment and on-board activities were mixed. I missed the printed daily news summary that I was used to each morning on HA. There was plenty to do on board. The Bridge class and games were my favorite and just excellent this program may take time to grow but was greatly appreciated on at sea days and we had excellent bridge directors Ann and Bob. Did not have this on prior cruises. Started out slow but ended up with three or four tables learned a lot. Wine tasting excellent both times. Shows Really need work. On the last cruise we went to the show every night we lost interest after the second night. And not enough seats. Orchestra was the best part. Mediocre programming compared to other cruises and way below that for HA. A bunch of white people singing Motown did not sit well with the over-50 crowd the cast couldn't pull it off.
Casino seemed very small and overcrowded for a ship this size our last ship had almost 50% less folks and had more tables and slots. You should never have to wait for a slot machine. Smoking was not under control or segregated. Sun deck and pools hung out in the aft adult pool very comfortable and quiet, but all reports were very good lots of space. Movie under the stars a nice amenity.
Live music Adagio and Piazza music were excellent. Sore point unlike many ships, there was no real piano bar that folks could sit around and sing along. Very sensible smoking policy with good isolation (other than casino); bars sell loose packs. Cigar Bar was excellent and well appreciated by a regular crowd of 10 men. Duty Free Shop worst we have ever seen can't even get a large bag of chips? Poor liquor selection. Cannot buy a carton of cigarettes for use on board (another first). However, this was more than offset with a liberal policy of bringing duty free alcohol and cigarettes on board and drinking it did not have to check them in at the gangway at each port.
Ports of call - didn't really interest me and even stayed on board for St Thomas. Tortola was fun for a day trip. Loved old San Juan. Took no fours. I had the misfortune of passing a kidney stone ever early on Saturday morning and was in the worst pain. The ship's nurse retrieved Dr Salmon from her morning shower who gently examined me straight away in the very modern and well-equipped medical center better than most out patient facilities. Not really much to be done about me but ease the pain. Very luckily the stone passed an hour later. Cost me 80$, including the Vicodin.
Favorite moments; Leaving NY was simply the best; lounging in our minisuite and balcony; Adagio for cocktails; Stern deck outside Adagio, especially for smokers usually empty at night and plenty of lounges in the day; dinner with our party, Cigar lounge; walking the promenade deck after dinner; San Juan is the best port of call; returning through New York Harbor at dawn.
Worst moments - Disembarkation at San Juan the fact that you have clear immigration here, an American port, is nothing short of ridiculous, as was the approach to ease the pain taken by Princess staff. You are given a time slot but you can also go earlier if you like and guess what, everyone did.
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