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Allow me to preface this review with the disclaimer that in spite of my following commentary, we had an overall fine vacation on board the Crown Princess. However, Princess Cruises needs to take a very serious and close look at their onboard management and staff training in many crucial areas. If not, an increasing passenger discontent will eventually hurt their bottom line and reputation. Although Red Hook in Brooklyn is a bit out of the way for anyone not originating in Brooklyn, I was truly amazed at how quickly we were processed through security and check in. We were handed a mandatory "Health" form to complete and were at the counter getting our room keys before we had barely finished checking off our replies. The Crown is truly a grand and beautiful lady. In spite of the "Milk Carton On It's Side" exterior, her interior is classy and well appointed. From the moment you step on board there is a feeling of elegance in her woods, carpeting and fixtures. She is warm, and welcoming. Be prepared at key times, such as arrival or departure into any port, to either wait a long time for packed elevators to come and go without room for more or to walk what feels like 20 stories in a high rise to get to your cabin. We were in a Category BC cabin R218 on Riviera Deck 14 (really deck 13, but there is no deck 13 on the ship). Clean and simple, with plenty of closet and shelf space. Our covered balcony was comfortable enough for two people with a small metal mesh table and two metal mesh chairs. Another Cruise Critic member's advice to use a towel for a more comfortable sit was most appreciated and right on the money. Sound does travel quite easily on the Balcony and we could often hear our neighbors conversation as if they were sitting with us on our own deck. Looking down you get a very clear view of the Coral and Dolphin deck balconies that were partially or fully exposed. Not much privacy down there at all, but their balcony space was large enough for two extra blue fabric chairs that looked a little more comfortable in addition to the mesh table and chairs. As many have written already, bathrobes were by request only. We also wanted a couple softer pillows, rather than the foam pillows and both requests were fulfilled the next day. Having to ask and wait was to be a trend on board this ship. It seems that many amenities and fine touches of service readily available on other ships are non-existent on Crown. If you have any simple requests beyond the bare basics, bring lots of patience while you wait or will have to go elsewhere to hunt down whatever it is it you may need. Be prepared for a staff that is predominantly indifferent or misinformed when asked questions. Some of the ship's staff are, indeed, helpful, friendly, efficient and worthy of high praise & thanks for their attentive service, but sadly such folks are the rare exception. This was our 22nd cruise over the past 20 years and I have sailed on many different ships from the small RCCL Sun Viking to NCL's Norway to the more elegant Holland America Noordam and Cunard's Queen Mary 2. I only mention this to explain that I have experienced a fair sampling of service over the years to make what I believe are educated and appropriate comparisons. Unlike the demise of cut back service on the Airlines where the main purpose of flying is to get from Point A to Point B, travel on a cruise ship IS our destination and our vacation. A cruise should not be a minimal discounted experience because a cruise line may be cutting costs and is understaffed. We all pay our hard earned money to be pampered and treated better than we would back home at our local Denny's or Ihop. By far the most frustrating experience on a daily basis was dealing with the Lido Deck buffet cafe. The first day at sea when I asked a waiter if they had cold cuts for lunch (none seen anywhere) I got an abrupt & surly "I don't know, what you see is all that we have". Every day several trips had to be made to different buffet sections because at any given time there was an incomplete selection of food, items had run out and were not replenished and/or items were removed or sections closed as you stood waiting. It was often over something ridiculously simple such as , let's say, a banana or box of a particular breakfast cereal. If there were none at Buffet station A, it then required a jaunt to the back of the ship to look at station B, if none there, try a third stop at Station C on the other side of the ship. If you asked the cafe staff for assistance they would just tell you there were none on board the ship, rather than go look. As has been corroborated by several other guests we talked with, it seems that you only get assistance if you push the point. You had to reach a certain level of clear frustration before most staff would make any effort to assist. Almost every other cruise line and ship has multiple beverage stations with coffee, iced tea, ice, glasses and mugs that also include an always available box with herbal and specialty teas, such as Earl Grey, Mint, Chamomile and so forth, as well as packets of hot chocolate, lemon, creamers, etc. On Crown there were the regular coffee/water/ice tea/ice facilities, but only Lipton Regular and Decaf tea. If you wanted a specialty tea you must ask and you must wait. If you wanted Ice Tea at the poolside Burger grill, you had to hike it back to Lido Cafe. No nearby Beverage stations. After midnight the drink stations were closed with no easy way to get a cup of coffee or tea if you were still up at that hour. You eventually get used to this more 'limited' service and simply begin to expect less, then it's not so bad. First time cruisers would still have an excellent time, not having anything to compare. But after finer service on other lines, so many of these little quirks will often seem a nuisance and waste of your time. Once you know the rules of the game and no longer anticipate the little touches and conveniences of other cruise lines you can play along, but in the beginning, it can be disappointing. Other meal options worked out well. We booked late and could only confirm "Anytime" dining. At key times the lines waiting for pagers were long. If you were lucky enough to figure out how to call first and book a reservation, you could still stand in another long line with no one coming by to seat you. We quickly had a group of eight and were then offered the same table each evening with an ongoing reservation. On subsequent nights we could walk right in and sit down. The Crown Grill was wonderful the first night at sea. Most people did not know of this "Pay Extra" restaurant and with so few patrons, the service was excellent as was the food. I had a filet that literally melted in my mouth. We brought our group of eight to the Grill a week later after sailing from Grand Turk and were most disappointed by the frantic service. Due to a "shipment" problem the much anticipated steamed Maine Lobsters were no longer available and a dining mate said that the alternate broiled Brazilian Lobster Tail was tough and chewy. Another guest at our table received a cold filet that must have been sitting too long before being served. We politely asked if they could just heat up the filet a touch. Over 20 minutes later (no one came to our table during this entire time) they finally brought an entirely new piece of meat, rather than just heat up the cold original. By this time everyone else had finished their meal and it was really too late. The manager did apologize and deducted the surcharge for both the missing meat and rubber lobster. We have noticed that the staff are very good at making sincere sounding apologies. One gets the feeling they must have lots of practice. The purser's desk staff were often poorly informed and openly indifferent. A Purser insisted that the wireless internet rate was 75 cents a minute when a conflicting message offered a discounted 50 cent rate. He said the only discount is if we buy a package and packages are not available if you use your own wireless laptop. This per minute difference could be quite costly. Like so many other times on board the Crown, once I pressed the point and the Purser realized I was not going to go away and ONLY after literally begging him to please call the IT department, he finally went to ask someone. He came back ten minutes later apologizing and saying that he was wrong and that indeed, wireless internet offers a discounted 50 cent rate. He then said he appreciated that I pushed him to ask, so now he knows. In the meantime, I had wasted 30-40 minutes of my vacation going back and forth with this guy trying to get a simple answer when he should have known this basic information. On another occasion I needed to use the Laundromat and called the Purser's desk to find out how much the Washer and Dryer were. I was told both machines were 50 cents each. I repeated back the 50 cents each as I did not want to walk to the opposite end of the ship with my dirty underwear without the right change. If the machines were more, I would have to have to make a separate trip for more coins. I grabbed my only two quarters for the washer, thinking that was sufficient. I'll get the clothes running, then get more change for the dryer. Of course, I get to the machines and they are $1.00 each, not 50 cents. The misinformation I received involved another trek to resolve a situation that could have been taken care of had the Purser answered questions correctly in the first place. There was even a change machine, had I known to bring a dollar. Nothing serious, of course, but still annoying to have to deal with unnecessarily. Other friends experience waiting in line to talk to a purser, just to have them answer the phone just as they walk up to the counter. Never an acknowledgement that they were are standing there or even a brief “I’ll be with you in a moment’. Basic customer service. In that instance the purser hung up the phone and walked away without even looking up. A few moments later he came back and it was a bothered “Yes?” without even looking at the guest. Another example of similar staff disregard was in the café when a tray of cookies was whisked away as I was about to make a selection. The café attendant completely ignored the fact that that I was standing there. Many times I had the feeling that we were little more than an intrusion and inconvenience to the staff and, if anything, we were often an annoyance that just got in the way of them doing their jobs. It is also inescapable that Princess hits you with all sorts of extra costs that I have never experienced in such a pervasive way on other lines. You pay extra for ice cream at the ice cream station, not just the elaborate Sundays, but for even a simple soft serve cone. At dinner in the dining room if you wish to have a cappuccino, you will pay extra. If you wanted some pastry or snacks in the atrium lounges you paid extra. The coveted “Sanctuary” seemed unnecessary as there were plenty of great places to sit in the shade away from the crowds without paying an extra $10 to $20. So many elements just seemed cheap, cut rate, or shoe string. Even some of the ports had us tied up at remote locations, such as departing from Brooklyn more out of the way for most than midtown Manhattan, to the Naval Dockyards in Bermuda, a 20-30 minute water taxi ride to either Hamilton or St. George, or the St. Thomas dock way out by the airport. A mimeographed copy of the ship board New York Times headline stories (an ‘in cabin’ standard on most ships) could not be removed from the library, but each day we would receive a ton of junk mail selling us discounted spa treatments or jewelry. I had a wonderful conversation with a couple who had sailed on the Crown Princess last fall and they noted a remarkable difference from their previous trip. They felt that the ship had fewer staff than before and that the level of service was significantly lower. If this is true and Princess management is cutting back, then this is affecting quality. If there is no difference in staffing ratios, then there is clearly a serious problem with the overall effort and care put forth by current crews. Either way there is room for much improvement. Disembarkation in Brooklyn was one of the most efficient and quick I think I have ever experienced and that made the process so much easier. Again, as I mentioned earlier, these points have not by any means ruined my vacation. The weather was great, the ship beautiful and the company we met most enjoyable. But is seems that Princess is cutting corners, going through some sort of staffing and/or training problem or just suffering from short sighted or poor management. There are other cruise lines such as RCCL, Celebrity, Holland America or Cunard (even if several are owned and operated by the same parent Carnival) with whom you can have a more effortless and better quality experience. If cruise costs and destinations are more or less similar for other lines and ships, it leaves me with the feeling that I no real incentive or desire to come back to Princess when other options are more inviting, professional and complete with all the subtle touches that make the difference between average and excellent.

Crown Princess - Eastern Caribbean

Crown Princess Cruise Review by CoolBlueWater

Trip Details
Allow me to preface this review with the disclaimer that in spite of my following commentary, we had an overall fine vacation on board the Crown Princess. However, Princess Cruises needs to take a very serious and close look at their onboard management and staff training in many crucial areas. If not, an increasing passenger discontent will eventually hurt their bottom line and reputation.
Although Red Hook in Brooklyn is a bit out of the way for anyone not originating in Brooklyn, I was truly amazed at how quickly we were processed through security and check in. We were handed a mandatory "Health" form to complete and were at the counter getting our room keys before we had barely finished checking off our replies.
The Crown is truly a grand and beautiful lady. In spite of the "Milk Carton On It's Side" exterior, her interior is classy and well appointed. From the moment you step on board there is a feeling of elegance in her woods, carpeting and fixtures. She is warm, and welcoming. Be prepared at key times, such as arrival or departure into any port, to either wait a long time for packed elevators to come and go without room for more or to walk what feels like 20 stories in a high rise to get to your cabin.
We were in a Category BC cabin R218 on Riviera Deck 14 (really deck 13, but there is no deck 13 on the ship). Clean and simple, with plenty of closet and shelf space. Our covered balcony was comfortable enough for two people with a small metal mesh table and two metal mesh chairs. Another Cruise Critic member's advice to use a towel for a more comfortable sit was most appreciated and right on the money. Sound does travel quite easily on the Balcony and we could often hear our neighbors conversation as if they were sitting with us on our own deck. Looking down you get a very clear view of the Coral and Dolphin deck balconies that were partially or fully exposed. Not much privacy down there at all, but their balcony space was large enough for two extra blue fabric chairs that looked a little more comfortable in addition to the mesh table and chairs.
As many have written already, bathrobes were by request only. We also wanted a couple softer pillows, rather than the foam pillows and both requests were fulfilled the next day.
Having to ask and wait was to be a trend on board this ship. It seems that many amenities and fine touches of service readily available on other ships are non-existent on Crown. If you have any simple requests beyond the bare basics, bring lots of patience while you wait or will have to go elsewhere to hunt down whatever it is it you may need. Be prepared for a staff that is predominantly indifferent or misinformed when asked questions. Some of the ship's staff are, indeed, helpful, friendly, efficient and worthy of high praise & thanks for their attentive service, but sadly such folks are the rare exception.
This was our 22nd cruise over the past 20 years and I have sailed on many different ships from the small RCCL Sun Viking to NCL's Norway to the more elegant Holland America Noordam and Cunard's Queen Mary 2. I only mention this to explain that I have experienced a fair sampling of service over the years to make what I believe are educated and appropriate comparisons. Unlike the demise of cut back service on the Airlines where the main purpose of flying is to get from Point A to Point B, travel on a cruise ship IS our destination and our vacation. A cruise should not be a minimal discounted experience because a cruise line may be cutting costs and is understaffed. We all pay our hard earned money to be pampered and treated better than we would back home at our local Denny's or Ihop.
By far the most frustrating experience on a daily basis was dealing with the Lido Deck buffet cafe. The first day at sea when I asked a waiter if they had cold cuts for lunch (none seen anywhere) I got an abrupt & surly "I don't know, what you see is all that we have". Every day several trips had to be made to different buffet sections because at any given time there was an incomplete selection of food, items had run out and were not replenished and/or items were removed or sections closed as you stood waiting. It was often over something ridiculously simple such as , let's say, a banana or box of a particular breakfast cereal. If there were none at Buffet station A, it then required a jaunt to the back of the ship to look at station B, if none there, try a third stop at Station C on the other side of the ship. If you asked the cafe staff for assistance they would just tell you there were none on board the ship, rather than go look. As has been corroborated by several other guests we talked with, it seems that you only get assistance if you push the point. You had to reach a certain level of clear frustration before most staff would make any effort to assist.
Almost every other cruise line and ship has multiple beverage stations with coffee, iced tea, ice, glasses and mugs that also include an always available box with herbal and specialty teas, such as Earl Grey, Mint, Chamomile and so forth, as well as packets of hot chocolate, lemon, creamers, etc. On Crown there were the regular coffee/water/ice tea/ice facilities, but only Lipton Regular and Decaf tea. If you wanted a specialty tea you must ask and you must wait. If you wanted Ice Tea at the poolside Burger grill, you had to hike it back to Lido Cafe. No nearby Beverage stations. After midnight the drink stations were closed with no easy way to get a cup of coffee or tea if you were still up at that hour.
You eventually get used to this more 'limited' service and simply begin to expect less, then it's not so bad. First time cruisers would still have an excellent time, not having anything to compare. But after finer service on other lines, so many of these little quirks will often seem a nuisance and waste of your time. Once you know the rules of the game and no longer anticipate the little touches and conveniences of other cruise lines you can play along, but in the beginning, it can be disappointing.
Other meal options worked out well. We booked late and could only confirm "Anytime" dining. At key times the lines waiting for pagers were long. If you were lucky enough to figure out how to call first and book a reservation, you could still stand in another long line with no one coming by to seat you. We quickly had a group of eight and were then offered the same table each evening with an ongoing reservation. On subsequent nights we could walk right in and sit down.
The Crown Grill was wonderful the first night at sea. Most people did not know of this "Pay Extra" restaurant and with so few patrons, the service was excellent as was the food. I had a filet that literally melted in my mouth. We brought our group of eight to the Grill a week later after sailing from Grand Turk and were most disappointed by the frantic service. Due to a "shipment" problem the much anticipated steamed Maine Lobsters were no longer available and a dining mate said that the alternate broiled Brazilian Lobster Tail was tough and chewy. Another guest at our table received a cold filet that must have been sitting too long before being served. We politely asked if they could just heat up the filet a touch. Over 20 minutes later (no one came to our table during this entire time) they finally brought an entirely new piece of meat, rather than just heat up the cold original. By this time everyone else had finished their meal and it was really too late. The manager did apologize and deducted the surcharge for both the missing meat and rubber lobster.
We have noticed that the staff are very good at making sincere sounding apologies. One gets the feeling they must have lots of practice.
The purser's desk staff were often poorly informed and openly indifferent. A Purser insisted that the wireless internet rate was 75 cents a minute when a conflicting message offered a discounted 50 cent rate. He said the only discount is if we buy a package and packages are not available if you use your own wireless laptop. This per minute difference could be quite costly. Like so many other times on board the Crown, once I pressed the point and the Purser realized I was not going to go away and ONLY after literally begging him to please call the IT department, he finally went to ask someone. He came back ten minutes later apologizing and saying that he was wrong and that indeed, wireless internet offers a discounted 50 cent rate. He then said he appreciated that I pushed him to ask, so now he knows. In the meantime, I had wasted 30-40 minutes of my vacation going back and forth with this guy trying to get a simple answer when he should have known this basic information.
On another occasion I needed to use the Laundromat and called the Purser's desk to find out how much the Washer and Dryer were. I was told both machines were 50 cents each. I repeated back the 50 cents each as I did not want to walk to the opposite end of the ship with my dirty underwear without the right change. If the machines were more, I would have to have to make a separate trip for more coins. I grabbed my only two quarters for the washer, thinking that was sufficient. I'll get the clothes running, then get more change for the dryer. Of course, I get to the machines and they are $1.00 each, not 50 cents. The misinformation I received involved another trek to resolve a situation that could have been taken care of had the Purser answered questions correctly in the first place. There was even a change machine, had I known to bring a dollar. Nothing serious, of course, but still annoying to have to deal with unnecessarily. Other friends experience waiting in line to talk to a purser, just to have them answer the phone just as they walk up to the counter. Never an acknowledgement that they were are standing there or even a brief “I’ll be with you in a moment’. Basic customer service. In that instance the purser hung up the phone and walked away without even looking up. A few moments later he came back and it was a bothered “Yes?” without even looking at the guest. Another example of similar staff disregard was in the café when a tray of cookies was whisked away as I was about to make a selection. The café attendant completely ignored the fact that that I was standing there. Many times I had the feeling that we were little more than an intrusion and inconvenience to the staff and, if anything, we were often an annoyance that just got in the way of them doing their jobs.
It is also inescapable that Princess hits you with all sorts of extra costs that I have never experienced in such a pervasive way on other lines. You pay extra for ice cream at the ice cream station, not just the elaborate Sundays, but for even a simple soft serve cone. At dinner in the dining room if you wish to have a cappuccino, you will pay extra. If you wanted some pastry or snacks in the atrium lounges you paid extra. The coveted “Sanctuary” seemed unnecessary as there were plenty of great places to sit in the shade away from the crowds without paying an extra $10 to $20.
So many elements just seemed cheap, cut rate, or shoe string. Even some of the ports had us tied up at remote locations, such as departing from Brooklyn more out of the way for most than midtown Manhattan, to the Naval Dockyards in Bermuda, a 20-30 minute water taxi ride to either Hamilton or St. George, or the St. Thomas dock way out by the airport. A mimeographed copy of the ship board New York Times headline stories (an ‘in cabin’ standard on most ships) could not be removed from the library, but each day we would receive a ton of junk mail selling us discounted spa treatments or jewelry.
I had a wonderful conversation with a couple who had sailed on the Crown Princess last fall and they noted a remarkable difference from their previous trip. They felt that the ship had fewer staff than before and that the level of service was significantly lower. If this is true and Princess management is cutting back, then this is affecting quality. If there is no difference in staffing ratios, then there is clearly a serious problem with the overall effort and care put forth by current crews. Either way there is room for much improvement.
Disembarkation in Brooklyn was one of the most efficient and quick I think I have ever experienced and that made the process so much easier.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, these points have not by any means ruined my vacation. The weather was great, the ship beautiful and the company we met most enjoyable. But is seems that Princess is cutting corners, going through some sort of staffing and/or training problem or just suffering from short sighted or poor management. There are other cruise lines such as RCCL, Celebrity, Holland America or Cunard (even if several are owned and operated by the same parent Carnival) with whom you can have a more effortless and better quality experience. If cruise costs and destinations are more or less similar for other lines and ships, it leaves me with the feeling that I no real incentive or desire to come back to Princess when other options are more inviting, professional and complete with all the subtle touches that make the difference between average and excellent.
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