We selected Crown Princess because of the ten-day itinerary from Copenhagen and also because many friends had told us that Princess was a wonderful cruise line and we should try it.This was our fourth cruise, the previous three fantastic cruises being with NCL. The price was more expensive for an equivalent room on NCL so I guess I had higher expectations from Princess from the beginning.
Embarkation ran smoothly and quickly. However, we were on an SAS inclusive flight from London and we arrived at the ship with only an hour to spare before the ship left port. Thus everyone else had already boarded.
Nora, our cabin steward was excellent. She was always friendly, helpful and did a wonderful job. We found the ship to be clean and the atrium and dEcor in many of the main rooms was tasteful and attractive. Generally the Crown Princess staff were friendly and helpful. Our tours were well organized and we thought our guides were excellent. They all spoke very good English and gave us interesting and informative tours. Disembarkation and embarkation at the ports ran smoothly on every occasion. The weather was beautiful the first three days but then it turned cold and wet and we hit gale force 8 winds with rough seas. Variable weather is to be expected on a Baltic cruise. I was pleased that Princess took safety seriously and cancelled our visit to Poland because it was too dangerous to go in. Thus we had an extra day at sea. But I was disappointed that there were no contingency plans when this must happen several times in a season. Organization onboard was terrible - they were still showing the cruise director talking about what to do in Poland on TV when they had already announced we weren't going. It was 2 pm by the time the new schedule for the day was delivered to our stateroom - by which time we had missed several things we would have attended.
There were quite a few things I felt lacking. For example, where were the hand sanitizers? After so much attention had been given to notifying us about how a virus can spread rapidly onboard, hand sanitizer was sadly unavailable. I saw only one bottle in the buffet. On every NCL ship we have been on there is hand sanitizer at the entrance to every restaurant and other public rooms and as you get on and off the ship in every port. And there were no folded towel animals on the bed every evening, which are always fun to come back to. It is the little extras on a ship that add to the enjoyment of a cruise. We chose anytime dining and discovered that Princess had not really got this worked out yet. At first we couldn’t understand why we were in line waiting for a table when many people were walking past us straight in to dinner. I found out that half the anytime dining restaurants were set aside for reservations. So I called reservations and asked for a table at 7 pm. The response was that reservations were only for 6:00 pm or 8:30 pm. That is not anytime dining! We found food to be average with occasional wonderful menu items. Menu choice was limited – particularly breakfast, which became boring very fast. We ate at Crown Grill one evening and really enjoyed our meal. It was worth every penny of the cover charge. Food was cooked to perfection and service was excellent.
All in all we had an enjoyable cruise but we wouldn’t rush out to choose Princess over NCL.