We booked this cruise for my birthday AND because it didn't require a flight. This was our second voyage with Princess...the first being in 2010 on the Diamond for an Australia/NZ cruise.
We drove from Colorado to San Pedro. Laughable amount of freeway changes just to get to the pier!!! Oh, and the traffic? Horrendous, even on a Saturday morning! Stressful, but embarkation was a breeze! Had to park in the farther lot, as the main lot was full. Not too long of a hike, at least. :) $16 a day for parking worked out to $112 for the week...certainly cheaper than any decent hotel with "free parking" IMO. :)
(I hear they were offering CA resident rates on balcony cabins for as low as $399 pp!!! I didn't ask. Some woman in the hot tub piped up with this information. Kind of made me angry and felt cheated as we had paid $719 pp for the same balcony!!! Word to the wise for passengers; if no one asks what you paid, then don't mention it!!! You may be proud of your great deal, but the person who paid more is going to feel like a chump on their vacation. It's just plain RUDE IMO.) Rant finished. :)
The ship looked great upon first impression, but our cabin was kind of beat up. Lots of poorly done wall touch ups from who knows what, but it was very clean at least! Florian, our steward was the BEST! It's 5 years since our last cruise, so I was a little taken aback by the tiny (I really mean TINY) bathroom and shower! NCL has much larger bathrooms in their cabins, as does Celebrity, but it's a ship, right? The shower was in the corner, and had no room to turn around! A fixed head shower-head is ridiculous in this sort of situation...a European, hand-held type of shower-head would be much more practical! Why is it that cruise lines encourage folks to eat, eat, eat, but build cabins with tiny showers and provide 36" long towels??? Mixed message being sent, I think! My fix for this? Grab towels from the pool area OR shower in the gym. (I am not super-sized by any means! As a size 16, I am considered average in the US. Not sure what many of the super-sized folks I saw did)
This cruise visited mostly California, with a stop in Ensenada. The ports (San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Ensenada) were all nice. We had to tender into Santa Barbara, which is tricky when the average age of passengers is 65! ;) Lots of walkers, scooters, etc. We opted for Hop on Hop off bus tours in most cities. Met a friend in Santa Barbara for lunch. Very laid back trip. We opted to NOT go into Ensenada. Have been before, didn't need to go again. Also, it was Spring Break for many and there were oodles of kids on board! I was prepared for screaming, running, whining; but they were very well behaved AND hardly ever seen by us! Granted, we stayed clear of the two main mid-ship pools.
Speaking of pools and relaxation...we took advantage of the Spa offer for their Thermal Spa package. $109 pp for the week to enjoy the heated loungers, steam room, sauna, aromatherapy steam room, fun jungle shower, and spa pool/hot tubs. As it's Princess' 50th Anniversary, they gave us a discount. (package is regularly $129 pp). They only sell 40 packages per cruise, so it's never too crowded. :) So relaxing!!! The steam room in the Thermal Spa never worked properly though, so they gave us a $50 credit. :) There are steam, sauna, and showers in the locker rooms for ALL to use if you don't want to pay.
My DH is a smoker, so we spent time on the aft deck pool as there was smoking on 16 aft. This pool was much warmer than any other...around 88 degrees! Some complained, but I LOVED it! Was able to do my water aerobics there, or in the Spa pool daily!
We opted for Anytime Dining when we signed up for the cruise, but switched to late seating in Botticelli the first night when we saw the horrendous line for Anytime! I hear it never got better. Some were waiting more than 40 minutes a night for a table. Our server was just okay IMO. She had only 4 more weeks on her contract, so I think she may have had other things on her mind. ;) No excuse, but a reality. Food in the MDR was uninspired, salty, and just okay. Presentation was nice, but not enough variety. We ate twice in Crown Grill and both times it was fantastic!!! Well worth the $25 per person. Ask for Alona, if you go! She is the best server EVER!!! Also tried the fish and chips Pub lunch and it was super yummy! Who'da thought we'd like "mushy peas"? Do not miss a glass of wine and some sushi or tapas at Vines. Also, the salads, donuts, sandwiches, etc by the coffee place had great eats...much better than at the buffet...and they are open 24 hours! (just food, not coffee)
The shows were good. It's time to retire them though! I hear there are new shows in the works. Young, energetic performers all! Popped in for the juggler, comedian, etc. and found them to be entertaining in a super cheesy way. :)
It was an enjoyable trip, but we were ready to go home by the end of the cruise. Disembarkation was also a breeze! We carried our own bags off and to our car. Were off the ship before 9am and on the freeway out of town. Much better trip OUT of California than coming to port! No real traffic to speak of.
The Crown Princess is showing her age, but is still a nice ship with many amenities of note. The California Coastal cruise is a great way to visit the State without having to brave the freeways. I like Princess, but think it's time to return to Celebrity, or even Carnival, for better food, larger cabins, and a more active nightlife.
Starboard side cabin, mid ship, near elevator. Quite.
Small, but serviceable, balcony. Two chairs and table on balcony.
Cabin was banged up a bit. Bed was super comfortable even though we have Tempurpedic at home! (that's saying a lot!!) Plenty of closet space, storage, and hangers.
Bathroom is TINY; well, the shower was TINY!
Florian, our steward, was unobtrusive but attentive.
Refrigerator was a really nice addition.
Brought a nightlight for the bathroom so we didn't have to turn on light at night. :)
Did the Hop On Hop Off bus. Stopped in Chinatown for a long walk and visit. Even with the 2.5 hour bus tour, we managed to walk another 12 miles around town! Walked to Ghirardelli Square, the Wharf. Had lunch on the Wharf. Saw the sea lions. Were greeted by a lovely rainbow. :)