Crown Princess Cruise Review by gregjm
- Sail Date: November 2015
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
It has been five years since we were on a Princess cruise, so we were looking forward to our 11/28/15 seven day cruise of the Mexican Riviera.
Embarkation and Disembarkation:
Princess shined on both counts. We arrived at the port at 11:30 on November 28th and were in our stateroom (a mini-suite on Dolphin Deck) by 12:15.
Grade for embarkation: A+
General impressions of the condition of the ship:
The ship appeared to be in fairly good repair. They were painting exterior surfaces during the cruise and while in every port. Carpets look fairly new. Patio furniture is in sad shape and needs replacing (especially on balconies). Also, we noted several fountains were not functioning (one half the foundation in the Piazza; the fountains behind Sabatini, etc.) Also, the children play area at the back of the ship is in terrible condition (we walked through it once and noted this).
The public rooms were well maintained (bathrooms, etc.)
Ship condition grade: B
We were in a mini-suite mid-ship on the Dolphin deck. This was an excellent location, since it provided easy access to elevators and stairs. The stateroom was well-maintained and as always, the extra space in a mini-suite is very nice. The downside was the terrible condition of the balcony furniture----it has seen better days and hopefully will be replaced soon. The bed was comfortable.
Since the last time on Princess I did notice that individual bars of soap and shampoo have been replaced with shower gel and shampoo dispensers mounted in the bathtub. (They still have small individual hand soap).
Our stateroom attendant was rarely seen, but kept the room in good condition. The only negative comment about our stateroom service was on the morning of disembarkation. We were told to vacate cabins by 9:00 a.m., which was not an issue for us since we had a 9:00 a.m. disembarkation time. We got up very early and went to breakfast at 6:30 a.m. When we left our stateroom we left the "privacy please" tag in the door lock since we still had some minor personal items to pack before vacating. When we returned from breakfast at 7:45 we found that the stateroom attendant had entered our cabin (obviously having to remove the "Privacy Please" tag to enter) and had stripped and remade the bed for the next guests. Also, our personal items were moved to a different spot in the cabin so he could clean the counter. I feel this was an invasion of our privacy, especially since we planned on being out of our cabin by 8:00 a.m----long before the required 9:00 a.m.
One other minor item: When returning from dinner or a late night show, all cabin lights were turned off by the stateroom attendant. Usually, after evening stateroom service, we have found one light left on.
Stateroom grade: B-
The Cruise Director, Dan Appleby, was by far the best we have ever had. He was everywhere and participated in far more events than we have come to expect from a Cruise Director (Bingo, game shows, etc.) He was engaging, humorous and his staff seems to genuinely like working with him.
Cruise Director grade: A++
Entertainment (shows, bands, etc.) were all excellent---no complaints whatsoever. Everything from the evening shows in the Princess Theatre to the games shows, bands, etc., were excellent. If everything had been to the standard of the entertainment, it would have been a GREAT cruise.
Entertainment grade: A+
With the exception of two servers in Crooners (Ping, in particular) we found bar staff on this cruise to be very surly----in some cases, downright rude. Case in point---On several occasions I went to a bar to order a drink. Drink was prepared, bar tab run and not one word of greeting, thanks, etc., offered by the bartender. Other passengers also mentioned this to me
Bar Service Grade: D
Food (Horizon Court, Main Dining room)
In one word----awful. This was the worst cruise food I have ever encountered. Dishes were uninspired and often arrived lukewarm, at best.
Some examples: Caesar salads were served warm and covered with way too much dressing. On embarkation day, a hamburger in the main dining room was inedible---it was cooked to the point of being unrecognizable. French fries that accompanied it were of a temperature that it appeared they were prepared several hours before and left to cool.
Evening dining service was no better. Why they asked how you wanted a steak done is beyond me since everything arrived WELL DONE---not just a little but a lot. When pointed out to the waiter, they would take it back to the kitchen and return with another just as well done.
On the last night, I thought I would have the Turkey dinner. After all, how much damage can they do to turkey, potatoes and dressing. Well, the turkey was surrounded by pieces of turkey fact, the stuffing was mushed something with a bit of sage, and the sweet potatoes (slices) were uncooked and inedible.
Service was not up to the usual standards, either. Some nights we went for twenty minutes with dishes not being removed after we had finished eating. A simple request for Iced Tea was usually ignored until you asked at least three or four times.
On the positive side, breakfast service in the main dining room was good and food acceptable.
The Horizon Court buffet was abysmal. There was no creativity in the offerings and things that they offered were often inedible. For example, the beef brisket was tough and lacked any flavor. The only good thing at the Horizon Court were salads----there isn't much you can do to ruin a "make it your self" salad of greens.
Servers in the Horizon Court were not friendly --- at least those we encountered. Often times we felt ignored and as though we were an intrusion.
Main Dining room and Horizon Court grade: D-
This was the one good dinner --- at a $25.00 per person cover charge. The appetizers were excellent and the steaks prepared very well. Server was also very good. I would definitely recommend the Crown Grill
Crown Grill Grade: A
We have been to Sabatini on several other Princess Cruises, including last time we were on the Crown. The services was good, but food was marginal, with appetizers being the highlight. I ordered Veal Osso Bucco as my entree and it was not edible. It was simply a plate of fat (one small piece of tough meat) and gelatinous mashes potatoes. I took one bite and was done. The waiter asked if I wanted a different entree and if we hadn't already spent two hours in the restaurant I probably would have ordered something different. I am at a loss to understand how the kitchen could have put out something so disgusting in one of the specialty restaurants.
Also, we were seated in an area of the restaurant directly below the basketball court and got to enjoy a constant "thumping" sound throughout most of the dinner. The basketball court should not be open when diners are directly below.
Sabatini Grade: F
A great place for a quick bite to eat, dessert, etc.
I always enjoy spending a couple hours a day in the casino while cruising---until this trip. The casino hosts were rude and the general atmosphere in the casino was not conducive to having a good time. The casino has basically become a place for non-casino playing smokers to congregate near a few ashtrays.
On past cruises we always found the casinos to be busy during sea days and after formal night shows/dinners. That was not the case on this sailing---the casino was deserted. Whatever Princess has done to the Casino since we last sailed a Princess ship has definitely taken a toll. Gone are the fun times in the Princess Casino (at least on the Crown)
Puerto Vallarta: We have been to PV several times and alway enjoy our visit.
Mazatlan: Do yourself a favor and stay on the ship if a future cruises finds you in Mazatlan. We had a terrible Princess excursion experience which took us into unsafe areas of the city. The Pacifico Brewery plant tour was terrible----the tour guide went "off script" since it was sold as a tour of the Brewery and then Shopping in the Gold Zone. (leave at 10:00 return at 1:30). Instead, the tour guide took us to an out of the way restaurant for lunch (which we were expected to pay for). We were taken through areas of the city that were not safe---including one area where we saw a drug raid in progress (machine guns, armored vehicles, etc.). We are told to always schedule excursions through the cruise line to avoid just this type of extortion. At the first opportunity, we bolted out of the bus and caught a cab back to the ship----I refused to be held hostage any longer by a Princess endorsed Tour operator obviously on the take with this unplanned restaurant stop owner. (A formal complaint has been filed with Princess regarding this incident)
Cabo San Lucas
EXCELLENT stop, just wish it was longer. My suggestion: drop Mazatlan and spend an overnight in Cabo.
This is not the "Princess" we remembered from our prior cruises. The brand has been diminished as evidenced by the quality of the food, inconsistent service and lack of oversight of Princess endorsed excursions.
The only saving grace of this cruise was the cruise director and his staff and the excellent entertainment offerings.
Bottom-line: It will be a long while before we give Princess another try. Celebrity will definitely be our cruise line of choice going forward.
Overall Grade: C-
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