Took a once-in-a-lifetime 14-night cruise around South America on the Crown Princess — and it was fabulous! Here’s a review of the ship:
The ship’s decor is beautiful. The design has a heavy Italian influence with lots of gold.Crown Princess review
I’d guess that the average age of guests on this particular cruise was 70-75 and I bet I was about the only person who had to go back to work when the cruise was over! Passengers on this trip were serious cruisers, too — most have taken 10+ cruises to everywhere under the sun and are very well traveled! Only met one first-time cruiser during the whole trip.
There’s a wide variety of onboard entertainment – one of the things I love best about Princess cruise lines – including professional Tango dancers (wow!), a ventriloquist, a comedian, singers — including a semi-finalist from American Idol, a magician, singing and dancing production shows, Movies Under the Stars (recent movies shown nightly on the 15th deck; unfortunately, it was too cold most of the trip to watch them, even bundled up in the blankets provided!), and indoor movies every afternoon. Crown Princess review: movies under the stars
There are lots of fun onboard activities – free Zumba classes, line dancing classes, a paper plane contest, an egg drop from the 3rd floor atrium, informational lectures (about the destinations and general cybersecurity tips), bingo, arts and crafts, for-fee yoga and spinning classes, art auctions, a style show, digital electronics classes and more.
A seasonal event we got to witness was the Valentines Day balloon drop. Hundreds of pink and red balloons were suspended by a net over the central atrium all day on Feb. 14, and in the evening, they were released with great fanfare to float dramatically to the floor below.
An onboard book club is available; interested passengers can check a copy of the pre-selected book out from the ship’s library, then meet at the end of the cruise to discuss it.
An onboard guest chorus is also formed (no try-outs necessary); the group performs four or five selections on one of the last cruise days. (I participated in the chorus on a previous cruise and it was a lot of fun.)Crown Princess Review: chorus
A free phone app for ship activities and info is available. This can be used in place of or in addition to the daily printed Princess Patter activities list.
Food in the formal dining room is good, but the menu doesn’t include steak or beef every night, which is a change from previous cruises — and it disappointed me.
Food in the informal dining room is so-so.
The layout of the informal dining room’s cafeteria is absolutely horrible. All the food is displayed in a ridiculously small area and must be accessed from a single buffet line; a much larger space and separate buffet stations for various food categories would be a huge improvement. The line moves at a snail’s pace, with people hopping in and out of it randomly and people going both directions at once. Choosing food there is very chaotic!Crown Princess review: information dining room cafeteria line
A “hidden” second cafeteria line located a short distance away — and generally open only for breakfast — eliminates having to use the super-crammed, slow informal food line described above. Tip: find it and use it!
The ship has a number of self-service laundromats, which is great for a long trip. However, the machines in them don’t all work — causing confusion and frustration, and the vending machine selling small packets of detergent is horribly designed; every single purchase requires the user to insert a stick-like object to pry the box off of a shelf it gets stuck on inside!
Shore excursions are varied and interesting. Since this trip wasn’t a “beach cruise” like trips to the Caribbean and Mediterranean, the shore excursions were unique and included tours to ranches and penguin rookeries in addition to guided bus tours of major cities.
When the weather is warm and you’re returning from a shore excursion, a crew member waits outside the ship to hand you an icy cold towel. It’s heavenly.
The most interesting — and expensive! — shore excursion on this cruise is a one-day helicopter trip to Antarctica, which costs $3,500! We met two people who’d signed up for it, but they didn’t get to go due to inclement weather. They ended up going to a nature preserve in South America instead, but were only receiving a partial refund since a tour guide was flown over from Antarctica before the trip was determined to be a “no go” and that person and her transportation had to be covered.
Princess has always been my favorite cruise line, but there were several problems on this trip with tender boats that were very frustrating. At one port where we expected to dock at the port, we were notified at the last minute that tenders must be used instead. And there weren’t nearly enough tenders to accommodate all the passengers, which resulted in lengthy waits — and the cancellation of the shore excursion “Drive to the End of the World” which was the one I wanted to do most of all! I got up at 5:45 a.m. (earlier than a work day!) for it, sat in the waiting area for 3+ hours, and then was told the excursion was cancelled. Not good.
Interior cabin was very nice. We liked the extra-wide closet area outside the bathroom. See more details on my blog post at http://thoughtstipsandtales.com/2017/02/21/crown-princess-review/ (regarding insufficient electrical outlets, etc.)