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Our first ever cruise with Princess - unfortunately it will probably be the last as a result of our overall impression of this ship and the company. Prior to departure, rumours were circulating on social media that the Crown Princess had been over-booked and that some passengers were being offered financial inducements to cancel at the last minute. We were not approached by Princess (or our TA), but it was a foretaste of what was to come - a seriously over-crowded sailing on a large ship, where queues and long waits were an everyday occurrence (and irritation). In the interests of balance there were some good points worthy of note before I come on to the bad points:- GOOD POINTS:- - Comfortable cabin: a good bed, slept well with no disturbance from outside. The aircon in the cabin worked well (though we had to leave on the lowest setting to keep cool enough, as we did not have a balcony). - Cabin steward was a very nice young lady who clearly worked hard and took a close interest in making sure we had everything we needed. - The ports we visited were very good / excellent. Even the weather was reasonable considering the high northerly latitudes reached - only one truly wet day (in Tromso). - The specialty dining options we tried (Crown Grill steakhouse and Sabatini Italian) were a very high standard with delicious food and a much more up-market, relaxed atmosphere than the congested main dining rooms. Unfortunately eating here makes a serious dent in your on-board account ($29 surcharge per person per meal). - The sailing was generally smooth or with only moderate motion (though often quite a lot of vibration) and we did not encounter sea-sickness at any point. BAD POINTS:- - "Anytime Dining" arrangements / organisation very restrictive and inflexible. We pre-booked the Anytime Dining option as our personal preference is to eat on our own not with a group of strangers every night. We'd assumed this would be similar to NCL's "Freestyle Dining" concept, but the problem Princess had was operating both Anytime and Traditional Dining models in parallel - it simply doesn't work when the ship is at full occupancy. Anytime diners were treated as second class citizens and either denied access to the dining rooms at certain times, forced to wait 30-40 minutes, or obliged to share with others (as per Traditional Dining). The only ways round this were to book a table at 08:00 am sharp every morning, or pay extra to eat in one of the specialty restaurants. - Breakfast and lunch options very limited. The only table service option for breakfast or lunch was the Botticelli restaurant (which inexplicably stopped operation at 09:00 - unreasonably early for those looking to catch up on some sleep while on holiday). The other two dining rooms (Da Vinci and Michelangelo) remained closed outside of dinner operating hours. The alternative was the hopelessly overcrowded buffet set-up (Horizon Court / Cafe Caribe) which was straight out of a school / works canteen, with plastic (!) plates and glasses and cheap-looking, lukewarm food. Seating was in high demand and people were forced to share whether they wanted to or not (unless you fancied sitting outside in the cold!) Really unacceptable. - Shore excursion cancellation (Flåm). Most spaces on official shore excursions were sold out on-line months in advance including the one we'd booked on the famous Flåm railway. Luckily we thought, we had a confirmed booking for the first such tour of the day. This entailed a very early start and a considerable wait in the Explorer's lounge while we were repeatedly told to wait while the ship completed docking procedures. We were assured there was no reason to worry as "...Princess had paid for the train and it would not leave without us...". After about an hour, a terse announcement came out over the ships' PA that our excursion was CANCELLED. As all subsequent trains were either fully booked (or would not make it back to the ship in time), we were left with a day in Flåm with virtually nothing to do. The shorex staff and the people at the front desk had no idea how to deal with this and simply refused to take our complaint seriously - they could not care less that this advertised highlight of the trip had been cancelled apparently due to an unexpectedly long passage into the fjord approaching Flåm. The tour was of course refunded but Princess stubbornly refused to offer any OBC or recompense of any kind. Tells me all I need to know about their customer service ethos. - Decor and general ambience. So many of the ship's public areas are dark and frankly rather oppressive - an excess of dark wood paneling, subdued lighting and small windows with heavy curtains which limited the opportunities to see the fabulous scenery, especially at mealtimes. It all looked rather dated to our tastes. We eventually discovered that the Adagio Bar and the Skywalkers lounge up top at the back of the ship were good places to curl up with a book or watch the view, but there is no drinks / snack service here during the day. We were even turfed out of these areas on one afternoon due to someone's unannounced "private party". - Poor at-sea activities and "enrichment" options. We were shocked by how bad the entertainment and activities were during our 4 sea days. The main options were bingo / trivia competitions, and sales promotions for art and back / foot pain treatments. None of which interested us remotely. We were hoodwinked into paying $10 each for a "wine-tasting" session which consisted of six small glasses of inferior, nondescript wine (the sort you can buy at Tesco in the UK for a fiver). This was accompanied by an embarrassingly poor commentary by members of staff who clearly knew very little about these wines or wine in general apart from what was written on their script. There was only one guest speaker in two weeks of cruising - Pete Best (the "fifth Beatle", who was interesting enough), no sign at all of Peter Shilton or the Midsommer Festival mentioned in the original pre-departure blurb from Princess. - Overly "Americanised" service / atmosphere. Despite Southampton being the start and finish of the trip it felt that we were cruising out of a US port. Staff had clearly been trained up for the US market: attempts made to remove dinner plates while we were having a short break from eating ("...you still working on that?"), coffee repeatedly offered at the same time as dessert, port info sheets bearing contact details of the US embassy in Norway (but not equivalent info for UK, Australian, Japanese guests) etc etc.

Norway was great - the cruise not so much

Crown Princess Cruise Review by Cindero

20 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Our first ever cruise with Princess - unfortunately it will probably be the last as a result of our overall impression of this ship and the company. Prior to departure, rumours were circulating on social media that the Crown Princess had been over-booked and that some passengers were being offered financial inducements to cancel at the last minute. We were not approached by Princess (or our TA), but it was a foretaste of what was to come - a seriously over-crowded sailing on a large ship, where queues and long waits were an everyday occurrence (and irritation).

In the interests of balance there were some good points worthy of note before I come on to the bad points:-

GOOD POINTS:-

- Comfortable cabin: a good bed, slept well with no disturbance from outside. The aircon in the cabin worked well (though we had to leave on the lowest setting to keep cool enough, as we did not have a balcony).

- Cabin steward was a very nice young lady who clearly worked hard and took a close interest in making sure we had everything we needed.

- The ports we visited were very good / excellent. Even the weather was reasonable considering the high northerly latitudes reached - only one truly wet day (in Tromso).

- The specialty dining options we tried (Crown Grill steakhouse and Sabatini Italian) were a very high standard with delicious food and a much more up-market, relaxed atmosphere than the congested main dining rooms. Unfortunately eating here makes a serious dent in your on-board account ($29 surcharge per person per meal).

- The sailing was generally smooth or with only moderate motion (though often quite a lot of vibration) and we did not encounter sea-sickness at any point.

BAD POINTS:-

- "Anytime Dining" arrangements / organisation very restrictive and inflexible. We pre-booked the Anytime Dining option as our personal preference is to eat on our own not with a group of strangers every night. We'd assumed this would be similar to NCL's "Freestyle Dining" concept, but the problem Princess had was operating both Anytime and Traditional Dining models in parallel - it simply doesn't work when the ship is at full occupancy. Anytime diners were treated as second class citizens and either denied access to the dining rooms at certain times, forced to wait 30-40 minutes, or obliged to share with others (as per Traditional Dining). The only ways round this were to book a table at 08:00 am sharp every morning, or pay extra to eat in one of the specialty restaurants.

- Breakfast and lunch options very limited. The only table service option for breakfast or lunch was the Botticelli restaurant (which inexplicably stopped operation at 09:00 - unreasonably early for those looking to catch up on some sleep while on holiday). The other two dining rooms (Da Vinci and Michelangelo) remained closed outside of dinner operating hours. The alternative was the hopelessly overcrowded buffet set-up (Horizon Court / Cafe Caribe) which was straight out of a school / works canteen, with plastic (!) plates and glasses and cheap-looking, lukewarm food. Seating was in high demand and people were forced to share whether they wanted to or not (unless you fancied sitting outside in the cold!) Really unacceptable.

- Shore excursion cancellation (Flåm). Most spaces on official shore excursions were sold out on-line months in advance including the one we'd booked on the famous Flåm railway. Luckily we thought, we had a confirmed booking for the first such tour of the day. This entailed a very early start and a considerable wait in the Explorer's lounge while we were repeatedly told to wait while the ship completed docking procedures. We were assured there was no reason to worry as "...Princess had paid for the train and it would not leave without us...". After about an hour, a terse announcement came out over the ships' PA that our excursion was CANCELLED. As all subsequent trains were either fully booked (or would not make it back to the ship in time), we were left with a day in Flåm with virtually nothing to do. The shorex staff and the people at the front desk had no idea how to deal with this and simply refused to take our complaint seriously - they could not care less that this advertised highlight of the trip had been cancelled apparently due to an unexpectedly long passage into the fjord approaching Flåm. The tour was of course refunded but Princess stubbornly refused to offer any OBC or recompense of any kind. Tells me all I need to know about their customer service ethos.

- Decor and general ambience. So many of the ship's public areas are dark and frankly rather oppressive - an excess of dark wood paneling, subdued lighting and small windows with heavy curtains which limited the opportunities to see the fabulous scenery, especially at mealtimes. It all looked rather dated to our tastes. We eventually discovered that the Adagio Bar and the Skywalkers lounge up top at the back of the ship were good places to curl up with a book or watch the view, but there is no drinks / snack service here during the day. We were even turfed out of these areas on one afternoon due to someone's unannounced "private party".

- Poor at-sea activities and "enrichment" options. We were shocked by how bad the entertainment and activities were during our 4 sea days. The main options were bingo / trivia competitions, and sales promotions for art and back / foot pain treatments. None of which interested us remotely. We were hoodwinked into paying $10 each for a "wine-tasting" session which consisted of six small glasses of inferior, nondescript wine (the sort you can buy at Tesco in the UK for a fiver). This was accompanied by an embarrassingly poor commentary by members of staff who clearly knew very little about these wines or wine in general apart from what was written on their script. There was only one guest speaker in two weeks of cruising - Pete Best (the "fifth Beatle", who was interesting enough), no sign at all of Peter Shilton or the Midsommer Festival mentioned in the original pre-departure blurb from Princess.

- Overly "Americanised" service / atmosphere. Despite Southampton being the start and finish of the trip it felt that we were cruising out of a US port. Staff had clearly been trained up for the US market: attempts made to remove dinner plates while we were having a short break from eating ("...you still working on that?"), coffee repeatedly offered at the same time as dessert, port info sheets bearing contact details of the US embassy in Norway (but not equivalent info for UK, Australian, Japanese guests) etc etc.
Cindero’s Full Rating Summary
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