This sea day intensive 8 day cruise was very relaxing. We chose this cruise because we have not been to Bon Aire before and were looking for something warm during our home state’s cold months. We set sail from Fort Lauderdale. I will be as honest as I can. With that being said this is not our first time on The Crown and we are also Elite cruisers. We have noted a number of things have changed both prior and during the cruise. Our last cruise was just seven months ago to Alaska. We flew Delta Air going down and it was very easy and getting our luggage was very smooth. We could not get into the hotel we prefer to stay in so we were at Hilton on 17th just outside the marina. This was our first (and our last) time in this hotel. As you know there are many hotels that are quite expensive in the immediate area. We like just outside the port for many reasons. Everything is in walking distance and very convenient. Currently Carabbas has “happy hour” from 3-6 if you sit in the bar area and this includes drinks and appetizers for half price. You can easily eat your fill very inexpensively. Walgreens, Publix, Winn Dixie and a Ross is just minutes away so if you forget something you can get whatever you need. One of the best reasons to stay so close is that you can walk onto the ship yourself rather than pay for another taxi ride. If you aren’t taking a ton of luggage walking on will save you easily 20 plus dollars. We have in the past had a hotel tell us you could not walk on and wanted 20 dollars pp to ride to the port. Not true and a good way to save yourself a few dollars to spend elsewhere. Hilton was much more inexpensive than where we normally stay but we wanted to keep in the area. We saved more than 150 dollars per night, however, this hotel is showing its wear and Is lacking a bit of elbow grease. Staff were very effective but even the mini fridge in our hotel was not even working. In fairness, they did give us free cold drinks at the bar to compensate. There is Einsteins Bagels within a few minutes walking distance for breakfast and Starbucks next door. After walking up to the pier we were able to hand over our bags to the porter. They will ask you for a tip but will tell you it isn’t required. I asked a Princess Employee and they said a dollar a bag is pretty typical. Getting on the ship was super easy and dropping off your carry on’s is simple once onboard. Usually boarding after 1 pm your wait times are reduced.
Once onboard employees will ask you if you would like one of the drink packages. From our own personal experience the coffee card is worth the thirty dollars you pay for it. We do not typically pay for the soda card because part of being Elite does set up a mini wet bar in your room and we don’t drink a ton of soda. The Adult Beverage package is almost 70 dollars per day and covers drinks I believe up to 12 dollars per drink. Do the math and decide how much alcohol you will drink per day as it may not be worth it for you to buy the package. The International Cafe always has wonderful fare and you can get a quick sandwich (warm or cold) along with soup or salad. Remember this location as i think you will visit it often. It is always open so if you are up late it may be the place to go. We had an obstructed outside cabin an it was wonderfully positioned on Emerald deck in the middle of the ship. Everything was super handy to get to. Crown Princess is a very classically appointed ship and doesn’t have a lot of the newer bells and whistles so it may not be perfect for young active kids. It is a very quiet, relaxing ship for us it has just the right amount of amenities.
We choose to do the late traditional seating. The benefit of this is that your wait staff gets to know your needs and your likes and they strive to make you comfortable and satisfied. We have done “anytime” before and did not care for the constant reintroducing yourself to passengers and staff. Late seating gives you enough time to get back from the islands and prepare for dinner without rushing. Dining is pretty steadily good fare. We believe it is good enough not to pay the surcharge to go to the speciality restaurants. They have a wide variety of foods and a “standard” menu so if you don’t like what is on that night you can have steak or chicken or pasta instead. I am a vegetarian and cruise after cruise you know what is being served. It would be nice if they had a variety or changed up the menu. Some of the dishes are better than the others. My husband’s favorite night is the 2nd Formal Night where they offer escargot, lobster and prawns and Beef Wellington. They have removed things that I think were a bit spendy like soufflés. They only offer that once during an eight day cruise. Rolls are half the size of what they once were and rather than put out butter they sort of dole it out on an as needed basis.
What we do enjoy about Princess is they are not afraid to employ comedians for their shows. We have seen some of the best comedians on these ships. Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) sadly is not what it once was. They used to have pretty close to first run movies every night but that is not the case anymore. We are not fans of the musicals and broadway productions. Sea days have many fun activities. We enjoy the trivia. There are plenty of pools and hot tubs. There are movies either outside at MUTS or in the Princess Theater. The cruise staff are quite interactive and put on different demonstrations. We enjoy the Martini demonstrations. But they also do food carving and have wine tastings. Whatever your pleasure.
The choice of islands are usually very enjoyable. This cruise was Curacao, Aruba and Bon Aire. All of which were excellent. We did the Dune Buggies, Hato Caves and “Ostrich Farm”. The off road vehicles were wonderful and Princes caught the fact that we bought 2 tickets and you only needed one ticket for two people on this excursion which was very refreshing. The hike to the caves were absolutely worth it but arrival at the Ostrich Farm supposedly the tour “did not include tix to the farm” so we went to the souvenir shop at the Ostrich Farm and waited for the tour bus. This was very disappointing and telling the tour desk the fact that we were “there for 20 minutes” and no one else complained I guess means nothing. I guess when you advertise specifically for the farm if no one else says anything then it did not happen. Aruba had a beautiful tour that was on the Mi Duschi and included 3 snorkel stops, snorkeling over the WWII Antilla ship wreck, a hot lunch and a ship “swing” was more than fun. And finally at Bon Aire we did the glass bottom Kayaking to the marine “reef” was super fun. If you do this please have sand shoes or water sandals the shore is very rocky and sharp. You do about a 3/4 mile kayak up then swim an then back. It isn’t hard but you can’t be a total couch potato. The reef snorkel was amazing. I am not sure I have EVER seen so many fish and so many different types. All islands are very clean and the locals are wonderful.
Our cabin steward was not up to par as they have been in the past. We like to tip upfront to ensure prompt and service that excels but this time that did not work. It was probably the most disappointed in service we have ever had. But dining service was above and beyond. We did eat at Sabatnni’s Italian this time. Service was great. But for the surcharge the food was not worth it. We would have had better food in the dining room. We ate at the Italian restaurant when they first opened these speciality dining rooms and the fun of it initially was that you would get a little bite of all the antipasta’s and got to taste more of what they offered. Now you order like you do at a regular restaurant and food was not impressive at all. Maybe the Crown Grill (Steak) would be different. The Pub Lunch they offer on two different sea days with British flair has always been good and I would recommend trying it. There is no cost on Pub Lunch days. There is now “Salty Dog” Gastro Pub in the evening for a couple of hours that has a surcharge but we did not try it. The fee was minimal (12 dollars I believe) so I would give it a try maybe next time. It was a great cruise. Very relaxing and worth every penny we paid. Knowing this I’d recommend this itinerary and ship. I would also like to recommend really sticking to a particular line for loyalty benefits. Elite (15 cruises) you get free mini bar set up, certain amount of free internet minutes, free dry cleaning, no waiting in lines, captains parties, free special hor devoures every night prior to dinner so something to strive for whichever line you choose. My husband and I enjoy Princess and we find it a very relaxing line. We can do as much or as little as we like but there isn’t pushing and shoving, small amount of children, you don’t see a lot of drunks it is just relaxing. Makes for nice memories and a great vacation.
The “obstructed view” wasn’t obstructed at all. There was some equipment on the side of the window but it is a very large window and the location in the middle of the ship made things super convenient. We were just 1 floor up from Crooners Bar and The Plaza which is really the heart of the ship. I’d get this cabin again in a heartbeat. I will keep this floor and area in mind next cruise.