CROWN PRINCESS October 2-13th, 2018 Barcelona to Rome
I am an Elite cruiser, and this is my 12th voyage on Princess, 1st time on Crown Princess.
Crown Princess was launched in 2006, with a considerable refit in 2017. Overall solid business class condition, the food and entertainment consistent and good standard. Firm and favorable recommendation to anyone wanting a good quality, big ship cruise experience.
A very important tip for cruisers is found out when your ship of choice had its last refit. New ships no issue, but if the ship is over 5 years old, well worth considering this when weighing up choices, Travel industry is getting better at providing this information, but overall improvement is required
My critique, is based on my many cruises and any criticism is aimed only at seeking improvement
Ship boarded at Barcelona. Large que on arrival, but with my wife’s left knee requiring management, she was wheel chaired aboard, prompt, quick and efficient service..
The ship in general
The Crown Princess is a large ship, 116,000 tons Some people aboard found the size of the ship a little overwhelming and they thought a smaller ship would be more to their liking. We can understand that but we like the larger ships with more people and facilities and choices on board. Although there were approximately 3500 passengers on board, it did not feel crowded. So many choices, which is the great delight of cruising, one does as little or as much to do as you like. Some passengers take that for granted, mumbles here and there, but we value the great choices available!
Used the Gym fitness machines each day, great to see Princess along with a number of other companies do not drown you out with music in the Gym, silence is golden! Good on Princess for this decision, if you want to listen to music, you can do so with your own devices. Some of the equipment e.g. Rower showing signs of wear, and more exercise bicycles would enhance the product available.
Pools and spa facilities as you expect, available, and nice, off peak the time to go, pools can be cluttered during the day
Princess cruises add a USD 12.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can arrange with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for tips are available.
We were impressed with Sky Walkers nightclub and daytime lounge, which is situated at the back of the ship 16 floors up. At night time it is a disco after 10.0 pm and during the daytime is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. The chairs in sky walkers are extremely comfortable. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time
The other bars and public seating areas of the Crown Princess were excellent, roomy and stylish. Spot entertainment e.g. pianist, violin trio etc. were visible and pleasant. Listening to these spot artists, can make a cruise very pleasant.
The shopping available on the ship is the normal 5 retail stores, with a nice range of goods. Watch and clothing sales abounded, and the 3 hour clearance scrambles, always available. Another variety style shop would be useful, not really convinced, about diamond and jeweller shops, obviously enough people are buying product to keep open.
The Internet café is roomy and the library pleasant . Both are needed, and the balance between books and computers is important. Princess has done away with the on ship news sheets for USA, Britain, and Aussie etc. This is short sighted, many commenting on the lack of daily international news. Yes it might be available on the web, but the web at sea is costly, and soaks up time, hopefully these sorts of publications will return, when the world realizes technology is just another tool, and many people like something to hold and reflect on in their own time.
Floor shows in the evening, and specifically the Princess Theatre Dance Company and singers were excellent. They did 4 presentations, equal to Broadway show standard, and the standard of these productions continue to improve and creativity very much in vogue. Excellent recording stars on each night, somewhere, standard excellent. Overall the formal and stage entertainment was of good quality, all part of your travel package
Solid range of late release movies shown on upper deck, available in room, or at advertised locations. Good work here Princess, my wife watched more than a few while reclining in the cabin. The more movies the better, it’s an ageless form of entertainment
A number of presentations or lectures on this cruise, none of which jumped out as great, but if the topic were interesting, the public speaking g quality was sound. Formal history or lectures by a guest presenter are always a feature of Princess Cruises. This time the presenters style and topics not my cup of tea, but any type of presentation adds substance to cruise experience.
Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual.
Great walking deck, and a daily stroll or 2 around the decks is a beneficial exercise and enjoyable. 3 times around the circuit equals a mile, and we try to build this activity into the daily routine, keeps some of the likely weight gain down.
Soft freeze cone ice-cream available at no cost throughout the day, a nice treat.
The weather conditions throughout were very good and no rough days at all, so the luck ran our way. However motion sickness can be an issue, and any cruise if you are susceptible, prepare in advance.
Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room sitting versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer anytime dining, and there were 2 choices plus the 24 hour buffet, plus the 24 hour International Café, and the open deck grill and Pizza bar options.
We dined most days buffet breakfast in the Horizon, often had lunch in the traditional dining room (not available in the evening for anytime diners) and then at night, in one of the 2 anytime restaurants. Menu in each is the same as traditional dining restaurant, but we liked the change of waiters, décor and loved being able to eat anytime in the evening between 5.30pm and 10pm. If you had not booked, there was sometimes a small wait, but no great problem.
Two specialist restaurants are available. The Crown Grill (steak) restaurant with $29 surcharge per person, I enjoyed compliments of Princess. Nice table, service and American Steak style, my steak was enormous. It had style and better than I anticipated. The real issue is a specialist restaurant at $60 per couple good vale. In my view no, plenty of choice for free elsewhere.
The International Café was a real bonus. Great informal, pick your choice, from a salad to a cake, great alternative to the full meal service which abounds on the ship.
The buffet at Horizon Court was good value, everything seemed fresh, lots of choice and we thought the food tasted fine. Open most hours was great. Service was good, and their breakfast buffet top class. You read some sharp comments about the cruise buffets; I think they offer excellent value, wide choice and sound presentation. You must be a very fussy eater, if you complain about sub-standard Princess cruise buffets.
A nice touch each afternoon was the English High tea served by waiters in white gloves 3.30-4.30pm, in one of the main dining rooms. Made you feel special!
Available 24 hours at no charge, limited menu but pleasant.
We had an obstructed view ocean stateroom on the 8th level. Pleasant, and while view was substantially obstructed, it was nice to have a peep out. We made the decision not to have a balcony cabin, on cost differential and because we are familiar with most of the Ports we visited, it was the right decision for us.
The design of the cabin made good use of large mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. . Our main cases fitted side by side quite comfortably. Bedside lights have dimmer switches. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower was pressure excellent. Air conditioning was excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. Outside your door on the side is a paper holder with your cabin number on it so that the any newsletters or other information can be left for you. The Television was relatively small, but functional. No noise transference issues on this trip, you need luck with who are your neighbors’, this time quiet.
If you wish to drink bottled wines in your cabin Princess seem to have no problems with you purchasing wines or champagne and bringing them on board at embarkation (Small print says 2 bottles). You can take these wines into the dining room but you will be charged an USD15.00 corkage fee if you take them into the dining rooms
They charge for spring water in your cabin so we always take a water bottle with us and go up to Horizon Court and fill the bottle up with fresh water from there.
PORTS OF CALL
Big ships often mean you are located long distances from City. Ships are coy re detail on Port facilities, and access to City location. They want you to utilize on each occasion the formal ship tours, which are well organized, but costly. Independent travelers are tolerated, but they limit information as a means of keeping the formal tour numbers up. The internet is surprisingly limited re detailed information on Ports of Call (often very dated too), and guide books like Lonely Plant, virtually ignore it.
Mykonos was missed due to wind shear meaning we could not berth, and there were a number of tender ports due to the ship size, which on this occasion started badly, but after an initial shambolic tender, things improved. Santorini and Kotor are mind- blowing ports, and Toulon was pettier than expected, the cruise into harbor pleasant. My thought is any tender Port; the scheduled stay should have at least one hour extension, due to que congestion
Getting off the ship at Rome was excellent. We took a Princess Bus to airport at a pre booked price which I thought was dear, but compared to the $180USpp charge on board, a sound choice .Compared to the high price, and poor transport service options that we experienced in Hong Kong on our last trip, this disembarkation was a breeze
3 Florence & Pisa (Livorno) tender
4 At Sea
5 Olympia (Katakolon):Bad tender
6 Mykonos Town, Mykonos: Could not berth or anchor due to wind
7 Thira, Santorini-tender
8 At Sea
10 At Sea
12 Rome (Civitavecchia)