Crown Princess Cruise Review by janeaustenruns
- Sail Date: April 2010
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Our 7 day Crown Princess itinerary called for 4 port days (Cayman Islands; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico, and Princess Cays). Our last cruise was a 12 day British Isles cruise aboard the Crown Princess last July. We had a good experience on that trip.
We got off to a good start with our first day at sea. With fixed dining, we enjoyed excellent food and service in the dining room and must say our dining steward was the highlight of the trip (if there could be one).
Our first port day was in the Cayman Islands. We used Princess' 'Reef & Wreck Snorkeling' shore excursion, which was a good outing. We snorkeled over the wrecked ship 'Cali' and at another reef. Georgetown (and Grand Cayman) is very upscale compared to many other Caribbean islands (nice and clean), but is also quite modern with not much in the way of scenery (except for the beach/shoreline). Princess maps for their Caribbean destinations only have shopping destinations (not a single landmark) so you have to get your own maps on shore if you want to see anything other than stores!).
Our second port day was in Roatan, Honduras. Instead of docking at the 'old' pier in Coxen Hole (also referred to as 'Downtown' by the locals) we unfortunately docked at Carnival's new 'Mahogany' Pier which is about 5-8 miles east of Downtown. This destination is apparently the result of a $65 million investment by Carnival. The entire complex is brand new, with many stores and then a beach/ water sports area that you can either walk to (or ride a chair life for $8 per person!--why do that when you can walk in about 5 minutes?). However, if one justs stays here, it is like being docked at a modern American shopping mall and you really don't see anything else.
The beach at Roatan Mahogany is OK, but the water is alot more silty and not as clear as the island's west end. We opted for Princess's Clear Kayaking/Snorkeling excursion. This was a good choice as we got a nice drive across the island, which is quite beautiful and lush. As would be expected, there is some poverty on the island, but not as abject as we had feared. Our excursion took us to a lovely area called Gumbalimba Park Beach, which has several adjacent nice hotels. The water and corral is beautiful here.
We returned to the ship and then the problems began. At 5 p.m. the Captain announces that we will be departing late for Cozumel. Per the Captain,"My chart here indicates that if the winds are greater than 25 knots (28 mph) it is not safe to sail out of the narrow harbor". (WHAT? 25 KNOTS (28.5 MPH IS NOT A SEVERE WIND CONDITION). The Captain's plan is to wait 'until the winds die down' and leave at 7 p.m. Everyone is on board and we are just sitting there--no one is allowed to get off. After 2 more announcements, it is now 9 p.m. and the winds have not died down. We go to bed still sitting in Roatan. Finally, at 6:30 a.m., we are finally able to leave.
The captain announces that 'THIS HARBOR (Roatan Mahogany) IS NOT DESIGNED FOR EASTERLY WINDS' and 'WE COULD NOT SAFELY SAIL OUT WHEN THE WINDS ARE OVER 25 KNOTS'. (Having been on 9 cruises, we know that 28 mph winds are not severe winds--Didn't the captain know that these winds would come up through the weather forecast. Why didn't we dock further off shore and tender in?). Anyway, we then hear the incredibly disappointing announcement that WE NOW HAVE TO SKIP COZUMEL COMPLETELY and just sail to Princess Cay. WHAT? I BOOKED THIS CRUISE SO I COULD VISIT THE MAYAN RUINS IN COZUMEL!.
I walked up to the front desk and asked why we couldn't do a sea day today, go to Cozumel tomorrow, and then do a sea day on Friday and skip Princess Cay. Princess Cay is private beach island (and the beach is not that great--we have been there before). The front desk person says that cannot answer that question and then asks me to write a letter to the captain. Which I did and did not receive an answer for over 24 hours. Finally, someone calls me back and says "we could not go to Cozumel because of schedule constraints and some passengers could also be upset that we skip Princess Cay".
So we had 2 days at sea and then on to Princess Cay. We visited Princess Cay previously. The beach is OK (a bit rocky and silty), but not great compared to Holland America's Half Moon Cay or other Caribbean beaches. To tell me that anyone would rather go to Princess Cay than Cozumel does not hold water.
So I paid $5k for 2 balcony rooms plus $1.6k in airfare to do a 3 day cruise that brought me to the Cayman Islands, Roatan (a glorified shopping mall destination) and Princess Cay? This is definitely the WORST travel value I have ever had on a cruise--we select cruises based on itineraries.
We plan to contact Princess today to see how they will offer to make good on this huge disappointment. However, we fault Princess (and Carnival) for sailing into this port when they knew of the design flaws. Didn't they have a forecast that the winds would pick up in the afternoon?
Why didn't we anchor further our and tender in? What if the winds didn't let up for 2-3 days--would we have sat there that long? We understand the risks of cruising in bad weather, but 25 knots are NOT severe or unusual wind conditions. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU AVOID THIS DESTINATION WHEN BOOKING A CARIBBEAN CRUISE AS IT CAN CERTAINLY RUIN YOUR TRIP.
We arrived back on Fort Lauderdale. Because of a later flight, we taxi'd over to the Las Olas area in Fort Lauderdale and took the Carrie B harbor cruise. This 90 minute harbor/ canal/ home tour by boat is excellent and is a nice way to end your trip (especially if it's as disappointing as our was). Check out their website by googling 'Carrie B Cruises'. They stored our luggage for us while we took a walk and had brunch.
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