We chose Crown Princess because we wanted to do the British Isle itinerary. We came into Dublin one day early to explore Dublin in depth and to allow for jet lag and/or unanticipated travel snafus. Embarkation was fine as most people ~2,300 come on board in Southampton and only 300 +/- come on board in Dublin. Still, when we disembarked, the staff was slow to inform passengers of the status of the port clearing us and what the next steps were. More information more frequently should be the rule.
SHIP: Ship is dated and time worn. Despite saying that the ship was refurbed in 2018, we saw no evidence that they did any improvements that improved passenger satisfaction. Instead, they installed Medallion monitoring (very concerned about privacy and how they are tracking and using information they collect). They did not provide information on keeping this information in relation to GDPR or our right to be forgotten which is a huge privacy concern. Cleanliness in the vestibule of the elevators/stairs could use a supervisor. For example, for two days straight, there was a smear of something on the elevator call button. Just need much more attention to detail.
CABIN: We were upgraded to a balcony cabin which was nice and the room was clean. However, the door stop was broken off from the wall and the carpet baseboard was no longer sticking to the wall. The bed was a positive and very comfortable. But the rest of the room was 1980s/90s beige and brass and showing its age. For example, they are still using the Love Boat theme song in its safety instructions when most people have never seen the show.
FOOD/DINING: The Cruise Critic summary of the Crown Princess' food is misleading. The food on Crown Princess was VERY poor. The summary was correct that the food in the dining room was better than the buffet, but the food in both places was terrible. The desserts were far from flakey and rubbery and dry and the design of the menu (coordinating starters with mains) did not work well with each other. The buffet in particular was the worst we've experienced in six different cruise lines and food was frequently lukewarm at best. The breakfast buffet was so poor and was the same thing every morning.
ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES: The Wheelhouse Bar singers were quite good and entertaining. The casino was okay, but permitted smoking with only a couple of nights to be non-smoking nights. Still too smoky otherwise. Quite basic. We used the fitness center almost every day. Good selection of machines and we rarely had a crowd and liked being able to look out onto the port as we worked out. What was difficult to understand was that the center did not have large fans on. The air did not work well enough to withstand the heat coming in from the windows. Each treadmill and elliptical had a personal fan, but it was not enough to circulate the air.
SERVICE: Service was not at the level we expected given that we were told that Princess was a a step up from basic Carnival. We are not sure if it is a case of A) untrained staff B) staff not empowered to solve issues/concerns C) Lack of adequate supervision OR a situation involving all three. We also suspect that given that this ship is the oldest in the Princess fleet that it serves as a training ground for first-time crew with limited skills. We also suspect that the longer-tenured and thus more experienced staff transfers to newer ships which leaves fewer experienced supervisors and role models for new staff. For example, I had to ask the buffet crew member to find cleaner tongs and to refill empty fruit trays. The crew members did not act like they had the authority to either resolve the situation or know how to raise the situation to management/supervisors.
PORTS/SHORE EXCURSIONS: The timing in most ports were too short except Dublin which was too long. We did not take any of the Princess excursions and instead took private tours. Princess excursions were dated (we went to Belfast and there were no Game of Thrones options, we were in Southampton and near Highclere Castle (site of Downton Abbey) and no excursions) and were almost all large 80+ people on a bus that drives around spending limited time at any location. The excursions were not experience type of excursions and were much more expensive than private ones. Princess also charged high prices for basic shuttles into town where other cruise lines include this with the cost of the cruise.
SUMMARY: We will not do Princess again. Princess is trying to live on its past reputation, but not doing what is needed to stay in the game in this segment of cruising. If you are considering Princess, I would suggest Celebrity or if food and cabin are very important to you, go with Viking Ocean.
The exterior of the cabin was rusty, but the balcony was a very nice size with plenty of room. Location was quiet and despite being near the bow, was relatively convenient to the elevators/stairs. The chairs were worn and were not as clean as I would like (bird droppings). The door stop was broken off from the wall and the carpet baseboard was no longer sticking to the wall. The bed was new and very comfortable. But the rest of the room was 1980s/90s beige and brass and showing its age. For example, they are still using the Love Boat theme song in its safety instructions when most people have never seen the show.
Gavin Nicholson owns/operates Invergordon Tours of Scotland and does a great job of creating small group excursions that are reasonably priced. He also guarantees that you won't be late for the ship, so there's no worries on that end. He's built the business but one of his guides, Joan, is his secret weapon. A local who knows the area incredibly well and has a wealth of local information. According to others we've dined with, Invergordon was a much better value than Princess, higher quality with longer stops and small groups. We did Dunrobin Castle, Cromartie Firth, Falls of Shin, Falconry, seals, highland coos, Dornoch, Glenmorangie DistilleryView All undefined undefined Reviews