Well, this was only our second cruise with Princess, but it will be our last. We had two further bookings in 2021 with negligible deposits and are cancelling both of them.
Our booking package included a hotel the night prior with transfers from the airport to the hotel, and of course to the ship. We arrived at Miami airport at 11am, searched eagerly for the Princess rep in the arrivals area, as instructed on our booking form, but none was to be found. We walked up and down each arrivals concourse repeatedly and were still searching at 3pm, so much so that even one of the a cleaners came up to ask who it was we were looking for. At 3:30pm I called Princess on an 1-800 number from a payphone, spoke to an agent who then placed me on hold for exactly 20 minutes, probably hoping I would hang up, but I didn’t, so eventually she returned to advise me that all the reps had left for the day and we would have to take a cab and pay for it ourselves. The hotel they booked was half way between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, so at least a 20 minute ride away. I asked if Princess would refund the cost and she advised me they would not, but I could try to talk to someone on board. So we paid $52 and eventually arrived at our hotel, the Shula’s Golf Resort, where we finally met someone from Princess, but who could also not confirm a refund. The good news is that this amount was eventually refunded after speaking with the Front Desk on board.
The hotel was actually very nice, located at Miami Lakes, a nice area with restaurants and up-market shops right outside. The room was contemporary with a smart clean bathroom and, had we arrived earlier, we could have certainly used the lovely pool outside while the sun shone.
Next day we transferred to the ship, a very crowded and chaotic experience at check-in, but eventually we boarded and found our stateroom, B757 looking out over the stern of the ship. The large balcony was nice, the room average, but there was a distinct smell of cooking, (quite often fish) most of the time when on the balcony, which was due to the large extractor fan that was right next door - to the right as you stood on the balcony. There was noise from this, but it did not bother us during the voyage as the way more attractive noise of the ship’s wake overcame it really.
We then attended the safety briefing at which point the Captain advised that, due to the failure of one generator during the previous cruise which had yet to be fixed, there was a need to cut out one port on the itinerary which was to be Grenada. A huge sigh of disappointment emitted around the room, but we were also advised that by way of compensation each guest would receive $100 refundable credit on their account. This was an OK gesture and pacified most people, however, our last trip with Princess also announced a port cut out, again after we checked-in, so I am wondering just how common this may be with them.
The ship appears to be the same build as the P&O Ventura ,on which we sailed earlier in the year and was fabulous, however the Crown Princess looks tired even though it was apparently refurbished a year or so ago. The carpet in the Horizon Court appears faded as if almost threadbare, and the gold paint is literally peeling off inside the elevators and looks extremely shabby. The cabin was OK but there was some serious vibration most of the time during the night and the rocking motion was very noticeable. We have had cabins at the rear before and whilst sometimes there is more movement, it has never been this bad. Fortunately neither of us suffers with any motion sickness, but if you did it would have been an issue.
I had a soda package, but we paid by the glass for my husband’s wine. In the Explorer’s lounge the only Merlot on their menu was priced at $11, to which an 18% service charge is then added which should make the total charge $12.98. However, when we eventually checked our account, we noted that each charge had been posted as $14.16. Believing we may have the service charge incorrect, I checked with the Front Desk what the percentage was and it was confirmed as being 18%. So we queried the charges applied and she returned with the till receipts and said the wine was $12. So my husband produced a photo of the menu taken on his mobile and showed her the only Merlot on the menu as listed as $11. She seemed totally unconcerned that an additional $1 was being applied to every drink and simply offered to remove one of the charges altogether, which we accepted. However, I would advise everyone purchasing individual drinks to note the exact charge applied to your account. Due to the “Medallion” system, you do not automatically get the receipt when you order items, so beware. If they add an extra $1 to every drink purchased on board, what a bonus for Princess that racket is.
We chose not to eat in the MDR after seeing the location of our table in a very dark and dingy end of the room and so ate in the Horizon Court. The food was just OK, some very strange combinations at times, but at least the salads were fresh and crisp and a fairly good range of desert choices.
We took excursions at each port, most were OK, except the trolley tour in Curacao, it was nothing more than a ride through deserted shabby back streets with a stop to photograph the “Weeding Cake” house and a quick visit inside a Church. At a cost of $40 each this was a total waste of money, especially as we all had the joy of queuing for over an hour on the dockside in the baking heat before eventually being loaded into a taxi to get us to the town centre, which we could have walked to in about 15 minutes, as we did on the return. Based on that experience, we cancelled the similar trip we had booked for Dominica. At this port we arrived, not at the main town port, but a container port at least 2 miles from town. A few market stalls set up and so we spent only about 1 hour off the ship here. No other ships in port, so why Princess could not dock at the usual main port is a mystery.
And the final stop of Grand Turk was utter chaos. Due to arrive at 1pm, we had a tour booked for 1:30pm. The ship arrived late at 1:45pm, and so the queue to disembark was absolutely horrendous with no organisation from Princess staff whatsoever, so people were descending in elevators and pushing in, and we stood in line for over an hour in the non-air conditioned art gallery so it was extremely hot and the line did not move at all. Other cruise lines handle this much better with a numbered system ensuring that those on tours disembark in different stages as a group.
The queue still did not move, so by this time we both had had enough and so spoke to the front desk to request a refund of our tickets, but we had to visit the tour desk at 5pm for that, which we did and, in they were indeed duly refunded.
I will say that this was an area in which Princess excelled over several other cruise lines we have been on, their front desk staff were actually empowered to make decisions and issue refunds and did not have to advise people they would “have to contact Head Office” for such purpose.
We had both had high hopes of this trip, a second for us on Princess, but yet again they failed to deliver. The entertainment was dire, the sales pitches continuous from daily Bingo tickets, Spa sessions, Photographs and “medallion “accessories (to accommodate the magnetic disk used in place of the usual cruise-card), some of which are very expensive indeed. You name it they wanted your money for it.
So no, sadly we will not be returning.
Rear facing cabin, small but with larger balcony. Is next to an extractor fan vent from which cooking smells do emit. Also, we noticed a lot more vibration and rocking in this area, we have had other rear-facing on other cruise lines and this cabin experienced way more of both. Its in a very quiet area of the ship though, no kids running past.
If you stay over in Fort Lauderdale, take the water taxi - its $28, or $23 if you are senior, for a whole day of unlimited rides. Its a great way to see everything. There are 3 routes and you can ride them all on the on ticket.
We enjoyed this very much, saw the four main sights and had a really good guide.View All 248 Island Tour Reviews
Don't waste your money, it was a drive through shabby deserted back streets with two stops to take pictures. Also waited dockside for over an hour to be loaded into a taxi to drive to town to meet trolley. You could walk in 15 minutes. Do something else!View All 43 Trolley Tour Reviews
This port was cut out by the cruise line due one of ship'e generators out of service so they could not travel as fast as was necessary to go here. Shame, because been here before and its lovely, especially Grand Anse beach.
Ship docked out of town at a container port. No explanation why could not dock at the usual port in centre of town, no other ships in either.
Was surprised to find it was on an open-sided buggy type vehicle, but it was great and it was fun. Excellent guide, plenty of time at stops and saw loads. Also a great shop at the top of the hill - and it was cheaper than back at the port.View All 291 Island Tour Reviews
Its a very nice beach and cruise port area. We had to cancel our excursion due to the awful experience of trying to disembark the ship, took over an hour so we gave up. Waited till later to walk around the port. Nice huge swimming pool, lovely beach.