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Made it out of JFK smoothly, despite NY's snow. Princess transfers at airport were fast and easy, and embarkation was just about effortless. We stopped by the cabin to drop off hand luggage, then had lunch at the Lido level buffet that first day, one of the few times we ate there. Luggage arrived in afternoon and meanwhile we explored the ship. As an ice-breaker, the crew had handed out cards for a raffle to be held at sailaway. To enter, you needed to visit and get check-offs from different venues on board. It seemed like a good way to familiarize passengers with the ship. Ship seemed very large at first, but eventually became almost homey as we figured out the layout. The public venues were mainly on levels 5 through 7 and above level 15. Our cabin was on level 5 (Plaza) aft which was very convenient, and we were never disturbed by noise from either the theater (on 6 and 7) or any of the music in the public or gathering areas on 5, 6, and 7. (On the other hand, we were at the very front of the ship and did at times hear what sounded like navigational noises from ship machinery, but not enough to make me regret the cabin choice.) Cabin had twin beds with a table between, a desk/dressing table area, and then a separate closet area by the bathroom. The cabin -- and the ship in general -- seemed faultlessly clean. Our porter serviced our room at least twice a day, and gave us fresh towels every day (or maybe even more often), even though we didn't ask for them. In the public areas, the moment one put down a dirty plate or finished a drink, the table was cleared. Passing through the Plaza late one night, we saw that some cushion covers had been removed for cleaning, and there were frequently people vacuuming the carpeted areas. Bathrooms through the ship seemed spotless. We mainly breakfasted and often lunched at the International Cafe at the Plaza level, just down the hall from our room. Breakfast generally consisted of croissants, muffins, pastries, muesli, or an egg/cheese/ham breakfast sandwich. Starting at lunchtime, there was quiche there each day, as well as vegetable and other salads, shrimp, and basic sandwiches, as well as really delicious ice cream/gelato and fresh-baked cookies. Food there was free except for the ice cream, for which there was a nominal charge. We picked anytime dining, and ate most of our dinners in one of the main sit-down dining rooms. Dining room food was very good, and it was often hard to decide what to get. The dining room staff was very accommodating and friendly. Everyone seemed intent on pleasing. One night we ate at the Crown Grill, which had a $25 up charge. I enjoyed the food and atmosphere there a lot, but we ate there only for variety rather than because of any lack in the other food operations. Occasionally, we had pizza or ice cream from the pool side area on 15. Never made it to the burger grill on that same level. A nice afternoon tea was served every day, though we only went once. One of the highlights of our cruise was participation in the Chef's Table dinner, which we had read about here. We called to put in our names for that as soon as we boarded, and two mornings later found a letter under our door inviting us to meet with the Maitre D' to discuss our interest in participating. That meeting essentially addressed whether we had any food allergies that would affect the menu. A day later, we were thrilled to learn that we were invited to the Chef's Table, which turned out to be an 11 course extravaganza, starting with a galley tour, champagne and appetizers in the kitchen, and a multi-course meal at an extravagantly appointed table. The meal featured a beef carpaccio napolean, lobster risotto, a three-meat course featuring beef, pork and veal flamed at table-side, a pallette clearing bloody-mary sorbet, and then a really delicious stilton mousse with port wine reduction, followed by cointreau mousse on a blown sugar plate with three dimensional cookie adornment -- as well as a plate of handmade chocolates that was decorated with a gorgeous blown sugar dolphin. The women at the table received roses and a copy of the Princess cookbook too. We started with white wine (wasn't paying attention to what), then red, then homemade limoncello, and finally a sweet dessert white. Every penny of the $75/person up charge was worth it. We only hit four of our five port destinations, missing Princess Cay because the waters were too choppy for tender on January 6 when we were due to stop there. Because that wasn't a port that I had been intent on visiting, I didn't miss the stop, and enjoyed the extra sea day instead. We did stop at Dominica, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas, and I enjoyed them all. Rain forest aerial tram on Dominica was enjoyable, but not remotely worth the $99 excursion cost. The rain forest may be home to 170 types of birds, but I don't think we saw more than 5 birds total, if that. Driving on Dominica roads is almost a thrill-seeking activity itself. Hairpin turns, steep drop offs and few guard rails. On Barbados, the Taste of Barbados and Scenic Drive was also fine, but not worth its $79 price-tag. Didn't see that many of the picturesque sites, and lunch at the Sunbury Plantation was tasty but not luxurious. There was a fair amount of waiting around -- including when the bus broke down afterwards and a replacement had to be sent. On Antigua, we did the Antiguan Island Highlights tour ($59) but probably should have done the Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley Heights tour ($49) instead. The difference was that the former also had a stop at a site to watch a not-particularly-gripping multi-media presentation about the island's history. The tour of Nelson's Dockyard -- given by a Park Service docent, not by the excursion company -- was disappointingly short and general. One of the highlights of the museum there is that it has Admiral Horatio Nelson's own telescope as well as wood from the HMS Victory. In response to a direct question, the guide said that she didn't think the telescope was at the museum -- wrong. The Views of St. Thomas excursion ($39) was the most cost-effective of our excursions, even though our particular guide told us very little, explaining that he was a last minute sub for the regular guide who had to babysit that morning. But the sights were lovely, and we enjoyed the ride up the gondola to Paradise Point with its vantage over the city and port. The tour also stopped at the Botanical Gardens. The driver offered to drop us off downtown by the shopping area, and we took him up on that invitation. If you want to shop for jewelry in particular, this is the port to do it. I lost count of how many jewelry stores there were. We went to the shows almost every night and enjoyed them all. It seems that experienced cruisers may be irked by reappearances of shows they had seen before, but everything was new to us and we were impressed by the singing, dancing and staging/sets of the production shows (Motor City, Destination Anywhere and a couple of others). The magician did a great show at the Explorer's lounge and we are still puzzling over how he did some of the tricks. It's helpful to get to the Explorer's venue at least 15 minutes before show-time, because there are limited seats and they fill up early. We also enjoyed the piano music at one of the bars in the evening. Movies Under the Stars was a bit less successful because seats were often at a premium and the screen was hard to see from some angles and the soundtrack often hard to hear. And of course, if it was cold or windy or too sunny, that made it less pleasant to stay put for the duration of the movie. Saw a couple of movies in the theater too. Enjoyed the various trivia contests and other game-type activities, especially the Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed game. Daily puzzlers at the library were also fun. Also a lot of fun was a "cook-off" between the Executive Chef and the Maitre D'. The former demonstrated some really delicious looking dishes and the latter was over-the-top goofy. New Year's was fun out by the pool on the Lido deck. Lively music, a nice vibe, confetti, and champagne (although you had to buy your own). There was a balloon drop inside for those who didn't want to brave the elements. Most of the shows and many of the activities were introduced by the Cruise Director Ron Goodman and the Deputy Cruise Director Stuart Mac. They were warm, and funny and had a great rapport with each other. They genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs and the passengers and added a lot to the cruise. Disembarkation was easy. Labels were distributed to cabins identifying which disembarkation group each person was in (which seemed to depend on flight time, and other factors. We were asked to put our main bags in the hallway outside our cabin around dinner time the night before disembarkation with our group's labels, and we reclaimed them the following morning at the ship terminal. Overall, we had a great time.

New Years Cruise - loved it!

Crown Princess Cruise Review by NYCDynamic

Trip Details
Made it out of JFK smoothly, despite NY's snow. Princess transfers at airport were fast and easy, and embarkation was just about effortless.



We stopped by the cabin to drop off hand luggage, then had lunch at the Lido level buffet that first day, one of the few times we ate there. Luggage arrived in afternoon and meanwhile we explored the ship. As an ice-breaker, the crew had handed out cards for a raffle to be held at sailaway. To enter, you needed to visit and get check-offs from different venues on board. It seemed like a good way to familiarize passengers with the ship. Ship seemed very large at first, but eventually became almost homey as we figured out the layout.



The public venues were mainly on levels 5 through 7 and above level 15. Our cabin was on level 5 (Plaza) aft which was very convenient, and we were never disturbed by noise from either the theater (on 6 and 7) or any of the music in the public or gathering areas on 5, 6, and 7. (On the other hand, we were at the very front of the ship and did at times hear what sounded like navigational noises from ship machinery, but not enough to make me regret the cabin choice.) Cabin had twin beds with a table between, a desk/dressing table area, and then a separate closet area by the bathroom.



The cabin -- and the ship in general -- seemed faultlessly clean. Our porter serviced our room at least twice a day, and gave us fresh towels every day (or maybe even more often), even though we didn't ask for them. In the public areas, the moment one put down a dirty plate or finished a drink, the table was cleared. Passing through the Plaza late one night, we saw that some cushion covers had been removed for cleaning, and there were frequently people vacuuming the carpeted areas. Bathrooms through the ship seemed spotless.



We mainly breakfasted and often lunched at the International Cafe at the Plaza level, just down the hall from our room. Breakfast generally consisted of croissants, muffins, pastries, muesli, or an egg/cheese/ham breakfast sandwich. Starting at lunchtime, there was quiche there each day, as well as vegetable and other salads, shrimp, and basic sandwiches, as well as really delicious ice cream/gelato and fresh-baked cookies. Food there was free except for the ice cream, for which there was a nominal charge.



We picked anytime dining, and ate most of our dinners in one of the main sit-down dining rooms. Dining room food was very good, and it was often hard to decide what to get. The dining room staff was very accommodating and friendly. Everyone seemed intent on pleasing. One night we ate at the Crown Grill, which had a $25 up charge. I enjoyed the food and atmosphere there a lot, but we ate there only for variety rather than because of any lack in the other food operations. Occasionally, we had pizza or ice cream from the pool side area on 15. Never made it to the burger grill on that same level. A nice afternoon tea was served every day, though we only went once.



One of the highlights of our cruise was participation in the Chef's Table dinner, which we had read about here. We called to put in our names for that as soon as we boarded, and two mornings later found a letter under our door inviting us to meet with the Maitre D' to discuss our interest in participating. That meeting essentially addressed whether we had any food allergies that would affect the menu. A day later, we were thrilled to learn that we were invited to the Chef's Table, which turned out to be an 11 course extravaganza, starting with a galley tour, champagne and appetizers in the kitchen, and a multi-course meal at an extravagantly appointed table. The meal featured a beef carpaccio napolean, lobster risotto, a three-meat course featuring beef, pork and veal flamed at table-side, a pallette clearing bloody-mary sorbet, and then a really delicious stilton mousse with port wine reduction, followed by cointreau mousse on a blown sugar plate with three dimensional cookie adornment -- as well as a plate of handmade chocolates that was decorated with a gorgeous blown sugar dolphin. The women at the table received roses and a copy of the Princess cookbook too. We started with white wine (wasn't paying attention to what), then red, then homemade limoncello, and finally a sweet dessert white. Every penny of the $75/person up charge was worth it.



We only hit four of our five port destinations, missing Princess Cay because the waters were too choppy for tender on January 6 when we were due to stop there. Because that wasn't a port that I had been intent on visiting, I didn't miss the stop, and enjoyed the extra sea day instead.



We did stop at Dominica, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas, and I enjoyed them all. Rain forest aerial tram on Dominica was enjoyable, but not remotely worth the $99 excursion cost. The rain forest may be home to 170 types of birds, but I don't think we saw more than 5 birds total, if that. Driving on Dominica roads is almost a thrill-seeking activity itself. Hairpin turns, steep drop offs and few guard rails.



On Barbados, the Taste of Barbados and Scenic Drive was also fine, but not worth its $79 price-tag. Didn't see that many of the picturesque sites, and lunch at the Sunbury Plantation was tasty but not luxurious. There was a fair amount of waiting around -- including when the bus broke down afterwards and a replacement had to be sent.



On Antigua, we did the Antiguan Island Highlights tour ($59) but probably should have done the Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley Heights tour ($49) instead. The difference was that the former also had a stop at a site to watch a not-particularly-gripping multi-media presentation about the island's history. The tour of Nelson's Dockyard -- given by a Park Service docent, not by the excursion company -- was disappointingly short and general. One of the highlights of the museum there is that it has Admiral Horatio Nelson's own telescope as well as wood from the HMS Victory. In response to a direct question, the guide said that she didn't think the telescope was at the museum -- wrong.



The Views of St. Thomas excursion ($39) was the most cost-effective of our excursions, even though our particular guide told us very little, explaining that he was a last minute sub for the regular guide who had to babysit that morning. But the sights were lovely, and we enjoyed the ride up the gondola to Paradise Point with its vantage over the city and port. The tour also stopped at the Botanical Gardens. The driver offered to drop us off downtown by the shopping area, and we took him up on that invitation. If you want to shop for jewelry in particular, this is the port to do it. I lost count of how many jewelry stores there were.



We went to the shows almost every night and enjoyed them all. It seems that experienced cruisers may be irked by reappearances of shows they had seen before, but everything was new to us and we were impressed by the singing, dancing and staging/sets of the production shows (Motor City, Destination Anywhere and a couple of others). The magician did a great show at the Explorer's lounge and we are still puzzling over how he did some of the tricks. It's helpful to get to the Explorer's venue at least 15 minutes before show-time, because there are limited seats and they fill up early. We also enjoyed the piano music at one of the bars in the evening.



Movies Under the Stars was a bit less successful because seats were often at a premium and the screen was hard to see from some angles and the soundtrack often hard to hear. And of course, if it was cold or windy or too sunny, that made it less pleasant to stay put for the duration of the movie. Saw a couple of movies in the theater too.



Enjoyed the various trivia contests and other game-type activities, especially the Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed game. Daily puzzlers at the library were also fun. Also a lot of fun was a "cook-off" between the Executive Chef and the Maitre D'. The former demonstrated some really delicious looking dishes and the latter was over-the-top goofy.



New Year's was fun out by the pool on the Lido deck. Lively music, a nice vibe, confetti, and champagne (although you had to buy your own). There was a balloon drop inside for those who didn't want to brave the elements.



Most of the shows and many of the activities were introduced by the Cruise Director Ron Goodman and the Deputy Cruise Director Stuart Mac. They were warm, and funny and had a great rapport with each other. They genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs and the passengers and added a lot to the cruise.



Disembarkation was easy. Labels were distributed to cabins identifying which disembarkation group each person was in (which seemed to depend on flight time, and other factors. We were asked to put our main bags in the hallway outside our cabin around dinner time the night before disembarkation with our group's labels, and we reclaimed them the following morning at the ship terminal.



Overall, we had a great time.
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