Roatan Fiasco: Crown Princess Cruise Review by ORBay

Crown Princess 4
Member Since 2010
19 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Roatan Fiasco

Sail Date: April 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We have been to S Carribean with HAL once, and this W Carribean with Princess is our second cruise. I traveled with my teenage son from Maryland. We stayed in the Crown Plaza at Port Everglades the night before the cruise which was very convenient. The hotel rate was reasonable and the shuttle from the airport and to the port was convenient and cheap. We booked a post cruise tour of Fort Lauderdale with a new service that Gray Lines just introduced in that area. It is a combination of pax transfer, luggage transfer by Bags to Go, and the Water Taxi tour. It went very smoothly, and costs less than taking taxi or hotel shuttles, etc. The water taxi drops you off at lunch places, and shows the millionaire row with their yachts. Beats waiting at the airport which has no entertainment.

The embarkation was pretty good and fast. We arrived at 12:45PM even though Princess asked specifically to not show up before 1PM. The line was not that long. The longest wait was in the More gangway where people have to put their cruise card in the reader and take a quick picture for security purposes. Next time we will get there at 2PM when there was no line at all. The disembarkation was even faster. Just walk down and leave. Most people want to leave before 8AM or walk their own luggage. I don't know how the line was at 8AM. We just followed the ship's schedule and left at 9:30. The slowest part is the U.S. Immigration, about 15 minutes. Nothing Princess can do about that.

As expected for this Spring Break cruise, there were lots of kids and teachers on board. Lots of teenagers too, which my son enjoyed every evening from 11PM to 1AM. I don't know what they do since I am not allowed in that area. I guess I don't want to know. But the activities are monitored by staff, so I guess it is better than leaving them loose in a mall.

We started eating at assigned seats at a table for two. By the third evening we were bored, and moved to the anytime seating sharing a table for 8. Waiting was not an issue as we like early dinner at 6PM. We never went to the buffet because we simply prefer a more relaxed meal, chat, and have good service. Even though it takes longer. But what is the rush? The name of the dishes are more impressive than their substance. And they are pretty small, which is just fine. Let me put this way: no one stays hungry in a cruise, OK! I found the hamburger and pizza weak, not as good as McDonald and PizzaHut. That tells you that this is not a fancy cruise, but a value cruise. Food in general is done on a budget, unless you go to a specialty restaurant. Let's just say that I prefer Legal Seafood or Cheesecake Factory. But we still enjoyed every meal, especially the service.

The shows were OK, but I think that HAL has better shows. I thought the hipnosis show was a little wacky. I am a skeptic, so I don't believe in hipnosis, at least not this way. But it was entertaining. The adult karoake was pretty impressive. We got some real talents here. Dang, some of these folks are TV material.

Now let me go into the port reviews. Let me start with the last port: Princess Cays since its not available in the pull down menu. We found it to be way too crowded. They should allow pax to roam the island instead of confining everyone to such a small area. The barbeque was low quality and the buffet lines were slow. There are always a few pax staring at the potato salad or the hot dogs as if they are making up their minds whether to buy a house. The tendering to and from the island was very slow. They need to figure out something more efficient. They said the last tender back to the ship was 3:15PM. By 2:45 the line was so long that we just went back to the beach because we knew that there is no way they could be done by 3:15. We napped at the lounge chairs and finally got back to the ship around 4:00. The snorkeling right at the shack where they rent snorkeling gear is pretty good. I even found a lobster there. Less

Published 04/26/11
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Cabin review: BCr235 Balcony

We stayed in R235, forward and high up. There was a chemical smell that is hard to describe in the hallway around R235. I complained about it to several staff, but I don't think anything was done about it because the smell stays the same for the entire cruise. I walked all over the ship and it smells only in front of our cabin. I have no idea what it was, but eventually decided to ignore it. The head in our cabin occasionally would emit this typical sewage odor. I didn't complain about this because this is pretty common in boats and ships. My mattress was clearly sagging in the middle and it was lumpy. The pillows were a little tired also. After several complaints they finally replaced my mattress with a similar one after two days. At least they tried, but I guess you are just not going to get a pillow-topped mattress with their budget. They upgraded our cabin from an outside window to this balcony cabin which we are very grateful. Talking to other pax, apparently they made several upgrades free of charge. Our balcony is small, but very pleasant and it makes you feel you are at sea. I heard many people complain about the motion of the ship. For the first two days, it was calm. The rest of the trip was more boisterous. Perhaps a lower and more centered cabin would be more steady. We were joking that the folks from Japan would have a nightmare in this cabin because at night it feels like little aftershocks. I am prone to seasickness, but for some reason the motion didn't bother me. My son complained a little of seasickness, but refused to take Dramamine.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We really enjoyed Cozumel. I took my teenage son to the Discover Scuba with Island Marketing. They picked a very small diving operator for this. At first I was worried because the lesson was given in the parking lot/bushes. But I think the operator Juan gave an excellent introduction to Scuba, as good as you can expect in 45 minutes. There were only three people and myself who is certified and went along to be sure everything was safe. I saw some other operators with larger groups of novices, and the lecture was not at the same level we had. Juan had good control of the situation and ensured safety. Everybody had a good time, and Paradise reef was perfect for the purpose. Not as good as Palancar, but good for beginners. Then we went back to the ship and took a quick shower. We went back to land and rented a scooter for only $20. We had a blast with the scooter, such a good deal. It was my son's first experience riding a scooter, and we circled the island just in time to be back to the ship's departure. We had lunch in a not so touristy joint, went to the downtown market to haggle some, and got some good souvenirs. We packed as much fun as one can in a 6 hour period.
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I booked the Buccaneer catamaran sting ray and snorkel with Island Marketing. Perhaps the other tours in GC are better, but I was not impressed with this tour. The main problem was the size of the crowd. They put us with a huge group from Vancouver. I think we had 30 people on board. Their advertisement mentions small groups. I think we had the largest group of all boats anchored in Stingray city which was way too crowded in my opinion. We were the only ship in port which is unusual. Normally there would be several ships in town. I can only imagine what it would be with half a dozen ships if Crown Princess alone made Stingray City crowded. Our guide tried to help all 30 pax, but had a hard time going through his routine for each pax. He tries to capturing a ray, let you take picture, get it to rub your back, and give you the chance to kiss the ray. I eventually went to the guide from a neighboring boat since it is just 20 feet away. That chap was much more helpful and did not have to help a large crowd. The whole thing was just too artificial. Yes, it is OK if you have never snorkeled in your life or seen a ray. But I have had ray encounters in the wild that was more amazing. The two snorkel stops that follow Stingray city was disappointing. There just weren't enough fish and the coral was a little tired and monotonous. Again, if you have never snorkeled, it would be OK. I am sure that GC has many other amazing snorkeling sites; and suggest that IM pick another operator.

Roatan was supposed to be the highlight of the cruise. But Princess could not dock at their own port in Mahogany Bay due to high winds. I think it was 25 MPH winds, but Princess claims gusts up to something like 49 MPH. The fact is that it was a beautiful Spring day. Yes it was a bit windy, but it is to be expected for Spring in that area. The truth is that their port was poorly designed and they should just scrap that port and use another one in Roatan. We could see the Oasis of the Seas docked in another port nearby. How does that make you feel huh? Now the worse part was how Princess handled the fact that they could not dock. They made no attempt to compensate the pax, other than refunding the $9.50 port fee. They did not even try to offer ship tours, which for me would have been very interesting. They kept blaming the weather. They know that putting the blame on mother nature is the easiest way to placate angry customers. But mother nature does what it is supposed to do. They are the ones who are ill prepared, and lack customer service.
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Member Since 2010
19 Forum Posts
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