Princess or P&O to Canada & New England: Crown Princess Cruise Review by Woolgar-Neil

Crown Princess 4

Overall Member Rating

Princess or P&O to Canada & New England

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: Other
Having sailed with P&O cruises for many years we chose Princess Crown Princess purely because of time constraints. If more time had been available to us we would have cruised with P&O , but as a transatlantic cruise from Southampton to our chosen destinations would have incurred an additional 10 days we chose Princess .

Initially we were very sceptical about our choice but overall I would say we were very pleased with Crown Princess and the overall operations of PRINCESS.

The similarities are very evident on board so I will try and highlight what we saw as the main differences and perhaps expel some of my previous concerns between the two company's.

Firstly, we travelled to Quebec as part of the brochure package which was originally shown as flying to Quebec and boarding there. Six weeks after booking, our confirmation showed that we were in fact booked to fly to Montreal and then be transferred by coach to Quebec. When querying this both with our Travel More Agent and directly with Princess's neither seemed to know why this had changed or how long the coach journey would take. On privately investigating this, I discovered it to be a 3hr coach trip. I also requested that we needed to pay for an upgrade on our return flight from New York as we were purchasing Princess "extended "stay option. Unfortunately I did not feel that the Princess staff handling the request were as efficient as those at P&O

When arriving in Quebec after a long flight and long coach journey in the dark , the welcome was not exactly overwhelming. The staff not sure if they were Princess's or the Port Authority were very abrupt and obviously wanted to go home. There was no P&O courtesy of "we hope you have a lovely cruise and if there is anything you need on board just ask" . We were just told to follow the directions onto the ship after going through endless paperwork at the embarkation desk despite completing and confirming everything on line before hand.

Our cases took over 3 hrs to get to our cabin 2:00 am next morning) which bearing in mind we were the last passengers to arrive was a little disappointing.

Once under way the next day things got a lot better. We found the ship to be very friendly and a very similar layout to the VENTURA and AZURA. The function rooms are a little dark but do create a very relaxing atmosphere. Probably because of the time of the year there was a lack of children on board which does have an impact good or bad.

We had requested a table for 2 and unlike sometimes on P&O we had no trouble with our request. In fact for some reason the 2nd sitting for dinner was always half empty and so there were always tables for two and 6 always available and this was on traditional dining option.

The waiters were extremely courteous and attentive and the Maitre De in our restaurant an Italian gentlemen was a delight.

In respect of the restaurants and the food on board, I would say, surprisingly the portions were smaller than P&O but more than adequate.

There was definitely a smaller selection of food in the buffet area than P&O and bearing in mind unlike P&O where each day you have the choice of formal lunch in the restaurant or buffet lunch, apart from the one sea day no formal lunch restaurants opened.

Also a surprise was the fact that the formal dining room only has the minimal table settings laid out - soup spoons , desert spoons etc are only laid in between each course if needed. Maybe setting a table for dinner with all the condiments is a British thing but none the less it does make a nicer appearance at the table when entering the restaurants.

One advantage of Princess over P&O is that they have retained the additional plain options on the evening menu , something that we missed last year on P&O.

In respect of drinks these are certainly more expensive on Princess. The basic cost of drinks start of higher, and then when the 15% service charge is also added ( This is in addition to your end of cruise tips) drinks are very expensive (Bacardi and coke, whisky and coke Total $12.The entertainment was probably the same standard as P&O, the normal theatre shows , comedian, singer etc. The Atrium had various musicians playing which was very pleasant and the trio's were excellent in the bars - better than recently experienced with P&O.

We thought on tender days the disembarkation for non tours passengers seemed to be very slick, previous experiences on ships with 3,000 passengers has been very slow but Princess have this sorted, hardly any time was lost - despite weather conditions causing early delays all went well and we did not feel that because we had not purchased a trip we weren't left on board for ages.

We did purchase two tours which included a lunch on each occasion.- $140 each person each trip) Whilst the tours were good we were a little disappointed with the lunches. In the past we have experienced select restaurants with waiter service (just like being aboard) but on these two occasions the food was buffet and were accommodated in large conference rooms so that a far greater number could attend. Not sure this was value for money , however the tours were well organised and well curated.

The port lecturers were televised but appeared to be a curator just reading directly from notes. This was not as professional or as well organised as P&O and the tours desks lines with queries was horrendous.
Cabins are of similar standard to P&O very well maintained and cabin stewards very attentive. On P&O you can expect room service and kettles in cabins, however due to safety issues kettles are not provided so we just ordered tea each morning from room service as we had already paid for on board gratuities. Not quiet sure why kettles are seen as a risk as electric hairdryers are fitted on the walls (which could be left on - dangling in cabins) and there are irons in the launderettes.

Laundrettes on Princess are not free . You will need to pay $2 for a washing machine and $2 for a tumble dryer again this is free on P&O.

My husband however was very pleased that Ice creams are available all day on the deck for free. Something that P&O had as one of its traditions but has sadly relinquished on.

Overall I found that Princess were more accommodating to customer needs than P&O have become over recent years, staff are exceedingly friendly and everything is very well organised.

I would certainly have no reservations on travelling with Princess again but if travelling from Southampton on our next cruise and we had to choose between Princess or P&O, I would have to say we would go with P&O , only because of the extra charges and cost of things on Princess. Less

Published 10/14/11

Cabin review:

Port and Shore Excursions

Tender here. On our visit we had rain all day so decided to take a bus tour from the town $20 so that we could see the Park from the inside of the coach. The town has lots of shops and as you walk up the hill from the port there is a shop along the first turning that provides the free shuttle to the National Park and there you can hop on and off all day different shuttles. This had been our original plan but weather did not entice us to walking around, but would definitely do this on a nice day - research before you go.

Port a little way out and although the cruise ship offer shuttles these come at a cost. Best option is to walk 100 yards to your left as you leave the ship and there will be two companies operating trolley tours for around $20 . This not only gets you to and from the ship but also enables you to have a narrated tour of the city which you can hop on and off all day, much better value than the ships transfers.
Read 495 Boston Reviews

Docked at Charlottetown right on the quayside where there is a permanent Tourist Info building. Where we pre booked cycles to hire from a company at the Tourist centre $31 all day hire and cycled all around the coast and into the town on our return. An excellent way to see the town - albeit we did not see the famous attraction outside of town re ANNE of GREEN Gables. Micro Brewer in town which had the best fish and chips ever- well worth a visit even for a coffee.

Another accessible port, ship docks right along side main quay area, which is great for a walk right along quayside which has great restaurants , shops etc, and then you can walk the hill up to the garrison. Excellent army museum you could easily spend 2hrs or more if interested in military history. We hired a car for the day $52 (you need to pre book) which enabled us to drive out on the scenic route to Peggys Cove . The advantage of this was that we could spend as much time at Peggys cove as we wanted. Coach passengers are herded everywhere and actually get very little time seeing around the hamlet and all the small houses.Also time it right - about 12:30 and not too many people are there . Coached are arriving all morning up till 12:00 then it dies off till about 2:00
Read 570 Halifax Reviews

We arrived in New York as the last port of call where we had purchased from the Cruise company an extension package in New York - Inter Continental Hotel Times Sq. Transfer to the hotel was okay, but we had no courier/ Princess rep on board. Be prepared for rooms not being ready until 4:00 pm we arrived at 12:00 noon. Hotel staff not particularly good at arranging safe keeping of luggage if you want to tour around in the afternoon. The reception staff do not tell you there is a room in the basement where cases can be stored( do not leave valuables) speak with the Bell Boys they are more obliging to sort this out for you. Our Princess rep apparently only gets to the Hotel at 2:00 pm on the change over day so again it could mean hanging around eroding your additional time. Good breakfast cafe around the corner excellent food great value.

Ship docks opposite old town and the Civilisation Museum whole City is easily accessible and walkable.

Medium size time , very busy the day we were in port, about 15 minutes walk from ship. We purchased a canoe trip on board which was great saw eagles and wildlife .

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