Crown Princess back to back after a Holland America 11 day: Crown Princess Cruise Review by cbhimself

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Crown Princess back to back after a Holland America 11 day

Sail Date: January 2012
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We sailed on back to back Crown Princess cruises from Jan. 14-28, just after an 11 day Holland America cruise from Jan. 2-14. This is a report on the Princess cruise with some comparisons to HAL. The perks on Princess are impressive. At the Platinum level (5 cruises or 50 days completed) we had preferred boarding (by-passed all lines and in our cabin about twenty minutes after arriving at the port) and, on this two-week cruise, had 250 minutes of free Internet time. HAL never gives such free time, and requires a lot more days or cruises for fewer perks. I found the food excellent on both cruises, but neither one able or willing to serve small portions, basically encouraging the waste of food and the waists of passengers. Compared with earlier Princess cruises and with HAL, the service on this cruise has declined. Though the waiters were helpful and friendly, they are overworked. No wine steward means means extra responsibilities and, in spite of waiters often almost running, service More is slow. The dining rooms are noisy, with limited views of the ocean, almost none in the Da Vinci dining room. And we had difficulty getting assigned to a table for an early seating. Evening shows, almost always "sold out" (had to arrive a half hour early to get a seat), tend to the loud Broadway type of song and dance. Varied informal events in the atrium were very good, unlike anything HAL had. This larger ship (about 3000) meant some lines to get off in ports and some waiting at busy times for the buffet. The library is small, poorly lighted, with books locked up except for the limited hours a crew member (not a librarian) is on duty, in contrast with an excellent library and librarians on HAL ships. A variety of movies plays on several movie channels at set (but not always convenient) times, not half as good as the 1000 DVDs available free on HAL. The CNN channel is not at all like the one in the USA, and not as good as HALs, but highly repetitive (Constantly Nothing New, one comedian called it) and limited. Several good music and dance venues, about the same as HAL. Somewhat younger passengers. All things considered, I have a preference for HAL, but would be willing to go on either, depending on itinerary and cost.
We also visited, by tender, Princess Cays, the company's port on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. It is a lovely place, with beaches and water sports. The swimming and snorkeling, with many and varied fish, are distinctly better than HALs Half Moon Cay.
I have some qualms about the cruise life in general. The ships exploit third world labor, though the workers seem happy and are making better wages than they could in their own countries. Carnival owns most of the cruise companies, including HAL and Princess. They tend to build million dollar ports and docks on many of the islands, where they peddle the same expensive, posh merchandise in the same stores: Diamonds-, Tanzanite-, and Colombian Emeralds-International, plus Swiss and Little Swiss watches and some liquor stores. They employ cheap local labor and export the profits to the foreign companies. They try to confine passengers to these business by lectures, TV specials, and maps that show the stores but not much of the cities. I never patronize them and escape the port area ASAP; I can't understand how the stores survive in port after port. But they seem to thrive. We sailed Jan. 2-13 on HAL Maasdam, and on Jan. 14-28 back to back on Crown Princess. This is my evaluation of HAL with some comparisons with Princess. HAL gets a plus for a large, excellent library, with open shelves, a real librarian available most days 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and magazines. It also has a selection of over 1000 DVDs with a player in every room. Every evening an excellent string quartet plays in a quite lounge. The other entertainment is varied. The clientele is older with more walkers, scooters, and wheel chairs that can slow things down (but I'm getting there myself). The comparatively small ship means almost no waiting in line. On the other hand, the perks for HAL (I have over 100 days, 3 stars) are negligible compared to Princess where, with 50 days (Platinum) we get preferred boarding and 250 free minutes on the Internet. The decor on the Maasdam is OK, but inferior to most HAL ships. Decor on Princess, so-so. Food and service on both I consider excellent, though the dining experience on HAL is better. Less

Published 02/24/12

Cabin review: B1C422 Balcony

Paid for "obstructed" view. have had cruises where "obstructed" meant we'd look at a lifeboat all day long. On this "obstructed" we looked over a life boat and could see the ocean all day through the upper half of the large window. That is, there are "obstructed" and "obstructed." Had a Cabin Crawl courtesy of a Cruise Critic meeting (attended by the Captain) and also found we could see many staterooms in the morning of our day in FLL between two cruises. Our cabin also had bunks hung on the wall for 2 more passengers, where we could bump our heads on the way to bed. Some "obstructed" did not have the extra bunks. It would be possible to reserve better ones.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Jan18 Wed. Oranjestad, Aruba. Another clean Dutch city, with local buses just across from the dock. One left for the beaches every hour, but we missed the first and spent an hour in an excellent local museum with many artifacts from pre-history to recent times. Took the next bus to Marmok beach in a residential area. Not many people. First place I tried to get in had a high wall with sharp coral all around; walked a half mile and found a sandy beach, good for swimming, but no fish. There are probably better places to get in. So it goes. Took the next bus back.
Read 1286 Aruba Reviews

Jan 25 Wed. Belize City A grungy kind of coastal city. We'd visited a Mayan ruin on an earlier trip, about an hour away on a bumpy one-lane road with two-way traffic. An interesting place worth the ride, but not a second time. Other interesting attractions are an hour or more away via expensive tours on narrow bumpy roads. So just wandered around the town, learned that a lot of produce is locally grown, found a good internet cafe for $3 an hour to catch up on emails, and then back to ship. (We were supposed to stop at Roatan, Honduras, but waves and winds prevented docking or tendering.)

Jan 26 Thu. Cozumel, Mexico. Been here before and have visitedthe Chankanaab Nature Park, a large beautiful but expensive area with excellent swimming and snorkleing. We take an $8 taxi ride to the "Money Cafe," on the same beach about a mile before the Nature Park, where my partner can sit and read or work crossword puzzles and I can snorkel. My partner feels sad that the cruise is coming to an end. I feel sad too, but also have my usual get-home-itis and am missing family, friends, farm walks, and the daily rut I was glad to escape.
Read 5470 Cozumel Reviews

Jan 17 Tue. Willemstadt, Curacao. Lovely Dutch island with houses in bright primary colors along the harbour. We found taxi/bus and paid $5 for both to the Aquarium. My compaion visited the fish and I walked to Mambo Beach for the best snorkeling I've had so far. There's a big breakwater, and by risking getting scratched by coral through a small channel, one can get out beyond where the waves break up the little critters and lots of beautiful fish come to feed. A bit scary, but I just float up and down in the breaking surf, knowing (and hoping I'm right) that the waves don't usually push one forward. Then the $5 back to the ship.
Read 915 Curacao Reviews

Jan. 21 Sat. Back in Lauderdale at 7 a.m. after the first week of Crown Princess back to back cruise. Will sail again at 4:00 p.m. today. Some experienced cruisers told us we can walk to 17th St. and get a $.50 hop on/off bus that goes along the beach to a Galeria mall. Took about 15 minutes to walk to stop. Didn't get off at mall but rode back to beach for a walk along the Lauderdale beach. Another $.50 hop to a stop at a Ft. Lauderdale art museum, which turned out to be an art school with a some interesting works, mostly artistic photographs of life in contemporary China. Easy walk back to the ship.

23 Mon. Grand Cayman. We have been here before and know where to find a local bus/taxi and where to go: Cemetery Beach. There is excellent snorkeling on a reef perhaps a quarter mile out. I found a British couple; the man planned to swim out and said he'd welcome a companion. We saw a lot of fish and one ray. Then back to the ship.

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