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348 Princess Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

First Med cruise and first cruise with Princess. It exceeded our expectations. Everything was perfect. Staff were so nice. Food was fantastic. The activities and shows were all very good. Such nice treatment from all the crew. We met ... Read More
First Med cruise and first cruise with Princess. It exceeded our expectations. Everything was perfect. Staff were so nice. Food was fantastic. The activities and shows were all very good. Such nice treatment from all the crew. We met people from all over the world. This cruise had started in Singapore, picked up some more people in Dubai and then Rome, where we got on. 10 days of spoiling from all the crew on Sapphire Princess. The excursions were very good, we took the one to Juno beach. It was fantastic, and they had a speaker on the D-day landings, aboard the ship. The excursion in Portugal to Sintra and Cascais was excellent. It was so beautiful, both places. We really enjoyed Gibraltar and Monaco. The International cafe in the piazza was fantastic. All the restaurants, provided excellent service, everyday. The food was hot, and very good. We ordered Room service every morning and it always arrived promptly. The entertainment was great, and varied. We also tried the two speciality restaurants, the Steak house and Sabatinis. Both were very good. The pizza restaurant was good as well. So many bars, but lots of quiet spaces to find some space. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. The crew is excellent and the true wealth of the Princess Cruise Line. The balcony cabin on the Aloha deck was tired and in need of a serious makeover. The food on this cruise was ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. The crew is excellent and the true wealth of the Princess Cruise Line. The balcony cabin on the Aloha deck was tired and in need of a serious makeover. The food on this cruise was sub-standard and poor quality--tough pork and beef--poor selections--fish (trout) that the wonderful waiter told me not to order--he had already returned several portions to the kitchen from other diners. We enjoyed the ports and the beautiful views and slept very well on the new mattresses but the cabin had peeling wallpaper and stained carpet--our wonderful cabin steward made it as comfortable as possible. This is our second (and last) problematic cruise with Princess. Their shortcuts are showing and it is not pretty. Other passengers commented to our party of four about the poor food quality. We spent extra to have burgers at the Salty Dog Pub--2 of the 4 burgers were tough and grizzly. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
How can they have a Mo Town Review with no black performers? They put one man in a black afro... In other performances, wonderfully talented singers and dancers were stuck with mediocre material. The Crown Band was great. The Magic ... Read More
How can they have a Mo Town Review with no black performers? They put one man in a black afro... In other performances, wonderfully talented singers and dancers were stuck with mediocre material. The Crown Band was great. The Magic to Do show was fun. We liked Eileen Gray and the 3 Tenors. There was a problem with people saving seats. Princess needed to give out tickets and if people didn't show, open up the empty seats for standby. I would have liked to have known in advance the activities and entertainment, not just the night before so we could plan ahead. A full third of the ship was Chinese with limited English. It would have been nice if Princess had subtitles overhead as the opera often does so they could follow along, especially with the comics. The music in the atrium was wonderful and I caught the tail end of a band on the top deck who sounded great. My nook broke so I went to Princess's library...There were maybe 200 books with a very odd selection to choose from. Princess need to spend some money on enlarging the choices. We did not do any Princess excursions but booked on own for half the price and travelled in Mercedes Mini vans instead of a big bus. We loved the afternoon tea which was so relaxing after a busy day. The tea and food was exceptional. The food in the main dining room was good but not particularly adventurous. The steak was overcooked the night we had it. The vegetables, on the other hand, were exceptional. They were a delight each night. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Good service, food and entertainment but public areas need new upholstery- old, stained and grimy. The excursions were enjoyable except for the “foodie walking tour of Naples”. We paid a lot for tiny portions eaten on our feet. Walk ... Read More
Good service, food and entertainment but public areas need new upholstery- old, stained and grimy. The excursions were enjoyable except for the “foodie walking tour of Naples”. We paid a lot for tiny portions eaten on our feet. Walk around on your own. Our foodie tour in Rome was much better. Toni Brancatisano did an excellent job of showing us her local places. Our archeology tour in Santorini was educational and the wine tasting and lunch were good. Katakalon was interesting and our guide was excellent. You’ll miss a lot if you do it on your own. The production shows, as always, were well done. The guest performers ranged from comedians to musicians to opera singers to Broadway stars. The guest lecturer had worked in the tv/movie industry for 30 years and we looked forward to his lectures. The singer in Crooners, Tommy McPhee, was great and we liked the Maridor Duo in Wheelhouse. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise mainly based on the itinerary but also our only previous cruise experience had been with Princess on an Alaskan cruise and we had a great time. Overall we had a wonderful trip and really didn't have any of the ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly based on the itinerary but also our only previous cruise experience had been with Princess on an Alaskan cruise and we had a great time. Overall we had a wonderful trip and really didn't have any of the negative experiences/issues I had read about on this site. We had one of the club class mini suites which has a more central location on the ship but the main perk was the club class dining which is an area of the main dining room with expedited seating. Only having one prior cruise I don't have much to compare the room or the ship to but it was perfectly clean and didn't show any signs of advanced "wear" or "tiredness" I had read about. Now nothing is brand new, I think the ship was built in 2006, but everything looked great and all the ship's spaces were pretty cool. The bed was extremely comfortable. Embarkation/disembarkation was flawless As for our overall dining experience, the food was very good, I don't think its gonna be local restaurant "blow your mind" food but we were always happy. Full disclosure, we did not eat at the Horizon buffet, but dined mainly in the MDR and tried all the specialty restaurants. The shore excursions were all booked through princess and were wonderful, amazing places. Nothing negative to say, especially loved our tour guide in Santorini, he was hilarious. Entertainment on the ship was nothing special but again I don't have much to compare it to, but we missed one of the main shows because there was no seating left. Service was amazing as noted in previous posts Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Recently returned from the Crown Princess Grand Mediterranean Cruise 10/23-11/3/18 Barcelona to Rome Booked this cruise about 6 months out with free gratuity sale. This was our 17th cruise on various cruise lines (NCL, Princess, ... Read More
Recently returned from the Crown Princess Grand Mediterranean Cruise 10/23-11/3/18 Barcelona to Rome Booked this cruise about 6 months out with free gratuity sale. This was our 17th cruise on various cruise lines (NCL, Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean). First time to this dream destination Mediterranean Cruise! We are two couples. Used Princess EZ Air for the first time and was happy with the prices which were lower than anything we checked directly with the airlines. It’s a bit confusing to choose flights, and it’s like playing the slots as different prices would come up. Anyway, the best for us ended up being ticketed by British Airways, but flying American one way and Aer Lingus coming back. And even though both couples booked at the same time, we couldn’t get the same price. The Princess EZ Air desk said it was just an allocation issue. Once we booked, we didn’t keep checking for anything better, as we were too busy researching and booking all the other tour components for the trip with only 6 months to do it. Had looked at many itineraries, but this one seemed perfect to us! And this would be our longest cruise to date at 11 nights. I tend to over-research, but always find valuable info here on CC. So thank you to everyone here that offers tips and advice. We had inside cabins and used anytime dining with short waits with a pager some nights and no wait others for a table of 4. Bedding was extremely comfortable, and cabin was as I remembered with plenty of space for storage and a nice large closet, and large safe. Bathroom is smallish, but nice, with the exception of the clingy fabric shower curtain. I prefer a glass door, like the Celebrity Silhouette offers. Enjoyed having Princess robes. We had one large, mostly non-English speaking Asian group booked on our cruise. They had translated announcements and their own Mandarin Patter. Our room steward Cristian, from Romania was excellent with twice daily room refreshers and kept our ice bucket full. Sunday, 10/21 Arrive Barcelona Flew nonstop Chicago to Barcelona with American airlines. Sunny day in the 70’s. Took taxi to Hotel Lleo where we spent two nights. We loved this hotel for the charm, location, price and breakfast buffet. We had renovated double rooms with a small balcony facing the street. Very clean and comfortable rooms. The location is about 2 blocks from Placa Catalunya, so great spot to walk to the area attractions and the Ramblas. We headed out to explore on foot and stay awake to battle jet lag. Secured our belongings to avoid any issues with possible pickpockets and strolled the Ramblas enjoying the sights including Miro’s pavement mosaic, as far as the lovely Placa Reial, where we stopped for a drink and to listen to some live Spanish Guitar. Next we found Irati Tavern where we enjoyed a lite dinner of delicious, affordable pintxos (appetizers on toothpicks that you choose yourself) and wine. When you are finished, they add up the toothpicks on your plate for your bill. Enjoyed visiting the first of many churches on this trip – the Betlem on the Ramblas. Back at the hotel, we enjoyed the night lights view from the roof of our hotel, which is lovely and also has a swimming pool and deck chairs. Monday 10/22 Barcelona Sunny day again in the 70’s. At our hotel we enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet spread with many choices including wine for breakfast?! Prebooked a tour with Barcelona Day Tours based on great reviews here and on TA. Loved that they pick you right up at your hotel in a mini-bus. Our city tour had about 8 people on it. The ½ day city tour showed us many highlights including a few stops for photos, an inside tour of Gaudi’s Parc Guell, and an outside tour of the unbelievable Sagrada Familia, along with the Olympic sites on Montjuic and a ride down Passeig de Gracia to view the Block of Discord and the Gaudi buildings. Our tour guide Mirabel was excellent and we loved the tour and the introduction to Barcelona. After getting dropped off at our hotel, we headed out to Placa Catalunya for lunch at the El Corte Ingles Department Store 9th floor food court (house wines from a self-serve tap) with reasonable prices and fantastic views of Barcelona. Next, more exploring of the Ramblas, including the very colorful and tasty Boquiera Market (affordable fruit, meat and cheese snacks, in addition to tapas and drinks). We explored the Gothic District, including beautiful Barcelona Cathedral (I believe it was 7 euros fee) with the outstanding rooftop view included with your ticket, using a downloaded Rick Steves audio guide on our phones. Also, check out the geese in the courtyard. Enjoyed more tapas and wine for dinner. A very full day with jet lag. Tuesday 10/23 Barcelona Embarkation Day Sunny day in the 70’s. Prebooked the inside audio guide tour of Sagrada Familia for 9AM. Worked out perfect and were stunned by the beauty of the church. Definite must see, perfect reflective way to start our day in thanksgiving for this amazing trip of a lifetime. Checked out of the hotel at noon. Taxi rank right out front where we got a cab to the port. Arrived about 12:30pm with no real wait to check in and got called to board within 15 minutes! We have been on the Crown about 9 years ago, and we enjoyed getting reacquainted with her and the recent renovations. Overall everything appeared to be in good shape to us. I remembered that the buffet had two identical sides to it, but I forgot how small each side is compared to our most recent cruises on Celebrity. People aren’t sure which way to go on this cafeteria style buffet with free standing salad bar area in the middle. These did tend to get crowded at times and early mornings were very hard to find a seat on this port intensive itinerary. It’s nice to have the staff bring you drinks such as coffee, or use the self-serve. They also have another mini buffet aft, that has random times. Plenty of food choices, but more about that at the end of this review. Signed up for the Princess @ Sea service to be able to text sister and BIL that we were travelling with, but it didn’t turn out very useful as it doesn’t ding when someone texts you. You need to just keep checking it which I didn’t want to do on vacay. The staff said they are working on a fix for that for the future. After sailaway, the Captain updated that winds would be strong tonight, so waves would be high. I took a preemptive non-drowsy Dramamine. I also use ginger pills and gin-gin candy. It was a bit rough and woke me about 3am, but I didn’t get sick and didn’t see anyone having any issues. The other 3 in my group had no issues with it. Wednesday 10/24 Toulon, France Bonjour! Sunny 70’s…Loving this weather! As we knew we might still be jet-lagged, we chose an easy ½ day Princess Tour: Scenic Drive, Sanary-Su-Mer & Bandol, which are two quaint seaside villages. Our guide was good and we had free time to stroll on our own in both villages and enjoy a cappuccino and wine. Bandol was bustling with their large, colorful weekly outdoor market. We also had a quick stop for a photo where she showed us grapes on the vine and olive trees. Liked our choice which allowed us to enjoy lunch on the ship and activities. I believe it was this evening that there was a medical evacuation, which I think was handled by boat, not helicopter. It was announced while we were eating dinner and was taken care of rather quickly, but the ship did have to backtrack bringing us slightly late into Livorno the next day. Hopefully the person was okay after medical treatment. Thursday 10/25 Livorno, Italy Buongiorno! Partly cloudy/sunny later 60-70’s. Here 3 of us chose the Princess Tour: Best of Florence & Pisa all day tour including lunch and inside visit of Accademia in Florence to see David, with our excellent guide Sam, who gave us his cell phone number in case we got separated at any point at the crowded sites. Started with the visit to Pisa, where we had about 45 minutes to explore on our own. Beautiful buildings including the leaning tower, where everyone is taking photos holding the tower up! 90 minutes to Florence where we had about a 15 minute walk from the large bus to the historic areas of Florence. Along the way, we saw the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River from afar. Next to the Piazza Croce for a view of the church and time for lunch at a quaint restaurant with a room in the back for our group (can’t remember the name) Delicious food and wine included. Refreshed, we had a quick stop at the leather shop for a demo of embossing and then a little free time in the Piazza for shopping or in our case a quick cappuccino. Continuing on we walked as a group to the Piazza Della Signoria with the David replica and other statues, and the Duomo and Baptistery with the stunning golden Gates of Paradise doors, for fantastic outside views and commentary from our guide. Lastly, we toured the Accademia with skip the line tickets, to see David, which was amazing and we were surprised how tall the sculpture actually is. This museum also houses the haunting Rape of the Sabine women statue, which is beautifully carved, but disturbing. Don’t miss the Prisoner sculptures and Pieta leading up to David. Waiting outside we learned that one couple from our group was missing. That museum is not large, so not sure how they got lost or didn’t pay attention to time. Unfortunately, all of us had to stand outside waiting for about 45 minutes. They still hadn’t showed up, so we all walked 15 minutes backed to the bus. Lo and behold the nice guide had found them by phone and they were put in a cab to meet us at the bus. Nice for them, but annoying for the rest of us. We returned late to the ship, but were okay because it was a Princess Tour, so they didn’t leave without us. Not so good for the people on early dining who arrived back after their set dining time began. So people, be considerate of others on your tour and return on time to the meeting points!! Other than that, we loved the tour. It’s a full day to get all that in, but we probably won’t be back, so it was worth it. My sister had already been to Florence, so she chose the Princess Cinque Terre Tour, which is also an all day tour because it is far from Livorno, but unfortunately does not include lunch for that expensive price. She liked it, but did not love it. She was actually a bit disappointed that it didn’t look like all the color enhanced photos that we see of it. Of course, that’s personal opinion, and she was glad she saw it, but felt that Positano and the Amalfi coast was just as lovely, if not more beautiful. Enjoyed the comedian, Rikki Jay that evening in the Princess Theatre. Friday, 10/26 Sea Day Mostly sunny, but cool breezes on deck. Not really swimming weather, but some were. Did enjoy the hotubs however. Really needed this restful day to regroup. Attended the CC Meet & Greet, with a nice turn out,including many doing the transatlantic segment. Did some trivia. Caught some of the port talks. One of the highlights of the day was passing close by the volcanic island of Strombolli, and later through the narrow Strait of Messina with terrific views of Sicily and Calabria. Attended a Captain’s circle party (our third Princess cruise) and received a voucher for a free drink anywhere on the ship, which was nice. First of two formal nights. Enjoyed watching the Captain’s champagne waterfall in the piazza, with complimentary champagne. Delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, shrimp and fancy chocolate dessert. Loved the Tre Amici opera group in the Princess Theatre. DH watched Jurassic Park on MUTS with blanket, popcorn and pizza. Saturday 10/27 Katakolon, Greece (Olympia) Kalimera! Sunny 60’s-70’s. I learned prior to leaving home from my independent tour operator that this port would now be tendering. We had pre-booked the Niki Olympic Tour "Olympia Explorers" - 6 hour semi-private tour, includes lunch. Because it is not usually a tender port we had to get early spots to ensure we made the tour. We got in line ready to go at 8:15am by the Michaelangelo restaurant for a 9am open to ensure we got an early tender, which we did, after waiting a short while in the DR and a delay as they changed sides of the ship for tenders due to swells in the water. I know it’s unavoidable at some ports, but I am not a fan of the hassle of tendering. Our Niki Olympic Tours Greek tour guide Georgian was waiting for us and our small group of 8 was ready to go on a mini-bus. She was a wealth of information about Greece. We visited an olive press factory, where we had a nice tasting with snacks. On to Olympia for a very informative tour from our same guide. This location really needs a guide to enjoy it. She also found a few spots to give us shade while she spoke. She made the history of the Olympics come alive and when we ran the course she honored us with olive branches to adorn ourselves! Cooling off in the bus, we headed to a beautiful Greek Taverna up in the hills that Rick Steves uses on his tour: Bacchus Taverna. This place is beautiful and we sat out on a covered patio that had great views of the hillside. They were using the plastic window cover as the weather is changing at this time of year and can be too breezy. We had an amazing pre-fixe authentic Greek meal of olives, Greek type bruschetta, Greek salad with a slab of amazing feta cheese, bread, Greek fire water liquor, choice of white or red wine, an eggplant dish and a choice of entrée of rooster or lamb dishes that were both delicious. And, of course, Baklava for dessert. The owner’s son showed his pride in his restaurant by telling us of his mother’s family recipes and showed us actual Olympic torches that both his father and brother have officially carried after the torch lighting in Olympia! Loved this tour. Back in town, we had time to browse the colorful streets and stores, stopping by the small beach before getting in the long tender line (took about 45 minutes to board). Enjoyed the buffet this night which was featuring some tasty Oktoberfest items (based on the time of year, not ports of call); did some trivia and listened to some wonderful Greek music in the Piazza performed by X-Trio. Sunday 10/28 Mykonos Sunny 70’s. Beautiful sail in. The dock is a little further out for walking, so you need some transportation to Mykonos town. We would be DIY walking tour today. We chose the water taxi for 2 euros each way pp. Takes you right into town at the dock near the cute little church Agios Nikolakis. We knew that this was a special holiday –Ochi Day celebrating anniversary of the “No” to Mussolini in WWII. There would be a parade around noon with all the school children. First we strolled the waterfront past some shops, the beautiful Church of Paraportiani with amazing photo ops against the blue Med sky, until Little Venice where we stopped for cappuccino and lovely views of the windmills. On to the windmills and more of the delightful white and blue streets of Mykonos. So much to see around every little corner. Around noon we gathered to watch the parade which was a delight to see many of the children in their authentic Greek costumes. All the Greek families were out to enjoy the day. After the parade, the families either ate right at the port restaurants or gathered at homes to celebrate. We enjoyed some Greek beer and snacks. We walked up to the Boni Windmill which offers great views above Mykonos port. Back to see the beach and heard the Greek music begin for the celebration of Ochi Day. Much merriment and dancing, which the locals were happy to pull the tourists in to join them, in their traditional circle dance. We were very thrilled to be able to visit here on this special day for the local flavor of this beautiful island and the warmth of the people. After another beautiful sunset, we enjoyed the Surf and Turf (shrimps) in the dining room this evening. Monday 10/29 Santorini Sunny 70’s!! This was one of those ports I had dreamed about and sold me on this cruise. Another tender port that sometimes gets cancelled, so we were thrilled we made it. The tender was fast. We had pre-booked another Niki Tour – The Oia Experience. This tour takes you by boat from the tender dock (to avoid the cable cars, steps or donkeys up) directly to a dock closer to Oia. After a 25 minute boat ride with beautiful views of the cliffs and white village on top which look like snow, we walked a short but steep walk uphill to our mini-bus of 16 people to begin continue on to Oia. Our guide Kevin is an American transplant to Santorini and very knowledgeable about the island. This tour gets you quickly to Oia to avoid some crowds and allows 2 ½ hours in the village partly on your own after his walking tour, which leads to the fort. Breathtakingly beautiful on this sunny day. The blue domes looked exactly as I had seen them in photos. Next we saw more of the island as we travelled to Venetsanos winery for a private wine tasting with snacks. Beautiful views and good wine. Lastly, we stopped for photos at the Blue Domes of Firostefani with amazing views of the Caldera and our ship in the distance, on our way back to Fira. On our own now, we once again enjoyed exploring the interesting Fira streets dotted with shops and restaurants. We worked our way back to the cable car line which was really long with only one ship in port (don’t know how this works with more ships). We decided to walk down the donkey path instead. It definitely is a challenge. Make sure you have the right footwear and water. You do have to dodge donkeys and their droppings along the way. It took us about 40 minutes with rest and photo stops. We enjoyed a well deserved cold Greek beer at the bottom of the hill, before boarding a tender with no wait this time. Another beautiful sailaway watching the twinkling lights of Santorini fade away. Tuesday 10/30 Sea Day I believe it was partly cloudy 60’s-70’s but coolish breeze on the ship. Ready for another relaxing sea day, beginning with a delicious sit-down breakfast in the dining room. Went to the Kotor port info talk. Trivia. Hot tub. Second formal night. DR naturally crowded, so we had to take a pager and enjoy a martini in Crooners. Lobster was very good. Tried for the early 8PM show of Disco, but no seats available. Watched a little while standing in the back, but it seemed very dated to us. Enjoyed some music around the ship, before turning in early as we knew we wanted to be up early for the sail in to Kotor. Wednesday 10/31 Kotor, Montenegro (Halloween) Up at 5:15am to view the amazing sail in to Kotor through narrow winding fiords, past a couple of small islands near the entrance. Just stunning! Little villages with their lights still on in the dawn looked like ceramic villages under a Christmas tree. Then a beautiful fog rolled in, which added to the Halloween atmosphere. The ship had to repeatedly sound its foghorn, until that cleared and we could see villages again, before finally anchoring in the harbor in front of Kotor for yet another short tender boat ride. Many passengers were up on deck enjoying the scenery. I feel bad for any that missed it. My husband said it was one of the top highlights of his trip! Mostly sunny later, 60’s-70’s. We planned mostly DIY here. We quickly decided to take the HOHO bus for 20euros which takes you on a 90 minute tour outside of Kotor to Perast and Risan, before returning to Kotor for a walking tour. It was an open air bus, but quite chilly in the morning breeze. Good headphone system onboard. First we stopped at Risan to view some Roman mosaics and the bus waited for 20 minutes, so we just got back on. In Perast we got off to walk into the beautiful seaside town, to enjoy the sights of our Lady of the Rock Island and island of St. George. You can also pay to take a boat out to the islands, but we chose not to. We did, however, enjoy a cappuccino with great atmosphere as Perast woke up. Returning to town, we viewed the massive city wall and soon it was time for the noon walking tour included by HOHO. Our guide was excellent and took us thru the various major squares of Kotor the medieval walled city. Another interesting town. On our own we decided to climb part way up the city wall as far as Our Lady of Remedy Church for more stunning views of the harbor. It costs 8 euros now to access the hike, which is expensive. However, the views were worth it, over the red-roofed village of Kotor to the mountains and harbor where our Crown Princess was docked. Another somewhat challenging hike, be sure to have good shoes and water. You can double the hike and go to the fort on the top. On the way down we enjoyed a local Niksicko beer. Back in town to explore more and see the churches, before hunting out the famous Krempita cake which we found in a bakery and enjoyed the delicious layers of flaky crust and cream. Last stop, was at a café in the Weapons Square for a glass of the local Vranac red wine. Lots of friendly cats in Kotor. Back on board, things were getting festive and spooky for Halloween with the buffet workers dressed in costume. There was a large jack-o-lantern display in the piazza and some in the buffet. We had packed minimal light costumes parts to become witches and pirates for the evening. We dined in the dining room enjoying the servers in costume. Afterwards, we joined in the fun for the Halloween Party at Club Fusion which was well attended. Later, watched part of Hocus Pocus on MUTS, but it was really cold up there so we bailed out. Fun evening. Thursday 11/1 Sea Day Cloudy skies with some showers and chilly, which made it a good day for starting to pack as tomorrow would be a busy port day. Did some trivia and enjoyed our last meal in the dining room and that delicious Crème Brule for dessert. Passed on the Magic to Do show and the balloon drop in the piazza in lieu of some much needed sleep. Friday 11/2 Naples Rainy. Up early for what we thought would be a 7:30am meeting time for our independent tour with Joe Banana’s Italy Tour Sharing. We had pre-booked and created a group online, meeting the third couple on the ship at Vine’s. Waiting for the clearance, we instead get an announcement that there will be a surprise Italian ship inspection and we can’t get off until the ship clears. We would get updates about every half hour for the 2 ½ hours that we were delayed. Don’t know what they were looking for, but the announcement said that they apologized for entering our cabins! Most people were waiting in common areas and we were in the casino which was closest to the door they would eventually be using. This was very frustrating and the crew and officers seemed just as frustrated with the situation. Finally, got clearance around 10am and luckily we were some of the first off the ship. Our tour guide had also been waiting all that time without knowing what was happening as we didn’t have any cell service. And it’s still steadily raining with no end in sight. Our guide Ciro warmly greeted us and ushered us into his warm, dry vehicle to begin our tour: Pompeii, Positano and Sorrento All Inclusive La Tagliata lunch all day tour. Obviously, we were not going to get all that in now. Sadly we had to scratch our visit to Sorrento totally. We stopped briefly at the Limoncello store for a tasting. Continuing on we weaved our way through the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast for stunning views, despite the rain, and Ciro shared his knowledge of the area. We had our scheduled stop in Positano, and began the march of the umbrellas to visit the tiny shops along the route to the bottom. Some chose not to go all the way down to the beach. Time for lunch at the beautiful La Tagliata perched on a cliff above Positano, with stunning views. We had an amazing authentic family style Italian meal of bread, mozzeralla with prosciutto, two kinds of beans, spinach, broccoli, lasagna type appetizer and that’s all before the four different pastas arrived! The red wine and Peroni beer were also included - Saluti. Dessert was a choice of five different delectable items and a shot of limoncello as a digestif! Mangia, Mangia! This amazing meal warmed our bodies and souls. Time to move on to our Pompeii visit…in the rain. Rain coats, hats, ponchos and umbrellas ready to meet our funny guide Paulo. This is an amazing, huge site. You definitely need a guide here also, and we had a great one who made the sad story come alive as we maneuvered through the site along with many other visitors with umbrellas. Glad we were able to visit and learn about life in this town so long ago. Finally, time to head back to busy Naples port in the dusk to bid farewell to our excellent driver guide Ciro. Felt like wet rats slinking back on the ship. A warm hot tub and drink delivered to us was just the thing to warm us up as we viewed the twinkling lights of Naples from the aft of the ship – the rain had finally stopped. Last chance to get those amazing street tacos at the Salty Dog Grill, before finishing packing up, and putting our luggage out by 10pm. Saturday 11/3 Civitavecchia - Rome Disembarkation Early in the cruise, we had received a form to indicate our preference for disembarkation. We requested the 7:15-8:00am time slot, and were pleased to be assigned that group. One last crazy-busy early morning in the buffet for breakfast. We needed to wait in the Explorers Lounge and were quickly called close to the 7:20am time assigned us. This was one of the easiest disembarkations we have ever experienced. Although, it could be because there were quite a few people who were continuing on the ship for the transatlantic repositioning cruise to Ft. Lauderdale. We had pre-arranged a transfer to our Rome hotel with Stefano’s Rome Cabs for 8am. Shortly after exiting the building we saw our driver, Andrea, with our name greeting us about 20 minutes early. It was an easy commute (less than 90 minutes) to Rome on the expressway early on a Saturday morning. He even helped get our luggage into the hotel lobby. I would definitely recommend RomeCabs. We had pre-booked a two night stay at the Albergo del Sole Al Pantheon Hotel right on the Piazza della Rotonda where the Pantheon is located in the historic district. This is a charming, elegant little hotel dating back to 1468!! The hotel allowed us to leave our luggage with them, so we could head out to begin our busy day of sightseeing. We had pre-booked online tickets for the Vatican Museum for 12:30pm. Since we had arrived so early, we were happy to know that we would have time to visit St. Peter’s Square and Basilica first. Saw a very long line wrapping to the other side of the massive square to go through security, so we joined it while we viewed the details of this huge square. We used a Rick Steve audio download on our phones. The lined moved pretty fast. The first view of the massive size of St. Peter’s as you enter is jaw dropping. It was crowded, but you could move around fairly easily. The chapel with the Pieta was our first to enter and it is very beautiful. We worked our way around the church in awe of the inspirational art and sculptures that we saw. The area in the front of the altar was roped off but we had a view of the altar and the Swiss Guard. After completing this, we exited to begin the 15 minute walk over to the Museum entrance, stopping along the way for coffee. Glad that we had pre-booked tickets, because the line to buy tickets was about two blocks long! We were able to enter immediately and go through security quickly. I knew in advance that the Vatican Museum is huge, but it was so packed with people that it was really hard to navigate and find anything in particular. We were glad when we got to the open courtyard to get fresh air, and see the giant pinecone and Pomodoro Sphere, now in a rain shower. The art collections are amazing, but the excessive crowds, shoulder to shoulder in a hot stuffy building really took away from the experience. They definitely let too many people in there at once. Also, we had adhered to the no backpack rule, and were dismayed that others were let in with backpacks. We viewed some of the Egyptian art, tapestries, map room, other rooms with equally impressive ceilings, etc. Inching closer to the Sistine Chapel we were routed down narrow hallways and stairways that felt like fire traps to me. Finally, we reached the Sistine Chapel, but were quickly herded in to the middle by the guards. People were not adhering to the no talking policy so it took away from the spiritual enjoyment of the moment. Finally, we heard an order “Silenzio” = Silence! And, of course, some people insist on taking forbidden photos. I loved seeing this masterpiece, but definitely didn’t enjoy the circumstances and was glad to finally leave the crowded chapel. But we still had a long walk back to the exit, using a different hallway that was less crowded and had more artwork that we hadn’t previously seen, which was good. Finally, to the amazing spiral staircase to exit. We approached one cab who gave us a ridiculously high price quote, so we went to the next one who was properly metered and headed off to the Colosseum. Glad to see the rain had stopped. We had again pre-booked online “after 2PM entry” tickets for entrance to the Colosseum. There were several long lines, but the staff let us know which one to enter. We had about a 30 minute wait to get to security and they were still selling tickets even though the last entry time was fast approaching. We were relieved to finally enter and begin our Rick Steves audio tour downloaded on our phones of this fantastic structure with such a sad history. There were lots of people here also, but it is much more spread out with fresh air. At least we could get to a railing for the amazing views. Did the second floor first, where you can also get some amazing views of the Forum. The main level gets some good views of the lower level and an awesome photo op of the back of the cross. My DH loves the movie Gladiator, so he really enjoyed his visit here! A quick taxi ride returned us to our hotel for check in. We quickly checked in to the Sol Pantheon and were given an actual key on a heavy medallion key chain to return each time you left the hotel. The bellboy took us and our luggage up in the small elevator to our third floor room, facing the Piazza. He opened the window and pushed out the shutters and an amazing view of the Piazza della Rotonda, fountain and looking to the left…the Pantheon appeared! We loved that this property had the quaint Roman charm that we were looking for. The room was smallish (which is normal for Rome), but had plenty of room for us and our luggage. The bathroom was nice, clean and with plenty of towels (except washcloths, which most European hotels don’t offer. I bring my old ones and toss them when finished). Safe and refrigerator in the room, and free wifi also. Our bed was comfortable in room 310, but my sister's bed in 212 (overlooking inner courtyard) was very hard (so they should change that mattress for an easy fix). Our room was quiet, but again 212 was next to the elevator and DS said it was a bit noisy at night. I understand from their website and reviews that they also have annex rooms in another building on the piazza, so be sure you know what you are booking. I don't know anything about those rooms, but preferred being in the main property. The property is old (1468!) but has been remodeled while keeping its architectural charm. Breakfast buffet 7-10am, offered some hot choices such as egg sandwich and scrambled eggs; along with hard boiled eggs, breads, pastries, yogurt, cheese, fruit, juices and the nice ladies offered cappuccino, in addition to coffee and tea. They do have a small elevator which we used with our luggage, but mostly we used the stairs. We had booked easily directly with the hotel on their website. Prior to arriving, I had emailed them with some questions and they were always prompt with answering back. The location was within walking distance to many of the key ancient sites. We also used taxis when time was short. When in the room, it was a delight to watch the activity down below, and even hear a beautiful violinist one evening. Totally satisfied with our choice for charm, location, value and Roman ambience. After freshening up, we headed out to the Piazza Navona, stopping along the way for a Happy Hour drink of wine, beer and Aperol Spritzer for our group, and a small plate of aperitivo sandwiches. This piazza is large with three fountains and looked magical with all of them lit up now that it was dark. Many lovely restaurants with patrons eating outside enjoying the sights and some entertainers to delight the crowds. Took many photos of Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (four rivers fountain) and Neptune fighting octopus. Once again used a Rick Steves audio for details of the Piazza. On the way back we stopped for Pizza al Taglio (‘Pizza by the slice’) and some gelato. We browsed the local COOP grocery store and some local shops to buy some Limoncello after a free tasting. Exhausting but exhilarating day. Be sure to have good walking shoes. Sunday 11/4 Rome on our own Woke to a cloudy day, but enjoyed a nice warm breakfast buffet before heading out with all our rain gear to explore Rome on our own by foot. We got in the short line to wait for the Pantheon to open at 9am, as the light rain began to fall. Umbrellas up. Entering the massive doors, we were once again stunned by the size and the beauty of this well maintained Church and thrilled to be seeing it with minimal crowds. One more Rick Steves audio explained what we were seeing. Back outside to heavier rain, headed right around the back of the Pantheon to the nearby Piazza Minerva to see Bernini’s elephant. Next up was the big white building that goes by many names: Vittoriano, the National Monumento to Victor Emmanuel II, designed by Giuseppe Sacconi housing the remains of the Unknown Soldier and so called the Altar of the Fatherland. We had maps and a printout of mapquest directions and we still found it hard to navigate the streets as some, but not all are marked on the sides of the corner buildings. It didn’t help that it was raining, but asking locals was helpful. Finally, we arrived to see this stunning structure in person, but learned that it was closed for the day due to the holiday: “National Unity Day” and the “Armed Forces Day”. We could see military around and a huge Italian flag posted to the side of an adjacent building. We could just barely get a glimpse over the fence of the soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. It’s amazing sculptures are still visible from all over. Next we headed around the back to the Michaelangelo steps and Piazza del Campidoglio to go around the back and see a great view of the Roman Forum from above...in the rain. On to Trevi Fountain, which was packed but once you slowly shimmied your way up to the front you could enjoy it in all its beauty. Just like all the movies I have seen it in. Toss that coin for a return trip to Rome! We intended to continue on to the Spanish Steps, but walked in circles and gave up. We probably should have just hopped in a cab, but the rain was getting to us. Along the way back we saw the intricately detailed carvings on the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Back near the Pantheon, we took Seminario street over to St. Ignatius of Loyola Church. The warm glow inside welcomed our chilly selves to this fabulous house of worship. A mass was being held in the front of the church, but we were free to visit 2/3 of the back while enjoying the beautiful sound of the priest saying mass in Italian and a lovely soloist. The really interesting thing about this church is the “optical illusion flat dome”. They ran out of money for a true dome, so they painted it to appear as if it is a real dome! It also has an amazing painted ceiling, ouch, my neck’s getting sore, but if you use the mirror they offer, that won’t happen. After drying out at the hotel, we headed back out for an early dinner at Taverna del Seminario which looked warm and inviting. It’s just down the block from the Pantheon, but the prices are better than the restaurants on the Piazza. They have an extensive menu, but we chose the Menu Classico which is an appetizer, pasta, second meat dish and dessert all for 15euros. I realize this is geared to tourists, but it was all quite delicious to us for that price. Foodies may not agree. In addition, we got a liter of house wine for 8euros! The rain had stopped so we headed back out to tour the inside of the Santa Maria sopra Minerva Basilica, which is the only Gothic church in Rome. We also enjoyed the music of a cellist outside. Next to view the Trevi fountain at night, which was still crowded, but looked beautiful with lights. On the way back we bumped into a musical lights display being projected onto the column ruins in one of the piazzas. Rome at night is just full of surprises and should not be missed. And more artists come out also, to entertain and show their craft. Time for a relaxing drink facing the Pantheon on our last night in Rome. Must finish packing, but luckily we can hear a violinist down below in the piazza from our window. Up early for buffet breakfast before our Stefano Rome Cabs Driver, Andreas arrived 15 minutes early for our 8am airport transfer. So nice to know you will be taken care of and know the price up front. He helped load our luggage and we set off for the airport. Once outside of the ancient area we did encounter morning rush traffic, but he evaded some and once we reached the expressway, it was moving along well. I would definitely recommend their company. The Rome Airport is big and modern, but a little confusing in that we weren’t aware that check in windows are assigned a 3 digit number that you need to find out to check in for your flight. We were flying AerLingus home and it wasn’t on our reservation, but we asked at the “I” Information booths you will see. We allowed 3 hours for check in and needed most of that, with about 45 minutes left for shopping while waiting in the gate area. For a while, the check in wasn’t even open as a long line formed. When it opened, it moved slowly. Our first flight from Rome to Dublin was slightly late taking off and we had to circle Dublin waiting to land, so our connection was quite tight. Then we were in an off-site terminal that required a bus, and then US clearance of customs and more security, which luckily were not crowded or we would have missed our connection. The Aer Lingus connection was 1 hour 50 minutes originally, before time shaved off. Anyway, nice flight home and at least we had already cleared customs in Ireland. Still battling jet let as I type this. More on the Crown Princess: We mostly love this ship. We really like this size of ship. It was clean and in good shape. The staff was all excellent. The size and the configuration of the buffet was the only thing we didn’t love, but it’s hard to change that. Food: We didn’t use any of the upcharge restaurants at all, so can’t comment on those. The Horizon Court Buffet always had a variety of things we liked (some we didn’t), even if not as extensive as other cruise lines. Breakfast offered made to order omelets brought to your table, ready-made fried eggs (which was a great option), hard boiled or scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausages, smoked salmon, fish, pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt, ready-made smoothie, orange juice, cold and hot cereals, assorted breads, pastries, blintzes, cheese and more changing ethnic and/or vegan hot dishes and more. I like that the servers will bring you beverages like coffee to your table, especially when it is hard to find a seat. However, I am not a coffee snob, but I did not like their coffee. I know I could have just purchased better coffee at the International Café, but I am a frugal traveler and chose not to do that. I just drank less and longed for Celebrity’s Lavassa coffee. There is also a smaller spread offered in the buffet between lunch and dinner (tea time) which had some great choices including among many things, small sandwiches and my favorite: guacamole and tortilla chips! Lunch and Dinner choices had some standards but many ever-changing choices. Salad bar and fruits, 2 soup choices daily, lunchmeat, great variety of cheese, ready-made cold sandwiches, carving roasts, steaks some evenings, bbq ribs, fish, good Asian and Indian dishes, including yummy Samosas, vegan choices and a variety of side dishes, and stew type entrees. Also some Med themed items including Paella one evening. And the German Oktoberfest themed food one evening had delicious weiner schnitzel, sauerkraut and spätzle. The buffet desserts were good, not always great. The fresh baked cookies were good and you can ask for peanut butter cookies which they will bring out for you. They also offered a variety of hot desserts like cobblers and bread pudding. Dining Rooms: We used mostly the Michaelangelo Dining Room for about 8 of our dinners. Service was excellent with attention to detail, just sometimes slower than we are used to in real life, especially when trying to fit shows or entertainment in the schedule. Excellent shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad available every day. Nice variety of changing appetizers that made it hard to choose some days…then we ordered two, which is fine, including the decadent twice baked goat cheese soufflé and wild mushroom soup. We mostly always found entrees we liked, except for one night when they were all not to our interest, so we chose the buffet. One evening was the Chef’s Menu, which had too many good entrée choices, which we wish had been offered on other nights. DH ordered two entrees that evening. I can’t remember all of the foods and didn’t take pix of all the menus, but some of our favorites were the lobster, beef medallions and prawns, rib eye steak, prime rib, scallops, Moroccan chicken, fettucine alfredo, spaghetti carbonara, grilled seafood skewer. The best dessert is the rather large Crème Brule, and DH enjoyed the variety of ice cream and sundaes. We had one sit down breakfast in the dining room, which was so nice to be served on a Sea Day. Good eggs benedict, omelets and steak and eggs. Same bad coffee. International Café on deck 5: Offers coffee and gelato for purchase. They also offer a deli style option of included in your cost choices all day long. Some different and better pastry choices at breakfast, and an actual macadamia nut brownie one day in the afternoon! Nice, fresh salads for lunch and dinner including the amazing Greek salad offered several days, and a tasty watermelon feta cheese salad. They also have a few hot paninis and sandwiches that they heat up for you. We were disappointed in the quality of the Cuban sandwich and the caprese panini wasn’t warmed and melted enough. Perhaps just an off day for those. Salty Dog Grill outside on the pool deck: My absolute favorite was the street tacos: 2 mini tacos per order – grilled chipotle lime chicken and sweet potato green chili – had them several times! They also offer hot dogs (DH enjoyed one) variety of hamburgers (make sure you get it freshly grilled, not reheated), grilled chicken sandwich, regular and loaded fries. Great that it is usually open 11am-11pm. Slice outside on the pool deck: Pizza naturally- cheese, sausage, pepperoni and a daily special, which my husband liked. They also have some interesting offerings like Stromboli, Focaccia, and Caprese toast; and Cali Avacado toast which I didn’t realize had bacon bits, so it was ruined for me as a healthier option –should have asked for it without them. This is also where you can get yummy vanilla, chocolate or swirl soft serve ice cream and upcharge milk shakes. Also conveniently open usually 11am-11pm. Entertainment: We knew with this very busy, long day port itinerary, we probably wouldn’t get to as much in the evening as we usually do on cruises. We couldn’t make the early shows and found the 10pm show slightly late. We loved the comedian, Rikki Jay and the Tre Amici singing group. We never got to any of the production shows, except 10 minutes of the Disco show with no seats and we left. Some nights, the description of the entertainers didn’t thrill us, like a song and dance man (but to be fair, we didn’t see him, maybe he was good). The evening game shows don’t interest us. However, there is a lot of good musical entertainment throughout the ship in various changing locations. We really enjoyed X-Trio, Party Band Icon and Guitarist/singer Cassie Matthews throughout the week. We used MUTS a few times, but it was chilly out there, so we needed jackets in addition to the nice blankets and pillows they provide. Popcorn and small slices of pizza brought around is a nice touch. Free hot chocolate would have been nice. We love trivia and that is offered a lot throughout the day, so we took part in that when we could. The port talk guy was interesting, so watched some of that and you can also see it on your room tv at various times. We didn’t partake, but of course there is always the casino, art auctions, dance classes, and the spa. The 3 hour sales in the dining room were packed and offered a variety of $10 choices and more expensive but on sale clothing. The shops on board are typical and mostly out of my budget. Interesting to see that they offered some Chico ladies clothing. Some rather lame activities included penny whistle instruction and paper airplane contest (something for everyone I guess). Many groups of people all around the ship were enjoying playing their own games such as cards, bridge, mah jong, scrabble, chess etc. And many others were enjoying the time to read. It was rather cool on deck, so not too many swimming, but we thoroughly enjoyed the hot tubs several times. We also love that this ship has a promenade deck that goes all the way around, but includes steps. Nice to walk or sit in the shade. Other favorite spot is on the aft pool deck to eat or just relax and watch the mesmerizing wake of the ship. And the piazza mid-ship areas on Decks 5,6 and 7 always offer entertainment and good people watching. So another fantastic cruise and we thank God for this opportunity to enjoy more of his amazing creation and meet interesting people from around the world and other cultures. The itinerary was amazing and Princess offered really long port times, so that was great. Loved returning to Princess and the Crown and would definitely consider them again in the future if the itinerary and price are right for us. Thanks again CC members for all your guidance. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We are on Day 3 of our cruise on Sapphire Princess to Portugal and Europe Southern in October 2018. The company tag line is "Come back new". In our very short experience on board, that will not be the case. I feel we have to ... Read More
We are on Day 3 of our cruise on Sapphire Princess to Portugal and Europe Southern in October 2018. The company tag line is "Come back new". In our very short experience on board, that will not be the case. I feel we have to comment - because princess do not listen. As the carer for my disabled wife, we want a rest and minimal stress to relax and enjoy. The Sapphire Princess dies not deliver. Cabin - On arrival room had blocked toilet, too much furniture for wheelchair to access, broken toilet door, broken fridge and beds too high for easy wheelchar to bed transfer. Shower eventually did not work and only tepid water available. Excursions - None of the excursions (even on enquiry to customer services) were suitable for passengers in wheelchair. Where the cruise terminal was a number of kilometers to town, customer services could not guarantee transport (which you have to pay for) was suitable for wheelchairs! Disgraceful when you consider there were at least 50 people on board with wheel chairs/scooters. We have to walk and make our own excursion arrangements. Entertainment - The theatre had spaces for eight wheelchairs at the rear of the hall. During performances you had to curtail your evening meal and get there 60 minutes early to ensure you got one of the very few places where you could sit together. Wheelchairs were three deep and the carer could not sit beside the disabled person by the time the performance started. As well as being stressful, it was a fire and H&S risk as the wheelchairs, and other people standing in the walkways, blocked the rear exits from the theatre. Dining - Part of the enjoyment of a cruise is the luxury of good food prepared and served to you. Breakfast and lunch (lunch only on at sea days) were restricted to a restaurant at the lower rear of the ship. Since our cabin was at an upper level at bow, and due to configuration of deck plans, it took three elevator rides to get there. Not an easy journey, when you have no option but to use elevator, on a busy ship at peak times. Talk about stressful. We soon gave up on breakfast and lunch. Food has been very mixed. The alternative was to go to the cafeteria dining. This meant you had difficulty getting a table, had to collect food for both disabled person and carer - but they did not allow trays. This resulted in the carer having to make numerous trips to queue and get food, then drinks - if you found a suitable accessible table. This must also be a nightmare for parents with children who have similar issues. So much for being on holiday and having a stress free, relaxing vacation. Service has been reasonable - although they seem incapable of making any changes to alleviate things. In summary, accommodation below par; excursions below par; food service below par, ship configuration poor and entertainment not thought through. I cannot see us "Going back new" as a result of this experience. Very poor show Princess cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The food is uninspired. With a small number of offerings at the Horizon Buffet that changed only slightly from day to day. Food from venue to venue tasted pretty much the same. Except for one dinner at the Crab Shack. That was ... Read More
The food is uninspired. With a small number of offerings at the Horizon Buffet that changed only slightly from day to day. Food from venue to venue tasted pretty much the same. Except for one dinner at the Crab Shack. That was marvelous. And one dinner at Sabatini's. Sabatini's was excellent with superb attention and care from the waiter. The Salty Dog... pass on that. The worst hamburger at sea. Ditto with the pizza. And the coffee? You could see through it most days. Sat down on a chair in Michelangelos dining room, the first night, which immediately broke. The ship overall, leans to the opulent. But the ship feels cramped, and closed in. To gain access to the outer decks was often a chicane of elevators, hallways and stairs. More so, than any other ship we have cruised on. The staff, mostly, appeared robotic. Not that there weren't clear exceptions to this. Our cabin Steward was superb with an engaging personality. A couple of specialty dining occasions offered excellent table service. One in particular at Sabatini's was the epitome of professional, and attentive waiting. We also received timely assistance from one of the officers and plenty of help with the bags on and off the boat.. Music in the atrium was too loud and encouraged us to avoid that section of the ship. Forget about the internet. IMPOSSIBLY slow. Click...wait 10 seconds, Click....wait 10 more seconds. AND EXPENSIVE. Strangely, a few days after our great experience with a waiter in Sabatini's, I found that waiter in regular Princess blue and khaki, busing tables at the pool. The shore excursions were nothing to rave about. Mostly, just ok. But, one excursion at Kotor completely fell apart. The excursion guide lost control of the tour. Leaving two tourists behind at the end of the first half of the tour. Half the tourists went ahead of the guide, while others were at public washrooms, after the guide took us to a public washroom that was closed, and she had to backtrack to another washroom that we had past on our way. She didn't appear to know the history of the port that well. Eventually, we bailed and went back to the bus to await the return of the tourists. Princess deserves credit for offering credit for a significant portion of this tour. The tour to the statue of David in Florence went off as planned and access to the museum was reasonably quick. In spite of it all, we made it a great time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had cruised with Princess several times before and were very pleased with the ships and cruise line in general. We had a very easy embarkation and the staff made the process very easy. The ship was a little dated in decor although ... Read More
We had cruised with Princess several times before and were very pleased with the ships and cruise line in general. We had a very easy embarkation and the staff made the process very easy. The ship was a little dated in decor although very clean. Our main disappointment was the quality of the food on this trip. We ate in the dining room each night and most of what we encountered was poorly prepared, although the wait staff did an excellent job. This sentiment was echoed by most of the fellow passengers that we spoke to on the ship, whether at the Horizon Court or regular dinner service. The staff on board did not seem as friendly and outgoing as in previous trips we had taken. The highlight for the service staff was our cabin steward, Ruby. She went above and beyond the normal. The ports on the Mediterranean cruise were very enjoyable. Santorini was wonderful!! The entertainment, with the exception of the one night, was just mediocre. Sorry to say we will probably will try another cruise line for our next trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
CROWN PRINCESS October 2-13th, 2018 Barcelona to Rome I am an Elite cruiser, and this is my 12th voyage on Princess, 1st time on Crown Princess. Crown Princess was launched in 2006, with a considerable refit in 2017. Overall solid ... Read More
CROWN PRINCESS October 2-13th, 2018 Barcelona to Rome I am an Elite cruiser, and this is my 12th voyage on Princess, 1st time on Crown Princess. Crown Princess was launched in 2006, with a considerable refit in 2017. Overall solid business class condition, the food and entertainment consistent and good standard. Firm and favorable recommendation to anyone wanting a good quality, big ship cruise experience. A very important tip for cruisers is found out when your ship of choice had its last refit. New ships no issue, but if the ship is over 5 years old, well worth considering this when weighing up choices, Travel industry is getting better at providing this information, but overall improvement is required My critique, is based on my many cruises and any criticism is aimed only at seeking improvement Embarkation Ship boarded at Barcelona. Large que on arrival, but with my wife’s left knee requiring management, she was wheel chaired aboard, prompt, quick and efficient service.. The ship in general The Crown Princess is a large ship, 116,000 tons Some people aboard found the size of the ship a little overwhelming and they thought a smaller ship would be more to their liking. We can understand that but we like the larger ships with more people and facilities and choices on board. Although there were approximately 3500 passengers on board, it did not feel crowded. So many choices, which is the great delight of cruising, one does as little or as much to do as you like. Some passengers take that for granted, mumbles here and there, but we value the great choices available! Used the Gym fitness machines each day, great to see Princess along with a number of other companies do not drown you out with music in the Gym, silence is golden! Good on Princess for this decision, if you want to listen to music, you can do so with your own devices. Some of the equipment e.g. Rower showing signs of wear, and more exercise bicycles would enhance the product available. Pools and spa facilities as you expect, available, and nice, off peak the time to go, pools can be cluttered during the day Princess cruises add a USD 12.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can arrange with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for tips are available. We were impressed with Sky Walkers nightclub and daytime lounge, which is situated at the back of the ship 16 floors up. At night time it is a disco after 10.0 pm and during the daytime is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. The chairs in sky walkers are extremely comfortable. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time The other bars and public seating areas of the Crown Princess were excellent, roomy and stylish. Spot entertainment e.g. pianist, violin trio etc. were visible and pleasant. Listening to these spot artists, can make a cruise very pleasant. The shopping available on the ship is the normal 5 retail stores, with a nice range of goods. Watch and clothing sales abounded, and the 3 hour clearance scrambles, always available. Another variety style shop would be useful, not really convinced, about diamond and jeweller shops, obviously enough people are buying product to keep open. The Internet café is roomy and the library pleasant . Both are needed, and the balance between books and computers is important. Princess has done away with the on ship news sheets for USA, Britain, and Aussie etc. This is short sighted, many commenting on the lack of daily international news. Yes it might be available on the web, but the web at sea is costly, and soaks up time, hopefully these sorts of publications will return, when the world realizes technology is just another tool, and many people like something to hold and reflect on in their own time. Floor shows in the evening, and specifically the Princess Theatre Dance Company and singers were excellent. They did 4 presentations, equal to Broadway show standard, and the standard of these productions continue to improve and creativity very much in vogue. Excellent recording stars on each night, somewhere, standard excellent. Overall the formal and stage entertainment was of good quality, all part of your travel package Solid range of late release movies shown on upper deck, available in room, or at advertised locations. Good work here Princess, my wife watched more than a few while reclining in the cabin. The more movies the better, it’s an ageless form of entertainment A number of presentations or lectures on this cruise, none of which jumped out as great, but if the topic were interesting, the public speaking g quality was sound. Formal history or lectures by a guest presenter are always a feature of Princess Cruises. This time the presenters style and topics not my cup of tea, but any type of presentation adds substance to cruise experience. Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual. Great walking deck, and a daily stroll or 2 around the decks is a beneficial exercise and enjoyable. 3 times around the circuit equals a mile, and we try to build this activity into the daily routine, keeps some of the likely weight gain down. Soft freeze cone ice-cream available at no cost throughout the day, a nice treat. The weather conditions throughout were very good and no rough days at all, so the luck ran our way. However motion sickness can be an issue, and any cruise if you are susceptible, prepare in advance. Dining Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room sitting versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer anytime dining, and there were 2 choices plus the 24 hour buffet, plus the 24 hour International Café, and the open deck grill and Pizza bar options. We dined most days buffet breakfast in the Horizon, often had lunch in the traditional dining room (not available in the evening for anytime diners) and then at night, in one of the 2 anytime restaurants. Menu in each is the same as traditional dining restaurant, but we liked the change of waiters, décor and loved being able to eat anytime in the evening between 5.30pm and 10pm. If you had not booked, there was sometimes a small wait, but no great problem. Two specialist restaurants are available. The Crown Grill (steak) restaurant with $29 surcharge per person, I enjoyed compliments of Princess. Nice table, service and American Steak style, my steak was enormous. It had style and better than I anticipated. The real issue is a specialist restaurant at $60 per couple good vale. In my view no, plenty of choice for free elsewhere. The International Café was a real bonus. Great informal, pick your choice, from a salad to a cake, great alternative to the full meal service which abounds on the ship. The buffet at Horizon Court was good value, everything seemed fresh, lots of choice and we thought the food tasted fine. Open most hours was great. Service was good, and their breakfast buffet top class. You read some sharp comments about the cruise buffets; I think they offer excellent value, wide choice and sound presentation. You must be a very fussy eater, if you complain about sub-standard Princess cruise buffets. A nice touch each afternoon was the English High tea served by waiters in white gloves 3.30-4.30pm, in one of the main dining rooms. Made you feel special! Room Service Available 24 hours at no charge, limited menu but pleasant. Our cabin We had an obstructed view ocean stateroom on the 8th level. Pleasant, and while view was substantially obstructed, it was nice to have a peep out. We made the decision not to have a balcony cabin, on cost differential and because we are familiar with most of the Ports we visited, it was the right decision for us. The design of the cabin made good use of large mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. . Our main cases fitted side by side quite comfortably. Bedside lights have dimmer switches. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower was pressure excellent. Air conditioning was excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. Outside your door on the side is a paper holder with your cabin number on it so that the any newsletters or other information can be left for you. The Television was relatively small, but functional. No noise transference issues on this trip, you need luck with who are your neighbors’, this time quiet. If you wish to drink bottled wines in your cabin Princess seem to have no problems with you purchasing wines or champagne and bringing them on board at embarkation (Small print says 2 bottles). You can take these wines into the dining room but you will be charged an USD15.00 corkage fee if you take them into the dining rooms They charge for spring water in your cabin so we always take a water bottle with us and go up to Horizon Court and fill the bottle up with fresh water from there. PORTS OF CALL Big ships often mean you are located long distances from City. Ships are coy re detail on Port facilities, and access to City location. They want you to utilize on each occasion the formal ship tours, which are well organized, but costly. Independent travelers are tolerated, but they limit information as a means of keeping the formal tour numbers up. The internet is surprisingly limited re detailed information on Ports of Call (often very dated too), and guide books like Lonely Plant, virtually ignore it. Mykonos was missed due to wind shear meaning we could not berth, and there were a number of tender ports due to the ship size, which on this occasion started badly, but after an initial shambolic tender, things improved. Santorini and Kotor are mind- blowing ports, and Toulon was pettier than expected, the cruise into harbor pleasant. My thought is any tender Port; the scheduled stay should have at least one hour extension, due to que congestion Disembarkation Getting off the ship at Rome was excellent. We took a Princess Bus to airport at a pre booked price which I thought was dear, but compared to the $180USpp charge on board, a sound choice .Compared to the high price, and poor transport service options that we experienced in Hong Kong on our last trip, this disembarkation was a breeze Ports 1 Barcelona 2 Toulon 3 Florence & Pisa (Livorno) tender 4 At Sea 5 Olympia (Katakolon):Bad tender 6 Mykonos Town, Mykonos: Could not berth or anchor due to wind 7 Thira, Santorini-tender 8 At Sea 9 Kotor 10 At Sea 11 Naples 12 Rome (Civitavecchia) Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The food leaves much to be desired. The food buffet was horrible. The speciality restaurants and dining room were a notch above the food buffet. The friendliness of staff was non existent. The staff literally herd you on and off the ... Read More
The food leaves much to be desired. The food buffet was horrible. The speciality restaurants and dining room were a notch above the food buffet. The friendliness of staff was non existent. The staff literally herd you on and off the boat like cattle. No smiles, not a please or thank you . Simple manners were non existent even with a lot of the passengers. The rooms and ship were clean. The Beds are super comfy. Room service had a very limited menu . Good wine selection but remember the gratituity they add on w each drink along with the daily gratuity charge for each passenger. The entertainment was somewhat cheesy. Couldn’t wait to get off the ship at each port ! Best thing about the cruise was being able to visit Spain , Great Britain, France and Italy in a short time. I can’t wait to do it again but not with this cruise or it’s affiliates. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
May daughter (30) and I (50) took this cruise to celebrate our milestone birthdays. This was my 20th Princess and probably my 40th cruise overall. It was my daughters 2nd Princess, and perhaps 10th cruise overall. ... Read More
May daughter (30) and I (50) took this cruise to celebrate our milestone birthdays. This was my 20th Princess and probably my 40th cruise overall. It was my daughters 2nd Princess, and perhaps 10th cruise overall. Embarkation/Disembarkation and transport was well done, easy and quick. Cabin/Ship - This ship, like all Princess ships has a similar design in decks and cabins. We had a mini suite. The furnishings were fine, some updates to the décor would be nice. The bed in the cabins had been changed to a new Princess brand. We found the beds to be spectacularly comfortable. Bars/Service - The serving staff was fantastic. We really enjoyed the wine bar, and found ourselves migrating there most nights pre and post dinner. Thank you to Ryan and Sydney. Ports - We could not get off the ship in Santorini or in Montenegro. We enjoyed Naples and Sicily and did our own thing on the end points of Athens and Barcelona. The itinerary was Athens to Barcelona, and a good way to see more by extending on ends. My daughter took a Princess tour in Sicily, and found it enjoyable, even if a bit pricey. Food and Dining - This experience was detrimental to our overall enjoyment of the cruise. The concerns and issues we had on dining were across all venues in the ship, with the exception of the Crown Grill. We spend 3 nights purchasing dinner there, due to the poor presentation, flavor and choices in the other venues. Here is more detail (which we provided in writing directly to the Chef de Cuisine, and in person to him when he visited the Crown Grill on the later evenings. The Chef asked me what specifically was the problem, and I provided him the following. He walked away mid conversation, my daughter and I had already detailed these items in a specific written complaint to him, to which he said he had not received. (The complaint was provided to the front desk folks addressed to the "Chef de Cuisine". 1. Bread/Rolls - Hard, not in a crusty good way, but as if they had been reheated several times or were older baked items from earlier in the day or prior days. 2. Butter - appeared to be mixed with oil or margarine (if they do this normally, this was to a degree to make it tasteless 3. Plating temperature was cold. Hot meals were lukewarm at best. 4. Soups tasted like salty water, and were not hot. (This is usually an area of good flavor on cruises) 5. Fish was advertised as one type of sea bass, however, when we received the meal it had a very dirty flavor to it. The fish appeared to be either a different type (like Tilapia perhaps), or was cleaned very poorly, or perhaps old. 6. Fried items were undercooked and not edible. 7. Salad items, any fresh items were wilted. The salads appeared like those that you purchase in bags and leave in the refrigerator too long. They were not only wilted but particularly slimy and not edible. (This was true throughout the venues including Crown Grill) 8. Beef (outside the Crown Grill) did not seem to be the cuts advertised nor the quality expected 9. Buffet (venue) was dark, very crowded, and it didn't seem like there were any themes to the offerings. Curry right next to Beef Stew, Asian next to Baked Potatoes. 10. Grill - those folks work hard, ordered the Ernesto burger on deck, confused people because you need to pay and wait for that, but it was good. Fries were nicely cooked on deck as well. What was equally disappointing was the reaction we received when we gave this feedback. The waiter after we expressed the food challenges at Sabattini's called over the head water, who chastised us for not complaining harder. There was no offer to comp, or come back tomorrow and we'll amaze you, or even an apology for the experience. Essentially he very clearly said had we complained louder they would have replaced, and proceeded to chastise the waiter in front of us. Additionally, when we had the opportunity to advise the Chef de Cuisine, to which I did similar to the items above, as well as in writing he walked away mid sentence. My gut says that there was something fishy about the sourcing of the food on this cruise. It was of such poor quality that I wondered whether someone was skimming the till on that item. OR, it was just such a hot summer in Europe that the food was impacted...I thought this until my next cruise a week later on Princess (another ship). I would like to say that the Head Waiter at the Crown Grill was very amazing, we'd expressed our concerns with him about the other venues, and he did his best to find us seats at the crown grill for our last 3 remaining nights. Now interestingly, when I parted with my daughter, I boarded the Sapphire princess shortly after this cruise. This was also a Mediterranean cruise. The food on the Sapphire was 100 percent better, even though it was the same ports at times. Sapphire was just as consistent as the other 20 Princess cruises I've been on, without any of the aforementioned problems. That said, I still like Princess, although I will choose another line such as Cunard, P & O or outside the Carnival Family for any large special occasions. I would strongly recommend Princess looks into the purchasing records for this particular itinerary and/or staff to see if there was something "fishy" with the food sourcing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We went on our 1st cruise with Princess on our honeymoon and wanted to renew our vows on our 30 th Anniversary with Princess again. The service we experienced the 1st time was the deciding factor to use princess the second time around. Our ... Read More
We went on our 1st cruise with Princess on our honeymoon and wanted to renew our vows on our 30 th Anniversary with Princess again. The service we experienced the 1st time was the deciding factor to use princess the second time around. Our best friends accompanied us. We arrived in Greece two days before we sailed and got to see the sites of Athens. When we arrived at the port we found it was very easy to check in and board the ship. Once on board we were able to go to room very quickly and get settled. We then got word that Francesca wanted to meet with us to go over the itinerary of our vow renewal. On the day we renewed We started off with a couples massage in the spa. It was pretty relaxing and set the mood for the entire day. The ceremony itself with nothing short of spectacular. The chapel was decorated accordingly and corsage and bouquet were supplied by the ship. It was part of the package I know it was but you still say i we started off with a couples massage in the spa. It was pretty relaxing and set the mood for the entire day. The ceremony itself with nothing short of spectacular. The chapel was decorated accordingly and corsage and bouquet were supplied by the ship. After the ceremony that was performed by Captain Lawes we had a photographer and a videographer follow us for our camera shoot. The captain even allowed us to go onto the bridge where we got some great shots and video. The ENTIRE experience is one I will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My husband and I sailed on the Crown Princess from August 4 - 11. We've had five cruises on RCI and HAL but this was our first time on a Princess cruise. We've loved all five of our previous cruises but we won't be doing ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Crown Princess from August 4 - 11. We've had five cruises on RCI and HAL but this was our first time on a Princess cruise. We've loved all five of our previous cruises but we won't be doing another Princess cruise. I'll list the pros and cons. Pros: -the beds and bedding were super comfy -the International Cafe had good salads and the pastries in the morning were good -we enjoyed our dinners in the main dining room -cabin steward (Ethel) was awesome as she kept our room immaculate -movies under the stars, karaoke and trivia Cons: -there was a sewage smell as others reported (we could smell it in our room and other parts of the ship. It wasn't constant but on and off) -the food in the Horizon Court was very mediocre, worse than hospital cafeteria food -the internet is archaic (coverage and speed is horrible, think back to the dawn of the internet - if you need to take care of important matters back at home, you'll be quite frustrated) -there was a horrible vibration in our room (C611) my husband had a terrible time with it and we considered getting off the boat in Marseilles -TV offerings were poor -A/C at times wasn't strong enough (in Barcelona, I found the boat to be quite hot, I asked if the A/C was working and was told that sometimes in ports they don't run it to capacity -it was always hard to secure lounges by the pool. People do save them and staff do not clear away towels if they've been left on the chairs Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We were on the 7 day cruise from Barcelona, Spain to Rome Italy. We were traveling with our adult children, ages 20 and 22. It was a beautiful trip. We have never traveled with Princess before. It was very average, nothing over the ... Read More
We were on the 7 day cruise from Barcelona, Spain to Rome Italy. We were traveling with our adult children, ages 20 and 22. It was a beautiful trip. We have never traveled with Princess before. It was very average, nothing over the top. I have definitely been on better cruises. The food was not the best. I have had food on other cruises where I couldn't wait for dinner or wanted all on the menu. The choices were nothing spectacular and the food taste was just ok. The staff was great though. The cabin was decent. We had an interior room. The bathrooms were tiny, not enough space for everything. Entertainment could have been better. There could have been more activities during the day. I remember being on other cruises and not having enough time in the day to do all the activities I wanted to do. Shows were nothing exciting. I have seen much better shows on cruises. The stops were beautiful. I do not have a favorite stop because I liked them all. Each place had its own uniqueness. Shore excursions were very expensive. We did two with the cruise line, one of which was disappointing because it was not complete. We got cheated out of one stop. The other excursions we did on our own which saved a lot. I would do a cruise like this again, maybe trying a different ship. I would also travel to some of these stops but want to stay longer meaning I would do a land trip. Europe was beautiful and we would like to have more time at certain places. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We picked the Mediterranean as a destination for the history and the variety. Our kids (19 and 17) love Roman and Greek history and mythology. This was a great way for our family to have a trip before both kids head off to college in the ... Read More
We picked the Mediterranean as a destination for the history and the variety. Our kids (19 and 17) love Roman and Greek history and mythology. This was a great way for our family to have a trip before both kids head off to college in the fall. We went with my sister-in-law and a family friend (making our party 6 in total). We boarded in Barcelona for a two week cruise to Rome and Athens. We flew in on the red eye from Atlanta to Barcelona, arriving the day of departure at 8:30am. We found the Princess transportation in the airport easily and had a lovely coach ride to the port. Embarkation went smoothly and we got onboard easily. Three of us took the Hop On Hop Off bus tour of Barcelona which was easy to get to by taxi at the Columbus Statue just outside the port. The ship left around 9:00pm so there was plenty of time to explore port and ship before we left the dock. The Cabin we had was a Premium Balcony at the back of the ship. The steward was fantastic and took great care of us.The bathroom was a typically small space and very utilitarian (the towels were thick and soft). There is not much shelf space but tons of hanging space in the closet. The safe is a reasonable room safe to easily store documents and jewelry. The beds were very comfortable! The Mediterranean was a very calm smooth ocean and we did not notice any pitch or roll - even on the nights we passed a few thunderstorms. The kids were in an interior cabin and found it a comfortable space (akin to their dorm room at college). We used the shipboard laundromat and that helped us cut down on the volume of clothing. The washers and dryers were utilitarian but did the trick. $3 for a wash cycle, $3 for a dry cycle and $1.50 each for laundry soap and softener (we brought our own). Princess has a laundry service but does not offer a laundry special as we have seen on Hawaiian and other Caribbean long cruises. Dinners were in the DaVinci Dining Room and were a pleasure. The menu was varied with some standard fare and regional options to allow a taste of regional cuisine. The Waiter and Assistant Waitress were wonderful!! Other meals were varied; we made use of the buffet, in-room breakfast, the Deckside dining in the pool areas (the pizza is New York style and not great, but the hot dogs and hamburgers were some of the best we have had on a cruise ship). We did not use the two specialty restaurants. If you are going to eat ashore, ask the Dining room staff if they have any recommendations the head waiter in our dining room had good suggestions. The cruise we were on had a Destination Specialist - Angela Kelly. She was great and gave port talks. If you could not attend the talk, it was televised to watch at a later time. The talks were not a sales pitch for excursions as we have seen on other cruises , but genuinely interesting morsels of history and sites in the area. Angela gave information on approximate costs of taxis and other transportation, things to see in port and surrounding areas, things tourists might not know (validate tickets on trains/buses to avoid fines) and reminders of personal safety in areas so as to have a good trip and make reasonable decisions. I hope Princess expands this program - it was great and VERY helpful to us. We planned most of our excursions on our own in order to see as much as we could of the items we were interested in. We did one Shore Excursion through Princess (the Minoan ruins at Heraklion) and were pleasantly surprised to find it included a meal (we thought we would have to grab something along the way as the information was not clear on this point). The Excursion was well organised and very professional. We were disappointed in the Entertainment this cruise. There was only one entertainer we felt was truly good (a violinist that we went to every show he had) the other entertainment was marginal at best. We have seen better people rejected from America's/Britain's Got Talent. Some things for American cruisers to remember: There is a dress code for dining in the dining rooms (please don't wear your swim things or shorts, it looks tacky). Air Conditioning in the Mediterranean is more of a suggestion than a reality and in August it is really HOT - drink plenty of water (we brought refillable bottles which were a godsend). We would go again! This cruise is was an amazing experience and we did not see all we were interested in on the trip so I anticipate a return trip in our future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We enjoyed the new beds/bedding added to the Crown Princess recently and benefitted from a spring refurbishment to the ship. The itinerary and port excursions were excellent (though the Mediterranean in July/August is incredibly warm). Our ... Read More
We enjoyed the new beds/bedding added to the Crown Princess recently and benefitted from a spring refurbishment to the ship. The itinerary and port excursions were excellent (though the Mediterranean in July/August is incredibly warm). Our steward was wonderful. Spa services continue to be over-priced and there is no beverage package that actually makes sense but we enjoyed Princess once more on this second cruise and would continue to look at the company for future trips. In short: mini-suites continue to work for our family of three (one teen), the new beds are great, the teen club is a hit with our son, and we still love the International Cafe more than the other regular food options. This time we did endeavor to do laundry at sea - rather frustrating with people ignoring basic conventions of removing laundry from washing machines when done. Token machines for laundry were on our floor - handy, but not on every floor - a pain. We were in D603 - nice location for our needs. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
First time cruiser chose Crown Princess for the itinerary - Athens to Barcelona July 7-14. First, the good: Our state room was fantastic. I spent a year reading reviews on cruise critic to lower my expectations, so I was just ... Read More
First time cruiser chose Crown Princess for the itinerary - Athens to Barcelona July 7-14. First, the good: Our state room was fantastic. I spent a year reading reviews on cruise critic to lower my expectations, so I was just stunned by how beautiful and comfortable the state room was (Balcony, R-230), efficiently designed, with great lighting, visibility, and ventilation. It was love at first sight. I had been expecting sewage smells and bad grout and broken beds. Everything was fantastic. The service is amazing. A thousand crew members provide "Disney" levels of service. They compete with each other to be first to refill our drinks. They are knowledgeable and friendly. Crowds are minimized. I hate crowds and lines, so I was thrilled that Princess has engineered processes that minimize the impact of having so many people in such a small space. Any time a line might form, they hand out numbers and give you a comfortable place to sit in a lounge, with a drink, and when you are called, you just go -- no lines. We had any time dining, and we never waited for a table. There was never any kind of line at Horizon Buffet, and we could always get a window seat. Unless an event had just let out, we never had to wait for an elevator, and even then we could easily go to a different elevator bank or spend a few minutes on the promenade deck. The food was excellent. My traveling companions disagree -- they concur with the majority on Cruise Critic who describe the food as "nothing special" -- but I don't know what their gripe is. The Horizon Buffet is extensive, it is open non-stop from 6am-11pm, and the view from the dining area is to die for. My colleagues wanted eggs benedict every day, instead or rotating between eggs florentine, eggs benedict, and fried eggs. My colleagues wanted more cut fruit instead of whole fruit. The bagels should have been next to the lox. But there was eggs, and bacon, and blueberry blintzes. There was every kind of danish. It was a great spread. But if the Horizon Buffet was good, the Dining Halls were better. Impeccable service and a terrific menu. Half of the menu stayed the same, and half changed daily, so you could stick with shrimp cocktail and grilled salmon, or go exploring. All three dining halls are identical, except for the wall paintings. The quality of the food was uneven -- I prefer my pot roast with more gravy, and the ribeye wasn't the best cut. Relying on the server's recommendations is a good strategy if you are torn. If the Dining Halls are better, then Sabatini's and Crown Grill are best. The food is the best that can be summoned on a cruise ship, which is far beyond my requirements. What you are really paying for, though, is space and quiet. The Dining Hall is busy and noisy; the specialty dining venues are quiet, with far-apart tables. My colleagues didn't like it; they found the ambiance pretentious and fake. Additional Delights Don't bother with the Deck 16 running track; instead is is just 2.8 laps to a mile around the Promenade deck, and the views from the stern and the bow never get old. The Piazza is a great place to relax and get a drink. We really liked the International Cafe, with gelato, dessert cakes, sandwiches, and drinks. The X-Trio was first rate, and we always welcomed a chance to hear them play popular standards on a violin, guitar, and accordion. They made the Piazza magical. What a delight to be able to do laundry on board. There ought to be more than two washer/dryer combos per deck, and you ought to be able to buy laundry soap without visting guest services, but we made it work. Our cabin steward Larry was magnificent, our stateroom was constantly refreshed. The Princess Patter did a good job alerting us to what was going on on the ship. Part 1 Summary So: A gorgeous ship, a comfortable state room, a first-rate itinerary, delicious and abundant food, beautiful views, what's not to love? The Bad Because of all these wonderful things, I was broken-hearted to leave the Crown Princess, and I wish I were still aboard. However, there were some bad things, too, and they were bad enough that I will try a few other cruise lines before I return to Princess. The Endless Ripoffs You are literally pounded with ads for overpriced Jewelry, Watches, Perfumes, Photography, and Spa Services. For the Spa, they give you a $50-off coupon for services that are overpriced by more than $50. For the others, there are daily specials, raffles, super-sales, hard-sells, etc. It's tawdry. The Mother of All Ripoffs -- The Champagne Fine Art Auction The Casino and the Fine Art Gallery use up a LOT of space on the ship, so even if you ignore them, you are still ripped off by loss of space that could be used for something else. But we attended the Champagne Fine Art Auction to try to understand what it could possibly be, and we we aghast. It was the most despicable collection of psychological techniques for high-pressure sales that I have ever seen in my life. We found a nice Kinkade Disney "Beauty and the Beast" piece that we knew for a fact could be had at the Disney store for $500 ($450 online from Kinkade, it turns out, in the largest, highest quality, most select version), and The Fine Arts Gallery offered it to us for the "rock bottom" price of $7,020. I won't go into all the details about all the scams and psychological tricks, but suffice it to say that Princess should be protecting its passengers from this kind of scam, not perpetrating it. This is unforgivable, and it colored for us the entire rest of the trip, because we knew that Princess would be willing to prey upon its captive passengers in the worst conceivable way. Bloomberg did an expose on Park West's Art Auctions at Sea a couple years ago, titled, "Prepare to Be Seasick." Read it. Mediocre Excursions Princess sold dozens of excursion at each port, which means dozens of tour guides. One of those tour guides will be the worst of all, and you have a chance of getting assigned to that guide. This is a structural problem -- finding 24 great tour guides is really difficult. But if you book an independent tour, like Viator, they aren't running as many buses, so they can afford to be more picky and in fact they do better quality control. Every Viator I have ever taken has been better than every Princess excursion I took. Princess was paid to do better, but in fact did worse. I'll try much harder to book independent tours in the future. Ultimate Drink Disaster The one Princess Scam Machine that you cannot possibly avoid is the Beverage System. Costco included an Ultimate Beverage Package in our tour, so we thought we had avoided any friction around that, but we were so, so, so wrong. First, even if you have a package, you still have to show your card so they can manually write down your account information every single time you get any kind of drink. So that's annoying. And the rules around that are one drink at a time, so you won't be ordering a Diet Coke for your partner who is off at the restroom. Unless they are there to order their own drink and show their own card, they'll have to wait. The delay and friction around the dinner table as everybody gets carded for every drink at every meal distracts from whatever moment you are trying to have. Second, the Ultimate Lie is that you can have 15 glasses of wine per day, but you can't have even one Diet Sprite. Fountain soft drinks are included, but their fountain choices are limited, and canned soft drinks are not included. That means not only do they charge me $1.73 for each Diet Sprite, but I have to go through an apology ritual with the server who tries to sell me on a sugared spite and apologizes five times for having to charge me $2.30, but consoles me that I get 25% off the $2.30 (hence $1.73) for having bought the Ultimate Lie Package. I had to go through this every single day for every single Diet Sprite at every single meal. We all know that they get Diet Sprite for 25-cents a can, probably less than they pay for the wine and mixed drinks they are retailing for $9 each, so charging for canned soft drinks is a major ripoff and a major inconvenience. HORRIBLE Enrichment The port o'call lectures were boring beyond words -- you could bond with other passengers over this -- I literally fell asleep. The activities were insipid or insulting -- Paper Flower Making, Napkin Folding, Speed Painting. We tried some of these. No kids summer camp can compete with the stupid here. HORRIBLE Entertainment I loved the X-Trio, and the musical lounge acts were maybe so-so. The "I was Mufasa" guy in the Crown Theater was talented, and his show was tolerable. The ambient music in the ship was poor -- too much whiny Millennial Indy music for the mostly over-fifty crowd, and four times at least we had to hear "Sailing Away," so call it unimaginative. But the two Stage Shows were a disaster. Don't blame the singers, dancers, and musicians -- they were first rate talent, who signed up to do Disney-style musical reviews, but the producer and director of these shows -- and let the blame flow like a river all the way to the Entertainment Director and the Cruise Director -- ought to be fired so fast and so hard that they never experienced anything like it. The problem with the Soul Motown show was that they chose some of the worst tunes to fill the time. This happens when a director is bored of the standard tunes and wants to entertain themselves more than the entertain the audience. It was okay, but it would have been a better show if they had done platinum hits of any decade, or show tunes, or the Great American Songbook, or anything. The problem with Blame It On The Boogie, is, first, that Disco is not worth reviving. Second, the Disco Era was about more than just having sex, but this show simply staged a 40-minute on-stage orgy, which was so UN-family friendly that at one point the actors caricatured the sleaziest possible men and started sexually assaulting the women on stage. That nobody at Princess thought this was inappropriate -- or at least thought they could do better, that there were SOME standards for stage entertainment on Princess at all -- boggles the mind. It was a tough way to finish the cruise and left a bad taste in our mouths. Princess obviously slashes its entertainment budget compared to other cruise lines, but what I witnessed wasn't just low-budget. It was poor judgment and bad taste. SUMMARY So Princess has a great ship, a great crew, great service, great food, and you can have a great time. I will try to find a cruise line that isn't so aggressively, furiously intent on scamming its passengers at every turn. If there is no such line, I might return to Princess, and if I do, I will just do everything in my power to ignore the Shopping, Spa, Casino, Art, and Entertainment, and I am sure I will have a nice time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I chose this cruise because of its itinerary. I generally enjoyed the ports, with the exception of Marseilles where I paid $64.95 for a hop-on-hop-off tour that I could have booked directly for about $22.00. When I attempted to go online ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its itinerary. I generally enjoyed the ports, with the exception of Marseilles where I paid $64.95 for a hop-on-hop-off tour that I could have booked directly for about $22.00. When I attempted to go online and provide reviews of my excursions, I found that Princess does not allow guests this option. Why not allow past passengers to provide feedback for the use of future guests? At Carnival's site, I can read guest reviews of the excursions offered at each port. The food, accommodations,and fitness facilities were comparable to what I have experienced on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival. The entertainment was disappointing as there were no performers from off the ship. My biggest issue was with the staff. 1) The first time I visited the lido deck, I got a 'dirty look' when I passed on using the hand sanitizer. 2) When I was locked out of my room and approached another cabin steward, he directed me to try to find my cabin steward. When I returned and told him my cabin steward was not in the vicinity, he actually left the room he was in and went to confirm my findings. When he could not locate my cabin steward, he finally made a call to have my cabin number temporarily added to his key card. 3)I was informed I was not "allowed" to bring food into Club Fusions (I had brought my dessert from the Lido). 4) It was also in Club Fusion where one of the entertainment staff was egregiously rude to a passenger who called out the answer in a trivia contest. When another passenger called her on it, she responded that she "didn't care" and "he (the passenger who called out the answer) could leave if he was going to do that." 5) Finally, I found the staff generally less friendly and welcoming than in my previous cruise experiences (this was my 21st cruise). On previous cruises, every cabin steward I passed had a greeting. Not on the Crown Princess. All this said, there were some staff members who were friendly and welcoming. Many of the staff members in the Lido met the standard of hospitality I have come to expect on a cruise. Also, kudos to the staff at Guest Services who were always friendly and helpful. I don't know how Princess manages it, but there was never a line when I visited Guest Services. Overall, not what I expected given the price and the Princess reputation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I chose this cruise for the itinerary. It was a 7 night Mediterranean cruise beginning in Athens Greece ending in Barcelona, Spain. We were a group of 4 adults. However, we were overwhelmed by the outstanding service on the ship. We ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary. It was a 7 night Mediterranean cruise beginning in Athens Greece ending in Barcelona, Spain. We were a group of 4 adults. However, we were overwhelmed by the outstanding service on the ship. We booked our first mini suite club class cabin and received some extra perks. We were able to embark without delay but it seemed like the regular lines were moving quickly and smoothly. Upon arrival in our cabin, we were greeted with a glass of champagne from our cabin steward. The cabin also included a small bottle of white and red wine for our cabin. The best part of the cruise was the excellent service in the dining room. Our servers were kind, knowledgeable and very pleasant. Their recommendations were always on point. They even gave us advice on the areas we visited. We booked all of our tours privately so I have no knowledge of the excursions. Princess should be very proud of their staff. After the cruise we extended our stay in Barcelona for two nights. On the morning of our departure, a representative from Princess came to the hotel to make sure we got our transfer. (This was 2 1/2 days after our cruise ended) Also at the airport, we were met by two Princess representatives who escorted us to our check-in area. I've been on many cruises and this was a first. I would highly recommend this ship and look forward to another Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The destinations were great, more time at Messina and Crete would have made this portion of the trip outstanding (i.e. 10 to 12 hours at these ports would be ideal). 14 out of the 17 days we smelled sewage at various times on various ... Read More
The destinations were great, more time at Messina and Crete would have made this portion of the trip outstanding (i.e. 10 to 12 hours at these ports would be ideal). 14 out of the 17 days we smelled sewage at various times on various decks while at sea, the other days were in ports. Passenger should not see bubbled up paint or rust anywhere where passengers can access, especially near the Serenity and on the Promenade Decks. This Boat is only 13 Years old. People pay a lot of money to go on these cruises, but, there was a constant push to sell extras even after saying NO! Other Examples of just being cheap: Ice Cream - free, pay extra for the sprinkles. Hamburgers - free, but put cheese and bacon on it, pay extra. Pizza same thing. The Entertainment was Marginal, there cultural nights in Barcelona and Athens with the local dances were effectively meaningless. There was No explanation of what the dances being performed are, nor there significance, purpose, or meaning. Minimal variety of the entertainment Port and shore excursions were more than 2x's the cost of doing it yourselves. Do a little research before you go and save a lot of money, a little planning goes a long way. Some of the sights you see on the Princess Shore Excursions are Drive Bys. But they do seem to find time to stop to Shop. If word got around that someone had a couple decks of cards and chips for a Texas Hold'em game no one would use their electronic table. Example 3 players 1 looses $40, 1 wins $2 another wins $10 and Princess Cruise Lines Takes $28 Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise due to the iternary which did not disappoint! Felt ship was nice clean and well appointed. Shore excursions were awesome. Food was just okay. Steakhouse was a joke and not worth the additional funds. Crew and ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the iternary which did not disappoint! Felt ship was nice clean and well appointed. Shore excursions were awesome. Food was just okay. Steakhouse was a joke and not worth the additional funds. Crew and staff were semi pleasant but not overly friendly nor helpful. Bartenders, wait staff, front desk and room stewards were delightful and seemed to care. My 21st cruise so i can tell a good one from a poor one! This cruise was okay nothing to brag about. The embarkation and disembarking was well organized and efficient. No complaints. The shore excursion organizers were the same, pleasant and efficient. The overall enertainment was lackluster. The comediene was funny and entertaining. There was a lounge act "too cool" which we enjoyed. The reet qas mediocre at best. I give this cruise a pass-average rating. Nothing horrific wrong but nothing terribly exciting either. C+ or B- We traveled as a couple with no other family or children. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The ship is old, the WiFi is terrible, especially for the price and the food was meh. The menu was repetitive. This was my very first cruise and I was quite underwhelmed. We didn’t even get the horn when we pulled out of Barcelona. ... Read More
The ship is old, the WiFi is terrible, especially for the price and the food was meh. The menu was repetitive. This was my very first cruise and I was quite underwhelmed. We didn’t even get the horn when we pulled out of Barcelona. The stops were absolutely amazing. Which is the point of the cruise I guess. Florenc felt very rushed, and it felt like we were led to shop in the ship affiliated store. Not that I minded, but I would have liked more time to explore. They need to specify the excursions are a bit strenuous for the elderly. Spell out the walking, rocky terrain, etc. some stops were too much for them. Not much to do for the kids, everything shut down at 11pm. Mid trip, the bathroom began to smell like a Porta potty Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
To see if Princess could make amends for problem laden Hawaiian cruise and restore faith in Princess. This was their chance, did they succeed, not only did they fail to resurrect their product in our eyes they reinforced our decision never ... Read More
To see if Princess could make amends for problem laden Hawaiian cruise and restore faith in Princess. This was their chance, did they succeed, not only did they fail to resurrect their product in our eyes they reinforced our decision never ever again. 1) Get on board just before 5.00 pm and hear announcement “Muster drill will commence at 5.30 pm” we immediately go to a bar and ask for two drinks, waiter says “Yes Sir”. Waiter go to sort out drinks his Manager says No. Waiter informs us, we ask to speak to manager, manager reluctantly appears and we question his decision, he says can’t serve whilst Muster drill has commenced. Announcement says “ Muster drill will commence in ten minutes “ We ask manager to reconsider, No. Not a good start to the Cruise. Picking up sunbed towels from the clean/new towel bin found several with large brown stains on them so threw them into the used bin, staff came to watch and as I found more stained towels and showed them one of them gave a classic Gallic shrug. Towels went in the bin. Sadly we found cabin towels also stained prior to our using them. In the cafe clients were filling their personal water bottles from the water machines and they were coming into contact with the taps, staff nearby said nothing and did nothing to stop it. I surely do not need to point out the ramifications of this to cruisers. Anytime Dining. Now I understand the word anytime to be just that, NOT princess, apparently anytime means anytime after 7.30 pm or if the maitre’d likes you. If you challenge the maitre’d he is quite happy to have a very public disagreement with you. Disembarking. Now does this have to be a problem? The ship docks early in the morning, your flight arranged by Princess is at 7.00 pm. You are requested to be at your disembarkation point for 10.0 am . At 10.15 am you are placed on coaches for a 75 minute ride to Rome airport and dumped to fend for yourself until your flight at 7.00 pm. All the better cruise lines leave you on board and allow you to use cafes/ sun beds etc until nearer your flight time. Princess comments are “you could have gone on an excursion or you could pay a fee and stroll around Rome for the day” . Anything but stay on board, we feel Princess attitude is we have had your money, either spend more or get lost. Their final comment is we do take great note of customer feedback, well take note never again. I have not listed all complaints. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
My husband and I chose this cruise because we first took the Trans-Atlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale to England. As long as we were in Europe we decided to take another cruise, a Mediterranean cruise. We traveled through England, ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise because we first took the Trans-Atlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale to England. As long as we were in Europe we decided to take another cruise, a Mediterranean cruise. We traveled through England, Paris, ended up in Barcelona and embarked on the cruise there. We disembarked in Rome. The excursions were fine - the ship was not. There was a foul sewage smell half-way through our cruise that they never fixed. Having paid for a balcony that we could not use was very disappointing. The cleanliness of the ship was not up to par - there were many dirt spills on the carpets throughout the ship. The food was only okay. Our room steward needed more training on how to simply clean a cabin. I go on vacation to enjoy someone waiting on me - not me having to clean my cabin even after notes were left for the steward. Not the best cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
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