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Sail Date: April 2008
This review is written from the perspective of having cruised on Royal Caribbean twice in the past, once on Sovereign of the Seas, and once on Mariner of the Seas. We are in our mid-forties, with no children. Pre-Cruise We stayed on ... Read More
This review is written from the perspective of having cruised on Royal Caribbean twice in the past, once on Sovereign of the Seas, and once on Mariner of the Seas. We are in our mid-forties, with no children. Pre-Cruise We stayed on day pre-cruise at the Caribe Hilton in the Punta Terra district of San Juan. While the hotel and grounds are beautiful, we would not stay here again because of the limited options for restaurants within walking distance. Lunch and dinner at the hotel were fairly expensive. A tent camp protesting the building of a new hotel was set up outside, with heavy police presence, which made crossing the bridge into the Condado uncomfortable. Embarkation We arrived for embarkation at around 12:30pm. There were no lines, and we were able to drop our baggage with the porters and proceed directly into the terminal. After check-in, we were routed through a duty-free arcade on the way to the gangway, which gave us the opportunity to purchase bottled water and soda, which could be freely carried on (along with wine), or liquor which needed to be stashed in carry-on luggage. Our balcony stateroom on Riviera Deck (14) seemed a little crowded, but offered a lot of closet space. It was perfectly adequate for the two of us, though there was one armchair that just always seemed to be in the way. Our balcony was fully covered. Air conditioning didn't seem to be working when we entered, but when we called passenger services we were told that it would pick up once we left port. That was true...other than embarkation day, we were always comfortable. Ship The best description I can come up with for the decor of the ship is "understated elegant". While there was nothing with the "Wow" factor of a Royal Caribbean ship, the decor was pleasant and tasteful throughout. Public areas were scrupulously clean. The Piazza is a particularly well thought-out space, with lots of nooks and crannies where you could sit quietly. There are some difficulties getting to certain areas of the ship, but most could be avoided if you always used the Promenade Deck (7) as your thoroughfare. We constantly found ourselves getting caught in a dead-end stairwell near the Botticelli dining room. The main pools are very spacious, and there was very little noise bleed-over from the Movies Under the Stars pool. The Terrace pool was often crowded. The Lotus Spa pool was much quieter. Overall, we found that the way that public areas were broken up and dispersed really prevented any given area from feeling crowded most of the time. Entertainment The showroom entertainment that we saw was quite good, although we tended to avoid the production shows. We caught two shows during the week, a stand-up comic, and a musical-comedy duo. Both shows were very enjoyable. We never had trouble finding seats in the Princess Theater. The rotating entertainment in the bars and piazza were for the most part just background music. While the string quartet was quite good, the other entertainers seemed to have a very limited repetoire. We weren't especially impressed with J.J., the cruise director, but that didn't really impact our cruise one way or the other. Dining We found the layout of the buffet in the Horizon Court to be very congested, since it uses a number of island stations, but there is not a lot of room to move around. There also didn't seem to be much logic as to what food was on what station. One annoying peculiarity was that sugar-free items (syrup, jam, dessert, etc) were kept in the back, and you had to ask for them. The layout of the Cafe Caribe was a little easier to deal with, since it was pretty much a straight line. However, due to the placement of the items, we often found ourselves backtracking. The selection of food on the buffet was somewhat limited, usually following a theme. The selections seemed to me to be more complex and ethnic than typical buffet fare, with a lot of curries and rice dishes. Quality for the most part was very good, with a very few exceptions (strudel just doesn't hold well on a steamtable...it turns into strudel pudding), and the fish dishes in particular were excellent. We ate in the Michelangelo Dining room for several of our evening meals, and found the food there to be just superb. We also enjoyed the service, and never felt that we would have done better with traditional dining. We also never felt that the automatic gratuity negatively affected our service. The pastry chefs onboard do a fabulous job with desserts...the cakes and pastries were top-notch, and there was plenty of chocolate available to suit my wife's palate. The strudels in the dining room are not to be missed. On the more casual side, the pizzeria is surprisingly good, almost a Brooklyn style pizza. The Trident Grill, serving burgers and hot dogs poolside, also was a nice change of pace. One of our favorite venues was the International Cafe in the Piazza. The morning pastries and croissants were wonderful, especially when paired with (extra charge) cappuccino, and the afternoon gelato was the best nickel-and-diming I've ever experienced. $1.50 gets you three enormous scoops of creamy gelato, enough o feed 4 people. 6 or seven flavors are available, though we stuck with the Nutella, Torroncini, and Stracchiatella flavors. Service Service onboard was uniformly excellent. Everyone was always friendly and welcoming. We didn't find that auto-gratuities had any negative effect on service, and we tipped several waiters and our room steward extra. Shore Excursions San Juan - after lunch, we disembarked and took the free trolley up to El Morro. Entry fee was $3 per person. We listened to a short orientation by the park ranger, Julianna Smith, and then proceeded to tour the fortress. It was a perfect day, and the lawn was full of families flying elaborate kites, a wonderful backdrop for the dramatic fort. After touring the fort, Julianna gave us directions for a stroll back to our ship. While Old San Juan looks large on a map, it actually is a very compact town, and very easy to navigate. We strolled throughout the artisan's market on the Paseo, and re-boarded. Barbados - We had pre-booked with Silver Moon, a luxury catamaran that only takes 12 passengers out on a day sail. The cat is pristine and spacious, and we sailed out to a site near Payne's Bay, where we snorkeled with the sea turtles, and to a site with a reef and a sunken wreck for snorkeling. We then anchored near Sandy Lane and were served a catered lunch. Ben and Dexter, our captain and first mate, made us feel like family, and the return trip to Bridgetown was a blast as we crashed throughout he waves under full sail. This was absolutely the best tour we've ever taken, anywhere. St. Lucia - Due to sunburn, we cancelled our day with Island Divers at Ti Kaye at Anse Cochon, and spent the day on the ship (in the shade!) Antigua - We had booked privately with Antigua Paddles. We were met at the pier and driven across the island to the town of Seatons by Mr. Tobitt, who gave us a wonderful commentary on the way. At Seatons, we met our hosts, Jennie and Cornad LeBarrie. Conrad took us out into the mangroves on the northeast coast, and explained the ecology of the area. Later, we motored out to Bird Island for a short hike to the top of the island and panoramic view of the bay. Finally, we enjoyed a snorkel along the reef at Bird Island, and returned to Seatons for refreshments. This was another wonderful tour, and the LeBarrie's are great hosts. Tortola - We decided to get in some more snorkeling, and arranged a taxi to drop us at Brewer's Bay. The ride was great, along the winding switchbacks over the mountain ridge. When Nicole's Beach Bar opened, we were able to rent fins and snorkel out along the reef. The reef in this area is immense (just take a look at the bay using Google Earth). We snorkeled the left side of the reef for about an hour, and had a fantastic time. Our driver returned as scheduled, and took us back to the ship. Please note that if you're looking for a luxurious white sand beach, Brewer's is not for you! The beach is fairly narrow, with a lot of rocks. Beach chairs are available from Nicole's for $5, but you have to carry them yourself, and there are no umbrellas. The beach is also home to a campground. The snorkeling here, however, is fantastic. St. Thomas - Unfortunately, Children's Carnival was going on in St. Thomas, so shopping and transportation options were limited (although the stores at Crown Bay were open). We opted to relax onboard, and had the ship practically to ourselves. Disembarkation We opted for Express Luggage, at $15 per person. Theoretically, your bags are picked up, you claim them in the terminal in San Juan, and then they are transported to the airport and checked in for you. In addition, you are given your boarding passes in advance so that you can bypass the lines at the airport. By 9pm on Friday, our boarding passes had not arrived, so I waited in line for an hour at the purser's desk to find that we had been denied Express Luggage service because of a problem with the airline (Continental). It would have been nice if someone had let us know instead of having to wait in line to find out. We got early luggage tags, put our bags out, and retired. In the morning, we gathered in Club Fusion for our 8am call. At 8:15, we were ushered to the gangway and into the terminal. Passing through customs was a breeze, but finding our luggage was another matter. No baggage carousels here, and it took 45 minutes to locate our luggage in the vast terminal. If you don't have outrageously colored luggage, be sure to tie something very identifiable to your luggage handle! Within minutes of finding our luggage, we were in a taxi on our way to the airport. Overall On the negative side, the buffet needs a bit of a redesign. While we were satisfied with the quality and the choices, it just became far to chaotic at peak times. Also, we found it annoying that Princess did not allow passengers to use the lockers in the Lotus Spa unless they had spa appointments booked. This made it inconvenient to use the free saunas and streamrooms available in the locker room areas. There didn't seem to be any reason for that restriction. If someone were to offer me identical free cruises on either Crown Princess or Mariner of the Seas, I'd probably give the edge to Crown Princess. Pool areas were more spacious, crowd flow and control was better, and the food was definitely a cut above Royal Caribbean. I also found the service to be just slightly better than RCCL. Add in the convenience of anytime dining, and Princess takes it. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
I have just returned from an amazing week on the crown princess. This was my 6th cruise, 4th with a Carnival Corp company (Cunard, Holland America and Windstar) first with princess. After this last week, I will most likely never cruise ... Read More
I have just returned from an amazing week on the crown princess. This was my 6th cruise, 4th with a Carnival Corp company (Cunard, Holland America and Windstar) first with princess. After this last week, I will most likely never cruise with another line again. I traveled with my Mom for this cruise. She had Cat. I and I had Cat. C, they were nice enough to upgrade both of our rooms to those categories, while still making sure to keep our rooms within a few doors of each other. We arrived into San Juan on time, unfortunately 2 of our 3 bags didn't, along with approximately 100 other peoples bags from our flight (US Airways A330 from PHL.). After filing a report with them, we headed off to the pier, with the promise from the airline that they would deliver the bags to the ship. The Cab cost $19.50 (2 Passengers and 1 Bag), about a 20 min drive basically traffic free drive. We arrived at the pier at 3pm and after the most enjoyable boarding I have ever had (including lots of fun drink samples) were on board within 30 min without even one line once in the outside gate of the pier. Inside the ship is drop dead gorgeous. The Piazza is simply stunning, done all in marble and brass, never over the top, just very classy. Through out the evening there is always live music, with all top notch entertainers (Rubin Ruiz was my favorite). The Ship is kept up meticulously, it showed no signs of ware and tare anywhere. Also, there was never even the slightest feel of a crowd. After reading other reviews, I was ready to have lines for everything, but never once did I have to wait or have a delay (this was a sold out sailing with many children as well being NYC spring recess), including getting on and off the ship while in port. My last cruise was on the Statendam, which with 1/3 of the people felt packed in. Service was fantastic, from all staff members, better than other cruises I have sailed on by far, including luxury lines. What ever you needed was always there, sometimes before you knew you needed it. Everyone was always warm and friendly going out of their way to make your day better. We had anytime dining, which made life very easy, like a small ship, though we kept the same waitress. Diana is fantastic, I cherished her advice, keeping me away from the dishes that should be avoided. The one week spot on the whole cruise was dining. The chef loved to use salt to a level unseen before. Mostly tasted very good otherwise and was well presented. The buffets showed the sings of a ship trying to prevent Norovirus, with hand sanitizers placed everywhere. Selection was very good and refreshed frequently. Service within the Horizon court and Carib Cafe was top notch with silverware placed in front on you before you could finish sitting down. Our room steward, kept everything as perfect as possible at all times, filing all request immediately. The cruise staff kept up so many activities that within a week you could not possibly do all of the ones you wanted to. Everything I did attend was well arranged and went off very smoothly. Entertainment was fantastic in the 3 main rooms and all the bars, best I have ever seen on a ship. The shore excursion desk, though it had limited hours, was very well run. The ports were great. In Barbados we did 2 excursions. The Turtle and shipwreck snorkel was the highlight of the whole week. I was within 1 foot of a giant sea turtle. Afterwards we went to the monkey reserve, great experience with the monkeys running all around us. Next was St. Lucia. We did Cosol's tour, which was as good as everyone said it would be. I can't recommend it highly enough. In Antigua we did the Stingray snorkel. Wonderful experience, well run with a very friendly staff. Once we got back, we walked out of the pier and around the corner to a nice little restaurant for lunch and ice cream. In Tortola we took Smith's Ferry to Virgin Gorda for the baths. Great place, just too crowded, but stunningly beautiful. Our last port was St. Thomas, where we went to the tramway and had a nice day and hike at the top of the mountain. Carnival was on so most stores were closed. This was simply the best cruise I have ever been on. I am already booking a 3 week cruise on Princess for later in the year. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
We've just got back from a two week B2B cruise on the Crown Princess and I thought I'd share our experience. It's a bit "War & Peace", so if you get a bit bored please feel free click on the next page - I ... Read More
We've just got back from a two week B2B cruise on the Crown Princess and I thought I'd share our experience. It's a bit "War & Peace", so if you get a bit bored please feel free click on the next page - I won't be offended! This is our fifth recent cruise, we've been three times with Princess and twice with RCI. There were eight of us; my wife and myself, our four kids (age 10, 12, 15 and 17) and my parents (aged 70 and 71 respectively!) We flew from London to Miami on the Friday, stayed at the Hilton Miami Airport that night and flew on Saturday morning to San Juan. The flights were (more or less) on time and were comfortable - we flew Virgin Upper Class across the Atlantic, which is always very pleasant. The American Airlines check-in from Miami to San Juan was rather busy and chaotic but we survived that. I've never liked Miami Airport and it's long overdue an overhaul in my view. Check-in at the port was a breeze. It was about 15 minutes from port to gang plank. There was a bit of a queue (maybe 20 minutes) while people had their security photographs taken at the entrance to the ship. So from check-in to walking into the state rooms was about half an hour. I had registered our details over the web prior to the holiday, which definitely saved us time. We had two mini-suites (with connecting balcony) for us and the kids and my parents had a suite at the very aft of the ship (called the St Johns Suite, if I recall correctly) and all state rooms were on Dolphin Deck. The suite was a decent size but the mini-suites weren't really big enough for us, as there were three people in each room. With hindsight I would have booked two suites and one mini-suite to give us more room. All the rooms were clean and we were well looked after by our state room attendant who was excellent throughout. The ship was very clean, well run and had a really lovely ambience. The public rooms were lovely and we spent much time relaxing in the atrium listening to string quartets and various other entertainers. The ship felt very uncrowded on port days (of which there were 12) and slighted crowded on sea days, of which there were two. Last year we were on the Freedom Of The Seas (RCI) which felt much busier. Equally we found the elevators quicker on The Crown compared to Freedom - there seem to be more of them and less people. Our two younger children (girls) went to the kids' club and thoroughly enjoyed this. The food was outstanding. We chose 'anytime dining' and we never had to wait for a table, which, when you consider there were eight of us, was impressive. We also made regular use of the afternoon teas. Being English we like a decent 'cuppa' and the afternoon tea, complemented by a scone or three, was perfect - and was both cultured civilized. Just once did we eat in the buffet area, after watching MUTS (which, incidentally, is a really great concept which we all enjoyed). The Caribe buffet area has a different country's food offerings on different nights, but we rather drew the short straw when we opted for it. Now in the UK we have our share of French restaurants, Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Indian restaurants, Japanese restaurants, etc... However, I have never seen a German restaurant on any high street. It was, you've guessed, a night of German cuisine when we opted for it. There were schnitzelburgers et al. Well at least we laughed about it! We also went to Sabatini's' on one night. Now I've dined at many of the world's top restaurant and I have to say I've never experienced service quite like this. Outstanding!!! It was all due to our waiter, a Portuguese chap whose name escapes me, and his Mexican assistant. The guy offers the ultimate in service. Put it this way, no other person on Earth would have the people skills to persuade my (often squeamish) 15 year old daughter to eat a plate of squid. He did. The guy's clearly a genius. Regarding the ports of call, in summary: Barbados - five of our party went on a mountain biking excursion and three went by taxi to Malibu Beach. I wouldn't recommend the beach (it's an in industrial area) but bike excursion was excellent. St Lucia - two went mountain biking (an excursion, which they enjoyed), three went to a local (most excellent) beach and three grabbed a taxi and went for a tour of the island including a beach and shops. Antigua - two went shopping and six went in a taxi round the island stopping at a nice beach. Tortola - three went on X-Bobs, which is an excursion whereby you get to go underwater on the these submarine-bike type thingies. Great fun. The others, once again, grabbed a cab and went round the island for the day. St. Thomas - five went to Megan's Bay, a most beautiful beach with talcum powder sand. Incidentally, the taxi driver tried to rip me off saying he'd given me $30 too much change. He hadn't. And then he threatened to call the police. I requested he do just that. He then refused to drive and I refused to get out the car. Eventually I saw a cop, called him over, and explained the situation to him. We were eventually driven, but a tip was not offered! The other three went shopping (and there's plenty of that there!) San Juan - (changeover day). Four of us took a cab to the Arecibo Radio Telescope. It's about a ninety minute journey, but worth it. The dish is the size of a dozen football pitches and it sits below a receiver weighing over 600 tonnes. Quite a sight. The other four went shopping at some shopping mall. St Thomas - three of us went power snorkeling (a very good excursion where there are loads of turtles munching away at the bottom). The other five took a taxi to various places for the day. St Kitts - two people went mountain biking (a tough ride but excellent). Again, this was an excursion. The other six went to a local beach where there was a trampoline and slide in the water. Grenada - five people went on a whale and dolphin excursion. This was the only disappointing trip because (1) there were no whales; (2) my youngest was sea sick half a dozen times and; (3) it was too long and hot. The other three went to a hotel on Grand Anse Beach where we holidayed last year. Bonaire - snorkeling. Best snorkeling I've ever done. It was like swimming in an over-full tropical fish tank. Outstanding! Aruba - we all went to a very busy beach (forgot the name). It was too busy to be honest, and if we go again I'll travel a further half hour in the taxi and find a quiet beach. There followed a pleasant sea day and disembarkation was quick and easy, but we had a bit of a game finding all eight suitcases. There's always one that goes walkabout, but we eventually found it! We flew back to Miami and there was a seven hour gap between arrival in Miami and our departure to London. As such, we took a couple of taxis and headed to the Intercontinental Hotel at the harbor (we've been there before). We then strolled around the harbor, had a nice meal while watching the boats coming and going. So the above was our cruise which was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I have was just one negative comment. We found some of the entertainment slightly seedy and down-market. Some of the comedians' jokes were full of innuendo. Equally, for example, we went to a 'most common answer trivia challenge' and many of the questions were again full of innuendo and, I don't know, looking for a cheap and lazy laugh. If it was just my wife and I it wouldn't have bothered me but when my younger children and older parents are with us it was quite awkward and embarrassing. Other than that we thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and I'll probably book another for next year but I think we'll try a P&O cruise (Ventura probably) as we fancy a change. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
To begin... Around the month of January, my wife and I decided it was time for another cruise. I began the ritualistic activities of searching all kinds of internet resources, including the usual Expedia, TravelZoo, etc. Then a friend of ... Read More
To begin... Around the month of January, my wife and I decided it was time for another cruise. I began the ritualistic activities of searching all kinds of internet resources, including the usual Expedia, TravelZoo, etc. Then a friend of mine introduced me to two websites that changed my way of booking a cruise. First, I was introduced to this website. What greater way to learn about different itineraries and ships than to read from people who have been there and done that! I was able to book an inside stateroom on the Crown Princess for around $450.00 USD per person for the seven night voyage to the Southern Caribbean! I then found airfare for a non-stop flight from Orlando, FL to San Juan, Puerto Rico for about $160.00 USD on American Airline's website. With these prices, I was able to book the cruise and airfare to a Southern Caribbean itinerary for about the same price as I could have cruised from Florida. You can't beat that. Day 1 San Juan / Embarkation I live about two hours from the Orlando International Airport. After a brief drive, I parked at an off-site parking facility (Park-to-Fly) and found the daily rate ($7) to be much cheaper than that of the airport. Within a few minutes we whizzed through security and were in the air for our 2 hour and 45 minute flight to San Juan. I've read bad reviews about this airport, but I have to say that we had no problems whatsoever. We claimed our luggage and made our way toward the taxi stand. Look for the orange stand, where taxi rates are set and the attendant will give you a small receipt to give to your driver. Our fare to the Old San Juan pier was $21.50 USD for two people with four bags. After the brief taxi ride, we arrived at the pier. Just a couple of ID checks on the sidewalk outside and we were headed into the building. We dropped our bags off with the porters to take to our stateroom. Checking in was a breeze. From the time our airplane touched down to the time we opened the door to our stateroom: 1 hour and 15 minutes. I couldn't believe it. We had traveled on Royal Caribbean out of Miami for the last three cruises, and it took much longer. At 11:00 PM we set sail. Day 2 Day at sea. There were plenty of onboard activities. Day 3 Barbados. I was not impressed at all. This was the least favorite stop of my cruising history! We got off of the ship and took a taxi into town (which could have been walked to). The locals seemed pushy and rude. After about 30 minutes in town we walked back to the ship. I'm sure there had to have been some nice parts of the island outside of town, but we didn't get to them. I should have expected the creepiness when the ship's morning brochure for Barbados warned of people trying to sell you drugs on the island. Day 4 St. Lucia This was a beautiful island. The locals seemed much friendlier than the day before. We did not book a shore excursion with the ship; instead, once we exited the ship we linked up with a few other couples who were obviously looking for something to do. At the ship's terminal were several sightseeing stands, and we chose one of the options here. For only $30.00 USD per person we went on about a four hour tour of the island. Very nice. Be advised that if you plan on seeing the Pitons, you almost have to book a boat or catamaran tour. Some tours are also by road one way and by boat the other way. Due to the condition of the very winding roads, it takes quite a while to drive all the way to the south end of the island, and then back. I'd recommend a ship's excursion if that's where you want to go. Day 5 Antigua This island is tied for first place as our favorite for this cruise. Something about this island makes me have that tropical escape feeling I was looking for. We booked our only excursion through the ship for this port of call. We chose the "powerboat snorkeling adventure". Once we met our guide, we boarded a 30' powerboat literally underneath the bow of our cruise ship. The boat tied up right to our pier. An approximately 45 minute ride down the west coast of Antigua revealed some postcard-like beaches and coastline. We snorkeled on a reef that runs the southern tip of the island. Although a bit choppy along the reef on this day, we still saw some colorful fish. I lost my wife back onto the boat after we met "Sammy", the five foot long barracuda that hangs out around the boat when it's there. Once we were done snorkeling, our boat dropped us off onto a beach to enjoy about an hour of relaxation before returning us to the pier. This was a good day! Day 6 Tortola, B.V.I. Thanks to cruisecritic.com, this is where some good advice from some of you came into play. Friends at home had recommended "The Baths" on the island of Virgin Gorda as our excursion when in Tortola. I found that our cruise ship wanted $90.00 USD per person for an excursion to The Baths. I felt I could do it cheaper. We decided to pair up with a couple we met on our snorkeling adventure the day before in Antigua. Ryan and Stacey from Canada met us for breakfast and then we were off to Virgin Gorda. Once exiting the cruise ship terminal, we went to the left and walked about 10-15 minutes along the water to the ferry service pier. We chose Speedy's Ferry Service, which provided ferry service to several destinations. This was also the ferry that the cruise ship's $90.00 excursion paying customers were on. For $30.00 USD per person, we purchased a roundtrip ferry boat ticket and roundtrip ground transportation to The Baths once on Virgin Gorda. Once arriving at The Baths, we paid a $3.00 USD park admission fee. I have to say this was probably the highlight of our cruise. After walking a quarter mile or so, you come to some huge boulders. You can walk the trail through the rocks, which go from cave to cave filled with crystal-clear water. I had my shoes on except for one area about ten feet long that was about ankle deep; too far for me to jump without winding up with wet socks! Keep going until you find one of the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen! After swimming a couple of hours, we took the back path out, which leads to the parking lot area without having to go through the winding trail again. Back at the top there is shopping, food, drinks, restrooms, etc. Be sure and check the return ferry schedule, as they run about every hour or so. You wouldn't want to miss your ship… the free dinner is on board! Don't forget your camera (do not need a waterproof), and bringing snorkeling equipment would be a huge bonus. Day 7 St. Thomas Wanting to save a little money, we decided to stay onboard this day. We've been to St. Thomas before, and felt this good opportunity to relax while everyone else was off of the ship. Day 8 San Juan / Disembarkation Again, I have read horror stories about disembarkation and I must admit I feared the worst. Having booked a noontime flight, I was quite nervous about getting to the airport and to the gate. However, just as amazing as embarking the ship, disembarking was just as simple. After requested to vacate our staterooms by 8:00 AM, we stuffed one last free breakfast meal down before reporting to our waiting station at 9:00 AM. We arrived a few minutes early, and watched CNN on the big screen. At exactly 9:00 AM our color was called and we were guided to the exit gangway. Once off of the ship, we simply handed our U.S. Customs forms to the officers lining the hallway and found our baggage in the claim area. I liked how Princess had all of the baggage sitting out in the different color groups. This was much faster than the traditional baggage carousel game. Following the same taxi procedure as before, we quickly found ourselves back at the airport. Check-in and security was a breeze. Once again, total time from the time they called our color to depart to the time we were at our gate inside of the airport was 1 hour and 15 minutes. Now I had one more challenge… keep my wife out of the airport shops for two hours until our plane began boarding. Cruise Ship I have to say that the Crown Princess was everything I was hoping for. The ship has a layout that keeps you guessing. There were new places inside the ship that we were finding for the first time in the last days of our cruise. There were ample places of privacy, allowing you to escape. The ship truly gives the feeling that there aren't very many people on board. Princess' "Movies under the Stars" was a neat additive. You can lounge in a chair, in the pool, or in a hot tub and watch new movie releases from morning to night. We got to watch the NCAA Final Four and National Championship Game our cruise. We chose "Anytime Dining", another first for us. This was a much welcomed addition to cruising. We chose to eat by ourselves each night, and only had to wait to be seated on one occasion. You can also make reservations for a particular time if you wish. I think the food was superb. Lobster, filet mignon, Alaskan king crab legs, prime rib, and so many other refreshing options were available each night. While we did not try it, I heard that the Crown Grill ($25.00 USD cover charge) was worth every penny. I think the pizza out by the pool was some of the best pizza I've ever eaten. There were so many options of food; you could get cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, and bratwursts all day, in addition to the pizza and a cold cut sandwich shop. The entertainment was top-notch as well. A hypnotist show, comedians, magicians, musicians, the whole nine yards. I especially liked how all the entertainment was fairly clean. We're not up for the raunchy and racy types. I definitely recommend this itinerary, the Crown Princess, and Princess Cruise lines. I will return to Princess, and look forward to my next cruise. If you have any questions you think I might be able to answer, you can email me at casey_32091@yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
We were in heaven for two weeks on the Crown on the 4/19 and 4/26 sailings. Six months ago when we booked, we tried to book 2 one week cruises (this would have been our 15th and 16th "Elite status" Princess cruises). However, ... Read More
We were in heaven for two weeks on the Crown on the 4/19 and 4/26 sailings. Six months ago when we booked, we tried to book 2 one week cruises (this would have been our 15th and 16th "Elite status" Princess cruises). However, Princess indicated to our travel agent that she should book it as one 14 day cruise. Even six months before the cruise, we couldn't book a mini-suite as all mini's and suites were already sold out for the 1st week. Every cabin category was available for the second week at that time. Turns out that New England schools did Spring Break very late because Easter was so early. The first week had lots of families (and it was Passover weekend too so there were lots of Jewish families too). So we booked a balcony cabin and went on the waitlist for a mini. Eventually we got a "mini-suite guarantee" but without a cabin number until the week before the cruise. When I finally saw the cabin number in the Cruise Personalizer I didn't think anything of it because it was on Dolphin Deck which is the full deck of mini-suites. I went to the Princess website and looked at the deck plan. We had a very high number D737 so I scrolled to the back of the ship and right before my eyes--this wasn't a mini, it was a full Vista Suite facing the back of the ship. I e-mailed our travel agent to ask if we would only have the suite for the first week and be changed the second. She replied that Princess had forced us to book a 14 day cruise, so the suite was ours for the entire trip. Never in our lifetime will we ever be able to afford two weeks in a full suite (it was over $1,000 per person per week more than we actually paid). It sure spoils you. Supposedly the Vista Suites are the smallest suites onboard, but it was still much bigger than even a mini. We had a living room, bedroom, marble bath with both Jacuzzi tub and separate marble shower. Each night we had canapes delivered from a menu that we received in the room. Laundry was free as was Internet. We had a giant balcony (one of the deepest onboard according to the deck plans. It was roughly 25 feet wide and 12 feet deep with a teak dining table and four teak chairs as well as teak loungers. It was totally covered by the deck above us. We were mesmerized when under way by looking out at the ships wake. Service was outstanding in every way. We did four "special" dinners onboard. The first night in San Juan we ate at the Crown Grill. Because the ship departed at 11pm, they closed all dinning rooms at 7 and didn't re-open them until 9 pm. We figured there wouldn't be many people at our regular late seating table so we tried the Crown Grill as we hadn't been on a ship with that feature. The night before when we stayed at the Caribe Hilton, we had dinner at Morton's Steakhouse which is one of the restaurants in the hotel. We had an excellent dinner which was of course expected there. However, the filet in the Crown was even more tender than Mortons! When we boarded, we called the Room Service line and asked to make a reservation for the "Chef's Table" dinner. We had read earlier reviews and it's never been available on previous cruises/ships we've been on. Eventually they called us back and said we would need to be interviewed by the Maitre'D the next morning at 8 am (a sea day). My wife slept in while I got up and went to the Botticelli Dining room along with 10 other people. Each of us was interviewed by the Maitre'D as to food preferences/allergies, and dress code (closed toe shoes because we would be in the ship's kitchen for the first part). I "passed" and we were told that it would be the next evening at 7 pm. We assembled at the International Cafe in the Piazza/Atrium the next evening. The Maitre'D and the head chef came and greeted us and escorted us into the kitchen. I have been on many tours of the ships kitchen usually on the last day at sea when they do the cooking demonstrations. We've never been in there when there's real activity going on. It was truly amazing to see all of the goings and comings of the waiters, cooks etc. They were grilling the steaks and chicken while we watched and serving salads etc. We went to a kind of corner of the kitchen where we were to have appetizers. The head chef had been narrating all of what was going on and explaining the different areas of the kitchen that are used for cooking and cleaning and preparation. They brought us Moet & Chandon champagne to sip while they gave us special appetizers including a crab claw "martini" with pieces of crab and a small piece of claw meat sticking up. There were other appetizers too created and served by the pastry chef himself. Interesting to note--the head chef said that now almost 55% of passengers eat in the Horizon Court/Cafe Caribe even at dinner. That reflected our experience with late seating where our table for six had no one else but us the first week, and one other couple the second week who were only there for three nights. After appetizers in the kitchen, we were escorted to one of the anytime dining rooms where a table for 10 was laid out with fresh flowers. The Maitre'D hovered over us and the meal started. More appetizers (including champagne risotto to die for) with a Sauvignon Blac wine were served. Again, none of these dishes are on the regular menu because they are too complicated to prepare for 3,000 passengers. The main dish was on a medieval wrought iron stand that had hooks on it. Each hook had a medallions of pork or beef, or veal on it. When the racks were brought out, they were flambed. There were every kind of potatoes, vegetable, and sauce choices offered along with pasta too. Again a red wine (Murietta's Well Meritage) was poured during the entree. Finally, there were special desserts from the pastry chef who was there to serve them. Each woman at the table received the Princess Cookbook autographed by the chef and a red rose. The ships photographer also took pictures of each couple and those were delivered to the room the next day. It was truly a meal to remember. The Maitre'D says that no other line has ever done this and it was very, very special. My wife has been on WeightWatchers and has lost 25 pounds (and me indirectly 9 pounds) so we tried to be careful (not that night) during the rest of the cruise. At the end of the 2 weeks each of lost 1 pound! Every day that I didn't dive, we walked 2 miles around the deck and Maureen did the Susan Komen Foundation 5 K each week too. We had light breakfast on our balcony each morning, and just a large salad in the Horizon Court for lunch. That way we felt we could enjoy a nice dinner each evening. The food in the main dining room was excellent. They have fully gone to the "new" menu Small plates/Large plates and mixed some of the entrees from where they were on the old menus. Both fish and beef/lamb were always great. The other two special meals we had onboard were Sabatini's (again the turnaround night in San Juan for us), and the Ultimate Balcony Dinner. The Sabatini's on board Crown is the most beautiful Sabatini's we've seen--even nicer than Island Princess which is far nicer than any Grand class ship's version. Again they are fully into the new lighter but higher quality menu there. I had the langustinos because I knew we would have lobster later on balcony dinner. They were excellent and Maureen had fish which she loved (forgot what kind). Service was excellent like Crown Grill because so few passengers booked the 1st night of each cruise there. We hadn't planned to do Ultimate Balcony Dinner as we have actually done it twice (Island for our 25th Anniversary and Grand Princess last year). But with the suite and very large balcony, we couldn't resist. The waiters were ours for the evening and they came and set the table. We were just leaving Bonaire as dinner began so we had the lights of the city/island for our view. The multi course dinner is always excellent together with the full bottle (optional) of champagne! Very romantic guys--treat your wife, she's worth it. We did two Southern Caribbean routes on this cruise. The first had a day at sea, then Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and St. Thomas. The second week we went back to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, and a day at sea to end our cruise. Most of the islands I went SCUBA diving which is part of the reason to cruise and Maureen went snorkeling. We used Princess tours for most of this. However, on Barbados we did the yacht race which was an absolute kick (our yacht won). It was a little easier on the passengers/crew than the one in St. Maarten if you've done that one. We only had to "grind" the very first part to raise the sails, after that it was kind navigate around using the wind as sail power. It's amazing how fast you really go. Most of us never have had the opportunity to do this so it's a unique experience that we loved. St. Lucia has one of our favorite tours down to the Anse Chastenet resort by the Pitons. Maureen went down on a separate boat this time (we've had divers and snorkelers together on the same boat in the past on this one) since they had so many people going down. I was on a boat that took the divers. The second SCUBA dive was one of the two highlights of the trip with reefs that I described as "color by Technicolor". They were really that good. Maureen could lay out on loungers at the beach under palm trees and then I joined her for lunch. Eventually both boats went back to the ship. On Antigua we took "Eli's Eco Tour" (not via Princess). This was a long boat ride to the other side of the island and then snorkeling, lunch, more snorkeling and then return. It was a lot of fun. Snorkeling wasn't as great as some of the islands because the water wasn't as clear and reefs weren't as colorful, but we had a very enjoyable relaxing day together. St. Thomas shops were closed the 1st time we were there due to their Carnival. I went diving which was great, and Maureen went and watched the children's parade down the main street. She thought it was a lot of fun. We didn't care that the shops were not open (they were open at Crown Bay dock), as we would return there in 3 days on the second link). Turnaround day in San Juan we took a Princess tour to the El Yunke Rainforest (that's "el junke", not "el unke" in pronunciation!). Was very interesting. Took a busride for 45 minutes up into their mountains (3,000 feet). It's a tropical jungle on the mountains with flowers and birds all over. Did a number of stops at waterfalls and had a short 1 mile optional walk though the forest. We liked this and it was different than anything else we'd done in Puerto Rico earlier. The second week saw us back in St. Thomas for souvenir shopping. On St. Kitts we took the narrow gauge railroad which was outstanding. The tracks were laid for the sugar plantations which were the mainstay of the islands for years. They are now abandoned because it's not economic to grow sugar cane for sugar anymore. So they built this double decker train with covered open air second deck and air conditioned main deck. Goes slowly around the island for great views, and they serve banana daiquiris for free while on board! I went SCUBA diving on Grenada and Maureen did a spice islands tour which she liked. The best island was next to last--Bonaire. This is SCUBA diving heaven with the best reefs and tons of fish, and Maureen said the same about her snorkel trip. Finally we landed at Aruba which also had very good snorkeling/diving, but kind of paled in comparison to Bonaire. All in all this was our best cruise ever--thanks Princess! We've already booked for Alaska next year on the Coral and we will officially be "Elite" status then with all of its perks. Hope to see you on board on a future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
Well, where do I begin! This is my 6th Cruise, 2nd with Princess, I won't say it was the worst cruise (Carnival has that spot!) 3 on Royal & 1 on Carnival but it certainly wasn't the best. Getting on board was great, smooth ... Read More
Well, where do I begin! This is my 6th Cruise, 2nd with Princess, I won't say it was the worst cruise (Carnival has that spot!) 3 on Royal & 1 on Carnival but it certainly wasn't the best. Getting on board was great, smooth process and fast. We landed around noon and hopped in a taxi for $21.50 for 2 people and 4 bags...I would do this again as we didn't have to "WAIT" for the shuttle and everyone else to show up to fill the bus!!! I was very disappointed with the customer service which they pride themselves on. Just read the front page of the everything you need to know book in every stateroom, and they will explain C.R.U.I.S.E. this is NOT what we experienced. I'm not one to be to judgmental or to overcritical but this ship was rude from passengers to staff (Only Staff Exceptions are 2 people, one our cabin steward "Daniel" he was great! And 2nd Rhea a bartender in the Crooners Lounge..she made the last few nights on the ship AWESOME!!! Very friendly, great personality, I nominated her for employee of the month. We didn't get there until the end of the cruise which is probably a good thing...best Martini's and so many to choose from! NO ONE smiled nor did they make any conversation, not even a how are you today...I won't forget this one bartender, my mom and I are walking down through the shopping area, we come head on with a "bartender" he literally stopped dead in his tracks, did not move, waited for us to move, did not say excuse me or anything I was Appalled to say the least...I can expect this from other cruising passengers but staff???? We went into the shops, no one is in there but 4 staff members...3 of which were doing their own make-up and smelling perfumes, the other who knows all I know not one word out of them and we were in the shop for a good 10 minutes...smelling perfumes etc... Dining Room experience well, for us we in the past have ALWAYS gone to dinner everynight...this time only 2 times did we make dinner...does that tell you anything??? Food was cold, dinner was rushed, waiter (must have had some personal things going on) he was not friendly always interrupting conversation at the table when he would finally show up - we had empty glasses of wine with zero refills or even offers for a refill! Oh and we would get what the other person ordered in front of us...table of 6. We just found the buffet to be better for us...Pizza was good (it's not New York Pizza) but it works!!! Hamburgers are great! Yes, you have to pay for ice-cream not on Royal! It does seem a bit much to pay for ice-cream that is so inexpensive to begin with...charge for the sundae's and specialties but some vanilla/chocolate ice cream give me a break!! Tipping - this is now called a "Hotel Charge" and yes it's automatically added on...good news...you can change the amount! Why tip for something you don't use. They DO NOT advertise until the day before about clearing this up in the "Princess Patter!" Oh and to correct your "Hotel Charge" on a ship of 3,000+ passengers there is only a 3 hour window...and you have to go to one point to get a slip at the purser's desk and then go down to another lounge area...where the guy there was nice but give me a break!!! I just don't get why they don't automatically add on this "Hotel Charge" when you are paying for the cruise. What's another $74 bucks on top of what you are already paying!!!! Ports of Call St. Thomas - love the "BUSHWACKER" awesome drink and boy does it sneak up on you!!! Butterfly farm was neat! St. Kitts - Went kayaking this was amazing!! And snorkeling was available too! Beautiful waters and calm...great tour lady! Grenada - VERY Rude and pushy people! We went to Nutmeg's a recommended restaurant by Princess...the lady looked at us...I asked are you open yes we are...okay then...she sat us down, we got a beer to start, she comes back we ask for the fruit platter...her response we are ALL out of FRUIT! She clearly did not want to serve us and everyone else that filtered in from the ship! Spices are great to buy if you like to cook!!! Could care less if I ever went back to Grenada in fact I'm sure I won't!!! Bonaire - Beautiful to bad it was a HOLIDAY that I didn't know about before booking the trip...I would have went earlier! After all you pick ports you want to go to. Very disappointed shops not open only a select few and only until 2 PM. Taxi drivers didn't want to take us to where we wanted to go...we wanted to go see the Flamingo's we just hadn't signed up in time so we thought we will take a taxi that didn't happen. Aruba - Same as above...guess what another HOLIDAY!!! Oh and get this we were in BONAIRE & ARUBA for 7-8 hours at each port. Aruba we went horseback riding would recommend this to any horse lover!!!! I did get scared and had to get off only because I have had a really bad experience so I sat back with some of the caretakers drinking beers waiting for the group to return...they were very nice! Overall I'm not completely against Princess again but I can tell you I will be taking a Royal cruise on the Mediterranean in the Fall of 2009. I have had better CUSTOMER SERVICE overall all on Royal!!! 10x friendlier staff too!!! Make sure you aren't booking cruises on any HOLIDAYS! Because Princess doesn't let you know this, and trust me other passengers were upset as well! Will definitely cruise Caribbean again but not with Princess... not anytime soon! Oh and there are lots of couples!!!! Not too many singles, partying and having fun!!! I guess that is what Carnival is for! But then again, it's always a hit and miss kind of thing! Getting off the ship was a smooth process very well organized!!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
This was our 2nd cruise. Since our first cruise was on RCCL to Bermuda I wasn't sure that Princess could measure up to the great time we had. But my concern was for naught. The Crown Princess is a great ship and calmed any fears I ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise. Since our first cruise was on RCCL to Bermuda I wasn't sure that Princess could measure up to the great time we had. But my concern was for naught. The Crown Princess is a great ship and calmed any fears I had. We flew from Washington DC National Airport to San Juan with a change in Miami. Our travel agent booked the flights for less than half the price that Princess wanted to charge. By the way, our group consisted of 5 couples. All 10 of us were pleased with the flights and the cost! After a quick bus ride (Princess Bus) to the dock, we spent less than 15 minutes going through the boarding process. I must say that Princess handles this a good bit better than RCCL. The Crown Princess is a very beautiful ship. Its muted elegance made the decor better than I could have hoped for. All five couples had inside cabins on the Baja deck. If I would change anything, next time I'd try to get the cabins on a lower deck. It seemed that we were always waiting for an elevator to go somewhere. A lower deck would have allowed us to walk down stairs to the Princess Theatre, casino, and dining rooms. But the elevator waiting time wasn't a big deal. We chose "anytime dining" which worked out well for us. We all agreed that this would be our choice on future cruises. Some folks like having the same waiter every night, but we really enjoyed meeting new ones. The entire wait staff was very professional and extremely friendly. I especially appreciated the nightly suggestions that all our waiters gave. They were right on! The Crown Princess is a huge ship, but its layout is such that you never felt crowded. It gives you a small ship feel. Even on sea day there were open chairs at the pool. We especially enjoyed the "Movies Under the Stars." Although at our age (50's and 60's) sometimes its hard to stay awake at midnight to see the end of the movie. Overall the entertainment was outstanding. We saw every production show in the Princess Theatre. I can't tell you how impressed we were with the quality of all three shows. These kids danced and sang their hearts out. In addition we enjoyed the husband and wife singing-comedy team; the comedy magician; and the stand-up comedian. All were great! As far as our cabin, it was better than expected. Knowing that it was an inside cabin, I knew it would be small. But it had ample storage space. The bed was tolerable, however the pillows were FLAT! Even so, I slept like a baby. Our cabin steward, Geraldo was a gem! I don't think I've ever met a sweeter, kinder, more gentle person when travelling. The one night my wife wasn't feeling well, Geraldo went out of his way to check up on her and get her some soda. In fact he came back after hours to see if there was anything he could do to help. That kind of service is rare and goes a long way in building return customers. Our itinerary included, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and St. Thomas. Since most reviews give long details about the islands, I'll be brief here, keeping only to highs and lows. Barbados: got a great tour from a Taxi driver in town. For $20 a person (4 of us) he took us on a 1-1/2 tour of the island and then dropped us off at Lobster Alive Beach. Barbados was not what I expected. It's very poverty stricken and seems to be quite dirty. The chattel houses and the mansions are extremes that show the height of "haves" and the lows of "have nots." St. Lucia: one of our favorite islands. Quite beautiful. We took a Princess sponsored excursion to the Pitons. I recommend going to the Pitons, they are magnificent. But I think you could book your own excursion for much cheaper. We paid $70 a piece. I heard some others on the ship who got a catamaran to the Pitons for $35 each. Antigua: We only did some shopping in the town. It was a nice place and everything that I expected from a Caribbean capitol. We had lunch at Hemingway's. Quite nice, I'd recommend it. Tortola: Our FAVORITE! Originally our itinerary did not include Tortola. It listed St Maarten. When Princess announced the change we were quite disappointed, because we wanted to see St. Maarten. But I must say we were swept away by the beauty of Tortola. I'm extremely glad we didn't miss this hidden gem of the Caribbean. Six of our group took a taxi over the mountains to Cane Garden Bay Beach. If you want a thrill ride that's better than any theme park roller coaster, take this trip. It's a hair-raising experience, but a beautiful one. And the beauty of Cane Garden Bay makes the ride worth every nervous moment. I told my son that Cane Garden Bay is what they photograph to put on travel posters. It's white sand beach and crystal clear blue water are heavenly. It's the most beautiful beach that I've every experienced. I highly recommend going to CGB if you go to Tortola. St Thomas: a huge disappointment. Not because we didn't like it, but because when we got there, everything was closed for "Carnival." No shops or restaurants were open. Our Plan B was to go Megan's Bay, but the rain clouds rolled in and nixed that. So other than a bit of shopping at the Pier Shops (which are always open when a ship is docked) we spent a day on the Crown Princess. It was relaxing after a full week of islands. Our disembarkation in San Juan went fairly smoothly. I guess you can never get away from the crazy scene of 100s of people rummaging through a warehouse of baggage to find theirs. I highly recommend getting a porter to help and then to help you thru customs. We had signed up for Princess Easy Check so we already had our boarding passes for our return flight to Wash DC. They also had our bags tagged which avoided the need to stand in line at the airport to check bags. For the $15 charge I thought it was worth it. Final thoughts: I give Princess high marks for everything. While we liked RCCL and would sail with them again, we liked Princess a little better. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
Review of the Crown Princess April 26th - May 03 This took me a while to get out, but since I have used Cruise Critic daily since booking my cruise back in October I wanted to leave a review. My hope is that it will give some good ... Read More
Review of the Crown Princess April 26th - May 03 This took me a while to get out, but since I have used Cruise Critic daily since booking my cruise back in October I wanted to leave a review. My hope is that it will give some good information to people who are considering Princess vs. another cruise line which is what brought me to Cruise Critic in the first place. To start this was a cruise for I, and my wife's 5 year anniversary. This was our third cruise, the previous two on Royal Caribbean which we both loved. We chose Princess and the Crown in particular for 3 reasons: 1) highly recommended by the travel agent, 2) had the itinerary we wanted in the South Caribbean and 3) because we both wanted to try something else other than Royal Caribbean to see what else was out there. The long and short for this review, in case you don't want to read the whole thing, is Princess is ok as a cruise line, we had an ok time, but unless it was for a specific itinerary we would choose Royal Caribbean or another cruise line. Embarkation- Due to our scheduling conflicts we had to fly to San Juan on the day of Embarkation, what made matter worse was that the morning we flew it was snowing in lovely MN. Waking up at 0345 and looking out the hotel window to see snow flying was NOT a great way to start the day. Much to my surprise not only did we get to San Juan on time we were an hour early. I love Delta. So everything goes good on the flight, get our luggage, out the door and in a cab in about 20 minutes. We get to the pier and what a disaster. First off you can forget about any signs or directions from the Princess staff which are no where to be found. If you go to the port on your own that's apparently what you are, on your own to figure stuff out. Since the Crown was the only ship we just followed the long line out the security area, down the block. About 45 minutes to get to the front of the line where you have to start showing boarding passes and passports and the like. Again no one is telling you what you're going to need, no signs that say have these documents in hand, you just got to figure it out when the people ahead of you scrambled to get their paperwork because they see the people ahead of them being asked for it. This was probably the biggest reason the line was so slow moving. If anyone would have been outside to give directions or even a sign it would have went much smoother. Once inside the secure area you have to get tags on your luggage and then leave it in a pile. And that's right no one told us what to do, no signs, just follow the people in-front of you and hope. We left our checked luggage but I refused to give them our carry-on because I figured at least we would have these if we never say our luggage again. So you go into the main area to "check in" and finally I see a Princess employee. They direct us up to the walk and we are on the boat in about 5 minutes. Didn't take long here because it was such a trickle of people coming in from the street that they had no lines inside. Room - We had a Balcony room on the Caribe deck. Nice room, nicer balcony. If I were to do Princess again I think I would opt for more room and go with a mini-suite. We were on the ship by 3:00pm, didn't see our first bag until 7:00pm and the second till 9:00pm. Why two bags placed together came up at different times I don't know but hey I was just happy that they actually did. In the room I had faxed a request to Princess requesting robes, extra pillows and the "crate topper for the mattress". None of these are in the room. When we met our room steward I asked for these items and by 10:00pm I had the mattress topper and extra pillows. We never saw the robes for the entire trip but I decided to let that go since it didn't seem worth asking about again. To his credit this guy was always his hands to the bone, sometimes we saw him at 0700 and still working at 9pm. Must be a very tuff job. He was friendly and we always found room in good order. The A/C was weak in the room but bar none the only major complaint about the room is the bed. Now I had read before about the rooms having rock hard beds but I mean come on these things are ridiculous. EVERY day I and my wife woke up with stiff backs. As a matter of fact I rarely slept more than 6 hours on this ship because my back would hurt so much I would have to get up. And in case you're thinking we might be old and that's the cause we are both in our early 30's. This in and of itself would be the definitive factor if I would go back on a Princess ship, if they keep these Fred Flintstone mattresses I'm out. I seriously have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag. You never appreciate a good night sleep until you can't physically get one for 7 days straight. Ship - The Crown is a beautiful ship, no doubts about that. I noted that previous reviewers complained that the layout was complicated. My wife also got turned around on more than one occasion but by day 2 I pretty much had it. I mean with the exception of where your room is located everything you are going to do on the ship is either on deck 5-7 and or 15 and up. One previous complaint I noted on Cruise Critic that is 100% accurate and it's about the princess theater. Way to small for the people on board. If you want to see any of the production shows you had better be in seat 30 minutes ahead of time or your standing. They seriously need to redesign this or offer 3 shows a night maybe. During our trip we saw shows on MUTS, Princess Theater and the Explorer lounge and we liked them all. The Comedy acts were our favorites and we for sure liked MUTS. This was truly an exceptional idea and Princess should be flattered that all cruise lines are looking to implement something similar. Food- Food was good but not exceptional. We preferred the dinning room vs. the buffet that was always over crowed and a challenge to find a seat. We learned by day two if you want a seat in the buffet you better get one first and then go up to get food one at a time. So by day three we went to the dinning room to see what they were like and what a difference. No waiting, great service, better food to be honest. So by day three we ate at the dinning room and never again went back to the buffet unless we were getting a drink or a cookie or free ice cream. Speaking of the free ice cream why Princess tries to keep it a secret I don't know, by day 2 everyone on the ship seemed to know where it was and when to get it. Funny to watch actually. My wife tried the pay ice cream and she liked it. I loved the Pizza and Hamburgers were good. We both loved the cookies that were available in at the international cafe. Coffee was HORRIBLE. I normally take a cup black with 1 sugar. I couldn't choke this down without 2-3 sugars and some cream. Someone told me it's made from syrup and that's why it's so bitter. Could be because it was terrible. My only general complaint about the food is the drinks available. My wife doesn't like Iced Tea and I do so she always had to drink water at every meal except breakfast. Not a big soda drinker either. RC at least offered Lemonade and I think this is something that could easily be added by Princess. We celebrated our anniversary at the Crown Grill. To be honest I was most looking forward to this meal and probably the worst I had on board. This was really a huge disappointment to me after all that I read on Cruise Critic about it. I ordered the NY Strip my wife had a Filet. Mine was tuff and hers was under cooked. Her mashed potatoes were good but my baked potato was dry and kind-of crusty. Despite not eating most of the day in anticipation I ate less than ½ my meal. When asked by the waiter, who I think could speak a little English but understood almost none, if it was good I told him No! His response was "very good" and he took my plate. At least the anniversary cake they brought us was good, I was still hungry and ate about ½ of that. ? So can Princess cook a steak, YES, the very next day we ate in the dinning room and I had the filet mignon and it was PERFECT. Throughout the week I would have in the dinning room: Beef Wellington, Prime Rib, Filet Mignon twice and all of these were better than the Crown Grill. To be honest I am dumbfounded how every review I read praised the Crown Grill. Guess I maybe had a rare experience but I can say that it was money wasted and I would not do a specialty restaurant on Princess again. I would advise others to go to Sabatini's which I heard great things about from those on board. Service Service on board was good but a word of caution if you choose anytime dinning; you will not get personalized service. I mean you have different wait staff every night so how could you. Now this didn't bother me that the waiters didn't know me by name or that I liked Iced Tea but it did bother my wife. Honestly on RC when they called me by name and asked about where we were from I found it very disingenuous anyway so I prefer the "hello what can I get you" routine. My wife not so much. I imagine that those in traditional had the same staff every night but I'm not sure. On this same token around the ship staff were polite but not going to go out of their way to help someone unless asked. Case in point is I had to direct an older woman who was clearly lost between the Caribe Cafe and Buffet. Their were 2 Princess staff less than 10 ft away and I waited for one of them to ask to help her since it was OBVIOUS that she was lost and confused. They never did so I asked her and directed her where she needed, which I think was trident grill. Again this really didn't bother me, in fact I prefer it but I can see with the reputations that cruise lines have for service that this could disappoint some. Disembarkation Kudos to staff ON the boat on the final day. Despite this being their last day of the season they were smiles and good natured. Had a nice breakfast, in the dinning room again, and waited to be called off the boat. Getting out of the room on time, no problem, getting off the ship, no problem, going through customs, no problem, welcome back to San Juan Port, Big Problem. Same chaos as getting on the boat. No princess staff anywhere to be found. Conflicting information on where to put your luggage, no direction where to find your tour......nothing.......your on your own again. So again on a wing and a prayer we left our luggage with someone who swore it would make it to the airport, walked around 20 minutes to find our tour who was waiting on us. Did finally make it to the airport and we did find out luggage, of course they take us to the American Airline area, someone around to tell us where other airline desks are....nope on your own again. By then all my wife and I could do was laugh and make a joke about it Ports Not much to say about the ports, they are what they are. I loved Bonaire and Aruba, hated St. Thomas thought St. Kitts and Grenada was just ok. That's about all there is to say about them. Overall Was a good and much needed vacation with little regrets. I would say that I did not enjoy Princess as much as I enjoyed RC. If Princess had an itinerary we really liked somewhere and they didn't have the Fred Flintstone mattresses on-board we would consider them again. However our first choice will be RC and I might try Celebrity which I hear good things about. Thanks for reading Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2008
After being on many other cruises, this was the absolute worst! We could only compare it to a repositioning cruise. If you ever did one, you know what I mean! Our destinations were: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Georges (Grenada), ... Read More
After being on many other cruises, this was the absolute worst! We could only compare it to a repositioning cruise. If you ever did one, you know what I mean! Our destinations were: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Georges (Grenada), Bonaire, Aruba and back to San Juan. They should rethink Grenada and Bonaire. Absolutely nothing worth seeing on these islands. Unless you scuba or snorkel. The amount of time spent on these islands would have been better served with more time in St. Thomas and/or Aruba. We spent 11 hrs. in St. Thomas (7 am - 6pm), fabulous! 8 hrs. in St. Kitts (it's ok). 5 hrs. in Grenada (what a dump!). 8 hrs. in Bonaire (never left the ship for this one) and 9 hrs. in Aruba (fantastic!). The weather was just plain horrible with high seas and high winds. The ships TV said "Gale force winds", something like 26 knots every night while we sailed. Surely not their fault, but still more of a nuisance listening to the wind through a sliding door that doesn't seal right! While cruising to other ports at night our outside furniture was rolling back & forth smashing into the balcony dividers.This brings me to our cabin. Nothing at all like the picture online. We had told them about our anniversary and asked to have the room decorated. It wasn't. On the 4th day I finally called and they scotch taped 3 balloons outside our door. Nothing like RCCL! On to our steward Francis. Our anniversary pkg. included a full bottle of champagne, which we did receive, only we didn't drink it for a couple of days. My wife was feeling ill and I took her to the Dr. in sick bay. They told her she had a little cold! She gave her a bottle of Robitussin and a box of Sudafed. (Meanwhile we found out she had walking pneumonia when we got home) For this they charged us $120.00 and never put a stethoscope to her chest! My advice, don't get sick on a cruise! This went right along with horrible room at the Holiday Inn in San Juan (Carolina). We had to exchange our room (Executive Suite 6th fl. ocean view) for a room in which we could smoke (on the terrace) around the pool. When we opened the door to our room, the stench of mold and mildew made us step right back out! To make a really long story short, we left with no refund! $461.61 for 2 nts. gone! The Embassy Suites right next door, gave us a King bed smoking room for $530.00 - 2 nites. They had a casino and an Outback restaurant inside (never ate there but did have a drink). Our stay was just fine. We stayed at the Condado Plaza & Hotel Casino upon our return from the cruise. It was decent enough although the six pack of Coors Light @ $36.00 was skunked and expired in Aug. 07'. Back to the Crown Princess! The people that work on this tug should give up their day jobs! On our 1st day pool side, we got a drink immediately. Then it took a half hr. to get somebodies attention. I could have walked over to the bar but it was 3 deep! Now I know why! You couldn't find a waiter! When I did get to order, he brought the wrong drink! This was typical of all I had encountered. Our 1st "Formal" night we went to "The Crown Grill" ($25.00 pp)it was just awful! All of our side dishes were cold to almost warm! I had the Ribeye steak med. and my wife had the Petite Filet Mignon. Mine was over done and hers was under done. We had ordered a bottle of wine ($54.00) had 2 cocktails before dinner and our bill was $153.00! I actually made them go over the bill so I could understand how they were billing me. Highway robbery! Our reg. dining room seating was the late seating. We never went. It was on the 4th deck aft (the Botticcelli) & we were on deck 15 forward. 900 ft forward and 11 stories away, with no single way to get there without going outside into the winds.The 2nd "Formal" night we went to the Michael Angelo dining room. We chose open seating and sat with some very nice people. 2 couples were from England and the other couple were from Calif. They all concurred with us about the horrible food! Heres an example: Caesar Salad - a soaking wet mess! It looked just like the creamed spinach! Inedible! My NY strip, tough as nails. Even the soup "Root Veg." tasted like dirt! We got up and left. No reason to try anything else. The buffet food was ten times better! Only you had to deal with the "beasts at the trough"! A bunch of (what I would classify as) trailer park trash, including the smell of body odor. They would push their way in and reach right in front of you to get at the food. Totally classless! We had never run into that on RCCL! Even the casino couldn't make up their mind if it was smoking or non-smoking! Sometimes you could and sometimes you can't. I just don't get it? We will never cruise on Princess again. Way too many people and the fact that tips are already included means they get tips no matter how well or poor they perform. In our opinion, by lowering the price of a cruise, they have opened the flood gates for the masses only to be unable to cater to any, let alone all of them! I would of had more fun burning the $7000.00 than taking this cruise! Oh! I almost forgot. We went to the Crown Grill for disembarkation which is for "Platinum Club" members. Heres what you could get: coffee, OJ, water (glass) and a stale danish! That was it! No mamosa'a or any cocktails were available. The used plates sat on our table from 7:30 till 10:45 were still there when we finally left! Quite a few other passengers also were complaining about this ship, especially the staff & food! So we weren't alone!They can keep the Crown and any other Princess ship! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
This is my Review of the Crown Princess from April 19th till April 26th. Just a little background. I went with a buddy of mine his GF and his GF's roommate. We are all in our mid 20's. By the way this review is going to be more ... Read More
This is my Review of the Crown Princess from April 19th till April 26th. Just a little background. I went with a buddy of mine his GF and his GF's roommate. We are all in our mid 20's. By the way this review is going to be more of a story of our trip then a review. I hope it helps and you guys get a good laugh at the same time. It started on Saturday with my buddy and I leaving out of Boston at 830 am. The girls had taken a separate flight with a connection through Detroit. (Ouch and they paid about 80 dollars more then us hahha that's right guys know how to get it done right JK!) We had a flight through Philly. We landed early and knew we were golden for our connecting flight. Well of course they had issues with our connecting flight so we were delayed from 1145 till 230. No big deal we just sat there and people watched. I love watching the people freak out and run up to the desk to complain. It's classic. So anyways our plane came with no problems. Once we landed we got our bags and jumped on the princess bus to go to the port. Once again people were complaining that the bus had to stop to pick up other people. I got a good laugh out of this. So we get to the dock we jump off and are first in line and fly through the paperwork process. On the way on the ship they had a bunch of liquor to sample, which I'm disappointed to say we did not do because we wanted to get on the boat. I was kicking myself though for not doing it. Come on it was free liquor and I'm only a couple years out of college. Honestly that's pathetic on my part I think I let my alumni down (Plymouth State University->known for partying) O yea and the duty free liquor was cleaned out so we didn't get anything to sneak onto the boat. We got on the boat around 745 by the way. So we get on the ship and go to drop off our carry-on in our room. E227 with a partially obstructed view. Our room steward was Edgar. Funny guy. When he first met us he asked if we wanted the beds pushed together to bust our chops. We immediately responded by screaming NO and saying we were with some girls to put that fire out as soon as possible lol. First night was pretty uneventful. We had some drinks and went up to sky walkers which sad to say had a max of 15 people in it. Kind of seemed like a theme for the week. Alright so about the type of people that were on this cruise. A lot of families and a lot of couples. Seemed like every girl my age had a huge Rock on their finger. Kind of sucked for me but hey ya make the best of the trip ya can. Well, because of the crowd seemed like the ship was a ghost town every night after 12. At least it made us go to bed a little earlier so we wouldn't sleep the day away the next day. Day 2 Day at Sea: Went to the gym to start the day. They don't have a whole lot to offer for lifting weights. I just ended up doing a bunch of stuff with dumbbells and said screw it and was on the elliptical was a while. And no, by the way, I'm not some muscle head who has to have his weights everywhere I go. Come on guys give me a little credit lol. After the gym we went and laid out by the Movies under the stars pool. Had no problem with finding a chair. The formal night was fun the food was great! Again we went to sky walkers and was a little busier but not very good at all. O on a side note they only allow smoking on one side of the ship which was nice. And for the most part I noticed smokers trying to be nice and smoke only in those sections. Props to the smokers for that. Day2 Barbados: Grabbed a taxi and went to some beach that had blue monkeys all over the walls. Taxi 20 per person round trip 5 dollars for a chair. The beach was nice and had where they swim with the turtles about 200 yards off the beach. This day was HOT!!!! One bad note is they had people coming by all the time to ask about renting jet skis and such. That night we went to see the hypnotist. This was wicked funny.  He brought 14 people up on stage and 11 of them got hypnotized. These people were OUT!!! Every time he said sleep and he would have to run and catch someone before they flopped to the floor. We sat right at the bar at explorers lounge and had a perfect seat. Plus the drinks kept flowing. The bar was 5 or 6 deep with people wanting to see the show so I suggest you get there early. Day 3 St. Lucia. : We went to an all inclusive resort cause one of the girls cousins were there. Took an hour and 10 minutes to get there but was worth it. We were suppose to pay 85 bucks to go to the resort for the day but the resort didn't make you wear wrist bands so we never paid and ate and drank with her cousins all day for free IT WAS AWESOME!!! Quick funny side story the bathrooms were slippery and I told my buddy that but as he went in he went around the corner and down her went nailing his shoulder on the corner. Of course me being the good friend I am I sat there and laughed my butt off. It was classic. He was ok and little did I know I had it coming back to me (more on that later.) We went back to the boat by the way 40 dollars per person round trip. That night hung out in the hot tub with some New Yorkers. You would think this would have been bad news but we had a great time talking a little smack but being respectful. Word to the wise after drinking all day at a resort then drinking in a hot tub do not do a shot of Jaeger after 10 hours of drinking. About a half hour later I was useless and ended up calling it a night. That was at 10 o clock I know once again that's pathetic but hey it was after 11 hours of drinking I think I represented myself pretty well. That night was the Caribbean dance party which I missed but I heard was a pretty decent time. Day 4 Antigua: Alright so remember my buddy slipping well here is where it comes back to me. So I wake up at 8 am to the sounds of the lifeboats being lowered for testing. Needless to say I was not happy so I get up to look out the window and of course I wasn't happy and was swearing to my buddy. I take a look out the window and see its going to be a while so I go to flop back into bed and as a I flop in I go a little to far to the left and NAIL my head on the side table. Of course my buddy is now dying laughing. I roll around having just added massive pain to my already huge hangover. Don't worry guys after 5 minutes I was ok and only had to worry about my hangover. So that day we ended up just going into town and looking around. I heard Antigua's beaches were amazing. We came back to the boat and watch movies at movies under stars while sitting on the edge of the pool. MUTS is great during the day if the movie doesn't have a lot of dark scenes. That night at dinner we had Alaskan King crab legs. It was delicious and you could have as many as you want. This night I went to the casino played Black jack and was up 60 bucks when I left. O yea the two formal nights are non smoking in the casino the other nights you can barely smell the smoke. Day5 Tortola: Took the boats excursion to the beach. Costs 29 bucks and includes a piece of Banana bread and a water. The beach was nice but seemed like the whole boat was there. I learned after the cruise that Tortola is known for "the baths" where you can go cliff jumping. If I had known this I would have gone there instead. That night at dinner we had lobster tails. Once again was delicious. O by the way we had anytime dining. Most night were sat just the four of us although we did ask to be seated with other people O well. That night we went to see Philadelphia the comedian. We went to see him at 1030 so that it would be a little racy. Turns out he couldn't because there were kids still at this show. This guy was really funny but unfortunately people stayed for all three shows so when we went to see him he couldn't use half his bits because people had already heard them. Still he did a good job. Day6: St. Thomas/ St. Johns: We decided, well actually I basically decided for the group because we were all the type of people who can't make decisions its wicked annoying I know but hey we are all wicked laid back. We decided to go to St. Johns to go to Trunks bay. Well being the laid back people that we are and the fact I was going off memory from going to St. Johns 10 years earlier we never thought to check the ferry schedule. So we got off the boat at 10 of 11 and I asked where to get the ferry they said near downtown and it leaves at 11. So now we are hustling like crazy we grab a taxi and of course this guy has to wait for it to fill up. Long story short we arrive at the ferry at 11:10 and I run to get it and luckily we are the last people on. So we went to Trunks bay which is amazing. The sand is super soft and the water is as green as it gets. Plus they have a wicked sweet spot to snorkel with plaques in the reefs to tell you about the stuff you are looking at. By the way taxi to ferry $3 ferry $10 taxi to beach $6 each way. Beach access $4. ( it's a national park so no vendors bothering you and it is kept wicked clean. I would recommend this over Megan's Bay in St. Thomas. O and it takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get there so leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the boat.) That night just hung out and went to the Buffet, which by the way is pretty decent although the set up could be better. O yea I had breakfast there every morning too and it was good. The couple we were with ate in the dining room for breakfast and they said it was great, not busy at all. The other girl got room service every morning which she said was good. That night saw the end of the cruise show. It kind of seemed thrown together from the acts people liked during the week. They had a comedy singing couple which did a Tina turner song that was hilarious. After them they brought Philadelphia back out and he would do acts based on what songs people shouted out. This guy has got some serious talent. Day 7 San Juan and leaving: We had regular check out went up for breakfast at the buffet then went to the wheelhouse bar for check out. Waited 15 mins and it was our time to leave. Went down to retrieve our luggage. Make sure you bring the luggage tag so you can remember what color your bag is tagged in. Some people were clueless and had to search through everything. We found our bags in 2 mins and jumped in line for the bus. Went to the airport for a non stop flight back to Boston. So all in all the trip was great. The only complaint is the crowd wasn't a party crowd which we deserve for going in the middle of April. There was a lot to do and we didn't get to do ¼ of the activities they had on the boat. I hope this review helps. I know it had spelling and grammar mistakes but honestly I don't really care. Not like I'm going for some award. Thanks guy and I would highly recommend the Crown Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
This being our first cruise we were extremely excited. We, along with 9 other family members cruised the Southern Caribbean for 7 days the beginning of April. 9 adults and 4 children under 11. The flights into and out of San Juan went ... Read More
This being our first cruise we were extremely excited. We, along with 9 other family members cruised the Southern Caribbean for 7 days the beginning of April. 9 adults and 4 children under 11. The flights into and out of San Juan went well, we booked via travel agent and had plenty of time to gather our baggage and find the Crown Princess transport to the ship. We boarded about 2:30 and found the process to be much less painful than anticipated. The entire process took about 20 minutes from the security check to getting onto the ship. Our rooms were on the Dolphin deck (deck 9) in the aft (rear portion) of the ship. Our mini-suites were spotless and well appointed. We traveled with two five year olds and they were very comfortable on the pull out couch. Be careful with what you pack as there is not much storage. Our only two issues with traveling with our children were the lack of children proof locks on the balcony door which really made us nervous, and the lack of a night light for the kids if they awoke. We left the bathroom light on with the door cracked, however, when the ship rocked the door would open and close throughout the night. Half of our company was sea sick during the first full day which was at sea. My father and mother in law, who have been on 5 cruises, said this was the most motion they had ever noticed. After the first day everyone was o.k. We did the ship sponsored excursions every where we went, most were fine however two stand out that should be mentioned: On Antigua my wife went on a nature hike with her sister and said it was the most amazing time while I took my boys along with their cousins on an island safari. Our driver took the time to show us around the island, all of the neat sites, stopped to show us local flora and fauna, and even to sample some wild berries. The entire safari lasted about 4 hours and was phenomenal, the kids were treated like royalty by our driver/tour guide. His name was Kenny and found treats and even souvenirs for the children, get Kenny if you can! The second excursion was golfing on St. Thomas at Mahogany Run. My brother in law, his son, and I with about 25 others gathered, received our rented clubs (very, very, reasonable)and headed to our transportation. The course was in a shambles, that is the only way to describe it. The island is in it's dry season so that may explain the brown grass on most fairways and the hard as stone ground. The round also took 6.5 hours, the longest round I have ever encountered. The scenery did take away some of our boredom, really excellent views. The people were very nice and accommodating. The bottom line though is it was not worth the $250.00 charge. I heard through one of the others there that golf on St. Lucia is much better and cheaper. Our kids went to the kids area three times and loved it, they have employees that are young and older with a "grandma" that was hilarious. We took them to a magic show there one night with dancing and they thought that was just awesome. The dining aboard ship was pretty good, we had a standing time of 6:00 and only ate Dinner at that time. The other meals were at the buffet, breakfast was good but the choices rarely changed. The pineapples and oranges were magnificent. The behind the scenes employees and the buspersons really do their jobs well. The sit down dinners were long, about 2.5 hours every night and we started not looking forward to those although the food was o.k. and our waiters were very nice and accommodating. I think they may take that long to serve dinner so that the room stewards have enough time to get all the rooms serviced. Our room steward, Jason, was a remarkable person with a great personality. He cleaned and set up our room twice per day and left little surprises for the boys every day. I cannot say enough about his commitment to his job nor the way he executed it, the boys had to have their picture taken with him. All in all it was a pretty good cruise although next time we will choose rooms in a different part of the ship or on a different level. The aft stabilizers shook our room (and us) whenever leaving and entering ports of call. They were an effective wake up call as there are no clocks in the rooms. One last note, the water aboard ship is expensive. We bought a couple of large bottles and filled them daily in our room for our excursions. This saved a lot of money. A hint, fill them the night before and put in the fridge for the morning as the water out of the tap, while good, is not cold in the least. Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Remember what they say, for every one bad experience, that is told 14 times, for a good experience once. After reading these reviews prior to the cruise, I found them to be negative. This is anything BUT negative! We flew into San Juan a ... Read More
Remember what they say, for every one bad experience, that is told 14 times, for a good experience once. After reading these reviews prior to the cruise, I found them to be negative. This is anything BUT negative! We flew into San Juan a day early and stayed at a nearby hotel. It was great to get there early avoid any possible delays. As noted in previous reviews, we waited until early afternoon to board, after the rush. We found boarding to be easy! 30 minutes and luggage arrived in our room within the hour. We settled into our balcony room on the back of the ship,very private, very clean and for a ship, there was room enough. We then began our adventure to cruise the ship! The only floors you really need to get acquainted with are 5,6,7 and 15. This was our second cruise, first time on Princess. A beautiful ship, well laid out. We would not cruise on another line now. Plenty of entertainment, we could not do it all. Enjoyed comedians, production shows and particularly enjoyed the Princess Pop Star. A ships version of American Idol. Restaurants were wonderful. We dined at the Crown Grill and Sabatini's'. The Crown Grill was good, we'd do it again. Sabatini's' was fabulous, it was a 2 1/2 hour dining experience. There is an extra charge for these, but it was well worth it. We chose anytime dining, if you want to dine alone, make sure you make your reservations. We always ate at 6 pm so we could eat and enjoy the shows in the evenings. Didn't do many excursions, we preferred to get a local cabby to take us around, we felt like the time was better spent, we learned more and it was less expensive and got us away from the crowds. One excursion we did do was the Nevis sail away- Do It!! It's one of the top rated and booked out. Getting off the ship was fine. Had to have your bags at the door the evening before. This is one thing I would have done different. Try to pack light and take your bags with you, and check them at the airport. You can pay extra for the ship to take them to airport, however, we had trouble getting our luggage when we arrived home. I think it's because they didn't make it to the airport in time. I'm sure we were one of few this happened too, just be aware. This was a great trip, one we will never forget and we are already planning the next one. Remember, nothing's perfect and things unfortunately can happen. Life's short, Enjoy IT! I'd definitely recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Background: We started cruising 5 years ago from Vancouver, B.C. Did the Alaska run with Celebrity Mercury. Must say that Celebrity Mercury and their staff set the bar so high that no one has come close till this recent cruise aboard Crown ... Read More
Background: We started cruising 5 years ago from Vancouver, B.C. Did the Alaska run with Celebrity Mercury. Must say that Celebrity Mercury and their staff set the bar so high that no one has come close till this recent cruise aboard Crown Princess. We were a party of 7. 5 Adults, one 16 yr old girl and a 18 yr old boy. Airfare: We drove from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle to catch a redeye flight on Thursday night via US Airways. The plan was to fly from Seattle to Philadelphia, with a 1 hour stop over and onwards to San Juan. We had planned to arrive in San Juan on Friday at 11:30 am, enjoy Caribe Hilton and Old San Juan on Friday and Saturday. Plans were totally messed up due to a delay of our departing flight out of Seattle - supposed to leave at 10:30 pm, but delayed till 12 midnight, which meant we would get into Philadelphia at 7:45 am. Connecting San Juan flight was scheduled to leave at 7:30 am. We found out there were 16 of us on board hoping to catch this connecting flight, asked US Airways if they could radio ahead and have the connecting flight wait for 15 minutes. No guarantee was the reply. We arrive in Philadelphia only to find out that there are no seats available on any flights bound for San Juan and were offered accommodation in Philadelphia. We said no way as we had prepaid for our Caribe Hilton in San Juan. In the end, an experienced US Airways agent found us flights to Fort Lauderdale and on to San Juan. Arrived late in the evening, no baggage and later discovered baggage badly damaged. What a great start to our holiday! Will never fly US Airways again. San Juan: Beautiful hotel - Caribe Hilton. Would recommend. Great amenities, pools, ocean view rooms, Starbucks right in the lobby and Subway within walking distance. We took a 3 hour tour with Victor from Countryside tours - Barcardi Rum Distillery and tour of OSJ. He advised us to board ship at 3 pm, as that would be the least congested time. Drop off our hand luggage and head back into OSJ for our own walking and shopping tour. Victor was very knowledgeable and passionate about the progress of San Juan. Highly recommend him. Embarkation: Smooth as Victor promised. No wait. We checked in right away. Got into our cabins, got refreshed quickly and headed back to OSJ. Dining: We opted for Any time dining due to the daily port calls. Phoned down to make reservations, but was told that the only times available would be 8 pm or 6 Pm. We took the 8 pm and dined at Michelangelo. Most of the waiters and assistant waiters were from the Philippines. Polite and reserved. I had Orange Roughy - loved it . The rest of our party had assortment of meats, appetizers - salads, soup. All good. Dessert was also yummy. Some chocolate dream dessert shaped like a heart. Next night we went to Da Vinci dining room and got connected with one of the head waiters, by the name of Michael Bruno who is from Italy. Very charming man. We asked for the same waiter and a table by the window for the rest of the week. He got us the window table, but had to give us another waiter team - ended up being a husband and wife team from Thailand - Wiroj and Tipa. Fantastic and sweet couple. We were spoilt nightly with special appetizers that Michael ordered for us and they made great recommendations nightly. King Crab and Lobster were to die for! So was the prime rib and veal. Rooms: We had an obstructed oceanview room, which still offered a good view of the ports and the shore line as we sailed into port every morning. Princess rooms tend to smaller than Celebrity and NCL, but we found it to be adequate. We did miss the additional drawers within the closet that Celebrity had. Ports of Call: We arranged for our own private tours at every port of call as there were 7 of us. We searched through CruiseCritic.com and read everything we could find on all of the places we were visiting. Great recommendation from our fellow cruisecritics! Many thanks. St .Thomas - We went with Sunny Liston tours - His wife Angela picked us up along with their 2 sons - all dressed up as they were headed to Church after dropping us off to shop. Sunny Liston, her husband picked us up after shopping and took us on a tour which was truly unforgettable. Shopping in St. Thomas was somewhat boring - shop after shop - nothing but jewelry. If you wish to purchase jewelry, then it will be a good place. In the market place, local vendors sold knock off Coach purses (pretty good quality), LV etc. Sunny's tour is crazy and loud. He got us all singing - Follow the Leader etc.. Went up to top of the mountain for the infamous Banana Daiquiri. Beautiful view of Megan's Bay and the neighboring Island. Ended up in Sapphire beach lterand it started raining, but we still went into the water. Got charged $7 for chairs which we felt was steep. Washrooms were small and could have been cleaner. Loved the water. Did not snorkel, saw some fish just by standing in the water. St. Kitts- Hooked up with Thenford Grey, who knows his history inside out. Nice van with huge windows, great visibility from all sides. Drove us downtown, gave us a rundown on the history. Noticed Ross University Veterinary School and was told it is US university and only 2 locals in attendance. Tour included Romney Manor - Batik house. Beautiful garden with all the different flowers , palms and were surprised to see a poinsette tree - never knew that it existed as we only get poinsette plants in pots at Christmas in Vancouver. Also stopped and took picture with a Green monkey. Highlight was Brimstone Fortress - make this a must see site. Great view and history. Driving up to this fortress requires incredible skills which Thenford had. Drove and saw Friars Bay, Frigate Bay - simply awesome views. Ended up in Cockleshell beach- a favorite amongst locals. Beautiful views of Nevis from here. Grenada: Did tour with A and E tours - spice factory and Anandale falls where we saw veteran local dives diving from the top of the waterfall. Some of the ladies who wore hats wrapped with fruits were rather aggressive when it came to picture taking and having to pay. Also tried Rum punch sold at a roadside stall. Also visited Etang Lake briefly. Skipped seeing another fortress. Asked to head to a beach instead. Beautiful crystal clear water. Locals on the beach were aggressive when it came to selling their drinks and food. Had to pay $2 to enter the washroom and my 16 yr old daughter felt very uncomfortable by some of the sexual comments directed towards her. Would not feel safe on Grenada beach without men in our party. Saw the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan and others. Abandoned homes. Churches, buildings left standing with only 1 side left. Bonaire - Simply walked off the ship. Found a guy who was operating his open air taxi - using 2 golf carts for the 1st day - we were his very 1st clients. He took us on a short downtown tour and then to Eden Beach resort. Highly recommend this resort. Clean and easy to rent chairs - $3 per chair and $10 for snorkel set. Tried snorkeling for the 1st time and was simply amazed at all the fish we could see. Very rocky, bring watershoes. Forget the flippers, they were in the way most of the time. Do be careful, as the shore line can drop unexpectedly and all of a sudden you are in deeper waters. Washroom, change room clean. Loved Bonaire and would definitely visit again to maybe take diving lessons. Aruba: Last port of call - Went with ABC tours on a jeep excursion. We drove our own jeep and followed the big monster truck up boulders and rocks. Visited Natural bridge, Natural pool . Had a blast. Recommend that you do this at least once in your life time. It was a blast. We had the opportunity of going to the beach after this excursion as there were bus trips for $4 to the beach prior to getting back to the ship and we had plenty of time. Instead, we went back to the ship to change, grabbed quick lunch and did some shopping. Prefer shopping in Aruba. LV store, Gucci store as well as locals selling their clothing and purses etc. Entertainment on board - What a Swell Party - tongue in cheek look at the Cole Porter era, Destination Nowhere, . Comedian Carl Strong who was an opening act for Gladys Knight for past 10 yrs was good. Husband and wife comedian team from England was very funny too. Do not miss the Champagne Waterfall event on the 2nd formal night. Great party and dancing music. Bring your tropical attire ware on board as we had Tropical Island night deck party - hula hoop contest and more. Movies under the Sky - great idea, but they need to play newer movies. Most of the movies were a couple of years old - Da Vinci Code, War of the Worlds. Pools: Lots of pools everywhere. Even an Adult only pool and a Sanctuary for adults who want peace and quiet sun tanning time - but for a fee. Do take the Kitchen tour and the Backstage tour - very interesting. Overall loved our cruise, the staff, the ship and all the ports of calls - this was a port intensive cruise - with a port of call every day except for Friday, being the only sea day which was perfect for simply relaxing and packing for disembarkation. Disembarkation: Very well organized. We all were issued colored coded luggage tags based on when our flights were etc. Taxi service outside also well organized. Lady asked you how many people in your party. Writes up a slip and hails a taxi. All ports should learn from this system. Very efficient. Also noticed that most of the taxis in San Juan were vans - 7 seater vans, 12 seater vans etc. Great for larger families and groups travelling together. Our hometown Vancouver, BC. could take lessons here in preparation for our Winter Olympics 2010 and also during our annual Alaska run cruises. Thank you Crown Princess for making us feel regal. Will definitely sail with Princess again and would like to see the other Caribbean ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Backround: This is our 2nd cruise for my husband and I who are both in our early 30's. We took this cruise with our friends who are also the same age. Embarkation: A breeze, however we didn't arrive at the port until ... Read More
Backround: This is our 2nd cruise for my husband and I who are both in our early 30's. We took this cruise with our friends who are also the same age. Embarkation: A breeze, however we didn't arrive at the port until 6:45pm. We made a quick pitstop at the DUTY FREE for a couple of bottles for our room and their was no problem carrying them on. We were checked in and in our rooms within 15 minutes and our luggage was delivered in less than an hour. The Crown Princess & Staff - Very elegant, clean and easy to navigate your way around. All staff was wonderful. From the dining room, pursers desk to our cabin steward they were all very friendly and eager to assist. Our Room - LIDO DECK ROCKS! If you have a choice, try and get a room on the LIDO deck - only a few feet from all the action! The pools, the food, MUTS - you name it! We did however have our 1st inside cabin. It was ok - a decent size. But I would suggest if you're someone who needs to know the time - bring an alarm clock. Entertainment - We didn't attend any shows other than one - we went to see Sarge, the comedian. It was well worth watching. Most nights, we found ourselves in the Gatsby Casino playing Texas Hold 'Em! We didn't find that the ship had as many entertaining shows or daily events to offer as those of other cruise lines other than MUTS which is a must do. What a great way to end your day - watching a moving under the stars, under a warm blanket with popcorn! With having 5 port days the lack of entertainment offered was not a big deal. Food - Loved it. 1st night we just grabbed a quick bite from the buffet (Horizon Court). We all found something we liked whether it was a beef, chicken or seafood meal. We spent 5 of the remaining 6 nights having dinner in the Da Vinci dining room. (we were waited on by Ferdinand and Antonio who were both incredible and funny - ask for 'em!) All meals in the Da Vinci were terrific. There was always something on the menu to meet each of our tastes. **All beef dishes were amazing - whether it was the pot roast, new york strip steak or prime rib - they were YUMMY! We also spent the extra $ one night at the Crown Grill - again, meals were cooked to perfection and were well worth the extra money! When on board during lunch we mainly ate the cheeseburgers or pizza at the pool bars - both were very good - better than we expected! Having 5 ports we weren't on the ship often enought to enjoy more of it! Breakfasts - mostly in the buffet. Most food choices remained the same throughout the cruise, but considering most of us don't each that much breakfast at home, it was good. (tried the dining room for breakfast one day - not good! No selection, not great tasting)Desserts- YES, I need a whole paragraph for desserts. Starting with Breakfast - the sugar coated donuts in the buffet were a favourite. Great way to start a day! We were also a HUGE fan of the Gelato served at the International Cafe on deck 5. We only asked for 2 scoops ($1.00) and it was still a HUGE portion! Great deal - try the NUTELLA and the VANILLA. Both were superb! CHEESECAKE - in the main dining room (Da Vinci). Our table ordered this every night. (We tried the loveboat based on passed reviews and were very disappointed - too rich!) We also tried the 7 Layer Smores that we had read about - you'll find this dessert in the Crown Grill - but not worth it! I had been anticipating this dessert for weeks and I was so excited - I took my first bite and........laughed. IT WAS AWFUL - it was a cake - and dry! Did not taste like a smore at all! The staff noticed that we didn't like it and surprised us with a hot chocolate souffle so that made it a little better. For a few extra $ you can also purchase ice cream on the pool deck - we tried the "Death by Chocolate" & "Little Dipper" ice cream sundaes - they were HEAVEN!! And again, well worth the extra $$. You just don't get nice ooey gooey sundae's like that at home!Ports - St. Thomas - beautiful day - no rain! We took cabs and a ferry and made our way over to St. John Island - Trunk Bay beach. The trip over took about an hour to an hour and half to get there but it was worth the trip. The beach was beautiful and HOT! We had a great time just swimming and relaxing. Plenty of fish if you bring snorkel gear. Note - it ended up costing approx $100.00 for my husband and I for the trip between the cabs, ferry ride and beach entry. St. Kitts - we chose an excursion through the ship - Sail and Snorkel. The catamarn was large and very nice and the crew was a lot of fun. We again had a beautifully warm day so the snorkel was very refreshing. We didn't see anything spectacular just your usual species of fish - but who cares - we were on vacation! Grenada - We again chose an excursion through the ship - "The best of Grenada" we did a tour of the island with stops at two different waterfalls, one in which you could take a dip. We chose the tour as past reviews had stated that venturing into town on your own was difficult, locals were very pushy and we could see that as we drove though - they were litterally following people to get them to come into their stores. Bonaire - this is where our adventure began. We exited the ship and were greeted by a JEEP rental agency - we decided for the four of us it would be worth it to rent it on our own and see the island our selves - cost $100.00 for the day. We started out ok - took a back road to see the sights and then ....FLAT TIRE - no wrench, no jack!! Luckily, after a short while, fellow tourists drove by and were also without a jack but dropped us off at a beach resort a few km's away. We spend the afternoon there - Jibe City Beach - the beach was beautiful, you could walk out in the beach for 20 minutes and still have the water at only your waist. We eventually drove around the outside of the island - we were not impressed. A lot of undeveloped land - nothing exciting. And it smelled a little. Aruba - More fun - great start to the day - we went shopping first, great markets and the best shopping port by far. We went back to the ship for lunch and then took a cab to Palm Beach. Relaxed, swam, Para-sailed (do it, its fun!) and just took it easy. We headed back to the ship shortly before 5pm - went back to the market only to find out by a store owner that our ship was leaving in 5 minutes!!! ****Read your itinerary, that's my advice to you!! Be clear on your sail and "all aboard" time - we had to run like crazy to catch the boat - lucky staff at the gates were able to call ahead to the ship and let them know we were coming. Sea day - hung out by the pool and just enjoyed our last day. Disembarkation - no problems. WE chose to take our own bags and thank goodness we did - what a mess of peoples bags at the terminal. Overall - Great cruise - I'd recommend to others. Still prefer Royal Carribean but if the deal was good, we'd take another with Princess FOR SURE! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
We left for San Juan on Friday a day before the cruise and stayed at the Comfort Inn in Conando. Not the nicest place but 2 double beds and a pool. What more do you need. Walking distance to the beach and a few american restaurants. ... Read More
We left for San Juan on Friday a day before the cruise and stayed at the Comfort Inn in Conando. Not the nicest place but 2 double beds and a pool. What more do you need. Walking distance to the beach and a few american restaurants. Saturday morning we took the local bus $1 to old San Juan. enjoyed the morning walking around with our parents watching the locals on their day off playing in the national park with their kites. headed back to the hotel via the bus around 12:30. Checked out and took a cab to the ship. A little pricey $30 with a $5 tip. considering the bus was only a dollar to the same area. we were in the cruise terminal by 1:15pm and there was nobody around. check in was smooth and they had a duty free shop right in the terminal. If you had a carry on bag you were able to purchase bottles and carry them in your bag aboard the ship. no problems with security there. We all then headed to our rooms. we had an inside cabin on the Caribe deck. Our parents each had balcony cabins. hers on the aloha and mine on the lido deck. both rooms similar in size, just one was on port side and one on starboard side. the port side rooms had the better views this week. the pictures they had with the sunrises were amazing. Muster drill was at 8pm which cut into supper time but we ate at 6 and there was a show at 930. the shows were not that great this time around. We saw an act we had seen on the Caribbean Princess, Kimika. they were good but the show hadn't changed since 3 years ago. I knew all the jokes that were coming up. the best show was the comedic juggler. We was asian and his accent made the jokes that much funnier. That covers the entertainment portion. We didn't see a movie under the stars as we planned on, but because dinner usually lasted 2 hours or more we decided on the shows in the theatre and explorers lounge instead. Now you are wondering 2 hours for dinner. Well 6 people and we all ate at least 2 apps. and then the main course. The head waiter we made friends with the first night then kept having things sent to our table. His name was Francesco and we were giving him a hard time, jokingly, about being employee of the month. he was a funny guy he had the pin to prove it and his waitstaff would jokingly polish it. We ate 6 of 7 nights in Da Vinci. What a great time. our waiter was Peter at table 488 and his assistant was Lenard. They both did a wonderful job and by thursday they didn't even take drink orders because they knew what we wanted. no complaints from the dining room. If you ask for something that isn't on the menu there is a good chance they will make it for you. We did tip so maybe that helped. Do ya think? Enough about the food...not yet...the breakfast buffet in both Caribe buffet and Horizon buffet was similar. For a less crowded experience head to the Caribe at the back of the boat. With so many port days the buffets were busy early til about 9, as most people got off to head to their excursions. We only booked one excursion with Princess. We did the Ziplining in St. Lucia. Awesome time even my mom who was afraid of heights gave it a go. The guides were very knowledgeable and helpful. price was 130. a little high but good value for your money. the bus ride doesn't' stop so don't ask them too. there is time for shopping at the port when you get back. Beers around the port were 2 for $3. we had a few...too many...once again if you had a bag you could buy and bring them on board. just don't bring them to the bar with you they don't mind if you consume them on your balcony just don't walk around with them on board. the cruise arrived on time back in san juan and we kept our bags in a secure baggage area across the street under the yellow awnings from the pier. it was $19 for 4 hours for our 11 bags. Then we explored more of old san juan and had lunch at the Hard Rock before heading to the airport at 230 for our flight back to snow covered Buffalo. Everyone had a great time and we can't wait to book our next cruise for next march break. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Background: My wife and I had never been on a cruise prior to our week on the Crown Princess. Pre-Embarkation: We traveled through Atlanta on Delta Airlines arriving in San Juan on Friday 3/21 the day before our cruise. We were extremely ... Read More
Background: My wife and I had never been on a cruise prior to our week on the Crown Princess. Pre-Embarkation: We traveled through Atlanta on Delta Airlines arriving in San Juan on Friday 3/21 the day before our cruise. We were extremely happy with Delta and had no problems whatsoever with check in, flight delays, or luggage. We arrived around noon on Friday and took a taxi to the Caribe Hilton. Hotel: We enjoyed our stay at the Caribe Hilton. It is located in an area just east of Old San Juan and is the only hotel in Puerto Rico with its own private beach. Unfortunately on Wednesday and Thursday before our arrival the area had seen some of the largest waves and storm surge in twenty years and the beach, some of the pools, and the oceanfront walk areas were closed for clean up. We arrived at the hotel at around 1:00 pm and our room was not yet ready. We ate lunch at the hotel and checked back and at that time we were able to get our room. We had a true ocean front room with a large picture windows looking directly at the ocean. Later that evening (Good Friday) we had a wonderful seafood buffet at the Palmeras Restaurant at the hotel. Saturday, we got up early and enjoyed a couple hours of beach and swimming in the ocean time before checking out. The resort did a great job of cleaning up the facilities so that everything was open on Saturday morning. We took a taxi for the short ride to the Old San Juan Pier. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at 12:30 pm and check in had already started. It took us about a half an hour to check our luggage with the porters, pick up our cruise card and sign in, and to board the ship and find our cabin. We probably only spent about fifteen minutes in lines while we were doing all of this. After finding our cabin we explored the ship for a while and then got off and did a short walking tour of Old San Juan. Ship Info: The Crown Princess was built in May 2006 and as such is in wonderful shape with an excellent design. All activities center either on Decks 5-7 or 15 and above. Decks 5-7 have a beautiful area called the Piazza with ornate paneling, spiral staircases, shops, and bars. All traditional and anytime table service dining rooms are on Decks 5-7 along with the Crown Grill premium dining room. Deck 15 contains the buffet food court area with the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe. It also has the Pizza and Ice Cream Bar along with the Trident Grill for hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken sandwiches. Deck 16 has the premium dining room Sabatini's. All major shows are in the Princess Theater which is on Decks 6 & 7. The casino is on Deck 6. Stateroom: Our cabin was on Emerald Deck 8, which was convenient for all the activities on Decks 5-7. We had an oceanview room which with a partially obstructed view. We were very happy with the room and its layout. There was plenty of closet space, dresser space, safe, refrigerator, television with about twenty channels, and a well designed bathroom. Everything was as good or better than we had anticipated. We had no noise problems at all. We were prepared for slightly odorous bathroom and took care of this problem with spray air freshener. Dining: We signed up for anytime dining and divided our eating time between the Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe buffets and the table service dining rooms. We did not eat at either premium dining rooms. We also ate at the International Cafe and the Trident Grill. We thought that everything we ate was good with certain desserts being excellent. We were pleased with the variety of foods offered, especially in the food courts. My wife is a coffee drinker and I enjoy iced tea and we found the ship's regular free versions of each to be fine. Service: We received excellent service from our cabin steward Edgar. He always made sure that we had fresh towels and kept the ice bucket in the fridge full at all times. Each night you receive turn down service with chocolates. Service in the restaurants varied, with dining room service personnel tending to be slightly better than food court service personnel. Entertainment: We went to all the shows in the Princess Theater. They were better than what we had expected. We had heard a lot of comments about cruise ship performers and such. There were production shows on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there were comedians. We also saw many acts in the various lounges and thought that the overall quality was good. Our personal favorites were the guitarist Juan Carlos and the comedian Philadelphia who performed in the Explorers Lounge. Shore Excursions: We picked this cruise because of its itinerary and tried to make the most out of every port. Barbados-Booked on the internet with El Tigre. This was a catamaran cruise which visited the turtles and the shipwreck. We did the long version which included lunch and additional time for swimming off the catamaran. We enjoyed the smaller feel to this boat and would recommend. Saw lots of fish and turtles while snorkeling. St. Lucia-Cosol's tour. Much discussed on Cruise Critic and every bit as good as everyone says. Highly recommend. Antigua-Circle Antigua with lunch. This was on the catamaran Excellence as booked through Princess. Much larger cat than El Tigre. The boat tour around the island was interesting but the stop at Green Island for lunch, snorkeling, and swimming was terrible. No fish to see while snorkeling, no beach without weeds, too many people on the cat and on the beach where many other boats were anchored, murky water, etc. Would not recommend. Wanted to do Eli's tour but it was booked. St. Thomas-Princess tour to Trunk Bay on St. John. Ferry to St. John, then open air taxi to Trunk Bay. We happened to do this on a day when the seas were a bit choppy and cooler in the morning. Ferry picked us up right next to the ship which was nice and the ride to St. John was enjoyable. Trunk Bay is a beautiful beach but the snorkeling is highly overrated. The beach was quite crowded. If we went again we would not do a ship tour and would look for a different place to snorkel. Do not recommend ship tour. Tortola-Speedy's Ferry Sun and Fun Package to the Baths. This was one of the highlights of our trip. From the dock a fifteen minute walk to Speedy's. Once there we purchased a $35 per person ticket which included ferry service to Virgin Gorda, open air taxi to the baths, open air taxi back to the Bath and Turtle Restaurant, lunch and ferry service back to Tortola. What a bargain. Left on the 10:30 am ferry and returned on the 3:30 pm ferry and we were back on board at 4:30 pm. Highly recommend. San Juan-Did the El Yunque Rain Forest tour through Princess after disembarkation. Somewhat interesting but would not do this tour unless you just need to kill some time before you get to the airport. Saw very little wildlife. In summary the excursions that we were able to do independently were much superior to those we booked through the cruise line. Disembarkation: Very easy. The night before all checked luggage was picked up. Day of disembarkation we got up, ate breakfast, and met at the assigned area, and then walked off the ship. We picked up our luggage on shore in the terminal carried it by customs and were done. We had it loaded on a truck by Princess and it was waiting for us at the airport when we finished our excursion. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Each time we go cruising, we look forward to the next cruise even more. My first cruise I thought I would be bored. "Seven days on a ship.What will I find to keep myself occupied." There are so many things going on that the real ... Read More
Each time we go cruising, we look forward to the next cruise even more. My first cruise I thought I would be bored. "Seven days on a ship.What will I find to keep myself occupied." There are so many things going on that the real problem is deciding what we will have to miss. On board activities. A big part of the fun is the ongoing process of meeting different individuals. Trivia contests, usually brunch time, afternoon poolside and late afternoon. were challenging and a way to meet new individuals each day. We chose anytime dining and never had a problem waiting for a table. The first week we enjoyed sitting with different people each day. The second week we had the same table at the same time most days. We were spoiled by the waiter, waitress, head waiter and maitre de, who got to know us and provided extra touches and anticipated our wishes. We felt they were there specially for us. We never ate in any of the specialty restaurants; we were happy with the variety and quality of food in the DaVinci and Michelangelo restaurants. There were two dress-up nights each week. We enjoy them and think the extra effort is worthwhile. I adds pizzazz and glamour to the trip. Everyone is strutting his or her stuff We even had our breakfasts and lunches in the restaurants. Over the two weeks I don't think we ate more than four or five meals in the buffet; although, the Sunday night seafood buffet was good. My wife enjoyed the milk and (hot) cookies girl who came around the pool every afternoon. Because we generally ate late, we tried the sushi bar one afternoon. It was an interesting change; mine was average. The sushi bar also allowed you to order a sampler flight of three wines, which were also average. The International Cafe had a variety of pastries and sweets. Most involved a charge, but they always had a supply of cookies and other treats (sometimes hot), which were free. I don't think most people realized this. They had two wine tastings each week. The one earlier in the week is $9.50 per person and the later one, the MaitreD' Hotel Wine Club seminar is $25. If you are going to choose between the two, the $25 tasting is worth your while. I ended up buying a bottle from the later tasting and having it for dinner. An expensive extravagance, but it was a superb wine. You don't have to drink all the wine at one sitting. Your waiter will recork it and put it aside for your meal the next night. Another activity my wife and I enjoy are the art auctions. From our last cruise I still regret that I hadn't bought more, especially one Quiani oil painting I let get away; my wife says I bought too much. I promised my wife i wouldn't buy anything this trip and I didn't, but we still enjoy the auctions as a form of entertainment. I am certainly not an art authority. I have heard people say art on board is overpriced, but I am satisfied with the prices I have bought on board; it was worth the price to me. The entertainment was uneven. The first and second weeks largely duplicated themselves, so we didn't go to many shows the second week. The production shows were very good and worthwhile. One comedian Sarge put on two shows each week. His first was one of the funniest routines I had ever heard; our sides hurt from laughing. In his other routine he got away from that sort of material; it was mildly amusing. Kimika was a husband and wife duo. He was an outstanding guitarist. She was the focus of what was a bawdy and very funny show that ended with her (short, overweight, Caucasian, Brit) doing a dead on Tina Turner imitation. The best entertainers were Spank, an acapella doo wop group. musing. The highlight of our on board experience was the Chef's Table. Only a few Princess ships have it and it is limited to 1-3 times per week, ten people each time. Sign up between 3-5:00 P.M. on the day you board. We didn't board until later that day, so we were wait-listed, but we were able to get it for the second week. We gathered outside the restaurant where the head waiter explained what was going to happen. From there we were taken into the kitchen where we met the executive chef (Bad start: my wife thought he was dreamy looking, and his Italian accent probably didn't hurt.) He explained how the kitchen worked gave us a tour and plied us with champagne and caviar appetizers. Then we were brought back out into the restaurant and seated at a special table. We were served a special meal, paired with special wines and with all the attention and details that made it a special evening. All the women were given a red rose and the head chef come out to personally autograph a copy of the Princess cook book for each couple and to have pictures taken with him, as a group and with each couple. It was memorable. One thing that surprised us was the visibility of the captain. On past cruises he made the mandatory appearance for the first formal night, speaking down to us from high up in the atrium, but this captain appeared to be everywhere: receptions, walking about, greeting us and others. I was impressed. One negative: the location of our mini-suite. It was almost the sternmost cabin on the port side. Whenever the ship was docking or casting off the thrusters caused a very strong vibration. Usually it was only a mild nuisance, but it did wake us up a few mornings. The ship was big, so our location meant that it was a long walk to anything in the forward part of the ship, the theater or restaurants, for example. Before the cruise we booked Princess transfers. Airline problems meant that our arrival in San Juan was delayed from about 1:30 P.M. to about 7:00 P.M. Of course we were unable to notify Princess, but that was no problem and Princess took care of our transfer smoothly. Arriving that late also meant that there were no lines for the check-in and boarding of the ship itself. The bigger problem was that after we booked our airfare, Northwest changed our San Juan departure time from 10:00 A.M., a time we thought was tight, but manageable, to 9:00, iffy tight. We canceled our Princess transfers for departure; we knew they would not work. We finally decided to take a chance on the roll-off program. We were in the casino before 7:00 A.M. and were among the first ten or so people off the ship, breezed through customs and grabbed a waiting taxi. The streets were deserted. The airport was nearly deserted. We splurged on a porter, who knew our bags had to go through agricultural inspection, thus paying for himself. There was no real line at the counter, but we had printed out our boarding passes the day before, so all we had to do was check our bags. There were only about ten people ahead of us in security. We were at our gate, waiting for our plane before 7:45. It worked. After all our fears, it had been easy. Shore excursions: Two reasons we chose this cruise is that we had never been to most of these islands and the only duplication of islands from the first week to the second week (aside from Puerto Rico) was St. Thomas. Although the itinerary said we would be using a tender in Tortola, that was the only place we were scheduled to do so. There was only one day at sea each week, so early on we decided that we would not do a shore excursion at each island: too expensive, nothing particular we felt we "had" to see or do, too exhausting. So we decided that we would do 4-5 shore excursions, go to the beach 2-3 days and just lounge on board the ship the rest of the time. (Pools are the emptiest when the ship is in port.)Previous to this all of our shore excursions had been booked through Princess. We decided we would experiment and book most of our tours ourselves. This worked out well. These tours were as good or better than promised and we had no problems making connections with the tour operators. The one excursion we booked through Princess was swimming with the sea turtles, $39 each. Recommended. Of the excursions we booked ourselves the only one we had to pay for ahead of time was the dolphin discovery on Tortola, which involved plenty of physical contact with the dolphins and something of a dog and pony show. $79 and again it exceeded our expectations. For $25 each in St. Thomas Godfrey picked us up with his jitney at the ship, dropped us off downtown for some shopping and then took us for a tour of the island. He took us all around the island and to the top of the mountain for a panoramic view and then to the beach where we had the choice of staying until he came back later to pick us up or, after about 15 minutes, of going straight back to the ship with him. I was too worried about the tight schedule and the possibility of missing the ship, so we went straight back with him. That was a mistake. He had those who stayed back to the ship in plenty of time. He more than met our expectations. When we originally booked dolphin discovery and Godfrey the ship was scheduled to be in Tortola 3/27 and St. Thomas 3/28. We didn't realize it until 3/26 but our final itinerary was reversed. (We ended up not having to tender in Tortola; perhaps that was the reason for the change in itinerary.) We were unable to notify either of the two of the change, but they both accommodated us without any problem. The best tour we took was on St. Lucia. While an equivalent Princess excursion was $79 each, we booked a tour with an individual nicknamed Cosol for $50 each. He had 6 or 7 vans and drivers working for him and they all followed a similar itinerary, but we were lucky enough to be in the van driven by Cosol himself. He was a character and kept us entertained from start to finish. He had an island breakfast put out for us at one stop. We made another stop at a resort at the Pitons with a beautiful beach and breathtaking scenery. The drive back was punctuated by a stop for some local refreshments. I recommend him without reservation. In San Juan the ship docks in the middle of old town. We took a free local trolley to Moro Castle and toured the castle. We walked back to the ship and stopped at a local restaurant for a late lunch. Directions are easy and it would be tough to get lost, but pick up a map anyway. It was clean, busy and safe. One last thought about shopping: while the items are tempting, prices are not outstanding. A couple of years ago we bought a costly gold bauble in St. Maarten. When we got home we had it appraised. The jeweler said we got a fair price, not a great price. One way it can pay off is for harder to get items. My sister loves larimar, which is difficult to get at home, but seemed to be plentiful on the ship and on the shore. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Southern Caribbean Cruise - March 22nd 2008 - Crown Princess. So after a stressful week trying to get done with work and find time to pack I eventually put my head on the pillow at midnight the night before I left. When the alarm went off ... Read More
Southern Caribbean Cruise - March 22nd 2008 - Crown Princess. So after a stressful week trying to get done with work and find time to pack I eventually put my head on the pillow at midnight the night before I left. When the alarm went off at 4.30am I was nowhere near as exhausted as I thought I would be.....amazing the vacation switch that occurs! I live 10 min from Logan airport in Boston so getting to the airport was fast and check in a breeze. When I reached the gate the flight was boarding already. Pretty smooth start! Tried to get the Dunkin Donuts coffee to fully wake up however the line was not moving so defected to Starbucks which I have to say is not coffee I prefer. It always tastes too strong or has been brewed for too long, .....maybe that's why there was no line, however did do the trick. While seated I watched the fellow passengers come on board the full flight and couldn't help notice how stressful this process is for some people. I enjoy people watching and being the solo traveler it's a great pass time and gives lots of free entertainment. So, on this stress, for many it's clearly a personal space issue as they wince as somebody passing accidently or not as the case may be hits off them or just gets "elevator close". I am also intrigued by the people who just hurry to stand still. Traveling a lot with my job I have it down to a fine art of stepping out of the aisle, getting my stuff out that I need for the flight and loading the overhead bin in a few quick moves. Most that travel often have this down and have no patience for the people who travel once a year or, particularly people who are older and need more time. I will grant that on a delta shuttle to La Guardia at 7am I too can get irked but I am pretty sure 90% of the flight was on vacation. Really does take time to switch off......some unfortunately don't even by the end of vacation. The flight has all types of people on board young to old, family's with teenagers that would almost rather be in school than be on vacation with their parents, Spring Breakers "Wahoo!" and couples that are happy and excited and also ones that probably should have never gotten married and do nothing but nip pick and disagree for the sake of disagreeing. One of the more reaffirming reasons for traveling solo and the people I tend to get the best kick out of as an observer! Flight arrives in San Juan at 10am so I decide to kill time there before heading to the port (don't fancy standing in line waiting for the gate to open). I have my laptop with me, hence the detail musings of the travel experience. This is my third cruise in as many years , the first I tried as something different and really enjoyed it, all have been solo. I really enjoy a week away alone once a year to recharge the battery and do as little as possible! I am late 30's relaxed (at least on vacation? ) and go on the cruise just to chill out, enjoy the sunshine and hopefully meet some nice people along the way. So on to the Taxi and to the ship. $20 from the airport easy trip takes about 20 min. There was a line outside for embarkation but it was moving and entire embarkation took about half hour including duty free stop. For anybody who has been on the crown before you still can't help but notice the classy style dEcor, it's just what you would expect if it were your first cruise. I have an inside cabin on the Aloha deck (was upgraded from an M to an L two weeks ago). Having done the ocean view and balcony before I was hoping being in an inside would not disappoint. Sure it's no balcony but that was an extra $900 so did not fit in the budget. However it's by no means claustrophobic and perfect for 1. I will give props for the lighting choices; they do make the room seem bigger with all the mirrors so this also helps. My room steward is Ramon from the Philippines and he does a wonderful job and asks only that I place the please service sign in the door key when I leave in the morning and evening. This is great as it means no knocking early in the morning. Once settled I ate and headed off the ship to wander around old San Juan. It really is a nice place with narrow streets, some still cobbled and an air about the place the is very welcoming. I visited the Castillo San Cristobal historic site, which provides good history of San Juan along with wonderful views. Upon returning to the ship I relaxed on deck with a book watched all the people wandering round the ship getting their baring and mostly getting lost. After a nap it was time to Muster which was handled well as always, I did get a sense of how full the ship was as the drill room was packed at least twice as many than the last time on the Crown a year ago. I ate in Cafe Caribe as was planning to attend the opening show at the theatre but met a very nice couple on their honeymoon who were first time to the Caribbean and first time to cruise. On Dining, I am not as driven by it as much as others so probably won't be a lot of comments. So long as it fits the description of what I ordered in the way I ordered it and tastes good, I liked it! To me it's kind of like wine. I get the difference between $5 and $15 a bottle but once you go over $25 I don't see the difference as much for there to $50. Hope that makes sense. I will comment on any meals I found outstanding though . Cafe Caribe is a good standard buffet for breakfast and lunch which is where I ate these meals most days, I like something quick for these meals and then rush back to relaxing in the sunshine ? I did eat there on this first night for dinner and had not done so before as I have done traditional dining up to now. It was fine but would not do it again; the choice was not there for me. Day 2: At Sea: First thing to remember about inside cabins, there is no light and you have no idea on time unless you have a clock. I headed to bed about midnight with 4 hours sleep from the previous night and slept right through to almost 1pm. (Which is the reason for missing the Cruise Critic meeting at 11, apologies to all), I was bummed as had been looking forward to it. Alarm clock was set from then on! I chilled on the sundeck for a few hours and then took a spin class with Paul from SA who worked us harder than I was expecting for vacation, you could practically see everybody thinking about 2 appetizers and dessert at dinner that night! Not sure on the schedule for each week , They did it twice Sun and Tue but have a whole host of classes you can sign up for on the first day for the entire week. The spin had a $10 fee and to me was well worth it. Formal night and suit on I headed for the first dining experience. I chose Da Vinci's as the line was shorter than Michael Angelo's. I had been used to traditional dining so was not sure what anytime would bring but went with it for a change. Good call...! Most people in 2's and 3's request to share so it made it very interesting to meet different people every night. This evening I sat with 2 family's who were . Given people are wearing suits I would suggest a little cooler temp than normal as it was very warm in the restaurant (apologies to the strapless dressed ladies but us gents were sweating). One family from Montana has not had a great experience getting to the ship and I will preface that if you had any gripes be glad you were not in their predicament. Due to snow they had to drive across state to a different airport and then connect in Miami and arrive in San Juan on time for the ship but with no luggage. On top of that two of their party coming from a different state also had to connect and did not make it in time. So they had to wait until Barbados for the rest of their party and clean clothes. They had not purchased the flights through Princess but were looked after and with rented attire for the formal night their spirit was up, enjoying themselves and not letting it bother them. I had such admiration for them! Please consider this type of story when being disappointed with having to wait for 5 min to be seated at dinner. After dinner I went to the show in the Princess theatre. Motown.....now I am not a professional by any stretch but Direct a lot of community theatre so production shows I enjoy and look forward to. This one was not great. I know it must be tough for the troupes performing the same shows twice a night each week for a year (yes some of their contracts are 12 months) and I take that into account the same way I would with a professional touring production. I found the dancers very committed and all numbers that they were in had a much stronger impact. The soloists had some tough staging to work with which was cheesy and it showed. Motown is also difficult to sing and while I would have said they were good for a cabaret environment, however if you add the strong production elements of light, costumes, sound and sets the overall expectations are higher on the performers. Just didn't hit for me. After this show I headed on down to the Hypnotist who was very entertaining, and though I had seen all the skits he chose before many times it was still very funny to watch different people go through it. Lot of laughs! I recommend it if you like that kind of entertainment. Day 3: Barbados I was excited to see Barbados and visit Bridgetown and a beach. I was not going on any tours on this trip so beach and town was the extent for me. Unfortunately due to the Easter holiday Bridgetown was more like Ghost Town. Nothing was open and gave it a very eerier feel. The beach I went to just past the town (can't recall the name) was really nice and after a couple of hours relaxing I headed back to the ship. I have to give a lot of props to Princess for the ships design in regards to the different types of travelers. I always sat either in the Lotus area, the area just above and behind it or up on the highest level above the Trade Winds bar. The lotus pool is an adult area and with the earthy music was so relaxing, as was the area just above it and never too crowded. The design props go for how well they control sound in each section. Less than 100ft away are a Caribbean style band belting out the tunes and just behind them is the MUTS with classic surround sound and you can hardly hear one when in another. It makes Princess more attractive as they cater to all but you can be completely separate based on your choice. There were children and especially teenagers everywhere but I did not once feel overcrowded as somebody looking for a relaxing vacation. I went to Michael Angelo's for dinner and dined with three couples, one from the UK, Indiana & Nebraska. As a native of Ireland now living in Boston it was great to have such different worlds talk about everyday life that is so dissimilar and yet the same. I think you might be getting the sense that during all that lying in the sun I gave a lot of time and thought to things like this which normally would never cross anybody's mind. After dinner I went to see the comedian Gary Delena. He had some funny stuff, worked hard but had a tough crowd who didn't always get what he was saying. I rounded the night out at "Crooners" bar on deck 7 with Brett Cave on piano. Good guy with a great voice and also really good crowd connection. If you like that Piano bar feel Crooners is good and you will enjoy Brett. Not sure you would want to go every night but it's a nice way to enjoy part of the evening. Movement on the ship was more than I had experienced before for the first few days.....not in the nausea way at all and I am the weakest traveler in that regard so would notice that. I am told it was because the previous week there had been high seas in the Atlantic and that were still causing some ruffles. Like I said more than usual - about 2 on the hanger scale (which I find a good way to measure - it's the rattling of the hangers in the closet where 1 is nothing and 5 is bashing against the wall!) after today it was very light seas for the rest of the week. Day 4: St Lucia Took it very easy and just lay by the pool and wandered into the town. As a port town I found this one the most poverty stricken on the trip. Definitely gave you some pause for thought. I didn't hang about long and was the place I felt the least safe; I also heard that a local told a passenger to be careful of his watch. I saw nothing to back this up but just a sense and something to watch out for when visiting. Next time I would definitely go see more of the island. At 4pm I went to take the second spin class of the week. This one was as good as the first, Paul who runs the class keeps it interesting and you really get a great work out. I spent some time in the sauna and steam room and then add even more lavish by having a massage. I had promised myself 2 during the trip in lieu of excursions and was not disappointed. They are more expensive than you would normally pay but you are treated really well. I had a deep tissue 50 minute today and boy did she work the muscles! I felt great after it. Back to Da Vinci's for dinner and sat with a couple from Baltimore who turned out are part of the roll call group (Amber and Mark.....with my head for names I am so glad I can recall :-) and also two couples from California. A very fun dinner, also will say the Lamb Shank was spectacular, the meat just flaked off the bone and was delicious. After dinner headed to the theatre, for the "What a swell Party" production show, which is a tongue in cheek look at the Cole Porter era. What an improvement on Motown and really an entertaining show. If you like Cole Porter you will enjoy the show, the 20's feel, costumes, choreography and overall pacing work well and it is a step away from the norm with regards to Cruise ship shows and I enjoyed the added Broadway feel. In all the shows there was a lot of "one up man ship" type comedy with pushing and upstaging as light relief, I am not sure it's necessary but can see the appeal to some audiences. Well done here to all.... Right after I headed up to meet some people on deck for the tropical island night. Maybe it was just me but this felt very unattended - maybe St Lucia exhausted everybody but for an event that started at 10.30pm it was fairly clear before midnight which was not the case the last time on the Crown , the party went on late! With the people I had met we continued well past midnight with island drinks many laughs and watching distant islands on the horizon as we sailed late into the night! I do have to mention the band "Derringer" who are on deck everyday playing in the afternoon to entertain and mostly go unnoticed by the crowd. I would like to see more variety to the music they play as after a couple of days the island sounding versions of songs start to fade to the background. This crew work hard and I enjoyed them the first couple of days but found myself reaching for the iPod on day three instead. I think there is scope here for bands to expand and the more people out there enjoying them in the sun is better for atmosphere and bar tab! Speaking of atmosphere gives a nice segue to the overall ship layout and ambience. For me I like Princess for their layout and choice of dEcor. Many people have varied opinions in this regards but I find when I board and look around the piazza and all areas, it is how I like a cruise ship to be designed. Upon first walking in and looking over the piazza you feel like you are in a really nice hotel and are going to be taken care of. Each bar and area hold the common color pallet theme throughout and I find it hard to believe anybody could be nothing but impressed! You really only have to navigate decks 6, 7 and 15. This is where all the restaurants, entertainment and pools are. Get them down and you are all set. Day 5: Antigua On Antigua I did pretty much the same as St Lucia, beach (can't recall the name...), port and ship. I would have liked to have seen more of this island and will go back as I found the people very friendly a relaxed feel and I am sure a lot of beauty to be discovered! The ship docks right at the port so you are in the thick of the town in seconds. While back on deck there is a realization of just 2 days left which kind of puts a downer however there is a lot more to go! I relaxed on deck well past sail away and read a book sipped a cocktail and watched the sun set. Probably my most relaxing day of the vacation. That night I dined at Michael Angelo's with a couple from Milwaukee and Florida. Went to see the comedy, band, cabaret duo type called Kamika. It was difficult to say what they were. However, so different none of the areas were particularly good, the woman's jokes were better than her singing and her husband's guitar playing was better than the jokes. I would give this a miss. Wandered about on deck for a bit and then retired early. Day 6: St Thomas Headed out to a beach today over at Meghan's Bay. This is a beautiful spot apparently rated as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by National Geographic. I am not sure I would go that far but it was a really nice beach with still that untouched feel to it. The water is clear and always a good sign of being clean when the pelicans are flying high and then swooping down full force into the water to catch the unsuspecting fish off guard. It's also worth commenting on the roads and the skillful taxi drivers who maneuver those steep inclines with many twists and turns with not really enough room for two way traffic at most points. Not always for the faint hearted. They did stop at a scenic spot where you could take pictures of the surrounding Virgin Islands. Beautiful views! After a day at the beach I headed right back to the ship as I had been to St Thomas before and not a big shopper. Tonight is second formal night and I once again go to DeVinci's as Michelangelo's did not have the sharing option at the time I went. I ate with a couple from Cleveland who had been on the Grand last year where the couple had fallen overboard. It still remains a very interesting story and hearing it from somebody first hand was intriguing. Also with us was a young couple from Utah. This was quite the educational meal where I learned a lot about fly fishing and how the bait is actually a delicacy in Japan and there was also much discussion about Alaska. After dinner I went to see the final production show in the Princess theatre. "Destination Anywhere" is a great trip, there are excellent production values and the songs suit the singers backed up by great dancing and costumes. It's a strong show with the London scene being really outstanding. After the show I went down to the Champagne waterfall which is always a lively event. The music blares out the tunes and people dance while others have their photograph taken with the Maitre D pouring the champagne. The line was actually not that long to have the photo taken on this occasion. The fun part of this is the difference between the people laughing, dancing the drinking on the Piazza and the people on the stairs who seem completely non involved. If you are in the thick of the dancing look up at the stairs and you will see what I mean. For those who may find themselves on the stairs......yes we can see you ? and don't be afraid to move to the beat and enjoy yourself! As the party ventured up to the Skywalkers club I headed off to bed. Day 7: Tortola I have to admit before booking this cruise I had never heard of Tortola, kind of the same way last year I had not heard of Bonaire. And like Bonaire, Tortola turned out to be my favorite of the trip. It has the same feel of St Thomas however not as commercialized. I went to a beach on the north of the island at Cane Garden (actually steeper roads than St Thomas on the way). The beach is excellent. There is a reef out in the bay which affects the wave pattern and do they come in high and hard. It was fun to watch people wipe out on the breakers and laughed as much at myself when I was the one of those caught in surf as I did at others. The bay has private yachts and looks out to the many Virgin Islands that are close by. A chair was $5 and many small bars along the beach all with very reasonably priced drinks. Upon returning to the ship I had my second massage as a way to round off a relaxing week and it did just that! Once done changed and headed to the Sarge comedy show. If you don't mind some un PC humor you will enjoy Sarge, I found him hilarious and not only just a comedian he is also a skilled piano player who does not read music and vocal impressionist. It took him a while to get going at the early show and the crowd were tough however after a few minutes he won me over and I laughed loud a lot! For final dinner I want to Michael Angelos and dined for the second time with the couple from the UK (Roes and Terry...I get better with names if I meet people twice) and we were joined by a couple from New York and an Aunt and Niece traveling together from California. We laughed at how our conversation went from air and sea disasters to wars, politics and then back to the usual cruise stories! After dinner I stopped by the Princess Pop Star and watched the 5 people get up the guts to perform. They all had a great time up there and the crowd was fun. I rounded off my night at the piano bar and then headed off to bed! Disembarkation was a breeze. I was scheduled for 9am, called at 8.55am and was off the ship, in a taxi, checked in at the airport and through security by 10.15am. Very slick.....shame my flight was not until 1.30pm. Left on time and smooth trip back. This was my third cruise, 2nd with Crown Princess and all solo. This one was my favorite and most relaxing. If you are thinking of a solo cruise I highly recommend it and also recommend Princess for it. The staff, the ship and the passengers were all wonderful and not once did I ever feel uncomfortable or self conscious about being on my own. I look forward to the next one and may well do a back to back next time! I would finally like to thank all of the tablemates I was lucky to have dinner with over the week! I learned a lot about places I have not been too that are now on the list, cultures, people and cruising! However mostly, how genuine everybody was, and also the amount of people that envied me as a solo traveler. I thank all of you making the trip even more enjoyable. END! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Left DC on Thursday am on US Airways to the San Juan Marriott at Condado Beach for 2 nights prior to the cruise. Upon arrival the airport was deserted--a nice change from the usual crowd on the weekend. This is a resort Marriott with ... Read More
Left DC on Thursday am on US Airways to the San Juan Marriott at Condado Beach for 2 nights prior to the cruise. Upon arrival the airport was deserted--a nice change from the usual crowd on the weekend. This is a resort Marriott with beautiful pools, beach, casino, activities, several restaurants and very friendly staff. The hotel is located in a great neighborhood for walking, shops, and restaurants. There's even a Starbuck's right across the street. We headed to the pier around 11:30am on Saturday. The cab ride was $20, which is cheaper than the Princess transfers. Embarkation was over in 10 minutes!! WOW!! We checked out our balcony cabin on the Baja Deck and then went to have lunch. The Horizon Court (ship buffet) was open, but we decided on pizza and burgers. We next went for a walk around Old San Juan and bought bottled water and wine. There's a Super Max (grocery store) a few blocks from the ship across the street from Marshall's. We found it with the help of our Garmin GPS. Back to the ship, met our cabin steward, Rodgie, and explored the ship. Ship shops and casino are never open while in port. We opted for the seafood buffet for dinner in the Horizon Court. It was great--lobster claws, king crab legs, shrimp, yummy!! Sailing was delayed a bit due to flight delays, but we finally sailed close to midnight. Goodbye San Juan!! ST. THOMAS--We have visited St. Thomas a few times so we decided to walk around the downtown area and shop. We prefer the Havensight dock, but we docked at the Crown Bay pier instead. Open trolly cabs were $4 per person to the downtown area. It was an on and off cloudy day with a few quick showers--typical tropics! Recommend Magen Bay beach, ferry @ Red Hook to St. John's for snorkeling, Morningstar Beach @ Marriott and shopping. Great deals on watches, designer jewelry, booze, etc. ST. KITTS--This island is beautiful. The beaches are lovely. They now have an area at the dock with shops. Beware of men in town center insisting you hold a cute monkey while your party takes your picture. After you take the pix, they insist you give them $5!!! St. Patrick's Day and formal night #1. GRENADA--Today is our 30th anniversary!! Our door was decorated with "Happy Anniversary" balloons. We started the day with a champagne balcony breakfast ($28)with way too much food to finish. Having visited Grenada 2 years ago, we did not tour again. We walked to the downtown area from the ship and bought very inexpensive vanilla and other spices. Returned to the ship for some pool time. Tonight we had the Ultimate Balcony Dining experience. This is a MUST!!!!!! The food was absolutely delicious. For $100 per couple, you get your own waiter and assistant for the evening. They set up a table on your balcony with cloth, flowers, champagne, cocktails. A photographer comes and takes pictures (included in package). Courses were canapes, crab tart appetizer, huge salad, huge lobster tail and filet mignon, chocolate mousse with fresh fruit in chocolate cup, petit fours, chocolate dipped strawberries and coffee. The waiter is so efficient, not intrusive, waits in the hallway between courses and does a fantastic job of making you feel special. At the end of the night 2 dining staff supervisors joined our waiter and assistant and brought a mini-wedding cake w/candle and sang "Happy Anniversary" to us. The day was perfect thanks to Princess. BONAIRE--Unfortunately, I caught a cold, so my husband went on the snorkeling trip alone while I lounged in the cabin. He reports it was beautiful although the weather was a bit overcast. ARUBA--We had scheduled a snorkeling trip through Jolly Pirates before leaving home. We took the city bus ($1.25) across the street from the pier to the hotel area. When we arrived, the trip was called off due to rough seas and wind. (due to my cold I wasn't as disappointed as my husband) We took the bus back to the pier and signed up for one of the island tours being sold along the dock. It was $15 per person and lasted about 2 hours. Good tour. Aruba is very desertlike away from the beach. Formal night #2. SAILING DAY--Slept in and enjoyed the activities on the ship. There are so many things happening that it's hard to choose which to attend. There's bingo, art auction, culinary demonstrations, shipboard tours, movies, food, library, swimming, Lotus Spa, internet cafe (a little pricey and slow), more food, napping, trivia, afternoon tea, etc. DEBARKATION DAY--The ship arrived Saturday am bright and early. Breakfast was served in the Horizon Court until 9:00am. Our debarkation time was 9:45, but we didn't actually leave our post until after 11:00am. This was fine because our flight wasn't until 4:30pm. Custom's was a breeze, finding our luggage in the huge warehouse was pretty easy. We took a cab to the airport ($20)and had a leisure lunch before heading back to the cold weather of DC!! We have cruised twice on Carnival and now twice on Princess. We'll stick with Princess. The food was excellent, the entertainment varied and plentiful and the service was great. We loved the Anytime Dining, being able to eat dinner when the mood struck. We never had to wait for a table. Some nights we ate alone, but most we chose to share a table. We met some great, fun people as table mates. The wait staff was very professional, yet friendly. This was a fantastic cruise and a great way for us to spend our 30th anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
The Crown Princess was a great ship and we had a great time. Probably the most disappointment was the entertainment. It was far below what we have experienced on NCL and Carnival. We loved the itinerary. The islands were fabulous. ... Read More
The Crown Princess was a great ship and we had a great time. Probably the most disappointment was the entertainment. It was far below what we have experienced on NCL and Carnival. We loved the itinerary. The islands were fabulous. Getting to the ship from the airport- My advise is do not purchase a round trip ticket from the cruise line to get to the ship. A cab will cost you about $20 total one way. We did purchase the round trip ticket and watched them manhandle our luggage. Embarkation- I had read some previous reviews and was ready for the 3 hour line. When we arrived to the desk about 4 pm, there was no line and we were on the ship in about 15 minutes. The Staterooms- I would recommend getting a room on the PORT side (even numbers) they appeared to have the best sunset views. Also make sure that if you are purchasing a room with a balcony, make sure you book the Riviera deck. All the other rooms have decks that can be seen from the Riviera deck so there is no privacy. We watched a family play Scrabble, fight over a game of UNO, etc. I felt sorry for them as there was no privacy. The SHIP- The Crown Princess was a beautiful ship. It was easy to to get around and we did not get lost that often. FOOD- The food was great. The pizza bar actually served a good quality pizza. I have heard that the private dining room, Sabatini's was good although they had too much to eat. We could not see spending $25/PP for a meal when you could get a quality meal in the dining room. We chose the traditional seating and were pleased with our table mates. There are two formal nights and on the second formal night there is lobster. It was fantastic. I would not recommend going to the dining room for breakfast. We were disappointed with the quality of the food and found the buffet to be a far better choice. FITNESS ROOM- There are a lot of treadmills and I did not have any trouble getting on one, but most of the mornings they were all full even with having about 10- 15 treadmills. We usually went up about 8 AM. My husband did the elliptical and had no problems getting on one. All the machines had tv monitors. Bring your own headset. They always had several movies to watch along with CNN, Headline News, and ESPN. The weight room is good and has many machines. We did not do any of the classes so can't comment on those. BE PREPARED AS IT IS REALLY HOT IN THE FITNESS ROOM ESPECIALLY IF THE SUN SHINES IN. MOVIES UNDER THE STARS- This was a great addition and had newly released movies. We watched the newest Bruce Willis movie one night. They have special cushions on the chairs and bring you a warm blanket to wrap up in. Micheal Clayton and Hairspray were just a couple of movies that were playing. There are several movies during the day as well if you would like to sit out and watch. Those tended to cater to the younger children and preteens. Princess Theater- Don't miss the Motown show. We did and the people that saw it were still talking about for days after. Do not go and see the comedic musicians. It was a husband and wife team and they were awful. On certain evenings there are movies in the theater and no show. That is one thing that we missed was the big productions. There were not that many. Other Shows- If there is a hypnotist do not go and see him. He was horrible. We had several high school students that got up there and pretended to be hypnotized but every time he turned his back they were laughing. He never pulled them off the stage but pulled others who were not hypnotized. If there is a comedian Philadelphia go see him. He was hilarious. The other shows were great as well. they are usually in a smaller venue and I forget the name, but it is next to the photo gallery. EXCURSIONS- I would suggest that if you want to see the islands, get a taxi and do not do an excursion. We did one excursion, a rum tour in St. Lucia and that was wonderful. Make sure you ask for Abramham Lincoln and tell him you want to sample his special stock. It knocked my socks off! In Barbados we took a taxi and drove around the island. It was a 2 hour tour and we saw all the highlights. We had an older gentleman who was awesome. He charged us $50 for the 2 hours. I heard that the beaches were great as well. High waves and great body surfing. We did not do anything in Antigua and now regret it. I heard from many that Antigua was there favorite island. Again, get a taxi and take a tour of the island. We had been to St. Thomas before and all we did was shop all day. If you want jewelry that is the place to go. There are more diamond stores than anything else. There has to be at least 50 of them. If you get a chance take the ferry over to St. John's. It is a wonderful island and very relaxing. Tortola was a great island and one of my favorites. YOu have to take a tour of the island as it is breathtaking!!! The water is a color that I could never describe. Make sure you stop at Bumba's Bar. It is very unique. If you get offended easily then do not go. Apparently it is quite the night spot. It is a shake that has many messages posted all over in permanent maker. There is also many undergarments displayed that have been left behind. Get the bumba punch. We went to the beach after and it was very crowded. Get there early so you can get a chair, for a $5 fee. The water was fantastic. OVERALL- Overall we enjoyed our cruise. We were disappointed with the entertainment. The food was great. One the last day in port in Tortola, I cried when we left. It was the best vacation of all and I am truly sad to be home. Make the best of your trip, we did. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
BACKGROUND INFORMATION; My husband and I sailed on the Crown Princess to the Southern Caribbean on March 22, 2008. This was our 14th cruise and our 6th on Princess. This was the cruise where we could use our Platinum Member benefits and ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION; My husband and I sailed on the Crown Princess to the Southern Caribbean on March 22, 2008. This was our 14th cruise and our 6th on Princess. This was the cruise where we could use our Platinum Member benefits and they were great! Having free use of the internet was a wonderful way for us to keep in touch with family at home and to post daily on Cruise Critic...live from the Crown Princess. TRAVEL AND HOTEL: We flew on American Airlines to San Juan and had reserved our hotel through Hotwire...The Radisson Ambassador in San Juan. We paid an exorbitant amount of money for this hotel and it was rated as a 3 1/2 stars on Hotwire. It was, in my view, a 1 star hotel that was filthy and rundown. We will never again book through Hotwire. We usually book our hotels through Priceline, but this time we weren't having any luck. EMBARKATION: We got up early and arrived at the pier at 9:30AM because I wasn't feeling well and I wanted to see the doctor in the medical facility on the ship. A nice young woman at the terminal agreed to allow us to get on the ship as soon as the line opened so we could go directly to the medical facility. We arrived early for this purpose and embarkation was a breeze except for the rude gentleman who pushed his way ahead of us in the line. I visited the doctor on board and she gave me some medication and we were on our way to our week in paradise. The staff at the medical facility was excellent and very professional. After seeing the doctor, we went to the piazza area and it was beautiful and very elegant. DINING: We prefer to eat in the dining room, rather than the Horizon Court, so we went directly to the Da Vinci Dining Room for our embarkation lunch. We read on the CC boards that the DaVinci Dining Room was open for lunch and it was. They obviously were serving the back to back cruisers their lunches, but we approached the door and told the young lady that we were here for lunch and we were so glad they were open. We were seated immediately and had a delicious lunch with wonderful service. While we were eating our lunch, we chatted with a headwaiter named Michael, and told him we were interested in attending the chef's dinner and also requested that he set us up with a great waitstaff for anytime dining. We also requested a table for 2 by the window and told him we would be making reservations nightly. We reserved our dinner table for the 1st night and arrived at the DaVinci Dining Room at 7PM and were escorted to our table for 2 by the window. Our waitstaff was Dianna & Claudio and we received excellent service all week. Michael, the headwaiter, visited us every night with the next night's menu for us to look at. He also made suggestions and served us appetizers and entrees that weren't on the menu. The service we received was top notch and our meals were excellent. We love anytime dining! Michael, also arranged for us to attend the chef's dinner later in the week and he was nice enough to also include another couple from our CC group in that dinner too. The great additions to the Crown Princess are Vines (wine and sushi bar) and the International Cafe, both located in the Piazza. The sushi at Vines was extraordinary and the food at the International Cafe (especially the shrimp salad and marinated mushrooms)were great too. The smell of fresh baked cookies coming from the International Cafe added a nice touch. They served warm cookies and milk there in the afternoon. We didn't eat at the Horizon Court or the Cafe Carib or on the pool deck either. We prefer to have our meals served in the dining room. CABIN: We had an obstructed view cabin, E602, on the Emerald Deck. Our cabin was fine and we were very happy to have some light coming in. Our room steward did a fine job keeping our room clean and providing us with robes, wine glasses, and bar glasses each day. We did request an egg crate mattress for our bed before we left home. Unfortunately, the Princess beds are not the most comfortable without it. PORTS OF CALL: Day #1: This was a sea day and we enjoyed this beautiful ship and the musicians in the piazza. Day #2: We were in Barbados and we went on the 4X4 Safari Adventure through Princess. We took a land rover around Barbados and got to see some pretty sights. The adventure part of this excursion wasn't what we'd call an adventure...we drove for a few minutes on a dirt road and bounced up and down. The remainder of this excursion was on paved roads and was more of a sightseeing excursion. I wouldn't recommend this excursion because it was too costly for what you got to do. Day #3: We were in St. Lucia and had prearranged to go on Cosol's tour which we read about on Cruise Critic. There were many CC members on this tour and it was a fantastic day. We had requested that we be with Cosol in his van and we were. He drove us to a banana plantation where we picked local bananas, to the waterfall and gardens, to the volcano,and to Jalousie Resort where we had some time to swim and be on the beach right near the Pitons. Our day in St. Lucia was a day to remember. Cosol fed us throughout the day with local foods and drinks including rum punch, beer, and water. Our group in our van was quite "happy" by the end of the tour. In addition, Cosol was very amusing, telling us stories about his life and his beautiful island of St. Lucia. I would highly recommend this tour. Day #4: We were in Antigua and decided to go into town and walk around rather than do an excursion. We enjoyed getting back on the ship and being around this wonderful staff! Day #5: We were in St. Thomas and we booked the 1/2 day Champagne Catamaran to St. John. Since we've visited the Caribbean many times, this was the perfect excursion for us. Unfortunately, it was too short, and we will definitely book a full day catamaran on our next cruise to the Caribbean. The water was gorgeous and the sail was so relaxing. It was an ideal way to spend the afternoon. Day #6: We were in Tortola and took the Princess excursion to Cane Garden Bay. We went early in the day and the beach was so peaceful and beautiful. There were few people there at that hour, but by the afternoon, it became quite crowded. We would definitely visit this beach again...it has facilities for eating & changing. Day #7 : What a sad day...Disembarkation. We decided to use the new service "Easy Direct" from Princess, where they take your checked bags after you go through customs, and you don't see them again until you get off your plane. This made the trip home less stressful and was well worth the $15.00 per person for 2 bags. Unfortunately, this is only done on selected airlines. ENTERTAINMENT: We usually love going to the shows in both the theater and lounges, but this cruise was so port intensive that we found it difficult to get to as many shows as we usually do. We saw a few of the production shows, but unfortunately the singers and dancers were not as polished as we have previously seen. We even left one of the shows because it was like a high school production. We finally were able to see Sarge perform and his show was great! We also saw a few other comedians who were good too. SUMMARY: We have been spoiled by the Crown Princess and now we don't want to go back one of the older Grand Class Ships. The staff on this ship was terrific and the dining was the best we've ever had. We love Princess because there is consistency from one ship to another and their ships are well maintained. We've always had great meals on our Princess Cruises, but with the additions they made to this ship (Vines & the International Cafe), it was even better. There were 600 kids on this cruise, but I did not see one misbehaving. Princess does a wonderful job with the kids because of their youth security. Now, we can't wait to sail on the Emerald next spring! If you're planning on cruising on the Crown you're in for a treat! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
My friends and I have recently returned from a one week Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess. We embarked from San Juan and sailed to the islands of Tortola, Antigua, St.Lucia, Barbados and St.Thomas. We were VERY disappointed ... Read More
My friends and I have recently returned from a one week Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess. We embarked from San Juan and sailed to the islands of Tortola, Antigua, St.Lucia, Barbados and St.Thomas. We were VERY disappointed with the level of service from Princess both prior to and during the cruise. We booked our flights with Princess, which was a HUGE mistake!!! They had nothing available flying out of Toronto, so we had to drive to Buffalo. We received our flight itinerary only AFTER we had paid our final cruise payment. Here was our flight itinerary: Buffalo --> Philadelphia --> Boston --> San Juan (19 hours in total transit) On the way back: San Juan --> Miami --> Tampa --> Detroit --> Buffalo (13 hours in total transit) I immediately called Princess to see if they could change the flight to something with fewer connections and they told me this was the "BEST" they could do. Not only were these multi-connections, but they were also connections between different airlines! On the way home, our flight from San Juan was delayed by 40 minutes, which meant we would miss our next flight (YES!!! Princess only gave us a 40 minute window to catch our next flight!!!). Because we were travelling with a group of over 30, the plane waited for us, but then the agents at the counter began selling off our tickets to people on stand-by because we weren't at the gate 15 minutes prior to boarding. Needless to say..some of us were stuck in Miami desperately looking for a flight back to Toronto/Buffalo during the end of March Break with tickets that they were told had "NO VALUE" to them! Cruise Amenities: I was shocked when I found that Princess charges an additional admission fee for the wave pool and sanctuary(adult only section)! Stateroom: Spacious and clean. The house-keeping staff was very helpful and polite. Dining: The waiters were rude and very slow in the main dining room. With the automatic calculated daily tip that Princess charges on our accounts, I found the waiters did not work as hard to serve their clients. For example, when I requested one night if we could perhaps order our dessert at the same time as our entrees (so he didn't have to come back to us again), as we wanted to catch a show, the waiter rudely told us that it was not possible, and that if we were in a hurry, we should not have dined there. Entertainment: NOT very entertaining. Shore Excursions: Tortola - We went to the Baths via Speedy's ferry to Virgin Gorda and a shuttle to the Baths. Speedy's ferry was within walking distance from the port. I'm usually one to get seasick, but I made sure I had the motion wristbands, patch and anti-nausea meds..just in case. The 30 minute boat ride was not too bad. The Baths was amazing! After touring the boulders, we spent a couple hours at the beach. Antigua - We did the Canopy Tour with the ship. This was rated #9 out of #57 on Trip Advisor and when we tried to book it ourselves, we realized the ship had booked this place already. The ziplining was okay...felt a little rushed going from tree to tree by the people working there. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g147242-d651214-Reviews-Antigua_Rainforest_Canopy_TourAntigua_Antigua_and_Barbuda.html because the place St.Lucia - We did an ATV tour with ATV Paradis Tours http://www.atvstlucia.com/ This is the tour that was rated #5 out of #125 on Trip advisor. We spent the morning touring the plantation. It was a great experience! The afternoon was spent touring the island with Frank (taxi driver). We saw Heaven and the Pitons. Barbados - Beach day! St.Thomas - Shopping Conclusion: I would NOT recommend cruising with Princess Cruises. The level of service was less than acceptable. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean before and would definitely go with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Don't let anyone tell you that travelling to the US from the UK is easy especially when it will take over 24 hours and three planes to get to San Juan. The long trip across 'the pond' (Manchester to Chicago - Chicago to ... Read More
Don't let anyone tell you that travelling to the US from the UK is easy especially when it will take over 24 hours and three planes to get to San Juan. The long trip across 'the pond' (Manchester to Chicago - Chicago to Miami - Overnight in a hotel - then Miami to San Juan) and the fact that we had to sit separately on the flight from Miami to San Juan all pales into insignificance when you see the Crown Princess for the first time as you approach the port. The intake of breath on the coach from the airport was distinctly audible. For first time cruisers like us it definitely had the 'WOW' factor. We were travelling on our honeymoon doing two cruises back to back and also celebrating my 40th birthday too around the Southern Caribbean. We set sail on 1st March and sadly had to leave on 15th March. The Crown Princess is the most fabulous ship. I have nothing to compare it too however and suspect I may have now been spoilt by the whole experience. We embarked with minimum trouble and found the way to our stateroom quite easily. Franky our Indian Steward was there in a flash explaining that anything we wanted we just had to ask for. He was lovely and even showed me how to do fancy towel folding (monkeys and elephants!!) We also got extra choccies on our pillows at night! Just Married balloons too!! The room was compact but was clean and all in good order with plenty of hanging space and hangers. The balcony was almost as large as the room and it was lovely in the mornings to watch the ship dock whilst eating breakfast. We were on Anytime Dining which is what we preferred but we met another UK couple in Chicago whilst we were running to make the connection to Miami and we ate with them most of the time in Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caribe Buffet and the Crown Grill which was nice but if you are not a seafood/steak lover don't bother as it costs you extra and the steaks in the normal restaurants are just as good if not better. The food was excellent and I cannot say I had a bad meal at all on the ship whether it be buffet or set menu. My husband arranged for a cake to be made for my birthday and it was a strawberry shortcake with fresh cream and fresh fruits on the top all for $1.50 per person. The table was set up with balloons and all the waiters from around the table came and sang Happy Birthday to me. What a way to spend your 40th birthday on a beach in Barbados during the day and drinking Raspberry Martinis into the small hours in Crooners. The waiters in both the restaurants and bars were extremely attentive and once you got to know them they would remember what your normal tipple would be and would almost have it on the table before you sat down...excellent! Facilities and Entertainment Evening entertainment on the ship was varied, the shows in the theatre were good and very professional. The ships orchestra were good but a group called Derringer were not the best! Ethix were good Caribbean group and some of the comedians that were on were very funny but the best entertainment had to be Brett Cave an English guy who played piano and sang songs from Elton John to Barry Manilow to James Blunt. We spent a lot of time in Crooner's bar being entertained and some evenings struggled to get a seat as it got really busy such was Brett's appeal!! He should really be given a spot in Explorers Lounge as he would go down a storm! He really involved the audience and the waiters and waitresses by playing cocktail shaking music whilst they mixed the cocktails at your table! Very funny. We used the casino a couple of times and lost what we won but it was good fun. The 'hubby' used the gym once despite the assurances that it would be used everyday! We tried to use the Sanctuary one day but it was booked up as it was a day at sea, but it wasn't an issue as there was plenty of space for everyone on the sundecks. You really don't ever feel like there are 3000 people on the ship as there are so many activities going on at any one time. You really need to read the Patter every day to make sure you don't miss something. MUTS (movies under the stars) was fantastic. We didn't catch any evening movies but saw plenty during the day along with concerts by U2, Tina Turner etc. We used the internet cafe several times to keep in touch with our young son and it was quick although $0.75 a minute a little expensive. The International Cafe was great for a quick coffee and cake after a hard day's sightseeing Didn't manage to make it to Skywalkers or to Addagios so I can't comment - maybe I should book another cruise to check them out! Formal nights were lovely and the photos we had taken will give us long lasting memories (we wanted to buy them all but you could spend a fortune if you bought every single photo you had taken) but we found it a shame that not all passengers bothered to dress up and it was mildly irritating that people would come to the bars and lounges in shorts and t-shirts when the majority of us were dressed in evening dresses and tuxedos. There should be some rules in place to limit where people are allowed if they don't want to conform to the dress code. We also used the Laundry a couple of times so don't take mountains of clothes if you have to be careful of airline weight restrictions. It costs a dollar for the washing machine, a dollar for washing powder and a dollar for the tumble dryer. We were overweight on our luggage on the way out and it cost us $50 so be warned. Places we visited.... We did not do any Princess excursions as we had been told that it was just as easy to do it yourself. Most island tours with local taxi drivers cost between $20 and $50 depending on where you are. St Thomas - Fabulous place - found a great taxi driver called Luen with a bright yellow open taxi bus who took us on an island tour where I tasted my first banana daiquiri - Yum. He was very knowledgeable and funny. Good first day. St Kitts - Hmmm. Not sure about here, something about the port made me feel uneasy so we did an island tour which was great fun as we shared a minibus with 10 Canadians (all part of an extended family) Grenada - Hmmm again, had a walk round the port then went back on board ship. Bonaire - Great place to visit - went on a water taxi to a little island and did some snorkeling. Aruba - Never imagined that the Dutch influence would be as strong as it is that far away. I have been to the Netherlands and it is very similar albeit a lot more colorful! Buy the Aruba Burn Balm it works miracles on sunburn. Liked this island a lot. Day at Sea - the only day when it was bit up and down on the ship which my tummy didn't like! San Juan - Use the free tram that runs around to the Fort, Town center it is well worth it as you can hop on an off and it's FREE. Go to the Tourist information place to the left of the ship when it docks just past the taxi rank. Tortola - Very pretty island - we took an island tour again with a local taxi driver and spent some time at a beach where we had some lunch. Antigua - Paradise personified. Did an island tour with a local taxi driver ($20) including English Harbour, Nelson's Dockyard ($5 entrance fee) and then spent the afternoon on Turner's Beach - just what the Caribbean should be like, white sand, warm sea and palm trees. No issues with being picked up either at the right time. Would love to go back for a proper holiday. St Lucia - Experienced tropical rain - wonderful! Did an short island tour and explored the craft market at Castries as we didn't have long in port that day. Beware the taxi drivers here, they are very persistent. Barbados - Happy Birthday to me - balloons in the room - spent the day on Monkey Beach - went on a jetski for the first time in my life and lasted 10 minutes before I'd had enough $50 for half an hour driving it yourself. Hubby did it twice and got it cheaper second time around. We had to pay for the sunloungers and umbrella but it was well worth the money. Day at Sea St Thomas again but just had a wander around the shops. Disembarkation was breeze as we'd had an immigration check in St Thomas the day before but the wait at San Juan airport was a drag as we weren't flying until 17.00 and we were dropped at the airport at about 12 noon. The return trip to the UK was just as difficult San Juan to Miami - Miami to London Heathorw then a three hour wait for a domestic flight to Manchester. Finally made it home on Sunday afternoon after leaving the ship on Saturday morning. There really should be direct flights to San Juan or Miami. All in all I had the most perfect honeymoon, holiday and birthday and we will definitely cruise again with Princess and will take our son with us as there seems to be lots for kids to do as well. The Mediterranean is looking favorite as it is a bit closer in terms of flying time. However I would love to go back to the Caribbean someday. Sorry this is long but I used this site to get info for myself before I went on the cruise and want to give someone else the advantage of my experience. Don't forget though that these are only our opinions of what we found. Your opinion may be different. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
My husband Darryl and I are in our early 50's. This was my 12th cruise and his 6th one, and our 3rd Princess Cruise. We booked this cruise a few weeks after taking our Mexican Riviera cruise in March/07,on board the Diamond Princess, ... Read More
My husband Darryl and I are in our early 50's. This was my 12th cruise and his 6th one, and our 3rd Princess Cruise. We booked this cruise a few weeks after taking our Mexican Riviera cruise in March/07,on board the Diamond Princess, where we had placed a $100 deposit/person for future cruises. We decided to spend a few extra days in San Juan before the cruise, as we have never spent more than a few hours in the evening there on previous cruises. Our vacation started on Wednesday night, when we flew from Calgary to Seattle, backtracking a bit, but nevertheless saving $400/person on airfare. Canadian air rates are atrocious, and so we always tend to fly from Seattle. We had a 4 hour layover in Seattle, and left for Atlanta flying overnight, and switching planes for our flight to S.J. The entire trip took us 22 hours. We got to SJ around 1:00 pm, got all our luggage miraculously, after all the switching in aircraft and cities, and too a taxi to our hotel, the Nomandie, which I got at a great rate on priceline for $120/night. I read some pretty nasty reports about the hotel, and so I was fearing what was awaiting us. When we got to the hotel, they informed us that our room was not ready, and we could leave our luggage in their care. The lobby of the hotel was extraordinary, very art deco like retro styled, all in all pleasant to the eyesight. We headed out by cab to the ferry, where we were told for 75 cents/person, we could get to the Bicardi Rum Factory, whose tour was free. We did so with no problems encountered, and then grabbed a taxi to the factory for $5.00 The tour itself was enlightening, even had some free samples, rode around on a little train throughout the grounds, saw a short film, and some historic factors, had a demonstration by a bartender of various drinks, and then of course dropped off at their shop. Prices I was warned would not be as favorable as those at the duty free liquor shop at the pier, so we did not buy any rum there, just a gift pack for my daughter. All-in-all a very favorable way to spend some time waiting for our room to be ready. We got a lift back to the hotel, with one of the people who was on our tour. I had asked her if she wanted to share a cab with us and she told us she had a rented car, so I asked if she could drop us off somewhere, and she did,,,,,at our hotel. What a pleasant surprise. It pays to talk and kibbutz around with people, as Darryl & I always do. Our room was ready, and they said they would send our luggage up with the porter. So off we went in the elevator, walking down the halls, whose carpets could use a facelift, pondering about what the inside would be like. To our surprise, we had a huge room, king size bed, office space, huge window, overlooking the water, with gorgeous palm trees. The scenery was unbelievable, and the room immaculately clean. I think we lucked out on this one! An hour later, we were picked up for our Bio Bay Tour. The drive was just over an hour, where we met up with about 15 others, given instructions on how and what to do on the kayak. I had never been on a kayak before, so it was quite the experience. If I wasn't in the front, I would've probably swatted my husband with the oars a number of times. We rowed out to the middle of the lagoon, after about 1/2 hour, got to our destination, anything that went into the water, sparkled, and glistened, and there were thousands of stars out, definitely made for a romantic evening along with 15 strangers in our midst. We would definitely do this tour again. Next day, we ventured on the bus early in the morning, headed into old san juan did all the touristy things, bought a little trinket, and went back to the hotel's pool for some sun. Got ready for dinner at Barrachina's in old san juan, met up with 5 other couples from our CC group. Included with this dinner was a 1 hour flamingo show. Our dinners were superb, I ordered tradition Puerto Rican dish, recommended by the waiter, and of course their specialty drink,,,the Pina Colada. Great evening. We left the hotel via taxi which cost around $19 to the port and our luggage was immediately taken and preceded to embark. Our steps were stopped by the marketing tactics used by the duty free liquor shop to get us in the store. Darryl was chosen to be placed in a glass container, where there were coupons flying around, and he had to grab as many as he could in a short period of time. Being 6'2" and having big hands paid off. He gathered about 200 of those coupons, and only 1 was decent. We were able to buy as many bottles of bacardi rum 1 litre bottles, for $5.95/bottle. So we bought 4 and 1 Malibu, and a six pack of diet coke for mixers. 3 of the bottles were bubble wrapped and in a box, the other we put into our carryons, expecting them to take away the box, and give it back to us at the end of the cruise. Lo and behold, they let us go through with everything. Good start to our cruise. Embarkation, took less than 15 minutes, and that's a first for us. Now we're on the ship, and the inside is glamorous, and elegant, done with a sophistication, and not too glitzy. We are explained on the directions to our cabin, and are there before too long. The cabin is quite spacious, nice bed spreads, comfy beds, balcony that fits 2 chairs and a small table, and lots of storage area in the cupboard area. Within 5 minutes of our arrival, we are greeted by our steward, Christian, whom I wish I could hire, and take him home with me. He catered to our every whim, and was a delightfully pleasant person, greeting us by name, joking around with us, giving us extra chocolates on our pillow, and doing whatever it takes to make us happy. And how happy we were. We headed upstairs for some food. And that was the start of our escapade. The food was mediocre, but there was lots of fresh salads, and veggies so I was happy. After lunch, we explored and ventured through the ship. I was making mental notes as we were walking around, of places to visit and things to do. CC Gathering: I had scheduled a Meet & Greet, with our CC'ers thread, with people I had been communicating with over the last 10 months. About 40 people showed up from all over, a big N.Y. contingency was present, and they were a great bunch that we would bump into through the cruise, throughout the ship. Others were from Eastern Canada, the Maritimes, all over the U.S., and our furthest fellow CC'ers James and Julie from the U.K. We met up with all these folks again at another M & G on the last day of our cruise, a sea day, and once again enjoyed everyones company, chatting it up, as if we had been long lost friends for many years. We were fortunate to be with some of these people on the various excursions that I had organized in the various islands. Food: We did the formal dining, second seating, which is what we always do as we are night people. We had fabulous table mates, and enjoyed their company, and they really helped to make our cruise so wonderful. We were the youngest at our table, but everyone else was young at mind. Our conversations flowed freely, and we were always the last ones to leave the dining room. The meals were presented in an eye appeasing manner, and they were quite delicious. Our waiter Elmer was from the Philippines, and he and our assistant waiter (forgot his name) were unbelievable. They pampered us to no avail. They remembered everything, everyday, always had a smile on their faces, and worth their weight in gold. The formal dining meals were phenomenal, which is more than I could say about the bkfst and lunch buffets. They were totally mediocre, and uninteresting. At times I opted for the burgers fries, & pizza. I seemed to have the same bkfst everyday, and it got a bit boring. It was nice knowing about the free icecream everyday around 3:00 and the milk and cookies around the pool everyday around 4:00 I was surprised that they did not have strawberries, or in fact any kind of berries at the buffets. I always had some for dessert at the dinner dining,by request. Entertainment: I was disappointed that being in the late seating, the only shows available to us with the big production shows. Anyother shows, held in the smaller locals were frequented by those in the early sitting. We went to all of the big production shows, and actually fell asleep during 2 of them, which seemed a bit amateurish. Sarge the comedian was wonderful and we enjoyed his shows twice on the cruise. There was another comedian as well, who was O.K. Because this cruise was so port intensive, we really did not do alot of activities on board, other than listening to music on deck at the pool, and there were a couple of games at the pool site. THere were a couple of on deck night parties, we made it to the first one, where we dance for hours, learning new line dances, but did not make it to the second Caribbean party one. We tended to spend a bit of time in the casino into the wee hours of the night. The slot machines were loose the first couple of days, tight for the next, and then loose again for the last couple. Itinerary: St. Thomas: I organized a tour for about 8 of us CC'ers with Godfrey Tours for $25/person. He was wonderful, and a very charming man, showing us a definite love for his country. We did 3 hours of shopping the streets, I bought a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring for my daughter's 25th birthday coming up in April. 2 hours were spent touring the city sites, which was very entertaining, and his knowledge about his city was fantastic. He then dropped us off at Sapphire Beach for some down time and the beach was great. I would definitely recommend this tour. St. Kitts: 10 other CC'ers joined us on the Thenford Grey Tour at $40/person. He met us at the port, and took us in his airconditioned vehicle to see the city highlights, Romney Manor, Brimstone Hill FOrtress, and dropped some off at the beach, and the others shopping. He was very knowledgeable, and his love for his country showed as well. Grenada: 8 CC'ers joined us on the Mandoo Tour at $45/person. Mandoo took us to Annendale Falls, the Rainforest, the Spice Market, all in about 6 hours, definitely worth the price. He is very much an ambassador for his country, and does alot of public speaking, and is very politically oriented and speaks his views. This was a short day at this port, as we had to be back by 2:00 Granada seems like a very poor country that has been devastated by hurricanes, though they are trying to rebuild and develop. Bonaire: I couldn't book a snorkeling trip with Renee, as she was already all booked up, so we started with hiring a taxi with another couple from our dinner table, and a third couple off the streets. The cost was $20/person, and we saw alot of the island for 2 1/2 hours, well worth the cost of the tour. He then took us to Eden Beach also known as Bongo Beach by the locals. We were totally disappointed in the beach itself, very rocky, body to body full of people, no space to put down our towels even, and hundreds of snorkels were seen in the water. Seemed like people were bumping into eachother both on the beach and in the water. This was not my idea of fun, so we ended up splitting a cab back to the port, where we poked into some of the shops, and bought our traditional magnet. Not much to buy there. Aruba: Our favorite island of the cruise is like the closest thing to paradise. It's white beaches are stupendous. We started off in the morning roaming the streets and snooping around in the shops. I was looking for a rainbow sapphire ring, but decided not to impulse buy. A first for me! We were told we could take a bus to the beach, so that's exactly what we did, for $1.10/person, we and dozens of other cruisers hopped on the bus, headed for Palm Beach, about 15 minutes away. We got off at the Depalm Pier and walked between Riu Hotel & Radisson Hotel. Rented some chairs & floats from Itito rentals, for $20 altogether, and plopped our chairs on the edge of the beach, and floated on the water for a couple of hours, relaxing, and drifting. We loved it, but figured we should get out of the sun as we were starting to feel tight skinned. Darryl ended up looking like a strawberry. We would go back to Aruba in a snap, it is a beautiful, rich looking island, with lots of beaches to offer. Our last day, was a sea day, and we needed some downtime to just relax and reflect on the last week of all the funfilled activities we had done. Our CC'ers group met again for the last Meet & Greet, and we enjoyed eachothers company for the last time on this cruise. We had a half litre of opened Bacardi, so we and others brought their leftovers on deck and we had a jolly time. All in all, this cruise was fabulous, the people we met were special, and I consider them special friends, whom I hope we have an opportunity to hook up with them again, either on another cruise, in their home city, or our home city. We have about 1700 pictures, after deleting 300 others, as memories where we can refer to them and smile. I definitely recommend the Crown Princess, a truly regal ship! Sorry for being so long winded, I tend to get carried away some time!!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
So, a little background on us and the group we were cruising with. Our family consisted of myself (37), my wife (36) and our two small children (both boys, one 2+ and the other 11 months). We also traveled with my sister, her husband and ... Read More
So, a little background on us and the group we were cruising with. Our family consisted of myself (37), my wife (36) and our two small children (both boys, one 2+ and the other 11 months). We also traveled with my sister, her husband and their almost 4 year old daughter. My parents, and my wife's father and his his wife. All together we were a group of 8 adults and 3 kids. We flew into San Juan on Friday and stayed at the "Beach House" hotel. My sister booked the hotel after changing the reservations from the Travel Agent. This hotel is a disaster. No elevator, horrible rooms, disgusting continental breakfast. Do not stay there for any reason. The night we were there, the hotel was hosting a party in their "courtyard". They had the music blasting well into the morning (around 3:00 AM). We are seeking a full credit from Travelocity. Embarkation: Getting on the ship was pretty much a breeze. From hopping off the shuttle to stepping on the ship took less than 15 minutes. There was a sign for people with "Preferred Boarding", which we had, but we did not have to use that line as there was virtually no wait even at 12:45 when we arrived at the terminal. Room: We booked a full suite on Riviera (Deck 14). I did read some reviews where people complained about the noise from the deck above, and while we did hear some traffic, nothing beats being able to take the stairs up 1 flight to go to the pool, or the buffet, without having to wait for an elevator. The suite was great, and our cabin steward was even better. They took care of mostly everything we needed in a timely fashion. The free laundry service was a nice, and much used service. A note to anyone booking a suite: Our particular room (R415) is a handicap accessible room. It does not have a bathtub, but the door is super wide which came in handy with our double stroller. The ship: The ship is nice enough. We mostly hung out at the rear of the ship where the kids pools are. They are really annoying to get to though. You have to get to deck 15, walk all the way to the back, and then go up 2 flights of stairs. Not easy with two kids and all the gear. All of the public areas of the ship are well kept. So let's get to all of the issues: The food SUCKS. We had a standing reservation in the Di Vinci dining room because of the size of our party. While this did eliminate the wait that most people experienced with the Anytime Dining option, we all found that we were never looking forward to dinner. Princess tries too hard to provide an "upscale" dining experience but fails miserably to deliver anything that tastes as good as it sounds on the menu. I honestly can not recommend ANYTHING I ate at the dining room. The service is OK, except when the waiter got mad at my father-in-law. The waiter was trying to sell us on a wine tasting they were holding in the dining room the next afternoon. When my father-in-law asked what kind of wine they were offering, the waiter opened with a Kendell Jackson offering and my father-in-law laughed and started to walk away. Well, unfortunately the waiter said something like "so don't come then" under his breath a little to loud. Needless to say we did not give him any additional tips. As for the buffet, the breakfast offerings were decent with very little variation from day to day. The buffet lunch was again a miserable experience. I kept having hopes that there would be something appetizing, but found that I was disappointed and ended up getting a burger and fries almost every day. The pizza is also a sub par offering (of course we are from New York originally and may be skewed by the fantastic pizza) and hardly ever fresh. Right next to the pizza is the "pay ice-cream". Like most people, I think that charging for vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice-cream is disgustingly cheap of Princess to do. And speaking of being cheap, they also try to sell you a glass of "fresh squeezed" orange juice (from a plastic pitcher, not really freshly squeezed) for $2.75. Now, this next gripe may seem petty, but it annoyed the hell out of me. We purchased some of the pictures that we took, and when we went to pay for them (at $24.95 a pop) they offer you a "frame deal" for $10 a piece. When we said "no thanks", the ass behind the counter said that "we would not find a deal like this on shore", to which my wife replied, "um, have you never heard of Michael's or Marshall's?" It just really annoys me when they treat you like an idiot. All tips are included on everything. Order a drink at the bar, the tips are added to the bill. You are charged $10.50 per person per day for room services, etc. ($11.00 per person in suites). In my opinion, when a service person does not need a tip, the service is no good. The bar staff is never in a rush to take orders. All of the islands were nice. Aruba was fantastic. We did not take any excursions. Disembarkation was fairly easy. GET A PORTER to take your bags from the baggage area out to the shuttles. They let them, and you, pass through a different line with no waiting. Summery: We have been on the Celebrity Millennium, and the RC Radiance of the Seas and both were a much nicer experience. I do not think that we will be cruising on Princess again. And we are going to look at other options to replace our yearly family cruise, at least for the next few years. Read Less
Crown Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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