Sail Date: December 2012
I love long sea days, so I looked forward to trying a TransAtlantric crossing for the first time. The last half of this 20-day trip is mostly at sea and I loved it. Big hint: if you are sailing from Europe to the US in December, book a ... Read More
I love long sea days, so I looked forward to trying a TransAtlantric crossing for the first time. The last half of this 20-day trip is mostly at sea and I loved it. Big hint: if you are sailing from Europe to the US in December, book a port balcony cabin if you want the sun. We booked Baja 708 on the port side and soaked in a week of beautiful sun every day. The weather on all crossings varies, of course, but it is also true that the starboard side was shady every day, so keep that in mind. We had two rough sea days out of 20, and I thought that was pretty good, considering this was December on the Atlantic. The Norovirus broke out in Venice, when we boarded, and this meant that the buffet meals were time-consuming. Passengers could literally not touch anything. You were given one plate when you entered the buffet line and a staff person placed anything you wanted on your plate. A salad could take five minutes to have someone else construct, one item at a time. The drink stations were the biggest problem, as 3,200 people all wanted their coffee differently every morning and no wait staff- no matter how cheerful- can handle this for 20 days in a row. This all sounds petty but it is amazing how annoying this became after a few days. We were overjoyed when we were finally allowed (on day 18) to make our own salads and coffee. The virus is serious, of course, but we didnt get it, no one we met on the ship had it and there didnt appear to be many people missing from the diningrooms or activities, so it is hard to evaluate the true impact the illness had on this trip. The ship is very simple, which may or may not suit your tastes. There are no rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks or deluxe swimming pools. On the other hand, the Movies Under The Stars had an excellent mix of old movies and new, the ice cream bar stayed open late, the beds are very comfortable, the cabins are silent, the hot tubs that were open were immaculate and the main dining room staff was very good. Our room steward was a typical Princess steward: discreet, thorough, fast, always friendly and quiet. The ports were all great (see below)but beware of the transfer shuttle Princess sells in Barcelona: they charged us $32 for (literally) a five minute bus ride, when local cabs and buses were plentiful and cheap. I know they have to make money somewhere, but this was a blatant ripoff (the only one we experienced on this trip, and we did take quite a few cruise-sponsored excursions.) Live and learn. I loved this trip but it was too long for my husband, who likes a port every day and lots of choices on things to do. If you like drowsing in the sun, watching movies under the stars, reading on your balcony, eating ice cream and taking your time over dinner, then a long TA voyage like this might suit you. Boarding in Venice was fast and simple, and even the self-debarkation in Galveston was quick and painless. All in all, despite the Norovirus, the slow buffet lines and the rough sea days, I loved the ports, the sunshine on the port balcony and the quiet. I will definitely do another TA crossing.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was the "Cruise from Hell". My husband and one of our traveling companions were infected with the Norovirus on the ship. They sent medicine which they charges us for! The newspaper article I read said that the rooms were ... Read More
This was the "Cruise from Hell". My husband and one of our traveling companions were infected with the Norovirus on the ship. They sent medicine which they charges us for! The newspaper article I read said that the rooms were disinfected 3 times a day. NOT TRUE. Our room was "passed through" one time only. We heard many different stories about prior infected guests on many other Crown Princess Cruises. Most of the guests are elderly people and cannot handle the stress from sicknesses. We were given many different stories on what was really going on on board this cruise. No one was honest with us. We were also evacuated from our room because Life Flight had to remove a guest and were treated horribly. We were shuffled all over the ship. Told to go to the Princess Theater. We couldn't get in there because they were shootinga commercial. One gentleman was removed from his room while doing a breathing treatment and was left in the hall outside of the Princess Theater and was in need of medical help. Upon disembakation we were literally dumped in the terminal by the staff. We are both handicapped and were left in the galveston terminal by ourselves to retrieve our own luggage and get to a bus. Once we were off the ship no one cared. We have thoroughly enjoyed sailing with Princess in the past, but will have to seriously reconcider future cruises. We will NOT, however, EVER cruise on the Crown Princees again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We had a wonderful cruise for our 30th anniversary. We loved the itinerary and because it was December the ports were not crowded at all. Norovirus was onboard but we never caught it. The staff was busy cleaning daily. It turned out to ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise for our 30th anniversary. We loved the itinerary and because it was December the ports were not crowded at all. Norovirus was onboard but we never caught it. The staff was busy cleaning daily. It turned out to be a non issue for us and most others we spoke to. We had anytime dining and the food was excellent in all the dining rooms including the specialty dining. The international cafe was very good, as usual. We went to the pub lunches in the Wheelhouse Bar which had a good variety of food. There was a long line but it went quickly and was worth the wait. We enjoyed the shows and Lisa, the cruise director was excellent. There were 3 shows a night so there was never a problem getting a seat. They had some very good lectures that were packed. One we especially liked was from a man who had interviewed Titanic survivors. The entire staff was friendly, smiling, and always helpful. Looking forward to our next Princess Cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
As avid transatlantic cruisers, we knew what to expect. We flew to Venice and stayed 3 nights, then boarded the Crown around noon on Dec. 2,2012. I believe the ship was pretty full since this was the first crossing that would end in ... Read More
As avid transatlantic cruisers, we knew what to expect. We flew to Venice and stayed 3 nights, then boarded the Crown around noon on Dec. 2,2012. I believe the ship was pretty full since this was the first crossing that would end in Galveston, TX. Needless to say, it was a Texas cruise all the way. Our room steward was the best we have ever had. Our unit was spotless and always placed back in order in a timely manner. We had breakfast brought every morning to our cabin. We also tip the delivery person. We ate in the Davinci diningroom and the food was excellent as usual. We also had wonderful service there as well. On Transatlantic cruises, you are privy to wonderful lectures and concerts as we were this time with John Maxtone Graham. He is a ship historian. We have been to his lectures each time we have a chance to go. Don't miss him if you get the chance. The ports of call were fine but it was bitter on some days and rainy, so we did not get off the ship. We love the at sea cruises because you have a chance to relax instead of up and out each day. When you get home you need another vacation to recovery from the busy cruise. The ship had an outbreak of Norwalk virus. It was a small outbreak as compared to the transatlantic in the spring where I caught the virus. Don't let anyone tell you that this virus is a piece of cake. Body fluids take over for 48 hours. They give you motion sickness meds along with a form of anti diarrhea meds. You are down for the count. Each day the crew would come in and strip everything and disinfect your entire cabin. My biggest gripe is that they do not use hand sanitizer in the casino. At one time they offered those little packets to clean your hands, but now they have crew with buckets and gloves wiping down the machines. Where they do not get the soapy water is on the buttons used to download money into your machine or cruise account. I believe the casino is the biggest problem on the Crown for spreading the virus. The ship's stores also do not sell hand sanitizer. I bought a bottle while in Barcelona and carried it with me. Take a small hand sanitizer bottle for each passenger going on a Cruise to protect yourself. We had people leave the ship early and someone was so ill that they were air lifted off the ship the day before the cruise ended in Galveston. All in all, we had a grand time as usual and will definitely sail on the Crown again. I have sailed on 23 cruises and I have to say that Captain Andy of the Crown is one of the finest Captains we have sailed with. We have been in 30 foot waves, black out fog, with no stablizers. I always felt safe knowing he was sailing the ship. Having sailed on 7 other lines, he is still our favorite.TIPPING: All of the cruise lines now charge a daily fee for gratuities. This is so that folks who take care of you get tips. It was started because so many people did not give gratuities. If you contact the pursers desk and cancel your daily gratuities, at the end of the cruise, your waiter in the dining room will not be paid any gratuity. They will flag the accounts that choose not to have the daily amount taken and penalize the crew associated with those accounts. Also, if you do that but give your waiter say $100 tip, he has to turn it in to the head waiter for it to be split. So please, do not take the gratuities into your own hands because those you thought you were tipping will not get what you gave them. If they do not turn it in, they can be fired and put off the ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
We flew into Venice with Princess E-Z-Air, using United and Lufthansa, Tulsa - Houston - Frankfurt - Venice. Princess offered a better price than I could find online, trying to put together our own itinerary; all went smoothly. We stayed ... Read More
We flew into Venice with Princess E-Z-Air, using United and Lufthansa, Tulsa - Houston - Frankfurt - Venice. Princess offered a better price than I could find online, trying to put together our own itinerary; all went smoothly. We stayed at the Santa Chiara Hotel, near the bus station at Piazzale Roma, and there was no noise at all from the Piazzale. Our room was very satisfactory for the reasonable rates (Room 305) and when we put our heads out our side window we had a nice view of the Grand Canal. We were so glad we had opted for three days in Venice before embarking on Crown Princess on Dec. 2nd. Some of the many people we had met on the CruiseCritic roll call, were staying at this hotel as well, and we made many wonderful friends even before we embarked. Although the weather was quite cold with grey skies, Venice was magical for me, a unique city not to be missed. My poor husband was exhausted with all the walking around (no cars, only water buses, i.e. vaporetti) that I compelled him to do over three days, but was happy he'd done it, later on! Embarkation: Although the ship did not leave until 11pm, at 4pm we shared a minivan from our hotel to the terminal, although it was not far. I would not want to walk it with luggage (this includes taking the "people mover" from Piazzale Roma). There were no long lines at 4:30pm, and everyone we were with walked right on through with very quick check-in. We however, got to cool our heels for 45 minutes, waiting while Princess made new cabin key cards for us, as they had lost ours when we went to check-in. We were Platinum category, and had paid to upgrade our oceanview cabin to a balcony on Baja deck mid-ship (this was done before we left home). Stateroom: We were happy with our location as it was about midway between the aft elevators and the midship (Atrium) elevators. We needed the walking! Our stewardess, Khantiya from Thailand, was friendly and efficient and our special requests (not many) were met promptly; we enjoyed her very much. Princess obviously had not got to our cabin yet as far as refurbishment went. The mattress was fairly tired, and we requested a thick mattress pad to place on our king bed. Khantiya had not one, but two, on the bed in under three hours, and it made all the difference. The fridge was not cooling at all well, but I let it go for the first week. Then it practically stopped cooling at all; our request for repair, to the Passenger Services desk, resulted in a repairman coming within an hour. After an inspection, he left and returned promptly with parts, and the job was done. He even returned in two hours to see if it was cooling the contents alright. Our only other problem was a bad knocking in the wall behind the fridge whenever we had rolling seas, and it was annoying enough to keep me awake for awhile for several nights. One carpenter came and could not discover the problem; however he returned later, and although we were out of the cabin most of the day, by the next night and from then on we did not hear it.... well done. Dining: We were able to enjoy Horizon Court buffets with no restrictions for the first week, but then as the dreaded Norovirus struck, we had waiters helping us to whatever we wanted, and no salt & pepper on the tables. Although the portions were not always what one wanted, the staff did as well as they could under the circumstances. This was our first time for Anytime Dining, and we had no complaints. We ate at various times, either 6 or 7pm, and always had a satisfactory table, with waiters who did quite well. We were able to eat dinner with many different friends we had met both before and during the cruise, and this was a pleasant difference from our fixed seating/dining time on our previous cruises. The food was of a good standard, although I was surprised to see the Fettucini Alfredo on every evening's menu (along with a varied choice of pastas as alternatives). The Parmesan basket for the F.Alfredo was delicious. My husband was very disappointed to see that a sirloin burger had replaced the filet steak "medallion" as a choice available for every meal. I know Princess is looking for ways to cut corners, but most cruise lines seem to have cut just about as much as they can, without compromising their standards we have all come to expect for our money, and this was a sad one indeed. I have a sweet tooth, and looked forward to the wonderful variety of desserts we have had in the past on Princess cruises, but it was noticeable this time that the variety had very much decreased. The escargot were as tasty as ever, but the lobster tail was much smaller and not as tender as on previous cruises. Entertainment/Activities: I enjoyed the book club meetings, and we were very fortunate to have a well-known author on board, so quite a few of us were reading her books as well as the Princess Book Club choice (Gone Girl; not my cup of tea). One accomplished lady who works for one of the three top mobile carriers, gave a most useful talk on using the iPad and iPhones; this was great, I hope Princess snaps her up as a permanent lecturer. My husband and I love the Trivias, and this cruise did not disappoint; it helped to have great team-mates, lots of fun. The lady with the craft classes was also very good, and one had to come 30 minutes early to find a seat. The evening entertainment has slipped a bit. It's been often mentioned in reviews, that the shows have been cut from 45 to 30 minutes. We are active over 65's, and the 30 minutes seemed quite short; even 40 minutes would be good. Port tours: Mostly, we went on tours with friends which were privately arranged; we do enjoy the smaller groups. The weather in the three Italian ports was quite cold in December and we were glad we had brought our long-johns, hats and gloves. As ports go, once stopping at Cannes (Monaco & Monte Carlo)was enough, although I thoroughly enjoyed the medieval hilltop vollage of Eze, just not enough time there. We did this trans-Atlantic in April (also on Crown Princess, 14 days) from Ft Lauderdale to Rome, and the stop at Marseilles had more tours of interest in our opinion. The stop in the Azores was a first, and we would love to go back; what a beautiful island. The four hours we had in Lisbon was much too short; what a great city. At least on our April cruise we had a whole day there, and enjoyed the hop-on hop-off bus for overview; and a long stop at St Geronimo Monastery and the excellent Maritime Museum there. Our culinary tour in Rome was also excellent; Eating Italy Food Tours, with Sarah as a guide. There was a lot of walking around the Testaccio area, where most tourists don't go. The shops with delicious samples were interspersed with other historically interesting places. Most remarkable to us was Monte Testaccio, a large manmade hill consisting of two-thousand-year-old broken bits of terracotta olive oil amphora-like containers tossed away on the "trash heap"(this was a market area from Rome's earliest days). The train round-trip from Civitavecchia to Ostiense station in Rome, was on time, and we bought our tickets online before we left home. Overall: We enjoyed both of our Crown Princess trans-Atlantics in 2012, and were fortunate enough not to contract Norovirus. The staff were taking all the right precautions and spraying and disinfecting everywhere. We washed our hands constantly, used only our cabin restroom 98% of the time; and I brought a spray can of Lysol which kills viruses as well as bacteria. Twice daily I sprayed the doorhandles on both sides, the light switches, and the john. I would highly recommend everyone to do this. Norovirus is spread mostly by touch (keep off the bannister rails and slot machines if poss!) but the cold virus is spread by thoughtless people mixing in when still contagious, going on tours etc., coughing and then touching everything.... despite our precautions we both came down with very bad colds, and spent three days keeping to ourselves in our cabin; we brought the common meds with us, and ZiCam lessened my symptoms a lot. Despite this, we thoroughly enjoyed our long cruise, and met many outstanding people. We may do it again next Nov. or Dec.! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
This was an Adriatic & Greek Isles itinerary primarily sailing from Venice to Civitavecchia (for Rome). We always choose our cruises for the itinerary, coupled with the cruise line & price. We are in our early 60s & are not ... Read More
This was an Adriatic & Greek Isles itinerary primarily sailing from Venice to Civitavecchia (for Rome). We always choose our cruises for the itinerary, coupled with the cruise line & price. We are in our early 60s & are not retired. We have sailed the Greek Isles portion of this cruise in 2010 on another cruiseline & wanted to return to those same ports, plus see some new ports in the Adriatic. A week prior to departure we received an upgrade notice from inside to balcony on the same Riviera deck across the hall & down a few cabins. We wanted Princess to book our flights because we were under the impression that if anything went wrong, Princess would be responsible for correcting the situation. We were to leave JFK on Nov. 7 at 7:50 in the evening to arrive for embarkation in Venice early p.m. on Nov. 8 with a full 24 hours to see Venice before sailing. Unfortunately, a noreaster was headed up the east coast & our flight was cancelled after several postponements late in the night due to 4 inches of snow. We were told to contact Delta (our booking airline) to reschedule our flight (some courtesy phones provided). I did call Princess & they could not be of any help in rescheduling, only Delta. After multiple calls to Delta & our private insurance company, we were finally able to book around midnight the same flight #86 out of JFK the following night Nov. 8 (they said we got the last two seats & we slept in the airport since the weather didn't look good for trying to get to a hotel for the night) which was scheduled to arrive in Venice at 10:15 am on sailing day Nov. 9. Sailing was scheduled for 1300, so everything had to go like clockwork for us to make the ship prior to sailing. There were hundreds of other pax stranded by the snowstorm as well & arriving at various times into Venice. We were in touch with Princess while waiting for our flight on the 8th several times & though they would not GUARANTEE that Princess would hold the ship, that is in fact what happened I believe because of the number of pax delayed. We actually boarded after 1315 along with many others & the ship did not sail until after 1345. We went to our cabin & our luggage had already arrived there & we heard the call for the emergency drill. We were told upon embarkation there would be another special drill for late boarding pax later, so we unpacked a few things & took showers. Upon getting dressed, we noticed we were moving & proceeded topside for the most beautiful sailaway. We attended our M&G for Cruise Critic @ 3 pm & began to meet pax we had conversed with on the roll call board. The Capt. & his staff were not able to attend, probably due to the late departure from Venice. Our first port of call was Dubrovnik the next day. We took a Princess tour since we had wanted to see a folkloric show & Princess had what we were looking for. (See port reviews separately). We also booked a Princess tour in Corfu the following day, primarily because there were two other large ships (P&O Arcadia & Cunard Queen Elisabeth) in port & we thought it would be crowded. We booked private tours in Olympia (Katakolon), Ephesus (Kusadasi) & Capri (Naples) through the CC board. The ship was not able to go to Mykonos (after Athens) due to high winds with gale force winds predicted so we had a day at sea, followed by Ephesus, Santorini & two more scheduled sea days before our last stop in Naples. We went to Capri as we had been to the Almalfi Coast & Pompeii previously. We also did not visit Rome, but returned home the day of disembarkation as we had seen most everything on two prior visits. Cabin -- was as expected as we had sailed in the same category on the Ruby Princess (a sister ship) in 2011. Plenty of closet space & large enough bathroom. Public areas -- We do not gamble & did not use the casino (smoking permitted), nor most lounges or the International Cafe. Theater -- Apparently Princess had received complaints on the lack of seating & scheduled 3 shows (as opposed to two) for production numbers, so there was ample seating available. Shows were good, but not great. We ate on the anytime dining schedule & usually went to dinner around 6:30 or 7 pm in Da Vinci or Michelangelo. After several nights, we came upon a waiter by the name of Zoron Vladoff from Eastern Europe, Croatia I believe) & frequently requested his table the remainder of the cruise. We were not able to be seated at his table the last formal night as a group had booked his table overlapping the time we would be eating. This gave us the best of traditional (same waiter/assistant) & meeting new people for dinner every night (anytime). Though we used the dining room on sea days for breakfast, we usually ate at Horizon Court (buffet) for breakfast & lunch. This works well for most people. Activities -- since this was a port-intensive cruise, daily activities such as trivia, dance lessons, photography lessons etc. were minimal except on sea days. There was a port lecturer (the same one we had on the Ruby, Deborah), but we never attended her sessions since they were available on the room TV and we had been to half of the ports previously. There were two table tennis tables, but no shuffleboard since there was a Princess links putt-putt course topside. We used these two venues several times on sea days. Internet service on board was faster than any cruise we have ever taken. I had my tablet so I could log on in my cabin or anywhere else. There were dance demonstrations among other things in the early evening at the Atrium which were good but the limited space made it difficult for pax to watch (lined up along the stairs). Crew -- We had the same CD we had on the Ruby, Samantha & she is excellent. Capt. Nick is a very easygoing leader, though we never had the opportunity to meet him -- our Capt. Circle invitation to cocktails got "lost" & it was for the night we boarded & we were too tired anyway due to no sleep in the airport at JFK. Since we had access to the rear pool on Riviera deck which I used several times for viewing the port side as our cabin was on starboard, we did not frequent the other main pools (the weather for swimming/sunbathing was cool & the sun does not get very high in the sky in November, but many people did use them. Steward was attentive to needs upon our embarkation & we usually connected with him (if only to say hi) on our way to dinner. All staff we encountered were helpful or got someone who was. Band Lots of Fun was good. Summary -- Will probably enjoy Princess again since we are now upgraded to Platinum level if we find an itinerary we like. We will, however, make arrangements for an extra day at departure port (if we want to see that port) if we travel during possible snow times. Probably the best time for this cruise would have been October, but we were unable to go then for personal reasons. The tourist season is basically over in November so it was nice not to have lots of ships in port, nor hot summer weather, but it also meant many things were closed; i.e. in Capri. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
This trip was to celebrate my wife's retirement from teaching, and for once, we were able to travel at a time when school was in session and the crowds a little less intense. The weather throughout our cruise could best be described ... Read More
This trip was to celebrate my wife's retirement from teaching, and for once, we were able to travel at a time when school was in session and the crowds a little less intense. The weather throughout our cruise could best be described as "pleasant," with daily highs in the mid-70s and lows around 60....just about perfect for the port excursions we took. We arrived in Venice three days prior to sailing, and very much enjoyed our first trip there. It was crowded (on the weekend), but not overwhelmingly so. The food was great. Be prepared, Venice can be an exhausting city. If I had a dime for every stair I climbed and descended, it would have more than paid for the whole trip. We spend much of one day in San Marco Square, ascending the bell tower and taking an extensive tour of the Doge Palace. The other two days were spent walking all over the city. At night, my wife was able to find a symphony concert one night and an excellent program which featured arias from some of the most famous Italian operas on another night. We saw some flooding in San Marco Square, but nothing like what happened in November. On Monday, we took a vaporetto to San Marco Square, where we were able to board a larger boat that took us to the cruise terminal at the far northwest part of the city. We were met by Princess personnel, who assisted us with getting our luggage checked through, and we headed (via shuttle van) for the embarkation facility. Since the ship did not leave Venice until Tuesday afternoon, it was a fairly relaxed scene getting checking in and to our cabin. The sail-away from Venice was truly spectacular, as the ship departed the cruise port and sailed just south of the city, through the Grand Canal. Since our cabin was on the port side, we were able to enjoy the view from the comfort of our balcony. This was the first time we had booked a stateroom with a balcony, and we were both very happy with our cabin. We liked just about everything on the Crown Princess. The food in the main dining rooms was very good, with a wide array of entrees. We had selected the "anytime" dining option, and on most nights, we chose to share a table with four to six other people. We had a great experience with meeting people and can honestly say, we never shared a table with anyone who wasn't friendly and interesting. The make-up of this cruise's passengers was a good mix of people from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia primarily, with the age demographic decidedly older than what we experienced on prior cruises. The buffet restaurants were very good, and although the dining tables were always quite crowded, there were plenty of tables on deck just outside the buffet, where you could always find room. Like other cruise ships we have been on, the Princess had a "fast food" pizza station, where you could almost always get a fresh slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza, as well as a spot where you could order a cheeseburger and fries at a moment's notice. The entertainment on board was pretty much what we expected, and I mean that in a positive way. Diane Cousins, a British singer and comedienne, was featured on two nights, totally different shows. She had some good-natured fun at the expense of the Americans in the audience, offering to talk slower if we "couldn't keep up." There was also a British comedian named Lenny Windsor, who was also funny. The ship's entertainment singers and dancers were very good as well, as they performed in about four different shows throughout the course of the cruise. My wife and I like to participate in trivia games and contests, and there were many opportunities to do that. We especially enjoyed the singer in the piano bar (I wish I could remember his name), but he was very entertaining. On one night, he featured a musical trivia contest on Broadway show tunes, and on another, it was movie themes. Both seemed to very popular with cruisers, since his shows were always packed. As for the ports, our first stop was Dubrovnik, Croatia. This was an excellent stop, which provided us the opportunity to explore the walled city. It was tiring, but the views were spectacular, and the cool, but sunny weather made for an excellent day. Be sure to take the cable car ride to the top of the city. Corfu was our second stop. This old city has a large fortress on the coast, and some nice outdoor restaurants and shops. On Friday, we took the tour to Olympia to see the site of the original Olympic games. Obviously, not much of these ruins are left after more than 2,000 years, but it was very interesting, nonetheless. Saturday morning, we left the ship for an eight-hour stay in Athens. I would recommend touring the Acropolis (very historic and scenic), as well as the new Acropolis museum, just down the hill. Even on a Saturday, Athens was very crowded and busy, although we did not see any of the social unrest that has become the norm there. On Sunday morning, we docked in Mykonos, a small coastal town with mostly white buildings, very narrow streets and dozens of shops. Mykonos is known for its windmills and seaside restaurants (an area they call "Little Venice.") It was a very picturesque village. Our next stop on Monday morning was Kudasi, Turkey, which is the port that serves as the gateway to Ephesus, a half-hour bus ride away. Ephesus is the town where the Virgin Mary lived after the death of Jesus. Down the mountainside from the Virgin Mary's home are the spectacular ruins of Ephesus. If old ruins from ancient civilizations are what you are looking for, Ephesus is the place to go. On Tuesday morning, the Princess anchored off the the island of Santorini, and we took a smaller boat into the main town. My wife had done her homework about Santorini, and knew that the town of Oia was the place she wanted to see. After we stepped off the tender boat, we boarded a boat to Oia, about 15 minutes by sea. A van took us from the dock up a very steep road to the town of Oia, which sits far above the ocean, looking almost straight down to the sea. Oia was, by far, the most beautiful location we visited on the entire cruise. The city has a number of ultra-expensive hotels, some actually built into the cliffs. If I ever win the lotto, this is where I will vacation. Our next two days were at sea, as we traversed the long crossing from the Greek isles to the western coast of Italy. This gave us a couple of days to recharge our batteries after many consecutive days of ports and tours. We enjoyed the hot tubs on the upper decks. Our last port (before debarkation in Civitivecchia), was in Naples. There were several tour options for Naples, but we decided to take the tour to the Isle of Capri, about a 50-minute boat ride from the cruise port in Naples. Capri was beautiful, not quite as spectacular as Oia, and despite the time of year (October 26) very crowded. We took a chair lift ride to the highest point on the island, and visited many of the shops. Part of our tour included a luncheon at a restaurant. We docked in Civitivecchia before dawn on Saturday. The disembarkation process went very smoothly, and a bus provided us with transportation out of the immediate cruise terminal. We then walked (about half a mile) to the train station, where we were able to make our way to Rome. We spent three additional days in Rome, where we got to see St. Peter's Square, the Vatican museum, as well as seeing the Pope during his Sunday noon blessing. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum and many of the world-famous Rome attractions were definitely worth the trip. Transportation throughout Rome is pretty easy via the subway system, and you can buy a 3-day pass, which also gives you reduced admissions to certain attractions. But beware of pickpockets, especially on the subway! I kept my passport, credit card and cash in one of those plastic-and-velcro holders that I wore around my neck (inside my shirt)....otherwise, you are really taking a chance. Our cruise was great, probably our best vacation of our lives. If you decide to take this cruise, I recommend bookending the cruise with at least 2-3 days in both Venice and Rome. I know many of the passengers on our cruise did exactly that. The personnel on the Princess were always friendly and helpful. The cruise director, Sam, was excellent, and made herself available to answer any questions people had. If you are at all concerned about stormy weather affecting the cruise, you will have no worries on the Princess. On the second night at sea, we experienced winds of about 50 knots, and they closed the promenade deck that night, but there was almost no perceptible motion that I could sense on the interior of the ship or in our cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I'll start by saying we had a great time. We were a large group so that made it even better. The weather was 72 almost every day. We left on Oct. 15. The food was very good throughout the ship and the service was outstanding - ... Read More
I'll start by saying we had a great time. We were a large group so that made it even better. The weather was 72 almost every day. We left on Oct. 15. The food was very good throughout the ship and the service was outstanding - absolutely first class. We had a mini-suite on Dolphin Deck. Loved the extra room and two televisions, not to mention the bathtub. However, I would never recommend the Dolphin Deck as there is no privacy, no shade, no protection from the elements and everyone peers down at you. I really hated it. So, if you can, get a mini-suite, just don't get Dolphin Deck, you'll be very happy you did. We had starboard side (right side of ship)which we really enjoyed, as we seemed to be in the shade a lot when we docked. Alcohol - what a pleasant surprise. You can buy alcohol right in the Venice terminal after you get your number and go through security. They have a small store. The Proseco (Italian Champagne) was delicious and only cost $10. The Baccardi Dark Reserve Rum and Black Label Scotch were cheap too. Then you pay for it and carry it on the boat with you. No problem. They really did not seem to have an issue with passengers bringing alcohol on from port stops either. In many cases, you did not even have to go through the security machines upon return. There are many white haired seniors on this cruise, so that took some getting used to. Everything, in my opinion, was geared toward seniors. The house band "Lots of Fun" was the biggest disappointment for me as they just were not that good and they had a lead singer with a Eastern European accent which just grated an on nerves. So I avoided them whenever I could. They basically played 50's, 60's and 70's music. The rest of the music throughout the ship was just too old for me. The Atrium entertainment was especially bad. I never sat there at all. We went to a few shows and especially loved Diane Cousins who has a fantastic voice and is also hysterically funny. We saw both of her shows and I suggest not missing her. Another great performer was Lenny Windsor - he was really funny too. The audience participation shows were very entertaining, try not to miss them. Bingo was fun and the special Fish-N-Chips lunch was worth the line to get in. Loved our cruise Director Sam, she really was adorable and sweet. She's doing a great job. Colin, her side-kick, has such a heavy Scottish accent I basically never understood him and for the life of us, could not figure out why Princess would put someone with such a heavy accent in this position. Ports - loved them. Please keep in mind, this is a rigorous trip. There are many, many steps everywhere and lots of climbing involved in different areas. So, if you have bad knees or hips this cruise is going to be a problem. We had someone with us who "had not yet gotten around" to having her knees done and wound up in tears on a few day trips just trying to keep up. So please be aware of this as I am not exaggerating this point. We did our own tours. We shared a taxi with my sister and brother-in-law at each port and saved a fortune. Venice - we got to Venice two days before the cruise and purchased the three day water taxi pass and took those things everywhere. The taxi stands are bright yellow and are all along the grand canal. You can't miss them. A great and easy way to travel around. I can't tell you how beautiful Venice is. We only encountered flooding in the square. It was actually fun. We purchased these silly yellow plastic boots and waded through the water. We learned the flooding got really bad after we left so we were very lucky. Dubrovnik - beautiful walled city. We walked the wall. It took about and hour and a half and was exhausting. We were sorry we did it, because once you're up, you're stuck. But the views were spectacular. We came down and had a wonderful lunch in one of the alleyways hawking lunch specials. The floor of this city is white marble - quite a sight, but very slippery, so be careful. We walked to the waterfront and sat in the sun. What a special place. Corfu - went to one of the fortresses then walked the city and had our feet cleaned by tiny fishes in some new store. You sit above fish tanks, put your feet in for fifteen minutes and they nibble on your toes. Weird. Sorry we did not do Ceci's Mansion. I heard it was beautiful. We ate at one of the seaside restaurants. The Greek salad was delicious and the fried calamari was fresh as could be. The gigantic beers were only 3 Euros. A real bargain. Olympia - Went to the ruins of the Olympics. Enjoyed it. Also went to the museum right next door. Great statuary rooms. Enjoyed it. Athens - if he'll agree, get your taxi driver to take you to the top where you buy the tickets. There was no line when we got there in the morning. Lots and lots of uneven stairs here. The ground is very slippery. Be prepared to climb and hold on tight. The Acropolis is something to behold. Make sure your camera is fully charged as you will be taking a lot of pictures here. Mykonos - pretty white town with narrow streets. We ate at the restaurant on the water near the windmills. Had a great day. Kusadasi - Ephesus - Spectacular. Go for the extra few Euros once inside and visit the newly excavated Terrace Houses - well worth it, but again lots and lots of staircases. This was the most crowded of all sites because of tour groups. Santorini - a no-brainer here. We took the little boat that you see as soon as the tender docks at the shoreline. It literally is face to face with the tender, so you can't miss it. You buy the tickets right there. The boat takes about 15 minutes. You get off and get into an air conditioned van to the top. This is the town of Oia - it's GORGEOUS. Here is where the honeymooners go. The view is breathtaking. This is also where all the brochure pictures come from. Then you get back on a big air-conditioned bus and they take you into town. (There are three departure times 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 PM) In town you'll find one after the other of great cliff restaurants to choose from. If you happen to come across it, stop into the church, it's so tiny and pretty. Naples - we took the ferry to Ishca. Had a great lunch and walked around. A fun day. Rome - got our hotel to send a van (180 Euros for two couples and he met us right at the cruise terminal exit door). Spent two nights in Rome. Got to see the Colosseum, Forum, Palantine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Loyola Church and National Museum of Rome. We also saw the Pope in the Vatican square. What an incredible experience - one We'll never forget. Anyway, back to the cruise. The boat is the prettiest of any we've sailed on. We never did get used to the layout. We got lost every day, but so what. The elevators were slow. The shops didn't have much to offer. But the casino was terrific. We especially liked the "Smoke Free" nights. It was never crowded and our friend won $1,000 on the machine where you have to maneuver the arm just right to "grab" it. Strongly suggest buying an Email package from the boat to communicate with loved ones via the internet. Wi-fi service throughout Europe was a joke. Spent hours and hours trying to connect with our smart phones. It was really terrible. The cheapest package on the boat was $99. Believe me, it would be worth it. In retrospect we were very sorry we didn't take advantage of it. That's it for now...until next time. Enjoy your trip.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
This was our second cruise (both on Princess.) I talked my parents into joining us for their first visit to Italy and our first to Greece and Turkey knowing that we would be able to see a lot without hauling luggage around or having to ... Read More
This was our second cruise (both on Princess.) I talked my parents into joining us for their first visit to Italy and our first to Greece and Turkey knowing that we would be able to see a lot without hauling luggage around or having to check in and out of hotels. We are American, in our late 40's, and my parents are "young" 70's. The trip included an extra week in Rome split on either end of the 12-night cruise. We booked this port-intensive cruise when it included one more port (Rhodes) and only one sea day. We were booked in outside"obstructed view" staterooms. We arrived in Venice by train and found our way directly to the ship. Embarkation took about 40 minutes from the time we got off the "people mover" and arrived in our state room, and went very smoothly.We had that evening to wander, take the ferry to Murano, cruise the canal and get back to the ship in time for dinner. We did use the tickets that were left in our room for convenience. It was a long walk through parking lots from the "people mover" but the shuttle boat dropped us right next to the ship and it was good for both our evening and morning trips. We had the morning in Venice and had to be back on board by noon the day of sailing, in time for Muster drill. Sailing out of Venice was spectacular from our vantage point on the top deck. We found the "secret" deck over the bridge, but although the door was unlocked, it was blocked with a "do not enter" sign. We found the ship to be in beautiful shape and constantly being polished and repaired. The layout is such that you seldom feel crowded . Everything was sparkling clean. When there was drip from the ceiling discovered outside our door, there were maintenance staff chasing it for a few days (always when we were away) as it migrated inside the door. We received daily calls from the front desk to check if it was under control. When it was repaired we received a call from Passenger Service to make complimentary reservations to Crown Grill for our inconvenience. The cabin steward followed through with any requests right away, our room was consistently clean, all without disturbing us at any time. The staff on the Crown Princess was always friendly, pleasant and helpful. We were consistently greeted with a smile and willingness to answer our questions. The crew on Princess are definitely their greatest strength. Dining: We ate a few of our breakfasts in the dining room and most at the buffet. The breakfast buffet didn't change much from day to day, but realistically when is everything on the menu in front of you every meal? I could always put together a nice breakfast. I did notice that the fruit selections became more sparse as time went on (ie. fresh strawberries at the beginning and browning bananas at the end) and when I asked, I learned that all of the fresh food was loaded at the embarkation port: Venice. We also found that although there was always a beautiful selection of pastries, they tasted dry like they had been baked and refrigerated. If requested, the buffet staff would toast them under the broiler for me. During this cruise only the buffet and International Cafe were open for lunch. There were always salads, soups and the makings for sandwiches , desserts and fruit. The hot entrees weren't impressive at lunch in most cases. We enjoyed the salads and desserts at the International Cafe and drank lots of free lemonade and iced tea, coffee and tea. With the exception of one evening at the Crown Grill (good, but not better than the dining room) and two nights in Davinci, we kept our 8:15 dinner appointment in Botticelli. After only one meal, the wait staff knew what we liked to drink, when we wanted our coffee and tea, consistently alerted me if there were nuts in any of the selections (allergy) and made helpful suggestions. We missed that thoughtfulness when we chose the other dining options. The selections were mostly well prepared and beautifully presented. I think we had one instance of dry chicken and a tough veal chop, but the salmon that was available every day was always good. I loved the vegetables. The beef was cooked to our taste, there was always a different pasta dish and wonderful soups. Portions were moderate, but still there was more food than I could ever finish. While we chose this cruise for the ports and didn't have much time for other activities, entertainment on this cruise was definitely the weak link. There were a couple of talented musicians (piano and violin) but the magician/comedian was pathetic. The band that played every day was mediocre. I enjoy good music and don't mind a dance act with elegance and grace, but I'm not into skimpy costumes with suggestive choreography. What we saw on the stage was surpassed many times over by the street performers we saw throughout the trip. Even the game show style "Liar's Club" was full of innuendo and crude remarks. The worst was the crew number "If I Were Not at Sea" during the crew talent show, where a male crew member repeatedly groped the breast of the female performer next to him, another pulled down the pants of her crew mate and the Director was dressed as Lorena Bobbit. I would describe the rest of what Princess has to offer as "classy" but the entertainment we experienced on this cruise was in poor taste. Ports: We enjoyed most of the itinerary, were disappointed with the cancellation of Rhodes, but appreciated that there was some flexibility. We were notified as soon as we boarded that there was a planned strike in Athens the day we were scheduled to visit, so Athens and Santorini were swapped. That worked out in our favor in that we visited Athens on the day when all of the museums were free. We did not use any of the Princess excursions, but saw each port as we were able independently, and I feel we experienced the culture more than if we were insulated on the bus in a big group of English-speaking people. The cost of our sightseeing was about half of what we would have paid taking the excursions. Debarkation at Civitaveccia was painless as we brought only carry-on luggage. We had a reservation in Rome so walked the few blocks along the waterfront to the train station, avoided the long lines by buying a "BIRG" ticket at the newsstand and were on the train in no time. Before and after the trip we rented two-bedroom apartments through a vacation home website. The cost was less than half what we expected to spend at hotels and both properties exceeded our expectations. Overall this was a great experience for us. I would highly recommend the itinerary if you are interested in longer days in port as compared to other lines . Princess gets high scores for customer service. If I were to book another cruise and couldn't find another port-intensive one, I think I would choose another cruise line that offered more activities on the ship and better entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
This was our third time on the Crown Princess, fifth on Princess, and eighth overall. The charm of this cruise is the incredible port and tour selection. The itinerary was changed because of a general strike in Athens on our port day so ... Read More
This was our third time on the Crown Princess, fifth on Princess, and eighth overall. The charm of this cruise is the incredible port and tour selection. The itinerary was changed because of a general strike in Athens on our port day so Athens and Santorini were switched. Many tours on this cruise require a lot of walking over uneven surfaces and climbing many steps so choose tours carefully. This is also a get-in-shape cruise as I ended up losing a little weight. With seven port days in a row with extensive tours, it can be tiring before having two recuperating days at sea. There was a concern about an outbreak of norovirus on Day 2, but it seems to have been some cases of overeating. Unfortunately some people still ignored the hand sanitizer stations throughout the cruise. In addition to the ports and tours, the biggest plus of the cruise was that all 12 days were sunny and warm with no rough seas. Special Note: Make sure to be on deck for the cruise through main channel in Venice and through the strait of Messina for beautiful views. Ship. The Crown has had a recent makeover and is spotlessly clean. The public areas are well laid out and you can always find a quiet spot for some reading. For photo-taking such as the cruise along Venice and the Strait of Messina, head to the rear of the ship as the bow area is just packed. The rails by the putting area are the highest points on the ship and were not crowded. Cabin. Aloha deck, outside starboard, mid-ship. Tidy and efficient but with only one set of electrical plugs, so bring and extension cord or multi-plug for charging cameras, iPads, etc. On all previous cruises, we had been on the port side which did cause some quick changes in direction and we found this to be quite funny after awhile. Entertainment. Went to the Venice chamber music concert on the first night while in port in Venice. They were excellent. My wife went to one of the standard evening shows - dancing was very good, but the singing appeared to be canned. Best ongoing entertainment were the trivia contests. Food. After our last cruise on the Ruby Princess, we seriously considered not doing this cruise because the food was awful then. My wife requires a low salt diet and we need to limit our sugar intake. On the Ruby, the chefs were in love with their salt shakers. Not so on the Crown. We ate in buffet because we generally prefer simple food rather than some of the extravagant items in the dining rooms. While a few dishes were salty to my wife's taste, most of the food was good and well-prepared. Still usually only one choice for a sugar-free desert though in the buffet. Also check out the pizza and hamburgers - great for a late evening snack. Boarding. Arrived by people-mover in Venice (1st stop, not the 2nd). Still a bit of a long walk to the terminal though there was a shuttle. Arrived about noon and were in our cabin in less than an hour. Disembarkation. As we were staying in Rome for a few days, we disembarked later in the morning and took the Princess transportation to the city. We saw some literature that the transportation ended at Rome's Termini main train station, but it ends at the Ostiense train station, so be plan accordingly. We then took a taxi to our hotel near Trevi - about 20 euros. Staff. Some previous reviews indicated that the ship's staff was unfriendly. We saw absolutely no cases of this as all of the ship's company we dealt with were helpful and friendly. Internet. Can be slow when a lot of people are using it. Best to find a hot spot in the public areas for iPad use of the Internet. We pre-paid for 500 minutes which was useful for the two at-sea days. Note: On the evening prior to arrival in Athens, all non-EU passengers had to surrender their passports to the cabin attendants and were not returned till after we left Athens. This was considered to be highly unusual according to the staff, but not unprecedented. We carried a paper copy of our passports and also took photos of our passports and there were no issues. As there were 10 ports, Rome and Venice are included here and the other eight ports are in the port reviews. Venice. Venice was at the beginning of our cruise and we arrived three days before the cruise started. Our vacation began badly with hotel problems at the Hotel Principe where we see told that they were overbooked despite having a pre-paid reservation six months in advance. Instead of having a room overlooking the Grand Canal, we were sent to another lesser quality hotel at the same price with a room overlooking the daily wash. Venice requires a lot of walking and was very crowded. Easiest transportation was the day-long ticket for the vaporetto or water bus, but make sure how far the bus is going later in the evening at it may end at a lonely stop. Some of the best Italian food we have ever eaten was in Venice. If you do not go to Murano island, the factory store is a few canals to east of San Marco. (Be careful when buying Murano glass at any place other than the factory store or authorized outlet.) The area near the main train station was under construction, so we took the water bus to the People Mover and then to the cruise port - the first stop, not the second. It is still a fairly long walk to the terminal. Venice can be done in about two days at an easy pace. Rome: Rome has all the excesses of a large city, especially horrible car and motorcycle traffic, but moderated by an overwhelming sense of history and beauty found in unusual places. The Coliseum, Imperial forum, and Vatican City are everything they are expected to be, and more. Rome is a walkable city, but be prepared for hills, tiny streets, and crowds. Make sure you have a good map that shows every street, alleyway, and square. If you like art and architecture, stop at any one of the churches, large and small. Take a walk long the Tiber and it shady avenues. Go to Piazza Navona and spend some time people-watching while eating gelato. Treck up to the Borghese Gardens for a cool morning walk. Not sure what the excitement is about the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain other than to be constantly jostled when it is at its most crowded and not see a whole lot. Use TripAdvisor to find good restaurants because the quality does vary tremendously and many restuarants do not open till noon for lunch or 7:00pm for dinner. Watch for pickpockets at crowded tourist sites and on the Metro (which seems to be always jammed, but very efficient). Coliseum/Forum tour. Used Viator with an early entrance and tour about 20 people. David was an incredible tour guide. General tour of the Coliseum with David providing an more historical perspective than the usual tourist stories. Tour was about 80 minutes. We then walked over the Arch of Constantine before beginning the walking tour of the Forum which was about 90 minutes. This part of the tour was especially informative and David had the remarkable ability of finding shady spots on a warm sunny day. All-in-all, this tour is highly recommended. Vatican Museum/St. Peter's. Used Viator with an early entrance and small group of ten persons. Tour was led by Anna who we found out was from Boston. She was extremely knowledgeable, very nice, perky, cute-as-a-button, and kept us moving at a nice pace for the three hours. (Warning: There is a lot of walking and stairs in the Museum. Both the Museum and St. Peter's are spectacular for the art, architecture, and history. The only disappointment was the Sistine Chapel which was a mass of disrespectful humanity who pushed, shoved, and would not be silent despite numerous calls for silence. This tour is still highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
The Crown is the oldest of the triplets and being 6 years old, she is still in great shape. We originally were in a mini-suite but was offered and upgrade to the second largest suite on the ship for less than $700. The extras you get ... Read More
The Crown is the oldest of the triplets and being 6 years old, she is still in great shape. We originally were in a mini-suite but was offered and upgrade to the second largest suite on the ship for less than $700. The extras you get with the suite are fantastic if you don't overpay for the privilege. Embarkation would have been easier if they had the luggage drop somewhere near the People Mover from Venice instead of at the wrong end of the ship. The suite was to die for. We like the balconies on the Caribe deck on our other cruises because they are so big but this one was at the rear of the ship and stretched one quarter the way across the back. Free minibar, jacuzzi tub plus big shower, 2 TVs with DVD and movie library, fresh flowers and canapes, and free dry cleaning and a steward who earned his sizable extra tip. Dining was better than last trip on the Emerald. Although I was a little disappointed with the Crown Grill, the MDR was good every night and if we wanted to order from that menu, we did and it was delivered promptly. The best perk was eating breakfast in Sabatini's every morning we chose with our wonderful waiter Fabio from Italy. We used room service only one morning because of a early tour and it was on time and warm. The shows we're pretty good and considering most of the passengers were English speaking ( Aussies, NZers, Canadians, Americans and Brits), the Staff had comedians of various accents to entertain us. As on many cruises lately, the traffic in the casino seems to be down big time. The service throughout the ship has actually improved over the years--absolutely outstanding this time in every category. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was a first cruise on Princess having always previously been with Cunard. We did not get off to a good start when we arrived in Venice but our luggage did not. The Princess team at the airport did what they could but a few tense hours ... Read More
This was a first cruise on Princess having always previously been with Cunard. We did not get off to a good start when we arrived in Venice but our luggage did not. The Princess team at the airport did what they could but a few tense hours followed before the luggage arrived on a later flight and was delivered to our stateroom about midnight. It would not have seemed so bad had it not been for the could not care less attitude of the front desk on the ship. However we did get a $50.00 refund for lost luggage even though we did get it on the same day as embarkation. After the lack of care of the front desk I was not going to tell them it had in fact arrived!! The rest of the cruise was excellent, our stateroom, a Vista suite at the stern of the ship, was superb with a fantastic large and very private balcony. The room was kept spotlessly clean as was the rest of the ship. Apart from the front desk the crew were excellent and always friendly and helpful. We were on anytime dining and never had a problem reserving a table at the time we wanted to eat. The food in the main dining rooms was just OK so we did eat in the Crown Grill and the Italian Sabatini's quite a few times and I would say they were of a similar excellent standard as the Grill resturants on Cunard. Both of these have a supplement of $25.00 and $20.00 PP respt and are worth it in my view. The excursions were in our view very expensive for what they were. For example our excursion in Duborvnik was a walk around the walls and a snack. The snack turned out to be a glass of orange squash and a dry biscuit. The entertainment was distinctly average and barely worth a mention. Overall we had a great time and would consider Princess in future. The only aspect of Princess we did not like in comparison to Cunard was the constant attempts to up sell everything, but I guess this is typical of most American cruise ships Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
After arriving in Venice we were took my private transfer to the port, which everything went smoothly, check in was easy, and been shown to our cabin, was fine, cases had not arrived so we decided to take a boat which they had laid on for ... Read More
After arriving in Venice we were took my private transfer to the port, which everything went smoothly, check in was easy, and been shown to our cabin, was fine, cases had not arrived so we decided to take a boat which they had laid on for 19 dollars each across to Venice, it was lovely, we had booked early dining so we had to be back by 5pm so we caught the boat back, Dining room was lovely, food was what we expected really enjoyable, the only thing we complained about was the air con was on full blast and it was freezing, the next day we went to Venice again by the boat again, we had to be back on board for the sail away by 12.30pm, the sail away was great music playing it made it most enjoyable, We then went to the self catering dining for lunch, not one complaint with the food, everything was fine, we liked how good they were regarding hygiene on the ship, everything was very clean, Cabin was well looked after, overall our hoilday was absolutely marvellous, The complaints that I have got is the gratuity they put on everything you buy even down to a coffee, plus look out for the gratuity on each cabin,(per person), we had ours taken off, because if you work it out over the 12days you pay quite a lot of money out, Plus disembarkation they have got this well organised, so much so that if you don't have there transfer to the airport or a trip round Rome thrown in, you have to sit on the key waiting for your transport to the airport, We made the biggest mistake, we booked with a company called travel bag, they booked all our transfers as well, she booked our taxi to pick us up for 12.00 o'clock, but we were made to leave the boat at 10am, but he never arrived till 12.30, we rang tried to ask if they could come earlier ?But got no joy at all from them, by the time we got to Rome airport it was 1.40 with the traffic, so we could not go any ware, we then had to sit in the airport, which has hardly got any seats, till our flight at 19.40, so in my eyes do not book private transfers, there are enough taxis, which you can barter with to get the right price, There were people got to sit by the boat waiting for the transfers till 3pm, with nothing to eat, and the people on the ship will not let you back on for nothing. They should in my eyes at least look after you, especially if you have a late transfer, Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We got into Venice on August 26 at 10:30 am after an overnight flight from Canada. We took the bus to Piazzale Roma and then easily found Hotel Antiche Figure, where we spent two nights before boarding the ship. We used the vaporetto, ... Read More
We got into Venice on August 26 at 10:30 am after an overnight flight from Canada. We took the bus to Piazzale Roma and then easily found Hotel Antiche Figure, where we spent two nights before boarding the ship. We used the vaporetto, venice's public transit system extensively to tour the city, plus got lost many times on the streets. On the day of embarkation, we took the people mover to the port where we were met my a Princess shuttle which took us to the ship. This was a port intensive itinerary so we were off the ship for most of the day on most of the port days. We had 8:15 dining, which I don't think I would do again as by the time we were finished eating we were ready for bed!! We did have excellent service in the dining room though and it was great having the same waiters every night. We did join our friends for dinner at the Crown Grill one night and it was the best meal on the ship - worth the cover charge in our opinion. We had pizza from deck 15 one day and excellent hamburgers from the Trident Grill another day. We met our new cruise critic friends in the International Cafe many times, either to review the day's activities or get ready to share a private excursion. I recommend buying a coffee card as we didn't like the coffee in the dining rooms, so would bring coffee with us from the International Cafe. We spent enough time in the casino to lose our $20, had a martini at Crooners Bar, enjoyed the latin music in Explorers lounge, participated in a couple of zumba classes in Club Fusion (on sea days), watched a movie under the stars (not very good sound) and enjoyed the evening entertainment in the Piazza many times.We went to an art auction preview to enjoy the free wine, put a deposit on a future cruise to get the onboard credit but never made it to the theatre for any of the evening shows. There never seemed to be any chairs available at the pool, but we aren't big pool loungers anyway. I had bought an internet package prior to leaving home and believe that gave me the best deal. I would compose my emails and then sign onto the internet to send them. For our 12 day cruise 120 minutes was more than sufficient. there isn't a way to save this review so I'll come in another time to complete the port reviews. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
My wife and I cruised recently on the Crown Princess from Venice, on to Dubrovnik, Croatia, then to Corfu, Greece, as well as Katakolon, Greece, followed by Mykanos, Santorini and Athens, then topped off with 2 days at swa, then a day in ... Read More
My wife and I cruised recently on the Crown Princess from Venice, on to Dubrovnik, Croatia, then to Corfu, Greece, as well as Katakolon, Greece, followed by Mykanos, Santorini and Athens, then topped off with 2 days at swa, then a day in Naples and finally disembarking in Rome, Italy. The Crown Princess is a huge ship and the service onboard was very good - be it help from the Front Desk, Room Service, or even service in the Da Vinci Dining Room (one of two Anytime Dining Rooms onboard). We were upgraded to a Mini-Suite with Balcony across from the Passenger Laundromat services, which at first concerned us, thinking that there would be constant traffic - this was not the case and we NEVER heard a peep from anybody using the room, so this was excellent. The bed was so comfortable and having a full bathroom with tub, made for much greater living space. Embarkation and Disembarkation were absolutely painless and only took minutes each time. Very professionally run. Now for my two complaints. The first revolves around the entertainment. Showing the same acrobatic act 5 or 6 times during the cruise IS NOT entertaining after you've seen it once. Having 75-year old british comedians come onboard telling corny jokes IS NOT entertaining. Four theatre shows on a 12-night cruise IS NOT entertaining. Princess, your cruise director isn't doing her job!!! Instead of having 17 mediocre theatre performers, do like Holland America has done, reduce that to 7 or 8 professional high-end performers plus two dancers and make them perform multiple different broadway shows throughout the cruise. 20-minutes of so-so singing and dancing, hardly qualifies for entertainment. I found that the shows were a little risque too, such as the Roxanne number in Destination Anywhere (a hodge-podge of singing and dancing with no real point). Dancers pretending to do the nasty on stage isn't for everyone. Surely, Princess can entertain passengers without stooping to this level. Greg Scott, the violinist was excellent - more of him and less of has been comedians is in order. The magic show/comedy routine was also lame - either the person is a magician, or a comic!!! Seldom do people excel in both areas and the shows proved that. The International Crew Show, was a desperation move, to fill an empty evening. 3 very good crew members performing is excellent, but you can't bill the 3 acts as a show. Filling in with lame crew staff skits like "Fountains", where the cruise director and her team spit water at each other to music, or "If I Were Not at Sea", in which the same cruise staff sing and act a song in which one performer continues to grab his female colleague's breast multiple times IS NOT entertainment - in fact, if an employee of mine were to either grope the boss, or vice versa, it would be sexual harassment. I know it's a show, but really! If that's all the excitement the cruise director can dish up for entertainment, then Princess you have a problem. Food on the Crown Princess was not that spectacular. Of course you know that buffet dining will be hit and miss - it's hard to please everyone all the time in a buffet, but the Da Vinci Restaurant was not so special either. My wife and I both had a rib-eye one evening and it was like shoe leather. The soups were good onboard as was the fettucini alfredo, but aside from this, our experience in the main dining room was not what we would have expected. We did partake in the Crown Grill experience where Princess charges a $25/head cover charge for upscale dining. My wife had the Filet Mignon and it was superb. I had the Porterhouse Steak (a T-Bone) and I wasn't too happy with the grizzle, nor the cut of the meat. Remember this is the premium restaurant - not the buffet, so expectations on my part were high and I was disappointed. If you are a soda drinker, buy the soda card on Day 1 for unlimited sodas. We went to buy two (one for each of us) and we were told "No need, just buy one". Throughout the cruise, we had no issues with this except for one server, who tried to make it look like she was doing us a favour, by giving us two cokes for one soda card. The photo team onboard is excellent and they take a gazillion photos of you during the cruise. Don't rush to buy them as you see them. Instead, pool all of your photos together somewhere in the photo display area and towards the end of your cruise, simply choose the best ones. At $25/sheet, having 20+ photos in hand could prove to be one of the most expensive purchases if you aren't careful. I highly recommend taking the Ultimate Ship Tour ($150/person), which takes you behind the seens of the ship, allows you to speak with key crew members about the ship, provides each person with a Princess Bathrobe ($90 in the boutique) and a Chef's coat to impress your friends when you return home. Sign up for this at the Front Desk upon boarding. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We go away in August every year to celebrate our anniversary - next year we will go somewhere cool! Last year we were on 7 day med cruise with RCI and was not too happy. There were many eastern european first time cruisers who obviously ... Read More
We go away in August every year to celebrate our anniversary - next year we will go somewhere cool! Last year we were on 7 day med cruise with RCI and was not too happy. There were many eastern european first time cruisers who obviously did not understand the ways of cruising. Was it a coincidence that we went on code red for norovirus? This year we were away for 12 nights and had many more established cruisers and no overall health issue. Lots of kids though so it was not unusual to find all the buttons in the lift pressed. For the first time we used anytime dining and it worked very well for us. Every morning we would check the entertainment and book a table so were able to avoid the queues that built up. Cabin was standard bit I had to request an egg crate for the bed. The entertainment was fairly typical except that the 'humour' of the American comediens that the US passengers found hilarious completely passed us by. There was music everywhere in the ship - more than we have experienced elsewhere and it was of high standard and good variety. I thought that there was a slight reduction in the quality/variety of food since our last trip with Princess. There was also no farewell party - could not remember whether this was a new development. The first couple of days it looked as if it was all 'no'. No more coffee mugs with coffee card, no more wine packages, no more towel sculptures - not a great loss but the occasional one was pleasant. No compaints about general presentation of ship. Usual problem with chairs in prime position on deck being reserved. For some reason one of the ports of call had been deleted from the itinerary - another cost saving feature? The port shuttles all appeared to be run by outside companies and were very expensive indeed - I remember when they used to be included. Our main gripe was the transfer to the airport at the end. Again it was very expensive - more for the 2 of us than a private taxi but we decided that the convenience might have been worth it. We ended up arriving at chaotic Rome airport more than 1.5 hours before the check in opened and, there being nowhere to sit had, literally to stand around for the duration - never again! In summary a middle of the road ship, the large number of pax were not evident except that the theatre filled up a couple of times so there were no seats for the late show. We will continue to sail with Princess when the itinerary is appropriate but would always prefer the smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
My family, consisting of a mom,dad and 2 teenagers 17 and 15. We left for Venice, which was wonderful, boarded the ship which was such an easy process. No one was there I am guessing that since the boat was in port for 2 days and could ... Read More
My family, consisting of a mom,dad and 2 teenagers 17 and 15. We left for Venice, which was wonderful, boarded the ship which was such an easy process. No one was there I am guessing that since the boat was in port for 2 days and could board on either gave people a lot of time to come as they please. The rooms ( we opted for 2 cabins at the last minute and they were about 20 doors away C534 and C734), were ready, I believe we boarded about 5:00 the day before sailing. The Rooms were comfy and the balcony was huge on deck 10 only, about double the size, so if size matters for the balcony go for deck 10. We could see the other balconies both up and down and after a few nites on the ship began to realize how much bigger deck 10 was. all in all the ship was ok, no way to compare to Freedom of the seas or Disney Ships. The ship was bland, the crew never was rude or anything but you never got the feeling they were happy just going through the motions and counting the days off till they see their family... kinda sad really. The people on the ship were an older crowd and it felt like a ghost ship after 8 or 9 o'clock, the boat was empty of adults. The entertainment was really bad and after the 3rd night of hoping something good would come, we gave up and never went back. The common areas were nice although there was a really funky smell always around the explores lounge. The games were locked up in the library and nobody was there at night when you wanted to play for some entertainment, why would you lock up the games?? We ended up buying a deck of cards because those were locked up too. I had an issue about a credit that should have appeared as an on board credit that never did. I went to customer service 3 times and they said the 1st 2 never even made notes about the situation at all, I said finally that I was going to call Visa and have them handle it and deny payment till I receive my credit which prompted a customer service agent to come to my room and go over the paperwork. Still she could do nothing and is now in Visa hands... still waiting. Horrible customer service on the phone as well all very sure no problem and what i am sure are blank stares.There was a fire on board, I think the 3rd day in, they told us someone left a curling iron on by the curtain and it went up in flames. All the safety procedures kicked in and all was good in about 2 hours. In the mean time you didnt know and we had to find our kids which was a little crazy. Do yourself an favor and make a meeting place with youre family before this happens so youre not all running around looking for each other.also I didnt have a problem with our cabins being so far apart but then i Realized our muster stations were different. I stayed with my daughter in 1 cabin and my husband stayed with my son, but still in a real emergency I would want to be together. Everything turned out ok and they cleared out the smoke and smell. The people were relocated from the cabin and all was well. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
We have just returned from a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on the Crown Princess to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Actually this story begins a few days before we flew to Venice to board the ship when my husband tore a calf ... Read More
We have just returned from a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on the Crown Princess to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Actually this story begins a few days before we flew to Venice to board the ship when my husband tore a calf muscle. While he was having an ultrasound at the hospital to rule out a blood clot, I was on the phone to Princess to talk about the impact of this on our plans. The woman (wish I had jotted down her name) was so helpful and we ended up with a wheelchair accessible balcony cabin which greatly reduced stress levels. We arrived at the dock and my husband was wheeled on board by a crew member from Mexico. All our worries seemed to evaporate from that moment on. Our cabin and balcony were so spacious and perfect for our "slower pace than expected" holiday. The first night was an overnight on the ship in Venice and we were delighted when we found out that the Venetian Chamber Orchestra was playing in the Princess Theatre that evening! Throughout the cruise we enjoyed the Polonia String Quartet in the piazza as well as the pastries and paninis in the International Cafe. Captain Nick Nash kept us informed in a professional, skilled manner about a mechanical problem that took place shortly after we set sail. I think he is very much on top of what happens on his ship and this shows in the smooth operation of everything onboard. Sailing by Venice and Piazza San Marco was spectacular. Seeing that beautiful city from the perspective of the ship was truly breathtaking and Vivaldi over the speakers the perfect touch. Both of the "anytime dining" restaurants were wonderful with superb food and wait staff. Most evenings we were seated immediately. We always asked for a table for two and because these are often side by side if you were so inclined it was easy to carry on a conversation with the diners beside you. We met so many lovely people from our country, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. As it was a special occasion for us we purchased the wine card and enjoyed wines we are unable to purchase at home. For our wedding anniversary we dined in Sabatini's at the requested window table where we were made to feel very special and the food was outstanding. When asked, we confessed that we were celebrating our 45th anniversary. A marvellous chocolate mousse cake was brought to our table by two singing waiters. Definitely worth the small extra charge for this dining room. We signed up for three Princess excursions and were very satisfied with them all. These were Olympia, Ephesus and Athens. Special mention must be made of Georgina our wonderful guide for Olympia. This warm caring woman is a retired Greek school teacher and she made that site come alive with her information carefully chosen to not overburden but to leave us with the essentials. She also helped us to understand what Greece has been going through economically and politically with her thoughtful observations. We took the shuttles laid on by the cruise line or by local transportation companies which were reasonably priced and quickly and efficiently arrived in the interesting and breathtaking ports on our itinerary. My husband was able to visit the ports with the use of a cane and although our pace was slower than usual we still saw a great deal. Because we had to slow down I think we enjoyed ourselves more as we drank a beer at the cable car cafe overlooking Dubrovnik, ate lunch in the Venetian quarter of Mykonos beside the cooling spray of the Aegean Sea and spent time admiring the frescos in the Archeological Museum in Naples. Returning to the ship after these excursions we were greeted with cold wet refreshing facecloths. I bought the coffee card and Mr. Perfect always made me an iced coffee latte to finish the cooling down process and start the relaxing back on board. How does one describe the beauty of sailing through the Strait of Messina, or the awe of watching from our balcony as the Stromboli volcano emitted steam and black smoke? Although transport from our ship to the airport in Rome left us with more time than we would like at the airport it was done efficiently and I always prefer to be early for a flight. If the airlines could process passengers more quickly it would be wonderful to have that extra time in the gate areas with the shops and restaurants. My husband packed his cane and walked off the Crown Princess showing that cruising can be the cure for what ails you. This was our 5th cruise and our 3rd with Princess and the best one of all. My line is that I don't think I can go on another cruise as nothing will ever be as wonderful as this one but I know that in time I will be looking forward to another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
I'll preface by saying this was a last minute booking with little preparation for the various ports. Our port activity decisions were based solely on an electronic copy of Rick Steve's book and the ship's port expert's ... Read More
I'll preface by saying this was a last minute booking with little preparation for the various ports. Our port activity decisions were based solely on an electronic copy of Rick Steve's book and the ship's port expert's TV show the night prior to each visit. We found Rick Steve's book to be invaluable. We thoroughly enjoyed each port and would return to any of them in a heartbeat. Following a grueling overnight flight (for me anyways as I didn't sleep) we took a cab (21eur)to our hotel, Holiday Inn Venice - Mestre Marghera. Our package included a 3 course dinner, breakfast and a roundtrip transfer to Venice. This place worked out great, especially for just under 150eur. We slept a few hours, had an excellent dinner and went back to bed. Next morning we enjoy a nice breakfast, and about 11:30 we take the shuttle to Venice and the monorail to the ship. We went through boarding and were on the ship in about 10min, never had to stand in line. Princess had a water-taxi about 200 yards from the ship that provided continuous service, it was very nice of them to pre-bill our account $19 each for this service. OK, perhaps not, but we thought it was at least convenient and after a quick bite at the buffet, we were off to Venice. We went about shopping, gawking, exploring and losing ourselves in this charming city. Eventually we made our way to St. Mark's Square and joined the throngs of tourists snapping pics of all the famous sites. By late afternoon we decided to head back to the ship thinking we'd return after a short nap and a bite to eat. When we returned it was getting dark and it was far less busy; it was quaint, quiet and the gondoliers were singing... just like in the movies! We made our way to the Rialto Bridge, and noted further evidence of the old-world charm that unlike most places, seems to genuinely reflect a bygone era. We also marveled at the large vaporettos providing public transportation in and out of the area. Day 2 and DW is sleeping in, but I'm drawn back to Venice, hoping to find a shop we visited yesterday to purchase a birthday gift for DW. It was a completely different scene; the shop keepers were cleaning windows and putting their fresh baked goods and sea creatures out for display, supplies were being loaded on small boats and delivered to places along the canals, garbage from the previous day was being hauled out through the narrow alleyways in oversized wheelbarrows, and the gondoliers were unexpectedly busy with customers (maybe the rates are lower in the morning?). A completely different look, vibe and smell from the previous afternoon and evening. 1:30 and we're sailing away, we barely get to the channel and the boat stops; the captain comes on and says something about a fire... WHAT? I guess a couple weeks here wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, but we were on our way again in about 30min. Going right through the main channel in front of Venice (with the help of some tugboats), it was beautiful! We had a port side, corner aft balcony which provided us a great vantage point. We could hear the Italian music playing on the ship. A very memorable sail away! Day 3, Dubrovnik, Croatia -- We pay a few Euros for the Princess shuttle to old town. It was pretty amazing. It is an old walled city that is very much alive inside with vendors, restaurants and musicians. Many artists were capturing the sites. We wandered through the shops, the nooks and crannies and thought we'd do the "thing to do" which was to walk the top of the wall. We approached a restaurant worker and asked where to enter? She responded in perfect English, "What, do you have a death wish? In this heat, you must be crazy? I suggest you sit down here and have a nice salad and something to drink." We had a nice conversation with this gal and set off for more wandering about. A while later we decided to head back to her restaurant where we sampled some local fare and the local beer, Lasko. Her English was so good I questioned her being originally from Croatia, I said she spoke better English than most Americanos. She said her mother taught foreign languages and that she was fluent in several. Earlier, on the way into old town I heard this unique bird sound, I'm sort of a nature freak (I enjoy viewing, listening, gathering, shooting, catching, eating), so I tried to track it by ear. My ear led me to guy on a bench blowing into a little ceramic painted parakeet. On the way out, I had to have one, and in hind sight, I wish I'd bought more for friends and family. You put a little water in them and they whistle and warble... it will go nicely with the 3 jungle frogs I bought in Costa Rica. Back on board it was formal night so we donned the good duds and went to the champagne waterfall (I still say the glasses are glued together) followed by dinner at one of the anytime restaurants. Sort of same old, same old... Day 4, Corfu, Greece -- First of many Greek Isles we'll be visiting. We head into town and once again lose ourselves in the shops and wander about with no real direction. There are two fortresses here, the old one from the 1600s and the later one. We paid I think 6 eur apiece to visit the old one and climbed our way to the top where we had amazing views of the city, the two ships in port and a marina on the opposite side of the fort. After a couple hours here we had a delicious lunch at an outside cafe in a small alleyway. We shared a plate of souvlaki and a plate of fresh sardines (pretty strong tasting). The feta on the salad was a chunk about 2"x3", not crumbled as we find at home. I was finally to see if fresh sardines are as strong as those in a can (which I can't stand); they are much more palatable, but strong enough that I'd not likely order them again. Day 5, Katakolon/Olympia, Greece -- I'd heard about a train out to the ruins, but never could locate the station... didn't look too hard after we found a private bus for 8eur round trip per person. We just had to wait for some more patrons to fill it up. We bought tickets around 9:15 and were told to come back at 10 to depart... So we browsed the shops, came back at 10 and waited until about 10:45 before departing. The ruins were very interesting. We'd never seen stuff that old. We tried to imagine what life was like here at 400bc when the Olympics were started. The museum had many artifacts and models of the grounds. I believe it was 8eur (4eur for the ruins and 4eur for the museum). Day 6, Pireas/Athens -- This time we found the train, just took a left when we got out of the cruise terminal and stayed on the road that followed the water, it was probably a mile or so. This is a very busy area, from the ship's deck there are apartments as far as the eye can see. Anyway, we board the train (1.4eur each way) and head for the Acropolis area. We get off the train and make our way to the Agora area at the base of Mars Hill and then proceed up to the Acropolis. We can see the Parthenon and by this time it is early afternoon, so it is decision time... spend 12eur each and go in to see the Acropolis and forgo the Acropolis Museum, or head down the hill to the museum; there was not time for both. So we head down to the museum; and we are very glad we did. As you walk in, the entranceway has a glass sidewalk, you look down and you see a village being excavated right under the museum. It was incredible, as was the museum. Back to Perias by train and then walking back to ship, stopping to sample some local foods and beverages along the way. Surprise for DW tonight! It is our anniversary and she was thinking we had a reservation at the Crown Grill. A knock at the door at 7:15 and the festivities begin (she was almost ready) with cocktails delivered. I had our incredible room steward Federiko tidy up as we stepped out in the hall for a few minutes and I explained the Ultimate Balcony Dinner. They set up a table on the balcony with white linen, and a flower arrangement. Letisha was our waitress (she also brought our room service breakfast most mornings). We sat down and enjoyed escargot, followed by a nice salad. Then the photographer shows up and takes pics of us with the sunset and wake in the background. We had surf and turf and the fillets were perfectly prepared, mine rare and DW's medium rare. The 2 lobster tails were quite good as well. A split of sparkling wine was also included and the desert was a presentation of 4 mousses and later some petit fours (sp?). This experience was exceptional. Day 7, Mykonos - We get around this morning and take a shuttle into town with one goal; find a beach (we're feeling a bit over historied, over cultured and ruined). We're thinking taxi, but saw lots of folks renting quads... We've had opportunities before, but always thought them a bit too risky... Not sure what got into us today, but I handed my driver's license and 25eur to the guy, got some quick directions and off we sped... more like plodded with the last instruction being, "you'll want to go straight to the gas station". WHAT? So following the directions to the gas station, we chug, chug, chug up this steep, long incline, cars flying by, I notice our quad is smaller than most others, likely a child's size; more chug, chug, chug then it stalls. We're out of gas. So we spin it around and start coasting back down the hill (going much faster). I'm not sure what to do as the bottom of the hill is about a mile from the rental place. As we're speeding down the hill, a ship crew member who along with 3 others, had rented quads from the same place passes us. We knew his 3 buddies would be following, and we managed to flag them down. They took DW back to the rental place; I continued coasting to the bottom of the hill. Eventually DW and some kid return on a scooter along with a two liter water bottle filled with gas. He dumps it in, starts the quad and we are once again chugging our way up this hill. Oops, stalled again; then again. Ok, that's it, I'm heading back to the rental joint, I'm going to get my driver's license and my money and we'll just take a cab! So we chug our way back and upon arrival I notice two of the larger variety quads that were not there prior. Hmm, what are the chances of getting two duds? So off we go on a quad that we're told will do 50. So up the hills, down the hills around the turns, cars beeping; we finally get to our destination, Paradise Beach. We figure we can stay an hour. Water was pretty cold; neither of us did much more than test the water. And in spite of the topless gals I managed to retain my vision (DW did not poke my eyes out). Back in town, we relaxed with a couple cold beers at a little outdoor cafe overlooking the bay. Day 8, Kusadasi -- We wanted to do the Ephesus ruins, and a ship's tour seemed to be the best choice. It did not leave until 1230, so we spent the morning haggling in the bazaars. It was a great experience. The Cozumel guys could take some hard sale lessons from these guys. We ended up with a few pieces of jewelry and some souvenirs. Just up the hill from the bazaars and the main street we found Ali Baba's, a little outdoor cafe and enjoyed super cold beers, gyros and salad, all of which were excellent and set us back less than 10eur. I'd say the Ephesus ruins were the best of all the ancient places we visited... a must do. The tour ended at a rug factory (not really a factory I guess) across from the ship. The sharp dressed English guy hauls us upstairs to this big room with benches on all walls. We are seated and he takes drink orders and proceeds to tell us about the making of these exquisitely crafted rugs; all the while this teenage girl is working feverishly on a loom, making a rug. He explains the stitching and the materials used and then the teenage boys proceed to bring out and roll out on the floor, probably 30 rugs as the speaker continues to talk about them. When the speaker finally wraps up, the room is invaded with a dozen or so hard sales guys trying to seal a deal... very interesting approach, to say the least. Day 9, Santorini -- Probably my favorite port of the trip. Incredibly unique and beautiful as the ship anchors in the crater of a volcano and the population is several hundred feet above on the top a cliff that extends the length of the crescent shaped island that surrounds us. Upon tendering to the base of the cliff, DW took the cable car, I chose to hang with the donkeys and walked up the 588 steps to the top, I was sweat soaked, but I will not need to hit the treadmill today. I eventually caught up to her in one of the tiny alleyways and we browsed awhile, picked up a few things, all the while thinking it would eventually be a beach day. We made our way to the bus station and found out the bus to Camari Beach leaves every 30min. We still had about 25min so we went to a restaurant we passed a couple blocks back and grabbed a gyro and a beer. Camari Beach was beautiful, at the base of a mountain and at the town of Camari. They call it black sand, I call it black gravel and it was so hot you could not stand on it in bare feet. We got a couple chairs and an umbrella (4eur?) and eventually I donned my mask and snorkel and hopped like a madman to the water. I snorkeled for about 45min or so and saw nothing remarkable... everything, including the fish, is sort of a dark gray color. We decide to head back and did a bit of browsing in Camari and eventually caught the bus back to Fira. Back in Fira, DW wants to get some calamari as some folks in front of us at the beach had some and it looked OK, the usual battered rings. So we stop at the same place we ate earlier and put in an order of calamari and an order of octopus, along with the requisite beverages. When the plate showed up our eyes about popped out. This calamari was a huge, whole squid; body with the tentacles folded over, it took up the entire platter. There was also a small octopus tentacle on another plate that paled in the visual comparison. Both were char-grilled to perfection and about 20min later every morsel had been consumed... absolutely amazing! Back on the ship we enjoyed another great sail away. Day 9, - Free at last! After 8 busy port days we are ready to relax...ahh, this is the life... as much to do or not do as we care to. Day 10, - see day 9. Day 11, Naples -- We get off the ship and take a cab to the Naples National Archaeological Museum. My first impression is that the pace of life here is insanely fast. There are as many scooters as cars and everything moving at a frenetic pace. The museum was amazing to say the very least. The best museum by far that I've ever been to. Much of it is devoted to Pompeii. Lots of incredible marble statues... I could go on and on. We visited the secret room, which I'll leave at that. Anyway, we spent several hours here and eventually headed out and decided we'd try to find our way back to the ship on foot. We'd heard this was the worst place for petty thieves and DW made it a point of telling me we'd not be taking any side streets. Well, who was it that led us off into no-man's land? Hmmm, anyway, we wandered the back streets of Naples; saw the good, the bad the ugly, sampled the pizza from small shops. Dropped into a tiny tavern for a beer and tried to soak up as much as we could. As frantic as the pace was on the street, duck into a local shop, restaurant or tavern and time practically comes to a dead stop. The language was a barrier, but not a dead-end. Day 12, Civitavecchia/Rome -- Unfortunately we are scheduled to fly out this afternoon and will not get to Rome. A good excuse to return! Well, my cut-rate internet deal on a shuttle was a bit inconvenient. We met our driver upon getting off the ship as he had a sign with our name on it. Eventually everyone was gathered up, but we had to walk probably a mile toting our luggage to the regular parking area away from the pier. It was $90 total, so probably worth it in the long run... we just kept walking by all the "authorized" vehicles we thought we'd be taking. So a 9 hour flight, a 5 hour drive home and we realize we've been travelling for 22 hours. Upon reaching home, DW falls instantly asleep; I'm up all night as body is now 7 hours ahead.... Oh well, I always say sleep is over rated and what the heck, zombies do seem to be in vogue these days. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
We chose this cruise for the length,dates and rates and that we had already experienced the Crown on a previous cruise. By chance the ports of call were all interesting ones. We only booked about 10 days before departure date, and for the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the length,dates and rates and that we had already experienced the Crown on a previous cruise. By chance the ports of call were all interesting ones. We only booked about 10 days before departure date, and for the first time were prepared to try an inside cabin. In the end we settled on an ocean view,deck 8, Emerald deck. Our cabin, E627, was more comfortable then expected, with the bed on the side wall and not under the window as we had expected. This gave us a feeling of spaciousness, and we had more than ample room with loads of cupboard and hanging space. A nice touch is the refrigerator. Our cabin steward introduced himself and from then on it was easy sailing, nothing was too much trouble for him. The dining rooms, and options, we prefer anytime dining was more than satisfactory, one comment is that in the buffet not enough thought is put into keeping vegetarian dishes separate from the others. Food is plentiful and tasty, enough choices to satisfy everyone. Evening entertainment ranged from good to outstanding. The Princess Dancers put on top class shows, and the other entertainers were so good we went back to hear them a second time. Other services such as embarking/disembarking and the tender service in Santorini was extremely well organised with only a few minutes wait. In short, what we expected, and more. No doubt we will continue to cruise with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
General comments: We are in our late 20s and this was our first cruise. We chose to do a cruise as a low stress way to fit in several destinations over a short period of time, and it was a great decision. We stopped in several beautiful ... Read More
General comments: We are in our late 20s and this was our first cruise. We chose to do a cruise as a low stress way to fit in several destinations over a short period of time, and it was a great decision. We stopped in several beautiful ports (Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakolon, Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Santorini, Naples, Rome), more than we would have been able to cover on our own over 12 days. After a busy day it was great to be able to come back to the ship to relax. I did feel a bit trapped on the two sea days and found some areas of the ship quite noisy. It was much easier to find a quite spot to relax near the front of the ship just outside the sanctuary. Room: We had a balcony cabin on the caribe deck (deck 10). Balconies on this deck seemed to be the largest, and were half covered, half exposed. Because we booked a balcony and not a mini suite, we only had two rather uncomfortable chairs and a small side table. I had read some reviews saying the chairs were uncomfortable and was surprised that it was as noticeable as it was (I thought people may have been exaggerating). We asked for stools thinking that it might help and were provided smaller side tables to use as stools (real stools are apparently only for the minisuites). Anyways, fairly minor issue but did impact the amount of time we spent on the balcony. Because of this, I would probably look at another cruise line that offered more spacious rooms (i.e. with a couch or living space) and better balcony furniture before sailing with Princess again. The room otherwise was great. Flat screen tv, efficient bathroom, large closet with room to store everything. Our room steward Jerry was excellent and refreshed our room several times a day. Restaurants: Buffet was good with new items daily. Most things were pretty good and only a few misses. I enjoyed the smoked salmon for breakfast and the different scrambled egg combinations each morning. Pizza was very good and we often had it as an afternoon snack. Dinner in the main dinning room was also quite good. I really enjoyed the clam linguini as well as the lobster tail on the second formal night. They had some really creative soups as well. Cheesecake and princess love boat dream desserts were delicious. Portions are small enough that you can order all 3 courses. Wine selection was good and reasonably priced, especially coming from Canada. We got a seven bottle wine card that cost around $140 (I don't remember the exact cost). On one of the sea days, there was a free cooking demonstration led by the chef and the head maitre D, followed by a tour of one of the kitchens. Highly recommend. We didn't pay to try the specialty restaurants, as we were very satisfied with the main dinning rooms. Coffee, tea, iced tea, lemonade, and juices at breakfast all free. The sushi at the vines wine bar was decent (complementary with wine order), about what I expected on a cruise ship. Public spaces/entertainment: The restaurants, buffet, etc were all very clean and nice spaces. The main atrium area was also very nice, as were the lounges on flours 5-7. I didn't really think they were dated. There were hardly ever any people in the lounges or bars after dinner, but maybe because it was a port intensive cruise and there weren't that many younger people. As mentioned, I found the areas around the pools very noisy with loud music and movies going all day. Pools were always very crowded on sea days. The best spot we found to read and relax was at the front of the ship, just outside the sanctuary (anyone can use the pool outside of the spa, which was generally much less busy, especially at the beginning of the cruise before people discovered it). The bars we enjoyed most were tradewinds and the aft bar (great place to watch the sunset). We also enjoyed walking around the promenade deck. It looked like a nice place to read during the day if you wanted to avoid the sun. Other: We didn't do any princess tours, because once we did a bit of research, we found better options with private tours or using public transit. Highly recommend rick steves book for do-it yourselfers. Note that Princess sometimes omitted info or provided false info to sell their transfers. In particular, they advised people that there were 50 stairs and no escalators if they decided to take the train to Rome instead of paying for a transfer, and we didn't encounter any stairs at all after a quick 10 min walk from the port terminal. Also, there was a public bus for I think $1.60 euro in Mykonos, but they were pushing people to buy bus tickets for a shuttle to town for $15 dollars to avoid a dangerous walk along the road. On a positive note, the crew was flexible in terms of what you could bring on board at each port. Overall, it was a great experience and a great way to see a lot of different places in a short period of time. We came home feeling relaxed, which may not have been the case if we had tried to visit the same places in the same period of time on our own Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Having read a previous review about this same holiday and the fact that they too did not receive a reply to their letter to Carnival House decided me that I must add my comments. We were at least informed about Rhodes, several months ... Read More
Having read a previous review about this same holiday and the fact that they too did not receive a reply to their letter to Carnival House decided me that I must add my comments. We were at least informed about Rhodes, several months beforehand, although they couldn't/wouldn't explain why. This was one of the main reasons we booked the holiday - to meet up with friends. We should have taken this as a sign and cancelled our booking. After arriving after midnight, with no food or drink offered (except for a cold sandwhich and a hot drink that had to be paid for) when we embarked we were given a cabin (and this was supposed to be an "upgraded" cabin according to their emails to me prior to the holiday) that was grubby and had many stains all over the carpet which resembled blood. On requesting a different cabin we were told all cabins were taken and that it wasn't blood, it was hair dye (who on earth dyes their hair on holiday!!) anyway, they knew about it and unfortunately it couldn't be removed as it was now a permanent stain. I said that we wouldn't sit looking at stains on the carpets at home so why would we pay all this money to look at someone else's stains. A shrug of the shoulders was all we got. The next day we returned to our cabin, which was full of chemical odours. The purser agreed that it was not fit for purpose and particularly as I explained that I have a medical condition which was exacabated by being near any sort of chemicals/paint etc. After sitting on the stairs for 4 hours, we were finally found another cabin which was for a family = bunk beds against the wall making movement very difficult around the cabin. This was temporary we were told as a family had failed to arrive. All our clothes and belongings were bundled up and taken into our 'new' cabin. We lived out of suitcases then for three days before we noticed our name was now on the door. Not even the courtesy to say we were going to stay there. Some staff on board were clearly fed up, they were moaning and talking about one another in the top restaurant on several occasions, within our hearing, particularly about 'dreading' the next trip as 'kids' would be on board. Certainly we also felt that the food was not as good as Sea Princess, nor the staff. I agree with the person who wrote regarding Rome, being dumped there for a couple of hours and then having to sit in the airport for hours on end. Not a thought to your passengers Princess Line - get us off the ship and that's that! I could go on and on unfortunately. However, suffice to say that I wrote to Carnival house and enclosed pictures of our first cabin and how our holiday was spoilt in an unsuitable cabin - living out of suitcases. I also mentioned the above and other things that indicated that Crown Princess needed to be monitored as it certainly put us off travelling with them again - such a shame after an excellent holiday on Sea Princess. Needless to say, we too didn't receive a reply. I left it for nearly a month and wrote again - this time informing them that I had registed the letter. Within a week I received a very unsatisfactory reply - clearly the letter had been glanced at and most of the complaints were ignored. They offered us £300 between us off another trip with them. (As if we want to!!!) What a nonsense and what a terrible reputation for them to have, because I for one, intend to tell as many people as I can how Princess treat their passengers once booked and paid for. We were not alone in our views of this ship, many people were voicing their disappointment - but may not all feel that they can review. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
My friend and I booked our first cruise with Princess because we had heard good reports about them. All started well but then we were informed by other passengers that the trip to Rhodes had been cancelled, no information from Princess. ... Read More
My friend and I booked our first cruise with Princess because we had heard good reports about them. All started well but then we were informed by other passengers that the trip to Rhodes had been cancelled, no information from Princess. Rhodes and Santorini were the two most important islands which made us book this trip. The trip to Santorini was a total waste of $55 dollars, my advice to future passengers on this cruise is do your own thing, you will see far more of the island, we saw nothing. You are more than encouraged to buy a 'coffee card', if you want what they call speciality coffees you have to pay for them, the card costs $33 and then you can get a cappacino or latte, great. The food in the main restaurants was excellent but there are two restaurants on board that have a cover charge if you use them, one of $25 and one $20. At the end of the cruise we were supposed to have a tour of Rome with time for lunch and shopping before going to the airport, this did not happen we were taken to the airport at 10 a.m. for our flight out at 17.20 p.m. 7 hours to wait with luggage in the airport, NOT GOOD PRINCESS. I have written twice to the company about these items but they have not had the decency to even write and say they are looking into our concerns. TWO PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT BE TAKING ANOTHER PRINCESS CRUISE. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
We stayed a few days in Venice prior to this cruise and I 'm very glad that we did as the city was lovely and we would not have had enough time to fully appreciate it if we had boarded on the day prior to departure. Embarkation was ... Read More
We stayed a few days in Venice prior to this cruise and I 'm very glad that we did as the city was lovely and we would not have had enough time to fully appreciate it if we had boarded on the day prior to departure. Embarkation was smooth although some passengers were provided water taxi vouchers to St. Marks square, we did not receive them and therefore had to pay full price for our transfers. Thankfully this was not a big deal. I have to say that the Crown is gorgeous. We especially liked the Piazza area and Vines was a regular stop for us in the evening. The staff was always pleasant and Victoria at the pursers desk was exceptionally helpful with a wheelchair issue concerning a disabled traveler in our group. The food however, was off and the breakfast menu was frustratingly difficult and repetitive for those who are on a low carb diet. They didn't even have whole grain bread for toast - only cracked wheat. They also had issues with beef and fish on the trip; the fish was always too fishy and the one night I ordered a fillet it looked more like a hockey puck than prime grade. I do give them points for creativity though, there were some dishes that were very original and quite good. And finally, decent nightlife choices. The Crown was never lacking in things to do in the evening and even though this ship has a huge amount of passengers, it rarely felt congested or crowded. I went to the Spa twice and the facial and massage I had were wonderful, but the product sales were high pressure which is irritating. They tried to sell me a body brush for $45 and I already have one which I only paid about $5 for. The gym was great - never a problem getting on the equipment. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
My wife spotted a special deal advertised in the local paper.Each year we have an overseas holiday and decided to try ship cruising rather than living out of suit cases and train/ bus travel. The Crown Princess exceeded our expectations, ... Read More
My wife spotted a special deal advertised in the local paper.Each year we have an overseas holiday and decided to try ship cruising rather than living out of suit cases and train/ bus travel. The Crown Princess exceeded our expectations, especially with the quality of the food, service and daily tours ashore. The first thing that struck us was the size of the ship and the number of passengers, but we never felt crowded. We tried to experience everything on board but some bars and restaurants eluded us. We dined anytime and this gave us the freedom to dine when it suited us. We tried the Crown and Sabatinis Restaurants and enjoyed the service and quality of food, but the Michelangelo and Da Vinchi Restaurants suited us fine without the surcharge. The buffet was excellent and dishes were always different and a temptation to overeat. Drinks we felt were a little expensive, but mostly purchased wine by the bottle, and pleased to see wines grown near our property listed.We had an inside cabin on 14th deck and the sailing was so smooth that we were never sure if the ship was moving or not and used the TV showing the outside camera to determine if we were in port or not. The daily updates on the TV were excellent, and the shore tours very good. The organisation of tours and embarkation and disembarkation was like clockwork. Although one morning difficulties were encountered due to the ship being made to anchor so far from the harbour, that tendering took longer than it should have. Our cabin steward "Bong" was very helpful and gave excellent service, as did every member of the ships crew. The cabin was clean and comfortable, the bathroom small but still bigger than the hotel in Venice and not 500 years old, and the vacuum toilet really flushed. The only sour note was the pick pockets that preyed on the tourists and many lost wallets. I suggest using safety pins to protect your pockets and pockets with velcro fasteners. I was extremely lucky to detect a young lady opening my pocket at the Acropolis in Athens. The weather was perfect and warm each day, the Greek Islands exactly like the postcards depict. Venice was magical, and as the ship left port with the view over the city the ship played "Time to say goodbye". The on board videograpther did a good job producing DVD movies of each days activities and a marvellous memory of our cruise.The entertainers were good and we enjoyed the magician that was more a comic. The hypnotist was entertaining and the quality of the shows in the theatre was outstanding. It was obvious to us that the other passengers enjoyed the safety of the ship as they were astonished at our previous adventures and would not even contemplate going to those countries. Once again I have found that everywhere you travel you find something interesting and learn to have more appreciatation for the culture of the different countries.       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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