We have just returned from our 14 day, back to back cruise on the Crown princess in the southern and eastern Caribbean, so I thought I’d give a brief review of the ship.
The Crown princess is a drop dead gorgeous ship in anyone’s book! She is well designed and beautifully appointed from stem to stern in every respect. Whoever told me before we left that, for a mega ship the Crown would never seem crowded, had it exactly right. The numerous bars and lounges are tastefully decorated and distributed throughout the ship to avoid the pooling of people at any one location. There are three large show lounges, often with three shows running simultaneously.
Our Stateroom was on deck 10, Caribe, starboard side, roughly amidships. We were surprised to find that like all staterooms on Caribe, it had a balcony roughly twice the size of those on other decks in the same class. The balcony was partly private and partly in view of the decks above. The stateroom itself was spacious and comfortable, and included a small refrigerator.
Our cruise took place during spring break, so there were hundreds of families with children and hundreds of college kids aboard. Still, the ship never appeared overcrowded or chaotic. There might be well over a thousand people on the Lido deck at any given time, but the ship is so large and the Lido is so vast that it never seemed crowded. Even getting off the ship in port is easy because there are two points to disembark, each with two gangways.
Our cabin steward was absolutely the best we’ve ever had – pleasant, smiling, quiet, unobtrusive prompt, perfect in every way. We gave him an extra tip and wrote him up for the awards program.
Our favorite spot on the ship was Crooners Martini bar, located right on the central Piazza at the top level, and perfectly placed for people watching. There were two barmaids there, one a Filipina and one from Grenada who were as cheerful and charming as they could be.
Overall, the ship’s strong points greatly outweigh any shortcomings, but I do have a couple of minor complaints and one large one:
The showers were apparently designed for creatures much smaller than human beings. About all you can do comfortably in the showers is to stand perfectly erect with your hands at your sides. The closet was larger than what we are used to, but frankly we would have preferred three square feet less closet, and three square feet more shower.
The Eastern European staff in the Horizon court buffet, sometimes seemed a bit sullen and unresponsive, as compared to the good-natured staff in other parts of the ship.
The big complaint is food quality
. On a scale of one to ten, I couldn’t give it more than a weak six. Three years ago, we did the Panama Canal on the Island Princess and at that time we found Princess’ food to be equal to that of Holland America: Quite good, at least 8.5 on a scale of ten. If Princess is trying to save money, in my opinion, they are choosing the wrong place to cut corners. The quality of the meat and seafood was not that high to begin with and to compound the problem, the preparation and presentation was IMHO, a bit sub-par.
We had one pleasant, nostalgic and somewhat sad surprise on this cruise. As we strolled down the gangway in Aruba, we looked up and saw, tied up on the opposite side of the dock, the old “Polynesia,” a four masted sailing ship formerly of the apparently bankrupt Windjammer Barefoot cruise line. It was our very first ship, back in 1986, and at probably not more than 400 tons, by far the smallest we’ve ever been on. We had great fun on her! Now the rust is coming through, and her once gleaming teak decks are grey, weathered and marred. She just sits there, tied up and awaiting her fate. Before sailing on her all those years ago, I remember reading a very good article about her in the National Geographic -- 1978 I believe. She was a converted Portuguese cod fisherman. I took a few pictures of the Crown Princess and the Polynesia side by side – the old and the new, the first and the last, the tiny and the gigantic.
We will be most happy to cruise the Crown Princess again, just as soon as we hear the food quality has been improved.