Crown Princess Cruise
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA -- First I would like to state that it was difficult for me to categorize this as either a compliment or complaint, and that's why I'll call it informative. I also would like to state that I can't help but compare this to previous cruises I've been on.
My husband and I cruised (7 day eastern Caribbean) on Crown Princess, leaving Port Everglades on 04/12/09.
Embarkation was like a cattle call, crowded and disorganized, but I'm sure that had more to do with the port than the cruise line. Once we were on the ship though, things went a little more smoothly.
Our cabin (Riviera deck 14, balcony stateroom) was already ready. That was very nice. All of my previous cruises, with Carnival, I had to tote around my carryon for several hours until it was ready.
Our stateroom was smaller than we were used to, as was the bathroom. The balcony was adequate, and we loved our location. Several decks below us, the balconies 'jutted' out, leaving some of our fellow passengers with no privacy, as we could see their entire balcony from above.
The buffet food was fantastic, the dining room food was even better. There was always a huge selection. Sometimes there were specialty venues, including a sushi/Japanese buffet one day, and a pub style fish and chips in one of the lounges another.
Overall, the food was far better on Princess than any Carnival cruise I've ever been on.
We opted for Anytime Dining for dinner, instead of the traditional. The nice thing about this was, instead of having to be there at a set time, we could make reservations (which we did), or just show up at one of two anytime dining rooms.
For the formal lobster dinner, we made reservations and were informed that there were no 2 person tables left, so we elected to dine with 4 other people. Not only was our company pleasant, but the dining staff were very attentive and a joy to deal with.
Some overall observations:
Children - Few small children were there, and the ones we encountered were well behaved.
Fellow passengers - Most of the passengers were more mature, and pretty much everyone we met were friendlier than we were used to.
Crew - Although our room steward and one of the bartenders were great (they always greeted us by name and knew our preferences after the first day), the majority of the crew appeared unfriendly and unhelpful. With Carnival, I always knew I could ask any crewmember for help, but on this cruise, good luck if you can find any of them to be pleasant. Most seemed annoyed if approached.
Disembarkation - We opted to self-disembark, meaning that we meet at a preset time and take all of our own luggage off of the ship. That didn't happen. We were at our meeting place with our luggage, when we were supposed to be.
There were no crew members to direct anything, so everyone pretty much made up their own rules. We waited an hour, standing in a hallway to get off of the ship. Very disorganized, overall.
Some wonderful things - Princess Cays, Princess' private island. We brought our own snorkeling gear, picked out a couple of lounge chairs and had a blast (stay away from the ship's beach bbq, it's not worth it). Tons of fish to look at, at your own leisure. We paid for a snorkeling excursion off of Grand Turk (Gibb's Cay), and had a great time snorkeling with stingrays (some of them were 4 1/2 ft in diameter!). A couple of sharks showed up to the party, too.
In short, I'd probably cruise with Princess again, if I got a really good deal. Other than that, I'd prefer to either try a different cruise line, or wait for my favorite ship to change itineraries and book with her.