by Armand Priore
June 14, 2006
This is a review of the inaugural cruise of Crown Princess. My wife, 2 teenagers and I were booked on a mini-suite on Dolphin deck. I had previously cruised on the Grand Princess in 1999 and also stayed in a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck. The room on the Crown was almost exactly the same as on the Grand Princess. Below is a brief summary of the cruise.
1) The Crown is a beautiful ship and the service on the Crown is superb. My cabin steward was great. Most of the food waiter staff were also great. The cruise director staff was also very helpful.
2) The entertainment for a maiden cruise was good, but had no star power. There were no recognizable names on the Crown. When I cruised on the Grand Princess in 1999 they had Marty Allen on board who at least was an older star. This maiden cruise should have had at least one name star. There were 2 singing and dancing productions on this cruise and they were very good. For a maiden voyage, I expected more than what they presented.
3) The cruise director, James Lay was very good. He had a great personality, and seemed to be everywhere. I still don't know when he slept. His staff was also first rate.
4) The food and dining room menu was a disappointment. In 1999 on the Grand, the food menu and quality were very good, however on the Crown I thought the food selection was poor, and the food quality was fair. The service in the Crown dining rooms was superb. I did Anytime dining. If you choose Anytime dining make a reservation early each day, or you will wait anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to be seated.
5) Alternative dining. Sabatini's was a major disappointment. You think it's Italian? Wrong. No red sauces, no veal dishes, and only 2 pasta dishes. In fact most of the food quality was poor to average. Also, be prepared for a 2 and a half hour meal because service was slow. The Crown Grill, a steak and seafood restaurant, was good but not great. The steak I had there was fair, but can't compare to NY or NJ steak houses. I would recommend that you skip these because they aren't worth the extra cost ($20PP in Sabatini's and $25PP in Crown Grill) If you had to choose one, stick with the Crown Grill.
6) The Itinerary on this Western Caribbean cruise was terrible. The first stop is Turks and Caicos. This is a total waste. Absolutely nothing to do except go shopping in a Carnival made village by the port, and go on a Carnival made beach by the port which is horrible because the water has a significant amount of coral and you can barely walk in the water. The second stop is Ochos Rios. Plenty to do, but be careful. The amount of natives that try to sell you their goods and drugs is annoying. The third stop is Grand Cayman. This is one of my favorite islands. Good shopping, beautiful beaches and great people on the island. The fourth stop is Port Canaveral. Why do they stop here from 7AM to 3PM? Other than the Kennedy Space Center, there is nothing to do. Florida beaches rate poorly as compared to Caribbean beaches. Why not stop at Princess Cays? However, if you do any excursions in Canaveral, be prepared to leave by 6:30AM.
7) This cruise had too much of a Carnival feel and not enough of the old Princess feel. I am not a big fan of Carnival, and it was a disappointment to me that that Princess was becoming like Carnival. An example is on my 1999 Grand Princess cruise the mini-suites got priority check-in, butler service, and a twelve pack of 50ml bottles of liquor. This cruise treated the mini-suites like standard rooms, and oferred none of the above. Also, the quality of all foods were below standard, which was not the case before Carnival purchased Princess.
I rate this cruise as good, but I expected more based on my previous cruising experience on Princess in 1999. In addition very little was done to highlight that this was an inaugural cruise. I will probably try RCCL or Celebrity on my next cruise.