Western Caribbean Cruise – Crown Princess
Nov 13-20, 2010
Ned & Carolyn Nelson
Flights to Fort Lauderdale
Southwest flights were on time
Princess Pick up and Transfer to Embassy Suites- Ft Lauderdale Airport
Princess Rep was waiting for us in the baggage area and quickly got us to our bus. Hotel was a 10 minute drive away. A valuable service.
Embassy Suites- Ft Lauderdale
Good location as we could see the ships in the port. Hotel is aging and needs to be upgraded. Free Breakfast was fair and the crowds were huge.
Princess Transfer to Ship
Princess Rep in the lobby was very good. They have a good system of baggage control. Bus arrived at 1140 and we departed at 1150. We arrived at the port at 12 just as they were opening the doors. Much better (earlier) than the last time we did this with Princess.
You get in a line by the deck your cabin is in. Unfortunately, a whole lot of Aloha Deck folks arrived when we did. Our lines were the longest by far even with 3 check in stations. Still, the process did not take too long. There was a pretty long wait for the customary boarding picture but we were on pretty quickly. Some folks are skipping the picture; they just say no and walk around the photographer. We were in our cabin one hour after we left the hotel.
Sail away and Day 1
Departure out of Ft Lauderdale is a real treat. Lots of hoopla and interaction with the folks on the ground. Lots of excitement from the passengers. We had the 530 dinner so we had to hurry to dinner.
First night show was a disappointment. Too many announcements and not enough show
Day 2 At Sea
Very relaxing. There seems to be a lot more scheduled things to do than on other ships. We were disappointed that we had to miss some things. This is a positive.
Day 3 Grand Cayman Island
Got up pretty early to take our tour. Since this was a tendered port we met in the Theater and had an orderly flow to the pier. We took the Island Highlights and Dolphin Park Tour. Good driver and guide. The folks at the Dolphin Park were not ready for us so we sat around for 15 minutes before their mini show went on. The rest of the tour was as drive around the island with 3 stops at tourist trap stores along the road. One was at a town called Hell where you could have your picture taken and send postcards. We couldn’t because we just happened to be there on a holiday when it was closed.
Day 4 Roatan Islands, Honduras
Carnival (Princess) has built a brand new pier, welcome village, and nice beach. The gift shops in the were air-conditioned and very nice. Reports are that the Beach is very good. We were on a 20 person bus for the Scenic Drive, cruise and cultural show. Again, good driver and guide. We started with a boat drive around the harbor where sunken ships and a replica of the Black Pearl which is a Pirates of the Caribbean ship. It was fun getting close the the Crown Princess which dominates the harbor. We also visited a Garifuna Indian village and saw a short show. Carolyn and I both danced with the Indians and we hope no one took a video to put on U Tube. More stops at tourist traps to buy stuff.
Day 5 Cozumel Island, Mexico
Another stop at a new pier and gift shops. Four ships were in our area and there were two more downtown. Traffic was a problem. Our tour was to the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins and the Playa Mia Beach Resort. The ruins were interesting and the beach was very nice. They gave us a drink and let us play in the beautiful beach for an hour. The bad news is that Carolyn left her bag somewhere and we never could find it. So the rest of the stop was spent figuring out how to get back on the ship with no identification. The good news is that it wasn’t too hard. The Mexican official let us go right through to the ship and then the ship guys at the gangway took us right to the security guys who found Carolyn’s picture in their computer right away. They sent us to the purser’s desk where they made her a new ship identification card. Her driver’s license and makeup were also lost but no money and no credit cards. Both the tour driver and Princess were very understanding and helpful during our crisis.
Day 6 At Sea
Lots of time to play Trivial Pursuit and shop. We won for the second time. Now we have a Princess hat and cheap bag to show as our prizes. We drank the Champaign so there is no evidence.
Day 7 Princess Cay Island, Bahamas
A tendered port. Winds were really strong so we were surprised that they let the tenders go in. Beautiful beach area. This time we were much less crowded than our trip in 2008. Princess does a good job in getting the food and drinks in there.
Day 8 Disembark
The most pleasant surprise of the trip. This has been our most dreaded part of the cruises. Princess now prints the time you are supposed to go to your meeting area. They are very consciences about not having huge lines to wait in. We found our baggage very quickly and then did have to wait in the customs line for 20 minutes but it could have been a lot longer. We checked in with Southwest right outside the cruise port and they gave us our boarding passes and took the luggage right to the airport for $10 a bag. We took the Princess Bus to the airport because it gives you priority in getting off the ship.
The Crown Princess
A beautiful ship in excellent condition. We did have a 30 minute unexplained power failure while docked in Roatan. The good news is that everything came back on by the time we left. It was no inconvenience to us with a balcony, but sure was to those in an inside room.
Ft Lauderdale Airport
With 7 huge ships in port there is no secret why the airport is a mess. Long lines await everyone. Since we had checked our bags all we had to do is go through security. The line was exceptionally long but they did their best to get us through. Despite all the lines etc we were at our gate 2 hours after they called our color to disembark on the ship. Good job Princess.
Food (Dining Room)
Food was very good. We ate dinner in the DeVinci dining room every night. One reason was the very enjoyable company of the three other couples at our table. We all had a fun time telling cruise and family stories. Our waiters were really good too.
We also ate 3 breakfasts and two lunches here. Again, good food and good servers.
Food (other venues on board)
The Horizon Buffet is the most popular place on the ship. The breakfast buffet was good and the staff was exceptionally helpful in finding us a place to sit. This has been a problem on other ships we have been on but the Crown staff did a great job.
The International Café had a great reputation but it was always so crowded that we left.
Pizza and hamburgers are exceptional. One of our tablemates thinks that Princess has the best pizza in the world. It was darn good.
Room Service was good and quick. We used it on days when we had morning tours.
Cabin and Cabin Care
Our BC Balcony cabin was cozy but certainly adequate. We were mid ship so we didn’t feel the motion as much as some of our shipmates. The mattress, duvet and pillows were really good.
We used our laptop which was slow and expensive. Internet Café was really crowded most of the time especially on the last day.
Cell Phone Service
Worked great. I had called Verizon and set up International coverage. Everything worked very simply and with a clear connection. Can’t wait to see our bill. I am expecting $2.49 a minute which is way cheaper than the ship’s phone which is $8.99/minute.
We played Trivial Pursuit and won two times with some new friends. Carolyn is a real master at this game and we were really happy that they play it 3 or 4 times a day. There is always a good crowd too.
The pool and Movies under the Stars were always packed.
Carolyn did make me attend one dance class which was really fun. All the guys were dreading it but the staff really made it fun.
The Singer and Dancers were really good. The comedian was just good and the rest were marginal at best. The Theater was always packed at the beginning of the shows and if the folks didn’t like it they walked out. We were surprised at how few waiters were available for drinks. Very few people drank in the theater which was much different from other cruises.
New to us was the Outlet Mall shopping. The crowds were huge buying stuff that they didn’t need or want. It was a frenzy in there. There were two of them during the cruise and we were amazed at the crowds. Most of the stuff in the other stores seemed very expensive.
Pictures were as expensive as ever and hard to find. I think we would have bought more if we could have found ours. Princess has got to something to improve this part of the cruise.
I finally got to play Bingo and we lost. Not sure I need to play again.
Carolyn actually won $20 playing the slots which was exciting. Princess has a complicated system of paying and collecting your winnings but we think we figured it out.
Staff and Service
Probably the best we have had on our cruises. Not as pushy as the other ships
Not bad. Still have long lines and waits.
Transfer to Airport
You still have to wait too long for your Princess bus to fill up but they do give you priority in getting off the ship if you use their bus
Ft Lauderdale Airport Departure
See above. Huge crowds, long lines, full flights are the norm on arrival and departure dates.
Insurance- Travel Guard
Yea..We didn’t have to use it.