Hi All. Paying back for all the good information I have gotten from this board.
Just got back from a great cruise on the Crown March 7-17th. Except for a couple of so-so excursions, just about everything was perfect. This was DH and my 15th cruise and all but one has been on Princess.
We flew into Ft Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the Hilton Marina. The two best things about this place are the waitstaff and the location. The crew at the bar by the pool did a great job when we went there for a quick dinner about 8. The poor things were shivering on an unusually cold evening. (60degrees) The next morning, we went to the main dining room for the breakfast buffet. They have a nice omelet station and a good selection of breakfast items and again the staff was very friendly. There was a well-stocked Walgreens an easy half mile away. I strongly recommend a morning stroll around the marina. It was a nice way to start relaxing. On the down side, there was no help with our bags till after we checked in (sorry, pet peeve) and the room, while clean was a little dated. The shower head was a strange had held device, that I had to wiggle around to angle it into the tub. Sorry to go into detail here, I thought it would be helpful if you were going to spend more than one night.
We used the Princess transfer and after the usual hurry up and wait we got to the terminal about 12:15. Once we hit the terminal, the lines moved quickly, and we were sitting in the dining room by 1.
Let’s start with the most important stuff…
IMHO, I thought he food and entertainment was better on this cruise than it has been on the ones in the past. We enjoyed the new menus. There were some new dishes that I really liked. We did cc dining and are now totally spoiled. It is the best combo of fixed seating and anytime dinning and the service was great. Fernando the chef who did the table side cooking was one person who helped make this cruise special. His dishes were amazing. And on a customer service note, if he had some time, he was pitching in helping the waiters. The IC was our “go to” place if we did not eat in the dining room. The paninis were all good, although they do take a couple of minutes to heat up. I did notice a cut back in the variety of deserts there, but what they had was yummy. As far as entertainment, again I thought that the talent level was a cut above what we had seen in the past. The dancers and singers were all very good. Loved the productions, Sweet Soul Music, Encore and Blame it on the Boogie. Princess brought in an opera singer Heather Hill to sing a few songs in the Encore show. The other special guests, comedians Troy Thirdgill and Michael Minor, singers Sonia ( sorry forgot the last name) and Todd Adamson gave very good performances. While I am here, let me suggest to Princess that they maybe think of adding a late afternoon show to relive the mad scramble for seats 25-30 mins before showtime at the two evening shows. Obviously, it would depend on the itinerary, but I think on sea days or early departures it might work.
Quick review of our excursions. (our choice, we prefer to take the ships excursions) First a heads up: you now must take your Gov’t ID to Princess Cays . I do not remember doing that before, but I was glad we had driver’s licenses and did not have to take our passports. We did the morning snorkel session and then got back on the ship. It was good, clear water & lots of fish. In St Thomas, we did the VI Cat. This was our best one. The crew was great, very personable. They were very organized safety wise. We had water in our hands on the way out and rum punch in our hands on the way back. FYI learn from our mistake… We were in ST Thomas on a Sunday. The Stores in town close at 2. We had done the excursion in the morning with the thought of spending the afternoon in town. If we had known, we would have reversed the order. Lesson learned. In Martinique, we did the Discovering Creole Martinique. This tour was our worst one. The distillery stop was short on information and long on selling. The Lunch was good. Then we drove to St Pierre, where we did see the ruins, but the museum is being renovated. I think if we had a better guide, it would have been ok. In Grenada, we did Grand Etang, cocoa experience and rum tasting. The guide was much better, but the cocoa stop was very disorganized. At the Rum plant, they at least gave us a Tour of the original factory, before the rum tasting. Just a note here: There were a lot of steps and stairs which some of our group found troublesome. In Bonaire, we did the exclusive sailing yacht. It was a little more expensive, but worth it. We saw lots of fish and the sailing was just wonderful. We finished in Curacao where we did the off-road adventure to the caves and Ostrich farm. The dune buggies and Ostriches were a lot of fun. The caves they took us to were very very strenuous to climb into. The guides did help where they could, but with all the sharp volcanic rocks around, one slip would have been disastrous.
General thoughts: The Crown is in good shape. Our cabin D405 was in a perfect location, just down the hall from the midship elevators. (The barrel chair and table were still there) Freddie did a good job taking care of us. Good movies, Star is born, Bohemian Rhapsody, House with a clock in the wall, The Favorite and the Old man and the gun. The Crown Grill was wonderful as always. We used the EZ luggage service at the end. It worked perfectly. I think the worst thing I can say about the Crown is that the paper towels that were in the public rest rooms were the thinnest I have ever used. I can’t see how it is cost effective to use five towels instead of one.
Hope this helps... If anyone has questions I will try to answer.