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Bimmer09

CROWN PRINCESS remembered in photos and video

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There follows a review of a cruise taken on the Crown Princess way back in January 2012.....

 

BUT WHY?

 

There are many reasons why I am writing this, some 15 months later;

I am hoping to get all my reviews up to date before my next cruise which is about 80 days away. That will be on the Caribbean Princess heading West to Cozumel, Roatan and Belize in January 2104, sailing from the port of Houston.

Also the Crown is not a ship that everyone has sailed on and she is returning from Europe to begin a Caribbean season as are several other Princess ships.

Therefore I am hoping that this review (i.e.ramble) will help some people who are considering the Crown for their next cruise.

 

I have already posted photo/video reviews of the Diamond Princess and the Coral Princess and a photo-only review of the Ruby. These were all on the CC Princess board and can be found via clicking on my screen name and looking for my posts which mention those ships.

 

THE BACK-STORY

 

There's always a back-story with me-the "where I'm coming from" that explains the how why and where that lead to my cruise on the Crown. I don't just wake up one morning to find that I am on a cruise ship and wonder how the hell I got there. In other words, for great parts of my waking life I am conscious of what I am doing and fully coherent. This is known as the "Pre-Guinness Phase"

 

My TC (Traveling Companion) Carol, will feature in some of the videos. She was new to cruising when, upon her suggestion out of the blue, we took our first Princess Cruise on the Coral to Alaska (Southbound from Anchorage)in August 2011.

 

She had never been on a cruise ship before whereas I had 46 cruises under my belt, 44 of them as a musician aboard the venerable Song of Norway operated by the then RCCL, now RCI.

 

Once off the Coral, Carol was enthused to cruise again and the task of finding another cruise fell to me. I had used up my vacation allotment for 2011 on the Coral so looked to early 2012 for a cruise and it hit me that the Caribbean would be just the place to escape the winter blues associated with living in Chicago where the temperatures fall to "brrr, my teeth are chattering" in January.

 

On a Carnival cruise back in 1990 I had sailed to Aruba and Curacao on, I believe Carnival Celebration (out of San Juan) and I remembered those islands fondly so I looked for a Princess ship cruising there for 7 days.

 

The Crown appeared on my radar- I am the son of a Ship's Captain and so naturally have things like Raytheon radar set up in my bedroom, along with a chart room, some compasses, oily ropes and a ship's cat. To say the Sea is in my Blood (next to the Guinness) would be an understatement. I live and breathe ships and have been sailing on them since I was maybe 6 years old.

 

I surfed Princess. com and youtube, looking at this vessel. It was not like the Coral. No- I learned that it was a super Grand Class ship of the Princess fleet

and bore design similarities to the beautiful Sapphire Princess that I had seen from the deck of the Coral in Juneau...there was a Sanctuary forward, a Skywalkers! and a vertical stern. When I saw the stern of the Sapphire I remarked to Carol on how cool it must be to have one of those aft balconies.....

 

For the Crown voyage I booked a mini-suite, as I had on the Coral. It was on Dolphin deck mid-ships, alas where the balconies are open to the elements, unlike the half-covered one we had on the Coral (C210). We would try it anyway-it promised a great view of the starry Caribbean skies at night, which I remembered from my days on the Song of Norway.

 

From September 2011 to January 2012 I counted down the days via Shipmate, a phone app. Excursions and flights and hotels were booked in Ft. Lauderdale.

 

January came and my pulse quickened and it had nothing to do with January sales in the stores. The Monday of our last week in Chicago dawned and I went to work as usual.

 

I got a call at work from Carol-which is rare as she knows I am knee-deep in work. Princess called. They want to offer us an upgrade to a suite and do we accept?

 

"That all depends on where the suite is" was my response as I knew there were suites above the bridge which were not to my liking (wind, lack of privacy, treadmill noise from the gym etc). I asked Carol to have them call me asap.

 

I took the call from the familiar voice of my Princess rep T.... who had been assigned to us after our Coral cruise and whom I had built a good rapport with via e mail. "Where's the suite?"....answer "Aft, Penthouse".

 

Book it Dano!! No hesitation. No upgrade fee. Just a freebie to better digs for the week.

 

At home I looked up the list of suite perks awaiting and was even more enthusiastic for Friday's flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We were going to fly out a day early and see the Friday ships leaving Port Everglades- a dream come true for a ship-nerd like me.

 

Friday soon came....

 

 

Next up- video... Chicago snow to FLL sunshine in 4 hours

Friday sail away for the Pacific Princess and Celebrity Equinox

and... a lot of photos.

 

Norris

in Chicago

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I devoured the Ruby review which came out weeks before I cruised on the Crown and became a confirmed Aft fan.

 

I'm aquiver in antici

 

 

~sent using Cruise Critic app~

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I can already tell this is going to be fun reading! We'll be on the Crown soon and want to know everything!

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Firstly I 'd like to thank those that have responded so far to my "review". I put that in parenthesis as I have yet to write it and have no notes to draw from and have no idea yet whether this will be a critical review of coherent thoughts or just another ramble from someone who works too hard (occasional 16 hour days), drives too much (25K a year) sleeps too little (5 hour average) and burns the candle at both ends. Despite all this I am relying on my memory and the great memory joggers of photos and videos.

 

Carol pats me on the back (as I am often face-down) when it comes to cruise planning as everything I organize clicks into place.

 

The first thing I planned was snow in Chicago the day we flew to Fort Lauderdale as I thought it would make for a good video transition between the life we lead and the life we would wish for ourselves....

 

So, here is the first of many videos to come....

 

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More please! This is going to be a great thread :D

 

I'm sailing the Crown for the second time next year and can't wait!

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Our United flight landed in FLL with us on it and I was immediately excited to see reps from Princess, HAL and Carnival meeting their passengers. They weren't waiting for us as we were coming in a day early to get over the jet-lag as Chicago is one hour behind FL.

 

A taxi to the Hertz Rental office on 84th st took us over some bridges that gave us views of some of the mighty ships we had just seen during the aircraft's approach. Whetting the appetite!

 

(I believe we put 8 miles on the rental car but we wanted to have flexibility to come and go as we please. )

 

There won't be many photos of the Renaissance Hotel. The location is excellent as one could walk to Pier 2 where there is usually a Princess ship. Upon arrival there was no valet to park the car so I parked it myself and gave the $2 tip to Carol who opened the car door for me. We checked in and -another strike against the hotel- tip-toed around the many breakfast trays littering the hallway on our floor. It was about 2 pm by now.

 

Our room had a view of the tops of some of the ships in port so while Carol unpacked I headed out to shoot the little bit of video you just saw. I was also charged with getting a six-pack of Cokes to smuggle onboard.

 

There is a big Walgreens across from the hotel but when I got there it was on fire-luckily not an inferno, but enough to evacuate the staff. The firemen already had it under control but Cokes would have to wait.

 

I had a pressing appointment at 4pm and that was to see and videotape (it's a digital camcorder so there is no tape but I hang on to the term anyway) the ships leaving port.

 

On a map there seemed to be a road right by the channel and we got in the car

and soon found that there was no where to stop by the road and view the ships as there were private houses blocking our view. Really people?

 

There was an open piece of land in a prime position but it had a work crew there driving some pilings into the sand at the water's edge. I jumped out of the car (but stopped it first as a safety measure) and asked the guys if they would mind if we pulled in there. They spoke Spanish, which I don't so I had to call upon my years as a street-mime in Paris. They were happy to let us park there.

 

It turned out to be a better spot than the traditional rocks at the end of the channel as the sun wasn't directly in my face and there is no choppy wake to splash you. Alas there is nowhere to sit unless you bring a little folding chair.

 

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The iconic smokestacks in the next photo have since been demolished...

 

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Next I'll upload some of the video I was shooting (BOAT NERD ALERT!) as the ships slipped their moorings and the lucky passengers headed out to sea....

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Here is the video link to my beach shots....

 

 

I say that there are 800 passengers on the PP but of course the number is 680.

This was my first time seeing one of the "little girls" as they are affectionately known.

 

I have since made a booking- Venice to Rome September 2014-on her sister ship the Ocean Princess and am relishing the prospect of sailing on her.

 

Norris

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I am enjoying your report so far, and your accent is still there in the background.:)

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Bimmer09: what suite number were you in? Can't wait to see the video of it!

 

C749 and had the same cabin on the Diamond where it was C757 and on the Ruby where it was C749 again. On the Caribbean (Jan 2014) it is once again C749. No beams breaking up the balcony space.

 

There will be video of the entire suite and it won't be filmed in "burglar- vision"...those videos where the camera is panning rapidly as if filmed by a burglar who doesn't have much time to find the jewels...an empty drawer gets opened followed by a shot of the ceiling followed by a shot of the carpet followed by a swirling circular shot of the ceiling again...I'm getting dizzy just writing this! Hopefully you won't get whiplash watching my videos.

 

For the Ocean we have 6088 which is an aft corner suite and for space and style of furnishings it may put the Grand Class ships in the shade. It's very pricey though but it was either the Ocean or the Regal-and I am not a fan of the Royal design at all and canceled a cruise on her in favor of the CB next January.

 

I have already uploaded the first day on board video but have another sail away video to publish first....it's in the Youtube ovens as we speak.

 

Norris

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I am enjoying your report so far, and your accent is still there in the background.:)

 

Thanks for the feedback! My accent is greatly modified as I left home when I was 18 and spent years in London, then 12 years in New Jersey and now 15 years in Chicago. When I go home to Northern Ireland I visit with my two sisters who still have the original thick accents and use words that you don't hear anywhere else. I adjust my ear but not my speech or pronunciation.

 

People in the USA often think I am Canadian. I have no interest in ice hockey.

 

Norris

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Ok here is the next and final installment of my beach videos....

 

 

After this we have about 17 hours before we head to Pier 2 and at least half of that will be spent sleeping (no video of that as I was, er, asleep).

 

Once we are on the Crown the pace will quicken-I promise!

 

Norris

in leafy Michigan

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After watching the ships sail away we were hungry and Carol used her phone to find victuals with a view. She found the nearby Marriott Harbor Beach resort and off we went. We had a booking for a table in the Bimini Boatyard (on a canal so there was our required water-view) but that was for 7.30 and we hadn't eaten in 9 hours...we canceled that via the phone and headed to the Sea Level restaurant at the Marriott.....

 

 

We had a delicious meal in great surroundings...they had Sambuca! and I could move away from the tables and have a cigarette closer to the beach but within range of bar service. Waiter-another Sambuca please!

 

We decided as we sat there that the Marriott would be the place to spend our after-cruise day and used the phone to cancel the original booking at the Renaissance. You could even see the ships come out of the channel from the Marriott (Carnival Miracle this evening). Great decision and we would return to the Marriott a year later to sail on the Ruby.

 

Norris, getting closer to the Crown hour by hour....

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Hi Norris.......I am anxiously and happily reading your review because the Crown will be my home for a full 49 days as of Feb. 15, 2014. Thank you for deciding to share this with us.......Debra

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Come on Norris, stop teasing us. I can't wait for the next instalment , so I can't.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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The 2 latest videos are "private"?? I tried opening last 2 and can't. But have been able to see the first 2...LOVED them!

 

I am loving your review...I am addicted and can't wait for more!!

 

Sailing on the Crown in like 4-5 weeks and super excited. Thank you so much for all you have posted so far...

 

Laura

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After dinner and drinks in the balmy night air of Fort Lauderdale beach we drove back to the Renaissance and relaxed by the pool. There were loungers out there. If one wanted a drink (and one did) then a short walk back into the hotel one found a bar. I spent a few hours out there, as did Carol and I met some nice ladies who were sailing in the morning (actually evening) on MSC's Poesia (poetry in Italian). I was familiar with many of the not-so-poetic reviews of her on CC but they had sailed on her before and liked the price first and foremost. I hope they had a good cruise.

 

SOon it was bedtime and I went to sleep knowing that when I would wake (and I wake early on vacation) the Crown would probably be sitting at pier 2...waiting for us.

 

And she was.

 

Here's a photo of the best feature of the hotel...the only drawback in this scene of tranquility is that beyond the hedge there is a traffic light and people in a real hurry revving their engines to dash to the next traffic light.

 

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Next up...buffet breakfast, embarkation and photos and video of our home for the week on the Crown Princess. Then sailing away from Port Everglades.

 

Norris

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the Sea Level restaurant at the Marriott.....

 

 

 

YouTube must have detected FOOD in the video; the address ends in 'N0M' :D

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The Crown was waiting at pier 2 when I woke....(Zoom lens)

 

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Following a so-so buffet breakfast in the hotel (the girl making the omelets hated her job) we checked out and dropped the Hertz rental back and then took a Hertz shuttle to the port which was a hive of activity with maybe 7 ships in port , including Oasis of the Seas.

 

We tipped the porter as we waved goodbye to our bags and found the Embarkation Hall which was very busy and noisy. Knowing that we had Priority Boarding as Suite passengers I spoke to a Princess Rep and she led us to a much smaller, quieter room, closer to the room where Cruise Cards would be given out prior to boarding. There were refreshments available while we waited. After a 40 minute wait the doors were opened and there were 26 agents waiting to process us. Then, after the obligatory boarding photograph we were allowed to board the ship and have our security photos taken.

 

Once on board I had a few tasks to accomplish at top-speed. When I walk it is with great purpose-no lollygagging here! First I had to secure a place on the Ultimate Ship Tour. There was a special line for suite passengers at the Passenger Services desk and I got served instantly and was soon #5 on the list.

Then a dash up to the Sanctuary to bag two loungers in the shade, just inside the canvas roof section , port side. Cost was $210 for two people for the week.

 

Now I could go to the cabin. Our first aft and our first suite-a double whammy.

 

Our luggage hadn't arrived so Carol had busied herself re-arranging the teak deck furniture when I arrived.

 

Here is the first video I took onboard.....

 

Edited by Bimmer09
spelling error

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Great stuff. But now I have to wait to get home to watch the youtube videos, as they are blocked at work.

 

Jimmy-welcome aboard. Um, I remember that I owe you a cyber-Guinness (shaken not stirred) but as you are at work that will have to wait.

 

Wait until you get home before reading anymore as the videos really help the time line and continuity of the narration ( ramble), plus a picture's worth a thousand words and that saves me an awful lot of typing!

 

Coming up in the weeks ahead....Curacao, Aruba, submarines, crashing waves,Pop Choir (Carol), surprise UBD, UST and much much more!

Order now and get 2 for the price of 1, AND a free set of steak knives!!

 

As you will see they have real balconies on the Crown...

 

Norris

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We got a free upgrade to the aft suite, from our original mini-suite D513 so we did not accrue extra Captain's Circle points that voyage. I think at one point Carol said to me" you realize there is no going back to mini-suites now?" and yes I did realize that as we (1) love our space and (b) love the aft location.

A suite in any other area of the ship would be of no interest and we would take a balcony aft over such an option.

 

We had a raft of suite perks to enjoy and the first of these for me was a Scotch and Coke from the mini-bar as I joined Carol to sit out on the expansive deck.

This voyage was the last where one could smoke on the balcony which is why you see my cigarettes on the table in the video.

 

Here are some stills I took when not holding the camcorder...

 

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One of the first things I did, once in the cabin, was dial the Dine line and book dinner at Sabatini's for our first night (a tradition on each cruise since) and arranged an Ultimate Balcony Dinner (UBD) as a surprise for the unsuspecting Carol. I was told that a room service leader would come to my cabin at 5.30 pm to discuss the menu and arrangements. Hush-hush. I swore myself to secrecy...

 

Hungry we decided to hit the Horizon Court for lunch. We ended up in a very busy Cafe Caribe at the rear of the HC and although the buffet offerings were hot and tasty we didn't enjoy the crowds and noise. Lesson learned and not since repeated.

 

With full tums we strolled the Promenade deck from stern to bow where we were very close to the bow of the beautiful Poesia (remember what they say about beauty....) and had a view of the many ships in port with us on that sunny Saturday. We heard that it was snowing in Chicago....hooray!!!

 

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I saw in the distance Celebrity Constellation which is a ship I like the look of and probably the first Celebrity ship I will sail in the future...

There was also the sad Grand Princess, shorn of it's overweight Skywalkers which is a feature I like on Princess Ships having seen it first hand on the Golden , docked behind the Coral in Skagway.

 

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It would soon be muster drill time. For us it would take place in Club Fusion.

As we had been waiting to board the ship we heard people talking about a cruise ship having "run aground" the night before (January 13 2012) and I had imagined they had run onto a soft sandbar or such. On the way to the drill I heard that it was the Costa Concordia and that it was a much worse grounding than I could have imagined. During the drill the Captain's voice alluded to it and assured the passengers that Princess take safety very seriously. As do I.

I could get myself into a lifejacket in the dark with a swarm of bees attacking me-no problem and even more importantly I could help anyone who was struggling to figure out how to put it on. I don't know if RCI passengers who stand in hordes on sweltering decks without their life-jackets could save themselves or their fellows.

 

Once that drill is over the heart beats faster...engines spring to life and mooring teams stand-by to cast-off.

 

We had been watching a Pavarotti concert (we are opera buffs) on MUTS (Movies under the Stars/Sun) before the drill interrupted and now that was over (hey-great scheduling Einstein) there was an appointment to keep up on deck under the Crown Princess sign, starboard. I had arranged via e mail a close-up from the great guys at PE webcam. Carol took the elevator while I charged up some flights of stairs. I was already in position with a fruity drink of the day when she joined me...

 

Next up....sailaway video.

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Melody- there is an avalanche of photos and video yet to come....

 

Thanks for coming aboard!

 

Norris

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Bimmer,

 

Not to sound like a stalker...but I would seriously pay to read these! Love them....my favorite posts on cruise critic EVER!

 

And I have read a lot of them. :)

 

Can't wait for more!

Edited by Cruiseagain2012

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Leaving on the Crown in just over two weeks!!! Love your posts/videos! they are making me sooooo excited!!! :)

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So we are up on deck, under the letter P of the word Princess as the ship leaves the quay and follows the Grand Princess out of the channel. Windy up there which causes havoc on the tiny camcorder microphone. When we returned home a week or so later we saw that the good men of the PE webcam zoomed in as requested and captured our waving for posterity.

 

Once out of the sheltered channel it was time to head to the wind-free balcony and celebrate with champagne and canapés, fetched by our steward Christopher from the Philipines.

 

Sail away video...

 

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Leaving on the Crown in just over two weeks!!! Love your posts/videos! they are making me sooooo excited!!! :)

 

Two weeks?

 

I'd better get a move on!

 

Thanks for joining us on this cruise down memory lane on the Crown.

 

Norris

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As PE receded into the distance and we sipped champagne and ate shrimp and ham canapés brought by Christopher, our steward from the Philipines, I had to be mindful of the time as I was expecting someone from room service at 5.30 to discuss the UBD (Ultimate Balcony Dinner) which was a surprise treat I had in store for Carol.

 

I stealthily drew the curtains in the living room and bedroom to help cover my clandestine meeting and left the room door to the hallway ajar with a note on it for room service, saying "come on in".

 

So at 5.30 there appeared the dazzling, vivacious Leticia from Mexico. She may be the girl that the phrase "Va-Va Voom" was created for. She brought menus and I opted for the filet mignons and lobster tails. I suggested serving upon leaving Princess Cays next day but she said it would be very windy then. I countered with Aruba at 6 pm as we were sailing away and she agreed it was a wiser choice. Just then Carol entered the room and I had to shoo her out brusquely.

 

With that out of the way I could now relax as my ducks were all in a row.

I had booked dinners in Sabatini and the Crown Grill for formal nights, the UST and the UBD. Coffee cards and soda cards (UKP) had been purchased during our time up on deck after lunch.

 

Next up was dinner in the MDR (not Sabatini's as I had earlier reported-I had booked that for Sunday the first formal night) at 8pm.

 

Freedom follows us out of port..



 

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Freedom turns south, heading for Key West

 

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QUOTE <<We had been watching a Pavarotti concert (we are opera buffs) on MUTS (Movies under the Stars/Sun) before the drill interrupted and now that was over (hey-great scheduling Einstein) there was an appointment to keep up on deck under the Crown Princess sign, starboard. I had arranged via e mail a close-up from the great guys at PE webcam. Carol took the elevator while I charged up some flights of stairs. I was already in position with a fruity drink of the day when she joined me...QUOTE>>

 

The Crown Princess sign was on the PORT side (facing the PE camera) not STARBOARD.

 

Norris

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Since we will have the same itinerary as you did, can you tell me if the first formal night will be Princess Cays or the At Sea day/night following?:confused::)

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Since we will have the same itinerary as you did, can you tell me if the first formal night will be Princess Cays or the At Sea day/night following?:confused::)

 

It was Monday night, the first sea day. Carol kept daily notes which have just come into my possession via an un-named source (Carol).

 

Now I have the notes I no longer have to rely on my memory, which is good as I am having a hell of a time finding my slippers right now...

 

Norris

not the Mentalist

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