I would like to start with a few words about our background. This was our 30-somethingth cruise all together, 10th on Princess, 3rd on the Crown, but the first on THIS ship. <img src="" alt="" /> We had previously sailed twice on the old Crown Princess, the Ďdolphin noseí one. We started cruising in 1987 and most of our cruises were before 2002. We have sailed on a lot of different cruise lines, several of which are defunct, like Dolphin, Regency, Crown, etc., as well as all current mass market cruise lines except for HAL. Due to our current ages (ahem!!) HAL is looking more like our age group, so we might well try them soon. Although we are Platinum on Princess, we had kind of taken a hiatus from cruising for a while, except for a (disastrous) cruise on NCL two years ago, instead concentrating on trips to the Caribbean, mostly to our Ďhome away from homeí, St. Maarten/St. Martin. When we do cruise next, I fully expect it to be on Princess. While onboard, we did buy some future cruise credits, as we hope to either do another Alaska cruise or the Med cruise which stops in Egypt for the pyramids, soon.


We booked a BG balcony guarantee and were assigned a BB overlooking the wake about a month after booking, Baja 755. We LOVED our cabin!! Baja 755 on the Crown is a fully unobstructed cabin with no dreaded beam or vent to bother you. It was VERY quiet and we experienced no vibration of any kind. The seas were very calm during our sailing and until the last night, we could scarcely tell we were at sea, but even with rougher seas, I donít think there would have been any vibration in the cabin. Our balcony had 4 chairs, 2 of which were supposed to recline slightly, and a small metal table.

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The balcony was large enough that we could sit all the chairs against the side walls and have room for the metal table between two of the chairs and the glass table from the cabin between the other two chairs. We did that whenever we had breakfast on the balcony. I guess we werenít really supposed to have the glass table out there though, as whenever we forgot and left it out there, our cabin steward immediately brought it back in. We had a lovely cabin steward, Fernando, who kept our cabin immaculate and always was Johnny-on-the-spot with bringing us fresh wine glasses, extra towels, etc. He did an excellent job. I am not exactly svelte, but I had no problem with the size of the shower in the bathroom or the shower curtain infringing on my Ďpersonal spaceí.. <img src="" alt="" /> The one criticism I would have of the bathroom was that there was very little storage in the bathroom. The cabin itself had plenty of storage and plenty of hangers, even though we brought way too many clothes for a five day cruise. The concept of driving to the port made me giddy to the point of over-packing! The only other negative about the cabin was the person in the cabin to our left came on to the cruise with a roaring cold and would sit on their balcony coughing and sneezing constantly. Guess who ended up with a cold by the time I was ready to get off the ship? <img src="" alt="" />

Other people on our Cruise Critic roll call got assigned BA cabins on Caribe, which would have been great also. This was our first aft cabin and we loved being aft. I cannot complain at ALL!! about being assigned that lovely cabin, with booking a category guarantee, and especially receiving a cabin without a beam. I was actually surprised it was available. In the esoteric, if I were wishing though, I would probably prefer a Caribe deck cabin next time to be closer to different things. Itís a long way to the front of the ship from aft!!! <img src="" alt="" /> It is very interesting looking aft, but it was somewhat hard to get used to being in that situation. When we arrived in Grand Turk, I was looking to see if we were stopped moving and I was looking at the water going sideways instead of looking straight down. <img src="" alt="" /> It might also be nice to have a partially covered balcony like they have on Caribe, although it was nice to have a fully covered balcony when it was POURING rain in Ft. Lauderdale, as we were leaving. Our cabin was an absolutely WONDERFUL place to watch the sailaway with some champagne we had brought onboard, and we got some really nice pictures of the Oasis as she spun round directly in front of us to leave.

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We did a brief survey of the size of balconies as we were disembarking the ship, walking down to Caribe and to Dolphin decks. From our survey, the balconies on Caribe were BIGGER than our balcony as well as bigger than the minis on Dolphin. Also I believe, although Iím not exactly sure, I think our balcony was bigger than the balconies in the minis on Dolphin.


I love Princessí dťcor, as it suits my taste. I thought the ship was beautiful and tastefully done throughout. The ship was decorated for Christmas, but not overly so. The decorations did add a lovely touch to the champagne waterfall.

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I was impressed that pretty much every crew member we saw greeted us with a smile and a nod and everyone seemed to work very hard. The ship itself seemed to be in lovely shape, as was our cabin. I prefer smaller ships, but basically those are few and far between these days in the more common cruises. Although the ship was packed to the rafters with 3,500 passengers, I really did not observe that much crowding anywhere that bothered us, as we donít do the shows and if there is a line somewhere, we generally just go somewhere else. I was expecting much longer lines at the buffet, but really there were few lines there for us. The only waits onboard the ship that were annoying were for anytime dining, which brings me to the section aboutÖ



Wow, what a disaster. We arrived in front of the Oasis of the Seas at 12:15 and it was 1:45 before we got onboard. Traffic was at a standstill from just after we passed the Oasis, all the way to our ship. The Emerald Princess was in, as well as our ship, and the traffic from two such huge ships at the same time just is too much. There was a long line to get through security. The hotel manager came to our Cruise Critic party the first morning and said that we were not docked at the normal terminal for the Crown, and our terminal was half the size they normally had. If there was a priority check-in line, we couldnít find it. We had to go through the regular long security line, and the line for Baja wasnít that long by the time we got inside, but we did go through the Platinum/Elite check-in line and were first in line there.

Since it started POURING rain about 1:30, many of the suitcases apparently sat out in the pouring rain for some time. Many peopleís suitcases got totally soaked. Ours was only slightly wet. We received our suitcases about 3:30 or so and initially thought that the wine we had packed had broken in the suitcase, but I couldnít smell any alcohol. We have old American Tourister hard sided suitcases, so Iím sure that helped to keep our stuff dry. Princess did pay for dry cleaning and laundry for peopleís suitcases which got wet. One time when I went by the purserís desk, I was standing behind a couple whose clothing had gotten ruined. I donít know if Princess paid for that or not.


We awoke the last morning, just as the bow thrusters were going off and looked out the balcony and thought ďwhere the heck ARE we?Ē We were docked at Pier 29, which is all the way down at the end, a couple miles away from the normal Princess piers. They announced that the port authority would pay for shuttles over to the parking garage, but we were quite miffed. We had paid to park in the parking garage there at the port (at twice the rate of off site parking) so we could just walk off the ship and walk to our car, without having to deal with shuttle busses. <img src="" alt="" /> We were just driving the three hours to get home from there, no airlines involved, so we were one of the last colors to be called, at about 9:45. It was 11:00 AM by the time we arrived at our car, because of the huge line for the shuttle busses and everyone lugging their suitcases on the busses. When we arrived at the Princess piers, one was empty and one was occupied by the (teeny) Seabourne Legend. We found out later that the Pacific Princess had been late the day before coming from overseas and had occupied the Crownís regular pier, and had just left at 10:45 AM. It would seem that they should have put the PP down at 29 instead of the Crown, since we had so many more pax that were inconvenienced, as there was a huge percentage of Florida people on our cruise. I have to assume that maybe they thought that they would get the PP out of there on Wednesday though, in time to clear the pier for the Crown. The whole thing would not have been THAT big a deal except that a huge percentage of the passengers were from Florida and driving to the pier. And we personally paid twice as much to park at the pier so we wouldnít have to deal with the hassle of waiting for a shuttle bus.


I really donít know what Princess envisions for any time dining, but what we had on the Crown Princess certainly didnít agree with what I thought it should be. We had sailed with ATD before and it worked pretty well, but it had been a couple of years. The ship was past full, and there were a whole bunch of large groups on board, so I donít know if that was the problem or not, but it definitely did not work for us, and we never tried to eat before 7:30. I donít know whether the situation was better with people trying to eat early or not. It should tell you something when you call the Dine line and the very first option is to make a reservation for anytime dining. Based on our experience on our particular cruise, it did not work at ALL without a reservation and not too well, even if you have one.

Here is the chronology of eating for ATD on the Crown December 18 to 23.

1. On the first night we had a lovely time at Vines drinking a couple of pre-dinner glasses of wine with a fellow passenger and enjoying some wonderful tapas. At 7:30, we went over to try to get a table. We started at the Michaelangelo, and there was a HUGE line, so we went upstairs to the DaVinci. We walked up to the no reservations line and we waited ten minutes in line to get a BEEPER. Only about 10 minutes later, our beeper went off. We then walked up to approximately 30 people in line supposedly with reservations. (If you have a beeper, you are supposed to go up to the reservations line and then wait again there.) We had said that we would share a table. Two of us were seated at a table for 6 and ignored for 10 minutes. The dining room was literally half empty. Eventually the waiter came and gave us our menus and took our orders. No one else came and was seated at our table, so we ate by ourselves, which would have been ok if we hadnít been ignored throughout most of the meal. Dirty dishes sat in front of us for literally 15 minutes by the clock which was on the wall right above our table, while our waiter re-set the table next to ours with fresh table linens and china. (Which frankly, I doubt they even served another meal on that table that night, since we didnít arrive in the dining room until 8 P.M.) The waiter and busboy were not good at their jobs and had no personality at all. The whole experience left a very bad taste in our mouths. Eric had a really skinny piece of prime rib, and I had the tasteless beef medallions. I thought the Ďalways availableí used to be NY strip? We were not impressed the first night.

2. The second night, we called the dine line to make a reservation. We wanted to try the Michelangelo, since we had not enjoyed the previous meal, so we made reservations for the Michelangelo at 8, for a table for two. This turned out to be just immediately after the champagne waterfall, although we didnít actually know that when we booked it. As we walked up to the Michelangelo at 8, there was a HUGE long line for both reservation and not, at least 40 people in each line. We decided to punt and go up to the DaVinci. We walked up to the reservation section, which had NO line, and pretended we had a reservation. The maitre d looked at his list, and Iím pretty sure he didnít find our name there. However, he showed us to table 480, right next to the section where we had eaten the night before. However, this was a true table for two, with a very nice waiter and personable busboy. It was a MUCH better experience than the night before, although since we took absolutely no notes all week, I donít remember what we had for dinner.

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3. The third night, we ate at Chefís table.
4. The fourth night, we called the Dine line and attempted to make a reservation for table 480 in the DaVinci again at 7:30 and were told that they could not give us a reservation for any particular table and we would have to ask them when we arrived at the dining room for that table. We arrived at our pre-determined time of 7:30 and waited behind a line of about 10 people to be seated. Unfortunately, we were NOT seated at table 480, but at an extremely uncomfortable banquet type seating arrangement in which there were approximately 6 tables for 2 lined up in succession with approximately one FOOT of space between the tables. Needless to say, this was a very uncomfortable dining situation, listening to otherís conversations. The couple seated behind us with the screaming baby that did not leave the dining room until 8:30 PM did not help either.
5. The fifth night, we walked up to each dining room in succession at 8 PM without any reservations and were told we would have to wait approximately 30 minutes to eat in either dining room. We gave up and went to the buffet.


What a lovely orgy of food! Based on reports on Cruise Critic, I was worried about being able to get on the Chefís Table. However, I have a feeling that when I called about 2:15, that I was the first one to call as the lady basically said I was on. There was only one CT for our five day cruise. The table ended up not being full, with only 8 people, as the maitre d said there was a last minute cancellation. Two of the couples knew each other before, and we were in general kind of a quiet, but congenial group. One couple had done it 5 times! I would enjoy doing it again, but certainly not 5 times. One could go to the Crown Grill three times and eat (without wine, of course) for the same amount of money, so I would probably enjoy that more, although we LOVED the experience. Executive chef Giusseppe Polllara is very personable and quite the showman. He made the whole experience quite lovely, and the high point of our cruise.

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The CT starts out with a tour of the galley, which is very interesting. We had four appetizers in the galley , including pate and caviar. I am not a big fan of caviar, but this was good, and Eric, who LOVES caviar, proclaimed it quite outstanding. The chef stated that the CT is the only place they serve caviar on Princess any more. Once in the dining room, we were served beef carpaccio, then lobster risotto. The main course featured TWO lobster tails each, and the flambť trio of beef, veal, and pork. The chef stated that the CT is the only place where you receive FRESH lobster, not frozen, and the lobster tails were outstanding.

After the main course, we were served stilton cheese with a port reduction sauce (which I positively LOVED, although I think the rest of the table only thought it was ok) óthen the regular dessert, served on a plate made entirely out of sugar. At the end there was also a plate of white and dark chocolate covered strawberries and petit fours. There was wine with each course, but not an extraordinary amount of it. They always only filled the glasses maybe ľ full at a time. I would estimate that we received about 3 full glasses of wine each, plus the Grey Goose in the bloody mary sorbet, and limoncello at the end. No one was soused at our table for sure. Iím not complaining, itís just from some other peopleís descriptions, I think some CT are more free with the alcohol. We certainly did not go thirsty though!

The two servers were Carena and Nicoli (I think!) and they were both great. They were both very charming and basically no was not a word in their vocabulary. A word of advice--Donít feel like you have to eat everything! If you donít like something, taste it and set it aside and do not try to finish every course, especially the lobster risotto, which is extremely filling. You will be very full regardless. Closed toe shoes are a must, so if you think you might want to do it, bring a pair of shoes. Two ladies in our group had improvised shoes to accommodate the requirement. The free pictures and the signed cookbook made for a really nice momento of a really lovely time.

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There was much food left over from each course, and I hated to see an almost full plate of strawberries left after everyone had taken one. I asked for and received two strawberries to take back to the cabin. They were positively lovely with our champagne mimosas on our balcony the next morning!

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Since we are Platinum on Princess, we received 150 minutes free internet time per person, and we did not use it up. We brought our laptop and we always had a very good signal from the cabin. We did not think the speed was bad at all, although of course we did not attempt to download anything. There was nothing to complain about here at all.


Our last cruise was on NCL about 2 years ago. It was a disaster on many levels, starting with the fact that we booked a balcony guarantee and when we arrived at the port in Miami, they said they did not have any cabins available!!!! <img src="" alt="" /> Eventually, about 5 minutes prior to sailing, we got a cabin. NCLís policy on liquor was the worst, in that they do not allow you to carry on ANY wine, or water or cokes or anything. On this cruise, we carried on a bottle of champagne for sailaway.

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We also checked a few bottles of wine in the luggage, as well as some plastic bottles of liquor, some cokes and a couple bottles of water and all arrived safely. Their liquor policy is one reason why we will continue to sail Princess. We still bought either a bottle of wine or glasses of wine at dinner each day, and some other various drinks throughout the day.

As I said before, most of our recent trips have been to St. Martin. That has kind of ruined our palates for cruise ship fare, as we expect much more from a dining experience these days than main stream cruises are able to deliver on a regular basis in the main dining room or the buffets. Most of the food was OK, and I donít remember anything being really bad. There were a few things that were really good, like the French onion soup, the rack of lamb and the stilton with port wine reduction at the chefís dinner. Most of what we had in the buffet was pretty decent, although the Mexican buffet seemed to leave a bit to be desired.

I thought it would be necessary to book the Sanctuary because of the number of pax onboardówhich turned out to be 3500 according to the Captain. The weather was not that warm either day at sea, so it turned out to not be necessary. The Sanctuary was definitely NOT full the first couple of days, although it was full the last sea day. One thing I didnít realize is that if you book a full cruise, you either get a chair in the sun or shade and you have to stick with it. I tried to switch my chair on the last sea day to be out in the sun to be moderately warmer, but it was full. If it had been a typical Caribbean cruise, when the weather was HOT!, it would have been just fine to be in the shade. The chairs are treí comfortable. I asked how they knew that we had paid for the Sanctuary and the fellow said that he got to know us, so he would know. Well, not really, as they always just ask you for your cabin number and checked for your name on the list. It didnít bother me that they asked, just it was a thing that I was confused about, as to whether they put a sticker on your card or something. If you have a regular Caribbean cruise, and no balcony, it might well be worth it, but we felt it was not worth it for us, especially since we had such a great cabin.


We didnít book this cruise for the ports, just as a short getaway. In the esoteric, I could have wished that we might have gone to Mexico, for some warmer weather, but the ports did not matter much to us anyway, and we actually had some pretty nice weather in port.


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We had never been to Grand Turk before. There is a beautiful pier and beach area there, just as you walk off the pier, with free chairs on the beach. We sat on the beach for a bit. There are a HUGE number of chairs on the beach, and quite a bit of natural shade. The weather was nice, sunny and maybe 78, quite comfortable. The beach to the left as you are coming ashore is a much better beach, more flat than the other side. The pier area is very manicured, with some jewelry stores, but not a lot of shopping otherwise. I looked a bit at liquor, but the prices seemed to be what I thought they would be, somewhat high. There looked to be several local shops there, but most were not open. Driving on GT is on the left. I confess I didnít do much research on GT, but I thought I had read there no cars for hire there, but that was incorrect. There were cars for hire starting at $55 a day. We brought our passports ashore with us, but not our driverís licenses, or we might have rented a car, although we were feeling pretty lazy.

They had tours available starting at $35 a person and less if you have several people together. We just paid $5 a person to go over to town and were hoping to go on up to the lighthouse from there but no one else seemed to want to do that. We walked around for a bit and I took a couple of pictures

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and bought some really lovely Christmas runners and placemats in a store there and headed back to the pier. There is a huge Jimmy Buffetís Margaritaville there with a nice huge pool and free chairs. We paid approximately $15.76 including tax for one small Jack and Coke and Coors Light. <img src="" alt="" /> We bought a t-shirt and a couple small souveniers for friends and headed back to the ship.


There was a very neat yacht which docked beside us at GT, which was owned I think by someone from Oman.


We saw a few people come onboard, so I guess they had flown in to the GT airport. The runway there is 6,000 feet long, which is pretty long for the Caribbean. Our cab driver said that American used to have non-stops there from Miami, but no more, apparently. I suspect these folks were probably on a Lear or something anyway. <img src="" alt="" /> We followed them out of port and off into the sunset, a lovely picture.



The seas were very calm, so we had no problem with tendering over to Princess Cays. In the winter, I guess it is often kind of a crapshoot whether one is able to get there. It had been a few years since we had been at Princess Cays, and it has grown up nicely, with lots of natural shade and a huge number of chairs.


The weather was nice, sunny and warmer than we had expected, maybe about 75. We did check out the bungalows, which might be nice to do if you have a decent size group, and especially if itís really hot, as there is a/c in there. I was feeling extraordinarily lazy again, so we didnít walk across the bridge outside the complex, although we had somewhat intended to do that. Eric took a little nap and I grabbed some lunch while he napped. Around 1:30, we headed back to the ship


and Eric went to the buffet and got a couple items for lunch and brought back to our balcony. We had lovely sunshine on our balcony that afternoon and I sat and read until it was time to pull anchor and sail away into the sunset.

We enjoyed sitting in the Piazza, although somehow I missed seeing the jugglers, which I guess were quite enjoyable. The Piazza was decorated quite tastefully for Christmas, but certainly not overdone. Vines serves wines, plus complementary sushi or tapas, if you order wine. I do not care for sushi, but the tapas were absolutely lovely!! We did get a few items from the International Cafť. The much vaunted chicken salad I thought was only OK. We thoroughly enjoyed some pastries from there a couple of nights, as well as a really nice shrimp salad. We were disappointed that they did not serve any of the quiches until after 11 AM, or egg mcmuffin type sandwiches, as I had thought I had read about on Cruise Critic, as I would have loved to have those options in my cabin for breakfast.


We ordered room service twice for breakfast, ordering coffee, juice and croissants, and writing in bacon. On both occasions, we received the bacon without any problem. Everything was exactly on time and exactly what we ordered. They do have a slip for you to sign, to say you received your items, and conveniently, you can add a tip on there. <img src="" alt="" /> On Sunday around 2 PM, I ordered a chef salad (which was OK, but seemed somewhat small), and an order of French fries. Anyone see the irony in that? <img src="" alt="" /> The order took about 20 minutes to come and the fries were hot. We had no complaints whatsoever about the room service.


We are HUGE football fans, so we looked forward to seeing some football on the MUTS. We were surprised to discover that if a football game was on MUTS, it was also on in the cabin, which I had thought was not the case. So on Sunday afternoon, we spent most of the day between our cabin and our balcony, watching games on and off, and relaxing on our balcony. We wanted to watch the game Sunday night outside, but it had rained a bit, so most of the chairs were wet, which was disappointing. We did find a place off to the side which had been undercover, and thus dry, but we got chilly so we went back to the room to watch it. We never got back up there to watch any movies, unfortunately.


Iím not sure what denominations most ships have these on table games these days, but we were disappointed to only find only one regular $5 blackjack table. We both played some blackjack at the $5 table (when we could get in), and Eric played some Caribbean stud and I played roulette. It was a pretty unsuccessful gambling venture, but we had some fun and some nice comradeship with fellow blackjack players who were likewise usually losing.. <img src="" alt="" /> Eric smokes, so smoke in the casino doesnít bother me, but smoking was allowed in the casino every night but one on our cruise.


We havenít attended a production show on a cruise ship for at least ten years, so I donít really have any comment on those. We did sit for a bit a couple of nights and listened to some soft rock in the Explorers Lounge and in the Wheelhouse Lounge and the bands there were quite enjoyable. Right after the champagne waterfall, we took our glasses of champagne to the Wheelhouse Lounge, which it was much easier than finding a place to sit, versus out in the Piazza.


We sat and listened to the Ďcomedianí Rick Corso for a bit on two separate occasions and found him NOT funny in the slightest on either occasion. Folks from the New York and Jersey area seemed to find him funny, but the great majority of folks onboard this cruise were from Florida and I didnít hear too much laughing going on from most of the folks around us either. We did thoroughly enjoy the kind of Ďcook-offí show one morning in the Princess Theatre, which was billed as a cooking contest between the Head Chef and the Maitre Dí. I wonít spoil the concept, but it was much more of a fun thing. They did do a tour of the galley afterward, but we had gotten a much more thorough tour the night before at the Chefís Table, so we didnít do the galley tour after. That show was also probably more fun for us, as we sat with all our buddies from the Chefís Table and it was nice seeing the Chef and Maitre D again in a different setting.


I donít know if it was a function of the fact that this was a 5 day cruise and there was only one formal night, but the Captainís Circle party(s) were on a Smart Casual night, actually our LAST night, yet, the expected dress was formal, which was somewhat irritating. And the parties were only scheduled for a half hour apiece, and they made sure that everyone vacated the room after their half hour.. <img src="" alt="" /> We only semi-complied with the formal request, as Eric wore a long sleeved shirt, no jacket or tie, and I wore a nice pair of pants and top. We did request and receive a glass of champagne each AND a glass of white wine each, instead of their crazy standard drinks, as well as some fairly decent appetizers. And we were lucky enough to win one of the drawings and received a free bottle of champagne! <img src="" alt="" /> The only problem was that, since this was our last night, and we had an unopened bottle of wine in our cabin, we kind of had a surfeit of alcohol, a really unusual situation for us!! <img src="" alt="" /> So, we resolved the situation by asking one of our Cruise Critic friends to help us down the bottle! They obliged without much hesitation.. <img src="" alt="" />

I guess thatís it! We loved our cabin, we enjoyed the ship, but 5 days is too short for any cruise. The next cruise will be longer, but it will be on Princess! <img src="" alt="" /> I certainly hope it does include a view like this one though!