Trip Report: Crown Princess, 9/30/06

Old Oct 10th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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Trip Report: Crown Princess, 9/30/06

Since this board has been very useful, I wanted to provide on trip report about experience on the Crown Princess, 9/30/06 (Eastern Caribbean). As background, I am a solo traveler in my forties and this was my 32nd cruise (9th on Princess, the balance mostly on Cunard, Celebrity, & Holland America with a few on Crystal & NCL.) I don’t like huge ships, but the price was so low and no flights were needed, that I decided to go anyway.

Embarkation: Drove from Connecticut to the cruise terminal in Brooklyn, NY. Parking is provided adjacent to the actual terminal in a fenced lot. Cost is $18 per day (including tax). HUGE line inside the terminal waiting to check-in, but as a platinum member I had priority check-in so was able to bypass the line and got the fast-track onto the ship.

Cabin: I booked an inside cabin on Deck 11, forward. Smaller than interior cabins on other ships but fine for one person. Large, open closet area (about 6 ft) with plenty of hangers, but not nearly enough shelves/drawers. Mini-fridge, TV (contrary to the brochure, not flat-screen, but fine). Good lighting in the cabin area for reading, putting on make up, etc. Cabins now feature “premium” bedding – basically a duvet & nice sheets. The cabin was warmish so the duvet was often too hot (cabin steward remade the bed with a top sheet so I could flip the duvet on & off); several other people mentioned the same issue, so it wasn’t unique to my cabin. Bathroom was small (shower only) but that's what I expect. It was dark in the bathroom – the bulbs were yellowish. Steward service was good – friendly but not obtrusive.

Passengers: With 3000 passengers, the ship was nearly full. Probably 95% Americans and average age was probably 50. Only about two dozen kids. It appears that Princess is now targeting a different demographic which doesn’t appeal to me. The majority of the passengers were under 40, tattooed, pierced and loud. They didn’t seem to be well-traveled, weren’t particularly courteous (pushing past people, talking during shows, snapping fingers at the waiters, cursing, shouting outside their cabins, etc.) Any central areas (such as the Neptune & Calypso pools, the piazza atrium and the buffet lines) were crowded, loud, and hectic. Everyone is entitled to enjoy their vacation but their approach had nothing in common with mine and I quickly discovered the quieter spots on board – Terrace pool, Adagio, Sanctuary, etc. and dined at off-peak hours. The other people who I met in these areas were also disappointed at the change in the passenger make up and the consensus seemed to be that they wouldn’t be sailing on Princess again (Celebrity & Holland America were the lines people mentioned instead).

Meals: I chose traditional style dining, second seating in the Botticelli dining room. Since I travel solo, I like having an assigned table where the whole table can get to know each other and catch up on our day’s activities at night. Although the traditional seating option was filled up when I boarded, the maitre d’ was able to add me to a table with two couples and another solo traveler. Nice people (one couple was on Princess for the first time and the others were platinum members). Service was good (interestingly, no wine sommeliers or stewards on this ship; instead, the waiter provided suggestions. I’m not a wine drinker, but the other couples are fairly knowledgeable and were amused that his suggestions were based on the nationality of the food…if it was Italian night, he suggested they order an Italian wine – no specifics as to type of wine or vineyard, just “pick something Italian”). Head waiter provided several special appetizers to his tables – cantaloupe & ham, parmesan & ham, escargots. Overall, dining room food was sub-standard. I don’t expect gourmet food on a ship, but this was below average. The menu was very limited and the food was routinely bland. Appetizers and desserts were low points; side dishes were unimaginative (sliced carrots, green beans & mashed potatoes were regularly featured); entrees were not varied and the quality was poor – veal cordon bleu was tough and salty; rib eye steak was dry and gristley; chicken breast was OK but no flavor; pork was dry & tough. The lobster tails were large and good, although the melted butter was some kind of butter substitute. The buffets (breakfast, lunch & dinner) were awful. Breakfast: No omelet station, no waffle station, no egg station. Instead, one type of omelet was precooked and stacked on a hot tray; same for the pancakes – a huge platter of pancakes on a hot tray with another platter wrapped in plastic wrap behind, waiting to go on the hot tray. Fried eggs were pre-cooked and placed on rows of plates on the hot trays. Fresh cantaloupe had obviously been cut & stored hours – if not days – ago since it was dry and had a white film on top. Lunch: meals were lukewarm (e.g. veal stew); chili had marble-sized balls of fat & gristle; Chinese & Mexican day entrees were lukewarm, bland and dry; canned fruit was readily available (peaches, pears and good old Del Monte fruit cocktail); no sandwich station or even platters of cold cuts to make your own sandwiches – instead one pre-made sandwich was available each day….sitting on trays, either drying up or getting soggy; desserts included vats of Jello – jello molds and straight jello; only two flavors of cookies – oatmeal & choc chip. The buffet food was Denny’s quality – I’m not looking for a 4star restaurant, but something equivalent to a buffet at a Marriott hotel would have been an improvement. I ended up having pizza for lunch a few days from the pool-side pizzeria and that was the best.

Entertainment: Three production shows, one of which (Destination Anywhere) was spectacular. All the dancers were exceptionally high quality – on my other cruises, I’ve gotten used to so-so dancers but this troupe was very good. Two comedians who didn’t appeal to me – one had lots of farting jokes and the other one had material about gays, black vs. white women & farting. The audience was so unimpressed with him that he had to ask if the microphone was turned on…. A hypnotist, magician, and a variety show. Each lounge had live music, movies were available (under the stars and in a lounge), karoke, American idol, dance contests, etc. Team trivia twice a day was a hit – about 30 people each time. Pool Olympics & various pool sports.

Public areas: Ship is physically in great shape since it’s so new. Lounges are fine, but dark. Too bad there aren’t more windows to see the water on the four sea days. The Starwalkers nightclub was great – high up, at the aft end of the ship, offered great views during the day & was empty. Pools: as others mentioned, people were reserving deck chairs at 8:00 am. Very annoying. Husbands sitting there surrounded by four empty chairs, each with one book or a hat on it, while the wives were having breakfast. The most peaceful spot was the Terrace pool, which is an adults only; small pool with no diving allowed.

In summary, I got a good price on this cruise so enjoyed the sun & relaxation but will not be cruising on Princess again. The food was so bad and the clientele was not appealing to me. Luckily, Celebrity & HAL have plenty of ships and itineraries.
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Old Oct 10th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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We've been on two Princess cruises, most recently the Tahitian Princess to FP. Your descriptions of the food, clientele behavior and poor taste of some of the performers in unbelievable. Literally.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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Wow! Your report was an eye-opener. We've only cruised on HAL (twice) & taking our third in December. I was under the impression that Princess line was similar in quality to HAL. We loved the food & service on HAL. Everything on the buffet was always fresh, stations always cooking fresh omelets, sandwiches, etc.

Was the Crown the ship that had the fire last Spring? Was the cause ever determined?
 
Old Oct 11th, 2006, 06:23 AM
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The ship with the fire was the Star Princess I think.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 06:28 AM
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BTW we were very impressed with just about everything on the Tahitian and Sapphire Princess, esp. the food. My reviews of both are on cruise critic and rank probably a little bit above the overall average which for both is very good. Its 4.5 for the Sapphire and 4.9 for the Tahitian. The Crown is 4.5 too I think so this review is very divergent to the norm. To each their own but until proven otherwise we'll go with Princess again. JM2C.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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I was surprised by my experience on the Crown Princess, even though many of the reviews on cruise critic were very negative (particularly about the food). I've been on so many cruises that I know some trips are better than others, and sometimes you get an off day for food, etc. Normally, I don't let problems bother me because I look at each cruise as a whole, and there are usually enough good things to offset the few bad. This was so far below my average expectations that I was surprised. I loved my other Princess cruises (in the late '80s and early '90s); maybe it's because they were smaller ships, maybe it's because they've become more of a mass-market cruise line...I don't know. It's a shame because I was an avid supporter of Princess but based on this experience I'll go back to Celebrity and Holland America. They may not be perfect, but for me, they meet reasonable expectations. Since a lot of other prior-Princess cruisers had the same reaction as I did, they may migrate to other lines too.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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Passengers: With 3000 passengers, the ship was nearly full. Probably 95% Americans and average age was probably 50. Only about two dozen kids. It appears that Princess is now targeting a different demographic which doesn’t appeal to me. The majority of the passengers were under 40,

These numbers don't compute.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Thank you bobrad. I'm not a math whiz, but is this even statistically possible?

"Probably 95% Americans and average age was probably 50. ...... The majority of the passengers were under 40, tattooed, pierced and loud."

Well, vickie, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your trip. Maybe Princess has changed since the last time you sailed with them. I started sailing with Princess in 2001 and have never seen a bathtub in a standard inside room, yet you seemed somehow surprised or disappointed by that. As for flat screen TV's I thought those were only in the mini's. Yes, maybe Princess has become more mass market since the 80's and 90's when you sailed with them, and no doubt your paid a quarter of what you did back then, too.

I'll have to reserve judgement on the Crown until I sail her on the October 27 repositioning cruise.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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I found this on cruisecrazies.com posted from the "Skipper." He's been suppling live reports from this very ship. Here is the latest. Try the site if you wish.
"High winds today prevented the Crown from docking in Bermuda. No big deal for us, but a lot of dissappointed folks on board.

Great cruise, as expected. Princess has done an outstanding job once again."
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 08:26 AM
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vickibypass, I am not at all surprised by your review and thanks for taking the time to post. Reviews on the Crown have been all over the board (esp. at Cruise Critic) although I find folks are less likely to post anything for fear of gettting bashed.

I had booked Crown for December but made the decision to cancel some months ago when the reports started rolling in.

As to clientele, this is happening on all lines as the prices drop so much many people that could not formerly afford to cruise, now can. Crown is publishing some rock bottom fares over the next 6 months so this will only get worse.

I saw many underdressed, rowdy, drunk and loud people on my last two sailings on Carnival and my last 4 on RCI. I won't be doing those again either

Dress codes have alredy suffered, based on many reports, and the extra costs for so many things on Crown are a precurson of further developments. I believe the traditional Princess cruiser will stick to the line's smaller ships.

I am not a big ship fan and find that service suffers exponentially as the ships get larger. There is no way to provide any level of personal service with that many folks.

It has been years since I have cruised on Princess because I was underwhelmed the first time (1991). It has been in the back of my mind to try it again but I will wait for the Tahitian as it is the right size and seems to have a personality all its own.

I stick with HAL and Celebrity for my mass market cruises and upgrade to Regent when the budget permits.

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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Thanks, Kfusto, for your rational response. The point of a forum is to share experiences, which was the intent of my posting. As Kfusto indicated, bashing or insulting posters only makes people reluctant to post their opinions or experiences, thereby undermining the value of a forum such as this. It should have been clear to everyone that my posting was a recounting of MY experiences. It is what it is and I make no apologies. The end.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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What a pain in an arse you are vickiebypass...

You do not expect gourmet food?
Attention to food section, I can not imagine if she cared about food how large this section would be then???

Seems like you were eating with a surgean scalpel...what did you do, looked at it under microscope?

I've noticed a flow in this post earlier when she said
Probably 95% Americans and average age was probably 50. ..The majority of the passengers were under 40...
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 09:22 AM
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Husbands sitting there surrounded by four empty chairs, each with one book or a hat on it, while the wives were having breakfast.

What is this single person's fit? How hard is this to understand that YES married people like to tan together and how horrific is that?

If I really cared about a chair I would get up at 7:30 and reserved it. If not -why complain? There is only so many chairs and some gets one some don't (though I do not remember having this prob on NCL sailing at full cpacity).
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 09:25 AM
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Well, Ziana, holding a chair that is not being used is RUDE and that was her point. Chairhogging is selfish and inconsiderate.

Good for you that you save them but I toss the stuff off chairs that are saved for more than 15 minutes.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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kfusto,
I do not reserve chairs because I do not tan, ok?
It is sound stupid to watch the chair and count minutes, doesn't it?

All I am saying is she gets numbers screwed up and every her statement is overturned by her self. Bashing needs to be consisitent as praising.

I will never forget another 'I do not expect gormet food' who was complaining that his lobster tail wasn't as large as expected(????) and not as tender as he use to...so his overall cruising was ruined over that fact...too many phsycos in a world, don't you think so?
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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Ziana,
I've never responded directly to you, mainly because I can't trust myself and have cut you some slack as it is apparent that English is not your first language.

But your nasty and negative comments pervade every post to which you respond. YES, some people complain about bad food; and some people complain about chair-hoggers; and that's what a travel site is about. Just because your standards don't meet those of some of the other posters, please don't minimize their comments. They are as important to them as smuggling wine on board in an empty hot-water bottle is to you.
 
Old Oct 12th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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Sue,
it was you with that lobster, wasn't it?
OK, I got little overboard with it but you was too much yourself, admit it.
And YES English is my 3rd language.
Seems like you weren't sure so I guess i am doing ok annoying you in 3rd language?
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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I forgot, Sue, why can't you trust yourself? Can we then trust you?
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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I was wondering how this thread got so active and when I saw Z in it its no wonder. Her agenda is to stir up trouble and hope people respond. I hope Fodors responds and am sure they will by deleting her nonsense. BTW Z say what you like about me. I really don't care. You're just not worth it.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Vickie: I disagree about bashing and am sorry you feel that way. However your numbers truly don't add up. Its not bashing to point that out nor is it irrational. You have stated your opinion which includes facts and figures that are dubious so it should be no surprise there was strong disagreement. Yes you are entitled to your opinion and others are to theirs. If there is a lack of rationality it lies with not expecting disaggreement about a stance based on "fuzzy math." Again sorry you feel slammed. You must admit the presentation you made left legitimate reasons for doubt.
Kfusto: I looked at the reviews for the Crown on cruise critic and pardon me but they seem consistent so where else can you go for reviews?
We took the Tahitian Princess last August and loved it. If you try it I hope you will too.
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