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Sail Date: December 2018
I agree with Cramp's review from their cruise the week before ours, both in December 2018. We were only one family of four in D530, a balcony cabin with four twin beds. It was tight but worked well for us considering our budget. ... Read More
I agree with Cramp's review from their cruise the week before ours, both in December 2018. We were only one family of four in D530, a balcony cabin with four twin beds. It was tight but worked well for us considering our budget. A suite would have been more comfortable but I would use this room and in this configuration again. I think rooms from D510 - D530 are all great choices. We had a balcony room and not a deluxe balcony room. If we go again I would try the deluxe balcony because our balcony was really tight for all four of us to stand and there is only room for 2 chairs so we couldn't all eat breakfast out there, which would have been nice. We were just above the tender/lifeboats on deck 9. Deck 8, E rooms, are at the same level as the lifeboats and on tendering day will probably be really loud. We could hear them but with our balcony door closed it wasn't too loud, and we wanted to get ready to leave the boat so it didn't matter to us. In general, lines and waiting put a real damper on our cruise, so much so that I don't want to go again. Embarkation day was impressively fast and easy, and started our vacation off well. The disappointment started with the first port, Princess Cays, and the long hassle to get on a tender and then again to get back on the ship. The same happened in Grand Cayman. On disembarkation day we had to exit our room by 8AM to sit in a dining room with all other passengers and sit there long after our 9:30 departure time, listening to them call out all the luggage tag colors. Once off the ship, get in line to find luggage, then in line for customs, then in line to get on the bus to the airport, then wait to get to terminal, then in line at terminal, then in line to drop luggage, then in line at security, then finally, waiting at the gate for the airplane. What a horrible way to end a restful week. Wheelchairs are the best hookup here and will get you expedited. Compared to my terrible experience, reviewer Cramp had a wheelchair and was out in 20 minutes. Also, I would never again put my luggage out for Princess to take the night before. My family is perfectly capable of taking our own luggage off the ship and into the customs line and this would have allowed us to walk off the ship at will at 8AM and get on a bus to the airport. We could've avoided the entire, "sit in the dining room" debacle. I don't have any suggestions for making tendering more tolerable, just plan on waiting a lot...or choose a cruise that uses piers for all ports. I talked so much about the part that ruined our trip but everything else was wonderful. My 13 & 14yo teens loved the beach house teen center and we allowed them to roam freely about the ship. We gave them a time to meet at our room for dinner and we gave them a curfew, usually 11:30PM so we could all go to sleep together. Many families let kids stay out all night according to our room steward, and it worked fine. We bought the drink package for our kids so they could drink as much soda, juice, and mock cocktails as they wanted, and they loved it. They ordered virgin frozen margaritas from the bartender every day. We used magnetic hooks and clips to clip our medallion and ship card lanyards, hats, and important papers to the wall. As other reviewers noted, the walls are all metal and magnets work great. We didn't buy internet intentionally so we could unplug..mostly to make the kids unplug. We have t-mobile One cell provider and though we didn't have service at sea, we did have service at each port, usually inclusive and at no extra cost (included as part of our regular US stateside plan). In every dining room the water, milk, fruit juice, and coffee (with cream and sugar available) are free, included in the cruise price. Soda and alcoholic beverages are for sale. There are coffee shops on the ship where you can get custom made coffees with syrups, these Starbucks type coffee shops sell coffee, this is what is purchased via the coffee plans, not the free coffee served in all the dining rooms and buffet style cafeteria (Horizon Court). You do not need to buy any beverage plan to drink all the water, juice, milk, and coffee you want during the cruise. If you want alcohol or soda you can buy them individually or buy an all you can drink plan. The ship laundromat has three ironing boards and irons and the washers and dryers operate by charging your ship medallion, no cash needed. Let the ship's photographers take pictures of you at all stops and in the dining rooms. We didn't care for it but in hindsight, some of our best pictures are those and I wish we would have taken a minute on the piers and disembarkation ramps, and at dinner, to let them photograph us. You don't have to buy them but you might want to. We rented the basic tuxedo for just under $100 from cruise line formals and it worked wonderfully, we'll do it again. My husband and teen son both had their tuxes waiting in the room and we left them there on departure. The quality was excellent and couldn't be easier. Menus for the dining rooms are posted outside the dining room so you can choose where you eat based on a preview of the menu. We chose anytime dining because we like the flexibility to eat when and wherever we want. We also used room service daily. We drink our morning coffee in our room every morning and you can order anything they serve in Horizon court so don't limit yourself to the menu card you find on your pillow each night. My kids loved getting french toast and syrup delivered to the room (no cost). When returning to the ship after exploring a port, order room service right away to beat the rush, having a snack while showering and dressing for dinner kept our family in good spirits. We brought our own snorkels and masks and carried them in backpacks to every port so we could snorkel anywhere and not have to rely on a mask rental facility. Cozumel has the 2nd largest reef in the world. We took the Atlantis submarine excursion there and thought it was excellent. We went down to 102 feet. If that's not your thing, I strongly suggest you snorkel at Chankanaab Marine Park. It is my favorite place to snorkel, there are statues underwater for you to discover. The taxi from the port cost $12US and entrance to the marine park is $21US per person. The taxi takes about 15 minutes without heavy traffic. The trip back to port took us 45 minutes in very heavy traffic, stop and go traffic. We took the Dunn's river falls and dolphin park excursion in Falmouth and although the tour guides at the Falls were annoying with their attempts to make us perform for their video cameras, the falls are so beautiful and unique that we would all do it again. The dolphin park was fantastic for a dolphin lover. For $20US my daughter got to have a dolphin push her on a boogie board and she and the dolphin faced each other and the dolphin pulled her through the water on it's stomach, called a belly ride, I think. ....for $20!! Amazing value in my opinion. We received free lunch in the cafeteria upstairs by the shark pools and the jerk chicken and jerk sauce (on the side) was the best i've ever had. It looks low budget, but tastes great. In Grand Cayman we took the Turtle Centre , Hell, Rum Cake tour because I love sea turtles. Everyone can hold turtles, they are in tanks and you can reach in and hold as many as you like, they have small and medium sized ones to hold. No hatchlings this time of year though, I was disappointed about that because I wanted to see them in their tiny stage. Hell and Rum cake were not at all exciting to me but I enjoyed the driving tour so we could see the island beyond the port. The rum cake factory sells beer for $1.88 each US, so it is a great place to sit by the water or on their shaded porch, and drink a few cheap beers. There is an almond tree next to the parking lot, on the right side of the building as you look at the angel and devil photo-taking activities. We smashed them open with a rock and they are different from those purchased in the grocery store in the US, but delicious anyway. In Princess Cays we used the surf fishing excursion and my son, the fisherman, considers that his favorite day of the cruise. He caught a yellow tail snapper and a parrot fish. The rest of us caught nothing. Bring water shoes, or you'll want to buy them. Walking on the beach there was interesting because I found hermit crabs, sea urchins, sand dollars, and corals. The ship serves you lunch on the island at no extra cost so you can plan a day of buffet, barbecue lunch. My kids snorkeled and had fun there too. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I have been on many other cruise lines, but wanted to give Princess a try because of their "higher class reputation". The customer service was awful! We would acknowledge staff with "good ... Read More
I have been on many other cruise lines, but wanted to give Princess a try because of their "higher class reputation". The customer service was awful! We would acknowledge staff with "good morning","hi" etc., and rarely heard any comments back. We would just get an awkward stare back. Hardly saw any staff smiling or speaking with passengers. Ordering drinks from the bar was a horrid experience I felt like we were putting them out with the disgusted looks we would get. Again, I have been other cruise lines and none have compared to the bitterness we saw with the staff on Princess. We felt like we were needing to be congenial to them. One positive thing with the cruise was their food. The two formal nights we were served with high quality food. The chefs do an outstanding job. Management really needs to dig deep and find out why their employees dislike their jobs. You are going to continue losing business because of the lack of positive customer service. I suggest traveling on another cruise line to see what customer service should be like. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We arrived on a Saturday and when we finally made it to our room we were sorely disappointed that the room looked unkempt. The bed looked like someone just got off it and left it wrinkled and was showing it's age/use or both. The mirror ... Read More
We arrived on a Saturday and when we finally made it to our room we were sorely disappointed that the room looked unkempt. The bed looked like someone just got off it and left it wrinkled and was showing it's age/use or both. The mirror above the desk was filthy and untouched. The carpets were greasy looking and dirty. The bathroom looked clean and we were surprised by that. Balcony railing was dirty and wasn't ready for guests. Balcony chairs had bird droppings on them. Live television has four channels BBC, MSNBC, Fox and CNBC. All are limited in the information they provide. The recorded programs were ample with recorded t.v. and movies. The furnishing were dated, something from the art-deco period. The A/C in our room didn't work. Most days and evenings were hot and muggy and we only got a break late at night. We left the door open and got chewed out for this, they sent someone to adjust the a/c, but it was our last day. Most areas of the ship were hot and muggy, the a/c didn't keep up with the number of people on board the ship. We stopped at Princess Cays for the first stop and I wished we hadn't. Like most cruise lines they all seem to want to drop you off on an island so you can eat dry hamburgers and hot dogs and then get a sun burn. A waste of time, stay on the ship and sleep in. Our first stop was St. Thomas. This island is a typical Caribbean island with nonsensical items that you don't or won't ever need except to give away as gifts at Christmas. The island is one of the more modern islands in the Virgin islands (that's not saying much). We went on a two hour tour around the island in a truck and it's not for the faint-hearted. The tour truck takes you up a steep incline and stops three times so you can shop for more junk. The view at the top was nice. The next stop was St. Marteen and it's not a pleasant experience. The downtown shopping area is filthy, shop keepers are generally greedy and want way too much for the junk they sell. The highlight of the island is to visit the airport where the jet blasts your brains across the water and leaves you deaf for the rest of your life. No I didn't go to the stupid airport to watch unsafe aviation practices. After St. Marteen, you are stuck on board the ship for two days. This is the most boring part of the trip, this cruise itinerary gives you three at sea days so plan for the doldrums of things to do. The sea days were tedious and we wished we had another port of call along the way. It would have been better than two days at sea. This is why we don't opt for cross Atlantic sailings etc. The ships entertainment is amateur at best and you just have to roll with it. It's not going to win any awards, but it kills time. The themes are definitely geared for families with children, which I wish we didn't have to put up with on a cruise. Seems the cruise lines that depart from Florida are filled with kids and they love to ruin your relaxation. The food during the cruise is plentiful, there is a caveat to this. The caveat is that the food is plastic, i.e. without flavor, texture and eye appeal. The bistro was suppose to be the main place for breakfast and lunch but there was too many people that made the place a nightmare to get around. The layout is non-logical, i.e. bread in one salon and the cold cuts in another. Breakfast is a "Where's Waldo" type journey, you have to hunt for fresh eggs and omelets are harder to find. Look for the lines with people holding paper slips, that's the omelet line because you'll never see the omelets. The drink choices are water, water, water, ice tea and coffee and tea. You're lucky if you get orange juice and lemon aid during other parts of the day. Soda water, normally free, is chargeable as with milk. We noticed the ship had a very noticeable shake and it was so bad at times we could see our plates and utensils moving on the table. I had to wonder if the prop shaft was out of true and needed to be repaired it was that bad. We also noticed the lack of sanitation control. Most cruises will have a "soap police" to make sure you are washing your hands or using the hand sanitizer. Not this ship. Only few washed or used sanitizer. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to get out of the Colorado cold weather and have fun on New Year’s Eve. Chose this cruise as we sailed Princess before and liked the ports. We loved the ship, especially the retreat pool and the entertainment. New Years ... Read More
We wanted to get out of the Colorado cold weather and have fun on New Year’s Eve. Chose this cruise as we sailed Princess before and liked the ports. We loved the ship, especially the retreat pool and the entertainment. New Years parties were fantastic. Unfortunately, our interactions with the crew didn’t meet our expectations. Generally the crew from guest services, wait staff, deck attendants, etc ranged from unhappy to annoyed. Rarely did we ever see any crew member even smile (except for the cruise director or the entertainment) This was very surprising. We did not experience this on our previous Princess Cruise. We chose traditional dining so we could get to know our waiter. Unfortunately, the service for dinner was subpar. Again our waiter was generally unhappy and disorganized. We waited for long periods of time to get menus or water. Drink and food delivery was slow also. We did notice other parties with different wait staff had much more positive experiences and faster service. Since Princess automatically charges you with a daily gratuity, we wondered if the staff just stopped trying. We did book another cruise with Princess hoping this cruises poor service was just an anomaly. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
New Years 7-night cruise with stops in Princess Cays, St Thomas, and Saint Maarten. Princess Cays was Ho-Hum but we could have spent an easy week in the other two. The ships service and amenities were excellent. I can’t say enough ... Read More
New Years 7-night cruise with stops in Princess Cays, St Thomas, and Saint Maarten. Princess Cays was Ho-Hum but we could have spent an easy week in the other two. The ships service and amenities were excellent. I can’t say enough about the crews quality and friendliness. The ship and food were outstanding. We took in one show “The Secret Silk”, which was memorably horrible. I won’t knock the performers, but the performance was laughable. Only those on 60’s era LSD could follow the plot with no original music, only Pop from the 1980’s to 2010’s that failed to match what they were attempting to portray. I honesty can’t speak for the entire performance because we bailed before they started singing songs that may have been from Nine Inch Nails. We skipped the beverage package, drank a lot and didn’t come close to what we would have prepaid. We had anytime dining and reservations the New Years dinner filled up quick. They accommodate everyone even seating people well past their standard posted dinner times. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again and planning cruise number two! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
The Crown Princess is a nice ship with great staff. Except for the production shows, the on-board activities and entertainment was excellent. The cabin was nice. We had a mini-suite and the balcony was a good size. There was plenty of ... Read More
The Crown Princess is a nice ship with great staff. Except for the production shows, the on-board activities and entertainment was excellent. The cabin was nice. We had a mini-suite and the balcony was a good size. There was plenty of storage space. There were two televisions which made the kids happy. We brought out 11 and 18-year old kids. They did not take advantage of any of the kids activities. They had fun just running around the ship on their own, eating all the time and attending the multitude of activities. Food was very good overall throughout the ship. Although it was easy to get food in the buffet, finding a table in the casual dining room was almost impossible. I would NOT recommend Anytime Dining. In the past I have always chosen the traditional seating time - your table is guaranteed and it is nice to build a rapport with the waiter. Each night we had to wait approximately 30-45 minutes for a table - with a different waiter each night. Ports were great. We were unable to go to the first scheduled port because of weather. I would have liked to have laid by the pool on sea days but the chairs were never available - reserved by people early in the morning who then seldom used them. The fitness room had plenty of equipment and a great view while you worked out. Fitness room never seemed overly crowded. Plenty of room to stretch, do free weights, yoga, etc. The class offerings were also good. They also had Zumba out on deck - I didn't try it but I wanted to. They had personal trainers and staff available in the fitness room as well. Something that struck me as odd - no garnishes on the expensive drinks. My kids liked ordering the $6+ virgin daiquiris, but they had no garnishment that you come to expect on an expensive drink (if you're going to charge $6 for a virgin drink, maybe add a piece of pineapple and a cherry to make it feel special). The spa was an AWFUL experience for both my husband and I. The staff all seemed more focused on selling products and additional services than actually providing good service. The services were so expensive. I should add that they spent some of our overpriced service time for both facials AND massages trying to sell us additional services and products! In general I feel that people should be aware that there is A LOT of upselling on the ship. The cruise alone is expensive, but you have to be prepared to spend MUCH more once you get on board. I feel that clientele for Princess may be an older crowd. We had a great time but in the future we would probably choose a cruise line geared more to younger, more active people. This was a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean, not 20 days as mentioned in the heading. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We understand that it is a different demographic and we chose Princess again (sailed last year to the UK). We are beyond the 'party until you are stupid' crowd but still want some fun and nightlife. It was as if the ... Read More
We understand that it is a different demographic and we chose Princess again (sailed last year to the UK). We are beyond the 'party until you are stupid' crowd but still want some fun and nightlife. It was as if the ship's activities were purposefully funneling you to either the buffet or bed by midnight. The Patter had numerous errors regarding activities and timing (i.e. who schedules the NYE Balloon Drop for 10:30 pm?). We are a family of 3 and chose Anytime Dining in the hopes of meeting people - I would say half the time we sat by ourselves and felt pressured to do so to 'move things along'. The last night we ate in the Michelangelo, my husband and I waited an hour and a half to be seated (2 people, requested sharing) and then dinner took two hours. We were offered a wine list two of the 10 nights. We brought a bottle we brought on board (allowed 1/pp wo corkage) and wound up being charged corkage after a near argument. One night they had a Pinot they recommended to be paired with dinner on the menu - ordered that and was told a half hour later that the dining room did not have it, but maybe the others did if we wanted to try there. Not - 'we'll send someone to see if a bottle we are advertising is one deck away'. Wow. Food was 'meh' at best. I feel the boat was very understaffed. They worked hard, but there just weren't enough people. In 10 days, we were asked if we wanted a drink/coffee/ice tea twice. People were constantly walking to other tables for silverware/salt/pepper etc.. The shows were good. I suggest that they get some peppier in between acts - not so 'lull you to sleep'. What saved the trip was the itinerary and weather - both were fantastic. For our next trip I think we'll entertain other lines - an itinerary would have to be outstanding to outweigh what might be a mediocre cruising experience - especially if the weather were bad. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
CROWN PRINCESS: Dec 27, 2018 ~ Jan 6, 2019 “New Year’s” Eastern Caribbean Voyager 10-days 6 ports Cruise: Fort Lauderdale-Princess Cays Bahamas-St. Thomas-Antigua-St.Lucia-Barbados-St.Kitts-Fort Lauderdale Day 0: ... Read More
CROWN PRINCESS: Dec 27, 2018 ~ Jan 6, 2019 “New Year’s” Eastern Caribbean Voyager 10-days 6 ports Cruise: Fort Lauderdale-Princess Cays Bahamas-St. Thomas-Antigua-St.Lucia-Barbados-St.Kitts-Fort Lauderdale Day 0: Stay-Park-Cruise Rodeway Inn & Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Port. Price of lodging and long-term parking just under the cost to park car at port terminal ($15 per day). Free shuttle to port provided with quick stop at a drug store. Planning this comes with a warning: when you return the Rodeway shuttle may keep you waiting hours to pick you up to take you back to your car – many exasperated dawgs hired a taxi (4.3 miles/13 minutes travel via I-95, tax and tip: estimated $16.25 per dawg) back to Rodeway. Day 1: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. We arrived at the port at about 11:15 a.m. Salty dawgs who packed only carry-ons can navigate around the luggage hounds asking for your luggage and a $10 tip. Just prepare that you may be one of the unlucky dawgs whose luggage arrives to their stateroom after dinner. Our check-in was among the quickest and most efficient we have experienced. We are a couple, no pups in tow. Yes, we had our travel docs, checked in online, presented the same credit card as we had booked and printed our boarding passes. We were given our cruise card: check name, ship, dates, cabin and dining for accuracy. Safeguard your cruise card: dawgs will have bar code scanned whenever they depart and re-board the ship and it is the onboard cash card. Be certain to obtain and sign an accurate receipt for expenses. By-pass the souvenir camera pointers (photos are not free nor mandatory) and trot across the gangway. Present cruise card and take ID mut shot. Our stateroom was ready to occupy when we boarded. Study the hallway carpet for a helpful navigational aid: our deck had red “berries” port side (even numbered staterooms) and blue “berries” starboard side. Our cabin E322 midship obstructed ocean view was an upgrade from inside cabin. Only the lower portion of our window was blocked by a lifeboat. We concluded we had an acceptable view of the ocean and sky. A midship location is not as susceptible to up and down motion as cabins forward and aft. This small cabin required some choreography for two to navigate simultaneously. Exercise caution when opening the lavatory door because partner dawg could be pinned against the closet. Our closet contained 32 wooden hangers. Even at the coolest setting, our cabin felt warm. An inevitable topic of conversation among fellow sea dawgs became the old ship felt too warm, an issue the ventilation officer was unable or unwilling to rectify. We should be grateful it wasn’t summer! Incidentally, our cabin fridge stayed too warm, too. It helped to keep a bucket of ice in the fridge. The venerable Crown Princess (2006) has limited electrical outlets that accommodate U.S. plugs, so I recommend packing a multiple outlet surge strip for multiple devices and chargers. We had a 40-inch flat screen TV, but major U.S. networks were not televised. Prepare to be saturated with “The Love Boat”. Our shower was tight; most will not be able to squat to grasp dropped soap. I recommend packing your own favorite soap and shampoo. Pooches insisting on a bath tub should book a suite or investigate the Lotus Spa thermal suite day pass costs. The Princess Patter publishes important information, the daily onboard activity schedules and evening events. Weather permitting, make time to snuggle under a blanket with a bag of popcorn and enjoy a Movie Under the Stars. Once unpacked we went to lunch at the Horizon Court buffet. Food offerings were plentiful, international and seemed to meet most dietary choices and requirements. Gone are the drink stations. Unless dawgs purchased a soda card, the drink choices were coffee, tea, water and lemonade. It seems Princess has made things more inconvenient for dawgs who do not purchase a soda or drink package. Those dawgs might do well to pack single serve powdered drink mixes to add to their complimentary ice water. Long gone are the self-serve ice-cream dispensers. Pampered pedigrees will probably discern enough to whine about with this mostly self-serve buffet. Paw sanitizers were at chow entrances, but guard dawgs weren’t monitoring use. Contrary to persistent rumor, the buffet dinner menu differs from the usually superior restaurant dinner menu. Seven short followed by one long horn blasts signals report to the muster station. Our dawgs only had to bring their ship card which crew dawgs scanned. Muts who miss this Coast Guard required muster earn a more thorough private muster later. The weather was deteriorating as we departed. Strong winds and moderately rough seas kept dawgs off the upper decks, limited “Enchanted Evening” events and closed the pools and promenade deck. Crown Princess does not have an all-weather enclosed pool area. As the conditions worsened, a moderate rise and fall, lurch and list began. Interior creaks and groans, some sounding like loose carts rolling across the deck, made sound snoozing difficult. I recommend packing ear plugs. For queasy dawgs, obtain prescription anti-motion sickness patches before boarding. DAY 2: Princess Cays, Eleuthera, Bahamas. Few were surprised when the captain announced the wind and sea conditions were deemed too rough to tender to the island. This port stop was cancelled. Top Dawg might have charted a more sheltered course west of the Bahamas, instead he sailed into the open ocean east of the Bahamas and we enjoyed a day and night of rock ‘n’ roll. The cruise log published rough seas and wind gusting to 45 mph. I would categorize the motion more a nuisance than severe, but landlubbers were becoming nauseous and bags were distributed. Entertainment scheduled a few more onboard activities, most profitable ventures for the cruise line. Coffee and Cones (Ice Cream) and adjacent Slice (Pizza) port side between the main Neptune and Calypso pools offers a limited complimentary and a fee menu. The Salty Dog (formerly Trident) by the Neptune pool serves up hot dogs, burgers and fries in complimentary and fee menus. Adults should accompany their pups to these venues because it is easy to order from the fee menu. Day 3: At Sea. Continuing wind and sea conditions kept the pools closed and limited on-deck activities. By now it was obvious the ventilation system could not adequately recirculate the air or keep the sealed interior space comfortably cool. Motion sickness bags and medicines became available. To enhance our onboard experience, that night the hot water throughout the ship was turned off to permit scheduled maintenance. Decisions such as this one cause me to question how much priority Princess places on passenger comfort. On select sea days, the Crown Grill puts out their Union Jacks and serves a complimentary British-style pub lunch such as Fish and Chips, but no complimentary drinks. Be warned to double check which lunches are complimentary and which are not before ordering. Day 4: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI. Most welcomed docking and stepping onto terra firma in the warm sunshine. But what are cruise itinerary planners thinking? Crown Princess, Norwegian Gem, Crystal Symphony, Celebrity Infinity and Queen Mary were all in port! Reminiscent of Santorini, downtown was wall-to-wall dawg packs. Shore excursions and destinations were generally hosting more dawgs than ideal or customary. The ship offered a welcomed sanctuary even though a lot of maintenance was in progress. Some high-end shops await dawgs at the end of the pier. Left and past the tourist shops, dawgs may catch a $4 taxi to down town Charlotte Amalie. It is possible for fit dawgs to hike to downtown following a curvy and busy highway. My advice to bargain hounds is check the price online before purchasing. Most Caribbean ports are saturated with retailers like Diamonds International, Columbia Emeralds and Effy’s. Better prices are generally found further from the tourist enclave. Dawgs will receive a fairly sketchy map of the tourist enclave from the cruise line. Smart dawgs know to search for a free, complete and accurate map from Tourist Information, usually located near the port entrance. For dawgs considering booking a shore excursion through the cruise line; most are overpriced. The premium purchases insurance that the ship will wait for dawgs tardy due to their late returning shore excursion. Generally, the safety and quality of the cruise line excursion has earned the recommendation of the cruise line. Excursions offered by independents will beat the cruise line price because they aren’t paying a kickback to the cruise line. Savvy dawgs who do a little pre-cruise research should be able to sniff out reliable and less costly shore excursion operators that are used by other cruise lines, but not Princess. Regardless of the island, most Caribbean shore excursions are snorkeling, diving, beach break lunches, coastal sailing, taxi/bus scenic island tour, historical site tour, swim with sea life and explore geological sites. Day 5: St. John’s, Antigua. The tourist enclave here is Heritage Quay. Just inside the gate, a pack of assertive dawgs thrust their island tour deals into our faces. My most effective response was to say (truthfully) that I had been to Antigua before. A glance at the street ahead revealed loaded tour wagons crawling through snarled traffic. Further up the street and to the right is a large indoor consignment stall market where some bargain souvenirs may be found and negotiated. My experience is often the best deal is offered when you turn and walk away. Day 6: Castries, St. Lucia. This island is a lush, mountainous paradise reminiscent of a South Seas island. We booked a well recommended day excursion with Joy’s Adventures and went by speedboat from Castries south along the scenic beaches and cliffs of the west coast to Soufriere. We took a van to the sulphur springs and mineral baths where totally sane muts took a mud bath. The water is hot, the mud is thick, and the area reeks of sulphur. Off to Toraille Falls for a chilly, high-pressured “power shower”. I guess most dawgs were finally presentable enough to have an authentic Caribbean lunch in a spacious basement of the tour owner’s home not far from Rainbow Falls. I found the meal Caribbean and delicious. I ate a small spoonful of everything, and I’m still here to tell the tale. Lo Mein was available for the less adventurous. We were driven back to our speedboat and went further south for a beach break and snorkeling in the Coral Gardens located between the majestic Petit and Gros Pitons. The bar opened as we headed north along the west coast. We gawked at the yachts and homes of Marigot Bay and our boat was small enough and the seas calm enough to motor through a natural sea arch. All too soon, but well before departure time, we were back aboard the ship. Day 7: Bridgetown, Barbados. The Carnival Fascination and Norwegian Dawn docked shortly after Crown Princess arrived. Barbados is a contrast to the lush, mountainous St. Lucia. This seems a good island to book a sailing or beach excursion. The crew runs drills in the morning. The busy port complex and concrete dock is large. The cruise line provided complimentary shuttles to the terminal though fit dawgs had no trouble hiking there. Familiar cruise line shops await in the terminal stores. Taxi drivers who have paid cruise lines for terminal access and tour operators are just outside the terminal stores building. Taxi vans into Bridgetown are about $2. DIY beach day dawgs might discover it is much easier to get a taxi to a beach than from the beach back to the port. Warning: today the ship departs earlier than usual: at 3:30 p.m. Waiting just outside the port entrance gate are more tour operators and taxi drivers who do not have access to the port area. Many of these taxis are unmetered, some are even unlicensed, so exercise due caution and agree on the fare before hopping into the cab. Dawgs are advised to know their limitations and risk exposure well before starting the mile long walk into Bridgetown. I advise dawgs research and determine where they are going in Bridgetown and why before they pound the streets. Day 8: Basseterre, St. Kitts. This and Nevis are beautiful lush, mountainous islands. Crown Princess docked next to a similarly sized MSC Prezioso. We booked the Cruise to Nevis, Pinney’s Beach, Snorkel and Lunch 6-hour cruise line excursion. It proved a popular excursion. Though advertised for 40, about 70 dawgs were onboard the motor catamaran; seating was tight. We went through some rain squalls forcing dawgs to stand under the little canopy awhile. The crew unfurled the foresail, but only for show because we slowly motored the entire journey. We cruised from Basseterre about 3 miles along the Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts and anchored near Buggs Hole for snorkeling. Getting mask, fins and vest was an exercise in patience, probably because so many were aboard. After snorkeling the bar was opened and lunch was served. We found the drinks strong and the lunch surprisingly good. Then we motored two miles across the straight to Nevis Island and the catamaran beached on Pinney’s Beach. We lounged in chairs and the crew brought a cooler from the boat. Then we climbed aboard and slowly motored back to the port. Smart dawgs brought towels, sunglasses, secure head covering and sunscreen. I believe the most comfortable spot on the catamaran is the trampoline, just know a wave may splash you there. Day 9: At sea. Many dawgs have learned to wait to the end of a cruise to take advantage of Princess shop sales events. Savvy dawgs know to check the onboard sales price of items with what can be purchased on the internet. For some, a unique item or an item’s “souvenir” value is worth the premium. Today is a good day to check and settle shipboard accounts. An unexplained charge from Crown Grill appeared on our account. A visit to the customer service desk did not resolve the issue because no one in authority from the Crown Grill was available. Day 10: At Sea. A series of announcements herald the Princess campaign for dawgs’ final vacation dollars: up to 75% off onboard outlet sale; Effy blow-out sale up to 60% off; big bingo jackpot will be awarded today; don’t miss the huge art auction; pay for a future cruise; etc. It is possible to escape the distracting crass commercialism to experience reasons you booked this cruise for one final day. Day 11: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. Again, what are cruise line itinerary planners thinking? Seven large ships docked (Crown Princess, Royal Princess, Celebrity Edge, RCCL Harmony o/t Seas, HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, Nieuw Statendam and Zuiderdam) and disgorged 25,000 cruise dawgs at the same time overtaxing transportation and security systems. Entering and exiting Port Everglades is increasingly stressful and difficult. Crown Princess has three main dining rooms: Boticelli, Da Vinci and Michaelangelo. On this voyage, the main dining menu offered a left side fixed menu and a right side changing menu. The “Princess favorites” left side menu offered shrimp cocktail, ceasar salad, potato soup, fettucini, salmon, chicken and a burger. The changing “right side” menu featured, among others, Prime rib, salmon, lamb, red snapper, trout, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, lobster tail, pheasant, duck, jerk chicken, turkey, pork and chateaubriand just to start an impressive list. Disappointed dawgs who couldn’t get a reservation at the premium ($29 cover charge) Crown Grill may find consolation in the main dining room. Their menus list steak offerings for a price. With a little menu comparison, savvy dawgs can order a steak for $19 in the main dining room that dawgs pay $29 to eat in the premium Crown Grill. Surf and Turf ordered for $29 comes out of the same galley that dawgs pay $10 in addition to Crown Grill’s $29 cover charge. There were two formal nights, but I saw more dress shirt and ties than suits or tuxes; more dresses than gowns. Face it, better entertainers have more lucrative performance opportunities than a venerable cruise ship during the holidays. Princess Theater shows were enjoyable and impressive. Crown Princess booked a variety of live musicians to perform in venues on deck. Those live musicians attentive to the preferences of their audience enjoyed popularity; the clueless generally performed to nearly empty venues. There were some opportunities to dance, but often held on the small dance floor in the Wheelhouse Bar. For $20 half day/$40 full day/$200 full cruise, dawgs can access the extra padded lounges and tranquility of the Sanctuary. Located far forward, the sail cloth awning provides little protection from less favorable weather and wind. For the Princess VIP treatment, book a full suite. Pedigrees will be treated to a host of extras such as luxury bedding, complimentary laundry service, exclusive Club Class dining, complimentary Lotus Spa thermal suite access and priority services. Sea Dawg Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I selected Princess Regal because most reviews were good and the price of our balcony stateroom was fair for a Christmas cruise. This was my fourth cruise and my daughters first. I have cruised with Disney and Royal Caribbean prior and ... Read More
I selected Princess Regal because most reviews were good and the price of our balcony stateroom was fair for a Christmas cruise. This was my fourth cruise and my daughters first. I have cruised with Disney and Royal Caribbean prior and fully trusted this was going to be equivalent to them, NOT true! Embarking was just ok, felt like a “number” and felt rushed by the staff. Staff appeared unhappy and all had fake smiles, nothing seemed genuine and we certainly did feel welcomed. (Compared to Disney and R/C where we always felt appreciated and literally felt like royalty). Food was equivalent to school cafeteria, it all “looked” tasty however we had to take two plates to taste-test - it was pretty bad. Service was even worse, staff not friendly and we almost felt invisible on this cruise UNLESS they wanted to solicited you for an event. Was told prior to cruising that all cabins were equipped with Roku and Prime TV. (Told by Princess Cruise Lines 800 #) NOT true! Our tv did not work for any of the News programs. If you try to call Guest Services they never answer! Room service was good (must be a different kitchen) however menu is somewhat limited. Staterooms very small, as well as balcony. Nothing fancy and furnishings are worn and broken. Refrigerator was barely cool. Balcony table broken and beat. Anytime Dining was a joke! Long lines! We only experienced the Dining room one evening, food was less than stellar, tasted like Scwanns and pre cooked! Horrible! And I just could not get past how unhappy the staff was. I am sure this comes from the top, Princess must not treat their staff well! Disembarking went quickly however, again, the staff was NOT friendly! Old gentleman monitoring the escalator literally YELLED at my daughter! My daughter never wants to sail again. I will stick with R/C and Disney, I never thought I would be miserable on a newer and expensive cruise until now! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Having sailed with many cruise lines, and about 6 with various Princess ships (which have all had terrible entertainment) We thought the Regal being a newer ship would have pulled out all the stops for the Christmas cruise to the ... Read More
Having sailed with many cruise lines, and about 6 with various Princess ships (which have all had terrible entertainment) We thought the Regal being a newer ship would have pulled out all the stops for the Christmas cruise to the Caribbean, but unfortunately not! The evening shows were so bad, the 'theatre' was not only half empty every night, but lots of people were walking out. The 'theatre' was more like a working mens club. No lovely backdrops or big stage/seats/curtains etc like they do on the RCCL, nowhere to put drinks, you have to hold them. It all looked so cheap. There was no poolside entertainment, the cruise director was a joke, nowhere to be seen throughout the whole cruise, whereas yet again, on the RCCL there are lots of competitions and games all day poolside and the cruise directors really get passengers to have a good time. This is sadly lacking on Princess cruises. The food in the Horizon buffet was excellent, far better than the restaurant which was very unusual, so we ate in there mostly. The staff were all lovely and very friendly. Drinks are good on the Princess, the cocktails are superior to most ships, but that is about all. There are normally a few bars on each end of the main poolside area, but the Regal has left them out, and now ordering drinks takes forever, by the time the waiter brings them, the beer is warm. The cabins are good and have lots of room, but the safe is right on top of the bathroom, so you have to squeeze past each other if one is using the other. Another bad design. All in all, a very average cruise, disappointing for Christmas, and first time cruisers we spoke to all said the same, so its not that we are just used to better. I think we are done with Princess now, and will go back to RCCL, for the shows and entertainment mostly. Read Less
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