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Crown Princess - Cruise Ship Review - Passenger Reviews

What do you get if you take the Grand Princess and add another deck? Why, the Crown Princess, of course. The Crown Princess and her siblings feature everything that makes a Princess ship special. And while not the largest ships in the Princess fleet (that distinction belongs to the Regal and Royal Princess), the Crown and her sisters are the most popular.

Crown Princess Public Rooms
When the Crown Princess hit the scene, it upped the ante on what Princess had to offer. First and foremost was a new feature called the Sanctuary, an adults-only, top-deck hideaway of cabanas, healthy snacks and soothing music. The Sanctuary was an instant hit, and later was rolled out across the fleet and added to ships from sister brand Carnival Cruise Lines as well.

Another new feature seen for the first time on the Crown Princess was the Crown Grill, a premium steak-and-seafood restaurant in a rich, woody setting. The Crown Princess also ushered in a new piazza-style atrium that’s sort of like a seagoing street fair, plus a Caribbean café, international café, and a wine-and-seafood bar. Add to that a giant poolside LED screen for “Movies Under the Stars”—and you have 113,000 gross tons of world-class seagoing resort.

High above the bridge, the Caribbean Princess has a forward-looking ocean-view spa and fitness center, with a lap pool. Further aft, the ship offers two outdoor pool areas: One amidships with two separate pools, the other a more secluded spot overlooking the stern.

Dining aboard Crown Princess
The Crown Princess has three main dining rooms that come in handy for the line’s Personal Choice Dining Program, which allows passengers to choose from Traditional Dining with early and late seatings for dinner or Anytime Dining. The ship’s 24-hour casual restaurant, the Horizon Court, offers a buffet alternative for breakfast and lunch; at night it becomes a sit-down bistro. Tuscan-inspired Sabatini’s is the ship’s venue for upscale Italian fare, and has established itself over the years as one of cruising’s more popular alternative restaurant concepts.

Cabins aboard Crown Princess
The designers of the Crown Princess wanted private verandahs to be available to virtually everyone, and this ship has nearly 900 cabins with balconies, ranging from standard outside cabins to mini-suites and full suites. The mini-suites are among the largest of its kind, featuring a full sitting area with a large sofa, a comfortable chair, and a second TV. Mini-suites also have large balconies that extend further out than other balconies. The design means the balcony above doesn’t block the sun, but it also does not offer much in the way of privacy.

Crown Princess on a cruise from New York Ship Information
Crown Princess belongs to Princess Cruises' Crown Class of cruise ships. The ship rivals the most luxurious resorts, with features such as the Lotus Spa, Movies Under the Stars®, nearly 900 balcony cabins and an entire deck of Mini Suites, plus dozens of dining and entertainment options.

Ship Facts
Year Built 2006 ♦ Ship's Class: Crown Class ♦ Country of Registry Bermuda ♦ Tonnage 113,000 ♦ Length 951 ft - 289 m ♦ Cruising Speed 22 knots ♦ Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) 3,080 ♦ Passenger Capacity (incl. upper beds) 3,763 ♦ Passenger Decks 15 ♦ Officers and Crew 1,200 ♦ Officer's Nationality British and Italian ♦ Crew and Hotel Staff Nationality International

Cabins
Total 1,538 ♦ Suites with Balcony 206 ♦ Oceanview with Balcony 674 ♦ Oceanview without Balcony 222 ♦ Inside 436 ♦ Accessible Cabins (all categories) 31 ♦ Princess Cruises introduced the concept of affordable private balconies on modern cruise ships. For longer cruises the Mini Suites are an even better option, with a separate sitting area, walk-in closet, and bathtub. Amenties in all cabins include luxury bedding, refrigerator, extensive satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service.

Cabin Amenities
TV with music channels ♦ In-Cabin Movies ♦ In-Cabin Internet Access ♦ Private Safe ♦ Minibar ♦ Hair Dryer

Dining
Traditional 1st and 2nd Sitting Assigned Table Seating ♦ Optional Open Seating - "Princess Anytime Dining" allows you to be seated any time the main dining room is open ♦ Ultimate Balcony Dining features fresh flowers, champagne and a deluxe four-course meal featuring delicate sweet lobster tail or juicy steak among many available delicacies. ♦ Formal Nights ♦ Specialty Restaurants: Sabatini's, Crown Grill Steakhouse, Cafe Caribe ♦ Specialty Coffee Bar ♦ 24 Hour Food Service Available

Public Rooms
Bars and Lounges ♦ Library ♦ Internet Center

Entertainment
Showlounge ♦ Casino ♦ Disco/Nightclub ♦ Movies Under the Stars® ♦ Card Room/Game Room ♦ Video Games Arcade

Sports and Activities
Outdoor Pools ♦ Sports Court ♦ Fitness Center ♦ Jogging Track ♦ Promenade Deck wraps around the ship, using two decks ♦ Golf Simulator ♦ Putting Course

Spa and Wellness
Full Service Spa ♦ MedSpa Services ♦ Sauna or Steam Room ♦ Beauty Salon ♦ Yoga ♦ Pilates ♦ Fitness Assessment ♦ Health and Nutrition Evaluation

Children and Teens
Family Cabins ♦ Organized Age Specific Activities ♦ Children's Pool ♦ Outdoor Children's Play Area ♦ Youth Staff ♦ Dedicated Teen Center ♦ Teen Programs ♦ Teen Staff ♦ Group Babysitting Services

Other Facilities and Services
Duty Free Shops and Boutiques ♦ Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service ♦ Business Center Services ♦ Medical Center

Cruising The Crown Princess Class

Crown Princess Atriumby Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.

Ship: Crown Princess

Sister ships: Caribbean Princess, Emerald Princess, Ruby Princess.


When We Cruised: June 23, 2006

Itinerary: Nine-day Eastern Caribbean from New York’s Brooklyn terminal. Ports of call on the roundtrip voyage include Bermuda (West End), San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.

New For Princess: Fifth in the Grand-class series, the 113,000-ton, 3,110-passenger Crown Princess boasts several design changes and new features:

Sabatini’s now incorporates a new bar, Adagio, adjacent to the restaurant, which has been relocated to the aft end of the ship on deck 16 to feature sweeping ocean views in an intimate setting. The reservations-only Sabatini’s carries a $20 per person charge.

Piazza-style atrium featuring the International Café, and Vines Seafood and Wine Bar. The atrium features daytime caberet-style entertainment, which helps create a lively atmosphere in this popular gathering spot. On the port side of the atrium is the International Café, an expanded patisserie/bistro open around the clock. Mornings feature coffee and freshly baked croissants or beignets; lunch features panini, salads, crepes and other items; afternoons, tea, pastries and gelato are served; evenings, guests return for late-night snacks or dessert such as chocolate fondue. There are charges, from $1.50 to $3 for some items. Vines Seafood and Wine Bar, situated across from the International Cafe, features premium sushi and sashimi ($3 for three items) to accompany wine pairings. Also offered are wine flights ($8 for up to three different wines).

Sabatini's restaurant on Crown PrincessBrooklyn Balcony Nosh — Served on the day of departure for $7 per person, the Brooklyn Balcony Nosh features Nathan’s Ballpark Hot Dogs with traditional trimming, sauerkraut, Brooklyn Brewery Lager and Junior’s Cheesecake.

The Sanctuary. Situated forward, above the spa, the adults-only retreat is ideal for those seeking solitude and shade. Princess charges for use of the area ($15 for half-day), but the service includes extras such as being greeted by “serenity stewards” who present you with chilled face towels, escort you to one of 72 comfortable lounge chairs and chaises and present you with MP3 players loaded with a variety of music.

Crown Grill. The 160-seat upscale steak house features a bar, where diners can pull up to a bar stool and order a full meal (ideal for those traveling alone).

Skywalkers, the disco that debuted on Grand Princess, has been scaled down. There is no ramped escalator as on the other Grand class ships. Other new amenities include new mattresses and duvets, with a new pillow menu in suites and minisuites.

The Perfect Mix of Sand and Sea

Crown Princess Grill

June 30, 200 nautical miles east of the Bahamas — The Crown Princess’ sleek hull slices the Atlantic Ocean’s gentle swells as our ship makes its way back to New York. Crown Princess departed Brooklyn’s cruise terminal last Friday morning, and here, on our return one week later, passengers are intent on savoring the last two days of a nine-day cruise.

“I am dreading tomorrow,” confides a lady in the elevator.

“Why?” a man in a swimsuit asks, reminding her, “We still have one more day at sea.”

“Oh, that’s right,” she says. A smile beams across her face. “One more day. Well, I plan to make the most of it. Then, it’s back to reality.”

Crown Princess, which operates under the Princess motto “Escape Completely,” did indeed completely remove more than 3,000 passengers away from their daily routines and the bump and grind of real life. Moreover, our itinerary, roundtrip from New York, was what many on our cruise considered to be the perfect mix of sand and sea. Of our nine days aboard ship, four were full sea days, plus two half days. Relaxed time at sea punctuated time ashore in Bermuda, San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. We docked at each port, so that no tender was required.

“We don’t feel worn out or beaten down,” says a couple from Ohio on the day before we disembarked. “Normally, when the ship stops in port everyday, you feel like you have to get off so that you don’t miss anything. But with only four days in port, the pace was relaxed.”

En Route To San Juan
Typical balcony cabin on a Princess cruise shipPort-intensive itineraries, such as those that deposit passengers on shore everyday, can be rewarding for intrepid travelers and destination collectors, but the tempo can be tiring for those seeking respites from their busy lives back home. Throw in a good mix of sea days, however, and the tempo tones down, providing for a relaxed resort-like experience, but with just enough time in port to stretch your legs and see a few sights.

Our tempo on Crown Princess was just right. Under the command of Captain Andy Proctor, the ship departed New York Friday evening, and sailed a full day at sea before docking in West End, Bermuda at the Royal Naval Dockyard on a bright Sunday morning. Passengers who did not disperse on shore excursions were free to hang out on ship or at the Dockyard with its shops, pubs and entertainment venues.

Our ship set sail late afternoon, charting a course for San Juan. The route took a full day and a half before we docked within walking distance of Old San Juan at noon. I disembarked late afternoon for a shore excursion to Bioluminescence Bay, where I kayaked through mangrove canals and swam in a bay inhabited by single-cell luminous organisms that emitted light when agitated. The fact that this phenomenon can be observed in only 15 places worldwide made the 90-minute bumpy bus ride (each way) tolerable.

Others opted to enjoy Old San Juan’s nightlife before our departure at 11 p.m., just in time for the “Island Party” up on the top deck or for watching “Rocky Horror Picture Show” while nibbling on popcorn at “Movies Under The Stars” on the 300-square-foot LED screen light — enough to be seen even during full sun at mid-day.

With only a short stretch of sea to transit to St. Thomas, our ship was docked alongside Charlotte Amalie’s West Indian Company Dock early the next morning. Having visited St. Thomas many times before, I stayed aboard ship until our departure mid-afternoon.

This raises a delicate but salient point: It is permissible to allow yourself to stay on the ship, particularly in ports that you’ve visited before. In fact, one of the pleasures of not disembarking with 3,000 other passengers is that you have the ship practically to yourself. I lingered at the coffee bar at the atrium-level International Cafe, a new 24-hour dining concept for Princess. Satellite internet seemed speedier, because others weren’t using bandwidth checking e-mail or browsing the web. There was no line for lunch, and I had no trouble finding an open table or a deck chair.

Grand Turk is a “must-see now” destinationGoing To Grand Turk
At 4 in the afternoon, we departed St. Thomas for Grand Turk. With more than 400 nautical miles to cover, Crown Princess would not be alongside Grand Turk until 1 p.m. the next day.

Around 11 in the morning, I spotted Grand Turk on the horizon. As our ship approached, I could make out the whole island, only seven miles long by 1.5 miles wide. Crown Princess towered 19 stories above the dock at the new Grand Turk Cruise Center, an extremely well-done entertainment facility that Carnival Corporation funded and operates.

Grand Turk is a “must-see now” destination. The sleepy provincial capital reminds me of how I would picture the Caribbean three decades ago. The main street in Cockburn Town was so quiet that a dog padded down the middle of the street for a few hundred yards undisturbed by automobiles. “How long do you think it would take you to get bored here?” a fellow passenger asked the man sitting beside her in the “Hop On, Hop Off” bus. “How long have we been here?” he quipped.

But Grand Turk oozed such laid-back charm that passengers who I spoke with did not want to leave. “I would have liked to have stayed longer,” said a woman from Rochester, New York. “Four hours was just not enough. It’s so isolated that you couldn’t get there easily, and there are few places in the Caribbean that are so noncommercial and undeveloped. I am glad I got the chance to see it now.”

Our tour guide told us that we were here during an important juncture in Grand Turk’s history, between being explored by cruise lines and being exploited by throngs of passengers.

Back at the cruise center, passengers were hoisting Piña Coladas and Margaritas from the pool at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, the largest of its kind outside the United States. We sat down for a “Perfect Margarita” and nachos before boarding Crown Princess and waving farewell to Grand Turk. We were a long way from New York, with two days of sea ahead of us — the perfect way to end a perfect cruise.