4 / 5
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W. Caribbean on the Crown
|0 Day/Night Western Caribbean
Reviewer Recommended: Yes
Western Caribbean Cruise
Nov. 6 – 13, 2010
By Mary & Vincent Finelli
This was our first cruise on board the Crown Princess, but her class includes the Ruby and the Emerald Princesses which are exact replicas, and we have sailed on both of them. The tradition of creating new classes of ships built to one basic engineering design is a good one, since passengers feel that they already know the deck plan well from sailing aboard a sister ship. It also reduces time spent looking for various locals on board --- theater forward, dining rooms mid to aft, Piazza or centrum Decks 5, 6, & 7, Buffet and pool areas Deck 15 etc. etc. etc. The Crown Princess Captain Andrew Proctor can usually be seen at morning tea with his lovely wife in the International Cafe`. He says that he enjoys this area of the ship immensely because the open atmosphere invites informal conversations with passengers. This kindly gentleman sets the warm mood of the Crown Princess.
On Princess ships embarkation is speedy and orderly. Baggage is taken at curbside and for wheelchair passengers there is direct access to Priority Check-In counters. All passengers go to Check-In counters individually marked with each deck name. This system reduces long lines and needless waiting. The gangway once again was quite steep, which means reversing the swing away pedals on the wheel chair to protect them. Vincent also shut off his scooter to avoid jamming the motor or gears. This was our 88th cruise, so by now we know how to avoid equipment damage.
We arrived in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL at 12:30pm and had assistance all the way to our cabin C303 where we dropped off our walker and hand luggage and were off to the buffet at 1:00pm. After lunch Vincent went to the Crown Grill Restaurant where Maitre D'Hotel Francesco Ciorfito assigned us an exquisite table for two, by the window, in the Da Vinci dining room. Personal Choice Dining allows us to dine at the same table every evening with the same wait staff. Now all that remained was the Boat Drill at 4:15pm. On Princess this is painless since the Muster Stations are indoors and seating is available.
The Crown Princess is the first of three ships in the Crown Class. She was built by Fincantieri Shipyards at Montefalcone, Italy in 2006. She is Hull #6100 to come from this venerable builder. There is an abundance of wood, brass and marble which contribute to its elegant interiors. Throughout the ship are many paintings and mosaics. Her Port of Registry is Hamilton, Bermuda. Her gross tonnage is 112,894, her length is 951 ft. and breadth is 118 ft. Passenger capacity is 3,150 and she sails with a crew of 1,200. She has a cruising speed of 22.5 knots. There are three sets of elevators: one forward, one aft and a Panoramic set of lifts mid ship.
Gala Deck 4 has crew areas and the Medical Center.
Decks 5, 6, & 7 (Plaza, Fiesta & Promenade) are all public passenger areas. Forward on Deck 5 there are passenger cabins and the Laundromat (other Laundromats are on Decks 8, 9, 11, 12, & 14 aft, and on Deck10 midship). The theater is located on Decks 6 & 7 forward.
Plaza Deck 5 midship are the Piazza, with live music and entertainment and the International Cafe`, with terrific coffees and hot chocolates, not to mention marvelous desserts, salads, soups and sandwiches. Here is also served Italian Gelato (three huge scoops on a special elongated dish for a $1.50). There is a beautiful Peacock mural and mosaics everywhere and even on the floor. Midship are also the Internet Cafe`, with its many interesting chiaro-scuro photographs of Venetian scenes, the Travel Cafe` Escapes, the Vines (a wine and cheese bar), the Future Cruise Sales and the Art Gallery. Aft is the Michelangelo Dining Room.
Fiesta Deck 6 midship has the Gatsby Casino, Reception Desk and the shops of Meridian Bay. Aft is the Da Vinci Dining Room, with its light maple wood walls and low ceilings and lovely art work. Aft is the Botticelli dining room, accessible only from the upper decks by the aft lifts. On Deck 6 forward is the lower level of Princess Theater with wheelchair accessible seats through a corridor.
Promenade Deck 7 has the promenade around the ship with the exception of the forward part, which continues through the stairs on Emerald Deck 8. On Deck 7 forward there is wheelchair access to the upper level of Princess Theater. Here are also the Wheelhouse Bar with its nautical décor and the Library with its excellent stacks.
Decks 8 through 14 (Emerald, Dolphin, Caribe, Baja, Aloha and Riviera) are mainly for passenger cabins and suites.
Lido Deck 15 forward has cabins, midship are the Trident Grill with more mosaics, the Neptune's Reef & Pool with the Pizza and Ice Cream station. At midship there are also the Pool and the Movies under the Stars. Aft is the Horizon Court & Terrace for buffet dining.
Sun Deck 16 forward has the Lotus Spa with the Beauty Salon, Sauna and Massage rooms, Aerobics, Fitness Center and the Hearts & Minds wedding chapel. Aft is Sabatini's gourmet Italian Restaurant and the Adagio Bar with elegant entrances of wrought copper grape vines.
Sports Deck 17 forward is the Sanctuary, an exclusive area reserved for sunning and relaxation. All the way aft are the Teen Center with Chill Out, The Fun Zone, Off Limits and the Video Arcade.
Sky/Star Decks 18/19 have the Center Court, Cybergolf and the Jogging Track and the Skywalkers Night Club at the top.
This is a beautifully kept ship with much to do for all ages.
FOOD & SERVICE
The service on board is top notch -- fit for a queen -- every afternoon at 3:30pm High Tea is served in the Da Vinci Dining Room. This is a must experience. Maitre D'Hotel Francesco Ciorfito is a patient and kind man dedicated to giving the passengers a wonderful experience on board. Head Waiter Giuseppe Renda made us welcome each evening in the Da Vinci. Sous Chef Federico Femiano sent us some marvelous specialties like Lucullus (egg plant rolled around angel hair pasta, baked with a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano), and a Risotto ai funghi (mushroom risotto) that was delicious. Our waiters each evening were the very adept Douglas Garcia and his assistant Despot Cvedanovic. They served the meal at a nice pace and always with a smile. We especially like the crisp salads and innovative soups including the cold ones (Pina Colada, pear and peach were superb).
Lunch time was always pleasant with the the very cordial waiter Enrique. Head Waiter Mihai Baroi was everywhere on board and overlooking everything. The luncheon menu is quite good, in fact we think the best afloat: including fried Calamari, Vitello Tonnato, osso buco, etc., items usually found in upscale restaurants only!
We ate dinner in Sabatini's ($20) with what seemed like 18 courses. Our table was next to a fountain and the delightful room design is repeated circles of round tables and wood décor with a huge Tiffany ceiling globe, similar to the one in the centrum. All in all a gorgeous room. All the breads on Princess are exceptional, but the Food & Beverage Supervisor Claudio Guarnieri told us that the Corporate Executive Baker was on board to “Tweak” the recipes and has already had great success with the focaccia.
Since this was our fifteenth cruise with Princess, we are now Elite members and were invited to breakfast in Sabatini's. Excellent! Mary recommends the poached eggs served over tiny roasted potato cubes in a snifter of sorts with Hollandaise sauce on the side. Vincent recommends the freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice with James Beard's French toast, or an excellent Belgian waffle. Sous Chef Ivano Milani (a student of Executive Chef Antonio Cereda) makes Sabatini's a terrific place to dine. Vincent, as an Italian, usually avoids Italian food when dining out, because he is afraid of being disappointed, but not on Princess with her many terrific Italian born chefs. We feel Princess has the best food on the seas. Hotel General Manager Martin Ford has every right to be proud of the service on board the Crown: It is superb!
C303 on Caribe Deck 10 is a wheelchair accessible cabin with ample space. When entering on the left is a parking area for the wheelchair and next a triple armoire, with two sections for hanging clothes and one with shelves and a personal safe. Next, there is a flat screen TV and a refrigerator, a long counter area and one cabinet with two drawers. There is also a small round coffee table and two chairs.
When entering on the right, there is a large bathe with a fold up shower seat and a single sink with shelves for amenities. All was nicely tiled and kept exceptionally clean by our Steward Marius. There is a large queen bed with a puff quilt. The bed is flanked by two bureaus with four drawers each and a reading lamp too far away to shut off from the bed. The décor is blue, gold and cream, very cool.
The balcony is oversized and held two lounge chairs, two chairs and a table. There was a cover over half of it. It was very convenient, private and protected. We were very comfortable here and the chocolate dipped strawberries and fresh fruit daily made life a dream.
Princess always has excellent music in the Piazza, the Dining Rooms and on deck poolside. Cruise Director Ron Goodman leads off the cruse with a Sail Away at Neptune's Reef on Deck 15 and the music and dancing begin. In the Explorer's Lounge on Promenade Deck 7 there was an early movie “Oceans” and the cruise was off to a great start. The Princess Theater usually has two nightly shows: 7 and 9pm. We dined at 5:30 and sometimes made the early show. The Princess Orchestra and Dancersstar in two shows “Motor City” and “Destination Anywhere.”
The Piazza has many entertainers among which were “Duo Alia” (two gorgeous girls who did “adagio body balancing” a unique acrobatic routine. Then there is the Champagne Waterfall Party hosted by Captain Proctor and built by Maitre D' Francesco Ciorfito, where many ladies had their pictures taken with the gracious and patient Francesco. This was formerly held at midnight, but has now been moved to 7:30-8:30 pm with free champagne for all. There was an abundance of comedians on board. We thought the best was Cary Long in the Explorer's Lounge. The well organized “Princess Patter” lists all the daily activities and events -- Go have a ball.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FL Depart 5:00pm
Day 2. At sea
Day 3. Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:00pm
Day 4. Roatan, Honduras Arrive 10:00am Depart 5:00pm
Day 5. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 7:00am Depart 8:00pm
Day 6. At sea
Day 7. Princess Cays, Bahamas Arrive 9:00am Depart 4:30pm
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 6:00am Disembark 7:00
Debarkation was as organized and simple as embarkation. Passengers were called by their luggage tag colors. Wheelchair Passengers met at the Crooner's Bar and, since our color was already called, we had immediate assistance, thanks to our new acquaintance F & B Manager Claudio Guarnieri. We were off, collected our luggage, and were through customs, passport check and outside awaiting our son Marcello by 8:30am. Excellent!
This was our fifteenth cruise on Princess and another pleasant one. We are now Elite members of the Captain's Circle, so we look forward to more cruises on Princess ships for the enhanced benefits, such as complimentary Mini Bar set up, free laundry and professional cleaning services, deluxe canape selections and, most of all, the special breakfasts at Sabatini's! However, our next cruises will be a three day cruise to nowhere on the new Allure of the Seas Nov. 23rd and a seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the same ship Jan 23rd, 2011. Happy Cruising!