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Crown Princess around Britain - a Brit reviews


Slugsta

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Crown Princess review - Great Britain, June 2011

 

This was my 4th cruise but first with Princess having previously been aboard QE2 (Cunard), Arcadia (P+O) and Boudicca (FO).

 

First impressions-

 

Embarcation. We left home at around midday and were at Southampton just before 1pm, to be met with quite a queue to get into the terminal. However, we were soon inside and waited only a few minutes to be called. We were onboard and ready for lunch by 1.30pm. Our cabin was ready and our steward (Wilson) immediately arrived to introduce himself, our luggage arrived while we were still chatting. Although Princess literature states that MDRs are open for lunch on embarcation day, I had been warned that it was a different matter once aboard and, true to form, we were directed to the buffet for lunch.

 

Crown Princess.

Buffet lunch was not a hardship as the Horizon Court is well laid out, much less like a cafeteria than Arcadia but much bigger than Boudicca. Tables were set with napkins and cutlery and drinks, including tea, coffee and water, were brought to the tables. There were plenty of tables available and a wide choice of food. We did get approached a lot to buy soda cards, coffee cards, sign up for wine tasting and various other things, which was a bit of a turn off and we hoped that it would not continue like this for the whole cruise.

After lunch we set out to explore. Crown Princess is the biggest ship we have been on and first impressions were favourable. She is a beautiful ship with lots of art deco touches and a stunning atrium. I was determined to enjoy myself in such lovely surroundings.

We had a basic inside cabin so knew what to expect as far as that was concerned. On the plus side, there were plenty of hanging and drawer space. There is a small fridge in each cabin and Wilson kept it well stocked with ice - even though I said we didn't need it. No tea/coffee making facilities on the cabin though, which we expected but did feel that Princess is missing a trick if it wants to appeal to the UK market.

 

Cruise critic meet up.

Thanks to whoever organised this. It was lovely to meet you all, despite the inclement weather.

 

Anytime dining.

This is the first time we had done anytime dining, having always taken first sitting previously. I was glad we had opted for this when I read that the demand for 1st sitting had been so high that they had opened up another dining room for a 5.30 sitting! The first night there was a 30 minute queue to book in for dinner and we wondered whether it would be like that every night. It was never as bad after that and we only waited for a few minutes and then were seated straight away (we had expected to be given a pager and sent away to wait). It was lovely to take our time and eat when we were ready, fitting our meal in with what we wanted to do that evening.

 

 

Food.

Well, the food was plentiful and not bad - that's the best I can say about it. Strangely, we thought it catered to American tastes but the USAnians thought it catered to British tastes. That probably says more about joint prejudices than anything else! Even things that were billed as 'spicy' were disappointingly bland and the sweet souffles (that I had heard people rave about) were more like sponge puddings. I do miss the silver service aspect, especially as I like a good serving of veggies. Nevertheless, we did not go hungry and food is only one aspect of the cruise experience.

 

Entertainment.

There was always plenty to do but the production shows in the theatre were rather lacklustre and we didn't bother with them much (I was told that we will probably find everything a poor second having experienced the shows on a Cunard ship). There was a magician, a mind reader and a comedian who were pretty good though.

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Movies under the stars.

This deserves a section of its own, it is such a great feature. Although the weather wasn't all that good, we did manage to watch a film on two evenings. Princess provide deck blankets so it is nice to snuggle down on a lounger (an added bonus for me as I cannot sit to watch films in the cinema). Popcorn and/or milk and cookies are brought round during the film. I can imagine that this would be a really popular entertainment on warm weather cruises. During the day they show music concerts, american football games and such like, that does mean that it is very noisy around that pool and not the place to relax quietly. It is easy enough to find a quiet spot elsewhere though.

 

The Sanctuary.

This is a place where adults can escape from the hubub. However, you have to book for the whole cruise on the first day or queue at 8am of the day concerned if you just want one day. I think it cost around $20 per day, but cannot say for sure as I didn't visit. I would have liked to go for just one day, but wasn't interested enough to be up and out before 8am!

 

Excursions.

As always, official excursions were expensive. We didn't bother with them much, especially as we were mostly on mainland UK so were happy to make our own way. We did just one official tour, from Holyhead to Beaumaris on Anglesey. This was well organised with a knowledgeable local guide. From what I heard, many of the excursions were very good.

 

Soda card.

I drink a lot of soft drinks so I thought it would be worth my while to pay $50 for unlimited soda. This worked very well, especially as rum+coke is one of our favourite tipples! I was given a souvenir bottle and told that this would come in handy when we were out and about. In fact, it leaked everywhere and had to be thrown away.

 

Drinks.

I was aware that compulsary gratuities would be added to every bar bill. This did make alcohol rather pricey, but measures were generous. There was a good cocktail menu, but I didn't ever see a 'drink of the day' being advertised. The wine bar served sushi or tapas with every drinks order, this was nice as a snack or even a light meal.

 

Coffee.

I love 'good' coffee but am sensitive to caffeine so I don't drink much of it and I never waste my time with anything I don't like. I knew that the coffee in the dining room would be poor (having been warned by previous Princess cruisers) but I did try the speciality coffee bar just once. The filter coffee was stewed and unpleasant so I didn't try again. There was a good choice of speciality coffees for those who wanted and the coffee card would probably be a good buy for anyone drinking several cups per day.

 

Ports of call.

Our intinerary was Le Havre, sea day, South Queensferry (for Edinburgh), Invergordon (for Inverness), Kirkwall (Orkney), sea day, Belfast, Dublin, Holyhead and St Peterport. We were lucky that the weather was good and we were able to get ashore at St Peterport, although tendering 3000 people did take quite a long time. It seemed a good mix of citites and quieter places, and Princess obviously know their market as the USAnians loved all the ports of call.

 

Passengers.

Although mainly Americans, we had a good mix of passengers (we were told that there were representatives from 41 counties aboard). We were always seated at the dining table with English speakers, but did chat to people of various nationalities at other times. It was nice to mix with others, rather than the typical English abroad. I didn't really hear any moaning - do you think the 2 are connected?!

 

Children.

Although out of main schol holidays, there were a few children on board, mainly American I think. We hardly saw them, never heard them and even I (who has often being likened to the Childcatcher) could find nothing to complain about!

 

Crew,

It was interesting to see a crew made of up of more than 30 nationalities, unlike P+O. They seemed to work well together and were unfailingly helpful and polite. We used to breakfast in the buffet and, seeing my walking stick, I was never once allowed to carry my own plate to the table. I wondered whether automatic payment of gratuities might result in a crew who were complacent and not prepared to 'go the extra mile' but this was certainly not the case.

 

Dismebarkation.

The only time cruisers are not treated like VIPs! We were given a card asking our preferred disembarkation time - and then allocated something completely different. However, a quick visit to passenger services soon got that changed. Cases were collected from 7pm the evening before. We left our bags in our cabin and had breakfast in the buffet, then down into the dining room allocated for disembarkation. We were there for just a few minutes before we were called and we were off very quickly. Luggage was were it should be and that was the end of our lovely cruise.

 

Overall.

We loved Crown Princess. The high number of passengers did result in long queues at times (especially for tenders) but there was plenty of space aboard so it was always possible to find a quiet spot. Would we cruise with Princess again? As long as the price is right, we would go with them again without a second thought!

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Thanks... Loved your perspective. Unfortunately we had the displeasure of sailing with a couple (they were at our assigned dining table) who was a P&O fan. The sailing he wanted was sold out so they booked him on Princess... and all he did was complain how much better P&O was and his displeasure at us Americans.... However, his wife was lovely and other Brit passengers seemed to take it in stride...

 

there is always one crumegedon.:p

 

And the funny thing was that in almost every port the P&O ship was docked next to us.... hubby and I just laughed.

 

CC

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Thanks for the review Slugsta. We are on the 9th July sailing to Norway. We have only a one hour drive to the port but are not as close as you. We have decided to buy the coffee card so I am a bit disappointed that you found the Filter coffee poor. Maybe you just caught it when they were quiet and it had sat for too long. We are very used to the US lines, having sailed a lot with RCI and Celebrity but we haven't been on Princess for 6 years. We have met died in the wool P&O fans in the past who were a pain in the proverbial. ;)

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I have to agree that the souffles were totally disappointing on this cruise ! Flat and dry.

I am not sure if this was a Crown thing or the recipe was changed. I will be on the Emerald in December so we'll see if they are back to the excellent quality I have experienced before.

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Thank you for your review. It's well-thought out and balanced. Just as an FYI, you mention that you boarded at 1:30pm. The dining room on embarkation day, or any day for that matter, closes at 1:30pm. Getting to the dining room after 1:30pm means you definitely wouldn't have been able to go regardless of whether they allowed passengers embarking or not. :(

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Ah, thanks Pam, that might explain it.

 

Cinnamon, I am very fussy about my coffee. I would suggest you try one speciality coffee early on and then decide for yourself whether you want the coffee card.

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Hello Slugsta,

 

Have never tried a P&O cruise having cruised many times with folks that have thought I would prefer Princess, and so far I am happy with the product

 

I have cruised the Crown a few times and never had a bad cruise on her, have come across some great crew members.

 

Have found that a last minute cruise around the UK can great value holiday

 

Thanks for posting such a detailed review

 

 

yours Shogun

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I find the IC brewed coffee too strong for my tastes too. I personally can drink the coffee in the dining room and buffet. I'm sorry you chose not to try the dining room coffee on reports from here. Taste is so subjective, it sometimes is worth trying something for yourself and then make a judgement. The same applies to the entertainment. Everyone has their own taste. I read all the reviews and keep them in mind but, I still try the shows to see if they will impress me or not :D

 

Thanks for your review!

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Thank you for the review. It is nice to read your perspective. I cruised the Crown back in 09 and thought she was beautiful. I had a great time. I traveled with a friend who had never cruised before and she really didn't enjoy it that much. I'm happy to hear of happy new Princess cruisers.:)

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Thank you, Slugsta, for your review. I enjoyed this itinerary August 2009. I was able to book mostly private tours through our roll call. The absolute highlight of the cruise was the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It was magnificent.

 

True story: Just as expected the weather was overcast and drizzly. Midway through the program a soprano began singing Amazing Grace. The clouds immediately parted and the rain ceased! That would have made a believer out of the most dedicated atheist. :)

 

I found a lot of good precruise information from CC's Britain message board. A number of knowledgeable locals were happy to share thier knowledge.

 

Of, course, I had to spend a week in London precruise. Booked a studio at Basil Street Apartments. Geat location, catty corner behind Harrod's and only a half block from a tube entrance. Reasonably priced, too.

 

I was most curious why we made port at Le Havre. I don't think it's yet a member of the British Isles. :p Does Great Britain have a rule similar to the U.S. Passenger Services Act whereby the ships must touch a foreign port?

 

Thanks For The Memories!!

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Thanks for the review Slugsta. We are on the 9th July sailing to Norway. We have only a one hour drive to the port but are not as close as you. We have decided to buy the coffee card so I am a bit disappointed that you found the Filter coffee poor. Maybe you just caught it when they were quiet and it had sat for too long. We are very used to the US lines, having sailed a lot with RCI and Celebrity but we haven't been on Princess for 6 years. We have met died in the wool P&O fans in the past who were a pain in the proverbial. ;)

 

Cinnamon, Having been on the Crown 3 times in last 11 months, we have found on the odd occasion when I found the filter coffee (mostly the decaf) to be a little stewed, more likely on days when in port when it is not quite so busy. All I did was have a word with Paul who oversees the service in the International Cafe or if he has gone on vacation speak with Yves who will be taking over from him and they will certainly sort it out and you will get freshly brewed coffee.

Enjoy the cruise.

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We went to Sabatinis last week on the Crown UK cruise and found it very nice! The location is so much better that the Crown Grill, I think. The service and admosphere was great. We enjoyed being given a choice of 4 appetizers at a time, two times. I limited my choices to 6 and had a small sample of those. I had the lobster and it was good, but the entre was not that much better than the MDR where found all the meals to be very good. Maybe because we had the above mentioned Yves as our excellent waiter!

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We went to Sabatinis last week on the Crown UK cruise and found it very nice! The location is so much better that the Crown Grill, I think. The service and admosphere was great. We enjoyed being given a choice of 4 appetizers at a time, two times. I limited my choices to 6 and had a small sample of those. I had the lobster and it was good, but the entre was not that much better than the MDR where found all the meals to be very good. Maybe because we had the above mentioned Yves as our excellent waiter!

 

 

Yes, Yves is excellent isn't he!!, he was actually in the Crown Grill 4 weeks ago, he will be returning to the International Cafe in a couple of months when Paul goes on vacation. Both have an excellent rapour with all the guests:)

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6months etc,

Thanks very much. Many cruisers have favourite bars they frequent and get to know the bar tenders there. From what I am reading it may be Paul in the IC for us, especially as OH is only allowed one alcoholic drink a day at present (Drs orders, not mine ;)).

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