returned yesterday from the crown 6/26 through 7/5 sailing. this was the 14th cruise overall for my wife and me, and the 7th with our two children (ages 10 and 8). we are platinum with princess, and obviously like what princess has to offer. having said that, i must admit to being more and more critical lately with several aspects of our princess cruises. i am delighted to report, however, that this was an outstanding cruise, and one that i can confidently recommend to others.
embarkation/disembarkation: brooklyn is the best port we have experienced in our 14 years of cruising. great (outdoor) parking, nice terminal, friendly porters, incredible convenience all around. we drove from michigan, and after spending the night in new jersey, we got to the pier by 9:30 am. we planned on taking the brooklyn battery tunnel, but took the wrong turn, so ended up, by accident, taking the brooklyn bridge, which was real cool, since we had never been to ny city before. funny thing is, we made the same mistake on the way back. once we were at the pier, we took lots of photos of the statue of liberty. once again, princess distinguished itself as being the best at getting folks on and off its ships. we used express disembarkation, and were in the car, and on the road, before 8:30 am.
cabin: e-731, mini-suite on the starboard side, extreme aft. very nice cabin, with covered balcony. the balcony is extended because it is the last cabin on starboard side. it also provides a view of the ships wake. we have stayed in mini-suites before, and knew we would like this cabin. our cabin steward, roger, was, by far, the best we have ever had on a cruise, with any line (previously sailed with Holland, rcl, carnival, ncl). only complaint was that the starboard side has a lousy view at all ports, except new york city. we like being on the same side that the ship ties to the pier.
ship: beautiful, clean, comfortable. we have been on the grand, star, and caribbean, all of which have relatively poor stabilizer systems in my opinion. while i assume the crown has the same stabilizers, it sailed very smoothly the entire cruise. the service was markedly improved from that of recent princess cruises we have been on. pools were crowded on sea days, as expected. my kids love to swim, so nothing detoured them. one complaint is that the teenage kids, all who seem to be entirely unsupervised at all times, thought they owned the ship, and seemed to go out of the way to be in the way and disrespectful to other passengers. we keep a close eye on our children, and make sure there is no chance they will do anything to effect the experience of other passengers. unfortunately, it seems like some parents think a cruise is the perfect place to unleash there rotten child on the world. we climb stairs, rather than using elevators. frequently, several teens were sitting on the stairs to the extent that prevented passage. we had to ask them to please allow us by; and received attitude from them when we did.
atrium: the best , and most distinguishing characteristic of the crown is the atrium. although the other ships have an atrium, it is not used in the same respect. on the crown, the atrium is an entertainment and dining forum. the international cafe is the best concept princess has come up with in years. the pastries and cookies were fantastic. a waiter walked around with fresh baked cookies and glasses of milk. there was always great entertainment, so it was the perfect place to sit and relax.
food: we are not fans of the new menus. i cant eat seafood, and it seems like seafood dominates the menus. there doesn't seem to be as many choices. i ended up ordering the fillet mignon tournedos (always available) several times, because i couldn't find anything else. it was good, but previously that never happened. overall, the food quality was good. when we first started cruising with princess we recommended the line to others, based, in no small part, on the food. we still recommend princess, but not for the food. the buffet was typical. only real complaint here is that they did not open both sides for lunch on the day we arrived in grand turk. people were allowed off the ship at 1pm, so everyone herded to the horizon court at 12 noon. only one side was open, and cafe caribe was not open, so it was anarchy in the one open buffet. every man for himself.
ports: we are not excursion people. when in port we just walk around town. i don't like schedules when i am on vacation. we had been to all of the ports while on other cruises, with the exception of grand turk, which we found to be very nice, and convenient. one comment on the ports of call. this was a 9 day cruise, which departed mid week. consequently, we never met up with any other ships. it made for less crowds in port, but we like to see the other ships, and i rely missed that.
entertainment: the princess singers/dancers were bad. we are usually quite impressed with the main shows. not this time. lousy voices. we saw people in the audience actually laughing. the atrium entertainment was great though. the string quartet was superb. other than the atrium, unfortunately, the entertainment was below average at best. overall: the crown is a great ship. it rejuvenated my enthusiasm for princess. new york is a super port. if you are considering this cruise, i think you should go for it.