We have done well over a 100 cruises over the past 50 years, 62 of which have been Princess. As we are in Florida Nov/Dec we like to tag a cruise or two onto the end of our stay, returning home mid January. Having done a 20 day back to back on Crown for the past 2 years, and the dates fitting our plans this time, we booked this cruise again. An added bonus was reduced flights which fit in with our travel dates.
Having done the Ocean Ready for Medallion pre departure, as UK passengers we had to collect the Medallion at embarkation. Embarkation was the worst ever experienced - no line for Elite passengers entering the cruise terminal, lines similar to Disney to go through security. Princess personnel unable to cope directing Ocean Ready passengers without medallions. No need to produce documentation or screenshots of Ocean Ready details but had to show passports three times and give cabin number. The whole process took 3 times longer than normal (we always check in at the same time).
Once on board we went to Guest Services and requested a cruise card instead of Medallion. We dislike the Big Brother element of it and had bad experiences when it was trialled on a few passengers on Regal a few years ago. We haven’t got a smartphone either.
The card was just like the Medallion - tap to get on and off ship, tap for cabin entry and tap to pay for items. Several passengers asked how we had managed to revert to cruise cards. The security people on the gates at St Thomas appreciated the card and the clarity of reading our name and comparing to our ID.
Lifeboat drill was a farce. It is bad enough that Princess have turned a serious event into a musical but this time the recording with relevant information was interrupted by the Captain announcing a problem with a diesel generator and informing us of a rescheduled itinerary. We therefore werent shown how to put on a life jacket and everyone left the muster station after which the recording was broadcast again as passengers were milling around lifts and Prom Deck.
Our inside cabin was perfectly adequate but I don’t like the duvets so requested a blanket instead to be told they are no longer available. I had to compromise with 2 of the smaller Movies under the Stars blankets.
Apart from the revised itinerary and the windy weather preventing docking at 2 ports which resulted in an additional 4 sea days (we hate sea days at the best of times), our biggest grouse was the food. The menu choice in the MDR was mainly not to our taste and when we went in for dinner, had to complain about the quality and temperature of the offerings. Breakfast in the MDR was generally good but the same could not be said of the service. Starters were served to other tables whilst our cooked food sat at the serving station. Horizon Court was poor for cooked food in that it was often barely warm. Fried eggs were like set jelly and toast was dry and hard. There were too many themed evenings and for the first time ever on a cruise we had to resort to burger and fries for dinner from the burger bar a couple of times as at least they were cooked to order. American desserts are not to our taste but there was never a fresh fruit salad and we used the ice cream bar or the cheese offering. We certainly didn't put any weight on. Lunch was mainly taken at the International Cafe as their soup was always hot but the sandwich choice never varied as it used to. There was a better system at Afternoon tea with a variety of bread and a few sandwich fillings available.
Despite a partial refit in 2018 there are areas of the ship that need addressing particularly Horizon Court seating and layout. During the whole 20 days one midship elevator was out of order, other elevators were taken out of service on a daily basis resulting in long waits for elevators, some of which by passed the deck we were waiting on.
I can’t comment on the entertainment as it was much the same shows as on previous cruises but just wish there were quiet places to sit in the evening without any music. We tended to watch movies in our cabin as it was too unpleasant for Movies under the Stars. I also wish they would turn down the sound on Movies under the Stars and on deck music as this can be heard in the Sanctuary. The level of sound could produce noise induced deafness particularly for staff There was often a sewage/rotten vegetable smell on Deck 17 near the Sanctuary.
Drinks service as always is very slow, even when going to the bar oneself. Even Medallion users were experiencing problems. At the bar there was only one machine to be tapped and it was a fixed unit. How they have the audacity to make an additional 18% service charge I do not know.
Despite being give additional obc and some credit towards a future cruise, I am hesitant about booking Crown again. No one seems to know if the generator problem is likely to be solved soon. I would advise anyone to think twice about booking Crown especially as its Summer programme is based in Southampton and aimed at UK passengers.
Dislike newer cruise terminal. Longish walk into town. Years ago used to dock under the bridge when smaller ships were in operation.
Dock in the commercial dock due to ship’s size. Been before when easy to walk from Town dock to Botanical Gardens and nearby library with lovely views.
Docked at Havensight Mall which seems to have increased its number of jewellery shops. Fortunately KMart is still open for necessities and is about 15 mins walk from the ship.
They are still ‘improving’ the sea front following hurricane damage over 2 years ago so the walk into Charlotte Amalie is not as pleasant.
Hate this place. Looks good and inviting from ship. Gets very crowded and there are small rocks in swimming area. Expensive bars and shops. Nothing much if you take taxi into town.
One of better Caribbean ports with lots to do. Several ships in and some queues from shuttle bus to cruise terminal.