This classic, 800-seat theater on Decks 6 and 7 includes simple, tiered, maroon fabric-covered and honey wood-toned seats leading down to a red-curtained main stage. The seats fold up and have small tables for holding drinks. There is no balcony seating and the theater itself is not particularly grand, but the quantity of seats (given that there are two scheduled shows each evening) seems to fit the demand.
Evening shows range from magicians, musicians (vocalists, pianists and violinists) to comedians, and Princess' exclusive "Magic To Do" musical revue, an only-on-Princess creation from Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz (of "Wicked" fame, among others). The show is a musical sprinkled with illusion and showy costumes and skews a little campy, but it is entertaining nonetheless.
* May require additional fees
The most anticipated event to take place in the theater is the culmination of the Voice of the Ocean, an ongoing singing competition to select the best karaoke singers from all of the passengers. On the final night of the cruise, the stage is equipped with actual swiveling chairs, just like the coaches sit in for the televised version of "The Voice," while contestants sing their hearts out and the audience cheers them on (and even has the opportunity to vote for them using electronic ballot devices).
The Princess Patter, the daily guide to fun and enrichment on the ship, is chock full of options each day for getting to know your fellow cruises through various arts, crafts, seminars and other activities.
Start the day each morning with Zumba in Club Fusion if you like, followed by morning trivia (there are various trivia sessions held throughout the day and night). There's a daily arts and crafts class on sea days, with projects ranging from origami to paper quilling or napkin folding. Learn something new with a seminar, such as one on digital photography basics, a wine tasting or a port lecture.
Throughout the afternoon, you can catch live music in the Piazza, a great gathering space with a Mediterranean vibe that is perfect for enjoying a coffee drink and snack from the International Cafe or a glass of wine from Vines. You can also go on a backstage tour to meet the Princess production team and dance cast. Later on, learn some line dance moves or take a pennywhistle class. You can also place your bets on wooden horse racing in the Piazza. And don't forget afternoon tea.
Post-dinner entertainment options on Crown Princess are varied and include several live music acts with plenty of space on the dance floor in Club Fusion and Wheelhouse Bar. Check out karaoke and see who's putting it all on the line for the Voice of the Ocean during the multi-round auditions -- always one of the most crowded events. The Marriage Match and Quest game shows are other light-hearted audience participation games that take place in the Explorer's Lounge.
Movies Under the Stars is also hugely popular, usually screening two showings of first-run movies each evening on the 300-square-foot, 70,000-watt screen on Deck 15. Cruisers can watch shows and recorded concerts here during the day, but at night, the chaise lounges are outfitted with padded and pillowed maroon cushions and rolled buffalo-check flannel blankets for the ultimate cozy moviegoer experience under the night sky. Grab some popcorn and order up a hot toddy to make your movie date night complete.
Gatsby's Casino on Deck 6 offers slot machines, roulette, blackjack, craps, three-card poker, usually with nightly tournaments for games such as Texas Hold'em, slots and blackjack. Depending on your voyage, you might be surprised by the lack of players in the casino, perhaps the one space on the ship that didn't consistently seem to be utilized to its full potential. Heads up that smoking is allowed in the casino except on formal nights. There is an onboard ATM to withdraw cash, or you can charge funds to your onboard account to play in the casino.
When the weather and skies cooperate, you can join cruise staff for stargazing, a Discovery-branded program that welcomes cruisers to lie down on the deck and peer up at the sky, on a guided journey to identify planets and constellations far from any light pollution. During the program, a pre-recorded guide is played, while a crew member points out various constellations with a laser pointer. Your experience may vary, especially on cloudy or full moon nights.
For people who can't get enough dancing, head up to Skywalkers Nightclub on Deck 18 for a DJ'd dance party on a multicolored disco floor. We were occasionally some of just a few people taking advantage of this club; don't expect large crowds.
Vines (Deck 5): This cozy wine bar located just off the Piazza, the central atrium gathering spot on Crown Princess, features stone walls and wine barrel-shaped high-top tables, in addition to seating at the bar. Wine lovers will love it for its extensive wine list (available by the bottle or the glass). Along with your wine purchase, you'll enjoy complimentary sushi or tapas, with a changing selection each day. Vines is also host to special wine-themed events throughout the cruise.
Speakeasy Cigar Lounge (Deck 6): Located just next to the casino, cigar smokers can enjoy a stogie here.
Club Fusion (Deck 7): This is one of the central hot spots on the ship, tricked out with large video screens, and multicolored lights dancing across the ceiling. You'll also find a large wooden dance floor and stage that plays host to Zumba workouts in the morning, game shows during the day, and evening live music and dancing, along with a full bar.
Wheelhouse Bar (Deck 7): Wood-paneled walls and luxe, high-backed chairs give this nautical-themed bar a sophisticated edge in a cozy space tucked away near the shopping area of Crown Princess. This is also where you'll find the Salty Dog Gastropub. The Wheelhouse Bar offers plenty of seating space and is rarely crowded. Bourbon fans will love sampling their way through the menu here, which includes a variety of aged spirits and whiskey flights.
Crooners Bar (Deck 7): This vintage-feeling bar overlooking the central Piazza has a vaguely "Rat Pack" vibe with its cozy club chairs and jazzy decor adorning the light fixtures and mirrored backdrop on the stage. Crooners is host to wildly popular live piano performances each night and can get crowded before and after peak dinner times, inspiring the occasional crowd sing-along. The specialty martini menu features a range of classics and new creations, including the Original Chocolate Martini, the Bishops Mitre and a Margaritini.
Explorer's Lounge (Deck 7): With beautiful stained glass lights and travel-themed murals, this stunning lounge seats about 250 guests, with cozy booths and tables lit by small lamps, for popular events such as trivia and karaoke.
The Mix Bar (Deck 15): A newly renovated bar on the pool deck located on the opposite side of Salty Dog Grill, The Mix offers a variety of cocktails in an upbeat, poolside environment.
Outriggers Bar (Deck 15): Located in one of the best spots for sunsets at the ship's aft, Outriggers specializes in margaritas. Try the strawberry and black pepper margarita or a beergarita, prepared with Dos Equis. Feel like sharing? Upgrade your margarita to a 32-ounce glass with two straws.
Tradewinds Bar (Deck 16): A semicircular bar located on the sun deck overlooking the Neptune's Reef pool area, Tradewinds is a popular hangout during the day.
Adagio Bar (Deck 16): This bar, neighbor to Sabatini's, is a hidden gem on the Crown Princess. With coffered ceilings, a space bathed in warm, golden light and cozy couches and chairs overlooking the water, Adagio is bafflingly empty most of the day and evening, despite being the best-looking bar on the ship. The cocktail menu leans toward Italy, with drinks like Sicilian Kiss, Grappatini and an Amalfi Collins, but they also make a fantastic Old Fashioned.
Skywalkers (Deck 18): Located on the highest deck, Skywalkers hosts party-minded people into the wee hours, playing DJ-hosted dance music from 11 p.m. until the dance floor empties out. We liked dancing on the multicolored light-up disco floor, but were a bit sad that it wasn't more popular. As you peruse the menu for your next cocktail, keep your eyes peeled for The Isaac, named in honor of the ship bartender on "The Love Boat."
You'll find four pools on Crown Princess, two for family use at midship: Calypso Reef and Pool and Neptune's Reef and Pool; and two for adults only: a small pool at the aft of the ship, and a pool located near the Lotus Spa and Fitness Center at the ship's forward. (There is also a crew pool area that you might see at the ship's forward, which is not for guest use.)
Neptune's Reef, on Deck 15, features a large main pool with a bathing ledge flanked by two hot tubs. Nearby, you'll find all the fast food dining options including Slice, Coffee & Cones and Salty Dog Grill, with plenty of seating surrounding the pool area, and one deck up, on Deck 16. This is also where live bands occasionally play in the afternoon, providing that reliably sunny cruise soundtrack cruisers have come to expect for a day of catching rays by the pool.
Calypso Reef, also on Deck 15, includes the same design with a large main pool and two hot tubs, but in place of a band stage on Deck 16, this is where the big movie screen is located. This tends to be the quieter pool during the day, as people lounge and watch televised sporting events or whatever movie might be playing on screen.
All the way at the back of the ship on Deck 14, at the adults-only Terrace Pool, you'll find one of the best places to watch the sunset. Besides the pool there is tiered seating all the way up three decks overlooking the ship's wake. On Deck 17 you'll find another small, circular pool located near the youth and teen centers.
One of our favorite places to relax was the Lotus Spa Pool on Deck 15, a small pool with two hot tubs nestled between the spa and the gym, with a statue of Buddha overseeing the tranquility of this adults-only space, which is buffered by the wind and noise.
It's worth noting that pool towels are freely available for use at every pool space, and there is no check-in/checkout procedure for towels as there is on some cruise lines.
Crown Princess offers a diminutive Sports Court with basketball and paddle tennis on Deck 19, along with Princess Links, a nine-hole putting course nearby. Occasionally, you'll spot Pickleball open play or Ping-Pong tournaments listed in the Princess Patter.
Cruisers can reserve one of the ultra-plush padded lounge chairs covered in terry cloth available in The Sanctuary ($20 for a half-day, $40 for a full-day pass, and $30 per day for the whole cruise) on Deck 17. The experience comes with the service of dedicated wait staff, who will bring you refills of fruit-infused water, a special spa menu or something from the bar.
This is a nice space for those looking for a bit of shade and quiet, as a large awning covers this part of the deck, which is close to the spa and Lotus Pool. Pick your chair based on whether you want shade, sun or a window overlooking the water, and the seat is reserved for you as you come and go throughout the day. There are also cabanas where you can book a private or couples massage (Swedish, deep tissue or chair massage).
Don't want to pay extra for your lounge day? Don't worry -- there are plenty of chairs located just outside The Sanctuary that offer a nice quiet, sunny spot.
You'll find Guest Services, the Shore Excursions Desk and the Future Cruise Planning Desk all on Deck 6.
Crown Princess offers a beautiful library and writing room on Deck 7 near the Wheelhouse Bar. The glass-doored bookcases are stocked with games and books, including several copies of the Princess Cruises Book Club selection (you can follow along with current picks here). During each cruise, there is a book club meeting scheduled in the Princess Patter. A 24-hour Internet Cafe is on Deck 5. Wi-Fi access is $69 for 100 minutes; $99 for 200 minutes; $159 for 400 minutes; and $199 for 600 minutes, with extra bonus minutes available if you pre-purchase a package.
The ship's small wedding chapel on Deck 16, near the Lotus Spa, is called Hearts & Minds, and also functions as a religious meeting space for passenger-led services.
You'll find a collection of shops organized around the ship's midship atrium on Decks 6 and 7, including Calypso Cove for liquor, tobacco, and apparel; Meridian Bay for fashion jewelry and accessories; Essence for fragrance and cosmetics; and Facets by EFFY for fine jewelry.
The ship's Art Gallery is located on Deck 5, while the Photo/Video Gallery, showcasing prints from the ship's photographers, is on Deck 7. There's also a Platinum Studio with a studio set up for black-and-white portraiture if you'd like to book a special photography appointment, on Deck 19.
There's a Medical Center on Deck 4.
There is self-service laundry on every floor, which includes washers, dryers, irons and ironing boards. You can use your cruise card to purchase laundry detergent and tokens to use in the machines (or get the tokens from Guest Services). The cost is $3 to wash and $3 to dry, plus $1.50 for detergent. Depending on the amount of clothing and fabric types, you may need more than one round in the dryer, and you might have to deal with several passengers trying to do their laundry at once. You can also have items professionally laundered for a fee.
The Lotus Spa & Fitness Center occupies two decks at the front of the ship, with a dozen options for massages, relaxation treatments and facials, as well as a salon. Typically open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, we suggest making your appointments for popular sea day spots prior to your cruise, but keep in mind that occasionally new treatments or discounts aren't announced until you get onboard.
A unique option on Crown Princess is the Chocolate Body Indulgence treatment, which included a total-body chocolate-scented exfoliating scrub, rinsed off and followed by a chocolate mousse masque application (after which you are encased in a fragrant cocoon), with another rinse and finished with a full body massage using chocolate-scented oil. The scent of chocolate that trailed us through the ship inspired more than one passenger to grab an extra dessert.
The salon offers hair and nail services at reasonable prices, such as a trim and style for $59, and acrylic nail refills for $45. A Fire and Ice Manicure Pedicure Combo is $120, and a Royal Shave treatment for men, with a mini-facial and face, scalp, hand, and arm massage is $95. Acupuncture, teeth whitening, Ionithermie, and cosmetic facial treatments are also available.
You'll save money if you book three signature spa services -- your first treatment is 10 percent off; your second is 20 percent off; and your third is 30 percent off.
The spa also offers a VIP Thermal Suite, with heated stone reclining lounge seats, aromatic steam chambers, saunas, a rainforest shower and a mist fog shower, located in the lower level of the spa. The cost is approximately $20 per day for a pass lasting the duration of your cruise.
The fitness center overlooks the front of the ship, with glass windows curved around the treadmills and other cardio machines. It's a fairly small but serviceable gym, with Precor resistance machines, free weights, and an area for group fitness classes, such as Body Sculpt Boot Camp, indoor cycling, pilates and yoga. Classes are $12 each, or three classes for $30. A TRX class is also offered for $20. Note that there are no water coolers in the gym, so bring your own water. Gym hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m and you must be at least 16 years old to use these facilities.
Between the gym and spa area, you'll find locker rooms that also features saunas and showers. Tip: If you're tired of jockeying for time and space to shower in your stateroom, head to the spa for more spacious showers. This is particularly helpful prior to formal nights, when people typically need more time to get ready, and space is at a premium.
A very small and windy jogging track is located on Deck 19, where 16 laps equals 1 mile. Some passengers prefer to use Deck 7, the Promenade, as an unofficial walking track, but note that you cannot go all the way around this deck and must use the stairs at both ends to continue the circle.
Zumba class, held on select mornings in Club Fusion, is a free fitness class that is popular among repeat cruisers.
Though young families are somewhat a secondary audience for Crown Princess, the brand-new youth facilities added in 2018 and exciting programming are sure to earn high marks with multigenerational families and parents traveling with little ones.
Note that Princess does not have a nursery or child-minding services for children under 3 years of age, and there is no in-room babysitting available onboard. Evening group kid-sitting is available for 3 to 12 year olds from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and costs $5 per hour, per child (you need to arrange this by 8 p.m. of the day you wish to utilize the service Infants must be six months old to sail.
Family suite accommodations are limited to just two rooms on the whole ship. There also are no splash areas or outdoor water features for kids, and children must be potty-trained to use any of the pools onboard (swim diapers are expressly prohibited).
The kids' clubs, collectively called Camp Discovery, are broken into the following age groups: 3 to 7; 8 to 12; and 13 to 17. Kids can check themselves in and out of the club starting at 8 years old with parent consent. For the teen club, which starts at 13 years old, there is no signing in and out -- kids can just come and go as they please.
Kids ages 3 to 7 go to the Tree House, a bright, inviting space with a forest mural throughout. Operating hours are generally 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with an hour break for dinner, and then operating from 6 to 10 p.m. There's a climbing structure with foam obstacles, a small tree house that kids can climb into and slide down, a theater area, and a little outdoor track with tricycles that they can wheel around. Bathroom facilities are the perfect size to help little ones feel confident and independent. If kids are not fully potty-trained, parents will be issued a pager in case of accidents.
Programming includes Animal Planet activities like making animal masks, animal face painting, or playing with farm animal puppets. Discovery at Sea branded activities sometimes focus on learning about endangered species, like green sea turtles (kids will enjoy Timmy the Turtle games, crafts and trivia). There's also pirate activities, cowboy games and movie nights.
Bigger kids, ages 8 to 12, go to The Lodge, an outdoor-themed habitat that is decked out with that most important of all treasures for this age group: video games, specifically PlayStation 4. These kids can also play Skee-Ball, FoosBall and air hockey, plus enjoy an arts and crafts center.
Programming includes Animal Planet Trivia events and Mythbusters activities aimed at helping kids learn about animals such as sharks. Kids can also sign up for the Jr. Chef @ Sea program with its kid-tailored cooking classes, such as a hands-on cake decorating workshop right in the galley ($25 fee).
On select nights, you can sign up for complimentary kids-only dinners, which frees up parents to have their own adults-only dinner.
Teens ages 13 to 17 get to hang out at the Beach House, a surf-themed area where the emphasis is less on programming and more on just hanging out and making new friends.
The Beach House includes a deejay booth, a small movie area (scary movies are a favorite), Skee-ball, Foosball and table tennis. Occasionally, depending on the number of participants and level of interest during each voyage, activities are planned such as murder mysteries, PlayStation tournaments, and Rock the Boat parties, which include complimentary mocktails and dancing.