Feel Like Royalty Aboard Crown Princess
by Olivia Balsinger
I had a wondrous opportunity to experience the Crown Princess this past December, on one of the first weeklong sailings back to the Eastern Caribbean following the disastrous hurricanes earlier in the fall of 2017. The experience was an eight-day sail, beginning in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and porting in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. Not only was this trip special in that we experienced the efforts the cruise company has made in furthering relief efforts of the area, but it was also special to experience all of the ship’s amenities and many excursions throughout the Caribbean. Princess Cruises’ Crown ship is aptly named—I, indeed, felt like royalty onboard and off!
The Princess Cruise Line
The Princess Cruise line is owned by the same line as Carnival and Seabourn. The Crown Princess is a midsize ship, carrying about 3,100 passengers at a time—and though my voyage was practically full, the ship was so spacious that I never felt claustrophobic aboard. Additionally, the ship is designed with public rooms and outdoor areas that creates a more intimate experience for guests and their loved ones.
A great majority of travelers aboard Princess Cruises are repeat customers—meaning that they have previously embarked on another Princess voyage—repeat customers are a telltale sign of a reputable company. I chatted with a few of these repeat customers to try and understand what their experience was like—the overarching opinion was that they preferred the service, amenities and kindness of the staff on Princess to other comparable ships.
The Time to Eat Is…Always!
The ship offers dining options to satiate any palate, such as traditional dining, buffets, as well as 24-hour room service. For their inclusive dining packages, you may opt for their Anytime Dining, which allows you to eat any time you want between 5:30 or 10:00pm, or their Traditional Dining package, where you enjoy the company of your party at a regular time throughout your journey.
Do not miss your chance to indulge in the finest Italian fare at Sabatini’s, a restaurant voted “Best Cruise Ship Specialty Restaurants” at sea by USA Today. Choose from a tantalizing menu of signature pastas, delicious wines, and irresistible desserts, within an old-world yet luxurious ambiance. My personal favorite aspect of the menu? The great variety of cheese selection!
There is also Crown Grill, a steakhouse that offers an intimate dining experience where you can watch the chefs prepare premium beef or fresh seafood items in their open kitchen setting. There is also the ship’s chic and innovative gastropub, The Salty Dog, where you can try one of the innovative creations of Chef Ernesto Uchimura — the founder of the original Umami Burger. For example, his namesake burger, “The Ernest,” is a delicious, savory plate made of rib eye that was cited as “Best Burger at Sea” by review website Cruise Critic.
Catching ZZZ’s Onboard
This three-story spectacle on the sea were able to make me feel right at home, with accommodations and activities for every age group to enjoy. The cabins themselves are quite spacious, and packed with a full range of amenities so that I was able to relax in comfort.
The ship’s more affordable cabin options are their Interior and their Ocean View rooms, which come with either a queen or two twin beds, a television, a private bathroom with a shower, a large closet, and a desk. You may also wish to upgrade to a cabin with a balcony. I personally loved the feeling of waking up to the salt of the sea and the vast horizon looming in the distance complete with a table and two chairs, I would enjoy beautiful leisurely mornings and evening cocktails (donning my Princess Cruises robe, of course!) with the beautiful scenery of the ocean surrounding me.
For even more space, you may also choose the Mini-Suite, which includes a separate sitting area with a sofa bed; and more space yet, there is the Suite, which also features deluxe accommodations, such as priority embarkation and disembarkation, as well as a complementary mini bar.
Life Aboard the Crown Princess
When you manage to tear yourself away from the comfort of your cabin, you will find a wide range of activities and public amenities suitable for every age group. The three-story piazza acts as a central gathering spit, with small scale shows providing fantastic entertainment throughout the day — from musicians, to magicians, acrobats, and even workshops. There is an open-air pool-side amphitheater, which plays movies at all times of day, but is particularly magical at night. Live entertainment is brought to you by some of the world’s top directors and choreographers, and includes dazzling stage sets and hit numbers performed by a talented roster of performers.
Feel like getting up on stage yourself? Participate in the Voice of the Ocean singing competition, where you and your fellow passengers can show off your talent. The audience has the ability to vote on the winner, and it is certainly a fun and engaging event. Who knew I was sailing with the next Mariah Carey and John Lennon?
Land Hoe! —The Crown Princess Docks Throughout the Eastern Caribbean
Though I can earnestly say I could have stayed and enjoyed the amenities onboard the boat for a full seven days, Princess’s many offerings in terms of shore excursions certainly lured me onto land (and once on land, it was difficult for me to leave these exotic destinations with friendly local!) What was more, many of these islands were undergoing restorations following the fall 2017 hurricanes and Princess Cruises was bringing much needed revenue back to islands that had either been partially or almost entirely destroyed.
“The first hurricane did a lot of damage and the second hurricane did more damage and they all flooding,” said the captain of the Crown Princess, Justin Lawes. “But that never dimmed the spirit.” Princess Cruise Lines is a proud partner of FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association), an organization committed to working with tourism boards and restoring normalcy to the area.
Each of Princesses’ excursions are led by local reputable operators who not only have expertise in their fields, but also understand how crucial their tourism income would be in restoring the recent damage to their region. I was able to experience authentic, adventurous and immersive land and aquatic excursions in the varieties presented at each port. Some of these activities included zipping through the green and lush jungles of Antigua, kayaking and bird watching with eco-friendly companies through the mangroves of St. Thomas, and even horseback riding through the turquoise waters of Grand Turk. I appreciated that Princess Cruises granted us extra time in the evening on the island of St. Kitts to have dinner off-shore and delight in local cuisine as well—local lobster on the beach, oh my!
Princess Cruises does an impeccable job of merging cultural and adventurous experiences on land with a diversity of amenities onboard for a well-rounded experience. The cruise line is dedicated to creating a vacation that makes you navigate straight to the Princess Cruises webpage the next time you are in the market to book a cruise and say aloud, “Hey, I want to feel like royalty aboard Princess again! Let’s book it!”
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