Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cruise Review - Crown Princess, April 24-May 1, 2010

Here is a review I put together for our first cruise aboard the Crown Princess. We had a wonderful time and I'd highly recommend this ship!


We flew into Fort Lauderdale on the morning of embarkation. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 9:30 am, picked up our luggage, then headed right for Port Everglades. The port is very close by, but it took us about 20 minutes to get there by taxi. I think traffic was a bit heavy as there were about 8 ships in port. We arrived at pier 2 a bit before 11am, dropped off our luggage with the porter and proceeded to the preferred check-in area. We were on board the ship and in our cabin by about 11:30 am. It was nice to get on the ship so early and be able to explore when the ship was so empty! We enjoyed a nice lunch the first day at the Horizon Court buffet.

We found the food to be delicious! We ate a lot of meals at the buffet, as we don't generally like to sit for a long time when there is so much to do! We had anytime dining, but we also ate at Boticcelli one night, as we were invited to join some friends we met on board while some of their table mates were dining elsewhere. All of the meals we had on board were excellent! On the last evening, we ate at Sabatini's which was excellent! The lobster was delicious! It was a long meal (we were there about 2 1/2 hours) but it was a nice, relaxing way to spend our final evening of the cruise and is well worth the $20 per person cover charge. Another place we really enjoyed was the International Cafe. The staff there are so warm and friendly and we really enjoyed Amy's company and her daily quizzes! The desserts at the International Cafe were so good! One of my favourites was the chocolate and peanut butter cups. We also enjoyed the warm cookies and milk (we usually got these from Ronnie around 3:30 in the afternoon). We purchased the coffee card ($25 for 25 specialty coffees plus unlimited regular coffee and hot chocolate) and it was well worth it! We also each purchased the regular soda card. Also, don't miss Afternoon Tea! We didn't try the tea until the last day, and wished we had done this sooner.


The service on this cruise was excellent! There are so many wonderful people working on the Crown Princess that helped make our vacation so memorable! We really liked Amanda, the President's Circle host, and Amy at International Cafe. They are both such wonderful, friendly people, and we enjoyed chatting with them everyday!The room stewards were awesome too! We never needed to ask for anything. The service at Sabatini's was also excellent.


My husband and I also enjoyed the two wine tastings on the ship. The first one was free of charge for me (I'm an Elite member) and my husband just had to pay a small fee (I think it was around $8-9). We enjoyed the first wine tasting, so decided to sign up for the other one as well, which was a bit more expensive, as the wines were better ($25 per person). Other Elite benefits we enjoyed were the canopies delivered to our cabin on formal nights (I especially enjoyed the chocolate covered strawberries - mmmmm....) and the Captain's Cocktail Party.

Ports of Call:
Grand Cayman - Grand Cayman was beautiful! We booked an excursion through Princess to swim with the stingrays, and swim with the dolphins. Both were just amazing and I really recommend this excursion! I was a little nervous of the stingrays at first as some are quite large (around 4 ft.) but they were very gentle creatures and we had a great time! The water at the stringray sand bar was gorgeous too. It was so clear and you could see the white sand bottom. Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen though!

Roatan - Roatan was my favourite port! It is a beautiful island and not as 'touristy' as many places on your typical Caribbean cruise. Well, Mahogony Bay itself is very touristy, as it was built just for cruiseships, but once you go beyond this area, you can get more of an idea of what the island is like. We booked the 'Zip 'n Dip' excursion through Victor Bodden Tours and it was excellent! The ziplining was so much fun and was a first for us. After, we visited some monkeys, lemurs, parrots, etc., then headed to a beautiful beach area located right by Infinity Bay resort. There was some great snorkeling here, not far from the shore.
Cozumel - We decided not to book a shore excursion in Cozumel, as we thought we'd just like to relax at this port. There was some nice shopping at the touristy shops, but if I return, I would probably book a tour to the Mayan ruins. It was fun though just to have some shopping time and we also had some nice drinks and tasty nachos at the Three Amigos Restaurant.
Princess Cays - Our last stop was at Princess Cays, Bahamas which was just beautiful. We loved the beach here and there were some good snorkeling spots. The beach BBQ was good too.

Overall, our cruise experience aboard the Crown was excellent! There are many other ships to explore, but I'm sure we will return to the Crown again!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shore Excursions in Grand Cayman & Roatan

It's less than a month before my hubby and I take off for our first cruise aboard the Crown Princess! I have been really researching the ports we will be visiting and have finally chosen a couple shore excursions that sound like so much fun! In Grand Cayman, we will be taking one of the Princess excursions and will be swimming with dolphins (something I've always wanted to do) and swimming with sting rays (this was highly recommended from a friend who used to live there). I've also planned an excursion for Roatan. I didn't find any excursions through Princess that really appealed to me in Roatan, so after a lot of research, I booked the 'zip and dip' excursion through Victor Bodden Tours. His tours are highly recommended on both Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. We will be ziplining and then going to a really nice beach area and we will likely bring along our own snorkeling equipment to do a bit or snorkeling on this island. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Great Deal on our Flights!

I have booked our flights for our cruise and am happy to say that I found an awesome deal through Spirit Air! The flights from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale are only $65 per person each way! Even with taxes and baggage fees, it's still cheaper than any other airlines leaving from my area. I'm basically between Detroit and Toronto, so I always compare flying out of both of these airports. We will be getting in to Fort Lauderdale pretty early in the morning, so we'll have plenty of time to wait before our cruise departs, but I'm good with that! I was a little worried about flying in the same day as the cruise, but our flight is schedule to arrive around 9:30 in the morning, so even if there is a delay, we should still have plenty of time to get to the cruise dock. On the return, our flight isn't until the evening, so we are planning on doing an excursion in Fort Lauderdale. I would really like to take an Everglades boat ride and hopefully see some alligators!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shore Excursions

Tonight I have been going over the many shore excursions that Princess has to offer on this itinerary. I cannot believe all the choices! I printed off all of the possible shore excursions, and it is 30 pages long! I think we will probably end up going to see some Mayan ruins in Cozumel, and maybe snorkel with the sting rays in Grand Cayman, but we are still unsure. Everything sounds so great, but I also want this to be a relaxing vacation, so we don't want to be on the go constantly! I'm just hoping the weather is really nice and we can spend some time just relaxing on the beach too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Awaiting Our First Cruise!

In just over a month, my husband Jeff and I will be departing on our first cruise aboard the Crown Princess! I am getting so excited! We will be heading on a Western Caribbean Cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. The ports of call are Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan (Honduras), and Princess Cays (private island in the Bahamas).

Varadero, Cuba

Here are a couple photos from our recent trip to Varadero, Cuba (January 2010). We stayed at the Sirenas La Salina resort in Varadero. The resort was beautiful but unfortunately, we did not have the warmest weather during our stay. There were still a couple days we were able to enjoy the gorgeous beach though.