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Age: 56


Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Crown Princess

Sailing Date: 2010-03-13

Itinerary: Caribbean

This is a big ship that holds lots of people. After the first day, it seemed as though the crowd dispersed well, although there were never enough deck chairs on sea days. It was just me and my husband traveling and we were located on the Riviera Deck 14, so it was very handy to the adult pool deck on 15 aft. I'm an early riser, so I would normally go to the pool area and reserve our two lounge chairs pretty early. By 9:30 am to 10am on sea days, there are almost no vacant deck chairs to be found.

I'm a selective eater and I found the food to be satisfactory. I eat mostly fish and vegetables and those are fine from either the buffet or the regular dining room. However, my husband, a beef eater, ordered "medallions of beef" and "New York strip steak" from the dining menu on two separate occasions. He said both cuts of meat were only so-so and were from the same part of the cow, but were "trimmed" to look like the real things. Obviously, the best cuts of beef are saved for the Crown Grill, the on-board restaurant that charges a cover. I've heard that the specialty restaurants are really good but we are not big eaters so we did not go to either of the specialty restaurants.

There was always a lot of fresh fruit available at the buffets. I eat a lot of bananas and they never ran out, so I was happy.

The stateroom was fine. Not as large as those on Carnival or Royal Caribbean, but it was nice. I was disappointed that the balcony only held two sit-up type chairs and a small table. I like to lay in the sun on the balcony, but the way it was shaded there was no sun hitting the balcony anyway.

The deck staff was always professional and efficient. Our room was kept clean and the bed seemed to be always made unless we were in it. I'd give the stateroom staff 5 stars on this ship.

Onboard activities are sort of meh. Typical cruise-ship fare. If the hypnotist has a show on your cruise, be sure to see it. I thought it was pretty good.

The gym was really nice, but seemed to be always crowded. I signed up for a yoga class one day and didn't realize they charged for it. These types of exercise classes used to be included in the all-inclusive fare, but the cruise ships have gotten greedy as of late and charge for everything now. The class was O.K., but not worth the $20 they charged for it.

We had been to all the islands prior to this cruise and have done several of the excursions in the past and taken taxi tours, so we didn't sign-up for any this trip. I would have liked to take a taxi to downtown Cozumel because the shopping prices there are better than the shops surrounding the port, but it was a bad weather day when we were there so we didn't go into town this trip.

Again, the cruise lines are showing their greed. Each of the ports are now set up Disney-like and if you just get off the ship and walk around, you really don't get any of the flavor of the individual islands. Each island had its tourist shopping area as soon as you get off the ship. All the stores are the same, only the T-shirts change island names. I mean, how many Diamonds International and Del Sol shops do you need to visit?

Also, gone are the days when you could approach and barter with individual taxi drivers on the islands. Now you dicker with the taxi dispatchers while the actual drivers sit off in a side lot watching to see if they're going to get called over. At Roatan we wanted to take a taxi to a nearby mall that housed an internet cafe and were told that it would be $20 each, each way. That was $80 to go about 6-8 miles roundtrip which we found to be ridiculous. As we turned to go, the dispatcher called out $60, but we just kept walking back to the ship.

Having been to the islands several times, it was as expected. The port shopping has expanded and, as mentioned above, most of the shops are the same at each port. The cruise lines will try to deter you away from exploring the islands on your own as they want to get those $$ you brought in their pockets. If you can venture out of the port shopping areas on your own, I'm pretty sure you would get much better pricing. But if decide to sign up for the overpriced ship excursions and deal with the port taxi dispatchers and rental car companies, you will pay a premium price for sightseeing.

We weren't able to visit Princess Cay on the scheduled Friday that we were there. The Captain determined that the wind (coming out of the West) was causing too great of a swell/chop in the tendering area so he pulled anchor. Of course there was a stampede for the deck lounge chairs when that announcement was made as it then became a sea day. But it was a gorgeous sea day and a wonderful last day to an enjoyable cruise.

We've learned a couple of a years ago to just go and enjoy the ship and cruise itself and forget about the shopping. Once you've been to these islands a time or two, they don't change much. Most anything they sell you can find better prices for at home. I've become just content to enjoy the sun, sleep, read, eat and watch the ocean go by. I'm ready to go again.

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