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Ken Hodges

Age: 54

Occupation:Luthier

Number of Cruises: 11

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Crown Princess

Sailing Date: 2010-11-27

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

First off, let me explain that I have been on 10 cruises with Carnival Cruise lines and this was my first cruise with Princess. My wife and I are in our mid 50's, so we arent exactly spring chickens but I found that I am much younger than I thought I was. I wanted to find out what the differences were between cruise lines and this is what I found: I am a night owl and I really enjoy night life, especially a good rock cover band. If that is what you are looking for then don't book on Princess. This is an "older folks" cruise line and you will find the sidewalks rolled up at 11pm and a virtual ghost town after midnight on board. There is always the skywalkers lounge which stays open till later but is mostly used by the younger crew members and no dancing at all from my experiences. There was a caribbean band that played on the pool deck almost every afternoon and the lead singer was amazing at the energy level he had. Talent wise, he was so-so and his back up band was ok but nothing spectacular. I heard the song "hot hot hot" one time too many on this cruise and never did understand the words of his very thick caribbean accent songs. There was another 3 piece band that played in the wheel house bar that was also so-so and played mostly 50's and 60's ballads and a few dance type tunes. Again this was nothing special and the cruise line missed yet another chance to provide some exceptional talent. The music reminded me of what you would hear in a cheap hotel bar on shore...a little talent and one musician that carried the rest of the band through songs that were the worn out songs you always hear at 60's bars. The vegas style shows in the princess theater were exceptional and their show "Motor City" (a MoTown review" was really good even if it lacked the "funk and soul" of the music's original artists. The orchestra for the theatre were all top notch although under used during the cruise. Almost daily there was some sort of entertainment in the ship's piazza which included some jazz, some piano, some violin music. Not my cup of tea but the older folks seemed to enjoy it.

The food was so-so. The beef that was offered in the dining rooms was good quality beef but not particularly seasoned. It was cooked to order and presented beautifully. Other items in the main dining rooms was on par for what I have come to expect from Carnival's dinning rooms although overall I really feel like Carnival has better food and better selections of food than Princess has. The cleanliness of the dining areas was by far superior on princess. The food in the buffet lines were ok, but nothing to write home about. I usually ate breakfast and lunch at the horizon buffet and could usually find something that resembled food I was used to. It is strange that for breakfast there were grits on the first day of the 7 day trip and the last morning of the trip. All other days had cream of wheat (which didn't seem to be getting much attention?) Eggs cooked several ways, pastries, and bacon and sausage was the usual fare for breakfast as well as several types of cereals and a lot of fresh fruit.

The room service was top of the line and the condition of the ship, including it's cleanliness, was excellent. The Crown princess is a relatively new ship and it shows because there is not much wear and tear on the ship's features and interiors. The beds were made up and the rooms cleaned several times a day and there was always fresh towels in place. There as no shortage of hot water for showers and the toilets flushed as needed. The balcony was ample in size and privacy. The bed was comfortable and was covered with a comforter that doubled as a top sheet. It was warm enough at night and the air conditioning in the room was ample providing that the sliding glass door to the balcony remained closed. The steward was friendly and knowledgable and his english was acceptably good enough to carry on conversations. I ordered room service sandwiches at 2am several nights and it was delivered in a timely manner and by uniformed personnel.

Overall there was a lack of coordination for the activities and the main reason is that start times were staggered so that you had to choose one activity or the other, but not both or several activities in a row due to start times that conflicted with each other. The hot tub and pools were clean although the hot tub was noticeably cooler than it could have been to be relaxing. The comedy shows were entertaining and funny. The stores were clean and their prices were reasonable. Of course there was the same jewelry and watch sales as well as some out dated clothing sales on board. The game shows in the lounges was fun to watch and participate in, again geared toward an older crowd. The alcohol seemed to be watered down except for the last night of the cruise. After several large vodka martini's I still didn't even have a buzz and should have been completely drunk if the alcohol was full strength. This is nothing new and I have experienced the same thing on the Carnival cruises. I had 2 massages in the Spa and the young lady giving the massage was professional and VERY thorough. I completely felt like I had rubber legs when she got through with me and wish I had her at home to go to for stress relief. These were steep in price, but you only live once.. I enjoyed both of them tremendously!

We took the sailing trip out to the stingray sandbar trip in the Grand Cayman's and we absolutely loved the experience. From the moment we got on the catamaran sailboat the crew had us all at ease and were extremely friendly and knowledgable. They educated us on what we were going to experience and helped us to swim with these magnificent creatures and the stingrays actually seemed to crave our attention and caresses. Sailing back on wind power tot he dock was a pleasure also. Pricing for the pictures of this excursion are a little steep, so be prepared if you want professional pictures to document the experience.

Overall, my wife loved the trip. Keep in mind she is an early bird that gets up with the sunrise and goes to bed at sunset most days. I, on the other hand, am a night owl and I sometimes go to bed at sunrise. The trip was almost misery for me although I did ok with it. The total lack of after midnight entertainment was definitely a thumbs down for me but it didn't bother my wife at all. There were children on the ship, but they were rarely seen or heard from and then only around the pools. There is a deck that caters to teens and younger children and they do a great job of keeping them busy and out of the way. There are also quite a few walkers, wheel chairs and hover-rounds in use on the ship by the older passengers. There are even hydraulic lifts to assist older folks getting in and out of the pools and hot tubs if needed. The ports of call are nice but I had been to all of them before except for the Roatan, Honduras port. The shopping at ports is pretty much all the same with the only differences being the names on the t-shirts. I have noticed that prices on goods at these port side shops seems to have risen in the last year quite a lot. Overall I had a good time but I doubt I will cruise with Princess again until I am MUCH older.

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