One of Princess' Grand-class ships, Crown Princess excels at providing fun, relaxing and enriching experiences for adults, from popular nighttime Movies Under the Stars to decadent spa treatments and culinary tours, while also providing brand-new children's spaces and special programming for families travelling with little ones.
Refreshed during a dry dock in 2018, the ship was embellished with new offerings, such as super comfortable Princess Luxury Beds in every room, rebranded poolside dining options and an upgraded kids' centre.
The layout of the ship, featuring four spacious pool areas (two for adults only), combined with varied, popular activities planned around the vessel, means that the ship rarely feels crowded, even at full capacity. We loved how easy it always was to find a seat for nighttime shows, a deck lounger near the pool, a spot to sit at the buffet restaurant (even during peak times) or to get a reservation at one of the speciality restaurants.
There is always enjoyable nightly live music, but some of the main theatre evening shows got mixed reviews. Probably the best-loved entertainment option, Voice of the Ocean (Princess' version of karaoke taken to the next level) captivated the attention of our fellow passengers for the duration of the cruise, and had many of us rooting for our favourite contestants all the way through to the final round. When we weren't listening to music, a movie under the stars was always a great way to spend the evening.
Keeping up with all the activities was easy, thanks to the line's app Princess@Sea that lets you conveniently pull up the day's slate of activities or message people travelling in your party on your phone for free (not using Wi-Fi).
We also noted that Princess does an excellent job of ensuring cleanliness in areas such as the buffet, where traffic is monitored by crew members who ensure that everyone uses hand sanitiser before entering the line.
One last note, though we don't often comment on shore excursions, Princess has added new offerings to select itineraries on Crown Princess that are co-branded with Bon Appetit, Discovery and Animal Planet, and they were some of the best excursions we've experienced.
Daytime: In general, wardrobes vary based on your specific voyage and the climate where you're travelling, but passengers tend to dress fairly casually during the day, with shorts, jeans and T-shirts being fairly common (as well as the ubiquitous cruise lanyards holding cruise cards).
Evening: In the evenings, all dining rooms except the buffet and casual dining restaurants have a designated smart casual dress code. On a typical weeklong cruise, two nights are designated formal nights, and most passengers tended to dress up, from typical business attire to more formal outfits. Many women wore cocktail dresses and men generally wore a jacket and slacks (with or without tie).
Not permitted: In the dining rooms, items such as tank tops, shorts, baseball caps and distressed jeans are not permitted. We confirmed with cruise staff that they do ask passengers to leave the dining room for dress code violations.
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.
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 swivelling 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 cosy 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 cosy 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 cosy 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 speciality 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, neighbour 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.
Crown Princess offers a range of dining options from buffets and casual eateries to three speciality restaurants, plus the traditional dining rooms, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can enjoy a romantic dinner delivered to your balcony stateroom or afternoon tea served with white gloves and a limitless amount of warm scones with cream and jam. Or grab a slice of speciality pizza or a gourmet hamburger poolside for a fine afternoon snack.
Generally, we found the dining room to offer the best food and service and we vastly preferred it to the buffet. The speciality dining options each offered something unique beyond what was included with the cruise, and in particular, we found the Chef's Table experience to be an exceptional value -- something you should try at least once if you can. Afternoon tea was another special experience worthy of at least one visit during your cruise.
Passengers on Crown Princess can choose from set seating or the flexible Anytime Dining option. Depending on your cruise, there may be two early set seatings, for example: 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. in different dining rooms; and a late seating at 8 p.m.
Anytime dining offers cruisers the flexibility to eat on their own schedule, but the downside is that you might encounter long lines for a table, particularly during formal dinner nights, or if you eat during peak times. To bypass this, try making a reservation for your preferred time slot by calling the Dine Line in the morning. If you are a late eater, you'll also likely avoid having to wait in line, and can usually walk right in and be seated.
Da Vinci Dining Room (Deck 6): You'll find the three main dining rooms all named for Renaissance painters, at the ship's aft and midship. Nearly identical, except for a slightly different colour scheme, each dining room has an understated elegance -- you won't find grand, winding staircases or glittering chandeliers here, but white table linens, warm wood tones on the walls and chairs, and artwork that pays homage to those artists provides a cosy backdrop for intimate meals. By day, the windows surrounding the sides of each dining room provide a fine oceanside view, while by night, tiny lights scattered across the ceilings glow like stars.
Da Vinci is the place to go for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Times vary based on whether the ship is in port or at sea. The 5:30 p.m. early seating traditional dinner is assigned to Da Vinci, and you can also head there for anytime dinner from 7:15 to 9:30 p.m.
Breakfast in Da Vinci is a great way to start the day. In our opinion, it was the best breakfast option we found on the ship. The menu always includes a selection of fresh juices, coffee, fresh fruit, pastries, compotes, cereal, yoghurt, eggs prepared the way you like them (including omelettes), smoked salmon on a bagel, pancakes, bacon and sausage. There are also a couple of speciality dishes, such as J.B.'s (James Beard's) French toast, with a crispy, cornflake coating and fig compote soaked in a lemon peel-infused syrup.
Lunch here is also a treat. The menu includes a couple of brunch-style options for late risers, such as eggs Benedict and French toast. You can choose soup and salad, burgers and fries, or go for a signature pasta like meat tortellini with veal au jus and sage butter, or skillet-fried sole with lemon and parsley. For dessert, try blueberry roulade topped with mascarpone cream or cherry trifle.
We loved having afternoon tea here as often as we could. The experience truly felt like something special, from the white-glove treatment to the attentive wait staff who happily paraded through the tables, piling goodies on plates: scones, cream, jam, bigger-than-usual tea sandwiches, cookies, cakes and other baked goods.
Dinner in any of the main dining rooms includes a menu that changes nightly, but features a few mainstays, called Princess Favorites, every evening. These include shrimp cocktail, classic Caesar salad, baked potato soup, fettuccine Alfredo, grilled Atlantic salmon, country chicken and the Princess gourmet beef BLT burger.
Diners have their choice from a selection of starters, soups and salads. Options might be a Mediterranean spinach dip served with Parmesan pita crisps, frozen rum-infused pina colada soup and fresh salads served with housemade dressings. Main dishes include skillet-seared pork chops with fig demi-glace and seared bass filet with pineapple-mango salsa. Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone makes his mark on the menu as well -- usually with a featured entree such as steamed mussels, chorizo and white wine. End your meal with a Princess Love Boat Dream (the signature dessert), tiramisu or one of the speciality desserts designed by master chocolatier Norman Love and made with Guittard chocolate.
Though vegetarian entrees are marked on the menu, those with allergies or other food sensitivities should notify the head waiter before they order.
Botticelli Dining Room (Deck 6): Those opting for a traditional dinner seating have their choice between the early seating at 5:45 p.m. and the late seating at 8 p.m., and will eat in the Botticelli Dining Room (there is also a 5:30 p.m. seating option in Da Vinci). Botticelli is a bit tricky to locate; it's all the way at the aft of the ship, and it's best to get there via elevator. This restaurant is exclusively reserved for the traditional dinner seatings, a great option if you prefer the intimacy of getting to know your tablemates and wait staff over the course of your cruise, and if you don't mind being locked in to a set schedule.
Michelangelo Dining Room (Deck 5): Michelangelo is the dining room assigned to anytime dining (along with Da Vinci), and is open for dinner only between 5:15 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Horizon Court Buffet (Deck 15): Horizon Court Buffet and its twin, Cafe Caribe, are located back-to-back at the ship's aft, and are the main casual buffet options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day. Nearly identical in their decor and menu offerings, the venues offer different hours to accommodate peak dining times and cut down on overcrowding (a real blessing when it comes to cruising).
A bit dated in appearance with frosted glass and brass dividers and salmon-and-blue-coloured wall tiles, these buffet restaurants nevertheless get the job done in terms of offering a variety of foods, running continuously from about 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. More importantly, because the buffet areas are gated off and staffed by attendants who personally hand out napkin-wrapped silverware and plates, all passengers are asked to sanitize their hands before handling buffet utensils, in an effort to cut down on the spread of germs, and monitoring traffic flow to minimize pre-coffee passenger collisions.
For breakfast, there are banks of hot tables offering speciality items, including steamed fish and vegetables, corned beef hash, various egg dishes, bacon (American and English style) and French toast, to name a few. If you wish to order an omelette, simply place your order with a cook, and take a slip back to your table to give a waiter; it'll be delivered to your table when it's ready. That's quite a novel and welcome idea in the cruise industry. There is also a pastry section, a variety of fresh fruits and cereals.
One interesting clue that you’re on a cruise with non-Americans: Check the supply of bacon at the buffet. On our cruise, there was always “American bacon” and “English bacon,” (and occasionally Canadian bacon, as well). A gentleman from the U.K. clued us in that the English prefer a less crisp bacon than Americans, and he was happy to find it available every day on the ship.
Lunch includes a salad bar, a selection of international cheeses, several hot protein options (usually including a carving station with beef or pork), pasta, soups and breads.
For dinner, depending on the evening, you might find regional cuisine, such as one night that featured Greek food, with lemon chicken with potatoes, mint couscous with sun-dried tomatoes and spanakopita.
Vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free options are clearly marked on the buffet, making this a good option for passengers with speciality diets.
Service in the buffet areas tends to be quite speedy and cheerful. Wait staff will fetch drinks for you -- complimentary water, lemonade, coffee or juice, or drinks from the bar (for a charge), if that's more your speed. The quality of the food here is fairly standard for a cruise buffet. Given the choice, we usually preferred the more leisurely experience and better quality of the food in the main dining areas.
Cafe Caribe (Deck 15): This buffet serves as a complement to Horizon Court, and on our cruise, was mainly only open for breakfast during peak times from 7 to 10 a.m. It offered repeats of what was available in the Horizon Court line, opening up more seating areas and easing traffic flow. On select nights, Cafe Caribe is transformed into Crab Shack, an extra-fee restaurant.
The Salty Dog Grill (Deck 15): Not to be confused with the Salty Dog Gastropub (the extra-fee restaurant located at Wheelhouse Bar), the Salty Dog Grill offers complimentary bites poolside: There are two free burgers, the Princess Classic and the Triple Smoked, the latter loaded with bacon jam, smoked Gouda and barbecue sauce; a grilled chicken sandwich; street tacos such as chipotle lime chicken or sweet potato-green chilli; loaded fries with bacon and cheese; and hot dogs with your choice of toppings. You can pay extra for the line's signature "Ernesto" burger ($5 for the burger, or $8 for the burger and a beer).
Slice (Deck 15): Sharing a space next to Coffee & Cones, Slice continues the contemporary decor, with weathered grey wood-panelled walls and a chic skyline mural. It's the spot to grab a slice of Princess's signature thin-crust pizza, made with hand-stretched, housemade dough. You can choose from a traditional Margherita pizza or a daily special flavour.
Slice also offers California-style toast: herb ciabatta bread, topped with avocado, bacon, feta cheese and pine nuts, or Caprese-style, and toasted to a perfect crisp. Deep-dish focaccia and stromboli are additional complimentary dishes here, but we preferred the pizza to anything else.
International Cafe (Deck 5): Located right in the heart of the Piazza, this is a hugely popular "sidewalk-style" cafe that serves up a variety of coffee drinks (a la carte pricing), in addition to free casual meals and snacks, and is the ship's only 24-hour venue for food. For breakfast, there are a variety of pastries available (Nutella doughnut, anyone?), in addition to a hot egg-and-bacon breakfast sandwich. Lunches and dinners include items such as artichoke and goat cheese quiche, steak and kidney pie, Cuban sandwiches, watermelon caprese salad and a variety of other soups, sandwiches and salads, plus a dessert case with fruit tartlets, gluten-free chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake and pavlova. The wait staff at the International Cafe clearly has fun with their jobs, slinging cheeky commentary along with cappuccinos and mochas.
Room Service: Room service is available 24 hours a day, and offers several free options. A continental breakfast is available to order by hanging the menu with your choices outside your door the prior evening; you can choose from cereals, breads and pastries, or a breakfast sandwich. Throughout the day, you may order soups, salads, sandwiches (roast beef, tuna salad, vegetarian, peanut butter and jelly); hot dishes, such as croque monsieur, lasagna, Moroccan vegetable stew with pita bread; and a small selection of desserts, including cookies and milk. You can also order a whole pizza to be delivered to your stateroom for a $3 delivery charge.
Chef's Table (Deck 5); $95: Chef's Table is a unique dining experience that includes a special galley tour and several courses (each paired with wine) that are designed by the chef just for your group. Escorted by the maitre d', you'll start by suiting up with a white chef's coat and a requisite hand scrubbing, followed by a welcome glass of Champagne and hors d'oeuvres enjoyed right in the galley, with the dinnertime hustle and bustle going on all around you.
The chef then presents your specially prepared menu, course by course, at your reserved table in the Michelangelo Dining Room, along with selected wine pairings. You'll receive an autographed copy of Princess' cookbook, a photo taken with the chef and roses for the ladies. You'll want to reserve your Chef's Table experience as soon as possible, as it is limited to just 10 passengers for each experience. Important to note, food allergies or aversions typically cannot be accommodated. This was one of the finest dining experiences we've had on a cruise ship, and we thought it was well worth the price.
Crown Grill, (Deck 7); $29: Mahogany-paneled walls and coffered ceilings are your cue that this restaurant offers an upscale, intimate dining experience. Known for its steak and seafood, Crown Grill offers appetizers such as black tiger prawns, beef tartare and bay scallop timbale with Cajun crawfish cream. For your main dish, options include a 6- to 7-ounce Maine lobster tail; mussel and smoked sausage pot; 16-ounce beef chop, 8-ounce filet mignon; or 22-ounce porterhouse steak, among others. The meal is served with family-style sides such as garlic and herb French fries, sauteed wild mushrooms and creamed spinach, plus a selection of gourmet salts for enjoying atop your steak. Dessert choices include: molten Dutch chocolate fudge obsession and a seven-layer s'mores stack.
One main dish is included in the cover price; additional main courses are $10 each.
The Salty Dog Gastropub (Deck 7); $12: The Salty Dog Gastropub is located inside the Wheelhouse Bar. With the nautical decor, model ships and soft mood lighting, the venue feels like a swanky neighbourhood pub that serves small plates. The restaurant concept was created in partnership with celebrity chef Ernesto Uchimura. You can choose two items from the menu, and everyone enjoys a complimentary appetizer of Ernesto dip sticks -- bread sticks served with beer-cheddar fondue. The "Ernesto" burger is popular, -- adding to the average burger grilled pork belly, Gruyere cheese, a kick of caramelized kimchi beer-battered jalapeno and onion aioli on a brioche bun. We also liked the beef short ribs slathered with a stout-orange blossom honey glaze.
Coffee & Cones (Deck 15); a la carte: A cute, black-and-white treat shop with fresh, white subway tiles and marble countertops, Coffee & Cones is located next to Slice, and is your stop for coffee and sweet treats by the pool. Here you'll find $3 gourmet ice cream sandwiches (premade packed ice cream slabs sandwiched by two cookies) in a variety of flavours, including snickerdoodle and mint paddy, or shakes and malts for $2.50. You can also order speciality coffees, from espresso drinks to frappes ($2 to $5; add a shot of Irish cream or Kahlua for $1 extra). Cones or cups of soft-serve ice cream are complimentary.
Crab Shack (Deck 15); $29: On select nights of every cruise, a section of Cafe Caribe becomes the Crab Shack, a perfect excuse to get a little messy and enjoy fresh seafood. Tables are topped with butcher paper (crayons are provided for colouring) and everyone is suited up with oversized bibs and given all the tools needed to get cracking. You'll start with shared appetizers of popcorn shrimp and hush puppies, and you can order an appetizer of Manhattan clam chowder if you like. Mains include Bayou-style "Mud Bug" Boil (that's crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes and spicy andouille sausage); steamed Alaskan crab legs with peel and eat shrimp; and a clam, mussel and shrimp pot, followed by dessert, with a selection of tarts from the ship's pastry shop.
Sabatini's (Deck 16); $29: Easily the most visually stunning restaurant on the ship, Sabatini's transports diners to Tuscany with its stone and iron decor, mosaic glass light fixtures and romantic sheer drapery adorning the windows. It's also tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the dining areas, making it a particularly ideal spot for a romantic dinner.
Save room for this meal! It's a lot of food. You'll start with a complimentary selection of breads, prosciutto and olives. Starters include burrata with carpaccio, marinated porcini mushrooms, fried calamari and a choice of salads. As in Italy, you'll have a primo piatto showcasing pasta dishes such as spaghetti with shrimp and scallops, and manicotti; and secondi, featuring meats, such as lobster three ways, a 10-ounce Tuscan-style strip steak, baked striped bass in a zucchini crust and a roasted veal rack.
The Sanctuary (Deck 17); $20 to $40: Though meals served at The Sanctuary are free, you'll pay a cover charge to reserve your chair there ($20 per half-day or $40 for a full day). The Sanctuary offers a special, spa-inspired light menu, including items like an all-day breakfast parfait, sesame tuna salad and grilled shrimp skewers over white bean salad, each listed with calorie counts, and served right to your comfortable lounger. We loved the atmosphere, but felt the food was not particularly special. Afternoon tea is also served here, including Princess' decadent scones.
Ultimate Balcony Dining; ($45 or $100 per couple): If you have a room with a balcony and you'd like to step up your room service, take advantage of Princess' Ultimate Balcony Dining experience, serving breakfast or dinner with the best view on the ship without leaving your room. The deluxe breakfast ($45) includes a half-bottle of chilled Champagne, a basket of pastries, a specially prepared quiche and smoked salmon on brioche. The Lobster Balcony Dinner ($100) includes pre-dinner cocktails, canapes, a fresh flower bouquet, a half-bottle of sparkling wine and your choice of lobster tail or beef tenderloin.
Crown Princess cabins are decorated in a classic, neutral colour palette of taupe, cream, green and gold. During a 2018 refurbishment, all the carpeting in the rooms was refreshed and all cabins were outfitted with the line's Princess Luxury Bed. The comfortable mattresses (some passengers describe them as “cloud-like”) combined with ultra-soft sheets and pillows added up to a truly restful night's sleep.
Standard cabins feature two twin beds that can be pushed together to form one queen-sized bed, two bedside tables with drawers and table lamps, and a vanity/desk and chair, with a wall-mounted hair dryer and phone. The recent refurbishment also added large, flat-screen TVs in every room. Near the TV, there's a small cabinet housing a mini-fridge, and there's also a small table.
Storage in the closet area is above average for a cruise ship, with large, open closets with ample hangers and lots of storage space overhead, even in interior rooms. You'll also find a safe in the closet area.
Bathrooms all have showers with curtains and wall-mounted shampoo and soap dispensers (no conditioner), plus a retractable drying line. There are several toiletry shelves along both sides of the bathroom mirror, toilet and sink. You can request to use complimentary waffle-weave cotton bathrobes and slippers during your voyage. Stateroom attendants leave behind chocolates on your pillow during evening turn-down (no towel animals), and you can request fresh fruit, as well.
We loved the comfortable beds and felt the rooms were a decent size -- and in particular, we were surprised by the amount of closet space for a standard-sized stateroom. The only negative was a lack of outlets for charging phones and other devices: There's just one at the desk and one in the bathroom.
There are 31 accessible cabins, as well as two family suites with balconies, which are the only adjoining cabins available on Crown Princess.
Interior: There are 436 interior staterooms on Crown Princess measuring 160 square feet, and they sleep two to four passengers. Select staterooms can accommodate a third or four person with pull-down beds, murphy beds, sofa beds or rollaways. Interior cabins include an additional chair for seating. Bathrooms include showers only -- no bathtubs.
Oceanview: Crown Princess offers 222 ocean-view staterooms, ranging from 158 to 182 square feet. These cabins sleep two to four people, and offer the same layout and amenities as interior rooms, just with a window overlooking the ocean and no mirror over the bed.
Balcony: Balcony cabins on Crown Princess (there are approximately 677) offer 168 square feet of interior space, in addition to a 46-square-foot balcony area, with two chairs and a small circular table. Balconies have glass-panelled railings overlooking the ocean. Bear in mind that due to the tiered deck configuration and the position of the navigation bridge, which juts out on both sides of the ship, most of the balconies along the sides of the ships do not offer complete privacy.
Club Class Mini-suite: Mini-suites (there are 168) measure 277 square feet, with a standard 46-square-foot balcony (a few have an oversized balcony). You'll enjoy footrests on the balcony, and an inside seating area with couch, coffee table and a flat-screen TV (there's a second TV facing the bed). Bathrooms also include a bathtub/shower combination. Passengers staying in Club Class also have exclusive access to the Club Class dining room for dinner.
Suite: The 26 suites onboard Crown Princess average a spacious 329 square feet, each with a 166-square-foot balcony, sleeping up to four people. Suites offer a separate sitting area with a sofa bed, two flat-screen TVs, a wet bar and walk-in-closet. The roomy bathroom includes a separate bathtub and shower stall. The balcony includes upgraded loungers.
Cruisers staying in full suites have access to complimentary laundry and use of the Lotus Spa Thermal Suite (offering saunas, heated stone chairs and shower facilities), plus a one-time complimentary mini-bar setup and use of an exclusive disembarkation lounge. Other perks include an exclusive breakfast (with a free mimosa) at Sabatini's restaurant every day, and complimentary hors d'oeuvres later in the day. Suite passengers can also request in-room afternoon tea or canapes in the evenings. There's also a dedicated guest services line for those staying in suites throughout the cruise.
Suites mainly differ from each other based on the size of balcony available. For example, Vista Suites measure 329 square feet with a 166-square-foot balcony. Premium Suites are 304 square feet, with a 169-square-foot balcony. The Penthouse Suite is 381 square feet with a 155-square-foot balcony. And the Owner Suite is 411 square feet and includes a 180-square-foot balcony.
The Family Suite measures 335 square feet, can sleep up to six, and comprises a mini-suite plus an interior stateroom that are connected together, each with two queen beds or two twins, plus a large living room with two sofa beds and a 92-square-foot balcony. The suite includes two bathrooms, one with a tub/shower combination, and one with a standalone shower, plus two TVs.