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Crown Princess
All new, she's not your parents' Crown Princess

Greeted by New York fireboats, Crown Princess arrives at her Brooklyn homeport

Part One

by Linda Coffman

June 2006, Brooklyn, New YorkPrincess Cruises has done it again with the introduction of the new Crown Princess, an evolution in Grand-class ship style with an all new vibe.

When I say that Crown Princess has always been one of my favorite vessels, you might wonder, "how can that be?" Simple. The Princess ship I fondly remember was christened in 1990. At 70,000 tons, she was as sleek as her dolphin profile suggested and was the largest cruise ship in the world at the time. Cruise Diva reviewed the former Crown Princess in 2000.

While not the world's largest ship by any stretch of the imagination these days, at 113,000 tons the new Crown Princess continues the regal tradition of her namesake, as well as introduces some Princess Cruises' innovations.

Cabin C320
Ocean view with balcony on Caribe Deck

Accommodations
One of the first things most people notice is the abundance of balconies on any Princess ship. Naturally, Crown Princess has plenty—a whopping 80% of all outside accommodations feature a balcony. These balconies are huge and have come a long way since the former Crown Princess, when my balcony was encased in solid metal, with no view when seated. It felt somewhat like sitting in a crock pot in the steamy tropics. My standard stateroom's balcony on the new Crown Princess featured clear panels beneath the railing and was deep enough for two chairs with adjustable backs, a small side table, and a metal dining table with two matching chairs. For safety purposes, there are now sprinklers overhead on all balconies.

Princess cabins featured amenities that were uncommon on ships launched in the early 1990s, and the line continues to provide Crown Princess passengers with standards such as hairdryers, small refrigerators, television, telephone with voice mail, personal safe, large walk-in closet, and robes for use throughout the cruise. Beds are dressed in European-style duvets and linens and have posh fluffy pillows.

More space and comforts are available to mini-suite and suite occupants, including separate sitting areas, luxury bedding and towels, a choice of pillow styles, and bathtubs in mini-suites. Suites additionally have a DVD/CD player, magnifying vanity mirror, massaging shower head, robes and slippers, and a complimentary mini-bar (one time set up).

Twenty-five wheelchair accessible cabins are available in a variety of categories, including 16 with balcony, 4 ocean view, and 5 inside. Oddly, there are only two interconnecting 'family' cabins.

Crown Grill, premium seafood & chops

Dining
If I had to pick the one thing I like best about a Princess cruise, it would be the Personal Choice Dining concept. I prefer the idea of eating when I'm hungry and not planning my day around a set schedule. Tailoring a cruise vacation to my lifestyle is high on my list of priorities.

Crown Princess still offers set seating dining for those traditionalists who prefer it, but also takes choices to a new level for those of us who are a bit more spontaneous.

Dining options include:

  • MichelangeloDaVinci, and Botticelli dining rooms (one traditional seating, two for personal choice) are elegant and intimate. Each features artwork in the masters' styles.

  • Horizon Court is the casual buffet restaurant with sea views from floor to ceiling windows.

  • Cafe Caribe, adjacent to the Horizon Court is also a buffet, but with Caribbean themed menus and an open kitchen where diners can order their meal.

  • International Cafe is an expansion of the patisserie found on other Princess ships. Open 24-hours, it features specialty coffees, pastries, salads, panini sandwiches, and tapas. Except for some specialty items, there is no charge.

  • Vines wine and seafood bar serves fine wines accompanied by chilled seafood appetizers, available for a modest charge.

  • Sabatini's, Princess' signature Italian trattoria now has a top-deck location with sweeping views and an outdoor area for al fresco dining. Cover charge is $20 and well worth it for the tasting courses alone, not to mention the entrees and desserts.

  • Crown Grill expands upon the Sterling Steakhouse concept in a warm, paneled, knights-of-old-England atmosphere. In addition to steaks and chops, seafood items such as a whole lobster are available. Passengers can watch their dinner being prepared at the eat-up counter, although I recommend sitting at one of the comfortable banquettes instead of the counter. Cover charge is $25; order lobster for an additional $9.

In addition to dining rooms and restaurants, the Trident Grill is a handy poolside spot to get a burger and fries for lunch. Nearby is the Pizza & Ice Cream Bar, where premium gelato is $1.50 and toppings and 25 cents each (or unlimited toppings for $1.00). Complimentary ice cream is also served in the Horizon Court for a short time every afternoon.

Cruise Diva meets Captain Stubing

Other dining choices for passengers with balcony accommodations are the Champagne Balcony Breakfast ($30 per couple) and the Ultimate Balcony Dinner, served course-by-course with lobster tails ($50 per person).

Something new, and only available to passengers embarking in New York, is the Brooklyn Balcony Nosh. For $7, and only on embarkation day, room service delivers local favoritesan authentic Nathan's Hot Dog, which you can wash down with Brooklyn Brewery's Premium Lager Beer, and Junior's Cheesecake. Born-and-bred Brooklynites noticed that sauerkraut was missing from the trimmings (but that omission is being corrected) and the buns weren't local (they are baked fresh on board). Otherwise, the snack is a true taste of Brooklyn. Trust me, it's worth $7 just to try the beer!


More --> Crown Princess Preview - Part Two


Princess Cruise Reviews

Princess Cruises - Cruise Line Profile

Top Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises
Photos Linda Coffman



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