The middle of nowhere is aptly named, but it’s prettier than I expected: serene, silvery waters brushed with a slight breeze and light rain, far enough out in the Atlantic Ocean so that land is invisible. To be nowhere on a ship so similar to James Cameron’s Titanic (the wood paneling, the grand stairways, and the Cunard Line posters on the walls) was eerie at times.
We stayed in a balcony stateroom (57% of all 1538 rooms on this ship have balconies) on the Caribe deck. The rooms are small—and the showers smaller—but the balconies are spacious enough to hold two chaise longues and a table with chairs. If you like your privacy and/or shade, I suggest requesting a higher deck like the Aloha or Baja. Due to the ship’s stepped levels, people peering over the railing of the pool deck can see the balconies (and bathrobe-clad occupants) on the lower two levels, one of which was mine. Ahem.
If you don’t like to eat (and by eat, I mean stuff yourself), don’t go on this ship. I was uncomfortably full throughout the trip, but how could I pass up another round of foie gras, carpaccio of lamb, ricotta flan, or the boiled lobster with drawn butter that our waiter presented after our main course? The food was very good, especially in the two alternative dining venues: The Crown Grill and Sabatini’s. Each charge a cover ($25 and $20 per meal, respectively), but the upgrade in cuisine and service makes it well worth it. Not to say the traditional (and free) dining option is lacking: I was entirely satisfied with both the minted leg of lamb I had for lunch and the smoked salmon spread I ordered for breakfast.
Noncaloric highlights include: Departing from New York’s Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (you pass the Statue of Liberty on the way out), Princess Pop Star (Club Fusion’s version of American Idol aka jazzed-up karaoke), and the Sanctuary—an all-adult pool deck with Buddha statues, AstroTurf, and ready-chilled towels for face and body. Also impressive was Movie Under the Stars, the 300-square-foot LED screen above the Calypso pool that shows music videos during the day and feature films at night.
This was my second cruise. The first: a 7-day Western Caribbean tour on the Celebrity Millennium in December 2000. While I still don’t love cruises, the Crown Princess had a better feel than the Millennium, from its decor (timeless elegance vs. rainbow confetti freak show) to its dining (despite Celebrity’s celebrity chef, Michel Roux, Princess’s food took the crown). As the Crown Princess is ‘not jarringly thematic,’ says Rai Caluori, the senior vice president of fleet operations for Princess cruises, ‘it will withstand the test of time.’ I agree completely. Our celebrity guest, Captain Stubing (Gavin McCloud) from the Love Boat, fit right in.
- Nat Geo Expeditions