A big time bucket-lister - rounding Cape Horn and exploring routes and watering holes of the HMS Beagle. Weather (an essential element of this cruise) was more than doable and often downright spectacular. Rough swells chased us out of the open seas into sheltered passages (got to see more of Darwin's channel than might have been planned - but that was a good thing). Port strikes in Chile made embarkation in Valparaiso a nightmare, and ruined scheduled port tours in Puerto Arenas, Chile - the Crown Princess may have been innocent but it had happened before and they failed to properly inform passengers of what was going on in a timely and credible manner. Three formal nights - but limited access to Captain and staff during these events (a bit truncated and curt).
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
The 15th Deck "cafeteria" buffet was fine - but seating was inadequate. Swarms of pushy ship mates elbow to elbow in line, and nowhere to sit (unless you braved the weather outside aft, or in the pool areas - which was often exposed to stormy weather). The specialty restaurants provided EXCELLENT menus, EXCELLENT service - but I resist paying extra for dining on already-expensive cruise ships. We had assigned (1st) seating for dinner which was fine - but found the menus a bit limited.
5 out of 5
The Princess Theater performers were good, Peter LaSorsa's lectures on port security and safety were good (if a bit hysterical) and our port-excursion and "destination expert" Julio Delgado was GREAT - humorous and informative.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Service and staff were efficient, and cooly courteous. Not the unctuous pull-out the stops do-anything-for-you service we've enjoyed in the past - except in Sabationi's (for breakfast). Maitre d' Neville Saldanha was EVERYWHERE - in the restaurants, out and about and even "performing" during the "culinary demonstrations."
3 out of 5
The Crown Princess is fine - but sorely in need of retrofitting (she has not aged well). We took her to Alaska six months back and thought she needed sprucing up then. She REALLY needs it now.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Excellent cabin - located on the 15th deck just above the bridge (could watch the brass at work) - walked a few steps to the spa and gym and a few more to the pools, "cafeteria," bars, fast food and ice-cream stations. Elevators were a straight shot down to the Princess Theater, and easy access to "mid-ships" on all other decks. Access to dining rooms was a bit Rube Goldberg-esque.
Princess Cruise's loyalty programs keep their passengers loyal. All else being equal, I'm pretty locked in (going for the Black Card) - River Cruises excluded.
Gateway to Chilean Patagonia. Be sure to book wildlife tours - penguins and seals/sea lion colonies. Optional tours to Antarctica are prohibitively expensive - but after all - for me this was a bucket-list trip.
I LOVED Port Stanley. For a special and unique "souvenir" I stopped in at the local police station and asked for a driver's license. The license itself is a big sheet of paper with photo and vitals - for a bit extra they throw in a wallet-sized version (all-told around $50). It took around 30 minutes and is good for life. Warning: the local banks won't accept U.S. dollars that have been "defaced" (that's ANY marks, ink pen scribbles, stamps, etc.). This causes local stores trouble - they want your dollars but don't want to get stuck with bills the banks won't accept.
Great, clean, friendly (and SAFE) town to walk around in. If you haven't bought your herba mate paraphernalia souvenirs, now is the town (leather case, thermos, silver "straw" and silver brimmed gourd) - go native and eschew the "tourist" versions.
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