In all my years of travelling, one style of holiday I had never experienced was a cruise. That is why I was so thrilled to have the chance to journey aboard the Crown Princess ship with Princess Cruises, visiting the highlights of the Mediterranean including Barcelona, Gibraltar, Marseille, Genoa and Florence over seven days. After a busy year, sailing across the sea on a premium cruise ship, stopping off at exciting destinations along the journey, sounded particularly enticing.
Hearing more about the Crown Princess ship, I became even more excited about my relaxing holiday on the sea. Although the ship carries more than 3,000 passengers, it prides itself on its attention to detail and ensuring that every guest has a personalised and blissful experience. With more than 900 balconies overlooking the ocean, and an excellent selection of luxury restaurants and entertainment venues, the Crown Princess offers a fantastic on-water experience.
Journey to the Cruise
Before setting sail on the cruise, we filled out some pre-departure information including uploading our travel documents and emergency contact details. Once these were submitted, we were able to print our boarding passes and luggage tags to help us board our cruise seamlessly. Guests can pre-book excursions and dinner reservations on the website, so all our dinner reservations, bed configurations and on-shore excursions were all already pre-planned and listed on the Cruise Personaliser page on the website. I loved this facility as it was terrific to depart London knowing everything had already been arranged and the only thing left for me to do was to enjoy the holiday.
After a short flight to lively Barcelona accompanied by the Princess team and some other enthusiastic influencers, we took a taxi from the airport to the Barcelona port. As we approached the port, I caught my first glimpse of the cruise ship resting in the harbour.
It was staggeringly enormous – like a city floating on the water – and yet it looked elegant and majestic. I found myself wondering if I’d stepped onto the set of a movie since I’d never seen an ocean liner up close. Really, my only experience of cruises came from the movie Titanic – luckily, the only similarity between that and the Crown Princess was they both had beautiful interiors!
After admiring the cruise ship from afar, it was time to check-in, so we passed through Port security and towards the main counter where we dropped off our bags to be delivered to our room later.
We were also given a secure room card to provide us with access to the ship and our suite. As it was my first cruise experience, I was somewhat surprised by the level of security compared to checking in to a hotel – however, since a cruise ship crosses through various sea borders, it was understandable. The staff also did their utmost to ensure that the process went smoothly and it was also quite interesting.
Another surprise greeted me as I entered the ship, as there was a hand sanitising process. Considering that more than 3,000 people are onboard the ship at any one time, however, I felt reassured to know that the environment was clean and healthy.
Entering the ship, I was immediately impressed by the elegant decor and how spacious it felt inside. I made my way to the elevator and took it to my room, which was on the eighth floor known as the Emerald Deck. The Deck was large, with a variety of staterooms including my Mini Suite.
My initial perspective that the cruise ship was like a floating city is quite accurate – there is indeed no chance of running out of activities to experience while onboard.
One of the most impressive things about the ship was the luxurious pools, which were the perfect place for soaking up the sun as the ship moved from destination to destination. I especially appreciated the variety, including an adults-only pool for those wishing to have some quiet away from active little ones! The spacious deck area was also a gorgeous place for relaxing, and at night one area opened up for ‘Movies Under the Stars’, an event where a 300-foot LED screen played movies, sporting events and other videos.
The heart of the ship is the Atrium, a stunning piazza that features an ornate floating staircase and a colourful glass dome. As well as featuring entertainers all day and night, The Atrium has an incredible range of shops and cafes.
A special surprise was the opportunity to visit the Bridge and meet the team who are responsible for navigating the Crown Princess along with her journey. It was a unique and fascinating experience to speak with the officers and the captain and see them at work sailing such a gigantic vessel so effortlessly.
In addition to the various different areas of the ship, I was pleasantly surprised with sporting facilities onboard which included Basketball sports court, Ping Pong, Miniature golf putting course, and Golf Driving Range.
One of my concerns about a cruise holiday was about the room. I couldn’t help but feel some concern that they may be small and cramped, given how many people are onboard the ship at any one time. However, as soon as the door was opened to my mini-suite and I was presented with my welcome glass of champagne by the steward (a much-appreciated touch of luxury), I realised I needn’t have worried.
The suite was spacious and elegant, with a large lounge area and a balcony with a beautiful view out over the sea, and which meant the suite had plenty of natural light. The mini suite also featured two flat screen televisions, perfect for a quiet night in away from the crowds, and a bathroom that was, again, surprisingly spacious and even featured a bathtub. I also loved the full-size Lotus products that were provided in the bathroom, adding a touch of luxury.
Another special extra was that each night much to my delight, the night turn down staff would leave me some chocolates.
The quality of dining on the cruise was phenomenal, both in terms of the variety available and the quality of the food itself. You are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to both the restaurants and bars that are available on the ship.
A good number of restaurants and options come included as part of the standard package, including the Salty Dog Grill, Horizon Court and numerous others. As a part of the standard package guests can also sample celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s ‘Crafted By Curtis Stone’ dishes in the main dining rooms.
There are also some delectable speciality dining options at a surcharge, including the Crab Shack and Sabatini’s. I was lucky enough to get to try a selection although there were plenty more including the Curtis Stone’s speciality restaurant ‘Share’ that went untasted – it would be simply impossible to have them all.
For breakfast, I generally ate at the International Cafe, and also popped by for snacks on several occasions. It is located in the piazza and offers an excellent selection of small meals, snacks and beverages. In particular, the Cafe offers a specially crafted coffee menu including espressos, lattes and iced teas.
For lunch on our first day, we dined at Horizon Court, a laid back and casual included option that sits on the top deck of the Crown Princess. The buffet-style restaurant features a great, multicultural selection of dishes that change throughout the day. We really enjoyed the tasty pasta as well as – of course – the generous dessert selection.
On our second day, we returned to Horizon Court for another casual and tasty lunch. In the evening, we enjoyed the Captain’s Welcome Dinner at the Da Vinci Main Dining Room. This included a scrumptious Mediterranean-inspired menu that was heavy on the seafood, with delicious options such as pan-seared barramundi. I also appreciated the wine suggestions which paired beautifully with the food.
I was particularly excited for dinner on our third day, which was at Sabatini’s, Princess’ speciality Italian restaurant. The restaurant decor is elegant, featuring dark hardwood and ambient lighting, and the menu features many Italian favourites as well more contemporary options. I was treated to a delicious four-course dining experience, which certainly demonstrated why the restaurant has been voted one of the best cruise ship restaurants in the world.
Dinner on the fourth day was at another award-winning restaurant; this time at the Crown Grill. This traditional steakhouse features an open, theatre-style kitchen so you can see your food being prepared, and the decor has a quintessential steakhouse vibe, with opulent wooden fixtures. The menu included top-quality aged beef and delicious fresh seafood, as well as a couple of options for vegetarians as well as a mouthwatering dessert menu. I really enjoyed the experience of dining at the restaurant, and especially watching the expert chefs at work.
On our second to last night aboard the Crown Princess, we returned to the Da Vinci Main Dining Room for more of their delicious Mediterranean inspired menu.
For our sixth and final evening, we returned to the ship quite tired from our days’ adventure and wanting just a casual dinner by the pool, as a laid-back way to cap off a memorable trip. Luckily, the Salty Dog Grill was just perfect, and I ordered their gourmet tacos and chilli, which I thoroughly enjoyed by the pool as we waited for the evening’s entertainment.
Spa and The Sanctuary
A relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatment is an integral part of any luxurious break, and I was thrilled to find out that the cruise offered a full suite of therapies including facials, massages and wraps, all by their qualified and experienced staff. Everyone working on the ship seemed extraordinarily attentive and well-qualified, and it’s no wonder that Princess Cruises has such an excellent reputation for onboard experiences.
I received a luxurious and rejuvenating Exotic Lime-Ginger Salt Glow Massage at the spa. The fifty-minute treatment started with warm oil being dripped over my skin before the masseuse applied the delicious-smelling Lime and Ginger Salt Glow. After this, the spa’s speciality Exotic Island Flower Body Lotion was applied, which was luxuriously hydrating and moisturising – perfect for restoring my skin’s vibrancy after a few days out in the sun. The salts are then washed away, and the treatment is finished off with a rejuvenating half body deep tissue muscle massage.
I certainly left the Lotus Spa feeling incredibly rejuvenated, with noticeably hydrated skin and relaxed muscles.
The Crown Princess also features an area known as The Sanctuary, an area on the ship’s top deck which is styled on a luxury spa and reserved just for adults. The area is elegantly decorated, with relaxing background music and attentive service from the onboard stewards. We spent a half-day enjoying the tranquillity of this area, and also enjoyed a refreshing and healthy meal while we were there.
A common concern about a cruise holiday is whether there will be enough to do, especially on days at sea. I certainly discovered from this trip that it is impossible to be bored while on the ocean liner. There is indeed no shortage of entertainment, and it is cleverly organised so that the days at sea are filled with interesting and exciting activities. Although we got to try many, there were still plenty of other activities we just couldn’t fit in.
We were treated to not one but two shows at the Princess Theatre, the Encore production on our second day and the Magic to Do show on the fifth day. Although they were both brilliant, I was particularly impressed by the Magic To Do show. The show featured music by Stephen Schwartz, who composed much of the music for the musical Wicked, as well as some incredible illusions and magic. It was truly amazing to watch a West End quality show aboard a ship, and it was definitely an unexpected delight.
Balloon Drop on the Piazza
The Crown Princess is home to some fantastic nightlife, and one of the most unique parties is the balloon drop. I experienced this on the fifth night of the cruise, and it was undoubtedly a spectacle! On a countdown, hundreds of balloons fall from the sky, kicking off a party in the beautiful piazza, which is styled on the lively European squares.
Love Boat Disco Deck Party
To say goodbye to the incredible cruise experience in style, on our last night I attended the Love Boat Disco Deck Party. Promising to be a ‘return to the golden era of Disco’, it ended up being an amazing night filled with laughter, cocktails, a singalong – and, of course, plenty of dancing. It was such an incredible time that we were all sad to see the party come to a close – and keen to keep dancing.
On the last night after the Love Boat Disco Deck Party, we were so keen that we decided to continue partying for the night and I joined the group at the Sky Walkers’ Night Club, one of several night-time venues on the ship. The nightclub features an amazing, colourful neon dance floor where you can dance to a variety of tunes and also take in the amazing views from its position fifteen decks above the ocean. Although it’s great for a night of dancing, there are also quieter spaces where you can have a conversation with other guests.
Movie Under the Stars
As mentioned, one of the many fabulous activities on board the cruise ship is the outdoor movie theatre situated on one of the decks. The theatre is open all day and night for a range of different screenings including movies and sports games, but I thought it was particularly magical at night. Once the sun goes down, you can snuggle up under a fleece blanket and enjoy freshly-popped popcorn while watching a movie. It was definitely a great way to spend a relaxing evening.
Being out in the middle of the ocean, there is little light pollution which means the sky above you is generally blanketed in stars. Amazingly, Princess Cruises has an astrophysicist as an ambassador, who has helped them to develop a Discovery at Sea Stargazing program, as well as an informative documentary that was filmed onboard the ship. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy during our tour, but I imagine this would be an incredible experience for amateur astronomers on a clear night!
At the conclusion of our wonderful seven days at sea, I couldn’t help but wonder why it had taken me so long to go on a cruise. Honestly, before this experience, I’d had many concerns about cruising, including that the rooms wouldn’t be comfortable or that cruising is only for older people. The experience onboard the Mediterranean cruise by Princess Cruises certainly showed me how wrong I was – I loved every moment of the luxurious adventure and left feeling totally restored and recharged. Check out Princess Cruises website to book your next cruise.
Disclaimer: This post has been created as a part of sponsored collaboration with Princess Cruises, but all opinions are 100% mine.