The Traveling Steve's

Welcome Aboard the Crown Princess!

On Tuesday morning after having breakfast at the hotel, we checked out of the Hyatt Regency, and Uber’d the short few blocks to the Canada Place Cruise Terminal. We first dropped our luggage off with the porters, and brought aboard our carry-on luggage the rest of the way.

Vancouver Port area drop off point for Uber and Taxis

The porters are not directly curbside at the Uber/Taxi drop off area, but it’s a short walk to the luggage drop off. We could have used a luggage cart had they been available, but we managed in two trips to drop our checked luggage off.

With luggage checked in, we headed inside the terminal. Bon Voyage!

The whole boarding process was quite easy, even with hundreds of people doing the same. Princess has recently changed their boarding process, and as we had our ship medallion bracelets already, we were in the “Green” lane which allows for an earlier and more flexible boarding time. Even the line in the Green lane, however, was quite long, but it moved quickly.

Once we reached the check-in counter, we were surprised that Princess assigned us a boarding escort (who was actually one of the waiters aboard), and walked with us thru the remaining process (going thru Security, then US Immigration, and finally boarding the ship.). As it was quite a long walk along the Canada Place terminal, not to mention knowing where to go, it was quite helpful having a personal guide. He walked us all the way to our cabin, and took his time explaining dining times, suite perks etc, and truly made for a memorable and easy boarding process.

It was nice our room was already made to occupy at 11:30am when we arrived, and we first unpacked our carry-on bags, and then watched the mandatory safety video which was shown on our two in-room TVs. We’re in the Saint Thomas Suite D736, which is in the very aft, port side. We love being in the aft of the ship as it’s quieter, offers a bigger balcony, and is usually a bit more sheltered from the wind and weather.

Complimentary mini-bar setup, and mini-fridge below (not in photo).

Extra sink in the mini bar area.

Nice big and private Aft facing balcony on the Crown Princess, Deck 9 port-side.

Two full size lounge chairs on the balcony plus a table and four chairs.

Watching the in-room Muster Drill on the TV.

After watching the safety video, we then went to our Muster Station in the Fusion Lounge to complete the muster process in person, which basically means they just check you in that you’ve been there. The Muster Drill is so much easier now than it used to be on most ships. Years ago you had to take your life jacket, go to an actual in-person drill jam packed with other passengers and listen to the announcements etc, while waiting for the late arriving passengers, and then head out with the masses back to your cabin to store your life jacket back in the room. I always thought that that type of safety drill was actually dangerous as passenger’s life boat straps were dangling on the floor and stairs, just waiting for someone to trip and fall. Maybe that’s why most cruise lines have simplified the process today?

We then toured the ship a bit, and found it to virtually identical to the Emerald Princess (same class of ship) we had taken back in February 2022 to the Caribbean. All Princess ships have the three level atrium in the center of the ship, and it’s always a lively place to have a drink, people watch, listen to some live music, or just relax and take it all in.

The three-level Atrium on the Crown Princess.

“Movies under the Stars” screen on the pool deck, high aboard the ship, as seen from deck 15.
Main pool area, midship on Dec 15
Aft pool area on the Crown Princess.

Interactive monitors located all over the ship provide access to ship maps, destinations, timeline of events etc.

We had a leisurely afternoon, and opted for a simple pool-side lunch of pizza and burgers instead of going to the buffet or restaurant. The deck 15 area offers wonderful views outside the windows, in this case Vancouver Bay, mountains, boats, and even sea planes.

After lunch we went back to our room, where our checked luggage was there waiting for us. We unpacked our clothes (minor ship design flaw; the closet is a bit too small, but we managed) and then relaxed on our balcony for a while until the 4:30pm departure. As we were on the port side aft, we were literally facing the Canada Place dock area where we had walked around the day prior to the cruise departure, but now we saw it from a passenger perspective, and the on-lookers from the dock area were just a few yards away.

Some of even asked us how we like the suite (one lady is on the next cruise in the same cabin and she even knew the cabin number!), Princess, Alaska ports etc, as it was close enough to talk. It actually felt a bit awkward, lying down on the lounge chair so close to the on-lookers starring at us!🤣

It was a gorgeous day in Vancouver, and as we relaxed on the balcony, we saw several sea planes taking off and landing.

For sail-away we went back up onto the main pool area on deck 15. The 3 Crown class ships such as this, (the Emerald and Ruby Princess) have a different type layout in several area, most noticeable in the pools and surrounding deck areas. I actually like this, and while the ship holds over 3,000 passengers, it is compartmentalized in different sections so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The Movies Under the Stars is located midship, while the main pool is in another section a bit further forward. The outdoor pool deck area was quite crowded for the sail-away, as everyone was having a good time listening to the outdoor band, taking photos, and even line-dancing with the entertainers.

Along with the other passengers, we enjoyed the beautiful weather out on deck, and especially liked sailing under the historic Vancouver Lion’s Gate Bridge.

In the evening we went to Vines Wine Bar for a pre-dinner glass (ok two) of vino. We are on the Princess Premier Drink package, which includes all drinks up to $20, plus two nights specialty dining, a photo package, reserve seating in the theater on production show nights, shipboard gratuities, and high speed internet for four devices. The Premier is a newer package offering and is a big upgrade from the older Plus package that is a bit more limited in drink caps and overall perks.

One nice upgrade Princess did very recently was offer a charcuterie board of meats and cheeses, along with Crudité and chocolate truffles. There is an additional charge for this, but is included with the Premier package daily (our twice a cruise on the Plus package) which is a great deal, and definitely enhances the wine with the cheese pairings. Also Princess lets you upgrade to a more pricey wine such as Caymus (which sells for $28 a glass) by paying only the $8 difference in price from the Premier package (plus additional tip). Vines is a great, fun, and venue to try different wines, and it’s location just off of the 5th floor atrium is ideal.

On the way to dinner, I stopped to take a photo of the ship’s officers, which they had prominently displayed in one of the hallways. I wanted to see if the same Doctor was aboard as the one who treated me on the Grand Princess a year ago on this same Alaska itinerary. I know it’s a different ship, but they move staff and crew around, so you never know. Alas, it’s a different Doctor than last year’s on the Grand Princess.

Current Senior Officers aboard the Crown Princess, Alaska Sept 2023.

Senior Officers on the Grand Princess – Alaska sailing September 2022. Dr. Coetzee Van der Merwe from South Africa treated me aboard the Grand Princess almost exactly a year ago today.

If it was the same Doctor aboard (Dr. Coetzee Van der Merwe), I wanted to go by and personally thank him and his staff for all they did the two days I was admitted to the ship’s hospital on the Grand Princess, and for them arranging me to go to the Ketchikan Hospital once we arrived there. I ended up having to have major open heart surgery and after being air lifted to Washington State, where DOS and I were in Seattle for 2 months, between a one month hospitalization for me followed by recovery and therapy at a hotel a month after that. It’s not something I want to repeat, but the Doctor and his staff on the Grand Princess were wonderful, as was the ER Doctor and staff in Ketchikan, and the Doctors, nurses and other staff in Seattle. I always say “You Medical Professionals are truly Angels on Earth!”

Me with Dr. Coetzee Van der Merwe on the Grand Princess a year ago on our Alaska sailing.

I was in the shipboard hospital aboard the Grand Princess 2 days before reaching land in Ketchikan, and then airlifted to Washington State, where we were for two months for open heart surgery, hospitalization, and recovery in a Seattle hotel prior to flying home in November.

No offense to to Doctor Schwartz aboard the Crown Princess we are currently sailing, but hopefully I won’t need to go to the Medical Facility again on this cruise! So far I am doing very well. I was concerned about all of the walking I would be doing, but I’ve gotten over 10K steps a day, and unlike last year’s Alaska cruise, with no shortness of breath or heart issues.

Sorry to digress, but last year’s trip has been on my mind for months before we embarked on this cruise. I had had an aortic valve replaced a year prior to that, and unfortunately it failed for no apparent reason, (some kind of infection they said) and we just happened to be on a cruise when it happened.

For dinner on our first evening onboard the Crown Princess, we went to the Crown Grille Restaurant, a specialty dining steakhouse we always enjoy on the other Princess ships we have sailed on.

After dinner we stopped by the Wheelhouse bar where “Plus Two” a husband and wife duo were just finishing up performing for the evening. As it was getting late on this our first night, DOS went off to bed, and I stopped next door at Crooner’s Piano Bar Lounge for a bit. Even at 11pm it was quite busy, but I got a seat at the bar and had a nightcap brewski, while I watched some of the stunt bar staff performing their cocktail serving skills to their customers..

The next day was a full sea day as we sailed thru the Inside Passage. We started off the day with breakfast in Sabatini’s, which is an Italian Specialty Restaurant open for dinner, but allows Suite passengers to dine there with a special breakfast menu. On this ship, Sabatini’s is on the 16th floor Aft, so it has nice views off the back an sides of the ship.

DOS and a couple of the servers looking out the window of Sabatini’s as
we’re sailing thru the Inside Passage.

Rear view outside of Sabatini’s, showing how foggy it was going thru the Inside Passage.

It was quite foggy most of the day unfortunately, so the scenery wasn’t the best, and the ship’s fog horn was blaring every couple minutes during our walk around the mostly empty decks for exercise after breakfast.

On the second night, the dress code was Formal, and most men wore a coat and tie, with a few tuxes in the mix. Alaska is more casual than other cruises due to the colder climate and heavier clothes people wear, not to mention airline luggage restrictions. This was the first longer cruise we didn’t bring our tuxes on; instead just a coat, tie, and dress pants, which did us fine for the night.

We went to Vines Wine bar around 6pm as we knew the surrounding atrium area would be busy, with the Captains Welcome Aboard Party and Champagne Tower Waterfall event taking place there at 6:30pm.

Sure enough, the lobby area and stairs were already packed with people looking on at the impressive and delicately balance array of Champagne glasses forming a Christmas tree like tower.

Then the event starts with Champagne bottles being opened by the staff, and poured in the top glass, which trickles down and overflows to the different layers of the tower. It’s quite fun to watch, and they let passengers take their turns pouring the Champagne in the tower, which makes for great photo opportunities! They also serve complimentary Champagne to anyone in the area who is watching.

For dinner we went to the Davinci Restaurant, which is located on deck six. Princess does not have a dedicated restaurant for Suite guests unlike Celebrity and some cruise lines, but the Reserve Class (formerly called Club Class) is a small section of one of the three main dining rooms aboard, and offers a more intimate dining experience with no set dining time, and open seating. We had a nice Captain’s Night Formal dinner there, and the beef tenderloin and dessert were especially wonderful!

After dinner we went to the first Production show of the cruise, “Magic to Do”, which featured the Princess Singers and Dancers in a Broadway-type show with music and magic acts in the fast moving production. We got great seats as well, and didn’t even realize until we got there the reserved seating section was for guests on the Premier Package, which was a nice perk.

Finally, after the show, we stopped by Crooner’s Bar, which was quite busy as usual, but we were able to get a seat. We made three new friends from Adelaide Australia, who we had seen in the outdoor dining area on boarding day, and a lady from France. We chatted away and had drinks until closing time!

Welcome aboard the Crown Princess!

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