I thought my 2014 was pretty awesome as far as my travel bucket list. I ventured to Aruba, Vancouver Canada, Riviera Maya Mexico, Alabama, Kentucky, Las Vegas (twice), and some great new places in California I’ve never explored. 2015 quite literally started off with a bang as I marked another travel experience off my bucket list, my first cruise ship excursion with Princess Cruises!
Just after the new year, my husband and I flew to Los Angeles to board Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess ship for a 3-day trip to Ensenada Mexico! A perfect introduction to cruising, this shorter cruise gave us a taste of what it’s like to take to the sea in luxury and get our minds planning for the next adventure where we can bring the whole family. I had an idea in my head that this has got to be the perfect vacation for families. We’ve wanted to grab grandma and grandpa and the kids and take a family cruise for years because it seems that you can please people ages 1-100 on the ship with their variety of activities. This year both my parent’s wedding anniversary and Princess Cruises celebrate 50 years and hopefully we can plan a trip to commemorate these two occasions!
It all began 50 years ago with a cruise to Mexico and a single ship — Princess Patricia®. Today, Princess Cruises takes their guests to the world’s greatest cruise destinations on board 18 magnificent cruise ships while introducing them to new experiences they will never forget. So come join in this year on a cruise vacation filled with special events and surprises, and together toast the historic 50th Anniversary!
I honestly cannot wait to plan our next cruise, it has me chomping at the bit! It was hard to narrow down, I could write about 100 things, but here are 10 reasons why we loved our first Princess Cruises voyage!
1. Cruise Personalizer Prior to sailing and after you book, you can do a variety of things on the Cruise Personalizer at Princess.com that make your planning, boarding, and overall experience easier! For our cruise I scanned all the options for our Ensenada excursion on the Cruise Personalizer that even lets you know how many spots available are left for each activity. This can be done up to a week or so before cruising. Also, I knew I could get a spa treatment while at sea or while in port and the booking times available made my selection easier to make. Boarding passes and baggage tags can be printed from your computer along with your travel summary, a travel check-list, and important contact information.
2. Communication Thanks to having my cell and home phone numbers registered in the Cruise Personalizer, communication with the ship kept us informed of important information. Case in point, health information was given to us via calls and voice mail to alert us of a boarding delay a few days prior to our departure. This helped us prepare and readjust our transportation plans as needed which prevents lines and a potential for disgruntled guests. Throughout the cruise and in various locations on the ship, advisories and signs reminded us how to stay healthy and enjoy our adventure to it’s fullest.
3. Balcony Suites As our first experience, we had the best option available in my eyes. Yet, it makes it hard to ever have anything else in the future right? We can’t have an inside stateroom after feeling the wind in our hair on our own personal balcony and sleeping with the sliding doors open in the middle of winter across the Pacific Ocean! I was impressed by the amount of space we had for our king suite. A desk and table with chair also fit in the main room, while the closet/storage area and bathroom make up the other half of the suite. The balcony fits two chairs and a table so you can enjoy private room service meals overlooking the ocean through a clear panel. Sure the shower is compact but I’m small and my husband is 5’10” so we had no issues in the bathroom. Best of all, private sunrises and sunsets at sea that make you believe that mother nature hand made them especially for you!
4. Princess Patter Outside your room you have a little “mailbox” with ship communication, and I loved receiving the Princess Patter when we arrived and then each evening for the following day. This daily guide for your life at sea has everything from the evening’s dress code to the forecast, captain and navigator logs, dining and store hours, entertainment highlights, outdoor movie times, spa specials, and a full itinerary of activities on board! I couldn’t wait to check the mailbox and when it came I kept it with me 24-7 so we didn’t miss a thing. My husband and I planned our day and set our alarms so we could try a little of everything all while keeping to our press trip itinerary. On a 3-day cruise I imagine it’s harder to get a chance to see all Princess Cruises has to offer but we tried our hardest. On port day we chose only one excursion to take advantage of a few events that gave way to less crowds.
5. Activities Galore One thing you’ll never say on a Princess Cruise is “I’m bored” because it’s quite impossible! The Princess Patter lists the ship’s daily activities fit for the whole family. One of my favorites was gambling to be quite honest, I played Bingo twice in Club Fusion and also played the slots in the Casino. I think this made me think of how much my parents would enjoy the cruise as they also like to have some lady luck on their side. The second Bingo game had a $1000 prize so of course with a small crowd as you find on the ship, chances are better. My husband and I also played trivia, so rounds of which were themed. Fitness activities like Zumba, yoga, and basketball can be found around the ship as well as standard gym equipment in the fitness center.
Broadway-style shows like “Blame it on the Boogie” mixed singing and dancing to music of the 70’s and was so good! Outdoor movies under the stars (as well as indoor), magic shows, health/skincare seminars, art gallery showings, dancing, karaoke, jewelry showcases, musical performances, cocktail demonstrations, comedy, and that doesn’t even include the kid’s activities, teen and youth center agendas! Take a dip in four pools (plus 2 splash pools) with activities and games for the little ones as well as pool parties for 18 and over!
Captain’s party and the champagne waterfall is complimentary event that you’ll love as well as Chocolate Journeys featuring exquisite confections from chocolatier Norman Love, or sushi, tapas, and wine flights at Vines. Is it odd that I want to LIVE on this cruise ship?
6. The Sanctuary With over 3000 guests aboard Princess Cruises, you may think your stateroom is the only place for some peace and quiet. On the Crown Princess, we were lucky enough to enjoy an afternoon of romantic solitude at the Sanctuary and we completely felt like the only ones on the ship!
The Sanctuary offers a relaxing alternative to the myriad outdoor activities and entertainment available elsewhere throughout the ship. Solitude seekers will be able to escape completely to this plush, outdoor spa-inspired setting with signature beverages, light meals, massages, attentive service and relaxing personal entertainment.
Whether we wanted to snuggle up on a chaise lounge for two and listen to the provided mp3 players or read, we literally couldn’t even hear the sounds of the other passengers on board. This amenity is an adults-only perk at an extra charge per day but completely worth it, the private pool and hot tub and afternoon tea time will make you feel like a VIP!
7. Lotus Spa Everyone deserves pampering while on vacation, so an appointment was made via the Personalizer for a pedicure at Lotus Spa. I wanted a brief escape for myself and I love a good foot and lower leg massage any my toes were in need of some attention considering it was mid-winter! Hot stones were used to massage, a cooling leg and foot mask beneath hot towels, gentle sloughing, and then sexy red polish topped off the hour-long treatment. Most of our cruise found me in flip-flops to show off the beautiful job well done. Lotus Spa features many spa treatments, fitness classes and beauty salon services. The Lotus gyms offer the latest in equipment, as well as personal trainers and a variety of different classes throughout the day.
8. Excursions Our quick 3-day getaway included one stop to Ensenada for a cultural day in Mexico, in the state of Baja California. We felt the warmth of their mild winter as we approached port that morning, a very Mediterranean-like climate. The “Cinderella of the Pacific” has become a popular tourist destination by land or sea. With options to visit it’s wine country or the natural wonders, we chose to see La Bufadora, one of the world’s largest blowholes on scenic Punta Banda. Taken by bus and a fun and funny guide, we traveled about 40 minutes from port to our destination. A flea market of vendors lined the street approaching the inlet with their clothing, jewelry, and household wares for sale. They love to bargain so if you’re so inclined don’t buy at the first shop. Restaurants and food stands are also offering samples of pina coladas, churros, and tacos, their aromas mouth-watering.
At the site of La Bufadora, seawater crashes into the tiny crevasse with a roar and the water erupts as high as 100 feet! Legend has it that the site holds an angry snorting whale stuck in an underwater cave trying to escape. Believe it or not! The tour lasted about 4 hours round-trip but guest who don’t plan a set tour can still disembark and explore the city on their own via taxi, shuttle, or by foot.
9. Dining My husband and I had an ‘anytime dining’ plan for our trip, assigned seating and dining times (traditional) is the other option. Our plan allowed us to enjoy our meals on our time at places like the Trident grill where we could get a burger or hot dog and fries, the Pizzeria, Horizon Court Buffet (oh the desserts!), the Ice Cream Bar, or International Cafe during working hours. The nicer sit-down restaurants like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Crown Grill, and Sabatinis had a more specific dining time frame and also the latter two had additional charges not included with your stay. Vines wine bar also offered sushi and tapas for a separate charge but worth the visit especially pairing the food with a wine flight (we chose both a red and white flight). The food was delicious, made on the spot many times and even room service was prompt and hot. Just like I mentioned about the activities, the food is abundant and you’ll not utter the words, “I didn’t get enough to eat” at any time on the cruise. Coffee, tea, lemonade, and water is always available around the ship and you can also purchase drink packages to enjoy throughout the cruise. For about $49/day per person you can enjoy unlimited cocktails, beer, wine, soda, shakes, specialty coffees, and bottled water. For those who don’t drink alcohol and children, an unlimited soda and more package can be bought for about $7/day per person. Packages don’t have to be bought, you can just pay as you go as we did one afternoon when we decided to splurge on a bucket ‘o beers to enjoy on the deck while we read!
10. No Seasickness! This was a huge concern for both my husband and I, and we’re pleased to report we didn’t even get nauseous! We’ve been on ferry boats, yachts, sailboats, fishing boats, planes, and helicopters and we’ve gotten away with a dose of Dramamine to keep us from feeling ill. Cruising on a big ship had us worried mostly because no one wants to be sick on such an amazing adventure. We considered sea bands but opted to see our physician for the seasickness patch. The patch is worn behind the ear and my husband (who is highly prone to motion sickness) wore his the entire cruise and felt perfect! I brought mine and was going to apply it the first moment I felt ‘off’ and didn’t even need it! Many will say that the great weather and calm waters had a lot to do with it, I agree. We are content in knowing what we need and how to deal with it for our future cruises!
I could really go on and on, and I may have a few more posts in the works to let you know how much we just loved our first cruise ship experience with Princess Cruises. It was romantic and fun, exciting and new, it met and exceeded our expectations, and we really can’t wait to climb aboard again, and soon! The 3-day Ensenada trip was a perfect introduction for us newbies and we found ourselves craving more as we began to pack to disembark.
For more information on Princess Cruises, their fleet, their desitnations, their 50th Anniversary year, and to plan your cruise, visit http://www.princess.com/.
Our trip was hosted, all opinions are 100% our own.