This post comprises a daily highlight view of our June 2017 cruise aboard Crown Princess during a Baltic Heritage cruise with all the photos being taken on my phone as I don’t tend to carry my camera around when drinking. To view the various ports of call on this cruise or to see photographs and reviews of the excursions we took click here.
June 3rd: Southampton
It’s a tradition when we’re cruising with Princess Cruises these days that we always head for Crooners Bar for the first drink and this trip on the Crown Princess was no exception with our first two drinks happening there. On the Grand-class ships operated by Princess this is a lovely place to sit and people-watch.
We had a lovely summer sunset to see us off from Southampton.
This was our first Princess cruise travelling at Platinum level loyalty which meant we could indulge in a discounted cocktail of the day and some free snacks in Skywalkers early evening so we took advantage of this on our first night aboard. For the most part, though, we didn’t bother with this as the cocktail offerings weren’t to our taste. This was also our first time in the Adagio bar at the aft of the ship. Convenient both for our cabin and for Skywalkers above it at night this would become a regular haunt mostly because of the superb service of the bar staff there.
June 4th: Belgium
Drinks and views from Adagio and Skywalkers again with the great BOGO hours being taken advantage of in a few of the photos. BOGO (Buy One, Get One For A Dollar) has sadly now been discontinued by Princess with no explanation as to what might replace it (if anything) despite repeated requests to their media and PR people. Like many PR groups you can only get a response so long as your question and their answer fall within the “positive propaganda” guidelines of communication and voicing a dissenting opinion or asking something they don’t want to answer gets met with silence. The current Princess alternative to paying for every drink at full price is to add on a drinks package but with their drinks package being amonsgt the most expensive at sea this only makes financial sense if you’re an alcoholic. Time will tell as to whether Princess introduce something that allows a little extra drinking for less cost to make their passengers happy and encourage them to return to the line or whether they move further along the price-gouging measures route and persuade regulars to see how the competition compares.
June 5th: Sea Day
A day at sea meant a chance to try out a wine-tasting onboard. Canapés were nice and the hosting was reasonably entertaining but the wines were very hit and miss. Princess are no P&O when it comes to wines but we keep persevering. We’re little troopers.
The great thing about having a balcony is that you can retreat to it if you want to have a read or look out at the view and you can always take a drink back with you from one of the bars. So we did.
The rest of the day included spotting the champagne fountain being poured (we’ve never really bothered with it but are happy to oblige ourselves to a glass of fizz if it’s being passed around) and grabbing a few drinks at our usual venues.
June 6th: Denmark
We’d had a long day in Denmark (and had tried some local beer) and with a long cruise out past the country in order to look across at Hamlet’s Castle (although we’d already visited it) there were only a few drinks on this day.
June 7th: Sea Day
Our to-date only Movies Under The Stars experience happened on the second sea day. The sun is, of course, a star. In case you’re interested we watched The Boss Baby and enjoyed it very much.
The rest of the day included a smattering of cocktails and I was taken with dessert at dinner that evening which was a Norman Love signature chocolate piece.
June 8th: Sweden
More cocktails after we’d returned from our excursion in Stockholm as you could guess.
We also decided to try out Vines wine bar at the bottom of the piazza on the Crown Princess. We weren’t expecting great things as we’re familiar with the rather thin offerings and low variety of wines on Princess and our expectations were met. Cannot fault the service, though.
June 9th: Estonia
The part of the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Russia (our next stop) was ridiculously calm and beautiful to look at.
We didn’t have very many drinks on account of having had a few in Tallinn during the day and knowing we’d have a very long day ahead of us in St Petersburg.
This was the night, however, that we booked in to dine at the Crown Grill. We’ve had fabulous experiences at the Crown Grill every time we dined on Princess with the exception of the infamous Royal Princess Cruise Of Immense Disappointment (read more) and this one was everything we hoped for. We even got a window booth seat so we could stare out at the sea between gorgeous courses. The steak was fantastic, as usual, and those flavoured salts are just wonderful.
The end of the evening included some more gazing out at the sea and, as we were heading east, staring at the long, drawn-out sunset that was occurring later and later as we cruised towards Russia. I don’t think it got dark before one in the morning at this point in the cruise.
June 11th: Russia
No chance for a drink on the ship on the first of our days there with us having a full day in Russia culminating in a trip to the ballet (highly recommended) but we returned to some attractive cocktail-imbibing along with my favourite tipple, Lawford’s Libation, as we started on our return leg back to the UK.
June 12th: Finland
It had rained the entire time we were in Finland and as we set off from Helsinki it was in a thick fog.
Fortunately, that dissipated pretty quickly.
You can tell it’s a formal night if you spot a photo of a Vodka Martini with three olives in it. It’s the only time I’ll drink it and, amazingly, I’m getting used to the taste. Of course, one never eats the olives; they’re there to add some saltiness to the drink until about a third of the way down after which they are removed and stared at with pure hostility.
We grabbed what had become our regular seats by the dance floor in Skywalkers for the evening to see the people in their formal wear strutting their stuff to the sounds of DJ Iron Mic who we quite often talked to in the evenings.
June 13th: Sea Day
The odd drink as you’ve come to expect and the decoration changed in the Crown Princess’s piazza enough to warrant some photos too.
In the evening we were treated to more wonderful sunsets to stare at.
And there was more dancing into the early hours in Skywalkers with dancers being led on the floor by the DJ himself.
June 14th: Poland
Drinks from a couple of BOGO hours and just in general rounded off our final port stop on our Baltic cruise aboard Crown Princess.
June 15th: Sea Day
Our penultimate sea day began with another flat stretch of water and long wake to look out on from our balcony as we rose.
With a fair chunk of the day having been spent securing our viewing spot to experience cruising under the Great Belt Bridge, then quizzing and swimming there wasn’t quite as much drinking going on during the day that saw balloons installed in the piazza ready for some celebrating later in the evening.
Our evening, though, was spent at Sabatini’s, the Italian specialty restaurant on Crown Princess. This was the first time we’d booked at Sabatini’s with all our previous specialty dining having taken place in the Crown Grill. In terms of service and general range of food on offer it was an exceptional experience indeed.
The only blot on the evening was my wife’s steak which she’d asked for rare (as is the only way to eat steak). It and my food arrived and we tucked in except that on slicing into her meat we could both see immediately that it was medium well done. This in itself would have been a minor problem except that our very friendly waiter also spotted it and whisked her food away to have it re-done. In principle, a great idea; in practice, it left me with a plate of food that would go cold unless I ate alone. So that’s what I had to do. When her food returned the waiter was accompanied by the head waiter and they gathered to make sure that the steak was better. My wife said yes, there were smiles all around, and we were left alone once more; me with my nearly-finished plate and my wife with a plate containing a steak almost as well done as the previous one but which she couldn’t face telling anyone it was still hopelessly wrong. Again, a minor thing in the grand scheme (although if you’re paying extra you expect it done right), and the service was so good we can overlook it this time. It certainly won’t put us off trying Sabatini’s again although, as I told my wife, probably best leave ordering steak to the steak house in future.
June 16th: Sea Day
In all our cruising this was the first time we’d been at dinner when they did the traditional Baked Alaska Parade. Surprisingly noisy and long.
Our last day at sea and on a wonderful cruise ship was so depressing I clearly forgot to take any photos of drinks during the day. I’m pretty sure we had some, though. Instead, enjoy this final view from our cabin of the wake view after we’d rounded the top of Denmark and were heading down towards the English Channel and home.