Having just completed my first Transatlantic Cruise, I thought it may be time to tell all about it. Let me start by saying this was cruise number 10 and I don’t even know how to swim! I’m actually afraid to be (standing or snorkeling) in water over my head. The first day (of 5 continuous) at sea while sitting out on the balcony I thought it was kind of cool. Of course at this point I could still occasionally see land or another ship. The second day I saw one other ship. After that, nothing! And I do mean absolutely nothing but water all the way around the ship as far as one could see. On deck seven of the Crown Princess you can walk all the way around outside, which takes you from the very front to the very back of the ship. The distance is something like 2.7 times around equals 1 mile. Of course the first few times around you can’t help but stop to peer over the edge at both the front and back, a very strange feeling indeed. There are of course the usual thoughts like “if something happens to the ship out here in the middle of nowhere how long would it take anyone to find us”? This thought is immediately followed by another “if something happens out here in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the ocean, does it really matter”? Of course this type of thinking is irrational because everyone on the ship knows they are in good hands with the captain and the crew and all the modern conveniences like maps, radar, maybe even a compass and satellites. But looking out at the water, especially the black at night it’s very easy to forget these rational thoughts.
Okay, so you’ve tried to forget that you’re in the middle of nowhere and what better way to do this than to find a place to eat. No problem. There is food anywhere, anytime. Gone are the days of the “Midnight Buffet”. Food is available 24 hours a day. We signed up for regular dining (same time, same place every day), but were waitlisted since we booked the cruise so late. We opted to just stay with “anytime” dining which worked out well. You go to eat in either of the 2 formal dining rooms at anytime between 6 and 10, with the option of either sitting alone or joining others. We always joined others, a great way to make new friends! Anytime dining gave us the freedom to dine on our schedule although one drawback (unless you’re very disciplined-which you shouldn’t be on a cruise) may be that because your dining schedule varies, you aren’t “programmed” into the regular ships schedule. For instance, when you have early assigned dining it’s usually so that you can attend the late show, and vice versa, when you have late assigned seating you’ll probably attend the early performance of the show. With “anytime” dining we tended to miss the shows completely because we weren’t on a specific schedule and didn’t plan accordingly. Another drawback to “anytime” dining is the fact that you don’t have the rapport with the wait staff that regular dining offers. It’s so nice to have someone actually remember that you like lemon in your tea or that you prefer decaf coffee. Regular wait staff also seems friendlier. (Could it be because their tip may be in jeopardy)? With “anytime” we did have the inconvenience of waiting to order until more people were seated at our table. One night in particular our waitress made four of us wait over 20 minutes before taking our order saying that she was waiting for the last two seats at our table to be filled. As it turned out no one else was seated at our table. No apology was offered by the waitress. From that night on we went to a different dining room and requested service as soon as we had at least four at the table.
The food in the dining rooms aboard the Crown Princess was good and plentiful. I wouldn’t call it exceptional. There were options to pay extra at two upscale restaurants (Crown Grill and Sabatini’s) but we didn’t try them. Most people we spoke with that had been to them said the food was good, but just too much to eat and not worth the extra money. We were surprised to go past one of these restaurants and find maybe only 2 people dining there. I can’t imagine that this is a worth while operation paying all the extra staff for this restaurant with so few patrons. Perhaps we didn’t happen to see it when they were busy, or it was just the nature of the people on this particular cruise to not frequent these restaurants.