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Caribbean 1205
Caribbean 1108

The Wedding Cruise - Crown Princess

Ft Lauderdale - Princess Cays - at sea - St. Maarten - St. Thomas - Grand Turk - at sea - Ft Lauderdale

 
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Rating (out of 5):    Ship    Food    Service    Itinerary

We booked this trip on the Crown Princess almost a year and a half early (July, 2007). Why? Christina and Matt decided that they were going to get married on St. Thomas during a Caribbean cruise. What a wonderful idea! But, would any guests be able to make it? Yes, we had a total of 42 people (22 cabins) who showed up for the wedding and an awesome cruise. Some were first time cruisers, so it was a real adventure for them.

The Crown Princess is identical to the Emerald princess, which we had sailed on earlier in the year. This time, however, we splurged on a mini-suite. It was wonderful. I think that everyone was happy with their cabins, the service and the food. Once again we found that the theatre capacity was hopelessly inadequate for a ship of this size (our only complaint). For this reason, I have given the ship 4 stars. In all other aspects it is really a wonderful ship.

Pre-cruise (Nov 7,8) - Travelling to Fort Lauderdale

The only downside of the whole trip was that we were leaving at midnight to fly down to FLL (through Toronto). I hate those flights! There were six of us travelling together - Chrissy & Matt and Mike & Stacy. On the leg from Toronto, there were two other girls packing wedding dresses. Seems a popular event.

Because so many of our family and friends, and Matt's family and friends were meeting in Fort Lauderdale, we decided to go down 2 days early. Most of us booked at the Springhill Suites. It was nice to meet Matt's side of the family and we had a great time in FLL. The hotel was very good. We did breakfast there (free) both days and used the hot tub a lot.

For our full day in FLL, we went with D&J to the shopping mall. Chrissy and Matt, and Mike and Stacy went on an Everglades adventure.

The first evening the group went to the Moonlight Diner for dinner at the mall across the street). It was good, with a very extensive menu. The second night some of us went to the Red Lobster for a wonderful early dinner. Then a few of our party met the late diners and went back again to the RL for another meal. No names mentioned, but they might have been the wedding couple. The RL in the US is so much better than the Canadian chain.

The hotel has a large lobby area so we were able to grab a table and play some Carcassonne. We really enjoyed the two days "on land".

Day 1 (Nov 9) - Boarding in Ft Lauderdale

The following day it was time to board the ship. We did a little shopping first to get some refreshments for the cruise. The we caught the 11:30 shuttle to Port Everglades. The shuttles were quite busy, but we all managed to get to the docks. D&J and M&S had rental cars, so some of the folks went with them and used the rental car shuttles to take them to the docks.

We got there quite early so we dumped our carry-on stuff in our room and then headed up for a wander around the deck and grab a buffet lunch. Our cabin was a mini-suite and it was really quite nice. It is slightly larger than a regular balcony cabin. I think this is a new cabin class for Princess, and is probably smaller than the "mini-suites" on older ships.

Sail away was about 6:00 PM. In harbour with us was the brand new Celebrity Solstice awaiting her inaugural sailing. We were excited to see her as we would be sailing on her in three months. Also with was was the Radiance of the Seas, which we had cruised on through the Panama Canal some years ago. The entertainment for the night was the usual opening night "sampler". A lot of people tend to miss the opening night show because they are tired from the day's travel or their luggage has ony just arrived at their room. So, we actually got a seat!

Day 2 (Nov 10) - Princess Cays

Our first port out of FLL was Princess Cays, on the southern tip of Eluthera Island (Bahamas). This would be our third time there. We were very lucky in that a hurricane was supposed to have come through that day. However, it stalled over Cuba and then dissipated, so we had no effects from it at all. we got off the ship after breakfast and grabbed some lounge chairs on the beach. Marj and I went snorkeling along the shore. It was quite good with lots of fish.

Lunch was the usual BBQ on the beach. It was quite good, with burgers, hotdogs, salads and deserts. We hung around on the beach for a while and then headed back to the ship for a gym workout and some reading. Dinner was great and the entertainment was a musical comedy act. All in all, a great day.

Day 3 (Nov 11) - A Day at Sea

Today was our first "day at sea". In the morning, we did the buffet breakfast, gym workout and all the usual stuff. For the afternoon, we had organized an open bar get together for the wedding guests. No one on either side of the family knew anyone ffrom the other side, so it was a great chance to meet the rest of the wedding guests. The party was donated by Cruise Holidays who handled the group booking. Very nice! Cruise Holidays also ordered a bottle of wine for each cabin, meant for use on the reception night dinner. What a mess! First, the order never got through to the ship, so the coupons were not waiting in the cabins. I had to email C.H. to get them to sort it out. Then, by day 4 of the cruise, the couplons finally arrived. However, not every cabin got them. More hastle to work with the purser's desk to sort things out. A couple of the room numbers were transposed, etc. I think in the end that all but one cabin got their wine.

Back to our sea day. it was dress up night, so on with the suit and tie. Dinner was great. After dinner the entertainment was "Motor City", a Motown tribute. We decided not to attend. Others who went seemed to like it. Later that evening there were separate bar parties for the bride (with the ladies) and the groom (with the men). Matt was a little worse for wear the next day so it we nice he had a day to recover before the wedding.

Day 4 (Nov 12) - St. Maarten

Today was our first real port. - St. Maarten. We had been here several times before so wanted to try something different. We booked the America Cup yacht race excursion. Our booking was for the afternoon, so we just stayed aboard the ship in the morning and did our usual stuff. We had a good lunch at buffet and then headed off the ship for our excursion. The tour company owns four 22 meter boats which are stuffed with people (16 per boat) after which we race. There were only 32 people in total, so we just used two of the boats. It was a lot of fun (and hard work). Everyone was given a position at the winches, or keeping time, tending the bar or looking for iceburgs. Something for everyone! Over the course of the race, we seesawed for the lead with the other boat, but ended up losing. I think the staff ensures that the race will be very close! I was a "grinder", operating the jib sheet winch and it was really hard work! The weather was good - cloudy with a touch of rain. However we had a good wind and that made it really fun. Here is a link to a very good description of the sport - The Cup for Beginners. Note that not all positions are described, notably bar tender and iceberg watcher.

After the race, we wandered through the town of Philipsburg and then headed back to the ship. Had a great dinner and then went to see a comedian in the theatre. After the show we went to Club Fusion to listen to the Princess Pop contest.

Day 5 (Nov 13) - St. Thomas & The Wedding

Finally it was the wedding day. We arrived in St. Thomas early in the morning and it was a mixed sunny / cloudy day. We were at Crown Bay, a new docking area. Prior visits had seen us dock at Haverside. We had an early breakfast and then everyone got ready for the wedding. We gathered in the main atrium and took lots of pictures of everyone. We had to compete with one other wedding group! Around 10:30 AM we headed off the ship and assembled on the dock. There were several minibuses there to take us up the mountain to the wedding site. Once we were assembled, we started up the road. It was about 1/2 hour to get to the site.

It really was a great situation, atop the mountain in a botanical garden looking over the ocean and Megan's Bay. Chrissy looked beautiful in her wedding dress and Matt looked very dapper in his beige suit.The ceremony went quite quickly and ended just as a rain storm hit the mountain. We headed into the guest house to keep dry. The storm was over very quickly. We had some wedding cake and then headed back down the mountain while C&M went off for pictures on the island. We got back to the ship mid-afternoon and wandered around the docking area.

For dinner, we had pre-booked the Crown Grill as a reception dinner event. It was nice to have a whole section of the restaurant for our group of 42 people. The dinner was very good. afterwards we went to Club Fusion for the Princess Pop contest (karaoke). Elspeth sang an Ann Murray song and did a wonderful job. It was a very nice wedding day!

Day 6 (Nov 14) - Grand Turk

Today was a new port for us - Grand Turk. We had never been here before. Chrissy and Matt had booked an offroad adventure, while M&S and us had booked a snorkel. We arrived at the island at 1 PM, so our excursion didn't start until 2:00. We had our usual breakfast and did our routine for the morning. Went to the gym and then sneaked in a game of Amun-Re with the kids. We had a buffet lunch (egg salad sandwiches!) and then headed off the ship to meet the snorkel boat.

The snorkel consisted of two stops. As we left it was clouding over and getting a bit windy. The first stop was a bit rough in the water, but none of our group seemed to even notice. The highlight was spotting a huge spiny lobster. After we got back on the snorkel boat, one lady was overcome with something and we had to head back to the ship dock for some medical attention. A number of newbie snorkellers had had enough and left our boat. The rest of us headed back to the second stop. The snorkelling was quite good with lots of interesting fish and coral. We were late heading back due to our unscheduled return to the dock, so it was getting dusky as we returned to the ship. We wandered around the cruise dock shops for a bit and Mike bought some stuff at the Ron Jon surf shop.

The ship left at 7:00 PM while we were having dinner. After dinner we went to the theatre for a magic show. It was quite good. We didn't do anything after the show except a quick walk on the promenade deck.

Day 7 (Nov 15) - Another Day At Sea

Our final full day of the cruise was a day at sea as we headed back along the coast lines of Hispaniola and Cuba. We did our usual "day at sea" stuff - breakfast, walk the decks, gym, etc. Matt's uncle (Alex) had organized a poker tournament in the Wheelhouse Bar in the afternoon. There were 14 (or so) of us in the tourney. After a couple of hours it was down to 3 of us - Dave, Stacy and me. I went all in (to end the game) and Stacy ended up winning the pot. I think we squeezed in another game of Amun-Re at some point. Then it was time to start packing our suitcases for disembarkation tomorrow. Dinner was really good, but we declined the entertainment for the evening. Just a last walk around the decks as we sailed through the evening seas.

This was our second cruise at Elite status, so we had free laundry for the cruise (also free internet, but there was no one to email as we were all on the ship).

Day 8 (Nov 16) - Ft Lauderdale

We arrived at Port Everglades early in the morning. We had our final breakfast and went to wait in the departure lounge until our time to get off the ship. D&J joined us in the "Elite" lounge. It had been a great cruise. We got the the airport about 9:30 so had a long wait until our afternoon flight. We grabbed a large table in a restaurant and had a game of Carcassonne.The flight to Toronto was ontime and uneventful. We had a layover in Toronto and then flew to Calgary. Stacy's Mom was there to pick up M&S. Matt and Chrissy were parked at the airport employee lot. We had parked at the Park 2 Go lot. It was nice to be back home again.