First of all, We had the pleasure
of meeting 3 other couples from a posting on a message board that
cruised with us on the Grand Princess. I strongly advise using the
"Who's Cruising With Us" option on message
boards. This allows you to post messages and receive replies from
others who are on the same cruise as yours. The cruise would not
have been the same without meeting our new found friends. It's a
long review, But, If your going on the Grand Princess, you may find
the info useful...
DAY 1 - Embarkation
It's true... Princess HAS perfected embarkation procedures. They
board you by deck assignment, NOT by the usual "1st come, 1st
serve" basis. We were on board, from terminal to stateroom in
10 minutes (not a misprint!) On past cruises, we waited 30-60
minutes to board. I suggest doing the pre-boarding paperwork at the
website. This really expedited boarding. What a pleasure. Excellent
DAY 2 - Princess Cays
We dropped anchor and used the ships tenders to get to the
island. WARNING... if you are prone to sea sickness, prepare
yourself. This was a VERY rough ride to the beach. All in all... a VERY beautiful beach. They use their own ships tenders and not the
contracted boats from the island. The island tenders handle the
waters MUCH better.
DAY 3 - Sea Day/1st Formal Night
I love the days at sea. On other ships I have been on, they use
the ships main theatre for the Captain's reception. On the
"Grand", they used the Atrium and had picture taking right
in the area of the lifts (elevators) and it was difficult getting
off the lifts due to the crowd.
DAY 4 - Grand Cayman
I can only compare this wonderful island to Bermuda. We did the
"Sea & See" tour (Turtle Farm) and the bus driver
(Ivan) was funny and VERY friendly as was everyone we came in
contact with on the island.
DAY 5 - Majahual (Costa Maya)
Not bad, but not impressed. We did the "Uvero Beach Break"
tour here. It was very unorganized. We had a 12:45 time for the tour
but found you could go whenever you wanted. They have an open bar
and sell food. Stay away from the burgers... don't know what kind of
meat it was but it sure wasn't cow!! The buses returning to the ship
later in the day ran every hour so plan accordingly. If one bus
fills up, you have to stand in the sun for an hour for the next
transfer to the ship. This was bad planning on the tour operator's
should have had the buses running every 15 to 30 minutes.
DAY 6 - Cozumel
This is one of my favorite Islands. We rented a Jeep at the
terminal with one of the other couples we met on a message board and
had a real BLAST!! Here we did the sun beach break. This was the
best of all the beaches. Very clean & very organized. They have
an Open Bar as part of the tour and have a $10 buffet that was worth
the price. You MUST go to Senior Frogs in the middle of town. We
stayed there for a few hours and had a really good time.
Day 7 - At Sea/2nd Formal Night
The last day of a cruise is ALWAYS a somber one. The nights
dinner included the "Baked Alaska On Parade" dessert.
Day 8 - Disembarkation
Nicely done. They began calling groups at 8:20am and we were off
the ship by 9:20am. I always hated sitting around waiting to get off
on the other ships I have sailed on. Princess Cruises has this down
to a science.
The ship was VERY beautiful. The itinerary was very good. The
ship handled rough waters VERY well. Sabitini's restaurant was
excellent, just be prepared to eat for 2 hours there. It was worth the
$20 per person. You weren't inundated with PA announcements. There
always deck hands maintaining the ship. Our room steward (Bricchio)
and our dining staff (Monika & Alex) were top notch. The slot
machines were very loose and paid out a lot. Also, not what I had read
in other reviews which stated that Princess doesn't pay out.
The other staff on the ship were VERY unpersonable. They were
more patronizing then friendly. I didn't expect this on a Princess
cruise that boasts "Where You Belong" as their trademark.
The shows summed up in one word... SUCKED!!! The theatre was TOO small
and it was more like a High School show. We only went to one show and
my wife fell asleep. I went to Snookers Lounge and had a cigar during
the show. Much more pleasant than the show. We heard from others
that the other shows were no better. Don't waste your time going to
the shows. I'm sure you can find something else to do. The food was
good, but the menu was VERY out of the norm of my previous cruises.
I like the "Towel Animals" on our bed at night. This ship
didn't do this. They just turned down the bed and put a chocolate on
the pillow. Posting of restrooms on the ship were poor at best. By
the time you found a restroom... your eyeballs were floating. Finding
the restrooms on this ship is almost as important as the muster
drill!!! I had ordered some stateroom amenities (tray of canapés & tray of
shrimp cocktail) for embarkation day... it wasn't
there. The baggage handlers at Ft. Lauderdale are thieves. Our
friend had a Laptop with a DVD player and 12 movies stolen before it
even got onboard. Pay close attention to what you check on and what
you carry on. ALWAYS carry on anything of value.
All in All, I have not ever had a
"BAD" cruise. I just feel that Princess did not live up to
my expectations. Next time I think I'll go back to NCL. I haven't
given up on Princess, they have a lot to offer, they just need to do
some fine tuning. As for the people that have posted reviews saying
that the ship is becoming run-down, Let me put it to you this way...
the ship sailed on her maiden voyage in 1998. Since then,
there have been on average 2600 passengers per WEEK. People can be
slobs and don't respect the beauty of a vessel such as the
"Grand." There was always some type of cleaning or
painting going on on the ship and taking into consideration what I
stated above, She is a VERY beautiful vessel. We asked the staff and
she is due for overhaul later this year when she relocates to do her
Would I recommend this ship? YES to
first time cruisers. NO to veteran cruisers who have a habit of being too
judgmental while comparing it to other ships. To the veterans, wait
till she is refurbished.