Number of Cruises: 20+
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: September 14th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Let me begin by telling you that
we LOVE cruising. This review is written from our perspective. We cruise 3-4
times a year and look for bargains on our seven day cruises. Princess sent me an
offer I couldn’t refuse, so we booked the Grand for our second cruise on this
beautiful ship and our third cruise on a Grand class ship of Princess. Other
lines we have sailed include Celebrity (8), RCCL (3), NCL (2), Costa (3),
Carnival (1), Premier (1), and Commodore (1).
Since we were sailing during hurricane season, we knew that there was always the possibility of being re-routed – but we had sailed many times before during hurricane season and never had a problem – not this time!!! We booked an Eastern Caribbean route and actually sailed a Western Caribbean route. To say that we were disappointed would be an understatement – but we were on a cruise and what better place to be – so we made the best of it and had a wonderful time!
Since we live in Naples, Florida, we have the ability to cruise often. We take the bus to the port and it works well for us. The doors opened at 11:15 am and we were on the ship and in our cabin by 11:45 am. Princess has one of the best embarkation processes I have ever experienced. We went up to the Horizon Court for lunch and then re-acquainted ourselves with the ship. I had resisted the Grand for many years thinking that she would be too big with too many passengers – but succumbed last September and we fell in love with the Grand class ships – sailed the Golden in February and now the Grand again. These ships are laid out so well – they never feel crowded – there is plenty of deck space. With four pools to choose from, two of them mainly adults only, there really is never a feeling of a crowd around the pools.
The itinerary was day at sea, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, day at sea and Princess Cays. I love sea days – am up early to have coffee and watch the sun come up and swim. Costa Maya was a pleasant surprise – right at the dock was a complex with a saltwater swimming pool, shops, places to eat and a beach just a short walk from the ship. There were also shuttles for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t walk. Cozumel was Cozumel – it’s not my favorite place, but we got off and walked and shopped for three hours. Grand Cayman is a lovely place – but five ships were anchored off and tendering in that day (many had been diverted) so it was a bit crowded – but we enjoyed the town. We aren’t much for beaches since we live on one but we love to shop. We enjoyed the next sea day and we did not get off the ship in Princess Cays – enjoyed the quiet while everyone else was ashore. We had been there twice before and it’s a beautiful place – but we preferred to stay aboard.
We really enjoy Personal Choice dining – we go to the dining room for breakfast every day and some lunches. We used the Michaelangelo dining room on Deck 5 every evening – we felt it was quieter and we liked the service there. The food was exceptionally good – we really enjoyed the Rack of Lamb, the Lobster, the pasta dishes, the soufflés, and other deserts. Everything was very good and the service was excellent as well. It is nice to be able to choose the time to dine.
Our cabin was an inside cabin on Aloha deck forward – a perfect location for us –the inside cabins are laid out very well with lots of storage space. Our stewardess was always happy to tend to any needs we had. Our philosophy is that we book an inside guarantee and see where we land. We have never been disappointed in our cabin and that way we are able to cruise more often.
Some changes we noticed since the Carnival merger are espresso and cappuccino are not gratis in the dining room anymore. Brunch is no longer served at Sabatini’s on sea days – it is the regular dinner menu and drinks are not included as they were with brunch. There is no longer a separate wine steward/bar waiter in the dining room – the regular waiter has to take care of this service and it cuts down on his efficiency since he has to do the paperwork for wine and drinks as well as serve the food. The crew on Princess, however, is one of the friendliest we have ever sailed with – the Captain is readily available and very friendly. It was our second sailing with Captain Guiseppe Romano and we enjoyed him thoroughly. We went to the comedian and magician shows and they were excellent. We didn’t go to any production shows and we don’t gamble – so I can’t speak to those. The ship itself was in beautiful condition. All in all it was an excellent cruise. We wouldn’t hesitate to sail with Princess again at any time.
Melinda and Bob Kazmer