Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: November 27th, 2004
My wife and I decided to sail Princess as it was their maiden voyage from Galveston and having their reputation was good. Having seen their ships on television shows like the "Love Boat", one expected luxury and accomdation. Being their maiden voyage, one also expects the Cruise line would want to ensure their passengers were treated royally. Good reviews and word of mouth could help guarantee success. What we got was a portion of the "Voyage of the Damned".
We booked our cruise through our travel agent and spent considerably more than we normally do, as we were getting an outside cabin with a balcony. If you consider this option, save your money as the amenity is not worth the expense. The cabins are adequately furnished with bedding and a sofa, but two televisions are a waste of space and the restroom is not big enough to change your mind in. The closet is relatively sufficient for the space and a set of small shelves are nice but all in all not worth the expense.
We arrived at the cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas and had zero trouble with our baggage. Extra baggage tags were needed and the attendant was accommodating and attentive. We proceeded to the ticketing area where we were processed through and then sent to board the ship. This is where the problems began. Having cruised many times before, we did not want our pictures taken as this is not a photograph we intended to purchase, and the ship photographer seemed disturbed that we wanted to bypass her service. She had us stop as she complained to another employee about our lack of cooperation and as we waited, other passengers were allowed to go ahead of us. We finally ignored her and proceeded toward the ship, where we faced a long line in a dusty and warm building, as construction is on-going outside the building. We never figured out why the line was long as once we got near the front of the ship, the line began to move, but this took over 45 minutes. The embarkation and security staff seemed under trained and were not pleasant. This seems to be a theme with most of the ship staff throughout the cruise, with many crew members appearing unhappy and ill prepared to interface with the public. The exception was our stateroom steward, Jenelyn Gorobat, who was always accommodating, smiling, and pleasant to interact with. At the sail away party, the Cruise Director Tim was trying to generate their version of fun, while their expensive drinks were being peddled, and was yowling on his microphone for passengers to come down and dance, where dancers would be given tickets redeemable for prizes. My wife went down as the band began to play and when she asked Tim where the tickets were, he coldly and rudely informed her that they weren't ready yet. I think you could give them 2 weeks and they still wouldn't be ready.
Our cruise itinerary took us first to Belize,
and this was a total waste of time and money. We didn't book a tour as we
planned to shop, and passengers who booked tours were given first priority in
departing the ship through the tender service. The argument could be made that
tours are prioritized but we could never discern how paying passengers were made
to wait over 3 hours, allowing only a few hours to shop. The shopping area is
walled off from the city, and makes it appear that the shopping are is owned by
the cruise lines, or that the people of Belize do not want cruise passengers to
infect their country. All in all this is not a port I would recommend or advise
others to spend money in. Keep your money and spend it in ports where the people
are more appreciative of you and your dollars.
We then set sail for Costa Maya, or Majuhual. This is a port built by the cruise lines and consist of a small village with a large, concrete pier. The shopping is good and the people friendly, and there are reasonable bargains to be had. Setting sail ftom there took us to Grand Cayman, still reeling from the effects of Hurrican Ivan. The devastation is pretty evident and are refelceted in some prices. There are few bargains to be found and many tours were cancelled. We had wanted to book the Submarine tour but were informed the sub had sank, although the Grand Princess tour desk only informed us the day before, and we had to inquire on our own. We booked an Island tour and after our reservations were taken, we were informed it was for the later hours, a bit of information not offered until charges to our account. The tour attendant acted indifferent and could have cared less. The tender service was better as the Grand Princess also used their own service craft. Nonetheless, we didn't wait this time and we were able to spend more time ashore. Once the tour began, we were assigned a driver named Betty and she was informative and saucy, traits we found most appealing.
Setting sail for Cozumel, we were met by at least 6 other ships in port, with the city crowded and difficult to maneuver in. Bargains were scarce and hard to find. We then sailed back to Galveston, where we found a chaotic and problematic embarkation, made more difficult by a crew which seemed undetermined and incapable of handling assigned tasks.
That was our trip in a nutshell, bit I will give you my views on some of the areas I missed. The food service is spotty at best. Some food was wonderfully prepared and tasty, but other times it was terrible. One night the theme was "Octobetfest" and the food was sausages, sourkraut, and the like. A little would have been fine but "Yuk" the whole night was such fare. The pizza was greasy, which left a smattering of hot dogs or hamburgers. The room service sandwiches are so-so as they are not very tasty and the chips are stale. We also had the "Choice Dining" option, and told we could eat in the dining room between 6 and 10 PM nightly. We found we had to book a table, where we were handed a pager, to be summoned to the dining room when a table was open. The waiters seemed offended that they would have to wait on additional passengers and the wait staff seemed to understaffed. Service was spotty and there was no entertainment, since the staff was gloom and generally unfriendly. Shows were not lavish but entertainment was clean and family oriented. I never went to the Disco so I could not give a review for this area, but if it was representative of the rest of their operation, I did not miss much. The ship offers seminars in the spa on weight loss and exercise but they are all designed to get you in there and sell you some service. We went to one where electrodes were placed on our foot and arm, which supposedly measured our inability to lose weight. An attempt was made to sell us some overpriced package desiged to cure all our health ills (at the expense of our wallets). I declined as I believe a physician is better able to determine my health needs, although the staff informed me that physicians and pharmacists are in cahoots, preventing the public from getting proper assistance. I turned down the ability to spend over $1000 for my wife and I to get healthy with their treatments, although their services did cost me $40. I shudder to think how many believe this stuff.
I know that many of you who read my review will believe I am grumpy and difficuly to please but nothing could be further from the truth. I spend a lot of money on my vacation and the staff seemed to forget that the cruise was representative of my vacation, which should be the reason for their existence.
I wish everyone well who choose to disregard my review. I am only trying to educate you should you decide to use this cruise line and wish you well if you do. My wife and I will look elsewhere.