Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: January 15th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This cruise was very enjoyable, I give it 4 stars.
We were pleasantly surprised a few days before sailing by a call from Princess offering us an upgrade to a family suite from the mini suites that we had booked. We enjoyed the additional space and the cabin was very nice. The only complaint that I had against the suite was the balcony. It was big, but being at the front of the ship and there being no shield to deflect the wind, it was unusable while the ship was underway. We had several days and nights where the wind howled outside, throwing the deck furniture all over the place often against the door making quite a racket. Unless you don't plan on using the balcony, I wouldn't recommend this suite.
Our cabin steward, Raul took very good care of us. He kept the room clean and was very personable.
The ship has been maintained very well, but you could tell that she has been in service for almost 7 years. We parked next to the Star Princess in Costa Maya, and you could tell that the Star was newer. The maintenance crew was always busy maintaining the appearance of the ship though.
The food was good, better I would say than the food we ate on the Golden Princess on a 2003 cruise. We would eat most of the time in the buffet, because often the same food is served in the dining rooms. We did eat at Donitello's, Sabitinni's, and the Sterling Steak House. Donitello's was good, and the service was good. The Sterling Steakhouse was an excellent meal, and the service was exceptional. Regarding Sabittini's the service was good, but the food wasn't particularly to my liking. Not to say that the food was bad. But they really feed you a lot of food there.
We went to a couple of the shows. The magician was an excellent show. The comedian show we attended started slow but got better. The Movies under the Stars was pretty cool, and is a nice addition to the ship.
We stopped at 4 ports, Belize, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We took 3 excursions, the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins (Costa Maya), the Nautilus Semi Sub and Snorkel (Grand Cayman), and the Chankanaab Sea lion and Snorkel (Cozumel).
Belize, no excursion, didn't get off the boat. Had to tender to the port, the sea was rough it was raining, and according to my wife the port has few things to do. The cruise director, ship staff and even the comedians complained about this stop.
Costa Maya, the excursion was great, well organized and very educational. The port was nice, with some nice shopping and entertainment.
Grand Cayman, I was surprised on how much there was to do this soon after the hurricane. The Nautilus Semi Sub was a lot of fun and we were able to snorkel for a little while. The reefs and water in the area are beautiful. There was good shopping and places to eat. The port supplied the tender boats, which they packed to standing room only, very unsafe. Getting back onto the ship from the tender boat was a problem, had to jump down about 3 ft to the deck.
Cozumel, there were nine cruise ships in port this day. But it didn't seem crowded. The Chankanaab Sealion and Snorkel excursion was a lot of fun, nice facility, nice beach, great snorkeling. The taxi ride to and from the park was scary. This excursion was overpriced, because you could get a taxi to the facility, and rent the snorkel equipment cheaper. The port area offers great shopping and dining opportunities. Would have liked to spend more time here.
The embarkation process was flawless, we were on the ship and in our room 20 minutes from walking in the door. Our luggage made it to our room about 1 hour after we got on the ship. The disembarkation was not good, I don't know why they couldn't setup the immigrations station in the cruise terminal and check everyone as they get off the ship. Instead you go to customs to declare what you bought. Go sitdown where ever you can find a spot. Then they call you to immigration in disembark order, check out and go back and sit down where ever you can find a spot. Then they call you to disembark, go pickup your luggage in the terminal and then go to see if you can get a shuttle to your car. The road in front of the terminal is packed. Took us 2 hours to get off the boat.
The Grand Princess is a nice ship but aging gracefully.
Room was nice except the balcony.
Food was very good.
Entertainment was pretty good
Ports, skip Belize, the other ports were very enjoyable. Would have been nice to have spent more time in Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
Embarkation - great
Disembarkation - bad.