Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: March 12th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Background – My family and I have cruised with Carnival, and Royal Caribbean, and recently on Grand Princess. Living near Houston and frequently visiting Galveston has made the cruising experience so simple and easy that we rarely vacation any other way. We are both in our late twenties and we have a daughter who is 9 and we love cruises!
Embarkation - Embarkation was very simple as they are well staffed with greeters and friendly faces who know your goal is to get on the ship quickly and they help in every way to see that this happens fast. We had no trouble at all with the embarkation process.
Ship Overview – The Grand Princess is a massive and beautiful ship which to me makes it almost harder to enjoy because it is SO massive! This is a great thing when you have 3000 cruisers on board so everyone can spread out but it is also bad when on the last day you find a beautiful room that you never got to enjoy. Every public room is big and bold and decorated wonderfully and the ship does not show its age at all. The staterooms (we had a balcony room) are very nice with plenty of space and a cozy atmosphere. The only complaint we ever had was that the cooling throughout the ship was minimal. This goes back to the fact that it is such a huge ship so naturally it will have a problem keeping nice and cool. But that is a very minimal complaint. Overall the ship was the best I have seen and we enjoyed it immensely. The entertainment was great – not the best but very good. The food was to die for in the dining rooms and on the buffet. The pools and giant TV are amazing. Be sure to head out to movie under the stars – it is neat! Don’t by shy to ask for extra blankets. The TV is great and in the heat and sunny part of the day it amazed me at how it was able to deflect the sun so you could still see it clearly. You know you are on a great ship when docked at different ports people from other ships lean over from their top decks to watch the Grand’s TV!
Kids Activities – Our little girl was very pleased with her stay in the kid’s area. They are staffed with fun upbeat people who make sure the kids aren’t baby-sat, rather that they have a vacation too. We only used the kid’s area twice so we could enjoy the casinos (which were great) so her time there was minimal but in that time she enjoyed the activities!
Side Note- The ice cream that is out by the pool is an extra cost but a very small cost however, each night in the dining rooms you get the same ice cream for free.
Ports Of Call – Belize – so pretty! We absolutely loved Belize. We decided not to go into the town of Belize after hearing that we may have more fun on one of the secluded cays and that is just what we did. We went to Rendezvous Cay and snorkeled and sat on a beach no bigger than a modest sized home. It was fantastic! Costa Maya – For a day of relaxation we booked an excursion to enjoy a restful day at a local beach and had a great time. Beware of open bars as the alcohol in the sun has a lingering effect and not to mention they tend to make the drinks a lot stronger in Mexico! Loved the port! Grand Cayman (our favorite) – WOW! Nice weather and always a beautiful place to visit. Even thought there were talks of hurricane damage Grand Cayman never lacks in the beauty of the island or the friendliness of its people. We snorkeled here again and it is just beautiful. I recommend any snorkel trip in Grand Cayman. Don’t forget to walk down a bit past the tender pick up and enjoy Eden Rock. For a free snorkel spot it is amazing! Cozumel - Cozumel is always a hot spot and never fails with its vacation atmosphere. Unfortunately spring break was going on and so many people were there that it made it just a bit nerve racking. We had no time to shop nor would I have seeing as everyone was there already so we booked an excursion to Passion Island. We had been before and just loved the tranquility of it. A secluded island that is used only by cruise ships it is a great place to just go and relax. Again – careful around the open bar!
Cruise Staff – Superb, nice, and accommodating in every way. If you book a cruise on the Grand be sure that when you first get on the ship go ahead and make dinner reservations in the DaVinci or Michael Angelo room and spa appointments. You will be upset if you don’t. I had luckily read this on another review and I am glad I did. If you don’t have reservations you will have to wait for a table. If you choose to go to the other places – Sabatinis’s, Bottecelli’s, or others I am sure you need to call ahead first. We didn’t eat at the extra cost places simply because the food in the DaVinci and Michael Angelo rooms was wonderful! The waiters and matridees are all helpful and charming in every way. The room stewards are great as well and made our room as nice as could be. All of the bartenders were very nice too. Everyone working on Grand was welcoming and we were very pleased.
Embarkation – Again, handled very well and with a mass of 3000 people who are tired and cranky from having to get up early to journey home the staff was all wonderful. We simply don’t like leaving a pretty ship and that was the hardest part of the trip – leaving!
To Sum Up – I would say this is our favorite cruise so far and we thoroughly enjoyed the others. Can’t wait to go back! If you are looking at cruises out of Galveston I give this one a 10 and would encourage anyone at any age to go cruising on it!