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Kiff Paddon

Age: 55

Occupation:Local Government Officer

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Grand Princess

Sailing Date: June 9th, 2006

Itinerary: Greece

This was our first cruise. We spent months beforehand reading reviews like this in order to decide what to book, and were then anxious about the whole experience. We needn't have worried. This will be a short punchy review, and I'll try to keep the superlatives to a minimum.

The ship was first class - a floating hotel - but despite being full it never really seemed overcrowded. The exception to that statement would be unless you wanted a sun lounger in a prime position on a "sea" day, with everyone aboard. That said, there were always plenty of loungers in other locations.

The itinerary - Venice, Piraeus (Athens), Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykanos, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno, Marseilles, Barcelona - was varied and interesting. A word of warning. Don't expect the ship to dock in the centre of town. With few exceptions most ports are gritty and a few miles away from the town centers. To get over this problem Princess Cruises ran non-stop shuttle coaches or boats all day in every port.

We took a few of the dozens of tours available - Athens from Piraeus, the ancient city of Ephesus from Kusadasi and Herculaneum from Naples. These were all well run and good value. You can also do-it-yourself. We had a day in Istanbul just by using the shuttle buses and the maps provided. You could take a trip in every port but I think that would leave you exhausted. This is a holiday, after all.
Anyway, back to the ship and the facilities.

The ship was very clean, and they also insisted on your own cleanliness as well. You could not get on the ship or enter a restaurant or dining area without being asked to clean your hands with a special disinfectant.
The bars and restaurants were all comfortable and well designed.
The food was first class.
The service was first class.
The facilities - pools, theatres, sports, etc, were all good.
The shows were excellent.
The rooms were clean and comfortable.
The medical facilities were excellent.
There was plenty to do - on every day a ship's newspaper was provided describing everything that was going on that day. For every port a very useful "Port guide" is also provided.
There were a few problems. For instance, the disembarkation at Barcelona was a real shambles and the check-in at Barcelona airport completely chaotic. But overall I would say that the cruise was a complete success.
Were we lucky - I don't know.

Will we cruise again - we've already booked for next year!


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