Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: December 9th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We were on the Grand Princess 12/9/06-12/16/06 for a Western Caribbean cruise. This was our 4th Princess cruise, all on different ships. We are also booked for Panama in April 07 and the Baltic in Sept, 07. Overall, the cruise was excellent and we only have minimal complaints. I have to echo what others have said about the bed. It was a bit hard for our taste, but then, we sleep on a pretty comfortable luxury mattress at home. Haven't found anything comparable anywhere, hotel or cruise. Until I started reading this thread I wasn't aware of mattress pads being available. I'll be sure to ask for it next time. Regardless, the bed was a minor inconvenience. I also didn’t care for the pillows. They were pretty flat with little “body” to them. Fortunately, my wife brought a feather pillow with her from home. I have found out since that feather pillows are available by just asking your cabin steward. We will try that next time.
We felt the food was excellent with the exception of one night where the selections were not to our liking, but the key word here is our liking. Fortunately, there were the usual standbys available each evening so this was not really a problem for us. In all candor, we did speak with a couple of others who felt the food in general wasn't that great. No one said it was awful. I guess it is just depends on what your expectations are. We were pleased overall. I would rate the food an A-.
We did not get to know our room steward very well and he forgot to replace a bathrobe that I had spilled coffee on. Had to ask for it twice. Was that a problem? No. What mattered was that with the exception of not changing our pool towel one evening and forgetting the bath robe, he was quite efficient. He was rarely noticed and he kept our cabin in tip top shape. Would we have liked knowing him better like we have known others on other ship? I don't know. This wasn't at all bad. I would rate the cabin service an A-.
The stage shows were excellent. They had two different stage shows in the Princess Theater which, when you think about is is pretty darn good considering the logistics they have to work with in a relatively small space. The Motor City Tribute show they held in the smaller venue, Vista Lounge was outstanding. So that meant we had 3 different stage shows. The comedians on board, were good and bad. One bad...really bad (!) and one was very good. We've been to comedy clubs before and seen both good and bad there as well. I would rate these shows an A- only because of the bad comedian. Otherwise it would be an A+.
The music provided by the band "Oasis" in the Wheelhouse Lounge was absolutely outstanding. Very dance-able and fun to listen to. The band that seem to always be on deck by the pool (I don’t recall their name) was fun to listen to while sipping a drink next to the pool. We only went into the Wheelhouse Lounge once and found the music there good, not great but fun to listen to anyway. The Princess Orchestra was outstanding. The piano player (Collin?) in the lounge in the atrium was outstanding and it was nearly impossible to find a seat there due to his popularity. The music on the Grand was by far the best we have ever experienced in a total of 9 cruises on 3 different companies. A+++
The ports were just so, so. But we understand that what some like others like and that was confirmed to us by others that we spoke with. We thought Costa Maya was a joke. It is nothing more than a souvenir stop. But some we spoke with enjoyed it as they went to the Mayan ruins, so I guess it is a matter of opinion. If we take this cruise again, and in all likelihood we will since Galveston is a convenient port for us, we will simply stay on board in Costa Maya. Likewise, we didn't enjoy Roatan. The tour around the island was pretty much a non-event for us. But others we spoke to said the snorkeling was some of the best they had ever tried. Again, a matter of opinion. Belize was wonderful, particularly the Altun Ha Mayan ruins and river cruise tour. We saw Howler Monkeys, crocodiles, tons of iguanas in the trees...well, maybe 8 or 9 and all kind of incredible birds. We had been to Cozumel before so our expectations were not great. We just got off the ship and walked around. There were 7 ships in port when we were there. The place was packed. Ports are not of the greatest importance for us. If my wife had her way, she would go on a cruise that consisted of all sea days. I would rate the ports a B-.
The ship was in very good condition on the inside. Outside our baloney we could see quite a bit of rust along the rail at our feet. Rust was pretty visible in quite a few areas outside the ship. But we chose to look at the incredible blue water and the flying fish that we frequently saw. We just never seemed to concentrate much on anything else when we were outside. I would rate the ship condition an B+ on the outside and an A on the inside.
The ship's personnel from the waiters to the bartenders to the staff in the buffet were exceptional. We are planning an excursion to Poland after the September, 07 Baltic cruise so my wife spoke to each staff member that she found that was from Poland. To a person they were extremely helpful, courteous and loved to talk about their country. What a fun time we had talking with people from other countries, not only the ones from Poland. If there is one thing we learned from this exercises was that in the future, we will take time to say more than just a hello and thank you to these folks. They love to chat with you and given the confines of their job will happily give you as much time as they can.. They are a pretty interesting and professional group. We were impressed, but that has been pretty much the norm on other Princess cruises we have taken. My advice is that on your future cruise, please take the time to get to know these people a bit more. Give them a smile and you will get two back and you will be richly rewarded. I would rate the ship's personnel an A+++
I don't think we have ever been on a cruise where everything went absolutely perfect. On this particular cruise there was a little bad and a whole lot good. The bad was minimal for us and we tried our best to keep it that way. Over the course of the week we spoke to several folks that had preferences for other cruise lines. Some were less enthralled with the cruise, while others loved it. Maybe we just chose to ignore some things and concentrate on the positives. Life isn't perfect and neither was this cruise but the overall experience of cruising is priceless for us.
Would we recommend Princess to others? Well, the fact that we have talked my wife's brother and sister and respective spouses plus another couple to join us on our next two cruises should answer that question.