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Sue Arbuckle

Age: 49

Occupation:Real Estate Agent

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Grand Princess

Sailing Date: January 20th, 2007

Itinerary: Western Caribbean


THE SHIP/ OUR CABIN:

The Grand Princess is nice (and certainly large), but we felt that just maybe it was a half notch below some of the other Princess ships as far as having an “elegant” and “grand” feel. In particular, the atrium/ lobby area was much smaller than other Princess ships and did not have any grand staircase. Not that this in anyway took away from our enjoyment of our cruise, but it was something that my husband and I noticed right away.

Our cabin was very nice and our steward was wonderful. Our room was always clean by the time we returned from breakfast and it seemed like every time we turned around we would have clean towels.

PORTS:

We enjoyed all the ports on this itinerary.

Costa Maya: Costa Maya is still very early in development as a tourist destination. There is shopping and a small beach area right where the ship docks. The vendors in the dock area are quite expensive, so we decided to take a $5 round trip taxi ride to the nearby fishing village. The village is right on the beach, and there are several great places to get a drink and watch the ocean. The best kept secret in Costa Maya, however, is that you can get a 45 MINUTE MASSAGE ON THE BEACH FOR $20 in town. Definitely worth the trip to town. My husband enjoyed a beer, and I relaxed with a great massage (and hubby was thrilled that we saved $100 from what the same massage would have cost on the ship).

Roatan: We were very surprised at the beauty of Roatan. We did not plan any excursion for Roatan, but we did end up hiring a taxi to take us around the island. The tour took about 2 ½ hours and was very interesting. Although the island is small, the different sides are all really quite different.

You can walk to shopping and to the small town from where the ship docks. We felt very safe walking around, even outside of the “tourist” area.

Belize: We took an excursion to the Belize zoo. It was a 40 minute bus ride out and back, but it was interesting and allowed us to see both the “good” and “bad” parts of town. The zoo itself was wonderful and in a beautiful setting in the jungle. I highly recommend this tour, with the zoo and city tour it was a great value.

Cozumel: The docks are still being rebuilt from the hurricanes, so many ships had to tender. We were lucky and were one of one two ships that got to dock.

We have been to Cozumel at least a dozen times over the years. Cozumel to me means “shopping”. I spent several hours touring the shops until my husband declared that he was “shopped out”. We counted 8 other ships in Cozumel that day, and the town was VERY busy.

ENTERTAINMENT:

We have always enjoyed the variety of entertainment on Princess Cruise Lines and always look forward to the evening shows and events.

We usually prefer seeing the individual performers and headline entertainers instead of the production shows. It is not that the production shows are bad, but they do not change much from ship to ship and we would rather see something new and fresh. The quality and variety of the headline entertainers for the week of our cruise was just outstanding.

The first show we saw was a comedian who does magic, Chris Linn. My husband does not like magic shows, but really enjoyed Chris’ show. The show was unique, funny, and it was clear that Chris and his wife were truly enjoying themselves onstage. This was probably the most talked about show throughout the week as we talked with other passengers.

We arrived late for juggler, Steve Patients. We had seen Steve before on another ship, but really liked him, so we wanted to see him again. Although the theater was packed, we managed to find a pair of seats way in the back. Steve’s juggling is awesome to watch, and his show is packed with comedy. It was the same show we had seen in the past, but we still laughed hard with the rest of the audience.

The only show we felt did not deserve an “A+” was Johnny Thunder, and even then, we would still give it an “A- or B+”. Johnny is a singer who was once a part of the Drifters. Johnny was very personable onstage, but his voice was pretty rough and his show reminded us a little of a cheesy hotel lounge act. The show was slow moving to start and really only seemed to get going at the very end when he did a medley of Motown hits. It was not a bad show, but it just did not quite excite us like the other shows.

We did not see Jay the comedian but heard that his show was wonderful.

The tropical party is a “must do”. The band was great and the staff really got the crowd going. There was lots of dancing, lots of fun…and lots to drink!

We popped in for a few of the princess idol karaoke shows. Our cruise had some particularly bad singers but that is what makes the show so much fun. The audience is always great and encouraging no matter how good or bad the singing is.

We wanted to see the final going away show because Chris was performing again, but we did not make it – due to a combination of end of the week exhaustion and the need to pack for our early departure.

A general note about the shows: In the main theater, it seemed that the sound was much better in the first half of the audience (maybe this is just a sign of getting older…but my husband would never admit that!) We would highly recommend arriving early so you can sit down front.

DINING:

The food was consistently good all week. We are fans of the anytime dining and enjoy the opportunity to meet and share a table with different couples every night.

As several past reviews have mentioned, the service at dinner was often hit-or-miss. With anytime dining, you don’t have the same wait staff each night. Some nights we would have a great waiter, and other nights service was slow and dishes left to pile up on the table. The slow service only became a real hassle for people who were hoping to catch an early show.

We purchased a soft drink sticker to give us unlimited soft drinks all week long but found ourselves often just drinking coffee, water or tea, so I am not sure we really got the best value. Next time, we probably would not bother with the soft drink program.


DISEMBARKATION:

It was raining hard the morning we arrived back in Galveston. The rained slowed down the unloading of luggage, so disembarkation was slow. We were off the ship about an hour later than we had originally planned. Our luggage must have been on the top of one of the luggage bins as they were unloading because our luggage was SOAKED!

When we finally made it off the ship, we made it through customs quickly. Once through customs, however, we were forced to stand in the rain while waiting to board a bus.

Even with the rain and delays, our bus got us to the airport in plenty of time to make our flight.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Despite some minor inconveniences which you will get anywhere, this was another great Princess Cruise for us and we will look forward to our next one.

Happy and Safe Travels!
 

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