Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: August 24th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My family took the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise with stops at Princess Cay, Grand Cayman Island, Costa Maya (Mexico), and Cozumel. Though this was a first cruise for our children, ages 20 and 14, it was the 2nd for my wife and I as we had previously sailed on Celebrity's Galaxy.
Despite the increased security since 9/11, embarkation went smoothly. An early morning flight to Ft. Lauderdale only resulted in a (1) hr. wait for our transfer to the ship. Princess officials were both friendly and efficient in our processing and we were able to board the ship at 12 noon.
Our staterooms were fine accommodations. I would recommend, if possible a stateroom with a veranda as my wife and I had. Our children were just across the hall in an inside cabin which was also quite nice. Our steward experience all week long was absolutely wonderful. We could not have asked for better service. Actually service at all levels on the ship were commendable. (This had also been our experience with Celebrity.)
The (1) down side, at least for me, were the numerous offerings of drinks while on board. At one point I was approached 8 times in a 5 minute period with such offers. Being a non-drinker, this was not something that appealed to me although I am sure others may have a different view. It is a minor critique.
My 14 yr. old son and I took advantage of the unlimited soft-drink option which cost $22.50 each for the week. It was quite worth it.
The 24 hour buffet was a fine addition although I did miss the midnight buffet which seems to have been abandoned. Offerings all day and evening were numerous and quite tasty, with the exception of the late night when things seemed somewhat scarce.
Grand Princess also has a Hagen-daaz Ice Cream Bar which sells servings at $4. I found this a bit pricy and un-necessary.
The 24 hr. buffet offered Ice cream make you own sundaes each afternoon after 3:30...this became very popular.
Our dinner choice was the late
traditional seating which we liked a great deal. Other passengers availed of the
Anytime Dining option but everyone I spoke with expressed a negative comment or
2. Anytime Dining required an 30 minute wait, and seating with different people
and waiters at each meal. Our traditional dining was for us a great choice. The
food was fabulous, with something of appeal to just about any taste. Our waiter
The ports of call, gave us some fun times. The stop for a beach day at the Princess owned island of Princess Cay was well done. Snorkeling was better than expected. The beach was beautiful and with more than enough lounge chairs etc to accommodate the 2,800 passengers. A provided beach barbecue was great.
The Grand Cayman stop was one in which we booked an excursion of Island Highlghts and Stingray snorkeling. We could have skipped the Highlights part which was very touristy.. but the Stingray snorkeling was an awesome experience.. Highly recommend.!!!!!
The stop at Costa Maya on the Mexican coastline was interesting. In several yrs. I think Costa Maya will be visited by numerous cruise ships. Their Americanized shopping was a plus as were the salt water pools and Mayan entertainment. The nearby village of Majahual however was not such a wonderful time as we were besieged by many street vendors.. I would hope that this high pressure selling atmosphere will be toned down as more ships visit... Very afforable snorkeling however could be had at Majahual (according to Snorkeling Tour folks at Costa Maya). We were unable to try this, but wish we had.
At Cozumel we unfortunately were subjected to torrential rain all day. Our visit to the Mayan Ruins at Tulum was greatly impacted. I wish we could have visited Tulum in decent weather. My wife and daughter, took advantage of a lull in the rains to do a little shopping at Cozumel which they enjoyed.
Overall I must say that Grand Princess is a top notch ship. Though there were approx. 2,800 passengers aboard we never felt crowded. The house band, a group from Trinidad/Tobago were very talented. We enjoyed listening to their varied musical offerings.
Dis-embarkation was as smooth and efficient as the embarkation. Princess had us at the airport with a little time to spare for our 11AM return home flight.
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being awful) I would rate this ship and cruise with a solid 8.
I highly recommend Princess and would not hesitate to book with them again.