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Doug Parker

Age: 35

Occupation:Electronics Technician

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Grand Princess

Sailing Date: January 11th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise. My father-in-law was offered a great price and asked if my wife and I would like to go, without hesitating we said yes. Never having cruised before we weren’t sure what to expect at embarkation, I had heard that Princess had this process down to a “T”. I was extremely disappointed with the process, we had filled out several forms via internet and had all of our other paperwork ready to go so we hopped into the express line thinking it would be a matter of a few minutes and we’d be boarding. The two ladies behind the desk seemed to have problems with every passenger, the regular line with more people moved much faster. When we got to the head of the line and attempted to check in they didn’t even look to see what tickets we handed them. We tried to explain a simple cabin change we needed to make and they couldn’t grasp what we were trying to say. Eventually we got it straightened out and were able to board.

I’m not sure quite what I expected in the Atrium area of the Grand but I was a little disappointed. It was nice but I was expecting something stunning. I should mention here that I occasionally have to use crutches due to a partially torn Achilles tendon. Once I got used to the lay out of the ship I was able to easily able to get around, even on crutches.

Due to a mix up with our travel agent my wife and I had a mini suite on Dolphin near the bow on the starboard side of the ship, my in-laws were near the stern on the same deck and side of the ship. Having read several reviews I was expecting a fairly small stateroom. I was quite surprised at the size. At one point our whole family was in the stateroom 5 good sized adults and we had plenty of room to move about. Our steward Norman took wonderful care of us for the week. Always ready to help with any question or request we had.

We chose personal choice dining for the freedom of being able to eat when and where we wanted. On the evenings we decided to eat in the dining room we never had a problem with a wait. When we ate in the Michelangelo dining room our waiter was kind enough to introduce himself and his assistant, I can’t remember his name but he did a great job. We ate in the DaVinci dining room once and were not as impressed with the staff there. The only dining experience that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy was when we ate at the Painted Desert. The food was barely average and the staff didn’t impress me. On the other hand we ate in Sabbatini’s and that was one of the best dining experiences of my life. The food was very good, I even tried some foods that normally I would not eat. What made my experience at Sabbatini’s special was the service of Michelangelo our waiter and his staff. I highly recommend it to anyone sailing on the Grand.

Our first port was Princess Cays, it was an enjoyable day at the beach. Especialley when you are escaping January weather in Washington State. We did a little snorkeling and some sun bathing. A quick note for people who have bad eyesight check at the dive locker onboard they have magnifying masks, while not prescription they certainly enabled my wife to snorkel and see the fish, and my wife has pretty bad eyes. Also you can rent snorkel gear by the week and save a little money.

Next was Grand Cayman. They have great rum and of course Sting Ray City. We considered booking a Princess excursion, but decided to take our chances when we got to port. I’m glad we waited. It only cost $35.00 a person and there was eleven people on our boat. We had very personal help from our guides and weren’t crammed in with eighty other people. I would recommend Sting Ray City to anybody. At first it can be a little intimidating when a good size Sting Ray comes up and bumps you looking for food but you soon get used to it.

After Grand Cayman it was off to Costa Maya which is basically a shopping mall built by the cruise lines. We shopped for a little bit, then went on the only excursion we booked through Princess. We went to the ruins at Chachoben, it’s incredible to walk on 1500 year old cobble stones. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and spoke pretty good English.

Cozumel was our last stop. We shopped some more, I bought some loose gems for my wife and had them set at a little jeweler we had heard about. D’Arce jewelers they did an excellent job and were done right when they said they would be at a reasonable price.

Debarkation should be worked on, I understand that trying to unload 2500 people and their bags is a time consuming project, but they kept calling more groups to debark while previous groups were backed up onto the stairs. Gathering our baggage and leaving the port went fairly quickly once we got off the ship.

All in all we had an excellent trip. I was impressed with the number of activities and services available for those who wished to take advantage of them. The staff were great, always helpful and cheerful. I certainly plan to cruise with Princess again in the near future.Also I would certainly recommend Princess and the Grand to anyone.

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