Gene & Nancy Pozniakoff
Age: 43 and 32
Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Grand Princess
Sailing Date: April 11th, 2004
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
This was the first cruise that my wife Nancy and I have taken. It won't be our last. We chose Princess on the advice of our travel agent, Laverne of The Travel Company. Nancy and I thought that a 4 or 5 day cruise was all we could afford, but Laverne assured us that with a little juggling of our schedules we could go for 7 days and spend a little more money, but expand our options greatly. Boy, was she right!
We chose the Grand Princess because of the itinerary and the ports She visits. The Bahamas (Princess Cays), Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel. We were really interested in some snorkeling and shopping, of course. But we also hoped for a few surprises.
First off, embarkation was a breeze. We had all of our paperwork filled out beforehand, via Internet and mail. We were off the bus and on the ship within 15 minutes. We dropped our carry on luggage in our cabin; which had been upgraded form an M class interior to an E class exterior with obstructed view. Boy, were we happy! It was a nice cozy cabin with only about 20% of out view obstructed! We could see a couple of the tenders on Promenade deck, but it wasn't bad at all.
After we settled in, we joined the party up on Lido deck. Had a few cocktails and some of the fabulous pizza at poolside. We then went to check out the ship. Lido deck is where a lot of the action takes place. Horizon Court, 24 hour self serve buffet. Three pools, one all ages with rock and roll or a band playing, one a little quieter with less kids and the adults only pool at the stern of the ship. This area and pool is actually on deck 12 but can be accessed from decks 12, 14 and 15. It was a pleasant and quiet area that we really enjoyed. The sunbathing was fantastic and the bar staff can really make a good drink!
After that we went to check on our luggage. Aracelli, our cabin steward was putting the last of our luggage on the bed. She was very pleasant, and efficient. We never really noticed her and the towel animals she made each night amused us a lot. They have a paging system on board to reach the cabin stewards and it works quite well.
We had to go to the Pursers desk to retrieve a piece of lost luggage, Nancy’s snorkeling gear had the tags ripped off in transit and it came up with the last 2 or 3 luggage carriers. The pursers were very pleasant and efficient. They assured us that it would turn up, and it did. Thank you very much. I’ve seen some negative reviews of the Pursers staff, but I never experienced anything but great service and pleasant greetings!
We chose “Anytime Dining” and were glad that we did. The first night we dined alone, but after that we dined with different people every night. We had a great waiter, Stephan and his second Tomy. They were knowledgeable and efficient. A couple that we met at breakfast dined with us one night and remarked how good the service was too! We asked for them every night and the Matir’d did his best to accommodate us.
The food on board was good most of the time. A lot depended on the choices that you made. We took the advice of Stephan most of the time and were rarely disappointed. Some of the other couples, mostly with “Traditional Seating” said the food was cold and improperly cooked. I’ve got to say we never had that problem. Nancy and I really enjoy meeting new people and going on a cruise is just the ticket. We sat with new people each and every time we ate. It can be a little intimidating at first but after a while it got to be so much fun. It was one of the highlights of our trip.
We were unable to tender in to Princess Cays due to rough seas. From what I gather, we missed a “Day at the Beach”, but not much more. We were hoping to try out our new snorkel gear, but the staff made the most of it by putting on an earlier art auction and having some more trivia and bingo games. The art auctions were fun but quite pricey. I’m not a real art aficionado; Nancy and I did purchase a nice seaside print for a good price. And Princess arraigned shipping for us!
Grand Cayman and Georgetown was experiencing rough seas too, but Captain Andy Procter got us to Spot’s Bay so that we could enjoy the day in Grand Cayman. Only three ships were allowed to into Spot’s Bay and we felt lucky to have most of the island to ourselves. We had arraigned for a trip with Capt. Marvin’s to Sting Ray City. They picked us up in Spot’s Bay, drove us to the boat, took us snorkeling at three different reefs and Sting Ray City and then drove us back to the ship! No taxi fees at all! They also gave us a discount at their store and a free rum cake too. They were all very pleasant. From what I gather the tour through Princess didn’t do any snorkeling at all, but they did stop at Sting Ray City. The people who took that tour had to taxi back to the ship! Boo Hoo!
Our next port was Costa Maya. We had booked a trip to the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. Although we were late getting into port, one of the generators went down in the night and we could only make 13 knots, not the standard 22.5, Princess made every effort to assure us that out trip would be great. And it was! We got off the ship with our tour group, walked to the busses and departed within 5 minutes! Nice clean busses, air conditioned and roomy. Our Guide, Luis, was fantastic. He had been working at Chacchoben since 1994 and is very knowledgeable. The ruins were more that I expected, three large pyramids and quite a few other buildings. Luis showed us some ruins that were left in their natural state. If you didn’t know what you were looking for you would walk right over them! The jungle had totally covered them and they looked just like small hills and ridges! Wow! Don’t miss this tour.
The next day we were at Cozumel. We had booked a snorkeling trip to the Pelancar Reef. We met the Captain of the boat on the pier, loaded up and departed all within 15 minutes. The trip to the southern coast of Cozumel took 40 minutes and was very scenic. The crew gave us some excellent instructions and advice for our trip. The water in Cozumel is spectacular! The color can’t be described in words, and pictures don’t do it justice! The snorkeling was more than we expected. We drifted over Pelancar reef in around 15 to 20 feet of water for about 30 minutes then we moved over the wall. This is where the reef drops down to a depth of 2300 feet! It was awesome! The variety of sea life and fishes amazed us. Our dive masters pointed out many fish that we had never seen before.
After we got back on the boat for our return to the cruise ship pier, the crew started pouring Marquritas, sodas, punch and beer for us. I’ve got to say this about the people of Mexico. Every one of them worked hard to ensure that we had a good time and they were very friendly. They made the trip much better with their great attitude! Thank you very much!
After shopping at the pier, Nancy and I took a taxi to downtown. We shopped for a couple of hours, bargained for some nice jewelry and Tequila then met some friends for late lunch at Carlos and Charlie’s! Yee Ha!
Of all the tours that we took I think we enjoyed Cozumel the best. It was kind of a party atmosphere from the start. I think we needed a wild day to let it all hang out. That evening was the second formal night and we went out with 5 other couples. It was a large happy group that entered the Michelangelo dining room that evening. The lobster, although small, tasted great. And they gave you as much as you could eat, I had 6, oops! The Beef Wellington was marvelous and cooked perfect! Nancy likes it medium rare and that’s what it was. The food on board was tasty and prepared well.
We happened to be spoiled by living close to the best Mexican restaurant in St. Louis, so we thought The Painted Desert was okay at best, but Sabatini’s is not to be missed! The courses are small but they keep coming and coming. Don’t be afraid to try something new. My wife thought she would never like Escargot or anchovies, now after our cruise on the Grand Princess she is looking forward to them.
The best part of out trip was meeting all the new friends that we have made. Being able to sit down with total strangers and have a meal and get to know them is quite a treat in the rush, rush world of today! Being able to try new foods and adventures and not feel obligated to eat it because you paid for it is a luxury. I think Princess does a commendable job of caring for their passengers. There were some minor irritations about the trip, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a change in attitude.
I think next time we travel with Princess; we will find a different airline. Delta really doesn’t have it together. Too many people missed connecting flights because of their policies and I don’t think they should be allowed to provide this service for the Cruise Lines if they are not up to the standard. Delta was barely apologetic and left us with a bad taste in our mouths after we had just enjoyed the Princess treatment. Too bad!
We are looking forward to our next cruise, next time to Alaska. Maybe we will choose a smaller ship with a balcony. If you can afford one, it really is a treat that we missed out on this time, but not next time!