Here are a few observations from our latest venture on the Grand Princess. (Caribbean, 14 day cruise)
<LI> This was probably the cruise with the oldest passenger we've ever seen. The average age was reported as 67.7 years old. It seemed much older as there were many people using scooters, canes & walkers which tied up elevators most of the day. There were very few kids (under the age of 10)on board & we hardly ever saw them.
<LI> We ate in the anytime dining room (Da Vinci) and had a table for two reserved for the entire trip. Although our waiter was experienced, they had him overloaded with tables which kept him so busy that our dining times were approaching 2 hours for the complete meal every evening. He was assigned 2 tables of 4 & 4 tables of 2 and would always try to coordinate the various courses together even though we were separately seated. We finally gave up and resorted to eating at the buffet most nights which was very good except for one night when they served Indian food. I'm not sure why they even serve it since most people I saw were walking around looking for something eatable.
<LI> The Da Vinci dining room air conditioner was set for one temperature- COLD I'm not talking just cool, I mean COLD to the point my wide took her hooded sweat shirt one evening. We would leave the meal with cold noses & arms every night we ate there. The Vista lounge was similar when showing movies but when filled with people for a regular show wasn't as bad.
<LI> The ice cream served in the dining room had a marshmallow consistency similar to what was served on the Emerald a year ago and seemed tasteless although the sorbet was fine. We didn't fine that same thing on the Crown or Ruby this past Nov so I suppose it's just a recipe they decide to use. The free ice cream near the pool was great although limited to vanilla or chocolate closed at 9PM sharp except for the Superbowl evening. Also there are no bowls available at the ice cream counter so you must first get a cup/bowl & spoon at the Horizon & then go back to the ice cream bar of you don't care to have a cone.
<LI> For the first time on a Princess ship they actually served a peach and apple pie in the dining room at a few of the meals. I've commented for years about the lack of simple desserts and to my surprise they were actually very good. http://bestsmileys.com/thumbs/7.gif
<LI> The ship is getting old as can be noticed on various decks. They are in constant repair & repainting but it's obvious that there are some things that need complete replacement such as the deteriorated partitions between the balconies and mattresses. Our balcony was usually covered with paint chips form the daily paint chipping.
<LI> The smoke problem on this ship wasn't all that bad as on some of the other ships. Of course the casino was usually off limits if you didn't like smoke but they did offer a few evening with no smoking. We did luck out with our balcony as there weren't to many smokers in our vicinity.
One interesting thing did happen one evening as we were waiting for a show to begin in the show lounge- there must have been a problem with the ventilation that evening as the smoke was sucked into the showroom from the 6 th floor. (casino & cigar bar location) Only the lower section seemed to be affected but it was to late to consider changing seats.
<LI>Strange, but on the last day at sea my wife went to use the scale located in the gymnasium and it was gone. They told us that to many people were using it to weigh their luggage for the return flight so they decided to remove it for the day. I suppose they just didn't want people lugging their suit cases through the spa area so if you do want to utilize the scale do it before the last sea day.
Your observations were interesting to read.
Did you have a chat with the maitre d' ?
I think that it is part of the Maitre d's job to create a positive and welcoming impression for guests and he/she might have been interested in your comments on the A/C and might have been helpful in ensuring your waiter had some more assistance.
Apart from those few negative observations, did you have an enjoyable cruise ?Was the balcony stateroom comfortable & quiet at night?
Until you mentioned it I hadn't thought about how useful a scale could be at the end of a cruise.It is a good idea and maybe it might be something to mention on a comment card when we fill them in.
Overall we did have a good cruise without any major problems. There's no need to say everything was just wonderful as many people have already done.
The temperature problem was an issue with almost everyone in the DR so I never brought it up personally. It was quite obvious that the problem existed & they couldn't do anything to correct it during our cruise.
The balcony was an upgrade from an obstructed view so I wasn't complaining. We were forward from mid ship & close to laundry. Very quiet.
When we first entered the cabin it stunk of cigarette smoke. The first for a Princess ship. We requested a cleaning & it did some good but we really noticed a big improvement after a rug shampoo a day later.
The balcony partitions need total replacement when the ship dry docks. The aluminum frames are beginning to rot through from the salt and the steel edging below the balconies needs major sandblasting & repainting. They were chipping away above up during the whole trip which was causing paint chips to fall on all balconies. It didn't bother me.
The food was as good as most other Princess ships but I'd rate the Ruby & Crown to be slightly better. On the Ruby I was told they have a newer cooking process which really did a great job of tenderizing all the meats. I don't think they have it on the Grand yet.
They introduced a new show- Stardust on our trip which I thought was boring. It consisted of 6 to 8 singers on stage singing old tunes like Glow Worm & hardly any dancing. Really dull.
There was one juggler on our trip who wasn't the greatest. He was constantly dropping balls & pins to the point I felt bad for the guy.
RichC, thanks for your review of your Grand Princess cruise. Your points were very helpful in evaluating the ship.
One of my pet peeves is the air conditioning set to accommodate a room full of 600 people when just 300 are typically there. I hate being cold, especially in the Caribbean!
Did you do any shore excursions you'd recommend?
It seems last weeks lower air temperatures may have had an effect on ships adjusting their interior temperatures. This isn't the only report I've heard on a ship being extremely cold last week.
It is very typical you would have an older passenger mix on a 14-day cruise. Also, the schools won't be breaking yet for Spring break.
Your waiter really didn't have that many people (16). That's equal to two tables of eight. Which they handle all the time. But with the Any Time Dining and everyone starting at different times, I can see where their system can get out of sync. It means a lot more trips back and forth to the galley. This is a good example of how those with "Fixed" seating can throw a waiter off schedule when they rudely show up late for their fixed dinner time.
There is a small hand held luggage scale that you can buy now to weigh your luggage. It just hooks on to the handle. If you store the scale in your luggage, just be sure to remember to allow for the extra few ounces that the scale weighs also. You should be able to find them in travel stores, luggage departments, or at airports.
It sounds like you had a pretty good cruise overall.
It seems that our waiter wanted to keep people at different tables eating in sync similar to a large traditional table which caused the backup. We always do anytime & didn't have the nearly the same delays on the either the Ruby, Crown or Emerald.
The scale ordeal didn't bother us in the slightest since we take a bus to the port & weight isn't a concern. It's only that my wife wanted to see how much she gained which waited till we got home. I only mentioned it to give people a heads up if they intended to use the scale to weigh their luggage.
We only had 2 kids on board under the age of 10 & I think 10 or so between the age 10-20.
The 14 day cruises really eliminate lots of middle age working people & kids. Sometimes it is better to have a mix of all ages.
If you go to San Juan & visit the forts (and are over age 62) you eligible to buy the senior pass which will get you in for free.
Also we docked at Havensight in St Thomas for the first time in many years which was a nice change from Crown Bay although it's a much longer walk to the beach from there.
In Trinidad we didn't take a tour which was a big mistake since in the downtown area there isn't much to see or do & not quite safe if you take a wrong turn. We were told by one of the locals in the Cathedral not to walk in a specific location for fear of being mugged. It's even worse that Jamaica if you can believe that. http://inlinethumb57.webshots.com/44...600x600Q85.jpg
The AC problem was also prevalent in the Vista lounge when it was used only to show movies. They had one setting - COLD although it wasn't nearly as bad as the DR.
Welcome back, RichC. Overall it sounds like you had an enjoyable time. Thank you so much for your great review of the Grand. It sounds like it is definitely time for her to go into dry dock. I always wear a sweater at night because they always have it too cold for me. I turn the A/C up in our cabin too. Low and behold, as soon as the cabin steward comes in, it goes back to sub-artic, and I once again set it back up.
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