This was my first time on any cruise ship, and I loved it. I am generally very easy to please as I feel all vacations are what you make of the them.
Passengers: Lots of older folks and families. Though my friend and I are in our mid-20s, the dearth of folks our own age didn't really bother us. We did meet a handful of people our age and really enjoyed meeting plenty of people who were twice our age. The only place this mattered was in the club (one5) which was rather empty when we wanted to go dance. The silver lining was that we had plenty of room on the dance floor, the DJ played all of our requests, and the fabulous bartenders in there were all ours. We went every single night.
Crew: Amazing. Everyone was incredibly friendly and accommodating. We had the same waiters each night who treated us like royalty. Bartenders remembered our names after the second day. Cruise director's staff were all very fun and good at encouraging passengers to participate in More
Room and Food: We had an inside room on the Aloha level. I liked being able to take the stairs up one floor to get to the Lido deck instead of having to wait for the elevators that seemingly take forever. I was told the higher up you are, the more you feel waves (and therefore become seasick), and though I was very aware of rocking, I never felt sick (and I am EXTREMELY susceptible to motion sickness). The shower was tiny, but it's just for a week. One warning: there is no clock in the room. Next time I will pack one from home since I don't wear a watch.
Food: I was overall pleased with the food. Was it the most amazing I've had in my life? No. People who criticize the meals must forget that they're cranking out THOUSANDS of meals every single day. And when all else fails, there's always pizza and desserts! The two "pub lunch" days were my favorite. I really enjoyed the option of fish and chips.
Onboard activities: You can really do as much or as little as you want. We did trivia constantly (usually twice a day), which became a great way to win free alcohol (winning team typically received a bottle of champagne). I also got a free martini at the martini demonstration. Pool games were always funny and reminded me of summer camp in the best way. We went to bingo once, and my friend tried the line dancing. The themed evenings were always fun for us. They had a 50s night, a 70s night, and a mo-town night (which was very loosely defined..). Again, plennnnty of room on the dance floor but no need to feel self-conscious. Have a couple of drinks and enjoy dancing. You're never seeing these people again.
Entertainment: We went to the British Invasion show and thought it was very entertaining We also went to the Do You Wanna Dance show which, in my opinion, verged on laughable. At one point, a singer walked onto the stage, stood in one place for three minutes, and sang "Danny Boy" at a show entitled Do You Wanna Dance. Come on. We tried to see the comedians on two occasions but got there too late to get a seat. Movies under the Stars is a great idea. My only suggestion would be to play some classics. They were all movies from within the last year which I had seen recently. I would've loved to have watch Jaws in the pool!
Ports: We didn't arrive in San Juan until late in the afternoon and didn't have time to get out of the port area. This was, of course, extremely touristy. The blue cobblestones and old building facades were neat, but that's about all I can say.
St. Maarten was my favorite port. We took a taxi to Orient Bay which we really enjoyed. The beach is absolutely stunning, and the water is amazing. Easy to find a chair and plenty of places to eat. No need to reserve a taxi to take you back to the port because there are plenty lined up waiting for cruise passengers who are ready to return.
St. Thomas was also beautiful. We took an open air taxi up a mountain road to get to Maegen's Bay which was much quieter than the beach in St. Maarten. You do have to pay a few bucks to enter the beach, and the beach can also be kind of narrow. One plus is that there are lots of trees to shade you there. The water was pretty chilly but felt refreshing after heating up quickly in the sun.
Princess Cays is not as beautiful as the other two beaches but it's a lot of fun having the beach just for you and your fellow passengers with a band, beach volleyball, barbecue, etc. I wish someone had warned us how ROCKY the sea floor is there because I would have brought water shoes.
All in all, the ports on the eastern Caribbean route were really nice and I would definitely do a repeat of the exact same cruise were it offered!
I am completely satisfied with my experience on the Grand Princess and would recommend it to anyone. Less