We are a family of 4 (2 adults early 40's 2 kids 9 & 11) who love to cruise, we try to cruise a least once a year, this year we were lucky, this was our second cruise! We hadn't sailed Princess since 2005 and really enjoyed it back then so when looking for a Thanksgiving cruise we looked into Princess. The week of Thanksgiving 2012 the Grand Princess and the Caribbean Princess both sailed a 7 day itinerary to the southern Caribbean. However, since our previous Princess sailings had both been on the Caribbean Princess we decided to give the Grand Princess a try.
The ship was originally scheduled to depart from Terminal 21 at Port Everglades, however, after receiving a call, text, and email from Princess (very thorough!) we left from Terminal 29. Embarkation was a bit crazy, maybe due to fact that Terminal 29 was under construction, or maybe due to fact that Princess had 2 other ships in port that day (Caribbean and Emerald) or maybe due to fact that there were 8 ships in Port Everglades... who knows... but it definitely wasn't one of the better embarkations we've had at Port Everglades... PLUS.. the Grand had just arrived in the US from its summer season in Europe.
We had an inside room on Deck 9 midship. We booked the room thinking we would be in the middle of the ship right near the central elevators so it would be easy to get to everything. FYI - the center of the ship has no stairs!!! So just going a few decks up or down you always had to wait for the elevator or walk to the front or back of the ship and take the stairs. VERY inconvenient.
The room was a basic inside room that was a little tight for 4 people but not bad, definitely needed more storage space though. Had a disagreement with the room steward over getting ice in the room. First he told us we had to call room service to get ice which was a hassle, then when approached again, he told us he only put ice in the rooms on request. We have never had an issue getting ice in the room (from the room steward) ever before, other than that the room was fine.
The kids used the kids program many times the ages were 3-7 and 8-12. Our kids were in the 8-12 group. They enjoyed it but it wasn't their favorite. I think they just liked spending more time with their cousins (who we traveled with).
The ship was very nice and clean. We really enjoyed Alfredo's pizza (which we did on embarkation day and it was empty!!) and the International Cafe. We only had breakfast at the buffet twice and never had lunch or dinner there. We did also enjoy the pizza by the pool. We ate most of our meals in the dining room which we greatly enjoyed.
For a holiday sailing (Thanksgiving) the ship never seemed overly crowded. There was always a chair available on deck and the adult only pools were great.
We were very disappointed by the Movies Under the Stars. On our previous Princess sailing they had Monday night football and baseball playoffs on the big screen. On this sailing, which would have included Sunday night football, Monday Night football, and all the Thanksgiving Day games they showed NONE of them on the big screen. Yes, they were available in the Casino or in your room but instead they showed a Lionel Richie concert, a Stevie Wonder concert, a Bon Jovi concert.... which VERY few people went to. They did show some movies on the big screen. Princess missed a chance to sell a lot of beer by not showing the games...
There were plenty of hot tubs on the ship but none of them worked (bubbles and jets)! We were told many things why they didn't work, it was very disappointing.
We really enjoyed the ports. In Aruba, we took the local bus to Eagle Beach ($10 one way for the 4 of us). It was beautiful. In Curacao, since we were only there from 7 to 1 we just walked around the town and did some shopping. It was pretty busy since there were 4 ships in port.
Princess Cays was a nice relaxing day at the beach, the beach(right at shoreline) and water is very rocky, but the weather was beautiful when we were there. The beach buffet was OK the chicken was pretty good.
Getting off the ship, was very smooth and quick. We used Park n Go and had great service from them.
Overall, we had a really nice cruise. Probably not the best one we ever had but still a great trip. Plus I didn't have to do any cooking or cleaning for Thanksgiving!!