I don't have any names of the companies or resorts we booked our excursions with. If you are interested (or want to avoid) in any of the excursions we booked email me on email@example.com I will fish out the details for you...
On 9th of February, A group of 7 of us boarded the Grand Princess. It looked HUGE! All of our first cruise, we had the usual doubts and curiosity. There were three children ages 10, 14 and 16. Two couples, one in mid 40s and one in early 60s.
Embarkation Easy. No long queues, luggage was taken from us and sent to our room within the hour. There was a little mistake on the cards, with our names not being printed properly. This took only 15 minutes to fix and we headed up the stairs, had our picture taken before stepping onto the Grand Princess.
Staterooms We went straight to our rooms, the three young girls shared an inside cabin. This was very small, tiny compared to the balcony suites. The 10 year old slept in a bunk, the bunks folded up onto the wall, and the older two girls used the single beds on the floor. The storage space was so little that the girls folded their clothes and had to pile them under their beds. There were about 6 small draws where they kept their smaller items. In the small cabin, there was one wardrobe with a few hangers. Lots of mirrors but only good light to do makeup was in bathroom.
Balcony rooms, much more spacious than inside, all beds comfy and rooms laid out well. There was no more storage space than inside cabins but was sufficient for just a couple. Balconies were ok but not used much except for drying wet clothes. Also found they were less windy than sunbathing on the higher decks.
Service Better than expected, waited on hand and foot, the girls felt quite guilty because of their always messy stateroom, how it was always cleaned perfectly every afternoon but made a mess again in less than an hour.
They also appreciated the little chocolates left for them. The room service was quick and friendly always, whatever you wanted.
In the dining rooms there was hardly a second when you couldn't grab someones attention. The waiters would serve you as much as whatever you liked, one evening one of us couldn't decide on which main course to have. Instead she chose not to have a salad or starter, and have the steak, King prawn and lobster meals together. Food The buffet was pleasing, the food was almost always warm. The late night buffet had a limited selection, would have appreciated a little more cooked food.
The two menu restaurants were identical, and the menus the same. It made no difference which one you ate in, which was a bit of a shame, little variety.
TRY THE PINA COLADA SOUP, it was surprising to see such a dish offered. And the teenagers liked the fact they were allowed an "alcoholic" meal. (We didn't care to steal their thunder"
It was a great shame that we found no family activities, all the day time activities were age 18 and over. So adults and young people spent little time together while on board. Although we didn't like the age restrictions, the variety of activities was good, From volleyball to ice sculpturing, to table tennis.
There was a soccer/ tennis court with bats and balls in a box. There was a large video games arcade with a futuristic theme which was a nice contrast to the rest of the ship's decor.
The evening shows and activities were quite enjoyable, though usually aimed for older (pensioner aged) people. And also, the famous talent show was stretched over the week, with new "talent" auditioning every night and a final on the last night. However this was extremely disappointing because anyone under 18 was not allowed to enter, and it is usually the young people who are the most entertaining. And the prize was pitiful. The winner had a lucky bag of cheap gifts.
The pools were freezing, and the hot tubs were no way hot, luke warm would be putting it nicely, they were also very small, fitting no more than four people tightly. (huddled for warmth!!!)
The comedian/ hypnotist act was rather terrible. We'd seen many more impressive acts.
Childrens Club With the 2600 people on the boat, there were about 30 children. And the two teenagers travelling with us made the total number of 14-18 year olds, 6. So they were very lucky to make friends with two Californian guys of their age.
They told us that the activity schedule was plentiful but they only attended two activities because there were so little young people. Usually they liked exploring the ship. They tell us they spent a lot of their time racing up and down elevators. This sounds rather annoying but it seems to me that they were bored, although they don't admit it.
The teen club was great but there were not enough children to participate to make it enjoyable for our teenagers. They prefer to make their own fun on holiday than be told what to do and when
Our 10 year old often came back to us in tears because of the supervisors in the childrens club. They once made the children watch a film they didn't want to. Told them to be quiet. It was obvious they didn't want to be on that cruise, helping the children enjoy themselves. I didn't like this at all.
We booked no shore excursions through Princess.
Jamaica In Ocho Rios we went to the river climb. The girls adored it, especially the 16 year old, a former scout. The climb took a while, which was absolutely exhausting. But fantastic fun. I would only recommend this to those with healthy hearts. My parents, age 60 decided it wasn't for them, especially since it was raining. And a good choice too, I don't think they would have made it to the end!
Mexico In Mexico, we booked a day in a private resort about 20km from the port. We had a free Mexican meal here which was decent. And spent the day on the beach. The 14 and 10 year old were very bored, the pool was small and there was nothing else to do in the 6 hours we were there.
On that day my 16 year old daughter and I decided to scuba dive at a nearby resort. This hotel was much nicer than ours, with more people and a larger pool with other children there. A boat picked us up from the resort and took us back to our family later.
The dive was great, the instructor with my daughter was great, she had only dived twice before. I have dived many times in Egypt and so went out with a group. I enjoyed the dive but the reefs were terrible compared to Hurghada in Egypt. And there was not many fish.
In Cozumel we decided to take a jet ski ride to sting ray island. This day turned out to be a disaster. One couple overturned (not part of our party), and the guide was half a mile back with our two teenagers who could not drive the ski fast enough. The other guide went back to help them, and his jet ski broke down. Another couple who was not on our ship but was also doing the excursion with us decided to turn back at this point, they agreed to tow the broken ski back to shore. Now the overturned couple ended up sinking their jet ski because the woman couldn't swim and refused to let go of the ski for it to flip back up. So that was broken. We didn't make it to sting ray city.
The adults with us loved Princess Keys, the older children had made good friends with the Californians as it was the last day. And they do not like the beach. Since Princess Keys is just a beach and barbecue (WHICH WAS DELICIOUS) The girls went back to the ship after an hour or so, and lunch. To spend some time with their elevators.