19 Princess Grand Princess Holiday Cruise Reviews

Usually try and sail from San Francisco. The ship was full as travelled over New Year. Holiday decorations were still up for the first few days so looked very festive. Weather was not so hot travelling to Mexico at this time of year. We ... Read More
Usually try and sail from San Francisco. The ship was full as travelled over New Year. Holiday decorations were still up for the first few days so looked very festive. Weather was not so hot travelling to Mexico at this time of year. We have been to Mexico on Princess ships several times so only took one shore excursion in Manzanillo. Very good as we saw the volcano erupting. Had a balcony cabin on Baja deck and we were only the 2nd cruise after The Grand had been refurbished. New bedding and very comfortable. Wish they had more seating in the atrium as always full. People standing on stairs whenever had entertainment. Shows OK but wish they would change British Invasion in the theatre. This show been around for several years. Food good but not as much choice in main dining rooms as on previous cruises. Wonder how the washing of hands before eating survives in the buffet area. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
After many cruises with Princess, the crew of the Grand Princess was outstanding, from the Passenger Service desk, to the staff in all of the dining venues, to our pleasant and always smiling cabin stewards as well as the ever present ... Read More
After many cruises with Princess, the crew of the Grand Princess was outstanding, from the Passenger Service desk, to the staff in all of the dining venues, to our pleasant and always smiling cabin stewards as well as the ever present Captain. As many have said before... Happy crew.... happy passengers! It was a joyful trip over the Christmas holidays, even with so many children on board. They were well behaved and it was much appreciated.There were so many things planned for all age groups that you really didn't see many of them. The teenager in our group was busy 24/7. Embarkation and disembarkation were the smoothest I have ever experienced. I love the new pier Princess has in San Francisco. I will travel out of this port anytime. I just can't wait for the next one. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My family (parents and husband) and I recently returned from this cruise (11/19-12/4/2014) and were very happily surprised after reading a few bad reviews about the Grand Princess. Yes, she needs a rehab to the cabins (public areas were ... Read More
My family (parents and husband) and I recently returned from this cruise (11/19-12/4/2014) and were very happily surprised after reading a few bad reviews about the Grand Princess. Yes, she needs a rehab to the cabins (public areas were rehabbed a few years ago) and you will see rust, etc. but this is still a beautiful ship! We would very gladly take this cruise again on the same ship next year! Pros: The crew is genuinely friendly and accommodating. They obviously have great management and leadership, and have many activities that help to keep them happy (we spoke to several crew members about their lives onboard). We loved the Cruise Director, Mike Witte, one of the best we have experienced in 20 cruises. The food was also better than expected - we had cruised on the Sapphire in January, which had a much smaller buffet, and we were very surprised to see that the Grand Princess' buffet was larger. These are older ships, so unfortunately the buffets are not as large as on the newer Celebrity or Royal Caribbean ships, which are quite amazing. The pizza at Alfredo's is the best on the sea. Wish our pizza was that good in LA! The entertainment was very good - several comedians, magicians/illusionists, and musical acts such as twin musicians who played the violin and viola, and the best was Lovena B. Fox - gorgeous, amazing voice, and tons of energy - a real star! The Princess dancers and singers were also very good. The Movies Under the Stars is also really fun. The ports: Loved Oahu and Maui, Hilo there isn't really much there unless you go to visit the volcano, which we didn't do, and we went to the beach in Kauai (within walking distance of the ship). Cons: The sea was a bit rough crossing to Hawaii and back, and we were told that is normal. This is an older ship, so she does not have the stabilizers that the newer builds have. Be prepared for a bit of rocking for the sea days. We did not see anyone get sea sick, just wanted to make that note. Would love to see the ship rehabbed, otherwise, an amazing cruise. The cabin: Our cabin was nicer than we expected, although the bathroom counter and shower curtain left a lot to be desired - very cheesy (especially compared to the Celebrity Silhouette). The balcony was quite large - they took some space from the cabin to enlarge the balconies. The bed linens and towels were very nice and you can request an egg crate and featherbed to soften the otherwise hard mattress which does not have a boxspring. We had 9 sea days, and loved every moment of relaxation! We all read several books and completed a few jigsaw puzzles, and there are always activities to do onboard all day long, every day. We would love to do a Christmas cruise - the crew were already decorating Christmas trees a couple of days before we disembarked. We did celebrate Thanksgiving with a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings and there was a very large cake and decorations in the Piazza, which was nice. The crew is very special on this ship - they really go the extra mile to make you happy. It was fun to see the impromptu entertaining in the piazza. I can see why people are loyal to the Princess brand, because they do strive to make their passengers feel special. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We have sailed to Hawaii 5 times during the Christmas and New Year combined and this was one of our best. We departed very late but was no problem--once on board we escape completely! Everything is wonderful-- Food, Shows, Happy Hour, ... Read More
We have sailed to Hawaii 5 times during the Christmas and New Year combined and this was one of our best. We departed very late but was no problem--once on board we escape completely! Everything is wonderful-- Food, Shows, Happy Hour, Music, and a total floating resort. We have already sailed under the Golden Gate before during the day but we still stayed up for this one and it was great and exciting at about 2:30 am. We select the Christmas time mainly because everything is very festive and Princess really knows how to make everything festive. The decorations are beautiful and the music around the ship and TV makes it even more special. This was our first cruise on the Grand and one thing that made this cruise and ship most special was the live music provided in several part of the ship. Our favorite was the music provided by the group Makani E. Their Hawaiian music is the best! Their selections, harmony, instruments, voices, and movements made this cruise a true Hawaiian Cruise. Several times they also played music other than Hawaiian that added to even like them more--rock, folk, country, and a lot of good dancing music. We will continue to sail during the holidays and we hope the music in the future is as good as this one, and hope that Makani E will be on our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Booked our dream vacation and were generally disappointed. Poor value for the money and the ship is in poor condition (showing wear and tear). Better value in the Caribbean. The five days at sea going over to Hawaii were OK. Lots to do ... Read More
Booked our dream vacation and were generally disappointed. Poor value for the money and the ship is in poor condition (showing wear and tear). Better value in the Caribbean. The five days at sea going over to Hawaii were OK. Lots to do exploring the ship, attending great lectures and eating. Great weather and getting excited about going to Hawaii. Had an obstructed ocean-view room and were pleased with the space and layout. Bed was good and loved having daylight in the room during the day. Booked into the late sitting for dining (Bottecelli 210) and had great people at our table. Our waiters were EXCEPTIONAL and made the dining experience something to look forward to (not to mention the food quality). Had great time in Nawiliwili, Kauai. Amazed with ability of crew to steer into this awkward harbor. Great tour of waterfalls then Wailua riverboat to Fern Grotto. Definitely walk trough the Marriott right beside the dock - nice beach and great garden area in the middle of the complex (great koy pond). Honolulu was everything expected: Diamondhead, Royal Palace, and Nu`uanu Pali Lookout, Waikiki Beach was a bit of a disappointment (hard to see with all the tall buildings), but a great city tour and nice to see all the landmarks you see on TV. Pearl Harbor was OK - BUT, the Federal shutdown created problems touring the Arizona Memorial (a real letdown for many people). Been there - done it! Stopped in Lahaina, Maui and had the greatest fun snorkeling at Molokini Creater , but, the highlight was swimming with the sea turtles not far from the dock in town - GREAT!!! Nice town to just walk up and down the front street and shop, eat & drink. NICE PLACE!!! Last stop - Hilo, Hawaii -- WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!!!! Thought we would drop the expensive excursions to the mostly closed volcano sites and just spend time in town relaxing - wrong.... The small city of Hilo has absolutely nothing to offer tourists (no beach, no front street, no character - just a long bus ride through industrial area to a Walmart and and a Sears shopping mall. This was a total waste of a day in paradise!!!!!!! Now for 5 days back at sea to the mainland. Got a little tired of the sea days but the entertainment and food kept us going. Got really tired of non-functioning bathrooms and elevators throughout the ship. Now here is the confusing part - for some reason, the ship came back to a little town called Encenada in Mexico. This town had nothing to offer other than a crowded market street with the usual cheap crap being peddled by annoying marketers - not to mention the little children trying to sell you chicklets and beds. Nothing to really do bu find a bar and have a margerita. TOTAL WASTE OF ANOTHER DAY!!! One more day at sea and were are back at San Francisco. Princess would be well advised to modify this trip and make the stop for 2 more days in Hawaii and drop Ensenada. Also get out of Hilo - it is a dump..... Probably would not advise any friends to go on this cruise as it is a waste of time and money for the sites that you get to see. Fly and stay instead........... Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We were aboard Grand Princess for her Christmas cruise. It was a last minute decision to cruise and we were hesitant, as we knew it would be a busy cruise with lots of kids (not our style) but we decided to go anyway when other plans fell ... Read More
We were aboard Grand Princess for her Christmas cruise. It was a last minute decision to cruise and we were hesitant, as we knew it would be a busy cruise with lots of kids (not our style) but we decided to go anyway when other plans fell through. We had not been on a mass-market cruise for about 5 years and not on Princess since the Star in 1995. Most recently we cruised on HAL, Celebrity and RCI and of those, enjoyed HAL the most for overall quality of the experience. All in all, we have been on many big ship cruises since my first in 1969, but these last few years we have been enjoying the river cruise experience in Europe. We do prefer the smaller ship experience overall but thought it would be fun to get back on a big ship and see what had changed since our last one. We drove to Miami the evening before the cruise to have dinner with friends who live there. We had a wonderful dinner at Cara Mia in Coral Gables and an enjoyable stay at Sofitel. The next morning, we arrived in Lauderdale about 11am. Construction near and at the port made it a mess, and the fact that so many ships were leaving that day meant traffic snarls and lots of congestion. We got parked around 11:30 and made our way to the check in. Embarkation was easy. I am Elite with Princess and check in took about five minutes. We were shown the way to the Elite lounge where we waited about 15 minutes. We were aboard and in our cabin by a few minutes after noon. Our Caribe deck balcony cabin was larger than expected and we were very pleased with the large balcony, and would end up spending a lot of our time there. I had ordered an egg crate topper and bathrobes in advance and the topper was already in place but the robes would not be available until the following day. The cabins do show their age in the furnishings, bathrooms, and the hairdryers. The floor of our balcony was cracked and rusted. We called the Dine Line and made our request for Chef's Table (we were not confirmed) and also specialty restaurant reservations for 5 nights of the cruise. This is the norm for us, as we prefer both the intimate size of the specialty venues as well as the freshly prepared and generally higher quality food. We called room service and swapped out the items in our mini bar set up for what we wanted. This was all accomplished quickly. We locked our valuables in the safe (too small for a laptop, fyi) and set out to explore the ship. Grand Princess was decorated nicely for the holiday. I knew she had recently been refurbished and she was overall in good condition. She shows her age in some areas, like the dining rooms with their low ceilings and dated decor. But generally, she is a pretty ship. I was interested in checking out the Sanctuary so we headed there first. When we asked what time we could check out availability for the following day, we were advised that there was a lot of interest already in booking for the week and that it was unlikely there would any time slots available for passengers not booking for the week. We were told we could come back and check but he was much more interested in convincing us that we really needed to book for the week if we wanted any time at all. The hard sell approach was a turn off and we were not interested, so we left. When we tried later in the week, we received the same brush off so we never tried the Sanctuary. If it indeed was as heavily booked as we were told, then those folks did not use it much and it was rarely more than about 30% full when we were at the gym or the Lotus Pool. The fitness center has newer equipment but is quite undersized for the size of the ship and the passenger capacity. I went every morning and in all but two instances (when I was there before 7) there was a long waiting line for the cardio equipment and the weight benches were always taken. The adult pools are both small and stayed busy. We were able to find seats there on Christmas afternoon but not at any other time. It was nice that they did stay adult only as we have been on other cruises where some parents felt that the rules did not apply to them and their kids. All in all, kids were less of an issue than I had thought and only on a few occasions did we see smaller kids racing through public areas, shrieking, with no parent in sight. The Piazza is the center of the ship and we ended up spending a lot of time there. International Cafe, Alfredo's Pizzeria and Vines were all located in the Piazza on deck 5, as well as the coffee bar. We decided to have lunch at Alfredo's and really enjoyed the freshly prepared pizza. We would return often, as this was the best food we had on the cruise. While we were having our lunch, an older man at the table next to us proceeded to take off one of his shoes, and then his sock, and then took out a small scissors and trimmed his toenails. Yes, this was in the restaurant and was completely disgusting, and we were really surprised that staff stood by and said nothing to him. Totally gross. Our bags arrived about 5pm so we were able to unpack and shower and change for dinner. We decided to have dinner in the MDR that evening so, after enjoying the Elite lounge for a drink, followed by a wine flight at Vines, we headed to one of the Anytime Dining venues. We were seated right away. This was to be the worst meal of the cruise, followed by the only other night we opted for the MDR, which was the last night of the cruise. My entree arrived cold so I sent it back. It came back slightly warmer but was totally tasteless. My husband ordered the prime rib and it arrived piled on the plate over a corncob that was shriveled and totally unappealing, and a baked potato that was equally unappealing. I really could not believe the presentation at all. He ate part of the meat, pronouncing it not too bad, and left the rest, which he said was cold and tasteless. I had a cheese plate, which was the best part of the meal. In addition to the poor food, we were three times asked by our waiter if we wanted to sign up for the special $25 wine tasting. We declined the first time, and again the second. On the third try, he told us we could sign up and not show up and not be charged. We declined yet again and really did not appreciate the sales pitch -- especially three attempts when we clearly stated we were not interested the first time he asked. It was annoying. I also did not appreciate being offered sparking water or still with no indication of an extra charge. I did ask and was told that sparkling was extra but really feel that they should be more up front about this, rather than making it sound that it was indeed a choice that was part of the meal. We went to check out the entertainment out after dinner, which consisted of two different pianists, two bands (one Latin and one house band) and the usual evening shows. We did not go to any shows for the duration, as we do not enjoy this type of entertainment, and in general did not find the entertainment on the ship appealing to our tastes. The lounges were almost empty of passengers and this was the same throughout the cruise whenever we stopped in before or after dinner. The exception was one of the pianists who attracted a good crowd, but whose music was of an older generation than what we enjoy. We did enjoy a movie in the Princess Theater one night after dinner. There was a steel pan musician who entertained the in Piazza throughout the cruise, and he was good but overall the entertainment to us was repetitious and the Piazza area was often congested. There were two sea days on our cruise, and we spent most of them on our balcony. There were smokers beneath us and we had to call reception twice to ask them to please enforce their non-smoking policy, as we were not able to enjoy our balcony due to the cigarette smoke. The offenders stopped temporarily but continued their smoking throughout the cruise. Perhaps if the cruise lines enforced their policies as hotels now do, by charging a non-refundable fee to those that violate the policy, there would not be such disregard for the policy. Dinner on the second night was at Crown Grill. They did not have our reservation when we arrived, even though we had our confirmation card in hand. They were quite busy and asked us to wait 15-20 minutes while they prepared a table. We handed the Matre's a bottle of wine and asked him to please decant it for us so it would be ready to drink when they had our table ready. My husband went to check on our table 20 minutes later and it was not ready and the wine was still sitting there, as it was when we were eventually seated. Service was slow and they were understaffed for the number of guests, resulting in service that was rushed and slow at the same time. Dinner here was just ok. Our appetizers were over salted and my veal chop, ordered medium, was served almost raw. Our server apologized when she saw it and took it back. It was returned cooked properly but was all gristle and fat and I sent it back again. While we are happy to pay extra for a good specialty dining experience, this one left a lot to be desired. First port of call was San Juan and we had a nice afternoon walking around Old San Juan. We stopped for drinks at the lovely El Convento Hotel and then had Christmas Eve dinner at Ristorante Sofia, which we very much enjoyed. Christmas Day we spent in St. Martin. We took a taxi to Marigot, hoping to find a nice bistro for lunch, but most everything was closed. We did have a light brunch at Sarafina, a patisserie that offered wonderful sandwiches and French specialty items. We spent the rest of the day at Orient Beach, where we rented two chairs and an umbrella. The beach was a mob scene but the water was beautiful and we made our way to the ship by all aboard. Dinner that evening was at Sabatini. This was a much better experience than Crown Grill, even though we had dropped off wine to be decanted an hour before dinner and it was sitting on the table unopened when we arrived. Service here was very good and we quite enjoyed our choices, especially the house made pasta which was served properly cooked and at the right temperature. Our entree was the oven-baked branzino, which was cooked in a salt crust. Not a great meal, but certainly a good one. Food was really the biggest disappointment on this cruise. We did not care for the dinner menus in the MDR and did not go to the MDR for any meals except dinner on the first and last nights - both were poor. Perhaps if they simplified their offerings the overall quality would be better. I had to wonder how their pasta dishes could be so tasty in Sabatini and so tasteless in the MDR. Pasta is certainly inexpensive to prepare as well as something I recalled Princess being known for but the two nights we tried it in the MDR it was bland and tasteless. While we were at dinner on the last night, a woman at the table next to us sent back two entrees before settling for a burger, which she barely touched. We had a light breakfast each day in the International Cafe, along with several lunches, and dinner one evening in Alberto's. The IC was good but would have been better if there was some variety from day to day, which there was not, except for the soups. As much I enjoyed their Greek salad, a week of it got pretty old. The sandwiches were ok, and we had these couple of times for lunch. We visited the Horizon Court once in the morning, as I wanted an egg and the MDR was already closed, and that was the only time on the cruise that we ventured there. I did not eat anything here and my husband barley touched his choices; we do not care for buffets in general and this one was no exception. My husband had a burger a couple of days at the outdoor grill and said they were tasty. I really enjoyed the Zumba classes aboard and wish they were offered more often. The turn out was really strong for them. We do not participate in trivia, bingo, etc. so cannot comment on those aspects of the cruise. MUTS is just annoying, period. To me it seems a way to cut back on music at the pool by showing movies instead. The photographers were everywhere and sometimes did not take no for an answer. There was always something being sold and our mail slot was stuffed with advertisements every day. Princess Cays was nice enough. We were happy that we had rented a clamshell, as the sun was very strong that day. St. Thomas was another mob scene. We spent the morning at the beach and then went to Cuzzins for a late lunch, which was delicious as always. The Elite lounge before dinner in the evenings was nice but really could have benefited from some type of music, even just background music. Other lines (RCI and Celebrity to name two) IMO take better care of past guests that have attained this high of a status, in terms of providing free drinks, etc. We went three times and stayed for a short time. The free laundry service was nice and we utilized this perk as well as the included free Internet minutes. We had dinner one more night at Sabatini and it was good. We had plans to dine at Crown Grill on two other evenings but canceled due to the first experience. It simply was not worth the money. All in all, the food was not up to par with other lines we have cruised with, especially the MDR and specialty venues. The staff and service were good on the ship. Our room steward was excellent and took very good care of the cabin. We did not use room service except for one morning, as the coffee was not worth drinking. We ended up purchasing cappuccino or espresso when we wanted a decent cup of coffee. Debarkation was smooth and well organized and we were off the ship and in the car by 8:00am. All in all, it was a nice cruise on a pretty ship but we will not be returning to Princess anytime soon. The food was a real negative as well as the entertainment and the constant push to sell you something. And the ship felt very congested quite often. Mass market cruises are just not our thing anymore, so we will stick to small ships and land vacations, especially the adult only all inclusive resorts that we find to be a very good value and to offer a higher standard of food, entertainment and activities. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Had a wonderful Christmas holiday with the family on board the GP. Food was fantastic, MDR, HC, and Crown Grill. We did anytime dining and never waited more than 3 minutes for a table even though there was usually 7 of us, and this cruise ... Read More
Had a wonderful Christmas holiday with the family on board the GP. Food was fantastic, MDR, HC, and Crown Grill. We did anytime dining and never waited more than 3 minutes for a table even though there was usually 7 of us, and this cruise was at full capacity. The shows were all very entertaining, and considering our group ranged from 13-67 years old, that is really saying something! We had a balcony room, E201, which is right at the front of the promenade deck. You can see peoples heads (through the glass) as they walk by, but the glass is mirrored so they can't see in and that portion of the promenade is closed at dusk so there is no traffic at night. The only complaint we would have is that the youth program (13-17) is poorly run/supervised. On Christmas Eve they had a movie night, which is fine, HOWEVER, the movie they ran was a horror flick called The Ring. My 20 daughter and 18 year old son told us they had seen it at a friends house several years ago, (unbeknownst to us), and they both said it had freaked them out for several weeks afterward. Needless to say that as soon as we found out what was playing, we phoned to complain as our youngest is only 13, besides which, it was just a bad decision to play that genre of movie on that night! The initial response to our call was that it was a "company approved movie" that had been voted on by the kids. My wife informed the person that she was talking to that sometimes the "adults" have to make the right decisions and she would be sending a written complaint to the company with a copy to the Captain. 2 minutes later we got a call back from the program director apologizing for the movie choice and saying that they had shut down the movie. Other than that one incident we can't wait to go again! Just have to get the bank account fattened up a little! Like my waistline:( Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our first b2b cruise. We sailed on the Grand over Christmas and New Year, sailing the Eastern then the Southern Caribbean. We flew in a day before sailing on Dec. 21st and stayed at La Quinta Hotel. We booked through Hotel.com so ... Read More
This was our first b2b cruise. We sailed on the Grand over Christmas and New Year, sailing the Eastern then the Southern Caribbean. We flew in a day before sailing on Dec. 21st and stayed at La Quinta Hotel. We booked through Hotel.com so didn't know our room was on the fifth floor which was the smoking floor and we are non-smokers. There was a representative of a shuttle service to the pier in the lobby but we opted out and instead booked our own taxi. Won't do that again. The shuttle cost $8 per person (Star Transit) and our taxi cost $10 but he was very late. We were still waiting for him when the last shuttle van left the hotel. We boarded in Fort Lauderdale with ease. We were on the ship by 12:30 pm and settled in our room by 1:30. We brought on our own luggage so didn't have to wait for it to appear. We plan to walk on with our suitcases every time because of the convenience of not having to wait for it. Day 1 Day at Sea- very rough sea. worst we have ever experienced. Day 2 San Juan, Puerto Rico- had 6 hours to explore as much as possible of Old San Juan. Walked around on our own with a list of must-sees we had created before leaving home. Loved the old forts and can't wait to go back to see more of the city sometime. Day 3 Christmas Day St. Maarten- had booked with Bernard Tours beforehand for an island tour. Great time and would recommend them to anyone visiting the island. John our driver was very knowledgeable and helpful. He made sure we experienced his island to the fullest. Highlights were Maho Beach and Sarafina's Bakery (great place to test out your French-speaking skills! No worries. The staff understands English). All shops were closed because of the holiday but there were locals at the open air market. Day 4 St. Thomas- Booked a tour through Princess to the island of St. John to snorkel at Trunk Bay. Beautiful! Love to go back there again. Was happy to get away from St. Thomas as there were eight ships in port that day. Day 5 Day at Sea Day 6 Princess Cays- Beach day! Rented a clamshell, snorkelled and relaxed. Sand fleas were horrible and we came away with many bites. Day 7 Fort Lauderdale Left the ship and walked to the Cordova Road area to pick up more wine and sunscreen. There is a Walgreen's at the end of Eisenhower Blvd. We made it there in half an hour at a good walking pace. Loved being able to get back on board when we were ready instead of having to wait with the crowds since we were "in transit". Day 8 and 9 Days at Sea Day 10- New Year's Day Aruba- booked a jeep safari through Princess. Went with La Palma tour operator. We had a small group of people (2 jeeps). We really enjoyed touring the island this way. There was no shopping as all businesses were closed because of the holiday. Day 11 Curaco Did our own walking tour. Enjoyed experiencing the floating bridge and walking past all the beautiful colourful houses. Day 12 Day at Sea Day 13 Princess Cays Rented a clam shell again. Sand fleas were worse than last week. (Will remember to bring insect repellant next time!) Day 14 Fort Lauderdale Food Sampled the buffet many times and really enjoyed the selection. Also tried both Sabatini's and the Crown Grill. Enjoyed Sabatini's and would go there again. For the Crown Grill, once was enough for us. Botticelli's was wonderful and the wine selection great. Our serving staff was impeccable. They were very friendly and professional but personable as well. This was the only cruise where we sat at a table for eight. We enjoyed meeting new people and came away with great stories but have already decided to go back to having a table for two in the future. We used a coffee card for the first time and really enjoyed the convenience. The food and service at the International Cafe was wonderful. We tried Alfredo's on this trip. Did not like it and won't go back. We liked the Prego pizza better. We also did lunch at DaVinci's and will do that again. It was delicious. This was the first time we sampled the British pub lunch. Yummy! Service The service on this cruise was excellent! No complaints. Our room steward was the best we have ever had, and that's saying a lot since we've always had a good experience. Our waiting staff was fantastic and the maitre d' was very approachable and helpful with all our inquires. Entertainment There was a lot to see and do. We watched the movies under the stars, went to the Princess Theatre to attend several shows and enjoyed them all. Our only disappointment was the live reggae band that played in the afternoons and on the top deck for New Year's Eve. They lacked personality and spirit. They didn't seem to be having any fun and it showed. Room We had a balcony cabin on the Aloha deck and spent most of our time reading outside. The room was smaller than we were used to as this was a smaller ship. We used room service a few times, often instead running up to get our own food and beverages to bring back to our balcony. We took full advantage of the onboard library. Very good selection. One thing we hadn't counted on was the food and entertainment having the same itinerary both weeks. For example, the menu on one Tuesday was exactly the same the following Tuesday. Since we had sampled all the night shows in the first week, there was little for us to do during the second. Not a big deal but, had we known, we might have spread out the activities over the two week period. Our first b2b cruise was a wonderful experience. We have already begun to plan our next trip- a 2 week cruise through the Panama Canal. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
As I sit down to write my review of our Grand Princess holiday cruise, I first have to ask myself what did I want from this cruise? What I wanted: - Relaxation -- time away from work, with no phones or computers - Fun in the sun (a tan ... Read More
As I sit down to write my review of our Grand Princess holiday cruise, I first have to ask myself what did I want from this cruise? What I wanted: - Relaxation -- time away from work, with no phones or computers - Fun in the sun (a tan would be nice too) - Spending time with family - Visiting new places - Not having to worry about what to make for dinner, not having to make dinner, and no cleaning up Well this cruise met all those expectations with a grade of 100% A+!!!! However, I know that Cruise Critic readers are looking for more than my personal needs from the cruise. I know when I read reviews I want to know about the food, the cabins, the ship, the entertainment, etc. So, I will write this review with the Cruise Critic audience in mind. There's some good and some not so good. But please keep in mind that overall this cruise met my needs and expectations of what I wanted with a grade of 100%! PRE CRUISE: We flew in on Wednesday (3 days early) just in case of bad weather and flight delays. We flew into Miami (it was cheaper) and picked up a Budget rental car. We easily drove the short drive from Miami airport to Ft Lauderdale. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street in Ft Lauderdale. This was a great decision and I highly recommend it to others. There was room for all 4 of us in the room. The staff were all very personable and provided good customer service. The pool area was nice. The hotel was generally in good repair and kept clean. What made it ideal is that the location was perfect. There was a Publix grocery store and lots of other stores to walk around just 1 or 2 blocks from the hotel. We ended up returning the rental car after just 24 hours, as we didn't need it. You can pick up a Budget car in Miami and drop it off at the Quay on 17th Street (3 blocks from Embassy Suites) with no drop off charge. Everything we needed was easily accessible from the hotel. We did a lot of walking, but public transportation (a bus, a trolley, and even a water taxi) would've been available if we needed it. There are lots of small and large restaurants within walking distance. We had pizza one night from a place next to Publix and Chuck's Steak House across the street was a good choice with a great salad bar and reasonably priced entrees. The only thing negative about the hotel was that the breakfast wasn't as good as at other Embassy Suites we have stayed at. Embassy Suites had self service laundry facilities on some floors, so we were able to do some laundry before checking out. It is $2 per load and you can buy single service laundry detergent in the hotel gift shop. One of my favorite things about the hotel is that we had an excellent view of the port from our window. We slept with our curtains open. Each morning when I woke up, I could look out and see which ships were in port that day. When the Ruby Princess arrived a day early from dry dock, I was so intrigued that we walked from the hotel down to the 17th street bridge to see her at the port. On Saturday morning, it was fun to look out of the window starting very, very early and watch all the ships sail in and wonder which one was the Grand Princess. EMBARKATION, HOLIDAY SPIRIT, and THE SANCTUARY: We chose to take a taxi from the Embassy Suites to the port. I suppose we could've walked, but it would've been a very long way with luggage to Pier 21. We called the taxi in advance and were glad we did. It was a bit hectic down in the hotel lobby with some people just off ships trying to check in and others trying to connect with the transportation companies they had arranged. The taxi option worked well and was about $12 for the 4 of us and all our luggage. It would've been cheaper but we got stuck in traffic between the port entrance and Pier 21. Right before we left, I read on Cruise Critic all about the Sanctuary on the Grand Princess. My daughter and I really wanted this, so we decided to arrive very early at the port to try and get this first come first serve reservation at the Sanctuary. We left the hotel at 9:50 a.m. and arrived at Pier 21 at about 10:10 a.m. By the time we left our luggage with a porter and walked upstairs to the check in area, there were about 50 people in line for check in right in front of us. They had us sit in rows of chairs and let us know that each row would go in order to the counter when it opened. However, those in suites and with elite status had separate rows of chairs and they understandably would go before us. I was still confident that we would be okay reserving the Sanctuary. I have read other reviews that say people were on board in their rooms by 11:30 a.m. They didn't even start checking us in until Noon then they said that the elite were being held in a pre boarding area until Noon too. So, it was about 12:15 p.m. when we boarded. Unlike other cruise lines, Princess does make the process easy. If you pre-register your credit card online, you don't have to show it again. You simply show your passports and boarding passes and they give you the room cards. After getting our cards, we did not have to go to a holding area. We walked right on board the ship. There were two entrance corridors onto the ship. They were divided by room number. We went down the one that matched our room number. I think it went to the mid to aft area of deck 5. We thus did not enter into the atrium. I believe that the other corridor did enter at the atrium. This is where the first disappointment of the cruise happened. When we have cruised on other cruise lines at Christmas, there is a wow factor when you first board at the atrium. In the past, we have been amazed by the splendor of holiday decorations, with being greeted with "Merry Christmas" and a complimentary glass of champagne of mimosa, and by the overall welcoming feeling. This did not happen when we first boarded Grand Princess, and in some ways it set the tone for the cruise. I have read in other reviews (and I have to agree) that the staff on the Grand Princess does not always make you feel welcome. We were greeted by staff in elevators who herded us in rather rudely and told us we must go to our stateroom. It felt cold and certainly not welcoming nor in the Christmas spirit at all. At this point, we saw no decorations. My daughter and I told the elevator lady that we did not want to go to our stateroom as we wanted to go and reserve the Sanctuary. She agreed to let us off at the upper deck and for my husband and son to go to our staterooms. At the Sanctuary, there was only one lady only was in front of us at the Sanctuary desk. We saw her confirm a reservation. Then it was our turn. The gentleman making Sanctuary reservations rather abruptly told us we were too late. He said that they are only able to pre-reserve a percentage of the chairs for the week and that the only other way to reserve a chair was to show up at 8 a.m. on the day you want it and see what is available. This was let down number two. However, in retrospect, I don't think we would've got our money's worth out of the chair reservation for the week anyway. We never had any problem at all finding open chairs either in the sun or shade on any deck. This surprised me with it being a busy holiday cruise. But any time we wanted a chair on deck, we were easily able to find 2 or 3 together. Plus, the weather was so perfect and the sun so strong that after just 1 hour in the sun, it was enough and time to go in. THE WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS: It could not have been more perfect. Every day was in the low 80s with mainly sunshine. The seas were mainly calm, except for Monday as we headed south from Princess Cays toward Curacao. It was quite choppy Monday afternoon and evening. I needed a double shot of Bonine and my sea sickness wrist bands that night. This was the only time that I heard the Grand Princess creak and groan. It was a little scary. We were in the elevator and I swear I heard and felt it clang from side to side against the walls. Not fun. But overall, the weather was one of the best things about the trip. THE CABIN: We had reserved two mini suites (AA) next door to each other on Dolphin deck 9 mid ship Starboard side. This was our first time in a mini suite, but we always get a balcony. We like aft and corner wrap balconies best. We also like balconies in the sun, so Dolphin deck seemed perfect. The room was nice, but not as big as my mind had imagined for a mini suite. I did like the extra open closet hanging space and bathtub in the bathroom. The separate sitting area was nice to have, but it was weird to have two TVs right next to each other. You can't really have them both on at the same time. The TV channels were disappointing in comparison to other cruise lines. We didn't get Sky News as I thought. We also only got pre-recorded old episodes from the major networks. They did a good job with ESPN and sports events. CNN was the international version of the news and there was also HLN. The other channels were for movies and Discovery channel specials a little bit. Most channels were related to Princess cruises. What I missed was U.S. news and weather other than what HLN and CNN international offered. I had read reviews about the cabins being tired looking and in need of repair. I thought ours looked okay. The tile was a bit moldy in the bathroom and there were a few dings in the walls here and there, but nothing worse than most hotel rooms. The cabin steward kept the room clean and tidy. There was room under our bed for collapsible luggage. There was plenty of shelf space next to the closet area. Lighting and mirrors were good. There were more outlets than on other cruises. The bed was weird. I tend to sleep better on cruises than at any other time in my life. Not so much on this cruise. The bed itself and the bedding was fine, but the hump in the middle of the bed was weird. I think this is due to some sort of contraption they use to connect two twin beds together. It made it feel as if I was sleeping on a slant and rolling out of bed. I couldn't even tell that my husband was on the other side of the bed. I have not experienced this effect on other cruises -- maybe the other cruises weren't two single beds pushed together. I am not sure, but it was weird and I didn't sleep as well as I usually do on cruises. One thing that almost ruined our cabin experience was smoking neighbors. The hallway outside some rooms smelled badly of fresh cigarette smoke. Our neighbor one cabin over from the kids had smoking parties on the balcony almost constantly. The loudness of the smoking parties, the smell, and the noise of the smoker's coughing really affected our enjoyment of our connecting balconies. Up on deck, almost everywhere we went you could smell smoke blowing to you from one direction or another. I hope the new smoking policies will help this problem in the future. THE SHIP: I didn't find the ship as tired or run down as others have mentioned in reviews. Yes, the carpet was a bit threadbare around the edges, but other than that, I thought it was fine. I was even fine with the blue matting gone on the balconies. It wasn't a big deal. Some of the lounge chairs on deck were broken, but it made for humorous moments people watching passengers laughing through a collapsed chair or fighting with one to change the setting. No big deal. I did find the layout a bit odd. There was that mystery middle staircase that went to nowhere after Deck 7. How frustrating knowing that our cabin was just 2 decks up in the middle but we had to go all the way to the front or back staircase then down the hall to get there from the atrium. Weird. I liked the atrium area, but it wasn't as elegant or extravagant as other ships I have been on. The three smaller dining rooms instead of one larger one was okay. It made dinner more intimate but lacked the wow factor. I didn't like how you couldn't walk to the front of the ship outside of the Sanctuary without going up (or was it down) a deck. I really didn't like the Conservatory. It made me feel claustrophobic. It felt too hot and oppressive in there for me and for me it was a waste of space. I never did find an outside walking track other than the Promenade. The spa was nice. On day 3 they offered a special of a full massage, foot massage, scalp massage and facial for $139. It was easy to get appointments and the staff were all lovely. The massage and facial were the best I have ever had and there was no pressure to buy products. THE STAFF: Our room steward was friendly and tried very hard. He knew our names and always tried to find something to talk to us about. He seemed to struggle with English more than other cruise staff we have experienced before and would often giggle nervously when not sure what to say. We had to ask for our free glasses of champagne (and he did check our 21 year old's ID before giving it to her). We had to ask for robes in the room too, even though we had pre-requested them. We were told that he was not sure if any robes were available but would check. This surprised me. But we did get them in our room later that evening. Other staff that we encountered were not as friendly. When dealing with you directly, they were polite and did their job. However, we often came across small groups of staff standing around talking in their own language and not doing the tasks you normally see. When they saw cruisers approaching, some would stop talking and say hello, but not many. Sometimes we saw wait staff sitting at tables in the buffet or out by the pool eating food and dressed in their uniforms. I have not experienced this on other cruises. Honestly, I didn't get the vibe that we were wanted or appreciated to be there on the cruise. I often felt as if we were a problem just by existing. Isn't that a weird vibe to have on a cruise? For example, we went to the food demonstration on Thursday (2 days before the end of the cruise) and some of the staff sang songs like Happy Trails and Leaving on a Cruise Ship. It was meant to be tongue in cheek humor, but came across that they were sick of us and wanted us to leave already. The ice cream (popcorn during movies) staff often closed down earlier than advertised and gave a "so what" attitude when asked why. The staff in the shops were personable and pleasant. The dining room staff (Botticelli traditional early sitting) were efficient, professional, and nice but I would not call them friendly. They didn't attempt to get to know you on a personal level at all. We had the same waiters each night, but they never asked our names or where we were from. I tried to engage them in conversation about themselves or small talk, but they were all business. But they did a good job with meeting your food needs. It's hard to put into words, but the vibe from the staff just wasn't the same as on any other cruise I have been on. I don't think it was because it was Christmas and they were sad or anything. It was more of an overall attitude problem that perhaps needed to be changed from the top down. This seems on par with other reviews I have read recently about this ship. THE FOOD: No major complaints about the food. Some meals were good and some made us laugh at how bad they tasted. We were always able to find something and obviously never went hungry. I enjoyed the fruit plate available on the anytime menu. The salads and many desserts were good too. Not liking seafood or lamb, I felt my choices for a main meal were sometimes limited. But that's my problem, not the menu's fault. My husband loved many of the seafood entries. He especially liked the Halibut and Cod. My kids both loved the fettuccini so much they had it every night. We always enjoyed the soufflé, but giggled that they tasted the same every night even though they were supposed to be different flavors. The kids enjoyed Alfredo's pizza, but my husband and I felt it was not anything special. My son liked the international café and even the high tea (yes he is a 14 year old boy but went with a group of peers and they loved it). I only noticed that the British pub lunch was offered on two days. I erroneously thought it was every day. The first day they had bangers and mash (what I wanted), but it was not offered on the second day I went. I did have the chips and mushy peas, and the mushy peas were authentic British chip shop style and very good. Horizon court was a major disappointment for us. It felt very small, crowded, and very hot. I agree with other reviewers that the saran wrapped sandwiches are tacky. I also struggled to find some main entrée items that I liked at the Horizon court. The rolls, cheeses, fruit, and pasta dishes were okay. The number or items to choose from seemed much less than on other cruises. Perhaps I was spoiled by the vast buffets on my last cruises on Celebrity Eclipse or Carnival Splendor. On Grand Princess, the desserts are served by a staff member. I like the concept of not serving yourself. There is a sign that tells the list of about 10 choices, but then it is hard to figure out which is which. I don't think the staff member at the dessert station liked me very much or maybe others had the same experience. He often ignored me if I asked a question about what dessert was which. Sometimes he even turned his back to me for about 5 minutes. Why aren't the desserts labeled? Did anyone else experience this? The desserts themselves at the buffet were quite nice if you could figure out which one was which. At the back of the pool area there is a pizza place and a grill. The burgers and fries at the grill were fine. We only ordered room service once, and that was just my son. He said it came in just 15 minutes and he enjoyed the club sandwich and cookies a lot. THE ENTERTAINMENT: Billy London, CD, was funny when he was on stage, but that was the only time we saw him. He had good stage presence and the other staff seemed to like him. We went to the second night variety show and decided that we didn't need to go and see the juggler's main act. We did see both main venue singing and dancing shows. We enjoyed these a lot. The costumes, stage setting and props were very well done. We went to a couple of trivia contests. The female host was cranky, but the male trivia host was funny. The food demonstration and galley tour was a must see, except for the singing crew members telling you it's time to go home with 2 days left. My husband went to all art auctions and was happy with the art work but unhappy with the host. He has been to many art auctions and came away with the impression that the host was in over her head and making up things about the artwork that wasn't true. He thought she was bluffing her way through things and not doing a very good job. My 14 year old loved the teen activities, mainly because of the many friends he made. DISEMBARKATION: Our flight out of FLL wasn't until 4 p.m. so we decided to do a Princess tour of FLL. It was well worth the money and a great way to spend the day. We did the tour of FLL with the Paddleboat tour of the waterways and rich houses. We saw more of FLL than we had in our 3 days there the previous week. It was hot on the Paddleboat tour, but it was interesting. We were dropped off at the airport at about 1:10 p.m. We were glad we did the tour and had fun. As we were on a tour, we were directed to ignore our assigned disembarkation time and use the tour one. We had to be out of our cabin by 8 a.m. and had a meeting time of 8:15 a.m. in one of the bars for disembarkation. At exactly 8:15 a.m. a crew member escorted us off the ship with no lines or problems at all. Our luggage was the first to be seen in the big hall full of bags and was very easy to find. We then went through customs and put our luggage ourselves on the bus for while we were on tour all day. Hassle free! SUMMARY: As I said at the beginning of my review, I rate this cruise 100% because it met my needs and expectations for this vacation. However, there were some good and bad things about the Grand Princess that others may want to consider compared to their needs. In comparison to other ships I have sailed on, I was disappointed with the staff, the buffet, and the smoking. If given the choice between the Grand Princess and Celebrity's Eclipse (that I sailed on a couple months ago), I would choose the Eclipse. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My partner and I are frequent cruisers (20+) and enjoy the low stress that comes with cruising once on board. This was our first Princess cruise, we have sailed mostly with NCL. We are middle aged and most of the people on this cruise ... Read More
My partner and I are frequent cruisers (20+) and enjoy the low stress that comes with cruising once on board. This was our first Princess cruise, we have sailed mostly with NCL. We are middle aged and most of the people on this cruise were in the 45+ age range. With this being a holiday cruise, there were kids, but not as many as we thought there might be. Most of the entertainment this cruise centered on the holidays and would not be typical of the regular weekly sailings. I would consider the Grand Princess a small/medium sized ship and on the older side (built 1998). I will post some pictures or a link on the Princess boards soon. The recent renovation centered on the main atrium (Piazza) and Sancuary, thus some ware can still be seen in other parts of the ships. The elevators are on the slow side throughout the ship, more so forward and aft (remember going down steps is easier than going up, so be prepared or be patient). It always seems that these size ships are at times difficult to navigate from floor to floor (can't get there from here type issues) and can be a challenge. For some reason I got the impression that the elevators and steps were on opposite sides/reversed than what I was used to on other ships and that caused me to get confused about which direction was forward and aft...probably just me??? The staff on this boat I found to be extremely friendly, always smiling faces and very accomidating. I only found the International Cafe to be the one place where the staff behind the counter appeared to be less friendly than the rest (open 24 hrs, maybe reason why???) Embarkation was very organized and started about 12:00 p.m. We were there early and they had a seating area where we could sit until they were ready. Our bags were at our room by 3:00 p.m. and we were pretty much unpacked before muster. Disembarking was also well organized and you have to be out of your room by 8:00 a.m. There are places throughout the ship where you can wait based on your luggage tag color. I would suggest doing early morning walk off with your luggage or choosing one of the earlier colors. There is a sit down breakfast, as well as the buffet area available that morning. There are many bars on the ship, but we primarily hung out at Crooners, the martini bar and Vines the wine bar. Most martinis' are in the $8 range. Wine by the glass can cost from 7 - $8. There is a 'Happy Hour' from 4 -- 6 p.m. where basic 'well' liquor drinks are $3.99 (for example rum and coke) and only the dark rum brand looked decent (cruzan), we didn't know the other brands. Evening entertainment was veried. There was a string quartet or pianist in the main lobby/piazza each night. We did not see any of the main shows in the evening but heard that a few of them were not the best quality. Movies under the stars is a nice change of pace for something low key in the evening. The ship casino is on the small size and the slots are very tight and don't really even pay enough to let you play a while, better off playing tables. The Lotus Spa (deck 15 forward) outdoor pool (over 21 only) was where we hung out most of the day. It is a quiet relaxing area with some lounge chairs that offer some shade. There are about a dozen lounge chairs available and are usually occupied by 7:00 a.m. so get up early and grab your spot. We enjoyed being able to have easy access to the locker areas with robes and extra towels as well as hot tea and flavored waters. The spa's outdoor pool area also has men and womens separate steam and sauna, but is kind of odd to have them separate when they are all in the same open outdoor area. There are no showers in the men/women locker areas of the spa, only outside to rinse off after use of the steam/sauna. We enjoy more robust spa facilities; this one was on the low end. The exercise room had lots of equipment, but was on scale with the ship...smaller than most. The Sancuary is directly above the spa pool, presumably to allow easy access to the users of the Sancuary area. I am sure this boat's area is smaller as compared to other newer ships. We did not use it, but got a tour the first day. There are no cabanas for personal use, only for massages. There are a few dozen lounge chairs, 90% in shaded area and another 10% in full sun. Since the ammenities didn't seem all that different from the spa pool area directly below, we saved our bucks and just hung out there. We had an inside cabin and were very satisfied with the layout and daily upkeep. The room steward was very efficient and always freshened up the room in a timely manner whenever we put the 'refresh room' card in the door slot. From what I understand none of the rooms were updated in the last dry dock. The mattress is very firm and the toilets don't always flush on command. I found the in-room safe to be a bit tricky to work at times since the knob didn't always turn when it should, seemed like turning it very slowly did the trick. We found the food in general to be of a higher standard than on NCL or Carnival. We ate most of our meals in the main dining areas since we prefer sit down service versus buffet. We utilized anytime dining and only had to wait a few times with a buzzer for a max of 10 minutes. The dining staff is very efficient and we found one dinner server to be exceptional (Kitipong in Michaelangelo) and requested his area each night. There were two formal nights, but we chose not to dress formal but instead dressed business casual and were still able to eat in the main dining room. There were folks going in shorts and T-shirts some nights and not being turned away...I still think people should at least dress in pants and a nice top in the evening. Alternate dining was very good. We ate in Sabatini's one night and the food was fantastic and well worth the $20/person cover charge. The menu in Sabatini's has changed and is now a traditional 4 course dinner menu. The new pizza shop Alfredo's in the piazza was very good (no charge). The food and pastry at the International Cafe also in the new piazza area was also very good and a great place to grab something small 24 hrs a day (no charge). I heard that some other Princess boats have Gelato at the International Cafe, however this boat does not. The Vines wine bar in the piazza has a nice selection of wines to sample by the glass and the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The open seating area of the piazza allows you to enjoy your food/wine while watching the entertainment happening in the central area. The internet area is also in the piazza (very slow uplink compared to other boats we have been on). There was also a nice afternoon tea service daily at 3:30 p.m. in one of the main dining rooms with sandwiches and pastries (no charge). Our southern cruise stopped in Aruba, Curacao and Princess Cay. We didn't use any of the ships excursions and went out on our own. Aruba is great beach and shopping day. I recommend taking the public bus straight up a block from the cruise terminal ($2.50 roundtrip and run frequently up and down the main hotel zone road) and going to Eagle beach. Food and drinks on Aruba are expensive so be prepared or stop at a store on the way and take your own drinks and snacks. We were not real impressed with Curacao. Most of the nicer beaches require a long and expensive taxi ride (we went to Porto Marie, 30 -- 45 ride and $90 roundtrip for two). The town area is charming to look at from a distance but not as clean and robust as Aruba (just our opinion). Princess Cay (cruise line's private island) was ok for spending some time at the beach. Water was much cooler than Aruba and a bit rocky vs. sand in the water. All the same prices for drinks as the boat and had outdoor barbeque food. We got back on board and had lunch on the boat since we are not the hot dog/hamburger type eaters. Overall the cruise was very relaxing and the service was great. For an older, smaller boat the ammenities were good and the newly updated piazza/atrium area has added some nice touches. If you're looking for more robust modern ammenities, you might want to look into a newer and larger ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We picked this 17 night cruise for its itinerary. Drove to Southampton and pre booked car parking paid by Princess. Short queue to drive up, unload (porters take luggage), hold over keys to car parking rep (they drive car away), and to ... Read More
We picked this 17 night cruise for its itinerary. Drove to Southampton and pre booked car parking paid by Princess. Short queue to drive up, unload (porters take luggage), hold over keys to car parking rep (they drive car away), and to a disorderly queue for check in. Once through that, everything was very smooth. We picked a Caribe deck cabin because they have the largest balconies with part roofed over. Cabin itself was good, service excellent, This was our third cruise on Grand princess, the first since its refit. The main changes we notices were expansion of the atrium (good), removal of that monstrosity over the stern (excellent), the library shrunk and combined with a 'tea bar' (poor) and blocked access to the central stairs from all the main cabin decks causing more-than-before pressure on the lifts (why on earth?) Food, as usual, was very good - so long as you don't board with the unrealistic expectation of individually cooked three Michelin star dishes. The ship cooks (excellently) for thousands. Dinners, we mostly ate in a lower deck any-time dining restaurant, apart from the three penguin nights (sorry, formal dress nights) and a couple of others where we couldn't spare the 1 1/2 to 2 hours it tends to take. Horizon court buffer dinners have virtually the same menu and you pick exactly whatever mixture you fancy. Breakfasts we mostly took in Horizon court and, hurrah they had proper back bacon in addition to the usual frizzled fatty streaky stuff. We had room service breakfasts on the three mornings of early departure excursions - good and on time, Lunches we invariably omitted: we adore Princess' afternoon teas yet wanted out clothes still to fit us at the end of the cruise. The deck 5 International cafe does a nice Waldorf salad but, shame, charges for the most basic coffee. Entertainment also depended on expectation. Princess, I consider unwisely, advertises Broadway style shows. Don't expect anything like full Broadway on a cruise ship, but the production shows they put on were excellently designed and performed by the (slightly fewer than previously) singers and dancers. Most nights the main theatre had a single person event. Some were good, others less so. Entertainment in bars and the explorers' lounge was mostly excellent. The ship had a superb string quartet (Ukrainian - where else?)called Tea for Four which enterprisingly had adapted parts of a couple of Mozart symphonies and one of his early 'Salzburg' divertimentos. A single bad point - for their 'classical concert' in the Vista lounge they had to use speakers and amplification which wrecked virtually all of the instruments' overtones. We frequented trivia quizzes along with two or three hundred others. These were well run, often hilarious, and always great fun. The golden rule is never take these seriously. Prizes were, as usual, pathetic. Art auctions were exceedingly frequent. In addition to the usual unique original works, three artists were on board with their work featured. One day, squeezing out of a lounge between stacks of paintings, I found myself looking as the auctioneer's open laptop with a spiel about prices sparkling and rich people and industrialists buying. I burst out laughing, saw a pair of shoes in front of me, above these a natty pair of well pressed trousers, then a jacket... you can guess the rest and he didn't look at all happy with me. Excursions - probably on the expensive side (many people grumbled they were) but at places you don't know they are a hassle free way to get an overview so long as you avoid ones with 'free time for shopping'. We had an excellent boat cruise in Venice which seemed by far the best way to see it -and the queues in a packed st Mark's Square. A tour of Diocletian's massive purpose built retirement home (palace) fascinated me. Weather was patchy. Some days the sea seemed almost calm. On others, stormy. One night a gale reached force 10 and the wave smashed a couple of windows in the atrium on deck 5 causing local flooding. The crew quickly fixed metal plates over the holes (captain had to turn the ship to put that side downwind) and the glass looked to be replaced at - where else for glass - Venice. The high wind meant we missed Malta, which we first intended to see on our honeymoon over fifty years ago and still haven't. Some people grumbled about this cruise, the ship, the staff, even the storm was all the captain's fault. Maybe their expectations were unrealistic. I came across one lady having a hissy fit in the (hideously expensive) Lotus Spa about a perceived slight in a completely different part of the ship. She cancelled all her booked treatments - which I estimate generated more than enough to pay for another cruise. We heard a few others say they will never travel on Grand Princess. We liked and enjoyed this cruise very much and are booked on Grand again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We booked a 3 night mini cruise, to celebrate a special birthday. 2 sisters ,one of whom is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and myself.We had been looking forward to our cruise for some time. Embarkation was exceptional, never ... Read More
We booked a 3 night mini cruise, to celebrate a special birthday. 2 sisters ,one of whom is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and myself.We had been looking forward to our cruise for some time. Embarkation was exceptional, never boarded so fast, cabin was lovely, we had been up-graded, so a wonderful start. Our cabin steward was lovely, very helpful. Things went down hill fast after this really. food was good in the buffet, but as a vegetarian i struggled in the main restaurant and ended up eating the same thing on 3 nights! We decided against a buffet breakfast and went to one of the main restaurants, with waiter service, or not?. we waited for over 20 mins for our order to be taken, 30 mins for our coffee, our (cold) food eventually arrived, after 50 mins, we complained, and ate in the buffet after. we were unable to dock at St Peters Port, i understand this is a common enough problem, but it seems that other cruise lines , dock else where? we had a sea day instead, with lots on offer, such as bingo, not to our taste.Such a shame on a 3 day trip. We checked our on ship accounts on the last day, my disabled sisters was wrong, we went to the customer service desk, and were told this would be put right, we checked again after our meal, it was still wrong, we returned to the desk ! this happened 4 times, and we also qued in the morning before leaving. It would appear that Princess ask most passengers to take off there own luggage, i had never come across this before, and the results were mayhem, we were unable to get in the lifts, and did not have the option of using the stairs with a disabled scooter. Luggage was strewn over the entire ship, everyone was grumpy, great end to a crap holiday, but worse was to happen. On attempting to leave the ship, chaos reigned, we qued, for ages, then at the exit we were stopped as my sisters account had been flagged, we felt like criminals, i have never been so embarrassed in my entire life, we were dragged to one side while a phone call was made, and we were then allowed to leave! Shambles! I have complained to Princess, i have been told 'they hope to learn from the errors made' Why has it taken me so long to write this? my sister has only just had the money taken, replaced in her account. I have crusied many times before and never had such an awful experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have just returned from a cruise with Grand Princess were very excited to see the changes the refit had made,did not seem like much, when we first boarded but we were wrong what a difference the new Atrium has made Very user friendly ... Read More
We have just returned from a cruise with Grand Princess were very excited to see the changes the refit had made,did not seem like much, when we first boarded but we were wrong what a difference the new Atrium has made Very user friendly plenty of place to sit and have a coffee or drink and a chat open and airy,very pleasant. The Horizon had had an upgrade too had read some bad remarks about people flow etc but we found it much better. Managed to get a table each time shared a lot but no problems with that nice to chat to new folk. Cabins the same carpet had been renewed and the curtains but same colour.Pillows just as bad where do they get them from ugh. We were on Calibre deck a few days into the cruise while we were ashore the chairs from our balcony were removed.Never found out why so we sailed for most of the cruise unable to use the balcony unless we dragged the chair from the cabin out side I did that a couple of time but the cabin steward did not like it and kept putting it back when we left the cabin. I get a balcony cabin as I cannot sit on the loungers that are around the ship due to back and hip problems so was very upset not to be able to sit out on the balcony. One passenger was sitting on her chair when it was taken not sure how I would have reacted if that had been me. I have emailed Princess 4 times since returning home but no response I wonder if any of the other passengers have made any comments. In the past I have found Princess to be very attentive and helpful but cannot for the life of me understand why they threw the chairs away. Customer services on the ship were very rude and said it was "company policy" I don't think this sort of "company policy" will be very profitable for Princess from the conversations I heard. I felt like a number of others that the quality of the food in the Horizon had dropped less choice and same choices day in and day out. We tried anytime dinning this time and due to the very excellent Head Waiter Daniele we enjoyed our evening meals.What a credit this man is to Princess I just hope they appreciate him Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our fourth holiday cruise (Christmas and New Years) and the third with Princess. Year one was Panama Canal on the Island, two was Hawaii on Golden, then last year we tried Holland America and did Panama Canal on the Amsterdam. We ... Read More
This was our fourth holiday cruise (Christmas and New Years) and the third with Princess. Year one was Panama Canal on the Island, two was Hawaii on Golden, then last year we tried Holland America and did Panama Canal on the Amsterdam. We decided to go back to Princess because although the HA ship was nicer - Princess seemed to have better food and entertainment. GOOD - The price was right when I purchased this for us in May and when we got married in October, we decided it would also be our honeymoon. Things started smoothly - embarkation was a dream (especially after having to wait three hours with no food to board HA last year because of a health issue.) BAD - The ship looked very worn. We were told that it is due for renovation in April and it is none too soon. I'm really getting sick of Princess Bland. My main problem with this ship is the issue with smoke. On all the other ships (in the common areas) - if you just avoid the casino - you can avoid the smell. The Grand must have been built before people became so concerned. The entire sixth deck stunk and the smell spread to parts of decks five and seven. I was only able to eat in the dining room on the fifth floor. I couldn't sit at the bar on five or six to listen to music like I normally do - because of the yucky smell. It is bad enough that you will likely smell smoke in all hallways and on your balcony because the ship is too lazy to require smoker's to confine themselves to certain levels or areas. This ship was the worst! I didn't even get to see Skywalker's because they cater to the smokers. GOOD - Some of the personnel on this ship were the best I've experienced. Alina from Romania in the Michelangelo Dining Room was a delight! Our steward, Sonia, was top-notch. I also really liked that Princess continued with all you can drink soda cards. HA went with a 20 soda punch card that put me into caffeine withdrawal. BAD - Services. Couldn't reach room service for over an hour at a non-busy time to order our champagne breakfast. Couldn't reach the Sanctuary for a reservation. (They told me their phone wasn't working but neglected to let the pursur's desk know about it.) We called to report our television out of order and were told someone would be up to check on it. We waited two hours and then went to dinner. Called again and was told that the electrician would be "right up". An hour later, our steward was able to fix the problem and told us that the electrician only responds to true emergencies. Three days later we got a call asking if our TV was still a problem. I was so dumbfounded - I couldn't think of a quick response. BAD - The ship stopped (blew a fuse). Picture this - we're listening to a comedian make a joke about Carnival's cruise with stranded passengers and five minutes later the lights go out and the engine below us stops. GOOD - The comedian (Kevin Hughes) doesn't miss a beat - someone shines a flashlight on him from the back and he ad libs for forty minutes. BAD - The captain tells us that his men have found the problem and it was a fuse. The lights and AC come back on and then he says "I hope you won't hear from me again." I wondered if he had to commit hari-kari. GOOD/BAD - Entertainment - Tony Cherry and Kevin Hughes were EXCELLENT. The ventriloquist, hypnotist and magician were pretty mediocre. For the first time though -- the musical options were really bad. Ray Coussins pounded on the piano like an elephant walking on it. His constant "flourishes" may have caused non- musicians to think he was talented - but his playing was muddy and torturous. GOOD - Places we visited. See more below. I was amazed how delightful Princess Cays was. I expected a rip-off, but had a blast. We took mostly taxi tours in the other cities - cheaper and less herding. It did seem that the shore excursions were more reasonable this time. Don't do Santo Domingo on your own though. Some guy grabbed my husband's foot and put black shoe polish on his expensive brown shoes. BAD - Holiday Celebration - New Year's Eve was not as well coordinated as on other ships. The top deck was a windy nightmare. Ray Coussins was banging uncontrollably in one lounge and the atrium area was crowded and reeked of smoke from the casino. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We booked this cruise knowing Princess had produced a great Christmas Cruise for us a few years ago. We have 3 Teenagers - 15, 17, 19 and love to spend quality time with them. They love to spend time with each other and meet new friends ... Read More
We booked this cruise knowing Princess had produced a great Christmas Cruise for us a few years ago. We have 3 Teenagers - 15, 17, 19 and love to spend quality time with them. They love to spend time with each other and meet new friends from around the world. This was a good experience all around. We booked rooms on the back (aft) of the Aloha deck. We were just steps from the deck/pool and we owned a couple bar stools overlooking the pool and ocean! Yes, we met a lot of people and they did know where to find us many times! Embarkation was so easy. We almost just walked on! No lines! The ports were fine. We have been to most and had a good time this cruise as well. I do want to make some comments about the food! I was happily surprised about the food. We have been traveling on Holland (love the line) for the last few years and I must say the food is now better on Princess! At least it is better on the Grand! The lobster was better than we can get anywhere in town (Birmingham) and at least comparable to great restaurants in New Orleans! I have never had good lobster on a ship and was REALLY blown away! I didn't love everything, but the steak was very good! The Lido Buffet was fine - crowded at times, but we did not have any problems or long lines. We always found a table. Loved the Pub Lunch concept but had horrible service 2 of 3 lunches. One lunch we sat and saw several groups of people in line after us get waited on, served, eat and leave before someone came and ask if we had seen a waiter! We were kind of keeping count by that point... Any way, the food was very good! Getting on and off the ship was VERY easy! The staff were so helpful and friendly! I had one issue with staff. We would see cups, dishes, napkins laying around on decks (some sat all day) and watched waiters walk by and kick napkins out of the way rather than pick them up! This was VERY obvious on the aft deck although we did see it on the back/mid mut deck as well. Really classless to see wait staff so uncaring! This I have never seen on HAL! Our room steward was very nice and professional! He did not clean our childrens' room several days but they had the last room on the list and if they were there when he got to it...it didn't happen. They told him to just do the turn back a few times and after the first day (one daughter had no bed as it was not made up - he didn't know there were 3??? and had to sleep in a chair) he left the bed hanging. I really have to say the most professional and nicest staff member on board is Franco! He is the Maitre'd for the 5th floor Michelangelo Dining Room. The staff (even though we were anytime dining) were so nice, professional and courteous every day! We never waited for a table although it was a fully booked shipped. Food came quickly, was hot and Very Good! I have to mention the shows! We only saw a comedy show (excellent) and the "British Invasion". WOW! That was SO great! We have never seen a show even close to this in quality on any ship!!! Loved it!!! The Teen program was good for my 15 year old. She made a lot of friends. My 17 year old chose not to participate - she is not a night owl anyway. My 19 year old did manage to meet a couple people but thought many of the group were immature drunkards so just stuck with the couple nice kids he met. This was just luck of the week (or 2) I suppose. I thought the ship was in VERY good shape! After reading reviews, we were ready to slum...CRAZY! The ship is very nice! Carpet in the elevators and balcony railings were being replaced. Didn't see it - just happened. Painting etc. happens all the time. I did not see any worn out or taped carpet or any of the other complaints. This is a very nice ship and we had a Great Cruise! We will be back! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We drove up from Cornwall on the day before our cruise as the traffic in our area is particularly congested at weekends in July. Our overnight hotel in Southampton was the Highfield House; it was perfectly adequate for overnight & ... Read More
We drove up from Cornwall on the day before our cruise as the traffic in our area is particularly congested at weekends in July. Our overnight hotel in Southampton was the Highfield House; it was perfectly adequate for overnight & included a breakfast to start us off the following day. The hotel was 20 minutes from the port & we arrived to have the porters take our luggage & park our car whilst we joined the small queue. After, 20 minutes we were on board the Grand Princess & we were very impressed. Despite some really awful reviews she was sparkling clean & in pretty good shape. We went straight to our stateroom & were very pleased with the size & amount of storage; I particularly liked the amount of drawer space. The hanging area was open but, we quite liked this & we had loads of hangers. Marlon, our room steward offered us more when he brought our robes & ice! He was brilliant & kept the room spotless in his "invisible" manner. The balcony was big!! Four chairs & a table & partly shaded due to the "overhang" above. We left our hand luggage & set out to have lunch & explore our new home for the next 14 days. We had chosen "Anytime Dining" as we prefer to eat when we are ready & on our own. We spend precious little time together & enjoy dining with just the two of us on our holidays. Having said this, we met many lovely people during the cruise on adjacent tables or sharing tables at lunch in Horizon Court.We chose Da Vinci dining room most evenings & the food was first class. I have a few dietary problems but, had no problem finding food I could manage. The waiters were very helpful in helping me decide & were very attentive. We never had a problem getting a table for two & didn't have to wait. We ate breakfast, lunch & many "in-between" snacks in Horizon Court & found the choice to be excellent. The cakes & pastries were to die for & were always laid out beautifully. Although, there was often a shortage of tables we always managed to find a seat. At peak times we'd find the table first & then collect the food alternately. We loved walking around the decks & were always able to find quiet areas to sit away from the crowds. We enjoyed the Aft Pool & the views over the wake were stunning. Most evenings we attended the shows in the Princess Theatre & found most of them to be professional & enjoyable. We particularly enjoyed Berni Flint & Paul Fredericks who sang songs from "our era"!!! The comedians were a bit "weak" & we disliked the singer/pianist Paul Burton who hammered the keyboard & "shouted"! We went to the talks on the ports & found them very interesting. Also, a talk by John Martin on "Operation Anthropoid" which was fascinating; John certainly put a lot of work into his research. The Dept Cruise Director also gave an interesting talk on "The day I cried live on air" an occasion we both remembered! Our first port was Malaga & the day was extremely hot (it was to get hotter in Rome & Naples!!). We wandered around the pretty streets & parks. Then sat & watched the green parrots building their nests before catching the shuttle-bus back to the ship. The other ports were lovely with the exception of Barcelona which we found overcrowded & overrun with pickpockets. Despite being careful (I had a Pacsafe bag) my handbag was opened although there was nothing for them to take! I however, felt vulnerable & unsafe & was glad to get back to the ship. The only ships excursions we took were in Rome & Naples (see Port Reviews) as we were a little apprehensive about missing the ship if we ventured too far on our own!! Our favourite ports were the opulent Monte Carlo, Beautiful Sorrento, gorgeous Ajaccio (Corsica) & "home from home" Gibraltar! We didn't take part in many activities but there was plenty going on; we enjoyed sitting on our balcony in lovely hot weather spotting turtles, dolphins & whales swimming by....perfect bliss! The "Great British Sailaway" from Gibraltar was fantastic, the crowds lined the decks waving Union Jacks, Welsh flags, St Andrews flags & St Georges flags and sang along to songs from GB. A lovely atmosphere & very moving! All too soon the cruise came to an end. We packed our cases & prepared for disembarkation the following day. This was a well organised process & we sat in the theatre until our time was called & we left the ship quickly & found our luggage with no problems before collecting our car & driving home to a chilly & wet Cornwall!! Would we sail with Princess again? Most definitely YES as long as we can do Anytime Dining. On Grand Princess; absolutely YES, looking forward to seeing her after the upcoming refit. We are definitely "hooked" on cruising & are looking at next year already. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
The Elderly - Having spent most of our cruise life on Holland, we are familiar with the over 80 cruise scene. Usually, traveling with older folks is a great benefit - they don't bring little children who play "Marco Polo" ... Read More
The Elderly - Having spent most of our cruise life on Holland, we are familiar with the over 80 cruise scene. Usually, traveling with older folks is a great benefit - they don't bring little children who play "Marco Polo" all day, don't reserve deck chairs and don't get "rowdy" at night. This time however, it was all we could do not to get behind a slow moving scooter, wheelchair or walker. We had cruised Princess 2x before and had never experienced this issue. The Staff - save our cabin steward Ariel - was HORRIBLE!!! Rude, abrupt, unhelpful, short tempered and did not seem to want to be there. In every conversation, each staff member told us the number of days until he/she could get out of his/her contract. In the Steakhouse, it took over 40 minutes to get our first course. During the meal, our waiter disappeared and we had to ask the Maitre D' for the check. When I described our displeasure in the service to him, his response was "No one wants to work on New Year's Eve." No apology, no recognition of poor performance. The Food - YIKES!!! What happened to the quality of the food on Princess. Very few options and the Lido buffet at lunch was something out of summer camp - white Wonder bread sandwiches and assorted glop in casserole dishes - ick. The Ship - hello - ever heard of dry dock?!? This ship needs refurbishing desperately. We are not cleanliness fanatics but ceiling tiles in the hallways that are rusted and dented, brown and mildewed grout in the bathrooms, tattered carpeting and upholstery on furnishings. It was like a bad furnished rental apartment. Plus, there was no attention to detail. Staff seemed to overlook dirty napkins and empty glasses strewn about the ship. The only redeeming thing about the adventure was the itinerary - many islands we had never visited. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We arrived at the port of Civitavecchia on Nov 15th for a cruise starting on Nov 18th. What a wonderful little port town to stay in and to visit the market and walk around with the locals. We stayed at the Hotel Bramante and beautiful ... Read More
We arrived at the port of Civitavecchia on Nov 15th for a cruise starting on Nov 18th. What a wonderful little port town to stay in and to visit the market and walk around with the locals. We stayed at the Hotel Bramante and beautiful small 14 room hotel that treated us like we were part of their family. When we embarked we were amazed at how many people had booked the entire 33 day cruise. It was a memorable cruise with ports of historical value that will be ever present in our minds. To see the buildings and ruins of the past thousands of years and be comforted by the return to the safety of our ship. Some of the places that we visited were pretty disgusting in Egypt. Thank goodness we saw the pyramids and the sphinx, as we will never return to Egypt. We could not believe that they were pushing their garbage into the "blue" Nile river. The Grand Princess could use a little face lift but they were working hard on redoing floors and public areas while we were in various ports. Never having been at sea during the Thanksgiving Holiday (American) nor the preparatory Christmas season we were both surprised and wonder-struck by what the ship staff accomplished in the over night periods. This total cruise was above and beyond our expectations in every way possible from the ports of call to the staff and the festival spirit of the ship. Would we do it again without Egypt - yes in a heart beat. PS B748 beautiful colors and an awesome balcony. There really are no negatives about this cabin. Back of the ship great evening views and leaving ports. Super for taking pictures. Slept like a log for 33 nights:) Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our sixth cruise, the second on the Grand Princess. We chose it primarily because of the interesting Caribbean itinerary, and for the fact that we got to spend both Christmas and New Year on the ship. It was 14 days, visiting 9 ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise, the second on the Grand Princess. We chose it primarily because of the interesting Caribbean itinerary, and for the fact that we got to spend both Christmas and New Year on the ship. It was 14 days, visiting 9 ports. This is not a review on our flights or on the islands we visited, this is about the ship itself. It is long, but full of information. We are not big complainers, and we tend to believe that many cruisers are too picky or expect too much. On this category of ship, you cannot expect 5 star dining. At best, 3+ is our overall rating for Princess, RCCL and Celebrity. But, I do not have to cook or clean, and service is generally good. We are very fortunate to be able to enjoy a cruise, so we always try to look at the positive side of things. This time, it's a little different... It all started when we arrived at the cruise terminal. Since we flew in the day before the cruise, we arrived at the terminal at around 11:00am. Thank God! We were able to get a seat inside the terminal and have a ticket that should have allowed us to board at around 12:30-1:00pm. We had to wait until 3:00pm to board, apparently there was a coast guard inspection going on, but wasn't this ship on dock for one complete week prior to this cruise? There were about 1500 passengers waiting outside the terminal building, in the sun, for a few hours due to this supposed inspection. Having sailed on the Grand about 6-7 years ago, we knew that this ship is the best looking one on the outside, but the inside is definitely not spectacular. Having read all the reviews and knowing that this ship is now 10 years old, we were expecting to see signs of wear. Well, the Grand is definitely showing its age. Although it is kept clean, chairs, sofas, balconies, carpets and various areas would surely need refurbishment or replacement. The cushions on the chairs in all bars and lounges are so soft, I almost fell on the floor the first time I tried to sit on one in the Explorer's Lounge. Our cabin was on Caribe deck 10 portside, so we had a larger balcony (10'x10') which was nice. They install rubber tiles on the balconies, but ours was missing all the surrounding tiles so we had a nice view of a rusted balcony. The chairs had probably not been cleaned for months, so we did it ourselves. I do not particularly enjoy resting my arms on sticky chairs. Our cabin attendant was the worst we had on all 6 cruises. All he could do was change the towels, make the bed and vacuum. After 5 days of constantly asking for ice, my husband had the good idea to give him $10., and from then, we always had ice. Let me tell you this is the only extra tip he received, and on all previous cruises, we "extra tipped" very well the cabin attendants. Since this was a two-week cruise, I was curious to find out when the bed sheets would be changed, so we made a small mark on the sheets and pillows. After 9 days, they still had not been changed, so we went to the Purser's desk to find out if they expected to change them? We were told it should have been done on the 7th day, so the gentleman at the counter called room service and just said "Can you please have the sheets changed, thank you." not even mentioning that it had not been done. 24 hours later, nothing was changed. We went back to the desk, but this time I was not polite and requested that this matter be escalated to the Manager. An hour later, our bedding was changed. I do not expect to have my bed sheets changed every day, but once a week is not excessive... The power went off one evening in the cabins located on our floor, our shower head fell off the wall, and a whole bunch of cabins had no air conditioning for one day. The worst event was that the bow thrusters did not function for half of the cruise. This meant that they had to rely on tug boats to push the ship on the docks. However, in St-Vincent and Antigua no tug boats were available so we had to anchor and we were taken ashore by the tender boats. Then, we were not able to sail away from St-Thomas in the evening, apparently the tug boat had a mechanical problem! Therefore, we stayed overnight in St-Thomas, and don't believe they let us go ashore for the evening, it would have been too much trouble... The next morning, the tug boat was miraculously repaired, so we were able to sail away. Of course, since we were late on our itinerary, we could not go to La Romana, so we had an extra sea day instead. To compensate for the inconveniences, Princess offered compensation in the form of dollars on our shipboard account. This was granted to all passengers two days prior the end of the cruise, and was not refundable. We were quite happy about it, we had spent a little more than expected so this cleared our account. The food was good overall in the dining rooms, in our opinion Princess does better than RCCL. We chose Anytime dining, which meant that we had to wait at least 30 minutes every night to get a table. If you are willing to share a table, and have dinner at 6:00pm, you will not wait. But we wanted tables for two, and had dinner around 8:00-8:30. So depending on what you want, you will have a seat or a pager. You can make reservations on the DINE line, but you have to call at 8:00am sharp every morning. And of course, we always forgot and by 8:20 they are out of "reservable" tables. We are not complaining, we do prefer the little wait for a private table. The quality of the service varies from one table to another, but is basically efficient. As far as the Painted Desert is concerned, in our opinion it was not worth the extra $40. I ordered filet mignon, medium rare, and it was served well done. I returned it, asking again for a medium rare, and this time got it fully rare, barely a little grilled on the top, and it had a big strong white nerve in the middle. When your only job consists of cooking steaks, how come you do not know the difference between rare and well done? But we had ordered a good bottle of wine, and Elena our waiter was the best. So we had a good time, but would not pay for this again. Sabatini's is good, but if you do not want to be stuffed with food, tell the waiter you are not in a rush. Otherwise you will eat in an hour, the equivalent in calories of two dinners in the regular dining room! As far as the islands are concerned, we mainly made our own arrangements. I will not bore you with all details, but will recommend the following tours: Aruba: ABC Tours (www.abc-aruba.com), we did the 3.5 hours Safari Jeep tour which brought us to see the most magnificent views we have seen in the Caribbean. Warning: This tour is extremely BUMPY!!! The Jeep takes you completely off-road, and I mean off-road! Not adviseable for everyone, but soooo beautiful! We booked online without any problem. St-Vincent: Hazeco Tours (www.hazecotours.com), we did the Darkview Falls tours. It is one full day, they pick you up at 9:00am at the pier and take you back at 4:00pm. Our guide was the sweetest person, and gave us lots of information on the island. Only warning: the lunch is not good, but the tour is well worth it! Do not try to book online, you have to call them directly. Antigua: We had booked with Princess for the "five-star catamaran tour with lunch". Hi Hi Hi, the guy NEVER showed up at the pier and they could not locate him!!! So they offered us a different catamaran tour which is "Circle Antigua" offered by Excellence Tours, and it was the BEST tour we could have. You go around the island on a motorised catamaran (do not expect sails), they take you to a small island for a good lunch and snorkeling, and take you back to the pier at around 4:00. Warning: when they get to sail on the Atlantic Ocean, it gets really bumpy, but this lasts only about 20 minutes. Just be advised in case you tend to get seasick, but it really lasts about 20 minutes so it's not too bad. Overall this was a great cruise, as far as itinerary and celebrations are concerned. We very much enjoyed the fact that we celebrated Christmas and New Year on a cruise ship. The food was good, the overall service was medium (not bad, but the worst on our 6 cruises), the shows were sooo amateur (the crew talent show was the best one!), the ship definitely needs to be refurbished. Would we sail again with Princess, yes. Would we recommend the Grand? Well, if you like the itinerary and price, then yes. But be aware it is worn out, and technical problems could arise. Would we sail again on such an old ship? Well again, if the itinerary was interesting and the price was good, we would consider it, but our next cruise will certainly be on a newer ship where we can get more dining options and cleaner spaces. Happy and healthy New Year to all cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Grand Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 3.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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