Grand Princess Cruise Review by DBrady5164
Day One April 27, 2003
Our trip got off to a great start for the both of us. We flew non-stop from Cleveland, Ohio to Ft Lauderdale, Fl. on Continental Airlines. When we checked in at the ticket counter, the ticket agent took it upon himself to change our seats so we could sit right behind first class and I would have more room. This was a very nice gesture. We had a good flight down and arrived in Ft Lauderdale, Fl. at noon, which was one half hour early. There were Princess Cruise representatives to meet us at the airport. They seemed a little confused but after moving us three times and waiting about one half hour we were taken outside to buses that were waiting to take us to the pier. Another Princess Cruise representative met us pier and took over.
Our embarkation went very quick and smooth; they had my scooter waiting for me. We checked in, completed and signed SARS forms and were on the ship in less than 15 minutes. The whole process was very organized and professional; my strong first impression was that this was a first class organization.
We went to our room to check it out and were pleased with what we found. The room was a nicely decorated, well laid out, rather large stateroom with a beautiful covered balcony. The oxygen was waiting in the room when we arrived and a representative of Medical Travel, Inc. came to our cabin soon after to explain everything to us, great service. We had B303 (handicapped room) located very near a set of four elevators, half of which were closed for maintenance. This caused lines and a slight delay but all four were back in service by 5:00 PM that day.
We took a short tour of the ship and were impressed from the very first moment with the courtesy and friendliness of the entire staff, greetings and smiles all around. We went back to our cabin to clean up for dinner and watch sail away from our balcony. We didn't get to see much because we were on the starboard side on the ship. Three of our four pieces of luggage arrived at about 2:30 PM but the final one did not arrive until around 5:00 PM.
We had elected Personal Choice dinning so we went to dinner the first night in the Michaelango dinning room. Our waiter was a man named Victor, didn't get the name of his assistant. The service was very good; I thought it couldn't have been better. The food was good, I had prime rib, medium rare and it was cooked as ordered. The beef was very tender and tasty, although I had read in many reviews that the prime rib wasn't that good. The subject of prime rib will come up again in this review. Rita had the ham dinner and said it was very good. For dessert Rita had the Princess Love Boat Dream, it was great. We both had dessert every night, some nights I had two, and they were the best part of the meal. Here's what I think, you can order what ever you want from the dessert menu and it will always be good and sometimes it will be great. Make sure to try the soufflE they are awesome. After dinner we went to the casino and made a small donation to Princess Cruise Lines then went to the Princess Theater to see the show Showtime. Our host was the cruise director, Tim Donovan and the comedian, Gregg Otto, was very funny. We both enjoyed the show and thought it was a great way to end our first day.
Day Two April 28, 2003
We were up early and eager for a new day. The sky was a little overcast and it was a bit windy. The coffee, juice and Danishes we had ordered from room service arrived about 7:00 AM and we took it out on the balcony to enjoy and plan our day. We went to breakfast at the Horizon Court around 9:00 AM. No surprises here, we thought the food was good and the selection was great as we had read in many reviews in Cruise Critic. There was a very nice variety of fresh fruit which we both enjoyed. I was offered help in getting my food every time we ate at the Horizon Court, I never had to ask. The only complaint is that the whole buffet area is poorly laid out which causes a lot of waiting, confusion and congestion.
We then went down to the Lounge to get our tender tickets to go to Princess Cay. Every review or message we had read on Cruise Critic, our travel agent, Medical Travel, Inc. had all told us that we would not be able to take the scooter on the tenders. We decided to ask when we got our tickets where we should park the scooter when we left the ship. We were told that we could take the scooter with us on the tender. WOW what a first class operation. This was a major surprise. It took four guys to load it on the tender and they couldn't have been nicer about it. At that exact moment I was sold, Princess Service is a step above the rest. I have been on four cruises prior to this and I have never been treated better, ever.
We arrived at Princess Cay around 11:00, the ride over was a little choppy but not bad. We looked through all the shops but didn't buy anything, we thought things were a little pricey and the merchants didn't want to bargain. We ate a good lunch with barbecue ribs, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, salads and fresh fruit. After lunch we laid out in the sun, no problem finding a nice lounge chair with a pad, and then took a little swim. We headed back to the ship about 2:30 PM so I could go to the art auction, where they were serving free champagne. We had a great time at Princess Cay and the entire Princess crew went out of their way to see that everyone had a good time.
I was disappointed in the art auction, the minimum bids seemed high and it really wasn't an auction so I didn't buy anything. While I was at the art auction Rita went to play bingo, it cost twenty dollars for a card to play. The final game of the day was a fill up that paid $1600.00 if you did it in forty-eight numbers. Nobody won the jackpot that day except Princess. She didn't play bingo the rest of the cruise.
This was the first formal night and we were looking forward to it. I had rented a tuxedo from Princess which I had ordered several months ago. It was hanging in the room when we arrived. I tried everything on and it fit perfectly. When we ordered it they give us instructions on how to take your measurements, it was pretty simple. By the time we got ready it was too late for the Captain's cocktail hour so we went to dinner in the Michelangelo dining room again. This time our waitress was Magdalena and her assistant was Chris, they were both from Romania. They were great, happy and fun people that made our vacation the best ever. We ate at the same table in the same dining room for the rest of the cruise. We ate at different times and hadn't made any standing reservations but the matrie'd held our table and we never had to ask or wait. We looked forward to dinner each and every night the rest of the cruise. The assistant waiter talked us into buying a special bottle of wine and two Princess glasses. We drank the bottle of wine with dinner and had the glasses delivered to our cabin. Chris was hard to understand and I finally told him ok to get him to shut up. It wasn't until the last day when we got our final bill that we discovered that our wine and glasses were over one hundred and thirty dollars and to tell the truth we didn't care for the wine. For dinner we both had Beef Tenderloin and it was very good. I had shrimp cocktail which I had almost every night.
After dinner we decided to have our portraits taken. While we were waiting in a short line talking to the people in line with us, one lady had a very good idea. She suggested that we have our pictures taken at several of the sites around the ship and then pick the best portrait to purchase. This worked out well as we didn't like any of the pictures from the first sitting but loved several of the others. We went to three sittings and it didn't take long at all. Then we then went to the Atlantis Casino to make another small donation to the financial success of Princess Cruise Lines. We had a great time playing the slot machines, Rita won some money but I lost even more than she won. We turned in early as it had been a fun but somewhat tiring day.
Day Three April 29, 2003
We decided to try breakfast in the dining room, so we went to the Da Vinci dining room. We both had Eggs Benedict and thought they were great. It was a nice change of pace and the food was better than in the Horizon Court just smaller portions. I went to play Virtual Reality Golf that I had made reservations for on the first day on the ship and Rita went to the Grand Cayman &Cozumel Port & Shopping talk. The golf costs $20.00 for ½ hour and I wasn't all that impressed. The Screen was not very clear and the colors were faded, I couldn't see the green on any hole. The mat surface that you hit off of wasn't very good and I didn't think it was worth anywhere near the price paid. I canceled my reservation for Saturday before I left. The Cruise Directors staff that ran the golf was great, friendly and very helpful. Rita said the port and shopping talk were very helpful and would recommend you attend if you're thinking about doing any shopping in port.
We went back to the Da Vinci dining room for lunch. I had a cheeseburger and fries and Rita had a club sandwich. My cheeseburger was excellent, 2 large patties with the works. If you like cheeseburgers, and I do, you have to try this one. Rita said the Club was very good. After lunch we went back to the cabin to take a little nap, it sure is nice to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. Now that we were refreshed we decide to do some shopping. They have a nice variety of stores on board and we enjoyed browsing with no pressure sales. We like to shop so it was a pleasant way to spend a couple hours. The staff working in the stores were very friendly and helpful.
We both went to the Art Auction, saw some stuff we liked but didn't buy anything. Tonight was Italian night in the dinning room and we were looking forward to that. For the antipasti course I had Baked Eggplant Parmiciana and it was fabulous, the beast I've ever had. I ordered a second serving and ate it all. For the main course I had Shrimp in fiery tomato sauce and Rita had Beef Pot Roast and they were both excellent. The rest of the dinner was good and we were done in time for the early show. We went to the Vista Lounge to see Shake, Rattle &Roll; we think it was the best show of the cruise. I would highly recommend you don't miss this one. They have 2 shows on Tuesday night and a 3rd show on Wednesday night to be sure everyone gets a chance to see it. After the show we went to the Atlantis Casino to make another small donation. We didn't do anything big or exciting today but it was a very enjoyable vacation day and we believe that's the reason we love to cruise. At this point we are Princess converts, this is a first class operation in every way.
Day Four April 30, 2003
Today we are in Grand Cayman and we get off to an early start. We go to breakfast in the Horizon Court at 6:30 AM because the tour we booked leaves at 7:30 AM. Our tour was an Island tour and Snorkeling at Sting Ray City which we had booked through Princess Cruise Lines. We had to walk a short way down the pier to get our bus and since I can't walk that fast everyone else got pretty far ahead of us. So they all walked to the parking lot and boarded the bus then came up to pick us up. When we boarded the bus a very nice couple gave us their front seats. It just keeps getting better. Our tour guides name was Newton and he was very good, knowledgeable with a good sense of humor. The bus was air conditioned and comfortable. First up was a rolling view of Seven Mile Beach, out by the Holiday Inn seemed to be the nicest area. Then we were off to Hell, cute but not much there. We mailed some post cards, bought a couple things and took several pictures. The clerk in the store in the devil suit was funny. When I walked in the store he asked me what the hell I wanted. We got back on the bus and we were off to the Turtle Farm and Rum Cake Shop. Our tour of the turtle farm was fun and we did a little shopping in the shop there. We bought some Rum Cake to bring home with us.
Now we were off to the boat and the best part of the tour, snorkeling at Sting Ray City. There were about 20 of us that boarded the boat and headed out to the sand bar known as String Ray City. The Captain and his first mate were both personable young men and explained everything along the way. When we got there it was crowed and our Captain circled around till he found a good place to drop anchor. The first mate passed out the snorkeling equipment and into the water we went. We were in about 4-5 ft of water and I had no problem standing. The sting rays were everywhere and I picked one up as instructed. This is a real great experience and I would recommend it to everyone. The Captain was helping the women pick up the sting rays which I thought was a nice. We had about an hour to play with the stingrays and then we had to reboard the boat for the trip back to the dock. There were soft drinks and ice water available on the boat. This tour was very well run and worth every penny of the $64.00 pp we paid.
We were dropped off downtown, right across from the pier. We went into a few jewelry stores as we were looking for something special. I bought Rita a nice Emerald ring at Colombian Emeralds International. Grand Cayman has the best emeralds I have see anywhere and I wanted to buy Rita a ring while we were here and I found the perfect one for her. Once I found just what I wanted I was able to negotiate a very good price, trust me they will deal.
We got back to the ship in time for a bite to eat in the Horizon Court. We went to the art auction and I bought my first painting, a print of a watercolor of a vase of flowers. Tonight was French night and as almost everyone has said the French Onion soup was very good. For my main course I made one of very few bad decisions, I ordered Frog Legs. I'm sure its personal choice but I couldn't eat them they were that bad. I ordered a Caesar salad and another bowl of soup and I was fine. The wait staff went out of their way to make sure I was happy, very, very good service. After dinner we go to the Atlantis Casino so I can continue my losing streak and I do. Tonight is Tropical Island Night so we head up to get a good spot about 10:00 PM We find a great spot close to the dance floor and the band. As soon as we get settled a waiter comes to get our drink order. They have an Island Night special, a pitcher of Bud Draft for $10.00. It is a beautiful warm night and the crowd is starting to build, the party is underway. I would recommend you don't miss this event as it is a really fun time. We party till after midnight and for us old folks that's late. A great ending to a great day.
Day Five May 1, 2003
We get to sleep in late as we don't get into Costa Maya until around 10:30 AM. We get our Juice and coffee from room service at 8:00 AM and then go to breakfast in the dining room at 9:30 AM. Based on everything we had read on Cruise Critic our plan for the day was to go ashore and check out the area near the dock then return to the ship and hang out by the pool and work on the tan. Costa Maya looked beautiful from the ship, very colorful. We really enjoyed our short time ashore and Rita liked the tram ride as it was a very hot that day. The shopping was fun and the area was clean and bright. There was a nice, clean beach are at the far end of the dock. And a small pool right in the middle of the shopping area. The merchants invited you to browse their stores but they weren't overly aggressive or threatening, not like other places I've been. The shops were around a large courtyard where they had an outdoor theater. They had folk dancers entertain you during the day, they were very colorful. The merchants were more than happy to deal on their stuff so we bought a few things for the folks back home. We both enjoyed this port and think there was more to do than at Princess Cay. The water at Costa Maya was spectacular, deep royal blue in color and as clear as drinking water. We have one bad comment about our day here. We got a little hungry so we decide to get a snack. We went to a place called Nachos Express and got an order of Nachos and a small coke. This cost us $11.00 and was not fit to eat, so we decided to head back to the ship and have a late lunch in the Horizon Court. Overall we enjoyed this port and would love to go back.
After a quick lunch we went back to the cabin for a short nap, wow I sure love cruising. We decided we would go see the movie, Two Weeks Notice in the Vista Lounge before dinner. The movie was very good and we both enjoyed it. I'm a big Sandra Bullock fan so this was a good choice for me. We were in the dining room by 7:45 PM and our table was waiting for us. Tonight I had one of the best meals of the cruise, King Crab Legs with melted butter. Crab Legs are one of my favorite dishes and these were excellent so I ate 2 large orders. Rita had Chicken a La Kiev and said it was very good... After dinner we went to Country & Western night in the Explorers Lounge. Playing was a band called S'il Vous Plait and they were pretty good. The cruise director's staff gave line dancing lessons and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The band played several slow songs for us old folks and the dance floor was full. The band stopped playing at 11:00 PM and then we had Karaoke which was fun. I was surprised at how many people could really sing so well.
Day Six May 2, 2003
Today is our final port and we have a full day planned. We start with an early breakfast in the Horizon Court because I have to leave early to go deep sea fishing. Rita was booked on a later tour to Chankanaab Park. My fishing trip was a total bust due to the high winds. There were 5 guys on a 31' boat that was just a basic fishing boat. We only caught 2 small fish between all of us. The Captain and the First Mate worked very hard to catch fish but it was not to be on that day. The seas were very rough and to top it off I got sea sick. Rita really enjoyed snorkeling and got some great underwater pictures with a waterproof camera we bought at Wal-Mart back home. We saved over 50% on the cost of the camera when we bought it at home.
Because I was not feeling well I went straight back to the ship and Rita went into town alone. When Rita returned she was excited because she had found a beautiful Tanzanite ring at Tanzanite International. She got a real good bargain so we were both happy. We cleaned up and went to the Horizon Court for lunch. After lunch we went up to the Explorers Lounge to pick some frames for pictures we had purchased. The prices on the frames are only half of what I would pay back home and they are good quality. We stopped by the Atrium Lobby to look at wrist watches that were on sale but I couldn't find any that fit me. We went up to Neptune's Reef &Pool on deck 14 For the Sunset Sail away Party, the Margaritas were great.
We went to dinner and did our usual, Michelangelo dining room with our waitress Magdalena and her assistant Chris. Tonight we both had Beef Wellington and I had an additional order of Lobster Tails. I was glad I ordered it that way because the Beef Wellington was chewy and tasteless but the Lobster Tails were excellent so Magdalena got me a second order of Lobster Tails. Rita ate the Beef Wellington and said it was OK but she wouldn't recommend it. For the soup course we both had the Chilled Strawberry Cream Soup and we both enjoyed it. I would like to mention here that on most nights Rita ordered the fresh fruit dish as an appetizer and thought they were all very good. After dinner we went to the Princess Theater to see the show, Lights, Camera, Action and we both thought it was very entertaining. On the way to the room we stopped at the Wheelhouse Bar for a drink and to listen to the band, Just Kidding. They were very good and there was several of the Cruise Staff enjoying the music.
Day Seven May 3, 2003
I knew from experience that the week would go by very fast and I was right. This was our seventh and final day. We did what had become our standard start of the day, coffee and juice from room service. We skipped breakfast because we had made reservations at Sabatini's for brunch, or so we thought. We showed up at our appointed time of 11:00 AM and there was only one other couple there, my first clue something was not right. We waited about 10 minutes to be seated and when we were I didn't get the name of the young man but he was very friendly and the service was good. He asked to take our drink order and I asked him what the complementary drinks offered with "Brunch" were. He then informed me that Princess had recently stopped offering free drinks and had changed the meal from brunch to lunch. What you get now is items similar to those served in the evening but in much smaller portions and minus some things. The one thing that has not changed is the $15.00 surcharge. We went ahead and ate here but we both felt ripped off and disappointed. The food was very good for the most part, didn't like the fried oysters, but wasn't spectacular. This was the only major screw up by Princess for the entire cruise which I didn't think overall was too bad. On future cruises with Princess we will just skip Sabatini's Trattoria.
That afternoon we went to the final art auction where they served champagne for the second time. We bought 2 very nice pieces and were pleased with the week's results. We went back to the cabin to sit out on the balcony, relax and enjoy the view. Our first stop for the evening was the Vista Lounge for the passenger talent show, which was very entertaining. We had a long relaxing dinner in the Michaelango dinning room and thanked Magdalena and her assistant, Chris for the great service. We both had Prime Rib Au Jus because it was so good the first time. Something terrible had happened in the week we had been at sea, this stuff was horrible. The beef was tough, chewy and mine was over cooked. I sent mine back and got Sea Scallops which were very good. Rita ate enough of her beef to finish the meal. After dinner we went to the Atlantis Casino to get one last chance at vast riches but what we got was vast broke, ha-ha. We consider gambling part of our entertainment and don't get upset when we lose our allotted amount. The secret for us is to allot an amount each evening and to stop when it's gone. For the week overall I lost all of my allotment and Rita broke even and we had a ball doing it. We ended the night on a sweet note; we went to the Horizon Court and got a plate full of desserts.
Day Seven May 3, 2003
Up at the crack of dawn to get ready to go home. We had breakfast in the Horizon Court and then a short wait until our color was called. The disembarkation was smooth and quick. Princess really is the best at getting on and off the ship. The ending of a wonderful week long cruise and the beginning of the travel day from hell.
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