Grand Princess Cruise Review by Florida1947
- Sail Date: April 2010
- Destination: Transatlantic
I am delighted to report how much we enjoyed our first transatlantic cruise. We crossed on the Grand Princess and it was our first time on a Princess cruise. This is our 6th cruise out of Port Everglades but all the others have been to Caribbean destinations. We read in the Princess Patter about a nice couple from Texas who were honored by the captain as the "Most Traveled Passengers" with 644 sailing days with Princess. The couple in second place had 625 days. How fortunate they are.
I have read the excellent reviews on our transatlantic crossing by fellow passengers billco and DrJohn and highly recommend them. I will try to give my impressions without too much repetition.
We booked this cruise because we now have time to do more traveling in the spring and fall. And because we live within an hours drive of Port Everglades we wanted to travel beyond the Caribbean ports we had already visited. We have wanted to do a repositioning cruise and this itinerary appealed to us. This would be our first visit to Ireland, but we have traveled by car in Scotland, England and France.
Embarkation: It was very smooth. We hired a car service to drive us to Port Everglades which was cheaper than leaving our car in the parking garage or offsite long term parking. We arrived around 1:30 pm and there were no particular delays getting on board.
Our cabin was B232. We picked an inside cabin because we thought a balcony wouldn't get used in the cold stormy North Atlantic and with all those sea days we could see the ocean from the Lido and Promenade Deck and save some money. But for the ports of call I did miss a balcony view. B232 on the 11th deck forward was an inside cabin with opposing mirrors giving the cabin a spacious ambiance. We had plenty of drawer space and our bags fit easily under the bed. We both found the bed more comfortable than expected. I had faxed a request for an egg crate but it wasn't there and wasn't needed. There was only one 110v electrical outlet but we were prepared with extension cords and multiple plugs to charge our camera and laptop batteries. We had room in the small refrigerator for a bucket of ice which our hard working room steward kept filled. The bathroom was adequate except I prefer a hand-held showerhead but the showerhead provided worked well enough. In the beginning the shower's temperature valve delivered only lukewarm water but we complained and it as immediately fixed and we had plenty of hot water after that.
I would have preferred a cabin closer to the stern but we were late making our booking and took what was available. This forward location was nice because it was close to the front elevator bank giving quick access to the large theater, the exercise room and forward hot tubs. We did not use the adult sanctuary which cost $10 per half day. The front elevators also gave us easy access to the excellent hamburger + hotdog grill and excellent pizza station on the Lido deck. I did noticed only minor maintenance efforts that seemed routine to me and I took no particular notice of signs of aging or wear and tear. The ambiance was classical browns which I preferred over the gaudy pinks on newer ships.
Itinerary: Sea Days: I was amazed the weather was so nice on the entire trip. I had expected heavy seas and was delighted the seas were so "slight" to use the captain's term. To keep us busy they had Photoshop, Excel and Word computer classes which were $75 for a 4 hour package or $25 per class. The instructor did a excellent job and sometimes full classes had to turn away passengers because of limited space. They also had other things like fruit carving which we enjoyed and cocktail demonstrations. Every day they had a classy afternoon tea and there were two wine tasting classes which were full in spite of the extra cost. The Princess Patter was always full of things to do. We were never bored.
Titanic: I was very pleased that on April 15th in the afternoon the captain came on the PA system and somberly announced that we were approximately 134 miles from the position where the Titanic sank on this day 98 years ago. We were iceberg free.
Another nice feature I was surprised to find was the excellent Promenade Deck which was well used and very enjoyable. It gave exercising walkers 360º views. Toward the bow you went up some stairs (ladder in ship's terms) to the level of the Emerald Deck where you had access to the very tip of the bow. What a grand view it was albeit sometimes windy. This was the first ship I have been on that offered this unique tip-of-the-bow view to the passengers. Bermuda: the ship docked at the King's Wharf (also known as the Royal Navy Dockyard) at the far western end of the island which required a one way $4 ferry ride over to the capital of Hamilton. We walked around Hamilton and up to Fort Hamilton which was free and offered nice views. To return to King's Wharf we decided to take the public bus which made the trip in about 50 minutes and gave views of the long gone railway line. There is an impressive fort at King's Wharf that is worth a visit. If you wanted to visit St. George at the eastern end of the island and don't want to pay for a taxi ride or risk a traffic jam delaying your return, there are high speed ferries leaving and returning to King's Wharf.
Greenock: We purchased the excursion into Edinburgh with a tour of the famous castle and time for shopping. No gloves or winter hats were for sale. It was a comfortable 2 hour bus ride and the excursion guaranteed we would be sure to return to the ship before sailing.
Dublin: We purchased the Princess excursion with included a city tour and time for lunch on our own. We had our best on-shore meal at a pub near Trinity College.
Cobh and Cork: We purchased the Princess bus tour that included Blarney Castle. It included an almost inedible lunch at a country hotel. I don't recommend it.
Falmouth: The Princess excursions we wanted was booked. We rode the tender into Falmouth and walked around. We visited the maritime museum which was very nice and there was a discount for Princess passengers. Le Havre: We booked the Princess excursion for a 1.5 hour bus ride to historic Rouen but after boarding the bus we were advised that the loud continuous horn blowing was due to a impromptu French truckers strike blocking the port entrance. The French on strike? Who would expect that? After a while we were allowed to return to the ship and were offered refunds. Originally the shuttle to downtown Le Havre was $5 each way but the ship offered it for free once the French truckers decided to unblock the port of Le Havre. We rode downtown and did some window shopping. Le Havre is a very nice modern city rebuilt after near total destruction in WW2. The window shopping was fun and the citizens of Le Havre were very nice.
South Hampton and disembarkation: We disembarked without difficulty and our luggage, put out the night before, was waiting for us in a warehouse. We took a taxi over to the Hertz rental car office. We had to wait on the curb until they opened their doors at 9:00 AM. Our first stop was the Titanic museum which we felt was not worth the money. Next we visited Fort Nelson where they had an excellent live fire demonstration of a 25 pound gun. We spent the next 5 days driving around Cornwall. We were happy the Icelandic volcano ash that shut down Heathrow for several days had past and no flight delays were experienced by the passengers going directly to Heathrow or by us a week later.
Food: It was excellent. Both in the buffet on the Lido deck and in the formal dining rooms. We had no desire to pay extra for the specialty restaurants but I am sure they were also excellent. This was the best food we have ever had on a cruise. I especially want to praise the pizza counter and hamburger grill. The pizza was great and the hamburgers and cheese burgers were always cooked to order. They would also grill sausage and bratwurst to order.
Entertainment: We don't like having to show up 45 minutes before a show to get a seat and the early shows were always a full house. But we did attend some of the 10:15 PM shows and we were always entertained. We saw several movies on MUTS and it reminded me of going to the drive-in as a child in our Desoto convertible. Blankets and popcorn were provided. Blankets were provided and always necessary at night. We found the Skywalker Lounge, which is the handlebar of the shopping cart look of the ship, to be a quiet place for afternoon reading or sending emails on our laptop or just enjoying the fabulous view.
Regrets: Just after leaving Bermuda the ship's store had a sale of gloves and watch caps. They quickly sold out. At the most northern end of the sea crossing and visiting Edinburgh, I dearly wished for gloves and winter headgear. I envied fellow passengers who brought ski parkas and winter gear. While suitcase space was limited and heavy coats take up a lot of room, I regret not packing gloves and winter hat. We did pack in layers, even bringing long underwear, but I would have been more comfortable with my winter coat that I left behind.
In conclusion this was our best cruise so far in our limited cruising career but we look forward to our next cruise on the Grand Princess. We enjoyed our days at sea and would go on a long transatlantic cruise with Princess Cruises again without hesitation.
250,000+ people have entered their email