Fabulous cruise, fabulous weather, fantastic food!!!: Grand Princess Cruise Review by Piskeycruizer

Grand Princess 5

Overall Member Rating

Fabulous cruise, fabulous weather, fantastic food!!!

Sail Date: July 2010
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Southampton
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 More 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. Less

Published 09/02/10

Cabin review: BBC727 Balcony

Our balcony cabin on Cairbe deck 10 was perfect. It was a very quiet location but, near to the aft elevators so we could "pop" up to the buffet to collect a cup of tea or a snack to eat on our balcony. The balcony was a double size with 4 chairs & a table. With the "overhang" we enjoyed both sun & shade. We'd book this cabin again.

Read All Balcony (BB) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We caught the ships shuttlebus into the city as it was very hot. The distance was "walkable" but, not in that heat! We walked along Las Ramblas & admired the many "living statues" then went around the wonderful market. Don't miss this especially early on when the stall's have just been laid out; the fruits, vegetables, meats, fish etc etc are unbelievable. We then headed for Sagrada Famila (the unfinished church); it was worth seeing but still too much of a building site for my liking. We didn't feel safe in Barcelona as there are too many beggars & pickpockets; I had my Pacsafe bag undone but nothing taken as I had nothing of value in it!! (Tissues, suncream etc!) but this experience left us feeling vulnerable & we didn't enjoy the rest of our visit. Please take extra care in Barcelona; we heard of many people on our ship having cameras, mobiles & wallets stolen despite being careful.

Read 1749 Barcelona Reviews

Ajaccio was another of our favourite ports. The ship docked right by the town & it an easy, level walk. We were given very useful guide books & maps on leaving the port gates. We strolled around the streets & admired the beautiful flowers & saw many statues of Napoleon! We decided to spend some time on the beach & walked to the nearest, it was sandy at the top but, a row of slippery pebbles made getting into the sea very difficult; once in it was lovely & warm & a real bonus for our day in Ajaccio. There are nicer beaches a bit further afield.

Many people said Gibraltar is "too English" but, we loved it. The weather was beautiful & we took a minibus (parked by the cruise terminal) on a tour of the rock. We saw the caves which were lovely, the Siege Tunnels & then the monkeys. What can I say, you either love or detest them! I loved them & was fascinated at the babies riding on their mothers & the little ones playing with anything they could find. Beware of taking food near them, you are asked by the guides not to as its asking for trouble. We enjoyed walking through the streets & made sure we got some duty free bargains....wow what bargains to be had? We enjoyed a visit to the glass blowing factory & loved the delicate glassware on sale.

We loved Monte Carlo from the moment we docked alongside the stunning yachts! They cost many many millions and are truly wonderful. Monte Carlo just oozes wealth and is so lovely. On leaving the terminal we were given little packs with maps, info & postcards; a lovely touch. We opted to take a HO-HO bus (17 euros each)which was next to the cruise terminal & stopped at the Casino. The gardens are beautiful & we loved seeing all the classic cars. Another stop was at the Palace where the views over the harbour are not to be missed. The changing of the guard at 11.55am is also worth watching. We went a complete circuit on the bus just to get another look at the buildings & scenery & off course ride on part of the famous F1 course. We thoroughly enjoyed Monte Carlo & watched it fade into the distance from our balcony.

We had booked "Sorrento, Cheese Tasting & Pompeii" with the ships tour and it was a brilliant day out. As we left Naples we were glad we had chosen a more picturesque part of Italy to visit. The drive along the Amalfi coast was beautiful although we were far too near the edge of the cliffs for my liking! The cheese far was very interesting & we loved sampling the cheeses, meats, olives & limoncello. Sorrento was stunning & we loved the pretty streets & lovely sea view. Pompeii was so interesting & our guide took us at the pace of the "slowest" in our group, for which we were thankful as it was baking hot & there was little shade. Our photo collection grew rapidly after this trip!

Read 1172 Naples Reviews

We elected to take the ships tour "Rome combination tour & on your own". This turned out to be a good move as it was 45degrees in Rome & far too hot to even think for ourselves!! We stopped at Trevi Fountains & duly threw our coins in; then trudged through the heat to the Forum & Colosseum. Thankfully, the coach had AC & we cooled down slightly before stopping at St Peters Square. It was baking hot so we sought some shade & headed for the river before the coach journey back. St Peters Basilica is magnificent but we didn't go in as it was too hot to stand in a queue. The spring water fountains were a godsend to keep refilling our water bottles!

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