Nov. 4th Transatlantic & Nov. 19th Caribbean: Grand Princess Cruise Review by jan44134

Grand Princess 4
Member Since 2010
421 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Nov. 4th Transatlantic & Nov. 19th Caribbean

Sail Date: November 2011
Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation: Southampton
These are some supplementary comments to the thorough review which another passenger has already been posted.

We have sailed on the Grand several times: before the makeover, immediately following the drydock (the infamous May transatlantic), and now 6 mos. following the drydock. While the problems out of drydock have thankfully been resolved, routine maintenance issues remain. Our balcony had flecks of loose paint on the deck and the furniture appeared dirty. Public area ladies' bathrooms had unuseable sinks and toilets (signs posted, no evidence of repair attempts during the entire trip). I was the last person off an aft elevator before it became stuck for an extended period. Later, my husband and I became stuck in a different aft elevator, but for a short time (it was VERY distressing when no one responded to the elevator phone, and the elevator alarm bell did NOT work!)

We signed up for early traditional dining, and due to its More popularity we were assigned to overflow seating in the Da Vinci dining room. For this cruise, Da Vinci was reconfigured 75% traditional/25% anytime. Food quality was uneven: appetizers were good, hot soups were nice and hot, entrees were so-so and never more than barely warm (quality suffered due to being held under steam covers too long), desserts were usually the best part of the meal! Service was very good. We ate breakfast & lunch at the Horizon Court buffet, where service has improved tremendously. There were always attendants available to assist with trays and bring beverages (sometimes immediately, sometimes with a wait). Food temperature varied -- some items hot, some not. Great salad buffet at lunch. BOTH DINING VENUES ARE DARK at night; hard to see to read the menu at Da Vinci.

Good command of English. Excellent service. I was happy to write up the "You made a difference" card on his behalf.

Compared to prior TA's, the offerings were thin. NO local folkloric shows. Perhaps due to bringing on the new cast, there were fewer production shows. All the shows they did were top-notch, even though we'd seen them before. Some nights the featured entertainer was the house band/singer moved from a small lounge to the main theater -- not very special. As always, the sight lines in the Vista Lounge are terrible, nothing works well there. As on prior cruises, the printed TV guide for movies in the cabin did not line up with what was being shown -- don't know why they bother to print it!

I ended up in "isolation" (confined to cabin) due to an upper respiratory infection with a fever. If you go to see the ship's Dr., be prepared for this possibility! Fortunately I had several books, sudoku, crosswords and enjoyed watching several movies & travelogues while in the cabin for 30 hrs. The nurse who checked on me several times was kind and compassionate. Room service was a downer -- long wait times, cold food (who needs COLD chicken broth?) There's a special food delivery team & cleaning crew in hazmat outfits when you are confined!

I particularly enjoyed the Wellness Lecturer Marlane Renner. Her talks were so uplifting! While I only went to one hands-on art session (tropical collage book mark), it was enjoyable. There were always lots of activities to choose from, no need to be bored on sea days! As always, too many activities in the 10am & 11am time slots -- tough to choose.

Because Princess E-Z air gets messed up when 2 cruises are linked, our travel agent said we should go to the desk immediately upon boarding to advise them that we were sailing back-to-back. I did so. When the disembarkation questionnaire arrived, I reiterated that we were remaining aboard for the next week in the Caribbean in the same cabin. They ignored the info, sent us luggage tags! When I called, they said they had no record of our reservation -- very upsetting. While they were "checking further" I sent an emergency e-mail to our travel agent (why I ALWAYS use a travel agent -- you never know when & which aspects are going to go wonky!) While the matter was cleared up quickly, I couldn't understand why passenger services would fail to call us as soon as the info I gave them didn't agree with their records!

Problem #2 I sent my formalwear to the laundry after the final formal night on the first cruise, expecting to have it back in time for the first formal night on the 2nd. Wrong! No laundry on turnaround day, so there's an extra day added to the service schedule -- but no one tells you this, they think you should just know! Fortunately our room steward was able to track it down and call in a favor to get it back just in the nick of time.

We didn't book anything with Princess except the transfer from Heathrow to Southampton. I do all my own research and made plans to share excursions with Cruise Critic friends. Less

Published 11/30/11

Cabin review: ACD703

D703 starboard minisuite - across from aft elevators, so handy to run up to Horizon Court buffet (14), the One5 Lounge(15), down to Vista Lounge (7) and Botticelli dining room (6). Lots of vibration during arriving & leaving ports when the side thrusters are in use. I tend to think portside has better views, but we had marvelous sailaways out of Lisbon & San Juan, so I guess it all evens out!

Port and Shore Excursions

Taxis were somewhat in short supply by the ship, but after a wait we zipped into Brugge and the driver dropped us off at Markt, with a pre-arranged pickup time for our return. I was glad I carried a map from a previous trip as this driver did not give us one. We visited the Bassilica of the Holy Blood (free, unless you want to enter the museum), rode a canal boat, and once again enjoyed roaming the narrow streets and window shopping in the restored medieval town. The street entertainers were top notch!

We stayed at the West End Dockyard and rode the free choo-choo tram around the grounds, stopping 3/4 of the way around to tour Ft. Scaur and the Bermuda National Museum. There were nice view points from the fort, especially of the canons pointed at our ship! We toured the many rooms of the Commissioner's House. There were varied displays including Bermuda tourism, slavery, a dollhouse, WWII, coins, and historic ships.
Read 174 Hamilton Reviews

We chose to remain close to Le Havre, and took a taxi (125 euros for 3 hrs. for 4 persons) 20km to Etretat to see the sculpted white sea cliffs favored by the Impresionist painters. The taxi waited while we walked around and admired the fantastic view from all angles! Afterwards we went into Etretat town for authentic crepes and hot beverages before our return to the ship.
Read 235 Le Havre Reviews

Odd port call: 4 to 10 pm. We strolled lovely Old San Juan from La Casita, along Paseo de La Princessa, the sea wall, up to the city gate then winding streets back to the ship. A great time for photography with golden late afternoon light!
Read 2985 San Juan Reviews

Our visit to the Butterfly Farm (French side, $12pp for cruise ship passengers)was inside a warm and sweat inducing mesh tent, but we didn't care -- the butterflies were abundant, colorful, and thoroughly enchanting. The tropical flowers are lovely, too. DO carry a camera and ice water! Skip the organized tours, take a taxi for $9pp one way (and for some reason $8pp the other)!

From Princess' dock at Crown Bay, we took the $4pp taxi fare to Lindbergh Bay at the Emerald Beach resort. The water was warm and calm. The beach wasn't crowded. We paid $6pp to rent chairs. Nice way to relax.
Read 4003 St. Thomas Reviews

Our rainy day plan to catch a taxi near the ship to see the free Municipal Museum Quinones de Leon turned out to be right on. The museum is housed in a lovely old mansion and contains lovely furnished rooms (one with armour), displays on history going back to the Romans, and famous people from this part of Spain. There is also a nice garden with roses, camellias, bird of paradise, palm trees. Go to the website and pay attention to the operating hours -- they close for a LONG lunch break!
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