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1,693 Princess Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Reviews

The Star Princess is a nice ship. The staff is very friendly, our waiters were on the ball, our cabin steward was outstanding and the shore excursions staff went out of their way to help us out. After hearing people rave about the food, ... Read More
The Star Princess is a nice ship. The staff is very friendly, our waiters were on the ball, our cabin steward was outstanding and the shore excursions staff went out of their way to help us out. After hearing people rave about the food, I was sorely disappointed. The buffet is cramped and does not have the wide selections that some other ships do. I thought it odd that not once did I see croutons or bacon bits on the salad bar. The cuisine in the specialty restaurants is good, but we found variants on many of the entrees from Sabatini's served throughout the week in the main dining rooms. There's no ice cream machine by the pool. The are not enough treadmills for a ship of this size and the gym area seemed cramped. Princess non-existent weather-notification policy was also lacking. We cruised right around the time that Hurricane Wilma was leveling Cozumel and getting information from Princess was like pulling teeth. No one bothered to inform us that embarkation had been moved up and when we called the Princess rep at their 800-number, they didn't know anything about the change in departure time, either. Overall, the cruise was high on value. There are just a few spots that Princess fell short of our expectations. The staff of the Star Princess, deserves special mention, though. Despite having two fewer hours to turn the ship around, we got out of port quickly and efficiently. Everyone on the boat was friendly and produced a first-rate customer service experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
We booked for a Western Caribbean cruise but had our Itinerary changed due to a hurricane. My only problem was the last minute change to an Eastern Caribbean trip was changed again to a truncated Western trip 2 days into the cruise. How ... Read More
We booked for a Western Caribbean cruise but had our Itinerary changed due to a hurricane. My only problem was the last minute change to an Eastern Caribbean trip was changed again to a truncated Western trip 2 days into the cruise. How can you decide not to go to Jamaica, then after sailing 2 days determine it's ok? Once the stops (only 2 instead of 4) were chosen there were insufficient shore excursions available. Trips booked up in minutes. Embarkation could have been better. Poor line control by Princess staff. People formed multiple lines, cut in at the wrong place after dropping off luggage etc. Once inside, if you had all paperwork and documents handy the booking process was very fast. Disembarkation was a breeze. Princess has a process that was expeditious and easy! Luggage was easily located and once our category was called we were off the ship, obtained our luggage cleared customs and immigration in a few short minutes. The ship is beautiful and I highly recommend booking a cabin with a balcony. Our friends didn't, and ended up spending time on our balcony. We really enjoyed waking up, sitting outside and enjoying coffee and the beautiful seas as we floated along. At any time if you wish privacy on a ship with over 3,000 people, simply return to your cabin, sit on your balcony and enjoy! The common areas of the ship and main pools can be very crowded, but a few steps away you find space and serenity. If the pool level is packed, walk upstairs and find areas less than 50% occupied, yet you can still hear the band playing. A few steps further and your virtually alone. Decks toward the bow near the forward adult pool are breezy and refreshing. The view at the aft pool is stunning, particularly if the sunset is at the ships stern. Food was good but not world class. This should come as no surprise. They are feeding 10,000 meals a day. You simply have the wrong expectations if you think every dinner is going to be like a meal at The French Laundry (Napa California). Nonetheless dinners were very good. We reserved a dinner at The Sterling Steakhouse and were very pleased, Excellent steaks cooked to perfection. 4+ stars! Observation: we chose personal choice dining. The idea is you can make reservations at the time of your choosing, or walk in any time. The reality is you can only reserve a table at 6:00 or 8:00. It didn't really matter. We walked in at varying times from 6:00 to 8:30 and never waited more the 5 minutes for a table. Spa service was excellent. Had the 80 minute hot stone massage and was completely pampered. One of the best massages I've ever had! Didn't go to many of the evening entertainment events, but our friends did and enjoyed them all. Skywalkers nightclub never really got "hopping" but that could be due to the fact that few children and young adults were on this cruise. One can choose from a litany of things to do on this ship, or simply relax and do nothing at all. I would cruise on this ship again, but not during hurricane season. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
We survived Frances at sea. Princess did a wonderful job at taking care of us, changing our schedule to different ports, and avoiding all of the bad weather. For that my 13 year old son and I are truly grateful. HOWEVER, there was a lot ... Read More
We survived Frances at sea. Princess did a wonderful job at taking care of us, changing our schedule to different ports, and avoiding all of the bad weather. For that my 13 year old son and I are truly grateful. HOWEVER, there was a lot of confusion during the hurricane weekend, caused in part by the storm's slow movement. I believe that the Captain should have made more frequent announcements and updates. Also, despite the fact that we were provided "free internet and phone use", did you know that a ship that large only had SIX phone lines available? They finally added two more, bringing it to a grand total of eight. Communication with earth, travel agencies and/or family was impossible. Of course, as the Captain kept announcing, if you had booked your air through Princess, you were completely taken care of. We had not. We eventually docked Monday, flew out of FLL on Tuesday, and arrived home Tuesday night. A thank you to the graciousness of the Embassy Suites on 17th Street for taking us in. The balcony cabins are more than spacious, and our cabin maintained well. Smoke odors appear to be a problem on this ship, but by the third day our cabin had aired out. As we had read on this site before, the ship truly did take up too much public space to add more cabins, and during evening hours particularly you felt as if you were at Walmart the day after Thanksgiving. We were quite thankful for our balcony cabin, as it was impossible to find private space elsewhere on the ship. The dining sites were extremely crowded, particularly the buffet on Deck 15. It was very hard to find seating. The food quality was adequate, with much of the offerings being Asian in nature -- which were the best. The dinners in the main dining rooms were quite, well, boring. Wait staff were very courteous, however. I had a couple of issues which had to be attended to by the hotel directors -- Adrian and Ricardo were quite courteous and took immediate action, which I appreciated. My teenager adored the teen center -- after the shock of finding there was NO ARCADE or basketball court on the ship. He participated in the sponsored activities and had a great time. Because of the schedule change, we went to Grand Caymen, where the New Wave sail to Stingray City to swim with the huge rays was one of the best excursions what we had taken. Don't miss this opportunity. The entertainment was disappointing. Great singers and dancers, but they were performing in poor productions. As we had experienced before on Princess, Sarge the comedian was THE BEST THING ON THE SHIP. He is absolutely spectacular. All in all, the ship's crew got us through a very difficult time in a very impressive manner. I probably wouldn't sail her again, however, due to the crowded conditions everywhere, even on the stairwells. The crew was most courteous, though, and deserves commendation for their efforts during Hurricane Frances. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
This was our third Princess cruise and I would say it was the least favorite of our three cruises. The ship is very nice but I don't think they needed to add an additional deck since 3,100 people is a little excessive. The Grand and ... Read More
This was our third Princess cruise and I would say it was the least favorite of our three cruises. The ship is very nice but I don't think they needed to add an additional deck since 3,100 people is a little excessive. The Grand and Golden hold (I think) about 2,600 and they never felt crowded. Embarkation: We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and we were immediately met by a Princess representative. They transported us to the ship and the boarding process went for the most part without issue. The only issue was that they had "mis-filed" our cruise cards. Since this was our third cruise with Princess, we should have received Gold cards but do to the "mis-filing" we were given the basic card. Not a big deal for us but a short coming on Princess' part. The Cruise: The weather was fantastic the entire week which is very lucky considering the time of year. Princess Cays was very nice but it was the first place we started to the notice the amount of people. Montego Bay was the only port where we did an excursion and it was very enjoyable. We did the River Tubing and my 12 year old son had a great time. Grand Cayman and Cozumel were both very nice but all we did in these ports was shop. Since this was our third visit to the Western Caribbean (2 on Princess, 1 on Carnival), we didn't swim with the Sting Rays in Grand Cayman but it should be done if you have never done it before. The Food: The food was typical of Princess. The steak house was very good and worth the additional $15 per person. They should remodel the look of the steak house since it is rather bland in decor. We have eaten in Sabattinis in the past and it is very good but be ready to eat. The Entertainment: The singers and dancers are average. When I watched them, I kept thinking of how Simon from American Idol would tell contestants that they had a career singing in the cruise industry. The comedians were very good, especially the one that appeared on our last night. The Theatre Under the Stars is fun but needs more variety. They played Shrek 2 almost every night and if they weren't playing Shrek 2 they were playing an old concert - Tina Turner or Tom Jones. Kids Zone - This ship doesn't appear to be as kid friendly as the other two Grand class ships. My son was in the 10 to 12 group and they really didn't know what to do with them. They also removed the video arcade from this ship which I could not figure out since they made the ship bigger so why remove the arcade that the kids enjoyed. The teen zone was more like a lounge that an area where things were scheduled. It was open all the time (unlike the other two areas) which was nice but again there was anything happening. We have been on four cruises (3 Princess 1 Carnival) and in my opinion Carnivals kids programs are head and shoulders above Princess. The Room: The room was very nice but I probably would not choose that particular room again. We were on the top deck so elevators were always in short supply. Our balcony was next to a public observation area so we constantly had people looking at us. We actually had a kid jump the observation rail and land on our balcony and try to look in our windows (luckily the windows are mirrored from the outside). The room was also a bit noisy due to the machinery that must be located near us. The first morning, we were awoken by the sound of a pump that was actually vibrating the entire cabin for over an hour. I think they were trying to rectify a sewage problem they were having on the lower decks for there was a smell on decks 5, 6 and 7 that disappeared shortly after the pump incident. Debarkation: The debarkation was very smooth since we were allowed to use the Platinum member lounge due to cabin category. However we didn't really get to use the lounge for they allow passengers to leave based on their deck and we were on the top. Biggest Error: We were celebrating my son's birthday during this cruise. Princess was informed of the day and they were very good at decorating the door. We made reservations at the steakhouse since that is where he wanted to go on his birthday. They forgot to give him a cake. I spoke to the manager upon leaving the restaurant and he apologized repeatedly and stated that he was not informed via the computer. This irritated me considerably since it affected my son. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Please keep in mind this review is from the perspective of a childless honeymooning couple in their mid to late twenties who were first-time cruisers. Our room was D403, a starboard category AA mini-suite upgraded from an AC. Being from ... Read More
Please keep in mind this review is from the perspective of a childless honeymooning couple in their mid to late twenties who were first-time cruisers. Our room was D403, a starboard category AA mini-suite upgraded from an AC. Being from Florida we drove to Port Everglades and parked in the garage. As you enter the port area, have your identification handy (passport makes it easier). Security will stop you and check. Once you enter the garage, pay special attention to where the elevator is. Most people park in the two lanes which take you around and up. However, we were able to get a closer spot on the third lane because it says exit. It wasn't until later that we realized that we could have used baggage dropoff and saved ourselves from carrying so much. Big suggestion - DO NOT CHECK YOUR OVERNIGHT/BATHROOM BAG. Once you enter the building for embarkation, make sure you have your documents handy!!! We used the same clear plastic envelope that Princess had sent the documents in and we were just fine. Remember to have your credit card handy if you wish to use it for express check out, even if you entered the information online. As you enter, you will be handed a form to complete regarding gastrointestinal (stomach) illnesses. Make sure you take one for EVERY person in your party (kids may be allowed to be listed on the parents' forms, not sure). They were not really good about handing them out to everyone. Also, if you have a book and pen handy, don't stop to complete it until you get in the check-in line. You have to stand there for ten minutes anyway. We noticed that regular check-in went faster than express. Make sure every person in your party is present because they have to sign forms to receive their ship card. This card is your room key, your entrance to and from the boat, as well as how you charge purchases to your room. Next you'll pass through security like at the airport. We had no problems, but did notice other people (ironically older people?) having to get checked by the wand. You will then travel up stairs or an escalator before finally entering the boat. Once you enter the boat, it is extremely overwhelming to first timers. To line you will most likely see ahead of you and to your left is passenger services. If you have ANY desire of booking appointments for hair (particularly formal nights) or cyber golf, this is the time and place to do it. You can also check your seating arrangements. (More about this later). There will most likely be a table on your right. This is for purchasing the unlimited fountain soda sticker. You do not need to do this at the point. Just pass everyone and head to the elevators (follow the crowd here). Once you enter your room, check everything. Wait to complain about the room temperature though. Our room was hot the first evening and had cooled off to normal by nighttime. If you would like robes, request them. Need additional towels for your stay, ask. (There were only two towels in our mini-suite). You get the idea. Your checked luggage will arrive in your room later, just in time for dinner. Depending on the time you arrive, you may then wish to head up to Lido Deck 15 to try the Horizon Court buffet. For drinks, HC has unsweetened iced tea, coffee, cold and hot water and Lipton tea bags. HC does not offer sodas. This would be a good time at the poolside bar and purchase your soda sticker. Rather than purchasing the coke holder they try to sell you, I suggest bringing a large insulated cup with you or rely on their glasses. The coke holder they sell does not hold much. Note there are two sizes of glasses. If you want the larger, ask for it. Enter the HC and find a table to set your drinks as a group before going to the buffet. Seating too full?? Immediately behind HC is the Cafe Caribe. You are more then welcome to take your food here to eat. HC has different stations causing people to often move around in a traffic jam to get food. You'll quickly notice that certain stations do not change for lunch/dinner. Take the time while you are waiting on your bags to explore the ship. You'll quickly notice a lot of people already taking advantage of the pools. The stores and casino will be closed until the ship leaves port (this will always be the case due to competition with the locals). Go back to your room to relax for your first evening. You'll quickly see that TV is limited. CNN and ESPN (both are sometimes Spanish), Cartoon Network, Boomerang, a version of TNT, and several Princess channels. You might want to bring a portable DVD player which can be plugged in to the TV and some movies or a game system. We chose to eat the first evening in HC again. They offered a wonderful seafood buffet. Around 10:00 p.m. every night, you will find the daily patter (newsletter) in the "mailbox" immediately outside your stateroom. This is your list of activities for the next day. Horse racing (you have to see it to believe it), bingo, competitions, art auctions, etc. During our days at sea, we enjoyed Joker's on Plaza Deck 5. There is a cabinet with cards, Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary, Yahtzee, Scattegories, Sorry, backgammon, chess, and checkers. We chose to limit shopping on ship. Be careful of gold and silver by the inch. Most people don't ask and it's plated over a jeweler's metal. We also enjoyed the Casino in moderation. Loved the Lobby Bar on deck 5...the only one to serve coffee drinks (you can also order these in the dining rooms). If you don't go to the movie theater often like us, you'll enjoy watching a lot of movies. Some of the movies shown on the TV network were "Under the Tuscan Sun," "Cheaper by the Dozen," and "The Last Samurai." We watched "Miracle" in the Explorers lounge one day. "Calendar Girls" and "Starsky and Hutch" were offered at night during "Movies Under the Stars." Also offered on the big screen at night was one of Cher's last concerts. Regarding food, we were not impressed with the pizza (we had limp crusts both times) or the burgers (small). The buffet food quickly began to taste last cafeteria food when you eat all three meals there, so I would suggest taking a break for an occasional dinner in one of the dining rooms. We generally ate around 7 in the evening and had no problem getting an table immediately if we were willing to sit with 2 or 3 other couples. The Love Boat desert is out of this world, but very rich. My husband is a big eater so he found one of the meals too small, but we had no other complaints with the dining room. We visited St. Thomas and St. Martin. We felt the nastiest area of our town was better than these two islands. I would not feel comfortable releasing my teenagers or single women alone here. We chose not to do shore excursions and follow the suggestions given during a shopping talk on the ship. I also was not impressed with deals on jewelry. There were wonderful deals on linen if you were interested. We liked the liquor prices in St. Martin better than St. Thomas ($6.99 for a liter of Appleton Rum), but your customs allowances are not as liberal. Be sure to try the local flavored rum in St. Martin. We left the islands early (no later than twelve) and enjoyed the nearly empty pools. The pool in the aft of the ship on deck 14 was the nicest because it was in the shade and it does not allow children. If you enjoy the beach, Princess Cays will be your favorite port. As you leave the tender (the boats which transport you to the island), go to the left. If you go far out, you will find a remote area for snorkeling with hammocks and waiter service. Your coke sticker for fountain drinks is not valid here. Sodas will be served in a can for $1.50. One of the stores on the ship had a good selection of candy and salty food (only chips were Pringles), but the prices were steep with a two-cup pack of Reese's costing $1.25. If you forget medicine, they also offered nearly every medicine you could imagine EXCEPT Pepto Bismol, Mylanta, Maalox, etc. They did offer Dramamine and ginger for motion sickness. Crossword puzzle books and some paperbacks were also sold. The library (deck 5 I think?) offered a good selection of books you could borrow for the duration of the cruise. The internet was painfully slow at $.35 a minute. We did not get a chance to enjoy Sabatini's or the Sterling Steakhouse...honestly didn't feel the need to. Had no complaints with how the bartenders made drinks. Was surprised that nearly none of the employees were American (British, Italian, and Spanish-speaking nationalities predominated). Other travelers who had enjoyed past cruises said they were surprised by the amount of motion you could feel. The night we traveled from St. Thomas to St. Martin was particularly rough. We enjoyed one of the comedians, but not partake of most of the other entertainment. I tried to give a thorough explanation of what we experienced on board for other travelers. I'm sure my experiences would have been different in I had traveled in a larger group. However, my new husband and I are just too active to stay couped up on a ship for a seven-day cruise. That's not to say that we didn't enjoy our vacation, but it's not something that we would rush to do again (well...maybe Europe, but that's another story). If you would like me to answer any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at tyffin@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
This review is from a first-timer on Princess. I notice that others on this same cruise really smoked the service, food, etc., so I won't get into that too much. Suffice it to say that my ratings of each category that received a low ... Read More
This review is from a first-timer on Princess. I notice that others on this same cruise really smoked the service, food, etc., so I won't get into that too much. Suffice it to say that my ratings of each category that received a low rating by others are my own and I won't elaborate to justify said rating. Enough said on that. So here's some random musings on this cruise: Lido deck is the topmost cabin deck, with great convenience to topside facilities ... we slept with the balcony door open each night, very relaxing ... jogging deck is directly above most of the balconies on Lido, so you may hear some pounding ... nothing extraordinary, probably just some kids running by ... cabin stewart Merdaro was outstanding! ... I would take another cruise anywhere if he were guaranteed to be our steward ... balcony came with two plastic upright chairs and table set ... I explained I was recovering from back surgery, and he fixed us up with one full chaise lounge and one recliner chair ... balconies on Lido are too small for 2 chaises ... bottom balcony deck (Dolphin) is completely exposed to topside, with next deck up (Caribe) about 2/3s exposed to topside ... not only no privacy, but bigtime sun exposure ... Sabatini's had excellent food and service, but meal was semi-rushed, in and out in about 95 minutes ... it seems like wait staff served all tables in their area at same pace, somewhat fast ... meal will stuff you, though ... no trouble in getting table for two at 6:00 ... Brought WAY too many clothes, power suit for formal night, wore twice with dressy T-shirt for the second night ... best advice for guys is to bring one formal outfit, a pair of khakis, and a couple of aloha shirts ... you'll live in your shorts, T-shirts, and flip flops ... wife also brought way too many clothes ... we never wore 80% of the clothing we brought ... the lines for pictures during formal nights get really crowded past 6:30 or so ... we arrived for pictures before eating at 6:00 and only had to wait maybe 5 minutes ... after finishing dinner the lines snaked around the block ... everyone and their brother tries to pick up their pictures on the last night at sea, so be ready for that ... agree with other cruiser's assessment of indifferent bar staff service, especially if you flash a soda sticker (no 15% added to that) ... disagree with other assessment of pizza, it's the best outside of New York City and I told the baker just that :)) ... James "The Kid" Martin was funny as hell, I'd pay to see a concert with him as headliner ... one bedside lamp in cabin has a dimmer ... we brought a 25 watt red light bulb and used it ... as Don Ho used to sing, "tou jour l'amoure, tonight for sure" ... try it, you'll like it! ... In St Thomas we chartered a sailboat with a family of four from another ship, and enjoyed that immensely ... went snorkeling, all food and drink included ... the Alaunt is skippered by Ron and Carol, and sails from Red Hook, an 8 buck cab ride from the cruise terminal ... google for their website ... highly recommend this trip in lieu of Princess offerings ... did take Pricess-offerred 12 meter America's Cup racing in St Maarten, and found that to be an absolute blast ... if you've followed the America's Cup like I have you won't be disappointed ... stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Dania Beach the night before and the night after the cruise ... great military/government rate ... laundry facilities at the hotel, shuttle to the cruise terminal, but not back ... 15-16 bucks for a cab ... also runs shuttle to/from Ft Lauderdale airport ... irons and 50 cent washers and dryers aboard the ship are very handy ... hope this helps, email me if you want more detail. Regards to all, Pongdog. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
This was my second cruise, the first for my boyfriend. We are both in our mid -twenties, I was told by the travel agent that this cruise was for an "older crowd" but I wanted a calm cruise and not a wild one. We left from Fort ... Read More
This was my second cruise, the first for my boyfriend. We are both in our mid -twenties, I was told by the travel agent that this cruise was for an "older crowd" but I wanted a calm cruise and not a wild one. We left from Fort Lauderdale, and we both flew in from New York. We left JFK at 7am and got to the port at approx. 11am. Take a taxi they are there outside Ft. Lauderdale airport. Ten bucks each way, you save $$ by not taking the Princess bus. We were amazed at the size of the GRAND PRINCESS. We waited outside for an hour and they we brought into this room where we checked in. The check in process was extremely quick, we then got our picture taken (one of many) and we went to our room. We got an inside stateroom, a big enough room for two people. Nice refrigerator, TV, small bathroom. To put it this way it was a good deal considering we paid only $499 each for it. Next time I will spend the extra money for a balcony but this room was fine enough for the thrifty traveler. Everyday our cabin attendant would come by and fix up our room nicely. We barely ever saw him, and if we did see him he would give us a quiet "hello." We walked around the ship, impressed by its size and cleanliness it was average looking. The artwork they have around the ship is excellent to view; I thought this to me was one of the highlights of the decoration of the ship. There is a reasonable sized workout room, kids area, 3 -4 pools, there had to be about 6 bubbling whirlpools. The theater was nice along with lots of other "hidden places" like different types of themed bars. Dining We did the anytime dining which is the best way to go now. There are two places to dine, Boticelli or da Vinci. Both of these restaurants have the same meals. I would say the food was average, but good. The desserts were delicious. They have lots of different themed nights for food, like French, Italian, Seafood. If you did not like this type of food you could have grilled chicken, steak, there was even vegetarian meals. We did not like the French night (yuck frogs legs) so we went to the Painted Desert, which is a restaurant onboard where you pay $8 cover and you get a complimentary margarita. All I can say is delicious, the guacamole, the chicken fajitas, Pico de Gallo. We liked it so much we ate there twice. Another alternative to dining is the Sabatinis, which is all Italian food. There is a $20 cover, I heard from other people onboard that this was just no worth it. This one man I spoke to said they were trying to stuff him with o'durves when all he wanted was just the main course. We never ate there; we just did not feel it was worth the money since there were so many other options. The buffet is less then average, I would recommend it only for desserts and fruits. Teatime in the afternoon is great; scones and cream are my two favorite words now. Overall the service is excellent in the dining rooms, you are literally treated with "white glove" service. Lets not forget the two formal nights were I felt like I was going to my prom all over again. Its great, the Capt. comes out, there is champagne and cheering. Another night there was a big party and a huge champagne pyramid was made. . Lots of fun. Also get room service, they charge you 15% tip, so you don't' need to tip the staff when they come, we did not know about this. We would order like late at night around 1am. Entertainment Broadway shows is not my thing, we sat in one night watching this one production. It was very cheesy and seemed amateurish we walked out after 5 min. We watched the hypnotist one night; I actually went on stage to be hypnotized. There were about ten of us on stage, I felt I was hypnotized for 2 min. when I couldn't open my eyes. After that incident I was not hypnotized, I felt this guy next to me fall asleep. IF they were really hypnotized I don't know, all I know is that I was going along with it, I thought it was funny. The comedians are excellent also some of the live music. On Board Activates - not many activities, some of them were " learn how to make a bow" or play bridge. That's not really my thing; I remember celebrity ships had so many more activities. My favorite activity was the art auction. I like watching everyone bid on art and such. I think its a big rip off honestly unless you know what you are buying. I ended up winning two art prints valued at $800 but the opening bid was at $100. All I know is that I paid $20 for shipping and nothing else. The raffles will get you hooked along with the free champagne. The horse racing is allotted of fun, I did not bid any money in the casino or play $30 bingo. Overall I think the on board actives could have been a little better. Excursions There is a great program to watch about buying products on the islands, go to that information session. Princess Cays - a great place to hang out on the beach, very private, great food buffet. Bring your own snorkel equipment. Cayman Islands- We booked through Soto Cruises for a shore excursion to Sting Ray city. Do this excursion, it was allot of fun, and we did two snorkeling stops and one stop at stingray city. Soto cruises was 1/2 hour late, we were getting worried that we missed the bus, but the excursion had made up for their tardiness. We each paid $24 for this excursion; I think princess wanted like $46. The Cayman Islands was a big tourist trap, we walked around tried some rum cake, took some pictures then tendered back to our ship. Costa Maya- Another tourist trap in a different way. The cruise lines, its sort of a resort area, own this area. You kind of get this feeling that this is Costa Maya, a cute little place. That's not the fact! When we got off the ship we were hoarded with photographers taking our photographs and trying to sell them to us. We declined, I then went over to the crafts are where there are independent sellers that sell stuff like repro. Mayan masks, "silver" bracelets, hammocks. They are very pushy; never take the price they offer you. Always go down 50-75% and if you don't like their price walk out and they will more than likely go down. One time I had turned my head and they were putting bracelets on my wrists. My wrist started to itch, and I asked them what type of silver it was. They went "Mayan silver" whatever that meant. It probably was some other type of metal since I had an allergic reaction to it. Other times they were trying to use other selling points, like this necklace is a repro that a Mayan princess would wear, or this is a calendar of the Aztecs. Overall I only bought one item from this area, a painting on tree bark. We then went off to Chaccoben, we saw the area outside this glorified "Costa Maya" most people were living in shacks on farms. It was interesting to see this. The Mayan temples on this excursion were excellent. I recommend it; we had a great time seeing 3 temples in this forest. We learned about the Mayan culture, different trees, and agriculture. We had an excellent tour guide his name is Carlos. At the end I bought this Mayan scroll with my name created in the Mayan glyphs. Inside the scroll there was a whole explanation about the Mayan Calendar. . For $25. For $69 a person we booked this through princess just in case anything would happen, like missing our boat. It's a good thing we did because our ride came back at 7:30pm and the cruise was waiting for our group. Cozumel This is the only place I disliked the most. Tourist trap. Tourist trap! Be careful not to get ripped off with the silver. Buy from reputable places. I bought a pendant from an unreputable for $10 they originally wanted $25. Which meant I probably could have gotten in for $5. I bough a nice silver chain at Los Cinco Soles, a large store for $7. Make sure they weigh it, if a store doesn't weigh their silver, I bet its not even made of silver. I bought some Mexican spices and vanilla at Los Cinco Soles. This was a reputable store by the cruise line. Next-door is Panchos back yard. Good food, bad service. Some other couples sitting around us were also looking actively for our waiter. You must try guacamole from there before leaving; their burritos are also very good. We were trying to figure if we wanted to venture more into town, however we weren't really there to buy diamonds or anything so we sat on the hammocks that were provided for a while. We didn't do the trip to Tulum because it was about 2.5 hours of travel; I was just so tired at this point that the hammocks on the beach were nicer. One of the more annoying things was the fact that there were other cruise ships there; you could defiantly tell the difference in people from each cruise ship. Carnival pulled up next to our ship, all you hear is screaming and yelling. We saw this idiot teenager try to climb over to her friend's stateroom through the balcony. I was glad I was not on the Carnival conquest. We saw these quality men moon us! I mean come on not very mature. We ventured back to the ship, oh I forgot this, before you go back to the ship you are forced to go through this 1/2-mile long duty free mall. I just think all this was depressing. I will skip Cozumel next time. The rest of the cruise was nice, we went to another art auction, got our exercise by walking around the ship three times to do a mile. ON the day before we left we went on a galley tour of the kitchen. Before that we saw an interesting cooking demo on eggplant and tiramisu. After that we went to the galley. Now you probably thought we saw the ships kitchen in action right? Nope, it was just a ploy for us to buy their cooking book, and they had made some cookies for us in the kitchen. .. a total joke. After you eat some cookies, you can buy the book, and then get your picture taken with the chef, for another $20. I just thought this was wrong. After the galley tour we conveniently were put into a room where everything were products were on sale such as t-shirts and fanny packs. Cheesy! Tipping - We had our tips taken off when we went on board, so we tipped according. We couldn't find our cabin steward the rest of the time. I didn't understand this because on Celebrity we knew them by name. We did tip the dining room staff, and just charged what we tipped for a cabin steward on our credit card. Embarkation - Excellent, quick, efficient, we were off at 10 am. So fast, we must have been waiting for 1/2 hour. Word to the wise; book your airline at noon. We had to wait around the airport until 2pm. Overall I had a fun time, I feel that the Western Caribbean is an area you can only visit once. The GRAND Princess to me is an average ship to me; I do feel Celebrity is a step up. I feel that Princess is a step above, Norwegian and Carnival. I would cruise again with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
This was our 9th cruise but our first Princess cruise. Frankly, although we had a good time and a relaxing vacation, we were NOT impressed with Princess. To us, they do not hold a candle to Royal Caribbean. This was especially evident with ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise but our first Princess cruise. Frankly, although we had a good time and a relaxing vacation, we were NOT impressed with Princess. To us, they do not hold a candle to Royal Caribbean. This was especially evident with the crew, the cruise staff, etc. Most of the crew speak only when spoken to, and we missed the outgoing friendliness of RCCL crews. The Cruise Director, Graham, was extremely poor! He is so full of himself; HE thinks he is wonderful, we did not. Announcements were lacking in detail or just plain lacking period. Princess does not seem to offer verbal invitations to events, so unless you read the Princess Patter faithfully and every hour, you won't know what is going on. Probably what we liked least about this whole cruise was just the shear size of it. We have never been on a ship quite this big, and I doubt we will ever again. Just plain too many people, too many bodies lined up on the sun/pool deck. Too many lines for everything. Cattle herd mentality. The ship itself is BIG, beautiful enough, but too chopped up. We did thoroughly enjoy our cabin! We had a mini suite cabin on the port side and this was very impressive. Plenty of room in the cabin for all our needs. Nice sitting area. Two TVs. Big enough bathroom with tub/shower combo. Just having the balcony was wonderful. And our being on the port side of the ship offered us nice views in every port, so much that we felt badly for the poor souls on the starboard side. Our room steward James was wonderful, even calling us by name in the hallway BEFORE we ever first entered our cabin. Food aboard the Golden Princess is mediocre at best. The hotdogs and pizza at poolside were the best thing about any of the food. The Desert Rose was decent and Sabatini's was nice, but way too much food there, so you come out feeling like a stuffed whale. But other than that, the food in the regular dining rooms was rarely very good and sometimes down right inedible. Again, it just does not compare with food we have had on prior cruises, both RCCL and NCL and also Windjammers. We did the America's Cup sailing regatta in St. Maarten and highly recommend that! Lots of fun there and some nice views of the bay and the ship. Also did the Atlantis Submarine in St. Thomas and that was excellent also. We have been to both those ports before, so we did excursions we had not previously done and then spent the rest of the day shopping as we were familiar with the islands. We did not spend much time with any of the entertainment in the lounges. We did see David Deeble, the comedian juggler act and he was just hilarious! Other than that, we just could not bring ourselves to go to the lounges or theaters with all the other hoards of people. The "bar hop" card that they present you with on the first day was fun. You manage to find your way to each of the 14 bars located all over the ship and get your card stamped at each, then when the card is filled you can get a free hat or t-shirt. It's a fun way to explore the ship and try all the bars/lounges. Some other misc thoughts: The covered pool in the Conservatory was nice. Very pretty at night. The ship was clean enough. They did a nice job of keeping up with that. Little anti-bacterial/alcohol gel things to clean your hands at the entry to each dining area. Nice! Embarkation was a real cattle herd process. The so-called "express" line for Dolphin deck was slower than any other line. Debarkation was poorly done. We had to be out of the cabin by 8:30am and waited in the public areas, then off the ship before 10:00am. HOWEVER, once we found our luggage and exited to the waiting area for our bus transfer to the airport, we had to stand and wait almost TWO HOURS for a bus. This was terrible! We were told by a Princess rep that it was because "at least six ships are in port today". Big deal! You think they didn't KNOW that in advance? That is not an acceptable reason to not have enough buses. We were among the last people to leave for the airport. Despite the negative flavor of this review, we did have a good time. There really is no such thing as a bad cruise or a bad vacation. But suffice it to say we want no part of cruising any ship this big again, and Princess did not impress us at all. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess from 4-24-04 to 5-1-04. First let me say that our overall rating would be that this was a good trip. But, that being said, there were a lot of problems. First, there were three in our party (ages 45, ... Read More
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess from 4-24-04 to 5-1-04. First let me say that our overall rating would be that this was a good trip. But, that being said, there were a lot of problems. First, there were three in our party (ages 45, 44 and 15), sharing a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck. When we arrived at about 11:30, there was a very very long line outside, as they were not open yet. Once they opened the doors, we were through check-in in a flash...the whole process took about 20 minutes (if that long) from the time they opened the doors until the time we got on the ship! Absolutely no complaints there! However, two of our three cards did not work to let us on. They told us not to worry and to go to the Passenger desk when we got on and they would straighten everything out. So we went straight there and the gentleman trying to help us said he could not get access to the computer right now and asked if we could come back later...again, no problem for us. Since we had two sea days to start we were in no rush...the cards worked in the door and to order drinks, so we were all set! On Monday (2nd sea day) we went back to the passenger desk and had a very rude individual (actually, now that I am thinking about it I wish I had gotten his name). He stated there was nothing they could do at that desk and that we would need to take care of it when leaving the ship for St Thomas on Tuesday. We tried to explain that everyone so far had told us we needed to come to them, but he was not interested at all. On Tuesday morning we tried to leave the ship and again our cards came up "invalid". The people tending the machines (I believe they were St Thomas security folks) told us that we would need to get the cards fixed before leaving the ship (bear in mind that we were trying to get out early to beat the cruise excursion folks to Trunk Bay). So we explained to them everything that had happened. They were confused, but they wrote our names and card numbers down and allowed us to leave. When we returned they still tried our cards but still no luck, so they manually logged us back in. Then we cleaned up and left again to shop in town and had the same problem...only this time they were somewhat used to it and it only took a few moments of explaining. On Tuesday night I went back to the Passenger desk and this time I was a bit rude myself...asking if this was something I was going to have to deal with the entire trip. I said "if so, then I will talk to the Captain about it at dinner tomorrow night" (we had gotten a Captain's Circle invite). The gentleman I was dealing with was very helpful, and probably would have been even if I had not shown how perturbed I was. Bottom line, in about 5 minutes he fixed the problem and we had no trouble in St. Maarten or Princess Cays! The ship: this ship was very much like the Grand class in a lot of ways (pools and Princess Theatre), but the aft theatre, officially called Club Fusion, was called Club "con"Fusion by most. Whomever designed this lounge should be shot...what a waste! If you did not get a front seat you had to watch everything on a tv monitor...and there were plenty of them around the room. BUT, if you were going to watch the entertainment on tv, then why not stay in your room and watch it! Believe me, EVERYONE was complaining. The pools were filthy! Two of our party (including me) spent a lot of time in the pools on sea days and when we would get out our feet and knees were blue...I assume it was paint coming off the floor and sides of the pool. And we both wore goggles to protect our contacts, so we saw all the filth on the bottom of the pools...for a couple of days it appeared that there was a broken up baby diaper in one corner (not sure if it was that or just soggy paper). Our daughter and a young friend she met on board thought it was funny and while swimming in the back pool actually wrote on the walls...using their fingers in the dirt on the sides, much like steaming a window and writing in the steam. They said it was like a white powder they were writing in...no idea what it was. There was no discipline on the ship. Even though there were some areas where cigarette and cigar smoking were not allowed, people smoked what and where they wanted, which was a bother. We left one show because the smoke bothered us. The Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe dress code required some type of coverup over bathing suits, but no one paid attention and wore only their bathing usits in to eat. Many of the wait staff were very lazy it seemed. One night we asked if the woman had a wet towel so that WE could wipe off the table, but she acted like she had no clue what we were saying...and the table never got wiped off. And it would take 3 or 4 requests to get a drink of ice water (even when ordered with a mixed drink!). Our room steward, Larry, was no where near as good as last year's steward, Nester! Our first night he turned down the bed and opened up the sleeper sofa, but left only two chocolates (both on the big bed), so I asked him the next day to make sure he always left 3...which he did the rest of the nights. I know that is not a big deal, but it was to us. Our first night we had two bath towels and two pool towels in the room, so I had to ask Larry to bring more of those too. From then on he kept us up on towels. Large screen tv. Although we did not partake in either of the movies (they showed Something's Gotta Give twice each night on Saturday and Sunday night and Intolerable Cruelty twice on Monday and Wednesday night), we did participate in the Wizard of Oz showing on Tuesday night, which was nice. The movies were both movies we had seen before so we did not try to see them again. They closed down the one pool at 5:30 each day so they could set up the movie area, and it did not reopen until after the movies or the next morning. Our cruise director and deputy cruise director was Paul and James, and they were okay. But there was a Senior Assistant Cruise Director named Donna that was absolutely OUTSTANDING! All three of us just loved the job she was doing. She did not just do the job, she acted liked she really enjoyed what she was doing. And she was very compassionate with the older folks. None of us could say enough good things about her! The food: was okay. Lobster night (the 2nd formal night) was excellent, and Sabatini's was excellent, but the rest of the food was disappointing. We did not care for the menu on several nights and opted to eat at the Horizon Court instead...with one problem...the Horizon Court closed everyday around 5:30. So if you wanted the buffet you had to go to the smaller Cafe Caribe, and there were a couple of nights that we did not like what they were offering either and we ended up eating hot dogs, hamburgers and/or pizza, which were good but not what we really wanted. The entertainment: was okay. We saw James (the kid) Michaels whom we loved last year. And he was good again this year, but it was the same stuff basically. Another comedian they had was Don Driesdan (I think that was his name) and he was lousy...maybe because he performed in the Club 'con'Fusion (which he complained about being lousy too). We loved the horse racing and we played bingo the last night (hoping to win the big jackpot! We didn't win, but had a great time trying!). Teen area: in our teenager's words, it was "cheesy". The stuff they had to do was not anything she wanted to do. She is an active girl (involved heavily in dance and cheerleading) and all they had was things like Monopoly tournaments and such, which she was not interested in at all. So she never did participate. She did participate in some arts and crafts things held around the ship for anyone and enjoyed that. Many of her cohorts were elderly ladies whom she referred to lovingly as her "beading buddies" (because they made bead bracelets and such). The Itinerary: was excellent. I liked St. Thomas and St. Maarten much better than Grand Cayman and Cozumel last year. But that was our personal feeling. Others may like the Western Caribbean better. We went to Trunk Bay at St. Johns (while at St. Thomas) on our own and loved the snorkeling. Then we went to Dawn Beach on our own at St. Maarten, but the water was too rough to snorkel (25 knot winds that day). But the shopping was so relaxed...unlike the Mexico stops last year. I think that is about it. This was definitely not a trip that would swear us off cruising, but our expectations were quite high for this brand new ship and we decided the Grand was much better last year. Good luck if you find yourself on this big ship!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
As my husband and I had sailed with Princess previously, we were excited about the new Caribbean Princess, and we were on the first sailing of this new ship to the Eastern Caribbean. This ship is so similar in layout to the Grand ... Read More
As my husband and I had sailed with Princess previously, we were excited about the new Caribbean Princess, and we were on the first sailing of this new ship to the Eastern Caribbean. This ship is so similar in layout to the Grand Princess - made it easy to find our way around. Big disappointment: the entertainment, or lack thereof. I was so bored with the main shows that I left early! The musical reviews were actually childish and poorly presented; Bert Stratton in the Martini Lounge was very entertaining, but his presentation was the same every night and by the end of the cruise I knew exactly what was coming next. The American Idol experience was actually glorified karaoke; if you didn't sing, you couldn't be in the show. There were some talented people onboard, so at least the final show wasn't a waste. The "Vista Lounge" is a joke....where's the Vista? Can't see around the huge supports! Loved the mini-suite! Princess has great cabins... Food was typical cruise food, plentiful. Sabatini's was wonderful as usual. Nice mix of passengers, and much better behavior than our last Royal Caribbean experience! Had a really bad experience at the Lotus Spa; I wrote to Princess Cruises and they are investigating. I have visited spas on many other ships; without going into detail, I can affirm that I will never recommend the Lotus Spa. There have been many changes in cruising in the past 10 years as cruising moves more and more into the mainstream. These changes offer such nice options as balconies, speciality restaurants, defined children's areas. But with some of the changes, there has been a loss of personality and graciousness. One ship becomes just like another, and it is kind of sad. Oh well....so much for a nice string quartet, flaming coffees at dinner, 800 passengers instead of 3600. I would definitely sail with Princess again, but might hesitate booking the Caribbean Princess until the entertainment is upgraded. Otherwise, it is like any other ship in the mainstream category! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
First of all, We had the pleasure of meeting 3 other couples from a posting on a message board that cruised with us on the Grand Princess. I strongly advise using message boards using their "Who's Cruising With Us" option. ... Read More
First of all, We had the pleasure of meeting 3 other couples from a posting on a message board that cruised with us on the Grand Princess. I strongly advise using message boards using their "Who's Cruising With Us" option. This allows you to post messages and receive replies with others who are on the same cruise as you are. The cruise would not have been the same without meeting our new found friends. It's a long review, But, If your going on the Grand Princess, You may find the info useful... DAY 1 - Embarkation It's true...Princess HAS perfected embarkation procedures. They board you by deck assignment, NOT by the usual "1st come..1st serve" basis. We were on board, From terminal to stateroom in 10 minutes (not a misprint!) On past cruises, we waited 30-60 minutes to board. I suggest doing the pre-boarding at the princess website. This really expedited boarding. What a pleasure. Excellent planning Princess!! DAY 2 - Princess Cays We dropped anchor and used the ships tenders to get to the island. WARNING.....If you are prone to sea sickness, Prepare yourself...this was a VERY rough ride to the beach. All in All...A VERY beautiful beach. They use their own ships tenders and not the contracted boats from the island. The island tenders handle the waters MUCH better. DAY 3 - Sea Day/1st Formal Night I love the days at sea. On other ships I have been on, They use the ships main theatre for the Captain's reception. On the "Grand", they used the Atrium and had picture taking right in the area of the lifts (elevators) and it was difficult getting off the lifts due to the crowd. DAY 4 - Grand Cayman I can only compare this wonderful island to Bermuda. We did the "Sea & see" tour (Turtle Farm) and the bus driver (Ivan) was funny and VERY friendly as was everyone we came in contact with on the island. DAY 5 - Majahual(Costa Maya) Not bad, But not impressed. We did the Uvero Beach Break" tour here. It was very unorganized. We had a 12:45 time for the tour but found you could go whenever you wanted.They have an open bar and sell food. Stay away from the burgers...Don't know what kind of meat it was but it sure wasn't cow!! The buses returning to the ship later in the day ran every hour so plan accordingly. If one bus fills up, You have to stand in the sun for an hour for the next transfer to the ship. This was bad planning on the tours part...They should of had the buses running every 15 to 30 minutes. DAY 6 - Cozumel This is one of my favorite Islands. We rented a Jeep at the terminal with one of the other couples we met on a message board and had a real BLAST!! Here we did the sun beach break. This was the best of all the beaches. Very clean & very organized. They have an Open Bar as part of the tour and have a $10 buffet that was worth the price. You MUST go to Senior Frogs in the middle of town. We stayed there for a few hours and had a really good time. Day 7 - At Sea/2nd Formal Night The last day of a cruise is ALWAYS a somber one. The nights dinner included the "Baked Alaska On Parade" dessert. Day 8 - Disembarkation Nicely done. They began calling groups at 8:20am and we were off the ship by 9:20am. I always hated sitting around waiting to get off on the other ships I have sailed on. Princess Cruises has this down to a science. PRO's : The Ship was VERY beautiful. The itinerary was very good. The ship handled rough waters VERY well. Sabitini's restaurant was excellent, just be prepared to eat for 2 hrs there. It was worth the $20 per person. You weren't inundated with PA announcements. There was always deck hands maintaining the ship. Our room steward (Bricchio) and our dining staff (Monika & Alex) were top notch. The slot machines were very loose and paid out alot. Also not what I had read in other reviews that stated that Princess doesn't pay out. CON's: The other staff on the ship were VERY unpersonable. They were more patronizing then friendly. I didn't expect this on a Princess cruise that boasts "Were You Belong" as their trademark. The shows summed up in 1 word....SUCKED!!! The theatre was TOO small and it was more like a High Schools show. We only went to 1 show and my wife fell asleep.I went to Snookers Lounge and had a cigar during the show. Much more pleasant than the show. We heard from others that the other shows were no better. Don't waste your time going to the shows. I'm sure you can find something else to do. The Food was good...But the Menu was VERY out of the norm of my previous cruises. I like the "Towel Animals" on our bed at night, This ship didn't do this. They just turned down the bed and put a chocolate on the pillow. Posting of restrooms on the ship were poor at best. By the time you found a restroom...your eyeballs were floating. Finding the restrooms on this ship is almost as important as the Muster drill!!! I had ordered some stateroom amenities (tray of canapes & tray of Shrimp cocktail) for embarkation day,,,it wasn't there. The baggage handlers at Ft.Lauderdale are thieves. Our friend had a Laptop with a DVD player and 12 movies stolen before it even got onboard.Pay close attention to what you check on and what you carry on. ALWAYS carry on anything of value. All in All, I have not ever had a "BAD" cruise. I just feel that Princess did not live up to my expectations. Next time I think I'll go back to NCL. I haven't given up on Princess, they have alot to offer, they just need to do some fine tuning. As for the people that have posted reviews saying that the ship is becoming run-down, Let me put it to you this way....The ship sailed on her maiden voyage in 1998. Since then, there have been on average 2600 passengers per WEEK. People can be slobs and don't respect the beauty of a vessel such as the "Grand". There was always some type of cleaning or painting going on on the ship and taking into consideration what I stated above, She is a VERY beautiful vessel. We asked the staff and she is due for overhaul later this year when she relocates to do her Baltic sailings. Would I recommend this ship, YES to 1st time cruisers...NO to Veteran cruisers who have a habit of being too judgmental while comparing it to other ships. To the veterans, Wait till she is refurbished. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Prior to the cruise We found it very helpful to work through an experienced cruise travel agent, in this case Nory Kominsky of Travel Duet in Chicago. She had taken the Grand Princess and knew it inside and out. When we had questions ... Read More
Prior to the cruise We found it very helpful to work through an experienced cruise travel agent, in this case Nory Kominsky of Travel Duet in Chicago. She had taken the Grand Princess and knew it inside and out. When we had questions prior to travel, she took care of them with ease. Booking excursions on line was easy, especially since we knew that we could overbook and later cancel on board. Embarkation In our group of seven, two of us in our early 50's and our five adult children and spouses, four had passports and three had birth certificates. We all breezed through embarkation formalities. (We never showed them again in any port until home in Fort Lauderdale.) We decided to check in at noon. Despite the fact that more than 2600 people would check in that day, the crowd was small and we were on the ship within fifteen minutes. The pre-registration option might have saved us a minute or two but that's all. Getting there early meant that we enjoyed an extra day on the ship. Spending that first afternoon locating the pools, the bars and all the other amenities was very helpful. Food The rap on cruises is that the food is plentiful but not exceptional. That applies here in most cases. Some of the dishes at Sabbatini's, the Italian restaurant with the $20 cover charge, were excellent. We were not wowed by the Painted Desert, the southwestern restaurant charging an $8 cover. The mass produced food in the Michelangelo and Da Vinci dining rooms was spotty. Soups were good. Beef dishes were generally fine. Fish was invariably overcooked. The Horizon Court buffet was, well, a buffet and it rose little above cafeteria expectations. Free room service is a nice perquisite which we fell back on once in a while. Our young folks used it frequently for late night snacks. The pizza and hamburger/hot dog stands provided a nice change of pace. We preferred Da Vinci to the Horizon Court for breakfast. Made-to-order eggs and pancakes have it all over their buffet line counterparts. We enjoyed the flexibility of Princess's Personal Choice dining. We chose our restaurant and dinner hour to match our plans for the day. Excursions These were a real mixed bag. The three-hour snorkel trip from Costa Maya was poor—-more time on the bus and the boat than in the water. Once in the water, there was some very nice coral but few fish. The boat was not especially comfortable for the 48 people on board. On the other hand, our 4.5-hour snorkel adventure from Cozumel to Palancar and Columbia reefs was a treat. The fish were plentiful and colorful. We saw turtles and barracuda. The catamaran was spacious and the bar was open (once the diving was over). Our youthful contingent enjoyed the four-hour ruins trip from Costa Maya. Nevertheless, they reported that the cave exploration and beach trip from Cozumel was a disaster—-bad guides, dirty lunch place and a fee for snorkel gear ($10) on top of the $89 for the excursion. Avoid this one. Because we knew Grand Cayman, we had arranged in advance for a captain to meet us at the dock. Captain Dexter of Fanta-Sea tours is entertaining. His boat handles 18 comfortably. We recommend him highly. By the way, in some ports, you'll tender in on a small (150 person) craft. We had to do that in Grand Cayman. We lined up plenty early for the first tender of the morning, in order to beat the crowds to Stingray City. We ended up on the fourth boat because Princess gives first priority to those who booked through them. They don't reveal this to other passengers and we were lucky that Dexter, who urged us to be on the first tender, knew about this ship policy and waited for us. Avoid the tours that take you to the community of Hell. There's nothing there to see except the sign. We saw signs that indicate that it's easy to arrange a snorkel trip on the ground in Cozumel or Costa Maya. Or check the Internet. Invariably, you can book something at less than what the boat charges and not be bound by the rules that forced us to wear life jackets and stay within a few feet of our snorkel guide. Princess Cays is a resort beach built by Princess Lines in Eleuthera. It is very pleasant with decent snorkeling at the far left end as you face the beach from the ship. The problem with any of these excursions, and it's the problem with cruises in general, is that you don't see the country or meet the people. But you do find yourself exposed to a lot of jewelry stores. Rooms The accommodations on the Grand Princess are very good. We had suite D-732, which was on the aft port side. Because it was the farthest back, we had an oversized balcony, which was terrific for entertaining. Our steward was attentive, to say the least. All of the rooms our group had were somewhat small by Hilton standards but plenty spacious for our needs. Hint: take a water bottle and fill it and chill it each evening rather than buying water each day. Space We went during spring break week, which meant a full ship. We were concerned about crowding on board but that worry disappeared. The only bottleneck was the foyer in front of the photo shop because people stopped to find the shots of them. Once you learned the ship, you could access other routes. We had read that there would not be enough lounge chairs around the pools, especially on days at sea. They were busy but we found lounge chairs always available at or near the four pools. Waits at the restaurants were not lengthy. Entertainment As with the food, the entertainment ranged from earnest to excellent. The singers in the production shows featuring Broadway and Rock and Roll were quite talented. The dance troupe performed with energy if not Fosse-like precision. Top praise goes to lounge singer Charlie Sleeth who performed most nights in the Promenade Bar. His repertoire of contemporary standards is encyclopedic and his piano and voice are top-notch. Shopping On-board prices are not outrageous but there was little there that we needed or wanted. On the last day at sea, they held an inventory clearance sale that filled one of the large restaurants. There were some good prices. Casino It's a pleasant place to hand over money. Unlike land-based casinos, drinks did not seem to be free. Staff The ship's staff of 1100 was always polite and helpful. Our cabin steward seemed to make up our suite any time we walked out. Waiters were never out of reach. Talking with employees from Romania, Thailand, Philippines, Poland and numerous other countries was educational. Disembarkation If you have made your own travel arrangements and have flights between 11:00 a.m and noon, you must alert the purser before Saturday. To be in the first group off the ship, we had to show our plane ticket receipts by Friday. On Sunday, our number was called at 8:27 a.m. We were at the gate at Fort Lauderdale Airport at 9:47 a.m. Except for the scramble to find luggage which involves some gentle pushing and shoving, it's well organized. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
In terms of organization and quality of trip itself, this was a very good ship. Be cautious about what you hear from the people at the 1-800 line, as we experienced some surprises during check-in: filing information online doesn't ... Read More
In terms of organization and quality of trip itself, this was a very good ship. Be cautious about what you hear from the people at the 1-800 line, as we experienced some surprises during check-in: filing information online doesn't always yield positive results. Food quality was better than most of us expected and accommodations, though 'tight' were well done. It was a bit if a hassle trying to use the deck in the morning for speed walks, as they do make an effort to clean the wooden surface daily. Without a doubt, you do get sick of the 'hard sell' - a piece of junk mail at the door on a daily basis, clamouring for your wallet's attention. That part was tedious. The last day of travel was a bonus for the ship, as it rained and this put many more people in front of the photo cash register - the ship's photographers were somewhat rude if you happened to be in a spot they regularly trapped travellers at. You have to understand that 20% of the total revenue on a cruise is made up of added-cost onboard services, activities and beverage services. In fact, believe it or not, you have to pay extra money to dine in 2 of the ship's better restaurants. But the ultimate insult is the cruise line's extra charge for, of all things, soft drinks! As one lady quipped: "That's the tackiest thing I have ever experienced." Imagine, you pay 1,000s to get on the cruise and then they dock you for an additional $20.00 for unlimited pop. C'mon Carnival - start thinking all inclusive, or at least provide pop along with the free ice tea, milk and (at least what they THINK is...) coffee. Don't expect any complimentary drinking water ! And, oh yes, one last thing - don't try to bring a personal bottle for the room as their xray machine will catch it and they will confiscate it until the end of the cruise - hurts profits, you know!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
I have been on many cruises, but this embarkation was the most organized that I have ever encountered. We checked in and were onboard within a matter of a few minutes. The ship was old but well maintained. It is scheduled to be ... Read More
I have been on many cruises, but this embarkation was the most organized that I have ever encountered. We checked in and were onboard within a matter of a few minutes. The ship was old but well maintained. It is scheduled to be refurbished in the fall and several issues must be addressed. The elevator system is an adventure. Each elevator bank consisted of 8 elevators, for which you must press 4 buttons. Many times, elevators came and went without anyone noticing that they had stopped. The cabins were the smallest that we have ever encountered on an outside cabin. The food was excellent; the best we have had on a cruise ship. The dining room offers "anytime dining" as an alternative to early or late seatings. The waiters, assistant waiters and head waiter were marvelous. They did everything in their power to satisfy our every wish. The entertainment, although very good, did not compare to the entertainment that we experienced on NCL or Royal caribbean. Because we chose the late seating in the dining room, we were eliminated from many passenger involved programs which were always held during our dinner time. All in all, it was a wonderful and enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
EMBARKATION: Nobody does this better than Princess. After collecting our baggage, we were escorted onto the waiting bus, driven to the pier and went to check in. We literally walked through the terminal and on to the ship in less than 5 ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Nobody does this better than Princess. After collecting our baggage, we were escorted onto the waiting bus, driven to the pier and went to check in. We literally walked through the terminal and on to the ship in less than 5 minutes, including the always-hideous embarkation photos. I recommend completing the cruise personalizer on the Princess web site. Set up your onboard account and there is no paperwork onboard. FIRST IMPRESSION Grand Princess is one of the biggest of the "mega" ships. (We knew this when we booked, but having sailed on her, I'd say too big). The design throughout the ship is aesthetically very pleasing. Functionally however, the design is quite poor. Traffic flow is often a problem between meals and shows. Getting around is often frustrating, due to the cut up design of the ship, i.e. you can only pass through some areas on one side on the ship, and elevators don't go to all decks. The elevators system itself is also poorly designed and slow. CABIN: We had an inside cabin on an upper deck as we spend little time in our cabin, and are not willing to pay a premium for outside. As it happened, ours was the very farthest forward and walking the companionway to the aft elevator to and from dinner was like once around the promenade on a "normal" size ship. First impression of the cabin is that it's smaller than usual. Bathroom is OK, not big. Storage is adequate. Now for the complaint: Filth! Several drawers were heavily stained, the Plexiglas covering on the artwork looked like it had never seen glass cleaner, and the carpeting was not well vacuumed. The clincher was discovering a previous passenger's underwear on one of the shelves! The steward blamed his "assistant." At least two things were broken - I did ask the steward to take care of this and he did, but I got tired of asking for general cleaning and you should not have to. I think Princess is wrong to just automatically post service tips to your account, and it seems to encourage stewards to just marginally do their job. This was definitely the worst cabin service of 9 cruises. (The comment card was omitted from our debarkation papers. I asked our steward for another one and never received it. A request at the Purser's desk got me the wrong form). PORTS: Princess Cays: Well laid out. A good time - improved since our last visit. Grand Cayman: The stay here is cut too short. One of our favorite destinations, we were very disappointed to see it's been ruined by the massive influx of people from too many ships. There were six the day we visited, and dumping 12,000(?) tourists into Georgetown at one time is not viable. Costa Maya: Beautiful! We had trouble docking due to wind conditions, but finally made it about 2 hours late. (Other ships couldn't get in that day and skipped the port). I guess this is a relatively new port for cruise ships and it's very well thought out, including free shows right in the shopping hub. Cozumel: Pretty good - again very crowded. We had a good time despite weather that turned cool and rainy in the afternoon. Security was outstanding getting on and off the ship at each port. We were impressed with how well this is handled. FOOD: Excellent! We chose traditional fixed seating and had dinner every night in Bottichelli's. I have to say the food on this cruise was the best quality of all our cruises. Dining room service was very good. We've had a little better and we've had worse. Actually, our assistant waiter was great. No complaints here except the outrageous prices charged for wine. (Triple the retail price is a little steep). We always ate breakfast in the Horizon Count. This was definitely the best buffet of any ship we been on. Food selection and quality was excellent! You can feel like a pinball bouncing around when it gets busy, but no big deal. Charging extra at the ice cream bar has been complained about, but skip it and get all the ice cream you want at dinner "free." ENTERTAINMENT: Very good, even excellent! We saw one production show and several entertainers. Only one was mediocre. One note, in the Vista Lounge, several large columns totally block view of the stage; another example of poor design for a modern ship. The casino is very nice, attractive and was not very crowded. Of course, plan to lose plenty if you spend much time there. Skywalkers Nightclub, "15 decks above the sea," was a big disappointment. Not used for sail away parties, it was only opened after 10:00 PM; therefore you couldn't take advantage of the great views from above the ship unless you wanted to sit there alone with no bar service while it was still light out. We expected something like the Viking Crown Lounge on RCL, but Princess missed the boat, (pun intended). We also looked forward to the Island Night party but inexplicably, it's crowded onto the aft terrace instead of the main pool areas. You couldn't even move, let alone get near any buffet they might have served. On top of that, the deckhands were trying to scrub the deck right in the middle of the party. We left immediately. BARS Lots of well appointed, comfortable places, good service, good drinks. Be aware of the "drink of the day." They advertise it for $3.25, then when you order, they ask if you want a "medium." Well, the medium turns out to cost $6.50! POOLS 4 pools - nicely appointed and with several hot tubs available. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get a lounge chair even close to the pool on sea days. People stake them out by 7:00 AM and hold them all day with towels or other items, even though signs say they will be removed after 30 minutes. This seems to be a common problem and I don't know why they can't do a better job here. In fact, on the first day at sea, there was not a chair anywhere on any deck in the sun, until late afternoon. We finally found 2 together near the aft superstructure and then maintenance started grinding steel for painting right behind us. This spoiled the point of relaxation. A complaint to the Purser's desk was met with "sorry, the ship is full - can't be helped." DEBARKATION: Again, Princess does a fine job. We waited in a comfortable lounge, walked off, collected our bags, through customs and onto a waiting bus to the airport in a very short time. OVERALL IMPRESSIONS We definitely had a very good time on Grand Princess. Then again, there were several things that detracted from the overall cruise experience. Specifically, for being only 5 years old, this ship is beat up. Carrying the number of passengers and crew puts greater wear on everything. Upholstery is worn, furniture is banged up and dented, places in the floor sag when you step on them. Stateroom service was mediocre at best. A lot of cleaning improvement is needed. Despite what they say, the ship gets very crowded when everyone is trying to get somewhere. Though not specific to this ship, I will mention the constant attempt to charge you extra money. From endless photos, to jewelry "sales," to auctions of garbage artwork, to fees for enrichment talks, to the extra charge at Sabatini's, seems everywhere you look there's an additional cost. The bus drivers and guides have even taken to getting on the microphone and begging for their tips. This prompted me to tip less! We wanted to try the "mega" ship experience. It was enjoyable and we will certainly take another Princess cruise, but probably on a smaller ship, (if they have any left by that time). Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
EMBARKATION - Nobody does this better than Princess. After collecting our baggage, we were escorted onto the waiting bus, driven to the pier and went to check in. We literally walked through the terminal and on to the ship in less than 5 ... Read More
EMBARKATION - Nobody does this better than Princess. After collecting our baggage, we were escorted onto the waiting bus, driven to the pier and went to check in. We literally walked through the terminal and on to the ship in less than 5 minutes, including the always-hideous embarkation photos. I recommend completing the cruise personalizer on the Princess web site. Set up your onboard account and there is no paperwork onboard. FIRST IMPRESSION - Grand Princess is one of the biggest of the "mega" ships. (We knew this when we booked, but having sailed on her, I'd say too big). The design throughout the ship is aesthetically very pleasing. Functionally however, the design is quite poor. Traffic flow is often a problem between meals and shows. Getting around is often frustrating, due to the cut up design of the ship, i.e. you can only pass through some areas on one side on the ship, and elevators don't go to all decks. The elevators system itself is also poorly designed and slow. CABIN - We had an inside cabin on an upper deck as we spend little time in our cabin, and are not willing to pay a premium for outside. As it happened, ours was the very farthest forward and walking the companionway to the aft elevator to and from dinner was like once around the promenade on a "normal" size ship. First impression of the cabin is that it's smaller than usual. Bathroom is OK, not big. Storage is adequate. Now for the complaint: Filth! Several drawers were heavily stained, the Plexiglas covering on the artwork looked like it had never seen glass cleaner, and the carpeting was not well vacuumed. The clincher was discovering a previous passenger's underwear on one of the shelves! The steward blamed his "assistant." At least two things were broken - I did ask the steward to take care of this and he did, but I got tired of asking for general cleaning and you should not have to. I think Princess is wrong to just automatically post service tips to your account, and it seems to encourage stewards to just marginally do their job. This was definitely the worst cabin service of 9 cruises. (The comment card was omitted from our debarkation papers. I asked our steward for another one and never received it. A request at the Purser's desk got me the wrong form). PORTS - Princess Cays: Well laid out. A good time - improved since our last visit. Grand Cayman: The stay here is cut too short. One of our favorite destinations, we were very disappointed to see it's been ruined by the massive influx of people from too many ships. There were six the day we visited, and dumping 12,000(?) tourists into Georgetown at one time is not viable. Costa Maya: Beautiful! We had trouble docking due to wind conditions, but finally made it about 2 hours late. (Other ships couldn't get in that day and skipped the port). I guess this is a relatively new port for cruise ships and it's very well thought out, including free shows right in the shopping hub. Cozumel: Pretty good - again very crowded. We had a good time despite weather that turned cool and rainy in the afternoon. Security was outstanding getting on and off the ship at each port. We were impressed with how well this is handled. FOOD - Excellent! We chose traditional fixed seating and had dinner every night in Bottichelli's. I have to say the food on this cruise was the best quality of all our cruises. Dining room service was very good. We've had a little better and we've had worse. Actually, our assistant waiter was great. No complaints here except the outrageous prices charged for wine. (Triple the retail price is a little steep). We always ate breakfast in the Horizon Count. This was definitely the best buffet of any ship we've been on. Food selection and quality was excellent! You can feel like a pinball bouncing around when it gets busy, but no big deal. Charging extra at the ice cream bar has been complained about, but skip it and get all the ice cream you want at dinner "free." ENTERTAINMENT - Very good, even excellent! We saw one production show and several entertainers. Only one was mediocre. One note, in the Vista Lounge, several large columns totally block view of the stage; another example of poor design for a modern ship. The casino is very nice, attractive and was not very crowded. Of course, plan to lose plenty if you spend much time there. Skywalker's Nightclub, "15 decks above the sea," was a big disappointment. Not used for sail away parties, it was only opened after 10:00 PM; therefore you couldn't take advantage of the great views from above the ship unless you wanted to sit there alone with no bar service while it was still light out. We expected something like the Viking Crown Lounge on RCL, but Princess missed the boat, (pun intended). We also looked forward to the Island Night party but inexplicably, it's crowded onto the aft terrace instead of the main pool areas. You couldn't even move, let alone get near any buffet they might have served. On top of that, the deckhands were trying to scrub the deck right in the middle of the party. We left immediately. BARS - Lots of well appointed, comfortable places, good service, good drinks. Be aware of the "drink of the day." They advertise it for $3.25, then when you order, they ask if you want a "medium." Well, the medium turns out to cost $6.50! POOLS - 4 pools - nicely appointed and with several hot tubs available. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get a lounge chair even close to the pool on sea days. People stake them out by 7:00 AM and hold them all day with towels or other items, even though signs say they will be removed after 30 minutes. This seems to be a common problem and I don't know why they can't do a better job here. In fact, on the first day at sea, there was not a chair anywhere on any deck in the sun, until late afternoon. We finally found 2 together near the aft superstructure and then maintenance started grinding steel for painting right behind us. This spoiled the point of relaxation. A complaint to the Purser's desk was met with "sorry, the ship is full - can't be helped." DEBARKATION - Again, Princess does a fine job. We waited in a comfortable lounge, walked off, collected our bags, through customs and onto a waiting bus to the airport in a very short time. OVERALL IMPRESSIONS - We definitely had a very good time on Grand Princess. Then again, there were several things that detracted from the overall cruise experience. Specifically, for being only 5 years old, this ship is beat up. Carrying the number of passengers and crew puts greater wear on everything. Upholstery is worn, furniture is banged up and dented, places in the floor sag when you step on them. Stateroom service was mediocre at best. A lot of cleaning improvement is needed. Despite what they say, the ship gets very crowded when everyone is trying to get somewhere. Though not specific to this ship, I will mention the constant attempt to charge you extra money. From endless photos, to jewelry "sales," to auctions of garbage artwork, to fees for enrichment talks, to the extra charge at Sabatini's, seems everywhere you look there's an additional cost. The bus drivers and guides have even taken to getting on the microphone and begging for their tips. This prompted me to tip less! We wanted to try the "mega" ship experience. It was enjoyable and we will certainly take another Princess cruise, but probably on a smaller ship, (if they have any left by that time). Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was our first cruise and perhaps you want to know our experience. Our voyage was #5407. Much of our voyage was good to excellent. The following spoiled a generally favorable experience. Luggage transfer from dock to cabin took ... Read More
This was our first cruise and perhaps you want to know our experience. Our voyage was #5407. Much of our voyage was good to excellent. The following spoiled a generally favorable experience. Luggage transfer from dock to cabin took from noon to 4:00PM. That is an issue if you consider that we were dressed in winter dress from up north and could not change for 4 hours. Luggage transfer from cabin to dock, took from 8:30AM to noon AND they managed to lose one suitcase, not recovered until afternoon. This is a crazy system since we could have easily carried the 3 pieces to the dock ourselves. Sabatini Restaurant, Manager Edwardo, was a very great disappointment, compared to the other excellent restaurants. We experienced numerous bones in fillet of Sea Bass. OK, that can happen. But, when we complained, this manager decided to pull service from our table. We expected some gesture of apology. We entertained our guest, Mr. and Mrs. Knoy, who are Platinum members of your cruise. They were more disappointed then we were. Subsequently we complained to your pursers desk. They assured us that a customer representative would contact us. No such luck. Is that how you treat your customers? I think I rather go to a high class resort next trip. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
I am 29 traveling with my girlfriend who is 25. This is my second cruise and her first. We are from Canada so we truly appreciate the Caribbean sun. Please forgive my constant mention of RCL but it is my only frame of reference at the ... Read More
I am 29 traveling with my girlfriend who is 25. This is my second cruise and her first. We are from Canada so we truly appreciate the Caribbean sun. Please forgive my constant mention of RCL but it is my only frame of reference at the moment. I appreciated all the great info we got from the reviews posted previous to our trip and vowed to post our review no matter how long it took to complete. GETTING STARTED Tip for all cruises out of port everglades. Princess was charging 15 usd per person for airport transfers. We arrived in FLA around noon, walked out of the airport, hoped in a cab, and 10 minutes and 8.50 usd later we were talking to a very helpful porter who took our bags, promising to get them to our room as soon as possible. Embarkation went fairly quickly. We were a little surprised to find that Princess didn't have any of the documents filled out since we had completed the online personalizer 5 or 6 weeks before we left. This being a minor detail, we got things straightened out very quickly and were on our way. From here we went through the standard metal detectors, ID pictures and embarkation photos and were on the ship in less than half an hour. Actually pretty impressive in my opinion considering the mass of people in the terminal. Our itinerary was switched the day b4 we sailed, to western caribbean because of hurricane Isabelle. For me this was great news as I have been to St. Thomas and St. Maarten earlier in the year on RCL Radiance of the Seas. Instead, I would get to see ruins at Chachoben and Tulum. Not being much of a sun worshiper this suited me just fine. To be honest, all I wanted was to have a large drink and lay in a hammock for my B-Day on Saturday. Anything else was just a bonus. FIRST IMPRESSION First impression of Grand Princess? BIG!! Great layout, but BIG! Even though the ship is a behemoth it doesn't feel that way once you start to explore. The spaces are very well designed to feel comfortable and not overwhelming. My only complaint is there were no stairs mid-ship above deck 7 and the elevators were poorly designed and slow. I generally don't use the elevators accept on formal night so for us not a major detail. THE ROOM Aloha 520 The room was a bit smaller than the same category room on RCL but had plenty of room for storage and with no intention of spending much time there it was perfect for what we needed. We really enjoyed the fact that the aft pool was only step from our room and horizon court was virtually right above us, which was quite convenient. We had booked a room on Emerald but were "upgraded" because of my birthday. This is one of my pet peeves, they say "upgraded" as if it is an improvement. It was exactly the same room just a few levels higher on the ship. In this particular case we were "upgraded" to a room right beside some large machinery rooms. Although I didn't have any more trouble sleeping than usual Nat said the room would start vibrating in the middle of the night when the machine in the next room would kick on. We would have been happy with our room on emerald but when we approached the purer's desk about it were not allowed switch as it was a full sailing. BEWARE OF "UPGRADES"!!! Sounds great but is not always a benefit! PORTS I have chosen not to go into detail about the ports as this info is readily available in other reviews and most don't want to hear about my personal vacation details. After all this is supposed to be review of the ship not the cruise. Lets just say, although we found some of the shore excursions quite pricey (compared to local tours) we thoroughly enjoyed the tour to Chachoben and the tour to Sting Ray City. We would highly recommend both if these are the types of activities you like to do. Well worth the cost. One friendly tip if you are fair skinned like us, and don't want to get too crispy, you can rent wetsuits from the dive locker for those half day water adventures. (snorkeling, sting ray city, etc,) FOOD To be honest I was concerned that the service would be lacking in PC so we requested fixed seating...We were assigned PC. Oh Well, figured we would make the best of it. We made our way up to Horizon Court the first morning for breakfast, to pony up to the trough. I was surprised at the setup even though I had seen pictures. Didn't seem too bright of a design concept, but ended up working pretty well. We didn't get caught in too many lines. My biggest gripe about this type of setting is I generally end up getting bumped and elbowed by some rude people who feel they are entitled to everything. It started to seem as if, the heavier the passenger, the less manners they had, when it came time to share the buffet line. Some days I could see over the wall into the other side and noticed it was not as busy, so we would just walk around and browse with a little more elbowroom. There were typical buffet style breakfast and lunch foods. There was a very large selection of fruit and danish and cheese almost all the time. Nat tried the omelets every morning and said they were very good. She was also very excited to have smoked salmon or grava lax every morning. I was impressed they even had brioche. They are essentially just Italian jelly donuts but they were pretty tasty. We were happy with the experience and decided that is how we would do breakfast for the remainder of the week. Some mornings walking up and getting a plate and bringing it back down to our cabin because the room service menu was kind of limited for breakfast. We did however have room service bring us danish and warm croissant with coffee and juice to the cabin one morning. A very nice touch I must say. We generally ate lunch in horizons or at the pizzeria or grill. Pizza was average New York style. The grill was also average with beef and chicken burgers and fries. Not bad for a quick meal. Certainly better than grabbing some fast food off ship. I was quite disappointed the ice cream shop charged a ridiculous price for something that really should just be included. We tried both alternative restaurants and were pleasantly surprised by the Painted Desert. After reading a lot of reviews and most saying this was average, we were a little skeptical but gave it a try. In my opinion, the Fajitas were one of the best meals I had on board. The portions were very large and service was very good. Sabatini's on the other hand, was a disappointment. Having been to the Italian alternative on RCL I was expecting more I guess. Don't get me wrong the service was fantastic but I found the food average at best. Unfortunately we chose to go on a night when staff were allowed to dine. A group of 10-12, quite loud and rowdy dancers, from the theatre shows came in and took up the table beside us. Having chosen this night for a romantic dinner for two and having to pay a cover charge with no wine included I was a bit perturbed. However the Maitre d' noticed my displeasure and moved us to another more intimate table. Which was a nice touch. Overall an average experience at best. As for the main dining room, the maitre'd was a very nice fellow, and was very accommodating. The first formal night he gave us a pager and suggested we catch the beginning of Monday night football in the sports bar. Most people seemed to have a problem with this. Not us, we enjoyed the time to have a few pre dinner cocktails and meet some new people. I had tried traditional seating on my previous cruise and was worried the service would suffer because of PC dining. Truth be told we were not impressed with the waiter the first night, he did an adequate job, and there was nothing specifically wrong or bad about his service. It just wasn't outstanding. He was very hesitant about giving his opinion/recommendations. For me this is important in any setting be it cruise or land based restaurant. I depend on the opinions and recommendations of the staff. From then on, I was on the look out for someone who had great recommendations and a great personality. Luckily on the 2nd night we found Akos..(Pronounced Akosh) His recommendations on our first night at his table, were nothing short of perfect. He was also quite entertaining. So we decided he would be our waiter for the remainder of the week. Clearly the trick to PC dining is to find a waiter you like and stick with him. Sometimes we had to wait a while to get a table in his section but again just a chance to have a few pre dinner cocktails and chat with people we had met.. Nat ate everything he suggested and said it was all delicious. I am a bit of a fickle eater but have learned from my previous cruise that there is definitely something for everyone and if you don't see it on the menu don't be shy to ask for it anyway. They will try to accommodate you the best they can. My suggestion is the fruit soups. Each night the fruit soup was equal to or better than the previous night. I also thought the rack of lamb was incredible. It was so good I almost had another serving for dessert. Instead I opted for an amazing chocolate mouse. Overall, once we found Akos the dining room was a great experience. If you are not impressed with your wait staff talk to the maitre d he may be able to recommend someone more to your taste. Or talk to other passengers, most are more than happy to give a glowing review of someone they like. I have definitely been converted to this new concept of open seating as long as you find decent wait staff. ENTERTAINMENT As on all ships there was a Casino. Nothing special, just standard table games and slot machines. The shows in the Princess theatre were quite lavish. No story lines, just singing and dancing. The leads had great range and overall the shows were enjoyable productions We couldn't do everything we wanted to and many times had to choose between 2 or three activities and hope the other ones would re-appear in the princess patter later in the week. We never actually made to any of the shows in the vista lounge but were told they were good. We caught the late night comedian. He was pretty funny. Skywalkers lounge is the late night alternative dance club. We never actually made it here at night so we cant say whether it was good or not. The Explorers Lounge, an ancient Egyptian themed lounge just aft of mid ship, had quite a few art auctions and passenger participation events. The Wheelhouse bar always seemed empty and we did not spend any time in there at all. It was raining one afternoon and we happened to stumble across the virtual reality rollercoaster and fighter planes. There are quite a few standard multi player racing and adventure sport games as well. This can get very expensive if you are not paying attention to how many credits it takes to play a game. There are some ping pong tables on the 3rd level of the aft pool that seemed to get a lot of use during the day. There is a sports court for paddle tennis and basketball on the top deck at the front of the ship. Opposite the Spa there is a weight room with cardio machines and a studio for aerobic and pilates classes for an extra fee. I tried to be a smart guy and beat the morning rush to use the gym one morning heading there at 6 am, only to be told it didn't open until 7:30am. I found this odd that there were hours of operation, had a bit of a laugh with the attendant that I didn't need supervision to work out, then headed upstairs to play some basketball just to find that locked as well. Definitely something princess should revise. There are no physical activities that I could find except the walking track before 7:30am. POOLS 4 Pools and a kiddy splash pool. Most definitely something for everyone. Our pool of choice was the aft pool as it was close to our cabin had easy access to 2 bars and horizon court and never seemed crowded. Not to mention there were no kids allowed. We did not spend much if any time in the main pool area as it was crowded most days. Instead opting for either the Lotus pool or the aft pool. I did find myself reading a few times on the upper level of the calypso pool as it seemed a bit cooler than most other spots even with the roof open. Overall Impressions Our overall impression of the GRAND was very good. The ship is very clean and comfortable and the staff generally was helpful and pleasant. The contemporary look was just fine for us. If I wanted the glitz and cheezyness of Vegas I would go there. On the plus side every time I turned around there was somewhere to eat, drink or shop and rarely did I make it to where I was headed without at least one stop to check out an auction or get a drink or grab a snack or to listen to some tunes or to just sit on deck and stare out over the water. One noticeable problem was the arctic temperatures in the interior of the ship. The air conditioning was always too cold in the public areas. Just a tip, bring some warm clothes as virtually every night Nat ended up wearing my suit coat or blazer because she was freezing. We had a wonderful time and definitely recommend this ship to others that are looking for a decent vacation with multiple destinations. If you are used to the super luxury lines like Radisson or Crystal, or even Holland America this is probably not the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
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