Grand Princess Cruise Review
People look at things differently, so what follows is our view point: Embarkation was excellent for a ship this size (of coarse we had filled out ALL of our paperwork BEFORE arriving at the port and we were repeat Princess passengers), took about 15 minutes start to finish (taxi to cabin). Booked a balcony cabin for the first time, because the rate was so good. On Caribe deck, forward, with a 9' by 9' balcony, what a way to cruise. Absolutely wonderful at night with a full moon. The overall appearance and condition of the ship is excellent, has been well maintained during it's relatively short life. Cabin steward was very attentive without intruding. Cabin was spotless when we arrived and stayed that way during the cruise. Dining was very good, above average food quality and presentation. Good portion sizes (not over done like land based restaurants). Service in the Botticelli (normal fixed time dining) was slower then we have experienced on most other cruises. We did not get a chance to try any of the alternative dining options, except the Horizon Court buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner on one of the formal nights. Very good selection and variety, presented well, very little time "in line". Pizza was good (thin crust only) and you "pay" extra for the ice cream (no big deal). Princess's private island is by far the best we have visited, very large, plenty to do, excellent facilities, good bar-b-que. This was also our first experience with their "tender system". They have a well designed and well executed tender system, takes out all the hassle you normally see. "Bravo" to Princess on this system. Next port was Grand Cayman with 4 other large ships there the same day, so plan activities that take you off the beaten path or you'll have plenty of company. The following port, Costa Maya, is just starting out. Good dock (no tenders & only one other ship), typical shopping, near-by beaches and Mayan ruins, other than that just lots of jungle. Last port was Cozumel (docked), with 4 other ships the same day, so expect lots of company. Activities on-board are the typical ones, nothing out of the ordinary. Good facilities for children (pre-teen as well as teen). Too many pools to count, lots of deck space and chairs. Gym is well equipped but small for a ship this size (crowded). Casino is adequate, smaller than expected and has the "tighest" slots we've ever encountered. Shopping was no "bargin" on the ship or off, unless you run into a "special". Arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale very early (6:30am), excellent disembarkation process, on our way to the airport by 9:45am, even though we were nearly the last to be called. Overall experience met our expectations, excellent value for the money. (Still think adding the gratuties to the shipboard account has an impact on staff attitude, don't seem to work as hard to please, but it's a nice convenience by not having to handle the cash on the last day). Finally, if you haven't been to the Western Caribbean, this would be a great ship to do it on.