Grand Princess October 11, 1998 Eastern Caribbean Cruise
I would like to tell you first off that this has to be the best ship that we have ever had the privilege of sailing on. From start to finish it would be the closest that we could have ever come to perfection at sea. We had booked this cruise mainly because of the ship, not the ports of call.
At the airport, we had only about a 30-minute wait before the Princess coaches transferred us to the ship. Although some have said that this ship is strange looking, we did not find that so. She is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. We had a slight problem checking in and so as not to hold up the line, we were given a personal escort by one of the officers through all of the checkpoints and boarded within minutes of arriving.
Our luggage arrived within two hours, which was surprising, we usually donít see it until much, much later. We arrived at our stateroom and were greeted immediately by our Butler Brian who was a big help straightening out the mixup in our cruise cards. We never lifted a finger: he took care of everything for us. His services were a delight, from the dining room menu delivered to the cabin each evening to the plate of hot appetizers that he would bring. He kept the mini-bar and refrigerator stocked with all of our favorites; all we had to do is to let him know what we wanted. I tried to convince him to go home with us, but no luck!
Our Mini-Suite was perfect for any cruise long or short. There was enough storage for a round-the-world cruise. There was a large closet, with tons of wooden hangers (not the anti-theft ones that we usually see), a cabinet with shelves, drawers in the side of the makeup table and in the bedside tables. There were shelves located all around the room for storage of all those souvenirs that you purchase. The suitcases fit nicely under the beds, except for the oversized one we had taken, but it fit nicely into the back of the closet, out of site.
We spent a lot of time on our verandah which had a table with two chairs, two chaise chairs and a small table/footrest. These verandahs are not the most private, since they do hang out a bit over the water. But that is what those plush terry cloth robes are for. The bathroom was a nice size, with lots of storage and counter space. It had a very large tub which was perfect after a long day ashore. The scald proof setting on the tub was a great idea; we have had problems with other ships' hot water supply and this left nothing to chance.
Having two televisions was a nice touch: one of us could watch the port lectures and the other could check out the weather from the bridge, which gave you all the information including the size of the waves, how far you had traveled and which island you were passing at the time. Then there was the "Love Boat," both old and new series which ran in the evenings.
We found the ship to be so large that we were not sure if we would ever figure it out, but with the first two days sailing at sea, it was not as difficult as you might think. If you carry your little map of the ship with you, you will find your way around in no time at all.
We were assigned to the Botticelli Dining Room and found it to have the look of a small intimate restaurant, although it is huge. Our waiter, Joe, and assistant waiter Rolando were fantastic. Towards the end of the cruise after finishing dinner, Joe presented each lady with a long stem red rose and each gentleman with a cigar. We had thought this was a practice for everyone, but found out later that our waiter was the only one who did this. It was a very nice and unexpected gesture.
We found the food to be even better than we had anticipated. There have been varying reviews concerning the quality of the foods served, but we found it to be excellent. The creme bruleé was indescribable; the cold soups a real treat; everything was perfect from the wide assortment of seafood to the prime rib and steaks. We did not find anything that was not prepared perfectly, and we really are quite picky in the food department. The food did come out a bit slow at times, but when you realize how many people are eating at once, they were remarkably efficient.
The only complaint I have about the ship or its design is that the Boticelli Dining Room has no restroom facilities; the only one, and when I say "one," I mean one, is up one deck. It always had a line of a dozen women outside it. It became so crowded that they finally asked the men to use another restroom and turned the menís room into a ladies room also. This was a little strange for a luxurious ship like that. It is just a poor design flaw that might take an Act of God to fix!
We did not use the alternate dining rooms, although we did go to the Horizon Court on most mornings and for lunch each afternoon. At 7:00 P.M. each evening it turns to a bistro, but during the morning and afternoon it is a wonderful buffet. We did find out (too late I might add) that on the night of the Island Deck Party, they had a marvelous seafood buffet. It was not publicized, so not many attended, but we would have been there if we had known.
The Island Deck Party is not to be missed: you will be laughing from start to finish. The Mr. Grand Princess contest has some very interesting moments that I will not go into. My husband was chosen as a contestant and I laughed so hard that I couldnít even get it on film, I couldnít hold the camera still enough to shoot.
There are many showrooms on board and many different shows to choose from. The size of these showrooms is large, but the best shows were always very crowded and if you didnít hurry out of the dining room, you could be left without a seat. We thoroughly enjoyed "Glamour" and "Pirates." The costumes were very elaborate and the entertainers were very professional.
We visited both St. Thomas and St. Maarten, although we found them mainly to be real tourist traps. We did visit the Sun Princess while it was docked in St. Thomas and had a nice tour. It was great to be able to walk around and get a first hand look at a Princess ship that we had not been on yet but was a smaller version of the Grand Princess.
We visited Princess Cays and had a beautiful day. The snorkeling there is beyond belief with the abundance of tropical fish and a beautiful coral reef. Princess provided a huge BBQ while on the island and we found it to have a good variety of different foods. It is also a great place for a funny photo opportunity, with Princess providing the seaside comedians.
One thing I really need to mention is the staff aboard the Grand Princess. This is our third cruise on a Princess ship and I have never seen so many happy people working. They all seemed to be enjoying the cruise as much as we were. Always pleasant, always smiling, and always attending to the passengers. If they had not been in uniform, you would have thought they were excited passengers taking their first cruise. Another important factor on this ship is that we were never hounded to purchase drinks at any time throughout the cruise. They were there if you raised your finger, but never did we have them continuously asking us to purchase a drink. It was a welcome change from most ships we have sailed on.
It was the attention to the smallest detail on this ship that stands out. Everything was kept spotless. It was like they thought of what you wanted before you did. I have read reviews that complained about the elevator service on board. We did not find that a problem. They are everywhere and we never had to wait more than a few minutes for one to appear. The panoramic elevators are spectacular: a fantastic view, even the water bubbles that appear while you are between floors are interesting!
The pools aboard ship are fantastic. Although the water is quite cold. There are so many hot tubs I lost count and you can always find one that is almost deserted in the evening. We went out every night before going to bed and just relaxed in those wonderful tubs.
Before leaving on this cruise we had been corresponding through the Bulletin Boards and e-mail with couples around the U.S. that would be on the same cruise. We had arranged to meet the first full day at sea. It turned out great. It was like meeting old friends for the first time in years. Some of us exchanged pictures so we would have a jump on identifying each other. I would like to thank the Internet group for helping make this cruise even more special.
Rocky and Michelle from Florida (A very nice couple, I wish we lived closer)
What a wonderful week it was . . . .
To all that have cruises booked in the future, have a Grand Time, your going to love it! And for those of you who do not have a cruise booked on the Grand Princess, WHY NOT? You donít know what your missing.
Jim and Sue Adam obviously loved this cruise and ship. They live in Kansas and can reached for questions or comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please