I tried to submit this but my explorer wasnt working or something.
This is more of a diary then a review, but I hope it is helpful: (I hope its not too long)
Grand Princess 4/1 – 4/8/01
Pre cruise – 3/31/01: We left NJ for FLL a day before we were to sail on the Grand Princess. We had booked our own airfare and saved enough to go a day early and book a night in the Springhill suites by Marriott. It was a great room with a really good breakfast, which was included. The pool had a waterfall and a hot tub, to get us ready for the cruise. It only cost us $119.00, which we shared with another couple.
Day 1 – 4/1/01: Embarkation day- We returned our rental car and they bused us to the port at 11:30 am. We dropped off our suitcases with the friendly crew at the port who told us that they start to load the baggage onto the ship by 1:00 and we should have it no latter then 2:30. We carried our smaller bags on with us including a case of Coors lite long necks, a large bottle of Vodka and Gin, 4 bottles of tonic, a pitcher and stirring spoons that we bought at a dollar store in Fla. Nobody said a word to us.
We sat in the waiting area until 11:45 am when they started to let us in to sign in. We were the first two couples at the Dolphin deck area for our cabin numbers, there were 3 areas just for the dolphin deck, what a great system. We then were given our cruise cards and proceeded to get our picture taken while by the boarding sign. A short escalator ride to the upper level and a short 5 minute wait till they open the gangway to let us on. We had to insert our cruise card into a machine which took our picture for security purposes only (looked like a mug shot) that security could see as you get on or off the ship.
Once on the ship (and what a ship she is) we were guided to our cabin (a mini suite on the port side of the Dolphin deck). Our cabin steward, Pedro, greeted us right away. We unpacked our carry-ons and made our way out to the balcony, which was smaller then I was led to believe, yet was the perfect size. Both couples sat out on our balcony and Dale, our Butler soon entered with champagne for us to make a toast.
We then decided to explore the ship starting at the top and working our way down, snapping pictures as we went. (We decided not to take too many pic’s as our entire roll of film would have us in the same clothes)
We stopped in the Horizon Court for some lunch stopping first to visit one of the many bars that were open to get a DOD in a water bottle, that we later used to make our own Drinks of the day in. We made our way up to the Sun deck for sail-away as the sun began to go down. At 7:45, the time we were supposed to sail we were informed by an announcement that a number of cruisers were just landing in FLL and would be escorted to the ship promptly. A few minutes later we saw a van/bus rush these people onto the ship with their luggage and we were off.
We passed through the valley of the condos with music playing and were soon out to sea. We got ready for dinner and headed down to our traditional seating in the Botticcelli Dining room. (I had put in a request to have a table of 4, they had a table outside of the Wheelhouse lounge after boarding for requests) Our cruise cards showed a table of six and we had originally requested a table of four. They told us that we should go there tonight and it would change the next day. I was not very impressed with the whole layout of the dining rooms as it appeared that they were trying to make it cozy, when they actually made it feel closed in.
My wife didn’t like the table at all and felt very clausterfobic sitting in a corner by a waiter’s station.
Dinner itself and our waiters were very good and we left feeling very full.
We missed the welcome show and spent the rest of the night roaming the ship.
Day 2 – 4/2/01: First day at sea- I woke before the wake up call and stood by our balcony door watching the water pass. I came out of my daze when the phone rang, it was the couple with us in the next cabin, who wanted to know why we had stopped. I told them that we had not and that they should also step out onto their balcony to see this wonderful sun rise. We received our table changes in our slot outside of our cabin, there were two stickers that we each had to put on our cruise cards to show the change.
We spent the day at the pool (trying to find chairs). We actually got a table near the grill and brought our chairs into the pool area. The girls saw 2 deck chairs opening on the sun deck above the pool and they went up to save them, while my buddy and I stayed by the pool. He and I decided to wander around the ship to see if it was possible to see everything there was to see. We stopped for a slice of pizza on our way, really good pizza and there is usually a line. While roaming the ship we walked down a little hallway to find “Meet the Parents” just starting in the Princess theater. What a theater and a great movie too. We then met the girls and went to the HC for lunch. As always a good selection of both hot and cold foods, with plenty of choices for desert. We spent the rest of the day by the pool and hot tubs enjoying the sun.
We made our way back to our cabins to get ready for dinner. When arriving to the dining room the headwaiter showed us to our new table by a window. Our new waiter Sergio, from Mexico, introduced himself as well as his assistant Johan (Yowan), from South Africa. They were both very nice and very witty. We could not have been happier with our new table and waiters. I opened the drapes and we could see the water passing by as we ate.
We then made our way to our first show “Lights, Camera, Action” in the Princess Theater. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!!! My wife is not a big theatergoer but she left this show in awe. It was a tribute to music throughout the years, and the quality of everything about it was incredible. We then made our way to the Disco above the sea and had a blast the place was crowded, but we had a blast. Crawled back to our room for some sleep.
Day 3 – 4/3/01: 2nd day at sea- today we had breakfast on our balcony. The breakfast room service was limited and the food could have been better, but the view made up for it and the coffee was good (sometimes that’s all that matters). We went up to the pool by 8:15 and most of the deck chairs in the main areas were all taken or at least had something on it to save it. We found plenty of chairs on the sun deck along the side of the ship between the pools, these too were soon filled up. I then joined in for the “pool Olympics” at the main pool. (I wasn’t the one with the Watermelon in my shorts, I just had a couple of lemons and a banana……..uh never mind) This was a lot of fun and you should try not to miss this. (Just don’t push in the staff while they are holding a mic…….oooooppppsss!!!!)
Tonight was the 1st formal night and we were invited to the Captains Circle party for past cruisers, it was OK and interesting to meet people with over 100 days (even 200 days) on Princess Cruises.
Dinner again was excellent and I left having to loosen my pants. We didn’t see a show this night but did make our way to the Disco for another late night of dancing. A lot of the crew join in up there and really add to the fun. Is it morning yet??? We hung out with a bunch of people we met on board, some of which went to a hot tub before retiring for the night. My wife and I needed sleep so we headed back to our cabin (I think it was 2AM).
Day 4- 4/4/01: St. Thomas- we had breakfast on our balcony again with Charlotte Amalie there for us to enjoy while eating. We booked the “Champagne Catamaran” to St. Johns, which left at 9:30AM. This excursion is highly recommended by all that went on it. The Cat motored out of the bay into the sea on its way to Honeymoon beach, St. John. The drinks started flowing right away and the whole trip was one big photo Op, what scenery. Lunch and drinks as well as snorkel equipment was all included in the $96.00 per/person price. We arrived back to the ship by 3:30 –3:45 giving us some time to drop our stuff on the ship and go into the Havensite outside mall to shop and call home to talk to the kids. We were one of the last ones back onto the ship after taking more pictures. We sailed on time, the last ship to leave meeting the Sea Princess as we pulled out, it really was a sight to see. Mmmmmmmm dinnertime again, can’t wait. We went to a show in the Princess Theater but left after a couple songs. The music and talent was OK just not our type of music. (Later we found out that we were not the only ones to leave)
Day 5 – 4/5/01: St. Martin- we did the breakfast in the HC again mainly cause we were staring at Royal Caribbean’s “Grandeur of the seas” as they were right next to us in port. We got off the ship and went right to the water taxi for $5.00 per day / per person, that brought us right to town. We walked through town prying my wife from the jewelry stores so that we could get to the beach. We didn’t go far, as we wanted to stay close to the ship so we went to the beaches right in Phillipsburg. My buddy and I bought snorkel equipment but the water taxis were stirring up the sand too much to be able to see anything.
We then headed back to the stores to shop a little. My wife had me going back and forth to a few different stores to haggle for a couple of pieces that she was interested in as a 10th anniversary gift (from me).
We settled on Joe’s Jewelry store (there are 3 of them as well as a T-shirt store) they gave us the best prices and offered free cans of beer while shopping. I bought a Citizen watch at Majesty for $40.00 less then the same one in Little Switzerland next door. All in all it was a nice relaxing day in St. Martin.
I choose the “always served” steak for dinner tonight as I wasn’t excited by anything else on the main coarse menu. Sergio (our waiter) was quite impressed with our $3.00 bottle of wine (even asked if we wanted to smell the cap) We went to the “English pub night” put on by the crew. This is a “not to miss” show, as they include the whole audience as well as abusing each other. Then up to the Disco for more dancing into the night.
Day 6 – 4/6/01: Full day at sea- Happy 10th Anniversary to my wife and I. We decided that being our last day at sea we wanted to get good seating by the pool. I was nominated, so while the rest of my group was getting ready I took all of our stuff up to the Sun deck to save seats by the railing overlooking the pool. On my way up I stopped to get a Danish (or 2-3) and a cup of coffee. It was now about 7:30AM and I headed to the area that we agreed upon to sit and there were several chairs left (meanwhile all of the chairs below by the pool had already been saved). I picked four deck chairs that were available and started to save them as I sat to have my coffee and Danish. I decided that I wanted to get another cup of coffee and Danish, but the smell of all the other food made me load a plate and bring it back to our saved chairs to enjoy it. By 8:00AM I decided to check on the others and see if they were heading up to join me. I snuck down to my cabin, in just my bathing suit (as I left everything else to save the chairs, even though I swore I wouldn’t be one of “THOSE” people we felt entitled to sit where we wanted to just one day.) I picked up another shirt and shoes and we headed up to the pool. My group informed me that they wanted to go for breakfast in the HC, so I had to join them, didn’t I. We spent the remainder of the day by the pool and enjoyed a little late afternoon pool volleyball, (Free DOD’s for the winners – Chocolate Bananas mmmmmmm). Dinner was Formal tonight and wore our Tux’s proudly. Italian night tonight and the food was great.
Day 7 – 4/7/01: Princess Cays- We had been given tender passes from our Butler (ask for them if you are in a mini-suite) passes are supposed to be for suites only but if you ask your butler nicely he will give one to you. We had breakfast on our balcony watching the tenders being lowered into the water. What a great view of Princess Cays as well (Port side). We tendered to shore at about 8:45AM finding a spot on the beach to the right when getting off the tender. The beaches are quieter on this side but much rockier. We stayed there until lunch when we ate at the BBQ. It was the same food that you could get at the grill on board but it seemed much better being flamed broiled instead of being just grilled. We rented a float (raft) that my wife enjoyed all day in the beautiful water ($5.00 for the day). I spent much of the time snorkeling (I used my own equipment that I bought in St. Martin) at 12:15PM we had a reservation for the Banana boat. What a trip this was, we actually had Dolphins swimming and jumping right along with us. It cost $15.00 per person for about 15 – 20 minutes but it was worth it. We bought some stuff for the kids in the shops here then headed to the long line for the tenders back to the ship. Tonight was Americana farewell dinner I had a great steak. We planned on going to the farewell show but after dinner we walked around a little then just headed back to our cabin to finish packing so that we could get our bags out for pick-up.
Day 8 – 4/8/01: Disembarkation Day- We got all of the rest of our things ready then headed to the HC for one last breakfast. We forgot to go to the Airline check-in on the ship this morning but it all worked out, luckily. We then got our carry-ons and headed to the Vista lounge where we were invited to being mini-suite cruisers. They had coffee and danish as well as local and USA today papers. When our color was called we all headed for the gangway and through customs. All we had to do was hand the agent our card that we filled out the night before. (Very easy) We were then led into the area where we checked in a week ago to find lines and lines of luggage in areas of color tags that were on the luggage.
***Just a warning: if you have luggage that looks anything like anybody else’s luggage then mark yours somehow, those big ugly tousles may look stupid but you wont when you find your bags right away.
Find all of your bags get them together then get one of the tip hungry porters to help get them to where you are going.
As I said before we did luck out, we were rushed onto a Continental bus (with our luggage) then once at the airport we met a ticket handler just getting back on duty who also rushed us through check in. We made our way to the gate for our flight and were overwhelmed with the smell of Pizza. So at 10:35AM we were eating Pizza in the airport waiting for our flight. Our flight went well (even though it was lightly raining when we got home but our ride was waiting and everything in Newark went well.
Day 9 – 4/9/01: I awoke to the smell of the Ocean only to look out my window and see………………………..my neighbors yard and realize that I was home and it was over. No Ocean, no view, no butler, balcony or buffet……Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!
Things to remember:
1. Bring singles with you for tips in the airport and for the luggage handlers at the port as well as the day you are coming home. Everybody looks for a tip even the bus driver to the airport.
2. Bring an ID necklace (string or strap with a hook) and have your cruise card hole punched at the pursers desk. We saw more people loose their cruise cards each day, in the pool and hot tub, on their deck chairs… These cards are you room key as well as your credit card, you don’t want to loose them.
3. Bring things that are cheaper to buy here…underwater cameras (cost me $8.00 here my buddy bought one for $20.00 in St. John) even liquor, the drinks on board add up fast and we saved a bundle making our own. There is a fridge in the rooms so if you have kids you might want to bring some soda, just a thought.
4. Bring stronger sun tan lotion then you use at say the Jersey shore. The sun is much stronger down in the Caribbean so be prepared.
We had a great Cruise, in fact it was one of our top two cruises (OK it was our second) There are plenty of places for you to eat and a lot of different choices as well. Don’t go on expecting the world, just go and have a good time when and where you are at the time, remember you are on vacation. Meet new people and do and try new things cause life is too short to worry about all the little things, especially when Cruising.
I hope this has helped in some way or another,