As we do our final preparations for our cruise this weekend aboard Grand Princess, I wanted to thank so many of you for all the terrific and insightful information you have provided through your posts to these message boards. The information has been a big help to us in preparing for the voyage.
This information has been particularly helpful because Princess has been so lacking in providing it. Two examples
1) The discontinuing of the "butler service" that was once a service provided to mini-suite passengers such as ourselves. We only learned about the change through posts to these message boards. Neither we nor our travel agent ever were notified of this change. And, since we started paying for the trip long before the butler service was dropped, it only seems fair that we be told that a service available when we first booked our cruise would not be available when we actually took it. It's not that butler service is essential or even necessary to us...it's just that when the terms of the game change, somebody should tell the players. (2)The automatic tipping policy. Again, when we booked our trip, this policy did not exist. And, even though it was hinted at in Princess mailouts regarding Personal Choice Dining, there was never any indication it would be applied to those of us choosing the traditional dining service. Again, bravo to the folks on this list for alerting us to this change...and to the option of "zeroing out" the automatic tipping. I just wish Princess had been clearer and more upfront about this change which, again, neither we nor our travel agent were notified about.
Now, maybe we can provide some information to others...we asked our TA to get us clarification on the situation at Costa Maya. Several earlier cruisers have indicated that they only found out on board that Grand Princess wasn't going there and, would instead, take the very short jaunt from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen (separated by only a narrow body of water) instead. This apparently has to do with a damaged dock at Costa Maya. For those travelling with us on 6/3, this apparently will again be the case. When our TA got ahold of Princess, they indicated that Costa Maya had been removed from the listed itinerary for the 6/3 cruise, and that Playa del Carmen would be substituted instead. Since some cruisers had said Princess doesn't make this decision til the ship sails, be advised...it's already been made. Certainly, the cruise line has the right to make this change...and it has consistently exercised that right over the past few Western Caribbean cruises. My concern is that...as in the butler issue and in automatic tipping...we and our travel agent only learned of these items by playing investigative reporter. We would've preferred the cruise line notify us of these changes in advance...as something any responsible businessperson would do with a customer. We are, by the way, repeat customers for Princess, and none of this happened on our previous cruise aboard Ocean Princess. Our travel agent has made sure the good folks at Princess are aware of our concerns.
So, once again, thanks to so many of you for so much helpful information. Despite the concerns raised here, we're looking forward to a great time. Since the Playa del Carmen thing has just dropped into our laps, can anyone tell us what there is to do there (Frommer's says:"not much")...and how this might affect excursion bookings at Cozumel, as well as what new ones might be available from Playa del Carmen?