Does anyone have any tips for us sailing on the Grand? I have only been on one cruise before and it was Carnival Fascination for 3 days, and one of my girlfriends has been on 1 cruise on Princess, and the other has never cruised before. Looking for all kinds of things to see and do.
Good excursions we should try? Special places on the ship? Activities on the ship? Things not to be missed? Etc.
I believe our ports of call are Belize, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
Belize has great beaches and snorkeling. Also some Mayan ruins. Costa Maya is a party/shopping stop. When you dock, there is a very nice beach resort at the end of the pier. There are pools to swim in, beaches to swim, beach lounges to use, shops, restraunts, bars and entertainment, as well as shore excursions to local sites. There is a very quaint fishing village minutes away that just got electricity about one year ago. In the Cayman Islands, I would highly recommend snorkeling with the stingrays, once in a lifetime experience. In Cozumel, a visit to the Mayan ruins at Tulum is great, if you choose the other ruins its an all day trip. Also Cozumel is a world class scuba/snorkeling spot. Book your shore excursions on line as soon as you can, if you change your mind you can cancel onboard, no charge. Do your home work. In response to your other post, I have seen services on Sunday on all cruises, but sometimes they are nondenominational. Again do your home work about the shore excursions. We have been on the Grand, it's a big ship, lots of activities, enjoy your cruise.
Cozumel - has great snorkel spots that are free and are easily reached by taxi. The beach/club we go to Dzul Ha - is popular with the cruise tours that bring their participants for an hour snorkel adventure. In addition many snorkel boats stop there to snorkel. You can rent a locker and equipment there - but I strongly recomend that you purchase your own equipment. I paid about 50 dollars for my equipment at a half price sale trips ago. Other cruisers informed us they went to other places - and had a great time. So why pay a fortune when you can relax most of the day at Dzul Ha - while spending money only for a few cokes?
While on the ship, we discovered the out of the way 9 hole mini golf course. At first it does not look like much - but it is a great deal of fun - especially when the ship is rolling in rough seas. The golf course was empty during most of the cruise. My wife and used that facility almost daily.
We found the breakfast on the Grand in the dining room to be a painful experience. It took forever although the dining room was empty, and my pancakes were so cold I wondered if they were cooked. If I was on the Grand again - breakfast only at the Horizon buffet for me.
Some of the dinners on the Grand were hit and miss. On the other hand, we found the substitute steak that is always offered quite good. Don't be bashful as I was when presented with cooking that is not up to snuff. I wish I had sent back the "Beef Wellington" (actually recycled roast beef) and the "pasta dish" (really lousy raviolli).
While on the Grand we discovered that the substitute cheesecake was better than most of the desserts that were offered. We even ate lunch at the Horizon buffet, and made our way down to the dinning room just to get the wonderful cheesecake for our desert.
We discovered that freestyle dining for two entailed long waits for a table. They were not taking reservations for only two people. If you are only two and dining freestyle - get to the dining room early if you want to get to a show or other activity. Otherwise - just eat with other people and you can get in faster. In addition, the square tables for two is so tiny, that there isn't even enough room for your bread plate and main course. Ask for a round table for two - much more room.
If you are a swimmer - try the "swim against the current" machine. It is tougher than it looks! The exercise room tends to get crowded and most of the treadmills are in use in the morning. You can get to the exercise room and sign up for the treadmill for the following day.
The library on the Grand when we cruised (Dec03) did not have a check out system. Thus you can get there immediately - grab your favorite books and games, and hold them until you are done.
the pizza at the outdoor pizzeria is very good. Neptunes Reef Pool is "hub" for all the pool activites and the lunch time music. Hamburgers & Hot Dogs at the outdoor grill are fairly good. If you want a nice cozy little bar for a relaxing drink and some music to listen or dance too check out the Wheelhouse Bar. Skywalker's Disco doesn't get going until after 11pm and the music is more techno-funk style. They do have theme nights in the disco.Skywalker's is a great place in the daytime for some quiet reading or taking in the sights on sea days. Explorer's Lounge is the main show lounge with a dance band. The Princess Theater is where the production shows take place, not a bad seat in the house as it is stadium style seating.
Read your Princess Patter everyday to find out whats going on and what specials are being offered that day.
The Grand Atrium is just gorgeous. Don't miss the Midnight Champagne Waterfall on the last formal night.
Tips for the Princess Patter - My wife and I bring two highlighters, prior to lights out the night before we look and discuss the activities for the day. She highlights in Pink, I in Yellow - than we know where to meet the other if wneed to for any reason. I know this sounds a little "over doing" for a simple cruise - but habits die hard. it was MUCH easier to find the other when we travelled with our twin boys.