Mary & I live in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Because of a
decision we made some years ago, to never board an airplane unless
it was absolutely necessary, we restrict our cruising itinerary to
the ships that leave from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. The restrictive
itineraries are not a problem for us because we truly enjoy the
Caribbean and on every cruise we find new ways to make them
interesting and exciting.
This cruise aboard the Grand Princess was our 16th cruise,
(Honeymoons, as we refer to them), in the last four years. It was
also our 32nd anniversary which made it very special and although
we will be telling you of a number of negatives, we still had a
First, we would like to repeat what we have said in our past
reviews. We are writing this review from our perspective which
might be very different from yours. We all have different thoughts
about what is pleasing and what is not pleasing. What strikes our
eye and we think is beautiful, you may pass without a second
glance. The very things that Mary & I find interesting and
might consider boring and what we consider boring might be the very
reason you booked your particular cruise. You may not agree with
any or all that we say, and that is alright, because we all have a
different viewpoint. Ken Stutt, on his page 'The Wheelhouse,' has a
great article pertaining to reading reviews entitled, "Don't Let
the Reviews Scare You." We suggest you read this article because it
says everything that needs to be said about reading reviews. Mary
& I would like to borrow that title and say to you, "Please
Don't Let Our Review Scare You," because it is written from our
perspective which might be completely different than yours.
This has been a very difficult review to write because much of
what we say is the complete opposite of what has been said in the
many GP reviews we have read. 95% of the reviews were very positive
and spoke glowingly of the ship. Although we like to and try to
judge each cruise on it's individual merits, sometimes it is very
hard if not impossible, not to make comparisons with former
cruises, especially when one has sailed on another ship of the same
line within a matter of months. If you are one of the many admirers
of the Grand Princess, you will probably disagree with a number of
our observations, but that doesn't mean either of us is right or
wrong, it just means we view things in a different way.
Arrival At The Terminal: We arrived by car at the Ft. Lauderdale
terminal, left off our luggage and parked our car in the very
convenient parking garage. We entered the terminal at 11:40, had
our documents checked and were ushered aboard at 12:o'clock. As you
no doubt have read in many reviews, Princess is by far the best at
embarkation and disembarkation. They have it down to a science.
We entered the ship on the fifth deck and was greeted by a
member of the crew. Instead of him leading us to the elevator
directly ahead in the foyer, he told us to follow the people that
were walking down the hallway to the left. We followed a large
group of people along a wide hallway that had paintings displayed
on easels and also covering the walls on both sides. We walked
almost halfway through the ship to the central elevator shaft, with
paintings displayed every step of the way. If they wanted us to
know they were going to have an art auction, they certainly made
their point. This we thought was rather tacky, and it most
certainly did not leave us with a very good impression as we
started our cruise.
Our Cabin: E 518 Obstructed View: We had booked an inside on the
Aloha deck and were upgraded five categories to E 518 on the
Emerald deck, which was a outside cabin with an obstructed view. As
we entered the cabin, we were surprised to see two upper berths in
a closed position folded against the wall. We hadn't realized it
was a Quad cabin. I always have a brochure of the cruise that we
are taking and make a pretty careful study of our accommodations.
But when we got our tickets, for some reason, I didn't take notice
to the small red dot inside the cabin picture which designated it
as a Quad. If I had, I would have called my agent and had him ask
to have our cabin changed. Make sure you check the symbols on the
bottom of the page to see if they apply to your cabin. Sometimes
they are so small it is difficult to read them. I now keep a
magnifying glass on my desk, just for that purpose The upper beds
which were folded against the wall jutted out from the wall some 12
to 14 inches. We had to be careful not to bang our heads when we
got out of bed. Mary thumped her head a couple of times before she
got the knack of bending down as she got up.
The cabin decor was very bland and the closet and drawer space
was limited. The closet was stocked with a number of wood hangers
and two terry cloth bathrobes. The bathroom was smaller than usual
with very limited storage space. But surprisingly, the shower was a
little larger than usual. There was a hair dryer just above the
phone on the desk and a refrigerator off to the side. It was a true
refrigerator and not a mini bar. If you have children, it would be
convenient and cost saving to stock it with soda. The TV had a
number of channels, including four music channels that gave us a
good choice of music. Even though the cabin was just above the
activity deck, it was exceptionally quiet.
Our cabin stewardess was the absolute perfect cabin attendant.
She had the unusual name of Blessie. We only saw her about four
times during the entire trip but she kept our room immaculate and
took care of our every need. If we needed something to be done, we
would leave her a note and it would be taken care of. She was a
cute little Filipino girl who looked like she was in her twenties.
We found out later Blessie was 44 and had two grown boys. It was a
pleasure to leave her a generous tip.
Checking Table Arrangements & Tour of the Ship: As soon as
we took care of necessities, we went to see the person in charge of
table arrangements. Being he was located one deck below us we
headed toward the central elevator shaft to walk down the stairway.
That is when we realized there was no stairwells at the central
elevators. We soon found out there were only two stairwells on the
entire ship. Either completely aft or completely forward. It didn't
make any sense that we had to stand and wait for an elevator to
descend one floor.
We located the Asst. Maitre`di in charge and he told us he could
tell us our table assignment but only the head Maitre`di could make
any changes. It was our 32nd anniversary and we had requested a
table for two but he told us there were no tables for two on the
GP. I asked when could I see the Head Maitre`di and he told us we
could see him at 6 o'clock just before the first dinner seating.
Having been in the restaurant business, I knew it would be
difficult for the Maitre`di to change our table assignment while
taking care of the first seating. I thought it would be a good idea
to make a reservation for our first dinner at the Painted Dessert.
In this way we would have a better chance of the Maitre`de
accommodating us, by giving him an extra day to make the changes.
We then went to the Horizon Court for lunch.
We suggest that you check your table arrangements as soon as
it's possible. If they need to be changed, the earlier you see the
Maitre`de the better chance you will have of getting the
arrangements you want.
The Horizon Court: We went to the Horizon court for lunch and as
we looked around the room, that old bugaboo, making comparisons,
caught up with us. We were looking forward to the Horizon Court
area because we enjoyed it so much when we cruised the Sea
Princess. Not only was the Horizon Court on the Sea Princess the
most beautiful lunch area of any ship we cruised on, but also at
night it was converted into a bistro with a large circular dance
floor. After dinner, a very talented combo would play dance music
till the wee hours of the morning. None of the above was to be
found. There was no dance area and no music in the evening. This
was very disappointing. In our opinion, there is nothing
outstanding about this room.
They had an odd way for the guests to chose their breakfast and
lunch items. They didn't have one line but a number of lines. You
were handed a large oval plate instead of a tray and silverware and
you could go to whatever food counter that had the items you
wanted. There was 7 or 8 different counters. After they got their
plate they would take off in all different directions. People would
zig and zag all over the place. For the first three or four days it
was very confusing, but then we kind of got the hang of things and
we learned when to zig and when to zag.
We found the food and the selection very good. They had a very
good variety of hot and cold dishes that were tastefully presented
and a varied assortment of pastries and cakes that were also very
good. There was a very nice open lunch area in the aft section of
the Horizon overlooking a small pool. While having lunch, it was a
very pleasant sight to look out at the blue water being churned up
by the two huge propellers. We later read in the ships papers that
each propeller weighed 40 tons. This is a very nice area to relax
and enjoy your lunch. When we finished lunch we headed toward the
Atrium area, which we so admired aboard the Sea Princess.
The Atrium Area of the Grand: This paragraph will be more
readily understood and have significant meaning to those readers
who have sailed on both the Grand and either the Sun, Dawn or Sea
Princess. After sailing on the Sea Princess and reading the many
positive reviews of the Grand, we had very high expectations. We
had sailed on the Sea Princess this past November and were
overwhelmed with the beauty of the ship, especially the two atrium
areas, with their spectacular floating stairways, the outside
elevators and the way these areas were used as activity centers. We
expected that when Princess came up with the design of the new,
largest ship in the world, (at that time) they would expand on the
beauty of the atriums on the Sea Princess and make them even larger
and more spectacular on the GP, but they didn't do that. With the
GP having almost half again as much tonnage as the Sea Princess,
and carrying 650 more passengers, they chose to design the Grand
with one atrium instead of two, and the one atrium on the GP being
much smaller than either of the atriums on the Sea Princess. That
doesn't make any sense. One would expect that being this ship was
going to be the largest ship in the world and the talk of the
industry, that Princess would make every effort to have its design
surpass any of the other ships in their fleet. One would think they
would have a ship designed that would leave their guests
breathless. Just the opposite happened. They designed the GP with
only one atrium, which is also smaller than either atrium on the
SP. In actuality, the atrium is relatively drab and not very well
lighted and very unspectacular. And for some reason which we don't
understand, they enclosed the exterior walls of the two outside
elevators with very dark glass, that we could hardly see out of. We
think they really missed the boat. In our opinion, the Sea Princess
is much more beautiful then the Grand in every aspect of design,
workmanship and in overall atmosphere. If one has never sailed on
The Sea, Sun, or Dawn or RC's Voyager, I can see why they may rave
about the Grand. But if they have sailed any of her sister ships,
the GP pales in comparison. And compared to the Voyager, it's no
contest. Of course, that is our opinion.
We took a quick tour of the ship and went back to our cabin. Our
luggage had arrived. We unpacked, took a short nap, then got
dressed and headed to see the head Maitre`d.
Checking With the Maitre`d: On our way to the check our table
arrangements, we stopped by and to say hello to an old friend of
some 35 years, Bill Wilson, who was also booked on this cruise.
I've known Bill during the good times and the bad times. He has
made a huge difference in my life. He introduced us to six of his
friends and we then spent a pleasant hour talking about old
At six o'clock we scooted down to the Michelangelo dining room
to meet the head Maitre`de, Nicola Furlan. I told him we were
celebrating our 32nd anniversary and would appreciate if he could
arrange for us to have a table for two. As he was looking at his
charts, I told him I realized how difficult it would be to change
table arrangements at the last moment and we had made reservations
at the Painted Dessert for this evening so he could have extra time
if needed. As I was talking to him I shook his hand and placed a
Hamilton in his palm. He smiled graciously and said he would send
conformation of our new table assignment to our cabin. We felt much
better knowing we were now going to have a table for two. We then
went on to the Painted Dessert restaurant to have our first dinner
aboard the GP.
The Painted Dessert Alternative Restaurant: We were looking
forward to a intimate, romantic dinner setting in the Painted
Dessert. The room was attractively decorated, with a small dance
floor in the center and they featured David Pritchett, a country
guitar player. Even with all of this, the room was not conducive to
fine dining. The location of the restaurant is just before you
enter the Princess theater. While your having dinner, the people
attending the showroom have to walk right through the restaurant to
get to the theater. Yes, you have read it correctly. I know it's
hard to believe but in order to get to the right side of the
theater, the passengers have to walk right through the area where
your dining, then walk over the dance floor on the way to the
theater. Can you imagine being at a table, enjoying a romantic
interlude with your wife, when all of a sudden a steady stream of
hundreds of people come passing by your table. We felt like we were
having dinner in the middle of 'Times Square.' If someone told us
this happened to them, we wouldn't believe it.
It's unfortunate that the designers of this ship didn't allot a
private space for this restaurant, because the food was excellent
and was presented in a very appealing way. The servers were dressed
in authentic Mexican attire and were very efficient. But all the
good points were soon forgotten by the total distraction of the
mass of people that passed our table on the way to the show. We
racked our brain, but we can't think of another cruise ship that
has this sort of dining arrangement. This room was never even half
filled. I wonder why?
If you like very good southwestern food and you don't care to
much about the surroundings, you will like the Painted Dessert. If
you like everything that goes along with fine dining, The Painted
Dessert is not the place for you!
Wheelhouse Lounge: After dinner we went to the Wheelhouse
lounge, one of our favorite lounges at sea, to have drinks and
dance a bit before the show. It is a delightful room. The decor is
very much old world. Deep mahogany panels are used as back drops
for pictures of sailing vessels and prominently displayed models of
older cruise ships are displayed in various places. The seating is
also very nice. It consists of groupings of richly upholstered love
seats, the kind of intimate setting Mary & I like. A husband
and wife duo, Steed & Steed, who played guitar and keyboard,
played the kind of music we enjoy dancing to. Their repertoire
consisted of songs like, Embraceable You, The Shadow of Your Smile,
Unforgettable, Stardust. All those great tunes from yesteryear that
tell our loved ones of our feelings in beautiful lyrics, much
better than we can in words. What a wonderful setting to start the
celebration of our Anniversary. To be able to hold Mary tightly in
my arms as we danced and as we listened to the beautiful words of
those grand old melodies.
We often wonder if the young people that dance so far apart,
going through all sorts of wild gyrations and never having body
contact with there partners, know what their missing. Were willing
to bet if these young people spent one evening dancing with their
arms around each other, they would soon discover that its a lot
more fun and they would realize there's a much better way to put
their excess energy to use. We know we might be stirring up a
hornets nest with this comment, but it appears to us, when we watch
couples that dance apart, it seems they are saying look at me,
whereas when we are watching couples dancing in each others arms,
they seem to be saying look at us. Don't mind us, I think were
letting the romanticism of our anniversary get the best of us.
Later on in the same evening, this lounge featured Jerry Brooks
and his show band. They were terrific. There music had that kind of
beat that made your feet tell your head to get up and dance. Jerry
was an original member of the Ink Spots and he sang many of the
songs that made that group so popular. He was also a very
personable and warm individual. You could tell he enjoyed every
minute he was performing. We made sure to go to whatever lounge his
group was playing.
Sometime ago, Mary & I decided we would spend our later
years collecting memories. These past four years we have
experienced a number of special occasions that we have added to our
memory collection and cruising is at the very top of the list. We
feel the atmosphere and ambiance of a good cruise ship is one of
the most romantic and intimate settings one can have for spending
some real quality time with one's spouse. We will long remember our
evenings spent in the Wheelhouse and will add them to our memory
collection. If you haven't cruised, we heartily encourage you to
give it a try.
The Princess Theater and Show: The showroom is beautiful in
appearance with good sight lines. There is no drink service in the
theater. If you want a drink you have to get up and get it. When
you get back to your seat, you have a choice of holding your drink
in your hand or using the small airplane type tray in the right
side arm rest. Then after you finish, you probably will put your
glass under your seat on the floor like most of the people do.
There is no other place to put it. We never cared for this type
arrangement. When waiting for the show to begin, we found it a
pleasure to be able to order an after dinner drink. The best
example of the way we think it should be done, is the way they do
it in the show rooms aboard Celebrity. They have beautifully
upholstered love seats with a lighted cocktail table to place your
drink on. It's a very elegant way of seating.
The entertainment was one of the highlights of the cruise.
Princess features more than one act during each of their shows.
Even when it's a production show they usually have two additional
acts. The first night the show opened with Roger Carr singing a
medley of songs. Every evening, you will find Roger performing in
the Promenade Lounge, with most every chair filled with his very
loyal followers. He has a big voice and had great stage presence.
He was very well received. They then followed with a lengthy
production number featuring two female vocalists and two male
vocalists who were excellent. The supporting cast of dancers were a
group of very talented performers.. After the production numbers we
were entertained by a comedy magician, Jeff Peterson. Usually about
this time, with this kind of act, I begin to yawn and start to
think about how great it's going to feel to put my head on the
pillar, but that didn't happen. He really was funny and he had a
great gimmick. On a tall plat-formed table next to where he was
standing, he placed a gold Genie lamp, and lighted the protruding
wick. And every time he told a lie during his performance, even
though he might be two or three feet away, the flame would shoot
out some two feet. It was a very funny bit. It was a great first
night of entertainment. As we passed the Wheelhouse on our the way
back to our cabin, we heard Jerry Brooks singing one of his soulful
ballads and we took time out to dance a wee bit more before we
called it a night. Except for the stampede we experienced in the
Painted Dessert, it was a very enjoyable evening.
Where Do We Go From Here: All of the preceding is what we
experienced our first day aboard the Grand. For the rest of the
review we don't intend to continue giving you a blow by blow
account of every move. Instead, to prevent the possibility of you
having a total case of boredom, we are going to highlight the
Positives and the Negatives of our cruise and highlight a few
areas. Being we told you of quite a few negatives we think it's
time we told you of a very positive experience.
The Da Vinci Dining Room: The GP has three dinning rooms. The Da
Vinci, The Michelangelo and The Botticelli. All are beautiful
rooms. Nicolas Furlan the Maitre`de, arranged for us to have a side
by side seating at a round table in a corner of the Da Vinci dining
room. It was a very romantic setting in a truly elegant room. Just
what we wanted. Our waiter was Armindo and his assistant was Johan,
both from Portugal. They were a great team. They were very
professional and very efficient. They literally couldn't not do
enough for us. One exception to this all-around efficiency was the
Maitre`de for our section of the dining room. I think it best I not
mention his name. Every evening before the meal was not to far
along, he would come waltzing over to our table and address us in a
few sentences in Italian. Then he would clasp his hands in front of
him as if he was praying. He then would put the fingers of one hand
to his lips, like he was going to throw us a kiss and loudly
proclaim, "The Pasta, Mama Mia, Mama Mia ," and then walk slowly
away with a big smile on his face. He did the same exact thing
every night and that's all he did. We compensated him the same
amount as the service he rendered, which was nothing.
The quality of the food was a very pleasant surprise, it was
excellent. And of course Mary, who loves Pasta, enjoyed having the
extra Pasta course that is served before the main course. We found
the desserts to be very good and the ice cream was noticeably
better than the Haagen-Dazs we had at pool-side. Mary's favorite
dessert is a Souffle. It is not a dessert you see on to many
menus's. Because of it's tendency to collapse when completed, very
few restaurants even attempt to make it. She had a Chocolate,
Hazelnut Souffle with Zabaglione, that she said was one of the best
she has had. We had a number of desserts that were excellent.
I'd like to tell you of how at dinner I earn some extra credits
with Mary. In one short sentence, Mary does everything for me when
we are home. When we cruise I like to reverse the tables a bit and
let her know I appreciate what she does. I have her select the
bread or roll she wants and I then butter it for her, making a big
production out of it. I see that she has salt and pepper, and I
make sure she has ice in her wine glass, the way she likes it. At
dessert time I put the cream and sugar in her coffee and stir it
for her. I even let her taste my dessert. I know I sound like a
wimp, but I have learned that these little things I do for Mary pay
huge dividends, some of which I am not at liberty to tell you. Now
on to the entertainment..
Entertainment: The Cruise Director John Cleford did an excellent
job. He was a great MC and always had just the right comment for
the occasion. Princess has a great way of programing their
performers. Most of them appear more than once and are so scheduled
that everyone regardless if they have an early or late dinner
seating, will have a chance to see all of them. Their choice and
quality of the entertainers is by far the best we have experienced.
They do an excellent job. The following is a general listing of the
entertainment, with comments when we think it warrants.
Roger Carr: Roger Carr performs nightly in the Promenade Lounge
and is featured in two production shows. Very polished performer.
When he performs in the Promenade Lounge, as on stage, he gets
Kathy and James Taylor: They are one of the best performing
couples we have ever seen. When they do there dance routine Kathy
Taylor performs like Ginger Rogers, when she sings, she's as good
as any of the top vocalists and then when she unexpectedly breaks
out into her comedy routine, she looks like and acts like she's
Lucille Ball. Truly an amazing transition. Her husband James Taylor
is the perfect foil for her. Being of small statue, we were amazed
at the lifts he was able do with his wife. If you don't care for
entertainment that's fine, but do yourself a favor and don't miss
Dave Heenan: Mary likes s to laugh and naturally she loves the
comedic acts. We sure found a winner in Dave Heenan. He was
hilarious. As we have previously said, Princess uses its
entertainers in a completely different way than most cruise lines.
We first saw Dave in Monday nights opening production show. We then
saw him again in Wednesday's Comedy Showcase. Then on Friday we saw
him in Comedy Cabaret in the Explorer lounge. Mind you, normally a
stand up comic takes many, many months to put together a 15 minute
routine. This man gave three 40 minute performances and he never
repeated himself. In every show he had completely different
material. What made his routine so refreshing was that his
nighttime routine was made up of many things he experienced that
day. He brought the house down. Especially when he told some jokes
in New Yorkese and about his experience with the Taylors when they
went to the clothing optional, Orient Beach. He's a very funny man,
don't miss him.
Comedian John Paton: Very, very good. A great style of delivery
and great material
The Macaggis: Performed some unbelievable feats of body
balancing. Every bone in my body ached as I watched them. Very good
Jeff Peterson: We reviewed him earlier.
Chris Bliss: Off beat comedian that had the most unusual finish
to his act that we have ever seen. After telling jokes for forty
minutes he proceed to take four tennis balls from a box and juggled
them in rhythm to the beat of a pop rock song. It doesn't sound
like much, but I guarantee you that you have never seen a juggling
act like this in all your life. The juggling part of his act was
also featured in the farewell show.
Lounges: The seventh deck is the activity deck of the Grand. You
leave the Princess theater heading aft and you walk through the
Painted Desert Restaurant, entering the atrium area, past the
Promenade lounge to the Wheelhouse. Past the Wheelhouse you will
find The Explorers lounge, then Sabatini's Tratoria, the
Photographers area, then on to the Vista Lounge, the furthest point
aft of the ship. We will now tell you a little bit about each
The Wheelhouse: I think we have already given you a pretty good
description of this lounge. As we said it's our favorite lounge and
we enjoyed every minute we spent there.
The Explorer Lounge: This lounge is supposed to give you the
feeling your on Safari. The pictures on the walls are of a various
wild animals. They have a variety of acts that appear here and it's
a very popular and active spot. We kind of think they might have
gone a wee bit to far in the way they have their beverage servers
dressed. To compliment the Safari theme, the men and girl servers
are dressed in Khaki knee length shorts, quite heavy Khaki bush
jackets, pith helmets to match and shoes that look like they would
be more suited to Mountain climbing. That's a lot of clothing to be
carrying around when your rushing around to take last minute drink
orders. They also held the art auctions in this lounge. It seemed
like they had an art auction every other day. This is also where we
picked up our tender tickets and where we waited until our color
was called to disembark.
The Vista Lounge: This actually is another show room. It's a
very attractive room that is fully equipped to handle most any kind
of entertainment. Besides the normal single acts that perform here,
they occasionally feature a production show. They also use this
room for Bingo and held the Captains party here. It's a very
Skywalkers Nightclub: We never went there to dance,. (As you
well know by now, it's not our kind of music), but we did go up
during the day to see what it looked like. It is truly a
spectacular setting and we could easily see why this could be the
spot for those who like to do that other kind of dancing. It was so
high up we thought we might need oxygen.
Sabatini's Tratoria: Because of our choosing the late dinner
seating, the last night of a cruise has always been a bit hectic
and uncomfortable. Having to get packed and having to have our
luggage in the hallway by 12 o'clock limited our after dinner time.
We think we might have found a way around this dilemma. On Tuesday
we went to the business desk where you have to make your
reservations for both alternative restaurants and we made
arrangements to have a table for two at Sabatini's at 7 o'clock on
Saturday, the last day of our cruise.. By doing so we were able to
catch the early show after dinner and still have plenty of time to
visit a lounge and get back to the cabin to do any additional
packing. It worked like a charm. I can't say as much for
We didn't feel that the room was properly set for fine dining.
The first thing we noticed was the lack of table clothes. It's
pretty difficult to create a fine dining atmosphere with place mats
on the tables. Also, the iron chairs were a stark contrast to the
plush cushioned settees. and didn't add anything to the room.
While we were reading our menus, the waitress placed on our
table a plate of garlic bread covered with diced tomatoes, olive
oil and oregano. It wasn't very appetizing or tasty. We would of
liked to start our dinner with a minestrone soup but they didn't
have it on the menu. We were offered Pumpkin or Asparagus soup, not
very Italian. We settled for asparagus soup. We were then served a
salad that consisted of a plate of romaine lettuce with absolutely
nothing added to it, with an Italian dressing on the side. We
ordered rack of Veal as it was stated on the menu, when we were
served it was actually a Veal Chop. It had a nice flavor but not
much more can be said for it. We rarely if ever skip dessert
because for Mary this is the best part of a meal, but we found the
dessert menu very uninteresting and we decided to pass. We thought
the food, atmosphere and service of the Da Vinci dining room was
far superior to Sabatini's. Of course, that is our opinion. Now to
the Pool area.
The Pools: The Neptune and the Calypso pools are mirror images.
In fact when you get off the elevator you have to think twice as to
where you want to go. The pool area is a very attractive setting It
is well appointed in all aspects. We weren't able to find an empty
lounge chair around either pool for most of our cruise. There were
some empty lounges on the upper deck but not around the pool area.
The one day we found a lounge chair by the pool we noticed
something that was very peculiar. The pools are very attractive but
they are designed in a very different way. Around the entire pool
is a serpentine, scalloped wall, that is from 2 ½ to 3
½ feet high. We usually enjoy the pool area, lying on a
lounge watching all the happenings in the pool, but you cant do
that on the GP. Because of the height of the wall surrounding the
pool, when you lie or sit in any lounge chair, in any location
pool-side, you can't see the tops of the heads of the people in the
pool. Very strange. We'll leave it at that.
On one end of the Neptune pool is the Poseidon Pizza counter and
the Trident Grill. The pizza was sensational and the items that the
grill served were delicious. The nicest part was the crew that took
care of these areas. They were very accommodating, warm and
On the far end of the Calypso pool is the area where they sell
Haagen-Dazs ice cream. I know this has been a controversial subject
and we are going to add a little fuel to the fire. We do not mind
being charged for ice cream if it's our choice. But when a cruise
ship makes those who would like ice cream have to pay an additional
charge, we think it is wrong.
We asked the person in charge of the Horizon Court where we
would find the ice cream and he said they didn't have any. I said
you mean to tell me you don't have any ice cream in this area. He
said, "No, we don't. You have to go to one of the main dining
rooms." Can you imagine going to the Da Vinci dining room at 3:30
after lunch and try to have someone get you a plate of ice cream.
In actuality, what Princess is doing is forcing their customers to
buy Haagen-Dazs by not serving ice cream in the Horizon Court or
any other immediate area. It made us compare our recent cruise
aboard the Rydam, where in the main section of the lunch area they
had an ice cream counter with an attendant serving all flavors of
ice cream, with a separate area to make sundaes with all the
trimmings, all for free. Or the voyager of the Sea, where ice cream
is available twenty four hours a day.
In our opinion, we think this Princess Haagen-Dazs experiment is
going to be short lived like the Johnnie Rockets Diner experiment
aboard The Voyager. People do not like to feel they are being taken
for fools and the sooner the people let the cruise lines know how
they feel, the sooner they will refrain from implementing excessive
extra charge polices.
In our opinion, the next big hullabaloo about pricing is going
to occur with the Celebrity line. On their new ship the Millennium,
to set sail in November, they have let it be known that in their
alternate dining restaurant, they are going to charge $12.50 a
person and $10 to $30 dollars for a glass of wine. You have not
read a misprint, that's what they say they will be charging. If the
cruise lines are going to adopt the extra charge philosophy, there
are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, you and me
and many other passionate cruisers.
For the first four days we spent most of our pool time in the
lap, current pool by the spa. It was a delightful place and we had
it practically to ourselves. Mary is petite and the pool having a
depth of 4ft 6, was perfect for her. We had a lot of fun there. But
by the last two days of the cruise it seemed the whole ship
discovered our secret. by then the pool which is about thirty by
twenty looked like an oversized Jacuzzi, filled to the brim filled
with people. Above the machine that generates the current there is
a sign that says, "Absolutely no children allowed, Adults only."
The last day a mother and father had three youngsters, no more than
5 or 6 years old, in the pool with them playing all sorts of games.
They were very noisy and were very disruptive. All this time there
was a deck attendant looking down on this pool and he never said a
word. So much for rules.
About the Ports
St. Thomas: We had plans of going to Caneel Bay Resort on St.
Johns. We have been to the Eastern Caribbean a dozen times and
every cruise line we traveled on made an early stop, usually 7 to 8
o'clock in the morning to let those who had shore excursions leave
for St. Johns. GP doesn't do that, they go straight to St. Thomas
and you have to take a ferry St. John. Enough said.
St. Maarten: Again, ever cruise ship we have sailed on to St.
Maartens has docked at the pier that is located at the base of main
street. We boarded a tender and after a short while we noticed it
started veering to the right. It finally docked at a pier some 1
½ to 2 miles to the right of the center of town. It was a
dilapidated, run down pier. From the tender I asked a princess crew
member on the dock why we didn't dock at the downtown pier and he
said they didn't have docking privileges there. We never got off
the tender but staid on and returned to the ship. Enough said.
Princess Cay: This may be considered a pretty beach but by some
people, but in our opinion, we wouldn't define it as such. Much of
the water line of the beach and extending into the water are rock
formations. We were fortunate to be wearing beach slippers
otherwise we would never have gone in the water. Most of the people
in the water were looking down at the bottom instead of enjoying
the view of the island. They kept looking at the ocean bottom so
they could avoid stepping on the coral which was everywhere.
Princess Cay may be good for snorkeling but it isn't the idyllic
place for bathing. If anyone has been to Holland American's Half
Moon Cay, they know what a Caribbean paradise looks like.
If you are still with us, we apologize for this review being so
lengthy but we know from all the E- Mail we have been receiving
about our Rydam review, that you enjoy reading a detailed review
much more than a cursory one. Mary & I are going to have to
forego our usual August, September cruise. I'm undergoing a spinal
fusion on June 12th and will have quite a lengthy recovery period.
We are hoping that I will recover sufficiently to be able cruise on
the Zaadam next December 3rd.
It's never much fun writing a review with a lot of negatives but
if one doesn't tell it as they see it, they are not being fair to
themselves or to the readers. Mary made what I think is a great
comment. She said she feels when we say a lot of negative things
about a cruise line we should send them the review so they can read
what we have said. She said if we don't, it's the same as talking
behind someone's back. With that thought in mind, we want you to
know we are sending this review to the C.E.O., The Customer
Relations Mgr, and the Dining room manager of the Princess. When we
finished our recent Rydam Review we also sent it to the C.E.O. and
other officials of the Holland American Line. We think they are
entitled to know what we say about them, both good and bad.
It may be hard for some people to understand how we can say we
had a great cruise when we voiced so many negatives in this review.
But it's really quite simple. We can make that statement because
the negatives we experience can never lessen our pleasure of being
together and fully enjoying each others company. We eliminate the
negatives from our mind and concentrate on making each other happy.
We have been on some less than desirable. cruise ships but we have
never had a bad cruise.
We'll leave you with this thought. When we have found ourselves
on one of those less than desirable cruises, we have found that it
helps to hum that old Johnnie Mercer favorite, "You've got to
accent the positive and eliminate the negative." Mary & I wish
that your next cruise will be the best you've ever had. Happy