Ugly Betty Fan Review of Grand Princess Christmas/New Years 2008
This was my second cruise ever and the first cruise for most of my family, and, it was our first Christmas cruise ever. We chose Grand Princess for two reasons, first because it was originally a Cruise Freeks group and secondly primarily because of the itinerary, and for the fact that we got to spend both Christmas and New Year on the ship.
It was 14 days, visiting 9 ports. Simply put everyone loved it!!!
And, we're ready to book any future Holiday cruises. Wow, no cooking, no prep work, no shopping! This is the ONLY way to spend the holidays! Sure there were glitches, some small, some not so small but, I am hooked on cruising and can't wait to cruise during the holidays again! I'm now looking at the 2010
cruise that Cruise Freeks is sponsoring!
We flew in the day before the cruise, and, stayed at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale. I would recommend this hotel to anyone. Great location, wonderful breakfast and of course, large clean rooms. We used the Water Taxi to get around Fort Lauderdale and just really enjoyed ourselves. Our only regret? That we didn't have more time to explore Fort Lauderdale even better.
We left the hotel at noon to go to the cruise terminal. This is where one of the few letdowns took place. I don't know what really happened but, we had a long delay getting on-board. Rumor has it there was some type of inspection going on and, the bottom line is they kept a lot of people waiting. But, we dealt with it and tried not to let it dampen our spirits. We finally got on-board around 3pm.
Having read all the reviews and knowing that this ship is now 10 years old, we were expecting to see signs of wear. Well, either I have low standards or I just didn't know what the ship looked like in it's younger days but, I thought Grand Princess was in fine shape! Everything was clean and polished. Our cabins were spotless. I just didn't see it. Then again, I'm a newbie, maybe I just didn't know what to look for but, nonetheless, I thought the ship was in fine shape.
Our cabins were on Caribe deck 10 portside, so we had a larger balcony (10'x10') which was nice. Even though this was only my second cruise, I can't imagine sailing without a balcony! One glitch that happened was the power went off one evening in the cabins located on our floor, and a whole bunch of cabins had no air conditioning for one day. It wasn't pleasant but, we dealt with it and again, tried not to let is spoil our fun.
We did experience another glitch in St. Thomas apparently the tug boat pulling us (we had to tender) had a mechanical problem and we were forced to overnight in St Thomas and they would not let passengers off the ship! This created a number of angry people to say the least but, I say, things happen. The next morning, the tug boat was repaired, so we were able to sail away. Of course, since we were late on our itinerary, we could not go to La Romana, so we had an extra sea day instead.
To compensate for the inconveniences, Princess offered compensation in the form of dollars on our shipboard account. This was granted to all passengers two days prior the end of the cruise, and was not refundable. We were quite happy about it and, we weren't going to complain, it covered a lot of our drinks and other expenses!
The food was very good overall in the dining room. We chose Anytime dining and liked it a lot. We only had one experience of a long 30 minutes wait to get a table. NOTE: You can make reservations on the DINE line so once we found this out, we didn't have any further wait. It's really easy so I highly recommend it.
As far as the Painted Desert is concerned, in our opinion it was good but, not worth the extra $40. We enjoyed Sabatini's much better but, even with the warning there would be a lot of food at Sabatini's we still weren't prepared for this feast. To sum up Sabatini's - Mmmm, Mmmm, Good!!
Overall this was a great cruise, as far as itinerary and celebrations are concerned. We very much enjoyed the fact that we celebrated Christmas and New Year on a cruise ship. The food was very good and the overall service was also very good.
Would we sail again with Princess, yes! Would we recommend the Grand? yes! I can't wait to return! But, I would like to explore more ships and cruise lines to find out if Princess is truly the best fit for us, which it seems to be or if other lines can offer us equal or maybe even a better cruising experience.