Length: 201 ft
The original Princess "mega-ship" this ship made history as the largest premium ship in the 1990s.Best For People Who Want
A roomy ship with ample choices for alternative dining, wide-ranging fitness programs; true onboard weddings as well as vow renewal; programs for children of all ages, tweens and teens; balcony cabins; lots of nightlife choices, extensive golf and snorkeling programs.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
A more personalized cruise experience on a smaller ship, world-class cuisine.Onboard Experience
When she entered service in 1998, the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess was the biggest cruise ship at sea, and the first of Princess' Grand-class, which would soon come to also include Golden Princess, Star Princess, and Caribbean Princess. Despite their actual size, the fact that Grand Princess and her sisters carry far fewer passengers than competing mid-class cruise ships of similar size means that the space per passenger ratio on these ships results in lounges, theaters and dining rooms that are are all intimate enough to make passengers forget they're aboard a megaliner.
Thanks to shrewd layout, multiple dining venues, four expansive outdoor deck areas (1.7 acres!), multiple sports facilities, four pools, and nine hot tubs, passengers are rarely concentrated in any one area. As a result, these ships often feel almost too spacious, eerily empty at times. Not that this is a bad thing, most luxury ships have the same feel. Meanwhile, the mega-ship amenities included for those who can never get enough dining, entertainment, and fitness choices, means the Princess ships of this class are as good as it gets. Their programs for younger passengers are exemplary, and their Lido buffet dining spot is open around the clock.
Having offered the first wedding chapel at sea (with the Captain doing the honors), Grand Princess now also features a complete professional digital photography studio in the F/X Digital Photo Center for those all-important wedding photos. The medical center is one of the most advanced at sea, the first to offer real-time teleconferencing support from a leading national cardiac care center in the United States.
The most incongruous factor about these mega-ships is that the public rooms aren't much bigger than those on much smaller ships, and there are surprisingly few bars and lounges for a ship this size. The one head-scratcher to the design is the compromised privacy of many balconies that extend out far enough from the ship that people from several decks above can look right down into your "private" enclave. From the Baja Deck, for instance, you can watch other passengers on their Caribe and Dolphin Deck balconies. Caribe occupants can in turn observe their counterparts on the Dolphin Deck.Decor
Unlike the theme park atmosphere of some other cruise lines, these Grand-class Princess ships décor bestows a refined, understatedly elegant atmosphere, with hand-painted murals and etched glass partitions in the dining rooms. Little apparent expense was spared on materials, with rich fabrics, beautiful woods, and marble everywhere, all topped of with a $2 million art collection aboard each ship. The cabins are tastefully decorated in soft, inoffensive shades -- beiges, creams and muted pinks.Public Rooms
The Vista Show lounge presents production shows, cabaret, comedians and magicians. The performers in the smaller lounges are of consistently high quality.
Skywalkers, the real disco, is suspended between two pillars protruding high above the stern, fully 18 stories above sea level. The moving sidewalk you ride up to Skywalkers is one of the most breathtaking views on any ship, and one that many passengers probably never discover.
As with all Princess ships, you will quickly find the Wheelhouse Bar and the Explorers' Lounge offering cabaret, trivia competitions, art auctions, and pre-dinner dancing. Churchill's Lounge, the one-time sports bar, is now behind the casino and is used for the cognac and cigars set. The sports paraphernalia is still there, but seems oddly out of place.
The main gathering spot, the maple-paneled atrium paneled, has boutiques, cafés and public rooms on each of its three levels, all connected by a circular glass staircase. A string quartet adds to the airy ambiance. The gigantic Casino contains some 285 slot machines and gaming tables beyond counting. You can view live sports on ESPN in the Sports Bar, or recline in leather chairs while perusing any of hundreds of books in the beautiful library.
The Internet room on these Grand-class ships do not qualify as "cafés" as there are no café-style treats available. Even worse, there is no tech support and if you can find the printer you may have to fix your settings on your computer to make it work yourself. The connection is generally slow and inconsistent. Sadly, these are some of the worst, and most under-utilized, Internet centers at sea.
Those who want the captain to pronounce them man and wife will meet him in the Hearts and Mind Wedding Chapel, which has much stained glass.Cuisine
What can you say about a ship that offers three main dining rooms instead of the usual multi-tiered, bigger than life one? They are more intimate and definitely quieter, but like the Princess "included in the cruise fare" cuisine, they are not likely to elicit a "wow" response either. These main dining rooms predictably offer Princess' Continental-style cuisine unlikely to win any culinary awards, but also elicit few complaints. For gourmet dining, try the alternative option, refined but not snooty, Sabatini's Trattoria for a wonderful selection of Italian antipasti, complemented with such garnishes as Sevruga caviar, delicious pizza, homemade pastas, soups and breads. Salads are tossed before your very eyes, and soup ladled into fresh bread bowls. Seafood predominates on the list of main courses; there are lobster, langoustines, tiger prawns, Chilean sea bass and scallops, with red meat dishes also on offer. Save room for the exquisite Italian pastries that will be wheeled before you toward meal's end.Restaurants
The three principal restaurants, Botticelli, Da Vinci and Michelangelo Dining Rooms, seating from 486 to 504 passengers, feature hand-painted murals and etched-glass partitions. The drapes and carpeting in the main dining areas absorb sound efficiently enough to preclude diners having to holler across the table to one another.
Personal Choice Dining offers either traditional cruise dining (in the Botticelli), with a set seating time (6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) and the same waiter and tablemates each evening, or new restaurant-style seating, allowing passengers to dine when and with whom they choose, with each party seated at its own table, as at a restaurant ashore (offered in the other two dining rooms). Restaurant-style diners may be seated in either of the two elegant main dining rooms any time between 5:30 and midnight. Many passengers are understandably grateful for this reprieve from having to hurry to dress for dinner in the traditional way after a long day ashore.
Sabatini's, (surcharge $20 per person) described above, seats 100, the Sterling Steakhouse features Angus beef and other grilled red meats (surcharge $15 per person). The Horizon Court is open 24 hours per day, with menu service at night, plus casual breakfast and luncheon buffet. There's also a festive pizzeria. For $100 per couple, you can book the Ultimate Balcony Dinner, to be served by a butler who discreetly makes himself scarce behind drapes or out in the hall between courses. The ship's photographer snaps a complimentary photo while you're eating.Service
While Princess has a well-deserved reputation for good service securely footed in its British roots, truly personalized service may be too much to expect on a ship this size. That noted, cabin stewards and waiters are both efficient and personable. And rote processes that should be standardized and well executed on other ships but often fail miserably, such as efficient disembarkation, are generally practiced and polished to the point of excellence here.Tipping
A charge of $10 per person per day (including children) is automatically added to your stateroom account for dining and stateroom personnel. This applies to all passengers, adult and child alike, whether or not they choose traditional or personal choice dining. The amount may be increased or lowered at the Purser's Reception desk during the cruise.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.Entertainment
With a dozen or so venues for nightlife, you're virtually assured of finding something that floats your boat, to coin a phrase. There's no faulting the lavishness of the production shows, which feature extravagant special effects. The performers in the cabaret are a talented bunch.Cabins
are built out from the body of the ship so as to permit bigger staterooms. Seven hundred ten of the 1300 staterooms have balconies, ranging up to 257 sq. feet, but they're not very private, as they're in plain view of the occupants of the cabin on the next deck up. Standard inside staterooms are 160 sq. ft., while outside cabins range from 168 to 210 sq. feet. Closet space is minimal except in the suites; leave some things home! Mini-suites with private verandas are 325 sq. feet. Vista Suites, called mini-suites on other Princess ships, range from 515 to 800 sq. feet. Sun and Dawn Princess offer larger minisuites for less money.
All staterooms have color TV with CNN and movies, a radio and small refrigerator, and spacious bathrooms with storage space and hair dryers.Fitness/Spa
We can't recall having seen superior fitness facilities. The four pools, including a "swim-against-the-current" lap pool, are uniformly gorgeous, thanks in no small part to colorful mosaics and surrounding palm trees. Low marks, though, to whoever decided to put the separate jogging track right above the spa, as the relentless thundering of hooves overhead isn't terribly conducive to one's enjoying her massage or beauty treatment. Even though prices are substantially higher than ashore, spa services are very popular, especially in the afternoon. You'll occasionally have to stand in line for some of the more popular workout apparatuses in the gym. There's a golf simulator and 9-hole putting green, and courts for basketball, volleyball or tennis.Attire
Seven- to 14-night cruises offer two opportunities to put on the Ritz in formal attire. Many men opt for dark suit instead of tux, while their distaff companions often prefer dressy pants to gowns. The rest of the time, think smart casual.
This cruise on the Grand was the Baltic and Scandinavian. We got a lot of hype about the ship getting an extensive "over haul ".. The main areas were re-done, and were very nice, however, we and many other passengers were very disappointed that the cabin were NOT re-done a bit ! Walking into the old, run down cabin was very upsetting. Everything was very old, even the very flat pillows, and the thin worn out towels. The toilet had black stuff in it, and the shower was old, and the closet was VERY tiny. We had an oceanview. I just hate it when the window is over the head of the bed, instead of having the bed along side the other wall. The cabin stewart was one of the worse we have ever had in our 50 cruises.
We contacted his supervisor, who did see to it that he did his job. He was just lazy and forgetful. The last straw was on the last night before disembarking, he forgot to give us the note about setting out clocks ahead. Also the food on Princess ships has gone downhill. We noticed a lot of "cutting back" on a lot of things.
GRAND PRINCESS Southern Caribbean Cruise March 17-24, 2012 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
When the Grand Princess entered Venice, Italy in 1998 for the first time, it was said: That the only thing more brilliant than the sight of the Grand Princess on the Venetian Lagoon is the sunrise! She was truly innovative then and now; even though her spoiler has been removed, she still is a splendid sight. The spoiler once held the lively Skywalker Nightclub; suspended high above the ship and the sea, cruisers danced the night away among the stars. Reached only by elevator and escalator, it was a veritable gorgeous crow's nest.
This was our third cruise aboard the Grand and she is just as lovely now as on our first trip during her inaugural year. This cruise is billed "Discover Old World Charm:" and there's plenty of it from the hub of the Piazza (Square) with "Vines" and its fine wine selection to the new "Alfredo's Pizzeria." The marvelous continuous entertainment in the Piazza was headlined every afternoon by guitarist Ron Steta. Then of course between 3:30 and 4:30pm, there is High Tea in the Da Vinci DiningRoom. Fit for a queen, with the whole gamut: from water cress sandwiches to fresh hot scones --- all served with white gloves. Captain Anthony Herriot (England) and Hotel General Manager Richard Harry (England) are the two men on board who are the keepers of "Old World Charm."
Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is easily accessed from I-95 after a short ride from Boca Raton. We arrived at 12:45pm and dropped off our luggage curbside. We were through check in and on board in less than ten minutes. This is an excellent use of deck by deck boarding and priority boarding for elite members. Our cabin was ready, and we left our hand luggage and were off to the Welcome Aboard Buffet.
We wrote a review on the Grand during her inaugural year; wherein we described her deck by deck in detail, so this review will center on the general ambiance and the many on board possibilities. The Grand was built in 1998 and refurbished in 2011. She is 109,900 tons and registered in Bermuda. Her length is 951 ft. and beam is 118 ft.. She has a passenger capacity of 2,600 and a crew of 1,200 (an excellent passenger to crew ratio). There is a total of 372 inside cabins and 928 outside cabins of which 710 have verandahs. There are 215 suites. There are three dinner seatings: 5:30pm, 6:00pm and 8:15pm. We were in the first seating and found 5:30pm a bit too early even for us to dine. Especially after tea at 4:00pm There are 12 Bars & Lounges, a Casino and Chapel and 12 elevators plus on board self service laundromats. There are a library, where tea is also served, a theater, a giant outdoor screen for "Movies under the Stars", on board shops, a health spa and a video arcade. The physical fitness facilities include basket ball, golf simulation, a jogging track, four swimming pools (one heated) and eight whirlpools. There are children's facilities including a playroom, kiddie pool, youth program and teen center.
Our wheelchair accessible cabin #A304 was on Aloha Deck 12. When entering on the right is a triple armoire: two sections are for hanging clothes and the third has a personal safe and six shelves. Next, there is a TV and a refrigerator with a complimentary bar set up for Elite Members of the "Captain's Circle." Then, there is a long desk/vanity with lighted mirror and four drawers.
When entering on the left, there is a huge bathroom with an extra large shower 4'X 4' with a folding seat. There is a single sink with mirror and several shelves for sundries. Next is the king size bed (at just the right height) flanked by night stands, each with a reading lamp a top shelf and four drawers. There is an upholstered barrel chair, a desk chair and a small wood and glass coffee table.
The far wall has a sliding glass door to the balcony -- on which are two chairs, a table and a chaise which Dixon, our excellent steward, added for Vincent. Housekeeper Violetta Cecane was very courteous and helpful and made sure that the service remained excellent throughout the cruise. The interior of the stateroom is mostly beige trimmed nicely in walnut wood. The carpet is a diamond patterned burnished red. There is one huge picture of a small row boat with its reflection sharply delineated in the clear water of a bay. In the background, there is a small whitewashed town and a hill. The drapes and the headboard of the bed are a soft blue accented by a beige trellis pattern. All pleasant and comforting.
FOOD & SERVICE
We always say the quality of the service filters down from the top -- Capt. Herriott and Hotel General Manager Richard Harry set the very British tone and it is terrific. As elite passengers (more than 15 cruises), many things are gratis: complimentary bar set up, laundry, shoe shines, afternoon tea in the cabin, etc....
Vincent took advantage of the the laundry service and was very satisfied. Mary took advantage of the afternoon tea served in the cabin and made a standing order for all week. Which she later modified, since on the first afternoon the Bell Box waiter arrived with a full High Tea for Two: Two pots of hot water, a sampling of 12 types of tea, two plates of dainty sandwiches, eight scones with whipped cream and raspberry preserves, eight pastries and eight fruit concoctions. This is as close to heaven as it gets! Needless to say, Mary modified the order to just tea and scones for the rest of the week: Excellent and only available on the Princess ships. The butler will also stay and serve if one desires. Next time we travel with friends, tea will be at the top of our agenda.
Breakfast -- we always have in our stateroom. We complete the selections the night before and hang the menu on our door knob. The next morning at 7:00am promptly it arrives. There is an English muffin sandwich: fried egg, Canadian bacon and cheese, very nice. We also selected coffee, hot chocolate, orange juice and half of a grapefruit, cold cereal, yogurt, plain or fruited, rolls, toast, croissants and brioches are all available. Or just go up to the buffet or down to the Da Vinci Dining Room, from 7:30 to 9:30, for sit down service.
Luncheon on the Princess has a full menu -- including pasta courses (Amatriciana, Carbonara, Puttanesca, etc...). Every day fried calamari are available. Some of the lunch items are usually dinner items on other lines: Vitello tonnato, mixed English grill (tiny lamb chops, bangers, veal kidney and beef medallions). Our favorite place for lunch was Alfredo's Pizzeria, where personal pizzas were created for each diner.
Dinner was exceptional every evening. The courteous and friendly Maitre D' Fabio Marcotti assigned us an easily accessible table #01, near the entrance of the Michelangelo Dining Room, which was very much appreciated by Mary who could park her wheelchair within a few step from it. Head Waiter Antoine and Head Waiter Victor saw that service was snappy and courteous. Our waitress Elena was from Romania; she was fast and flawless. Her assistant was Franco from Mexico and he couldn't be nicer.
Service and food on board are excellent.
Cruise Director Billy London has things well in hand and the "Princess Patter" lists the myriad of activities available daily. From Trivia Games, Bingo, Movies, and live entertainment to Wine Tasting with the Sommelier on board, there is much to do. The entertainment in the Piazza lends the atmosphere of "Old World Charm." Ship's musicians, comedians and variety entertainers performed throughout the day in the Piazza. Most of them were good, but our favorite was the guitarist Ron Steta, who had a lovely repertoire of old popular and classic melodies. He performed at least once a day throughout the week.
Enchanted Evening entertainment is emphasized mainly in "Showtime" presented in the Princess Theater and/or the Vista Lounge, twice each night, at 8:15 and 10:15 to accommodate first and second dinner seatings. Showtime consisted of a couple of Las Vegas type shows, several comedy shows and concerts with the Moonlight String Quartet, with guitarist Ron Seta and the Grand Princess Orchestra and with a solo pianist entertainer Alan Shiels. In addition there are some variety shows with a hypnotist and two jugglers.
"Movies under the Stars" is also a popular venue in the morning, afternoon and evening for those who enjoy open air entertainment. Concerts, documentaries and movies are usually shown in the morning; then in the afternoon there are Matinee movies; and in the evening, a main feature movie is projected along with the typical popcorn treat. There is fun for the whole family and everybody else.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Sail Away 4:15pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. AT Sea
Day 4. Oranjestad, Aruba Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm
Day 5. Willemstad, Curacao Arrive 7:00am Depart 1:00pm
Day 6. At Sea
Day 7. Princess Cays, Bahamas Arrive 8:30am Depart 3:30pm
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 7:00am
This was a snap. Those needing wheelchair assistance met in the Casino. There was a steward to accompany us to baggage pick up and from there a porter assisted us through customs and passport check. The whole procedure took 15 minutes. Excellent!
This was our seventeenth cruise on Princess ships and the third on the Grand, and again a wonderful one. It feels nice to be pampered and appreciated. We enjoy the freebies reserved for the Captain's Circle Elite members, thus we plan to cruise more frequently on Princess. The only difference we noticed between our first cruise on the Grand and this one was our difficulty accessing certain areas, such as the Promenade and the Pool, since now both of us have limited mobility; before, when at least one of us was able and strong, we could open the heavy doors, but now we have to wait for some other person to hold the doors for us. However, on the newer Princess ships, we have noticed the improvements toward making a more wheelchair friendly environment, with automatic door openers and smoother thresholds. Thanks, Princess for listening to our suggestion. We have already booked a future cruise on the Ruby Princess for November 4, 2012. Happy Cruising!
GRAND PRINCESS EASTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE
This was my third Princess and my tenth cruise overall. For my friend Jan, it was her first ever cruise and she couldn't have been more impressed. We left the hubbies home for a girls' week of fun. Stayed at the Embassy Suites 1 day pre-cruise which was an excellent choice. We had booked Princess transfers and the move from the airport to the hotel was seamless. Our room wasn't ready so we left our bags with the bell desk and set off in search of lunch since breakfast had been at the airport around 6:30 AM. Jan had some recommendations from a co-worker who had lived in Ft. Lauderdale so we chose Anthony's oven-fired pizza. Not knowing where it was, we took the shuttle for $3/pp. It turned out not to be very far from the hotel.
We decided on sharing a large salad and ordered a personal pizza each. It was way too much for us to finish so we took the leftovers with us. The shuttle driver had given us his card so we could call for a pickup but he was stuckin a traffic jam on RT 75. Looking at the street signs, I figured out that we were only a few blocks from 17th Street so we walked back to the hotel w/o any problems. There was a CVS pharmacy right on the corner which was great since I had forgotten a few personal items.
Back at the hotel, our room was ready so we were happy to sit down in the air-conditioning and put our feet up for a few minutes. I don't know what it was, but we both were complaining of swollen feet which made walking around rather uncomfortable. After a brief rest, we took off in search of the Total Wine shop. Everyone said it was right behind the hotel but what they don't say is that there is quite a nice strip mall there and the wine store was in the far left corner. I even had some coupons to use. Purchasing one bottle apiece seemed to be the limit of our alcohol consumption.
Proceeding to the Dollar Store which is kitty-corner from the front of the hotel in another strip mall, we got gift bags for our Meet and Greet gift exchange. At this point, it was getting dark and we were getting tired. I was cranky because my feet hurt so we headed back to the hotel for the free evening cocktail hour. One drink each seemed to satisfy our thirst and made us very relaxed. Still full from the pizza, we opted out of dinner and headed back to our room for a shower and bed.
Setting the wake up call for 8 AM, we were up early and started getting cleaned up for breakfast. Our breakfast was great with made to order omelets and other things. The letter from the cruise line told us to have our bags outside our rooms by 10 AM and be in the lobby at noon for check in with the Princess reps. They were late so everyone was milling around getting antsy to leave. General chaos reigned as everyone tried to get their health forms and to identify their luggage for transport. This was the only problem with using the Princess transfers. Once the buses arrived and everyone had their luggage loaded, it was much better. Dropped us at the correct pier where we took our carry-ons through Security and checked in to receive our room keycards. We stopped for the boarding photo and then went up the correct ramp according to our cabin number. Found our room without any problem and dropped our stuff.
Our cabin attendant was Savone from VietNam and he got everything we asked for; robes, top sheets, extra hangers, 2 tote bags. He was quick with cleaning the room when we were at breakfast and did a superb job.
We were in Caribe 308. The room looked identical to the one I had previously on the Grand in 2008. I was disappointed in the balcony. Although it was quite spacious, there was no rubber matting and the 2 chairs were recliners but no foot stools so they were actually not very comfortable. The reason that was given to other cruisers for the lack of matting was weight which is ridiculous when you realize the ship lost 4 Tons with the removal of Skywalkers. What was 113,000 RT in 2008, is now 109,000 RT. The probable reason is cost cutting.
Jan wanted to do the "Treasure Hunt" card we were given upon boarding. It required you to find different departments on the ship and receive a stamp for each one. We dropped the cards into a box by the pool for a drawing. The nice thing about it was it makes you become familiar with the ship. Jan was totally blown away by the beauty and size of the Grand. She kept saying she felt she was in the first class section of the Titanic! This was the only frame of reference that she had to cruising. We ran up to the Sanctuary to reserve some space for a sea day only to be told we had to be there @ 8 AM on the day desired. International Cafe won our lunch choice for shrimp and chicken salad.
While eating we heard the first announcement for the muster drill telling us to bring our life jackets with us. When we got to our room, the luggage was there so we dragged it in and got ready for the muster drill. With the Costa Concordia disaster so fresh in everyone's minds, I have to say this was the most attentive muster drill I have ever attended. Next up was the sail away by the pool with the band and lots of fun and excitement. Our names were not drawn for the Treasure Hunt but it was fun anyway. Got our specialty drinks and watched the ship leave the pier.
Back to the room to unpack and clean up for dinner. We had Anytime Dining and this was the first time I had tried it. I think it worked very well and I would do it again. First night at 7:00 was very busy but we got a pager and only had to wait 20 minutes. We agreed to share a table at every dinner and met lots of very nice people. I was wondering how Jan would like the menus as she is a picky eater. Princess now has "Down-home" entrees on the menu and Jan ate them at least 3 times.
There was quite a range of ages onboard from a 6 month old baby on up. It was nice because the late night activities were well attended. The Princess Pop Star competition was quite good and we really enjoyed attending it. Some very talented people were there. We went to the casino and I started out with a bang by winning almost $200. Jan won $30 on the slots.
Sunday was a sea day and One5 was the location for our CC meeting. The Meet and Greet was a big success. We met the Captain, Purser, Maitre'd, Executive Chef and Trent, Customer Relations. ( A real cutie!) Jan and I got our pictures taken with Captain Bilton who was so nice and accommodating. We met lots of nice people and loved crossing paths with them all during the trip. Tried the pool that day but it was rather windy and had some sprinkles. Of course we went to Bingo at least 5 times and never did win but we had fun anyway. Our first formal night we had to wait a short time with the pager but sat in the Piazza and watched the fashion show. Turned out we got a table for 2! Lots of jokes about our "romantic" dinner. Saw the comedian show and it was ok. Lots of people were walking out. Back to the casino and I won big again. Jan hit the slots for $65.
Monday was a partial sea/tour day. We arrived in San Juan @ 4 PM and we had planned a tour. Jan had never been to any of these places so we did a tour at each stop. In SJ, we went to San Cristobal fort for a self-guided tour and then a short stop in Old SJ for shopping. Jan loves to shop so she was in hog heaven in every port. Back to the ship for dinner and see a show but don't remember which one. We were too pooped to stay up too late and the casino did not open until 11 PM. Saw the first part of Princess Pop Star and thought it was very entertaining.
Tuesday was St. Maarten and this was the best tour we took. Booked the Orient Beach stop with lunch which was very good and 2 drinks. The beach was very nice and the water had big waves which I love!. I was sorry I didn't have a boogie board to ride them. We come from Chicago where not only is our land flat but so is our water. Lake Michigan is not known for it's surf. LOL! Going back to the ship we could have gotten off the bus to go shopping but we had done some with the local vendors and were anxious to get the sand out of our bathing suits. Another nice dinner and back to the casino again. This time Jan won $300 on the slots and I didn't know when to quit when I had doubled my money and had a loss.
Wednesday was St. Thomas and we thought we were being so good to get up at 6:30 to we could eat breakfast before going on our tour to Magen's Bay. Thinking we had lots of time, we decided to go to the dining room for breakfast and as usual, were chatting away with our table mates while eating our meal. Excused ourselves to go back to the room and get our suits on for the tour. Looking at my watch, I was shocked to see it was 8:39 as our tour left at 8:20! We threw on our suits and ran off the ship to see no one waiting for us. Jan was for grabbing a cab to Magen's Bay and catching up with the tour. At this point, it started raining and I was not too keen on that idea. Back to the Shore Excursion desk where they were so kind to book us on another tour leaving in an hour.
Changed out of our suits and were on time for this tour which took us around part of the island and to Blackbeard's castle and it's 99 steps down to street level. From there we hit street level and all the shops in downtown Charlotte Amalie. Our best stop was Mr. Tablecloth where we both scored great Christmas linens. Jan really wanted to go to the flea market to score some deals and I was ok for a while but, still suffering with swollen feet I headed back to the ship by taxi. I sat on the balcony and finally opened up my bottle of wine. Jan came back just long enough to get more cash and run back to the shops on the pier to make one more purchase. We stood on our balcony and watched the Eurodam back out first while we waited our turn. Hearing some cries of "wait, wait, don't leave without us" directed our attention to the entrance to the pier to see several young women running to our ship. I heard someone on a balcony above us saying she heard the ship was missing 6 passengers. The "missing" made it to the gangplank where they boarded and were duly checked in. Back to the casino where Jan won another $300 and I was chasing my money. Saw the Motor City show and liked it but everyone who saw the Magician said he was fabulous. Sorry we missed him. Stayed up late to watch a movie in the Vista lounge; "The Debt" which neither of us had seen before.
Thursday was our last sea day and I ran upstairs at 8 AM to reserve our spot in the Sanctuary from 1-5 PM. Jan got her lounger in the sun but I am definitely a shade girl and I had trouble finding and keeping a spot. Most of the loungers are set up for 2 together so the odd single person is hard to accommodate. Everyone talked about how great the service was up there but honestly, no one came around with water spritzers, I-pods or menus. I asked for a menu and finally got one. Jan and I both ordered something and waited quite a while for it to arrive. Turns out one of the waiters dropped a whole tray full of lunches and they had to re-make everything. I wanted the tuna pate with pita bread but the "tuna" was not what I received. Vlade from Macedonia was knocking himself out to please us. I mentioned the food error and he went to get us 2 additional entrees as well as to replace my mistaken order. We ended up with 3 lunches!
We went to the Captain's Circle cocktail party in the Vista lounge that I was invited to as a repeat cruiser and got a free drink and snacks. I have learned not to accept the drinks the bar staff is pushing at these things and wait for someone to ask me what I want. The Captain was very welcoming and mentioned that there were so many repeaters so they had 3 of these meetings scheduled. Off to our last formal night and sat with one couple from Texas and 2 couples from Canada. There were 7 lobster dinners and 1 short ribs. (guess who?) I was very disappointed in this meal as I think they feel that the lobster is the star of the plate. It was served with white rice and carrots. This is an elegant dinner? I thought the presentation was not that great. There was a sorbet for the Chef's Special night which I passed on as I am diabetic and thought it would be too sweet. No one at the table liked the combination of flavors, especially with a sprig of thyme in it.
Back to the casino where they finally got us good and we left with our tails between our legs. Saw the show British Invasion and it was not bad but the usual cruise ship show.
Friday was our Princess Cays day and we had rented a bungalow. Unfortunately or not, we slept in and had a late breakfast. Our priority tender tickets were a moot point since almost everyone who wanted to be off the ship was already there. Jan had popped for the Gourmet Lunch which they wanted to serve us immediately. We prevailed upon them to wait a little time. The appetizer alone was enough for a meal. They brought 8 dinner rolls for the 2 of us! Vlade was our server at the bungalow also and brought us plates loaded with everything on the buffet table. There was enough food for 4 people. We had a table with 4 small chairs in the bungalow and 4 loungers outside it. I was never a big fan of the beach there and even though we both had surf shoes we did not really venture too far into the water because of all the rocks. After Orient Beach, this is actually a come-down. Princess really has a huge facility there with 3 different buffet areas, very nice clean bathrooms and some vendors. Jan wanted to do her last bit of shopping so we ventured outside the gates to the small area of vendors there. It was the usual tourist stuff but Jan found some jewelry for her granddaughter. I was all shopped out by that time. The line for the tenders was long but moved fast. It was good to get back on the ship.
Being the last night for our cruise, it was a bittersweet ending. We went for anytime dinner and ended up at a table for 4 which we shared with one of the couples from our first night! We decided to head back to the cabin just to get everything packed so we could enjoy the last evening. Back to the casino for one last chance and joined all the other losers. One of the nice things about playing the table games, you get to know several people because you all are there together every evening. We crashed for the last time and set a wake up time for 7 AM.
Our last breakfast was in the buffet and we shared that with one of the couples from our formal night dinner. Jan had just discovered the chocolate croissants and grabbed one for the wait in the airport. Our disembarkation group met in Explorers lounge and we were only there for about 15 minutes before we were called to disembark. Found our luggage, went through customs and headed for the bus to the airport. While we were sitting waiting for our flight we heard people talking about an outbreak of illness on other ships. So glad it wasn't on the Grand!
Hubby picked us up at Midway Airport and our vacation was over but not forgotten. All in all, we had a great time and Jan can't wait to take her next one. We are hoping to get our nursing school classmates together for a 4-5 day reunion cruise next year.