by tom c
April 12, 2008
This was our 4th cruise with Princess and our first transatlantic. It was also, at 20 days, the longest cruise we had taken. The attraction to this cruise was the itinerary and the price. Princess did a great job of turning a regular transatlantic into a grand adventure. We went to the Caribbean, Devil's Island, Brazil, Senegal, Morroco, Gibraltor, Cannes, Pisa, and then Rome. It was a near sell out.
We only had 2 overcast days and could not tender into Devil's Island. Other than that, the weather was beautiful. The 3 day crossing between Brazil and Senegal was beautiful. We sun bathed all the way into the sea day in the Med.
The Grand is 9 or 10 years old and shows some wear in comparison to our cruise on the brand new Crown Princess. But overall it is still a beautiful ship and more than got the job done. We had a rear facing balcony on Carib deck. We had really looked forward to this but did find it a little noisier than we would have liked. It is a little bouncier over the stern as the propeller shaft tends to send the back of the ship sideways and then snaps back. But the views over the wake forgave a lot of the above.
The food was okay. I think Princess is continuing to slide in okayness. The buffet was always bland and predictable. Dinner in the main dining room did offer some exceptions with some very good fish dishes. I think a major weakness are the salads. The cold soups were very good. I thought too many of the entrees had been prepared with alcohol which makes them off limits for me. But overall I ate everything and then wondered if I should stop or not.
The wait staff was excellent. We had anytime dining, but we liked our servers so much we requested tables in their area. This was great and there was never much of a wait, if any. The head waiters always made a fuss over us and always were great with arranging my wife's special, sugar free, desserts. Princess broke out the new china during the cruise and were also preparing to introduce the new menus. We heard this was the first in ten years.
I think we may have had a few of the new items. We also heard that special chefs from corporate hq were onboard to try and bring the food back up to the level it was supposed to be. The staff mentioned that they were inspecting every dish before it got out of the kitchen.
Our room steward was great and really made our cruise special. This is often where a cruise becomes special and that's what a cruise is about. We always were well taken care of and always had fun conversations with him easily 2 or 3 times a day. He was always there when we needed him.
A recommendation would be for the purser's desk to have postage stamps for the countries that the ship is going to stop in. This would go a long way in being able to mail post cards. It has to be with stamps from that country. Brazil and Morrocco visits were on Sundays (post office closed) and Senagal was a walk thru the industrial port and then some.
The onboard future cruise office was slow and with limited hours. The internet host was outwardly rude and the purser's desk said he was going to get canned at the next convenient opportunity, but he was still there at Rome.
The fellow cruisers were the most travelled group I had ever met. This was a great thing about the cruise. Everyone seemed to have been all over the globe. I learned many things from them and had many wonderful conversations. They certainly were an inspiration to keep growing in cruising.
There were about one-third Europeans onboard. Many Dutch. This really added a lot to the cruise. I always enjoy talking to them and hearing their perspectives. Many of their insights are not heard in the United States. Definately a big plus to transatlantics. It really lends a world perspective to life.
I would definately recommend transatlantics. This itinerary will be repeated in reverse this fall. It's like a trip to the edge of the earth.