Accessible Grand Princess
to the Western Caribbean
by Vladimir Drobashevsky © 2002
Vladimir and Elfrieda Drobashevsky
share their 7-day Christmas cruise to the Western Caribbean.
Our previous cruises were on Regal, Dawn,
old Star and old Sky
so Elfrieda and I were a
little bit apprehensive about boarding this mega ship
It turned out to be a big / little ship and we loved it (hm - her).
For those of you not interested in details, let me just say, our
Western Caribbean, with some minor
glitches, was just great. A fat B+.
Wife and I cannot wait to "assemble finances" for a next
cruise in the near
Now the details.
After a painless flight from Pittsburgh to FTL, we had a quick flawless
embarkation as early as 1 pm. In
difference to previous trips we had to get
our luggage off the bag
belts at FTL terminal and carry it over to the
I did not understand this new security step, since all our
luggage was well
in Pittsburgh and now in FTL
delivered by porter to the bus and later dropped off
crew to our stateroom door!
For the last three years, my wife is in the wheelchair and we book now a
Both of us were
surprised to find a huge room with a king-size bed, lots of
drawers and closets, a
balcony approx. 7 x 14 ft and a large bathroom. One
bit about the bathroom. The flooring is glazed tile including the
shower stall. Imagine standing on
equal to skating ice rink surface and taking a
It gets a little bit more challenging since my sweetheart is an amputee
transfer from the WC to the folding shower bench and back. I did explain the problem to the purser
- no results, and further, the room steward told
we are not the first to
point out the danger.
Food, Service and Entertainment
Both of us are used to having dinner at home around
6 o'clock, so we always
choose the traditional seating/early dinner; table for four. At Grand,
at 6.15. This enabled us to
be done with "wining and dining" by about 7.30,
go back to our room,
refresh and then have plenty of time to attend the
and/or casino. There were
excellent selections on the menu every night, and
since I value my wife's
culinary abilities and judgment (only second to
Julia Childs!) - she was
well pleased and so was I. Cannot say the same for the
Horizon Court. We
had 2-3 breakfasts and lunches there and found
that although one had
endless selections, some of it was nothing to write
home about. Example, greasy K-y fried chicken and fried fish. We lucked
out with our waiter Eduardo and
his assistant Maxim. We had the feeling
that we were the only
couple that they catered to and including our room steward, that
could not do enough for us, we firmly believe all three
contributed a lot to our
Most evenings we preferred smaller
shows, such as the
comedians, jugglers and one very funny hypnotist. This had to do with
fiasco the first night at the main Show Lounge. It was Christmas Eve
and what else would be more appropriate then the Christmas Show.
Well, little did we know that the Princess entertainers were hardly
for the performance and
Santa's visit to Grand. It was a plain disaster,
obviously, a none-rehearsed
40 minutes! One could tell by the line in
the darkness of exiting guests.
We did hear, that the variety shows
the next couple of nights were much better...
Both of us are quite happy to remain on the ship at
various stops. Our
attitude: "been there, seen that". Seriously, there is always
so much to do,
and think how
relaxing and quiet it is on board with most of the passengers
ashore. The library with a fantastic choice of volumes, the card room
and all the lounge chairs
waiting for us by the empty pools on deck 14!
Our first stop Princess
Cays. As I've said, we've been there on our
Eastern cruise some time ago. Fellow passengers were very satisfied
with snorkeling, swimming and a
great barbeque, and we were off to
Grand Cayman. Well, it was not to be. Choppy sea would have prevented
safe transfer to tenders and so we continued to Costa
There were several good selections including Chacchoben
and the Museum of Mayan Culture.
Here, I should point out one misleading
shore excursion called "Jungle Beach Break" ($29.00-adult).
the PR brochure "Adventures
Ashore" at Uvero Beach,
tranquil waters, beautiful sand and tropical foliage, the club and the
amenities, it fact, it turned out to be a body of water knee deep up to
some 200-300 yards out, bottom full of dead coral and seaweeds.
beach was OK, but the "Club" was nothing more than a large
a bar and dirty, smelly toilets. It is certainly not the $29,
but a wasted afternoon
including 40 min each way on the bus.
The next day we were in Cozumel.
Heard from many, that trips to
Tulum Mayan Ruins and X-Caret
Eco-Archeological Park were
nice, but both of us elected to "hang out" downtown.
The sales people, in all
the stores, I found to be a little bit pushy; they
followed us everywhere through the store with all kinds of
offers. For the HP people,
a word of caution: if you are in a wheelchair, remember that most of the
store entrances are one, two
or even three steps up from
Our home flight was not until late in the evening
and we opted for
a bus tour in Ft. Lauderdale, specifically tour of
Everglades and the famous
Ft. Lauderdale Flamingo
Park. Thus the reason
for our early disembarkation.
The previous night
our suitcases were picked up from the cabin,
and after super fast exit (surrendering our ID/key cards and showing
our passports) we were at the Pr terminal building - searching for
the luggage. Thank God for porters, our bags were now on the
bus and we were off to Everglades. Really an excellent tour,
providing one uses the ear plugs properly. Mine - fell out for a second
and due to a real aircraft engine roar right at my left ear... I could
not hear for a couple of days. Oh well, live and learn!
We arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport right after lunch and found
an earlier flight home. In contrast to Pittsburgh Int'l, that has
seven Security Stations, Ft. Lauderdale, US Airways terminal had two,
and only one working! Needless to say, the line was a mile long,
the two of us were the last passengers to enter the aircraft.
spite of some tiny problems, we still think, it was one of the
cruises we ever had. We would not hesitate to return to
Grand Princess, depending
as always, on itineraries and
reasonable fares. It
was our 7th Princess cruise,
a total of
9, one each on Costa
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