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crazy4disney

Still crazy 4 Disney

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Hi all! Got back yesterday from our week on the Grand, and now I'm taking a break from the laundry. LOL We had a good time, because any day at sea is better than the best day on dry land for me, but it was disappointing in some ways.

Cast of characters: Me (39, single mom)/my son (just turned 10)/my mom and my stepdad (their first cruise)

The Good:

The Grand is beautiful. I loved the attention to detail everywhere, and the quiet and comfortable places to sit and just relax. Our stateroom (Caribe 705, balcony) was wonderful. The service was okay to excellent; our stateroom host was very nice but kept forgetting things like towels. Our waiter and asst. waiter were wonderful. The food was good, not great, but that's no surprise to anyone. We had a great time in the ports, but we were really sad that we missed Costa Maya (couldn't dock because of the high winds and swells.)

The Gripes:

While I did enjoy these ports, I am used to having at least one "real" Caribbean port mixed in there. This went from a Caribbean cruise to a "Fiesta Cruise" -- officially, as the "Tropical Night Deck Party" became the "Fiesta Night Deck Party." The staff kept slipping and calling it the other, then correcting themselves. Most of their passengers are from Texas -- if we wanted a fiesta, we would have stayed home, alright? It just made it seem as if we hadn't really sailed anywhere -- we certainly didn't "escape completely." That's what we go to the Caribbean for, and the difference was annoying, to say the least. We didn't hear one single steel pan band the entire time. Not one. To me, a steel pan band by the pool at least some of the time is a big part of the experience, and I missed it a lot.

I thought I had done enough research, but I realized I hadn't. I had read that having late traditional dining (something we love) would mean some conflicts with activities, but I didn't realize it would come down to have food, or have fun. Every "main activity" such as the game shows and dance parties, started around 9:15. By midweek I was sick of missing all the fun, and had to give up part of my dining experience so I could bail early and go attend the activities. I guess we should have done Anytime Dining, but I hated the whole idea of that -- we really love traditional dining. And on Disney, the main events are scheduled to begin at around 10:15 or so, which worked out perfectly. I guess I just figured that Princess would have as much common sense.

The events were a lot of fun, especially the game shows. The cruise staff is fun and full of energy, although I didn't really get to meet many of them. I'm really not good at meeting people on my own, and the hosted singles' get-togethers in the past have been so great for being introduced by the cruise staff to other singles and finding people to just hang out with for the week. Plus, in the past, we all got to know the cruise staff really well and just had so much fun with them. Since my little boy is with me all the time, with pretty much no breaks, this is a week I really look forward to. I get to be Gina, instead of just Mom.

I had copies of the Patters from just about a month ago, and was happy to see a "singles' get-together" on the first sea day. I kept looking for that in our Patters, and never saw anything. There were singles ping pong and shuffleboard tournaments, which I later found out meant singles-as-opposed-to-doubles. (Was I supposed to readily know that??) There was something called a "solo travellers get-together" but solo traveler doesn't mean single, and I wasn't traveling solo anyway. It turns out that they had inexplicably reworded things and that *was* for singles, but I didn't find that out until Friday. It was the difference between amazing and so-so for me, experience-wise, and I spent most of the cruise just wandering around by myself.

The biggest disappointment was the kids' club. Here, let me put it plainly: If you have kids older than about 4 or 5 and younger than maybe 14, PICK ANOTHER SHIP. The pictures I had seen ahead of time, I thought were simply a few select pics of the kids' area -- not the entire thing!! There is one small area where they can sit and watch a movie on a tv, and one other area with one PS2, a few board games, and a few little kid playthings. That's IT. It was as if at the 11th hour of designing the ship, someone said "Hey, there might be some kids on board from time to time!" and so they set aside a room and threw some crayons in there. There were so many kids this cruise (Spring Break, after all) that they had the 10-12 year olds IN A CONFERENCE ROOM. I couldn't believe it. In a conference room, playing board games on the floor.

Now I certainly didn't expect the Grand - or any other ship - to have kids' facilities like DCL does, but my son's pediatrician literally has more stuff in his waiting room than this "kids' club" did. Plus, for some bizarre reason, they keep closing off and on all day long. Closed from 12-2, closed from 5-7, closed at 10pm perioid, unless you want to pay for your child to sit and watch a movie on the tv (no PS2 play.) My son was so bored -- we can play board games at home. You can't keep a room full of 10-12 year olds, especially boys, cooped up like that! They could have taken the kids to play paddle ball, basketball, anything. But nope, they just stayed in that little room the whole time. So I just took him to the pool a lot, which meant that I had to sacrifice some of the activities I wanted to do myself. Don't get me wrong -- I adore my son and the time we spend together, but again, this is usually the only time I get to do "grownup stuff."

Aside from all the above -- and this is purely subjective -- I guess the thing I missed the most was, well, the magic. The whimsy. The feeling of knowing that pixie dust was around every corner and you never knew what magical thing was going to happen.

Some of the staff I spoke with used to work on DCL, and they agreed that Disney is by far #1 in pretty much every area. Unfortunately, Disney is just so expensive... I guess we just won't cruise for a while. Maybe just save up for a couple of years until we can make our way back to Florida again. I really did go in with an open mind, trying hard to not compare Princess to Disney, but the differences were just so glaring.

-gina-

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Gina thanks for your observations on the Grand..sorry it didnt work out as well as you planned, I guess there is not one of us that havent had a nice but disapointing cruise.. from time to time....u can still be crazy4disney but prefer Princess after all Cinderella became a Princess didnt she!

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We never had the experience of cruising with kids; but the Grand Princess obviously isn't the right ship for you. Why not start a post about "best ships for 13 year olds". We've heard that RCCL and Carnival go to a lot of trouble to have good kids' programs; maybe one of them is right for you.

A lot depends on your son's view of the world. For our older son at 13, the best thing for him would have been a mix of adult activities with some time with contemporaries. We've seen 12 and 13 year olds who did all adult things, others who did all kid's things. You want to have a ship that has the right choices.

Meanwhile, we hope that the good made up for the disappointing, and that your son enjoyed having quality time with his grandparents.

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If he had been 13, that might have been better... the teens seemed to have a bit more to do. But this isn't about it being the right cruise for me -- I only posted this to let other parents know that for kids in general, this is not the right cruise... and that for all the money Princess is getting, they can do a WHOLE lot better than the floor of a conference room for their junior cruisers.

-gina-

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