Owned by the Princess Cruise Lines, this vessel is a Grand-class cruise ship that entered service in 2001. Sister ship of Grand Princess and Star Princess she can carry more than 3,600 passengers and crew.
Last month while the ship was traveling between L.A and the Mexican Riviera we decided to book a weekend cruise and enjoy the outstanding Princess amenities provided onboard.
What Makes it Family Worthy?
As we mentioned before we are huge fans of cruising since it is a way to enjoy a great vacation at a reasonable price, visit several ports yet unpack only once.
Though this particular ship offers less family friendly activities than its counterparts on competing cruise lines, it still had multiple venues to engage passengers of all age groups.
Depending on its itinerary this vessel attracts more retirees and couples. However, families still make a decent sized segment of onboard guests.
The ship decor was modern using vibrant colors with wood accents throughout the vessel. The dining spaces were designed in hues of tans and browns while the entertainment areas looked more glitzy dressed in pinks, purples, and golds.
Neutral colors like cream and silver were prevalent in our bathroom, but the floor consisted of blue and white tiles arranged in a checkerboard pattern. The bedroom area was mostly decorated in white and other neutrals with lightly hued wood paneling throughout. There was also red patterned carpeting and a blue chair in our cabin blending some color to the overall design scheme.
As mentioned before, this particular ship had fewer entertainment options than other ships we had previously vacationed on.
With that said our son with autism enjoyed some of the ‘grown up’ activities that he had never tried before.
We all tried the outdoor activities like the pools, water slides, mini golf, giant chess, shuffleboard, virtual bowling (WII) and ping pong games. He discovered Bingo which though a bit of a money pit helped him practice, his social interactions with staff and fellow passengers. Also, he found the cupcake decorating class fun so he went back the next day to do it again.
For evening entertainment, we did sit through a Broadway review of the British 60’s invasion songs which was mediocre, and we were disappointed the movie under the stars was canceled due to high winds.
What was surprisingly good was an acrobatic show in the lobby area that we watched mesmerized, and the pretend New Year’s countdown party, a Princess tradition.
The ship featured several spots to dine throughout the cruise.
Apart from the Horizon Court Buffet and regular dining restaurants it had pay for purchase restaurants like Sabatini’s, serving Italian fare, and the Crown Grill, offering steakhouse style grub.
We dined at Sabatini for 25$ Prix fix menu per person and had an overall enjoyable experience.
Our family stayed in the P303 cabin on Plaza Deck Five.
We were greeted by balloons and a celebratory poster tacked to our cabin door in honor of our son’s birthday, which was a nice touch.
Our cabin had a porthole window providing an excellent view of the outside. The safety information found on the back of the door was clearly marked to let us know where our muster station was in the event of an emergency.
Upon entering our cabin, the bathroom area was on the left. Just across the small entryway, there was a closet that contained all the lifejackets in the case of any unforeseen emergency. It had ample amount of storage space and could easily hold lots of our luggage.
The cabin itself had two beds with nightstands in between them. There was also a pull out bunk bed that could be opened at night and closed during the day for our son. It contained a safety bar that helps keep sleepers from falling out.
Our cabin’s television was placed over the desk, as was a large mirror. The latter feature allowed the space to function as a vanity. A hairdryer was attached to the wall nearby to further facilitate this usage. More in keeping with the desk’s traditional purpose as a workspace were the additional shelves and drawers that were included in its design.
There was a phone and some beverage glasses on the desktop for our use, and one of the cabinets beneath it contained a mini fridge. There were also a fair number of outlets provided, but travelers who find that they need more may want to bring their electric strips.A visible thermostat helped complete the picture as it allowed the room temperature to be quickly adjusted to our liking.
The bathroom was incredibly well organized with several hooks for hanging towels and wet clothing. There were two fully stocked towel racks above the commode. Extra toilet paper could be found under the sink just in case it was needed. There was a sizeable open cabinet at one end of the sink counter that was capable of holding even more personal belongings.
Under the sink was a shelf that held the waste bin but it could also be used to store supplies. The shower itself was fairly ordinary in design.
However, it had excellent water pressure and featured raised up edges along the bottom so that water didn’t get splashed all over the floor. The shower was separated from the toilet area with a curtain.
The cabin also contained a full-length mirror near the bathroom area so that we could check our outfits before departing their room to go anywhere.
Overall, though the room was not large, it turned out to be functional and well organized.
Autism Travel Tips
- The shower in the cabin has a safety handle so that those who need to do so can use it.
- We discovered that walkie-talkies were useful devices on cruises and recommend that other families bring along their own sets to communicate with each other.
- Gluten free and other diet observing passengers should let the cruise line know ahead of time whether they plan to stay on the ship while in port so they could be accommodated.
- Parents to kids with autism should ask guest services for restaurants and show seating arrangements .t
- Word of caution about the coffee shop on the ship; the hot beverages are served at a very high temperature so parents should remind their kids to take extra precautions to avoid scalding themselves,
- Parents should pack a set of noise canceling headphones or earplugs if their kid wishes to attend the ultra-noisy new year’s or sail away parties.