Editor’s note: This item is adapted from a blog posting on our U.K. sister site.
Boy, did that week pass quickly. But now that I’ve debarked the newly refurbed Grand Princess, I have some thoughts on some of the biggest hits and misses onboard the ship.
Biggest Hit (Inside): The Piazza, which replaced a more traditional atrium, is a dynamic new hub. Perhaps it’s anchored by the entertainment – you never know what you’ll see throughout the day. But what keeps it fresh areits dining and drinking spots, including the wine bar Vines and Alfredo’s pizzeria.
Biggest Hit (Outside): In removing the iconic Skywalkers, this sundeck area has been transformed. It’s a stunning place for a retreat — quiet (without the din of the main pool areas), close to food and drinks and, yes, sunny (read: no more shade from that giant shopping-cart handle).
Best Food: I was pleasantly surprised by cuisine onboard Grand Princess. The dining room fare was consistently excellent, and alternative restaurants like Crown Grill and Sabatini were superb (even with a surcharge of $20 or more, they were tough to get into, so be sure to make reservations). Also marvelous: the sea-day pub lunches in the Crown Grill.
Biggest Disappointment: Those mid-ship elevators are a major mess. They’re creaky, slow and inconsistent. Just take the stairs, you say? Not so fast – oddly enough, there’s no staircase beyond Deck 7 that supports mid-ship ascending.
Hippest Lounge: The new One5 Bar, the swanky club that replaced Skywalkers.
Biggest Misfire: Maybe it’s me, but Leaves — the combo tea-room, library and game room — didn’t knock my socks off. It was a bit too dark and woody for a tea-room, and its open-air position on a busy pedestrian walkway made it less than relaxing as a library.
Needs Tweaking: If you’re promoting wine as an alcoholic drink that’s best enjoyed with food, you need to serve food. At Vines on Grand Princess, space is clearly more limited here than at the venue on other, newer Princess ships, but there could/should be a tapas/cheese plate menu. (Note: During one of Vines’ intimate wine-tasting events, we tested various reds with various cheeses.)
As Lovely as Always: Service, especially on a ship that’s just undergone a huge transformation, has to be challenging, and it can take a toll on crewmembers. Not here – I recognized familiar faces from past voyages, and crewmembers consistently went out of their way.