We are infrequent cruisers but, oddly, have done 2 this year. I think cruising is the only way to visit Norway: I really don't get this country at all- swimming in oil and gas, a small population, yet to eat and drink on restaurants costs you the national debt of a small country over the course of a holiday. e.g. At Geirnager we had 7 half pints of beer- i.e. 3.5 pints. Cost= ï¿½£50 (500Kr). Mad!
Anyway, here is my comparison: Boarding quick and efficient for both lines. Getting off equally painless. Restaurant food and service MUCH, MUCH better with Princess. (And no staff members begging us at the end to give them feedback as "excellent"!)
Princess has fresh water in the pools- a big plus I think.
Princess does NOT have in room tea-making facilities- a big minus for us Brits, BUT we ordered room service tea every morning, which was always delivered slightly ahead of schedule, at no extra charge.
Odd design of ship- Grand Princess does not always have elevators that are placed by stairs and not all elevators go to all floors. So, where we were, midships, we had to take the lift even if we wanted to go up or down a couple of levels. Strange!
Bar prices extortionate but maybe about 5% LESS than Royal Caribbean?
Excursion prices, as with all cruises, a complete rip off for what you get. e.g.IN Stavanger, there was a charge for a trip to the old town and fish canning museum ( thrilling!)but both were within easy walking distance.
BIG TIP- if there are more than 2 of you, try booking a hire car. You can drive around for the day and see a lot more than on a tour, for half the price! We did this at Leknes/Gravdal and Honningsvag.
We are not in a rush to cruise again, but if we were looking for another, we would not go with RC till they improve, and I read on here that they have changed for the better.
Ship felt pretty crowded to us. It was full but I guess going north meant there were less days when people were going to be outside. You will end up usually having to share a table with people you don't know at lunch.
The activity programme had a large part composed of things you had to pay for. There were not many lectures on topics of interest. e.g. None about the function of the ship.
I felt really sorry for the girls who had to stand around all day trying to induce people to pay for things like the spa. Not really a thing that Brits go for I think; especially older people. And WHY to sale of what is called "ART"? So much of it seems like so much trash to me. All cruises are pretty much the same, I think: someone has an idea and it quickly goes around all the firms. (e.g Build a boat for rubbish.)
NB there IS some vibration towards the stern- not excessive but more than in Brilliance of the Seas.