We drove to Southampton and used http://www.candps.com/ for car parking and we'd definitely use them again. Simply drive up to the terminal and they valet park the car for you, it's quick, easy and not expensive. The car was parked opposite the ship for collection when we disembarked.
First time on Princess. Check in was fine, boarding was quick and efficient, a good first impression. As the cruise was only 3 nights we didn't bother dropping our luggage and instead walked on with it. We boarded shortly before 12.30 and were delighted to find our room was ready.
Another first for us was that we had an inside stateroom and we did wonder how we'd get on but we were more than happy, the stateroom was well designed, plenty big enough and more than comfortable, and lovely and quiet. We were on Caribe deck. We had 2 inside staterooms as we were travelling with my teen son and his friend.
We went up to the buffet for lunch and there is plenty of seating, no problem finding a table. We were surprised there were so few hand sanitation stations, which seem to be ubiquitous on any other cruiseline. The layout & design of the buffet isn't great and we seemed to be forever queuing especially at Breakfast but we enjoyed all the food we tried.
We were on anytime dining in the evening and there was no waiting we strolled up and were seated straight away. The food was good and I was more impressed with Princess dining room compared to Royal Caribbean dining rooms. The service was good, food was good, the ambience made us feel that we'd been out. As we only had 3 nights we didn't try the Speciality Restaurants but they looked good. We went to afternoon tea and that was quite pleasant, I'd say don't miss it if you go on a Princess Cruise. We got chocolates on our pillows every evening.
We set sail on Saturday, so Guernsey was our first port of call on Sunday. We didn't plan to go to any tourist attractions just a nice walk around Guernsey. Unfortunately Guernsey doesn't really open on a Sunday and the shops were shut but we still enjoyed the walk. The port of call on Monday was Le Havre, this is the Paris stop but it's a 2-3 hour journey to Paris so we gave that a miss and decided to explore Le Havre instead. We got a taxi at the port (cost 8 euro so not bad), unfortunately nobody mentioned that the town of Le Havre doesn't open until 2pm on a Monday so once again we had a stroll around a closed town and went back to the ship.
We were really disappointed with the entertainment. We went to a dance show the first evening but really all the shows and lounge entertainment were aimed at a much older audience, it wasn't for us. There were very few planned activities on board - not even bingo. I guess Princess thought we'd all be out all day at the ports.Certainly I wouldn't take my teenager on a Princess cruise again. We have cruised on quite a few Royal Caribbean ships and I suppose you get spoiled by the choice of non stop entertainment on offer there.
Certain areas of Grand Princess are looking dated. I visited the Spa and the massage was good but the facilities are not as good as some of the Spa's we've visited.
Overall we had a relaxing few days but I'm not sure how we'd have felt after a week on the ship. Certainly the teens would have been bored.
That all said we heard a lot of older people who loved Grand Princess.