We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and would sail on the Grand again without hesitation.
We cruised on the Grand Princess May 20 through May 30, 2013 from San Francisco. Rough weather/seas during the first 2 days so we missed Juneau. Captain woke us up at 7 am (announcement heard in all areas and cabins of the ship) to let us know the rough seas would continue for a while. Hal and I both use acupressure bands (his were bio-bands and I used queasy bands). They also recommended green apples. You can ask for the apples at the buffet or your cabin, but it was much quicker through the buffet. If they are not out, they will get them for you. This was the first time either of us have been seasick. It wasn't awful for us, just not great.
Weather overall was nice, some drizzle in Victoria. Skagway wore no jackets. Ketchikan and Victoria we wore wind breakers. In Glacier Bay we bundled and I mean bundled. It was cold outside to say the least but we ended up being nice and More
We were in Cabin E725 Mini-Suite
We loved the Grand and our cruise. Would definitely sail on her again without hesitation. Crew & Service were top notch.
Minor concerns: Sofa in the mini-suite was extremely low to the ground (we were shocked when we sat on it the first time). I have arthritis in my hips and knees so having it lower than normal (my opinion) cause a minor issue for me. Would I book this cabin again ... absolutely.
The other issue was the food. We haven't cruised in 4 years so I am sure things have changed over the years. They had numerous choices at each meal, but overall we felt the food was OK/average not fantastic. We ate in the dining room (anytime dining), the buffet, International Cafe, and room service. We aren't picky eaters, so were a bit disappointed in the food. HOWEVER we never starved and the staff were more than happy to bring other selections if we wanted.
Best food on the ship during our cruise: Pasta Fagioli soup (oh my gosh, fantastic) and the tempura veggies served as a main course one night - both of these I could of eaten every night. The tempura veggies were crisp and flavorful. Breads/rolls were wonderful and fresh. Lobster was wonderfully tender and flavorful. Hubby loved the souffles ... my favorite desserts were the chocolate chip cookies and one night the Love Boat Dream. Salmon is offered every night and was great. Room service makes the best roast beef sandwiches -- roast beef is not available every day at the buffet at lunch and it is my favorite cold cut. Sheppard's pie on the buffet was great.
Worst foods: Other than the sandwiches, I stopped eating roast beef/beef as a main course. It was tough. Hard to cut. Mahi Mahi (which I normally love) I turned back in as it was so dry. Lamb barley soup was actually just lamb broth with tiny, tiny amount and size of lamb & barley. One night they served a trio of chicken, lamb and veal. The chicken on the stick (grilled) was really good. The lamb and veal I couldn't eat. Lamb was strong in flavor and the veal ... not sure what it was about it but I sure didn't like it.
We enjoyed the shows, the venues etc. Was there some worn spots, some rust ... probably but we sure didn't go looking for them and they didn't stand out. We wore tennis shoes (rubber sole shoes) out on the balcony and no issues with being slippery. Lots of mist on the floor tho so we were careful.
Never felt overwhelmed with staff trying to sell, sell, sell. Prices on the ship were reasonable. We got great reversible jackets for $45 each that were fleece on one side, rain repellant on the other with a hidden hood that was vinyl lined. We wore them out on deck and in Glacier Bay. Felt pricing was the same as back home and fair.
Pub Lunch was offered 3 days (sea days) and was good. Enjoyed the fish & chips. Hubby loved the bread pudding.
One day one of the elevators by the spa had problems with staying on deck 10. No other issues with elevators or electrical that we were aware of. Other than the day we boarded and the last day we rarely had to wait for an elevator.
No problems with toilets flushing during the cruise in cabin or in public areas.
I have food allergies and the head waiter was fantastic with working with me with meals each night for the next night. Up in the buffet if I had a question, they would go get the chef. So no issues at all for me on this cruise. I did hear a couple of concerns tho for those who need gluten free. I was told by staff that the gluten free cheesecake they just cut off the crusts ... so I know there can be cross contamination for those who are super sensitive. We also met a person who needed gluten free and said the buffet was hard as the staff handling the breads really did know what was gluten free, what was not. Each day she was given a different answer. She was not super sensitive to the gluten like many, so did OK. She preferred eating at the buffet over the dining room. I think she would of been better in the dining room with personal attention like they did for me with allergies.
Meet and greet was fun and held in the One5 Lounge area on Deck 15. Warren (Cruise Director) attended and spoke. The Captain was busy with the rough seas, so we certainly understood him not being there.
Definitely would choose the Grand again. We didn't feel that it felt old and tired. It was fun to be on and we met many wonderful people too.
Boarding: We boarded at 11:30 am as our friends had signed up for the Bon Voyage Experience and our reservations were linked so we could board early. Only ship in port. Lots of people at the pier early, but no one was allowed in the terminal except for the BVE groups as of 11 am. We were amazed at how many people gave the porter their luggage to take on the ship, but never tipped. We gave the porter our 3 bags and gave him a tip. You should of seen the smile on his face and the big thank you.
Disembarkation: Easiest we have ever gone through. We had almost the last group off the ship. Waited in one of the dining rooms. Had coffee, tea, water with lots of places to sit while we waited. They called our number/color around 10:30 am and we walked out of the dining room, over to check out (they scan your card, but you can keep it), walked out the ramp on deck 5 and into the terminal. Found out luggage immediately (it paid off to have decorated it before hand by hand painting a design on it with a stencil):
NOTE: There are restrooms by the luggage area in the terminal. Once we had our luggage, we walked out of the terminal right over to the taxi area. Got a taxi immediately and were at our hotel just a few minutes later.
Custom forms were filled out two days in advance for Victoria and for San Francisco. First time ever we have done it so soon and the first time ever that we didn't hand them to the security person as we got off the ship. NOTE: If you are a US citizen and DO NOT have a passport, you have to go to a special immigration screening the last morning on the ship. The person ahead of us as we were leaving was detained as he had not cleared immigration - they knew immediately when his card was scanned at the exit.
Hope this helps with any concerns about the ship. This was our 3rd time on Princess and our 11th cruise overall. All of our Princess cruises have been to Alaska.
Additional note: I was cold on the ship most of the time. I wore my sweatshirt jacket 98% of the time. Hubby is never cold and he often wore his sweatshirt jacket. It didn't make or break the trip for us. We were fine wearing the jackets. No different than if we put a sweater on at home. It was the first cruise tho that we've both been cold. Less
E725 - Mini Suite on Emerald Deck with completely covered balcony - Starboard side of the ship. Loved the cabin even though it is the 3rd from the back of the ship. Lots of room and never felt crowded. We had lots of closet space. The bathroom is large with a combination tub and shower. Two disadvantages to this cabin (minor): Step up into the bathroom was a bit high. The sofa was extremely low to the ground compared to most sofas. It was comfortable tho. Cabin is directly above the Vista Lounge. We never heard a thing.