Embarkation was a bit strange. In all our previous cruises the terminal was open early so that people could at least sit down and wait to board. In San Francisco, the terminal doors didn't open until almost noon. Passengers who arrived early had to wait on the street under the hot sun. Once we were able to enter the terminal, the process was quick and easy and we were in our cabin in about 30 minutes. We were in a mini-suite and it was comfortable with plenty of storage space. When checking in online I checked the box that requested bathrobes for the cabin. Well, they weren't there. When I asked the steward he replied that they were in the laundry and that we would get them the following morning.
An unexpected bonus was the fact that the America's Cup was being held that day and we were able to watch some of the racing from our balcony.
Our cabin steward, Ariel, was unobtrusive, but kept the cabin clean and the ice bucket filled as I had requested.
There are some very attractive areas on the Grand, but she is definitely showing her age. For example, the carpeting on our balcony was terribly stained and frayed. It looked like it hadn't been cleaned in a long time. There were also many rusty areas on the hull. For the last half of the cruise there was a sewage-like smell on decks 6 and 7 near the atrium with no explanation from the staff. In several locations water was leaking from the ceiling but the staff didn't seem overly concerned. For instance, in the Wheelhouse Bar water was dripping on the dance floor. When a couple pointed it out to a waiter/bar tender, he said, "Don't worry, it's not from a toiler."
No one should expect gourmet food on a cruise, but we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. The breakfast buffet was the typical selection and was ok. For lunch, we discovered the Trident Grill. The hamburgers and fries were the best we have had on a ship. There are two places to get pizza: on deck 14 next to the Trident Grill and Alfredo's on deck 5. At Alfredo's you cannot get slices, just a 4-slice personal pizza. The deck 14 pizza was a bit better and you can get individual slices. I'm not a coffee drinker, but my wife said the coffee in the restaurants was terrible. Buy a coffee card and you can get specialty coffees. The cappuccino was great. Dinner in the MDR was outstanding. I am a fussy eater and I found each meal to be among the best I have had on any ship.
Rest rooms seem to be inconveniently placed. For instance, there were no rest rooms outside the Botticelli dining room. We had to go to a different deck.
The staff of the Grand was terrific. Everyone had a smile and was ready to assist with any problem.
A major drawback involved disembarkation. On other cruise lines you can elect to have them take your luggage and check in at the airline for you. They give you your boarding passes prior to leaving the ship and you don't see your luggage again until you land at your destination. That option wasn't available.
Of course, the ports were the highlight of the cruise. Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau were fun and the scenery was amazing. The Mendenhall Glacier is not to be missed and the Tracy Arm Fjord provided views that must be seen to be believed.
Overall, we had a great time and would like to return to Alaska in the near future.