Grand Princess Cruise Review by LikesTravel2boot: The Grand Derelict Princess
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The Grand Derelict Princess
My wife and I have been on many cruises; both with Princess, and on other lines. We remember when Princess was a cut above. After being purchased by Carnival, this is no longer true; in fact, Carnival may be slightly better than Princess overall (if you don't mind all the kids and their inebriated parents). Overall, this ship was mediocre.
Hawaii was, well, Hawaii...always great. Hilo was a disappointment though. We didn't take a tour, but did take a shuttle into town, and what we saw was mostly industrial. We knew there would be several sea days, and we were fine with that. One reviewer complained that the ship stopped in Ensenada. While I am not a big fan of Ensenada either, it should be understood that the Passenger Services Act prohibits ships of non-U.S. registry from embarking and disembarking passengers at two different U.S. ports. Princess is foreign-flagged; therefore it must adhere to the requirements of the Passengers Services Act. So the ship must stop at some More foreign port, and Ensenada is close by.
The Grand Princess is long overdue for retirement. Princess should sell it to a small cruise line that can spiff it up and use it for lesser service. The ship is dated in layout, design and decor. The condition of the ship is poor, with many examples of lackluster maintenance. Rust, flaking paint, ripped upholstery, torn carpeting, dirty drapes, and sagging furniture abound. Most seating was so dilapidated, there was virtually no padding left. Many of the seat-bottoms in the Princess Theater were actually angled down in the front from over-use. The repeated touting of the ship as "magnificent" was really tiresome.
The food served in the dining room was fair to poor most nights, but there were exceptions. A few items were very good, and a few items were really bad...good luck with that. The Horizon Court was slightly less choice, but some items (like cook-to-order omelets) were just fine. The pizza on the Lido deck was poor, but the pizza in Alfredo's was good. The best items seemed to be the baked goods and desserts (oh well). We did not go to the pay-as-you-eat specialty restaurants.
The service was uniformly good to very good. We had efficient and attentive service from the dining room staff, and reasonable service from the stateroom steward. Staff in most public areas were professional, but there were minor exceptions.
This cruise was at least 90% seniors. As a senior myself, that's not a complaint per se, but dodging the "Rascals" (3-wheel mobility scooters) was a chore. Apparently, these are rentable for the cruise; and there were a lot of them. The ship was just not designed for Rascals; the corridors were too narrow for them to co-exist with pedestrians. My wife, and, apparently several others were backed-up on, or sideswiped by these Rascals. I witnessed one fellow dress-down a Rascal driver and show him the large bandage on his leg covering a wound allegedly caused by the guy's careless hit-and-run driving. Also, when a scooter is in the elevator (they're not going to take the stairs), few other passengers can fit. Why Princess allows these on board is a mystery. Most of the users seemed to walk fairly well when they were forced to do so. Wheelchairs I could understand, but there were only a couple of those.
Our cabin was on the deck just below the Lido deck, and not far from the elevator. The cabin's position in the ship was good, but the cabin was small and run down. The balcony was quite small as well. The a/c was adequate during the day, but seemed to be less efficient at night. The cabin had few electrical sockets, so bring a power strip or extension cord if you have more than two items to plug in. With only one small tub chair and one straight-back chair, this was sub-standard seating for two adults. In my opinion, you shouldn't need to pay for a suite to have two comfortable chairs in your cabin.
We experienced cold weather during much of the cruise, but that was expected for October-November trans-pacific.
There was a shortage of quiet spots on board. Since we like to read to relax, we sought out the library; but found it to be merely a "wide spot in the hall". No door, no quiet. It was used mainly as a chatty card room. It was also styled as a "tea lounge", meaning that...for a fee...they would serve you hot tea. We tried that once, and it was good; but it should have been "free". Also, if you buy tea, you are entitled to choose a snack pastry. We didn't on that occasion; but on another visit, when we brought our paid-for take-out coffee (from deck 5 - the International Cafe) and requested a snack pastry, we were refused. This seemed wrong; especially since they had a lot of pastry, few takers, and the same stuff was available in the Horizon Court. And, of course, we clearly had our paid-for coffees with us. Less
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