Despite unexpected events in which Princess was not at fault,we did manage to find enjoyment in our 15 day Hawaiian cruise in January. On the second day out, a crew member took his life by jumping overboard. The Coast Guard took over and our ship, along with another Princess liner, a cargo ship, and several Coast Guard aircraft spent the next 36 hours searching for him. Needless to say, he was not found. I have since read on this site that a passenger jumped overboard from this same ship a few months ago! At the end of our search, another member of the crew was transferred to the other Princess ship in our area due to appendicitis. Apparently, that ship was going to get to Hawaii before us. These delays caused us to miss the port of Hilo entirely(missed our much anticipated shore excursions there) and cut 5-6 hours from our stay in Honolulu. Princess was able to offer some abbreviated tours to Pearl Harbor and from what we saw, the Shore Excursion office handled a stressful situation well. In fact, the passengers we encountered who were talking about our delays were very accepting of a situation out of anyone's control. Lastly, my husband and I both had a 24 hr.bout of stomach virus which caused us to miss the last formal evening and the Captain's farewell celebration. To compensate for the missed port time, Princess offered a 20% refund of our cruise fare if applied to a new cruise booked by the end of 2014.
The Grand is an older ship but the common areas are well maintained; the issues with rust, water leaks, sewage, carpeting and such as listed in previous reviews, appeared to have been remedied during the recent drydock. Have cruised 8 times with Princess and have never seen Horizon Court Buffet so clean and well serviced. Food stations were immaculate, tables were set with cutlery and shiny clean, waiters served drinks and whisked dirty dishes away as soon as you took your final bite! The staff overall were friendly, helpful and seemed happy to be serving us at all levels, which has not always been the case on other Princess ships. Upbeat Cruise Director's staff added to the fun factor!
The Hawaiian experience began the first day: passengers and crew donned Aloha shirts, Hawaiian duo Makani E played Hawaiian music in several venues(they were fabulous!), Hula and ukulele lessons began, and fascinating lectures began about the formation of the Hawaiian Islands and not-to-be-missed activities there. Getting into Hawaiian mode right away greatly enhanced our trip!
Have to agree with another reviewer about the "Frump Factor"; most people dress VERY casually. OK for daytime activities, but evening attire is listed as "Smart Casual". What I used to wear for these evenings now seemed more appropriate for formal night. Princess should enforce dress code or forget it. If you can't step up your daytime attire a notch to come to the dining room with those of us who have, then please dine in at the buffet.
Shore excursions we took:
Honolulu: Ali'i Kai Catamaran Dinner Cruise: food a step above usual luau fare, seeing Waikiki at night from water was spectacular! We even saw the Friday fireworks on the beach!
Kauai: Grove Farm tour: lots of info on sugar cane industry of the past, good if you enjoy history, very knowledgeable guides who spoke loudly and clearly, peaceful, lovely grounds
Maui: went on our own around Lahaina, rented bikes at Boss Frog's on Lahainaluna Street within walking distance of pier and rode the 20 minutes to the Kaanapali Area, had great lunch and a drink at the Westin Hotel(valet parked bikes for us in fenced area) and strolled along the beach side of "hotel row" . You could rent beach chairs/lounges here as well as paddle/surf boards. We are in our 60's and this was a flat, easy ride. Interesting to ride through some of the residential areas and away from tourists.
Internet costly and woefully slow. Catch up in port on your phone.
Just a different cruise for us with the missed ports but we really enjoyed the "Aloha Spirit" on board!