We just returned from the Jan. 19 sailing of the Grand princess and I have to say that except for the disembarkation process (more later) all the staff on board made this an excellent cruise. In spite of the sad circumstances of the previous cruise, the staff were focused on making our cruise a memorable one.
The food was generally excellent, however I chose fish dishes the first few days and found them overly salted. After that I kept with the meat dishes and they were very good. The buffet was good, with plenty of choices....we limited our use of the buffet to lunches and had our breakfasts at the International Cafe which was one of my favourite places on board. A do not miss place is Alfredo's Pizza on Deck 5, the pizza is excellent with lovely thin crust. We did not use the pay resteraunts.
Entertainment was excellent, good production shows and specialty entertainers. Princess also offered lots of newish movies throughout the cruise without too much repetition. By far the best were the lecturers on board who gave us very good information on the ports and Hawaiian history. We thought the new cruise director was lots of fun as was his assistant cruise director.
Service everywhere on board was without fault, I have never seen so many crew working on ship maintenance before. Our cabin steward, Ernesto made sure we were always comfortable and even helped us try to fix the horrid mattress we were stuck with. Luda and Rommel in the Bottecelli restaraunt served us perfectly and were always ready with our preferences.
All in all, as a cruise experience we were well satisfied with a couple of exceptions:
1. Disembarkation for those of us who were not US citizens was not pleasant...we were required to line up for about 45 minutes in a line that snaked from the front of the ship to the back. We have been on many cruises and this was our worst experience. There was talk that customs officials were late boarding, but I think that lack of organization on Princess's part played a larger part.
Finally, I understand many people hate to fly and this cruise allowed them a taste of Hawaii, but really this is not the best way to enjoy the islands, you need time to relax and wander and enjoy at leisure. Four days in port for limited hours is not the best. We have been to Hawaii twice on a land vacation, so for us it was about the cruise and it was excellent.