Checking in at the QE2 Terminal at Southampton was laboured compared with other cruise check ins used taking appx 1 hour from parking the car and entering the check in queue which was snaking out of the entrance door.
First impressions of Grand Princess was a ship in desperate need of a major refit - having said that it was not terrible - just faded and worn in a number of areas, mainly carpets and seating. The ships public room windows accessible from the Promenade Deck 7 were filthy and no excuse for areas which can be accessed so easily.
Cabins were again dated and a little staid. We took a mini suite on Dolphin Deck. The furniture was adequate but not inspiring and the bathroom had certainly been well used. All facilities were fully functional in the room apart from a temperamental hair drier. If you like a cuppa first thing - take a mini kettle - Princess don't provide one.
The food was for the most part excellent, although one or two meals were considered substandard by all diners on the fixed sitting in the Bottecelli Dining Room. The attending waiters were excellent. Entertainment provided by the ships own singers and dancers was very good which is more than can be said for the hired in entertainers who were for the most part sub standard and this was the view of most passengers not just myself. Drinks on board are well over priced with a 15% service charge added and we aware - you don't get a receipt so note what you spend. The staff throughout were excellent - very attentive without being on top of you and very charming. Our cabin attendant DK always got us what we requested immediately - although we did not trouble him much. Cabins were kept clean and tidy.
We did excursions to Seville, ALgherro, Rome and Florence. Each apart from Algherro were ' On your Own' You got taken - dropped off and collected at the appointed time. This is by far the best way to do the major cities - don't go - the Best of as you get very little free time to explore - we know - we fell in the same trap last year. Barcelona - do on an open top city tour bus - 22 Euros and you can hop on and hop off as many times as you wish. The ship lost all power on 3 occasions I was on board with the loss of lighting, air conditioning and oh yes propulsion. Matters were rectified quickly and identified to a defective generator. I think the skipper was not a happy bunny - by the tone of his voice. The ship got unbearably hot and many passengers were forced out to the promenade deck to cool down. A few days later a lot of passengers and crew were going down with sore throats and very bad coughs. I have told things as I saw them. Having said all I have the cruise/holiday was still lovely and I would go back to Princess but not on Grand Princess until she gets a long overdue refit.