This was our second cruise on the Grand Princess.
The check-in, disembarkation, shuttle assignment, etc was as efficient as before. At no point were we held in queues or made to wait unnecessarily.
The standard of our stateroom was again excellent. This time we had ordered a pull-out bed for our daughter (6), as last cruise we had to use the bed that comes down from the ceiling, and which my husband slept in, as it was too high for our daughter. The pull-out bed, while cutting into the room space, is far more suitable for smaller children.
The food in the Da Vinci & M'angelo dining rooms was superb as always. The buffet food was a bit more hit and miss. However, with 2 anytime dining rooms, a pizza bar, a hotdog bar and ice-cream bar, there was always enough variety to suit us.
The activities in the Pelican Club were great for our daughter who had talked about the pyjama party for weeks in advance! It helped that there were a lot of kids her age on board too. When you go for the "open house" on the first day, they have a note of how many boys and girls of each age they have on the cruise, which helped to reassure her that she'd have friends.
The entertainment wasn't as good as last year. The comedian and comedy vocalist were very old hat. The dancing show was good however and there was a good choice of current movies to watch "under the stars" or in your cabin.
At La Rochelle we stayed around the touristy harbour area, near the Chain Tower. There are lots of little cafes and gift shops, and an ice-cream shop with about 50 different varieties to choose from! Due to a national dockworkers strike, we were slightly delayed in disembarking the ship. Everyone had to either leave the port area by shuttlebus, organised tour or taxi. We thought this was a bit odd at first, but when you realise how far you are from the town, it makes sense - the dock area is vast! At the end of the day, the final shuttlebus was prevented from re-entering the port by striking workers, despite the Captain having an assurance that we'd be ok. The bus eventually made its way in under police escort and we sailed out of port with a police launch alongside us! It made for some great photos if nothing else!!
We were unable to tender to St Peter Port as the wind was too strong to bring the tenders alongside. This was quite disappointing, but I have heard that it is often quite difficult to reach St Peter Port by tender for this reason. A revised afternoon of activities was provided, and our daughter loved swimming in the pool which turned into a wave pool because of the motion of the ship!!
The Captain wrote in my daughter's school diary at the start of the week and remembered her by name when he met her a few days later. I think this was a nice personal touch.
Our only gripe was that on the St Peter Port day, after my daughter & husband went swimming, they both came out in an alarming red rash. The following morning (disembarkation day) they reported to the Medical Centre and were dismissed by the receptionist with a "well no-one else has complained". Their details were not recorded at all. Looking on another internet site, it appears a number of people complained about these rashes throughout the week. Many were similarly fobbed off or told "it's a reaction to your sun cream". Given the care taken to provide alcohol gel at every food counter to prevent the spread of viruses, I think their attitude to something causing an inflamed and painful skin condition on a 6-year-old's face was rather poor!
We may cruise with Princess again, but I think it's maybe time for us to broaden our horizons a little...