We have just completed our 14-day cruise on the Grand Princess.
Quite frankly, I am very disappointed in Princess. Normally, the return to Ft. Lauderdale is a time for true sadness that the cruise was over. This time was truly different. This is a difficult letter to write.
We only cruise with Princess. All 10 of our cruises have been great until this last one. We have especially enjoyed cruising in late spring before the hurricane season begins.
Princess did inform us that the Skywalker Lounge would be closed, the Casino would be closed the last 3 days of the cruise, and the Steakhouse would be moved to the Horizon Court starboard side aft. No problems there. But, after the first day, I began to realize that we were in for a very unpleasant 14-day cruise. Specifically, everyday while we were having breakfast on the rear deck of the Horizon Court, all we heard was the noise of the dismantling of the Skywalker's Lounge and the noise, hammering, drilling throughout other parts of the ship followed us all 14 days.
Princess did NOT inform us that the ship would be disassembled and/or dismantled while we were on board. There was no discussion or communication regarding workers in passage ways blocking access to cabins and creating potential safety hazards. For example, on the Caribe deck near our cabin, ladders were in the hallways with workers pulling down lights and wiring for several days creating my inability to maneuver my scooter past their equipment. Not just this incidence, but there were several times where I did not feel that my personal safety was a concern of the ship or staff. There also were a few missing exit signs down our hallway.
Because of the various closings on different parts of the deck, I found myself outside on the Promenade unable to come inside because there was no automatic door openers to allow passage for me on my scooter. On one occasion, I had to use my cane to rap on the window to attract attention to get someone to open the door. So, no more going out on the Promenade deck for me which is what I always look forward to on my cruises.
Elevators were constantly being "repaired." On several occasions I encountered a group of workers moving heavy construction equipment in and out of the marked passenger (not the service) elevators near the Princess Theater and other main elevators.
Unrelated to the construction issues that we lived through, we had several unacceptable instances such as at the Captain's party (or reception) (not the Captains Circle). If one did not drink vodka or gin, you were out of luck. The bartender would not fix my drink of choice. They just refused to make it even though I was willing to pay for my drink.
We had to look at a Tropicana Cargo Container on the front of the ship at the crew swimming pool which was unsightly.
We were disappointed that some of the onboard shops had limited inventory. Some staff were busy boxing up items on their shelves near the end of the last week of the cruise, and didn't seem too concerned about selling anything. My wife was ignored by a staff person in one of the boutique shops. The staff person was too interested in taking inventory.
We were inconvenienced by the Library closing so early in the voyage, with all of the books gone from the shelves and packed. The only item that remained in the Library was a table with a picture puzzle to be put together. The Art Gallery's walls were completely barren two to three days prior to leaving, except for the "wooden" bicycle hanging on the wall. Displays were cleared out, as well as staff desk tops in the various stations. Total ghost town. Since the stations were closed, it seemed the staff also disappeared. The pursers desk wasn't staffed too well to handle questions from passengers. The person on the Elite Passengers Only desk seemed bored as there wasn't anyone in line for him, but lots of people were waiting in the "other" line for 1 staff person to handle the rest of us irritated people's questions.
On the last night of any cruise is a special time to sit and stroll the outside decks and reminisce about your cruise. Not this night, as staff were hurriedly taking off chair pads, stacking and securing furniture on the upper decks (15 and most of 14) about 8:00 p.m. So, there was no place to sit and we felt in the way of the deck workers. I believe there were only a few chairs left to watch the movies on deck 14, but all of us don't go to sea to watch movies.
The disembarkation process didn't go smoothly either. In the Art Gallery's handicapped disembarkation area, there was very limited seating for the handicapped so my wife (who is not handicapped) ended up sitting on the floor as no staff offered to get her a chair (if one could be found). Princess did not have any larger wheelchairs to get me on or off board as my scooter was rented and had to be left on board in my room. I had to pay someone (which was fine) to pull me in my hand rollator equipment up the ramp to where our luggage was at the loading dock. On several of our other cruises, we mentioned the need for larger wheelchair for this cruise and we were informed Princess Cruise Lines had this equipment on all ships, but not true. In the future, we will order one from the rental agency. Also, my scooter was held up on the dock until a little past 2:00 for inspection. We got on the ship about 12:00; so, I had to sit in the Casino and wait until the scooter arrived because there wasn't a wheelchair to get me to my room. After contacting Special Needs at Sea, we were informed the scooter was on the dock a little after 11:00, but the K-9 police dogs weren't allowed to "sniff" the scooter until later, and the delivery man wasn't given clearance by Princess to board the boat until about 2:00.
Had this been our first cruise with Princess, I assure you, we would NEVER go on any future Princess Cruises. Had I known EVERYTHING about this cruise before departure, we would not have booked this cruise.
I really can't begin to tell you how upset and disappointed we were about this apparent "used car bait and switch" information sharing.
We are thinking long and hard about our next cruise.