Well My Darling Wife has always wanted a cruise so for her 40th Birthday I surprised her with a cruise to Norway on Grand Princess. The main reasons why I booked this cruise was 1, it was Southampton to Southampton - We live in Southampton, 5 minutes from the port. 2, It was during school holidays as we have a teenage Daughter. 3, It was in my price range.
I had followed the refit online and was very glad that we were on the third cruise after it, so most of the gremlins would have been sorted. I saw no signs of work being carried out during my many walks around the ship. I am an early riser so at 6am I was getting my coffee from Horizon Court and I would go off om my daily walk around the top decks. Every Morning there was crew members cleaning and polishing the ship making her ready for the coming day all of whom would say "Good Morning".
Apart from one member of staff at the customer services desk who was very pretty but completely unhelpful on more than one occasion, all the staff that I came into contact with were brilliant, Our Cabin Stewardess Julia from Mexico was so lovely and hard working she is a credit to Princess Cruses.
This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it to, but, for work I stay in lots of Hotels of all standards throughout the UK so I used that as my guide stick. The first night we ate in Michelangelo's on anytime dining. The service was good but the menu was very complicated to understand with the Starters on the second page after the mains - very confusing. Food was OK nothing special. Later that evening we went to Horizon Court for a snack and most of the menu in Michelangelo's was available at the buffet !! We also tried Sabatini's at an extra $20 per head and Crown Grill at $25 per head. Both were very good but we went back to Sabatini's a second time. The Horizon Court was good if you timed it properly. Overall I enjoyed the food on Grand Princess and the was loads of it. Mmmm.
The entertainment was good some better than others. We saw the Macdonald Brothers in the Vista Lounge and they were good and we saw a show in the Theatre which was spectacular keeping in mind we were on a ship in the North Sea. The problem in the Theatre was to get a seat we had to arrive 45 minutes before the show. In the Explorers Lounge was a band called Atomic who were good most of the time. We left early from the Country night when an annoying English crew member started to drag unwilling audience members up to line dance with the words "this is not a spectator sport". I always go to watch not take part so it was time to leave,Shame as I was looking forwards to country night. We did not bother with Movies under the stars as the choice of movies was not very good and the screen really should have been replaced during the refit.
Our Mini Suite was Good with no real problems to report. The on-board TV was not good with complicated TV schedules and a poor choice in TV shows. I would have liked a Coffee making facility like most hotel rooms. Also be warned all the plug sockets are 3 pin American sockets that run 110 volts, so make sure any electrical items can be used before you pack.
There were two Outlet Sales with loads of branded goods reduced in price. They were awful. it was like a bad Jumble sale in a dark church hall. Passengers were queuing to get in them as well. Why pay for a cruise and then spend an hour of it in a queue to buy rubbish?
There were two disappointing sides to this Cruise for me. First was that at every opportunity I was being asked if I wanted to buy something. A bottle of water, a bottle of wine, photo,s, DVD's, Massages, beer, it was constant.
The second thing that disappointed me was, some, but not all of the other passengers. I have never seen Elevator rage before but on Grand Princess it was non stop. My wife has trouble walking so we have a wheelchair for longer walks. I lost count the amount of times that when a lift arrived large amounts of able bodied people were barge into the elevator leaving no room for us so we would have to wait for the next elevator. When we could get into the elevator my wife was elbowed by passengers squeezing in. What was really annoying was most of the time the rude passengers were only going up one floor and the could have used the stairs. I know this is not A Princess Cruises problem but maybe they could put a sign by the Elevators asking passengers to allow disabled passengers priority use.
We didn't do any of the excursions as the ship is lovely and empty during the day so no queuing. Also that was the best time to use the excellent Gym.
Overall we loved the Cruise and I have started to look for our next one. The positives far outshone the negatives for me. I would use Grand Princess again.