Having never written a review before, I hope this will be acceptable. I will try to address the areas that I know I asked many questions of, with any further salient points!
Embarkation at Southampton was smooth, easy and fast! We arrived mid-way between the two suggested times given to our party by Princess (we were on two different decks and thus had two hours between times, although we travelled together.). There was no issue at all, and we were on board by mid-day, with the minimum of fuss. The only oddity was that my name had apparently not been entered online, prior to departure. Odd because it had been me that booked the whole trip, me that had filled in all the on-line info, and I had also been able to print boarding passes and tags with no issue!! Anyhow, it was soon sorted, and off we went!
We had an inside cabin for our family of four, mainly because we prefer to spend our time outside of the room , and have the money thus saved to spend elsewhere. The room was clean and functional with no obvious faults. (One point, I had received advice to leave the tv on with the webcam channel, overnight. This allowed us to know when it was morning and allowed some semblance of the outside in!)
We purchased a soda sticker and an Ultimate soft drink package. With hindsight, I feel next time we would stick with the soda sticker and not worry about the additional hot chocolates, milk shakes and mocktails. One point I have raised with Princess, was the fact that the wait staff were less than keen to serve drinks when shown the sticker. On most occasions we found it simpler and quicker to go to the bar ourselves, rather than wait for service.
Food, as expected, was excellent. We chose not to use the supplementary dining areas. as we were very pleased with the inclusive food on offer. We often used Horizon Court (buffet) for our evening meal, as we liked being able to eat outside, rather in what felt like a rather gloomy dining room. As far a dining room service, it did seem as if some of the waiters were doing us a favour, so when we found a "good" one it was refreshing! (Big shout out to Fernando in Michelangelo, what a star!!!)
The ship carried its full complement of children, but this was not an issue at all, as on the whole, they we well catered for (kids clubs) and parents did seem to be managing them well, also. Youth security were in evidence and did an excellent job of keeping the groups of teenagers in check. One small niggle I had, was the age old issue of how entertaining lifts are for free range children. I didnt encounter this often, but when I did it WAS an irritation. I must state that our children are 12 and 17. The 17 yr old loved Re-Mix, for his age group, to the extent we rarely saw him. The 12 yr old did not join a club, but similarly did not run around the ship, preferring to stay with us and enjoy a family time.
I had not travelled on the Grand prior to refit, so cannot really comment on the differences, however I found the Piazza delightful and "Leaves" tea library was a pleasure to use, I even found a new love in Lapsang Soushong, thanks to the lovely lady server, whose name I didnt catch. The new Bar OneFive, we only visited briefly and whilst nicely decorated, the air con was soooo cold, and not only that, it was empty, I think because we could only visit early evening as we has under 18's with us.