We started our cruise with a mini cruise on the Sunday night with Stena using the overnight ferry from Belfast to Birkenhead. After doing some family business in Liverpool we drove down Winchester and stayed in the Travelodge (booked in advance for 15).
After a short drive into Southampton the car was taken away to its space and we joined the embarkation line. All went well and we were at our stateroom within the hour. We had an enjoyable lunch in the Da Vinci restaurant. The cases arrived during the afternoon. There was good storage space and plenty of good hangers.
Our Stateroom had a balcony, large double bed, two chairs,tv, and a fridge for the wine! We where located on the port side near the front on Baja Deck (11). Our Stateroom was well looked after by the steward Angelo.
We had traditional dining at 8:30 in Botticelli's with an excellent table of 6 others....Cheers All. Our waiters Mark and Daniel looked after us well, our head waiter Nello would sing to us in Italian most evenings. He also arranged for the whole table to dine together early on the last formal so that we could cheer on our table-mate Lynne at the pop-choir event.
The food was good with plenty of options, coffee card is a good investment. Our only disappointment was with the room service breakfast, 45 minutes late. Recommend the main dining rooms, Alfredo's pizzas, International cafe and the pub lunches.
The weather was mixed with the worst in the Med after Cadiz, during the night a wave broke some windows on deck 5. Still don't know why the captain woke all the passengers at 4:30am and 6:00am with updates about it. We had fun on the balcony watching the waves the next day until a huge wave came by and we got completely drenched (still laughing about it).
The bad weather meant we missed Malta (no great loss) but this was more than made up with an overnight in Venice.
The entertainment was a mixed bag of excellent and poor. The shows by the dancers and singers were excellent however the system of putting them on around 8pm and 10pm should be reviewed. On the last night they were put on at 7pm and 9pm, this allowed us to watch the show, have diner then have drinks.
On the poor side was some of the cruise director staff, for example at one karaoke event nobody had volunteered so the hosts just packed up and left after 3 minutes rather encouraging people.
The bars were good, Crooners for the Martini's, Explorers for party fun, Wheelhouse a traditional bar and the One5 for disco and chic late night chat.
A good cruise and I would happily recommend the Grand Princess.