PRE-CRUISE HOTEL - Arrived in Hollywood Feb. 9 and stayed at Westin Diplomat, an excellent pre-cruise hotel right on the beach.
BOOKING - We booked 2 consecutive 7 day southern cruises with the same itinerary (Aruba-Curacao-Princess Cays) although reversed the 2nd week on the non-refundable labor day special of $524pp per week for inside mid-ship cabin on Baja deck 11 cabin B508. As a platnium member, we appreciate Princess style cruising, but would not have sailed the Grand had it not been refreshed.
EMBARKATION - We arrived between 1-2pm both weeks and were in within 10 minutes.
STATEROOMS - 2 big issues here.
1) Room circulation was very poor causing the cabin to get VERY hot at night when they routinely turned the air condtioning off between 1-4am.
2) We like mid-ship, but we also like to use the stairs and there are no stairs mid-ship, only forward & aft.
Obviously, Princess can do nothing about #2 as that is the ships design, however #1 is something that needs fixed as other passengers complained about it as well.
3) NOTE: Staterooms not part of refresh
Our room steward was efficient and pleasant and we gave him an extra cash tip at the end. We used anytime dining, but found the team of Reynaldo-waiter & Adlwin-Jr. Waiter to be fantastic and so requested them when we were in the dining room (about 1/2 the time).
We generally eat a healthy breakfast - fruits, fish, yogurt, oatmeal and while these were not great, they were generally good enough to get us a health start at HORIZON COURT. Horizon lunch is your typical cheap buffet food you would find in the states... just okay with occasionally a good item or two. Very disappointed with the 3 nights we ate in the Horizon for dinner. Pizza on Lido was diappointing compared to other Princess cruises where it has been MUCH better. Hot dogs from the grill were good. ALFREDO's was a big hit and the pizza there was very good. INTERNATIONAL CAFE items were good as well.
We do not like the change to SABATINIS as it seems less italian now and has lost its niche in serving up small portions of everything. The CROWN GRILL is a real winner both in terms of food quality & service and we ate there 3x to prove it. Finally, the main dining room food was generally good. I personally like seafood and found most of the dishes well prepared.
We typically go to the comedy shows and the 3 comedians over 14 days were very good. We did not go to the comedian hypnotist as that is a joke.
Love the fresh water pools and this is one of the reasons we keep sailing Princess. I play bridge for 2-3 hours on sea days and it is very well organized. Enough activities to keep the most active people going, but personally we enjoy relaxing more.
Drawbacks of an older ship is no room for showers in the locker rooms.
Very well done.
Curacao - plahyed golf twice and walked around on our own downtown - very nice!
Princess Cays - First week this was aborted due to weather giving us a 4th sea day (no complaints here!). Second week was okay. It was nice to have some different food at the BBQ. Note - some of the swimming areas are very rocky - wear boat shoes!