Let me first start by stating that my wife and myself are long time Princess cruisers and have sailed on the Grand Princess three times in the past and have enjoyed ourselves each time. But for Princess Cruises times have changed and the "Grand" is not as grand as it used to be.
The ship. The ship was recently overhauled and while the public areas have changed it was not really and improvement, just a change. The Skywalker lounge was removed. This lounge which was on the seventeenth floor used to be a great quite place to read during the day, have a drink during the afternoon and dance at night. It was also nice for shade during the day and protection fron the rain. While there are still many places to dance and drink, the quite of Skywalker's was missed during the day when you wanted quite. With music blaring at you from every direction sometime a little quite is appreciated. Three new eating places were added on the fifth deck. In my opinion each can be removed with no loss. The International Cafe sells expensive coffee and tea drinks and has free pastry and four salads and five sandwiches. The salads and the sandwiches never changed during the entire seven day trip. The new pizza place is no better than the one on deck ten was had very little attendance during our trip. The Vines Wine bar was completely empty every time I passed by and with the prices they charges for a glass of what would be inexpensive wine in any stateside liquor store you can understand why it was empty. The new Club One on the fourteenth floor and the smokers lounge was very well done but it was not large enough for the Captains club members to find seating during the afternoon cocktail hour.
The rest of the ship remains as it was and I find it one of the more comfortable ships afloat. The Mattresses need to be changed out and the carpets are looking a little old, but the ship itself is still a kindly ship to sail on.
The Cabin. Our cabin number was C722. This is the tenth deck in the rear of the ship. The room was quite, a little on the small side, but quite nice overall. A problem experienced by all I spoke to was the lack of cold water. The water from the tap while tasting fine was warm when it came out. This necessitated our poor steward to constantly bring fresh ice into the room. This particular cabin had a motion problem when going into the wind that produced a felling that you were being shaken awake. The motion disappeared when sailing in any other direction. Having sailed on the Grand a number of times before, but only a midships I can only attribute it to being in the back of the ship. We never felt it before and for the first two nights did cause us to lose some sleep.
The Food. Princess has greatly downgraded the food served on the ship. For three night on a seven day cruise I found nothing that I wanted to eat on the menu. I was told the reason for the change was that Princess was having trouble finding adequate amounts or Rack of Lamb and other foods for their fleet. I find this hard to believe since the dish is still available in the pay for restaurants. My feeling is that they have dumb downed the menu to try and force you into the more expensive restaurants. On Italian night the best thing on the menu was Veal Marsala. The veal was tough and the marsala sauce was the worst I have ever eaten. If you are from any major city with good and cheap Italian food expect to cry in despair when you eat it. It looks like they roasted the Veal and then poured some type of dark sauce over it. The same could be said for the lamb shanks served one other night. The best comment our table was able to say was, "Well it was tender" The lamb shanks was served over a bed of lentils. YUCK! On the Good side the Standing Rib Roast was excellent,the seafood dishes generally good, and on Lobester night, plentyfull.
The Lido deck buffet is now closed after 11:00 pm so except for the five sandwiches and four salads at the international Cafe or the Pizza place no after show snack was available on the ship. Even if you got one of the sandwiches it was to be eaten indoors instead of the outside area on the lido deck in the warn Caribbean night. Iced tea at night is gone.
I can not comment on the pay for restaurants since I consider the very idea of them an abomination, and refuse to try them even when offerd a free upgrade.
Entertainment: Excellent every night. While I am not a production show type of person. the ones I did watch were excellent. The staff should not be allowed to put on the staff show since it was very amertuerish, and karaoke is not a form of entertainment for those forced to listen. In general the comedians and singers were all good.
Staff & Crew: Excellent as ever and when compared to every other cruise line I have traveled on, the best. The one weird thing about this cruise is that the Captain refused to shake hands with anyone at the Captain's party. It was like we had leprosy and he was afraid to catch it. You put out your hand and he never took it. He never said hello or welcome back. Almost everyone I spoke to about it felt very insulted.
Embarkation and debarkation. Smooth as silk. Less than 5 minutes to get on the ship and less than ten to get off.
As A final note My wife and I had a great time on this cruise and we will return again to Princess. As I heard about playing golf, "The worst day on a Golf course is better than the best day at work". The same can be said about our cruise.