These days an abundance of balconied cabins is no big deal, but when Grand Princess was built, the concept was new. The outside cabins on the top four accommodation decks all have balconies, and one of those decks is dedicated to mini-suites.
The standard cabins are not big (average insides measure 160 square feet, outsides are a measly 168 square feet and basic verandahs are 214 – 257 square feet, including the balcony), but are attractively designed, with honey-colored wood and excellent lighting options. The entry door is offset to one side; rather than the closet and bath being opposite each other with the cabin entry in the middle, you walk through the closet area to access the bath. It's a unique arrangement, and aside from the fact that the closet is quite small, the main drawback is that there are no doors to it, so anyone passing by can see your clothing and shoes if your cabin door is open.
The bathroom in standard cabins is of adequate size -- certainly not spacious -- with a small sink console, toilet and fairly roomy shower. Lighting in the bathroom seemed awfully dim to me, but I did appreciate the tiled floor and trim, not easy to find in newer ships with their pre-fabricated plastic bathrooms. There is plenty of hot water and good pressure in the shower. Shampoo, soap and lotion are presented in biodegradable cardboard packs (suites get large bottles) and are a refreshing eucalyptus scent.
There is a nice sized desk/vanity area with a decent hair dryer and drawers, two end tables with drawers, and a console with a mini-fridge and television. The twin beds can be put together to make a queen, but in fact, the size is much closer to a king. Standard cabins have a small chair rather than a sitting area, and a table for room service items, flowers or stacks of Princess Patters.
Opinion is mixed on Grand Princess' stepped-out balconies. While the top level cabins (Lido, Aloha and Baja decks) are like other ships, with balconies stacked one above the other, those on Caribe and Dolphin decks have balconies that are, for the former, half-uncovered and, for the latter, completely open to the stars. On the plus side, verandahs on these decks are significantly larger than the rest. On the minus? There is no privacy from above.
All balconies, with the exception of some of the lower cost cabins at the bow of the ship, have Plexiglas enclosures. The furnishings are metal and mesh and include a small table.
Most mini-suites, measuring 323 square feet (inclusive of the balcony), are located on Dolphin Deck, have an extended cabin with a sofa and a divider between the sitting room and the bed. There are two flat-screen televisions; one can be viewed from the bed and the other from the living room. The bathroom is large and has a tub, but not a whirlpool.
In the refurbishment, Grand Princess got a handful of new cabins, tucked away alongside the casino on Deck 6. While these are suites (measuring 319 – 341 square feet), they do not have balconies. Design-wise, they feel fresh, colorful and new.
Moving up to full-fledged suite categories, options include a family suite, which essentially is two standard cabins with a living room in the center and an extended balcony. It sleeps eight.
In the "suite with balcony" category are cabins that feature separate sleeping and living rooms, and measure from 468 to 591 square feet. And the ship's grandest quarters, the aptly named "grand suite with balcony," measures 730 feet with a faux fireplace in the living room and a splashy whirlpool tub in the bathroom.
Handicapped-accessible cabins are available in almost all categories, have large roll-in showers and rooms large enough to support any turning radius. All show and dining venues are wheelchair accessible, and public bathrooms have accessible stalls. Kits are available for hearing-impaired guests and the cruise line even provides ASL translators. Service animals are accepted with prior notification.
Princess has its own in-house television channels and also, depending on satellite reception, offers CNN International; ESPN; Cartoon Network; TNT; a couple of pre-programmed channels with shows from the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, plus port talks and shopping options.
There is a self-service laundry on each passenger deck.
C103, forward, one cabin from bow, Starboard
Best features - larger balcony than Aloha and Baha, quiet corridor area near forward stairs, laundry close, but not too close for passenger traffic,
Worst features - noisy crew cabin above, the wind on balcony so far...continue