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26 Night Europe Cruise from Dubai

26 Night Europe Cruise from Dubai

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Grand Princess

Grand Princess - Princess Cruises


Offers affordable mix of sailings from the U.S. West Coast


Older ship shows signs of wear; crowded public spaces

Bottom Line

Great choice for older couples and multigenerational groups

Cruise Reviews

We sailed on Grand Princess on February 11th, 2020, out of San Francisco and south along the coast of Mexico. We chose this cruise because friends were going, and because we had never visited any of the ports before, so we thought it was ... Read More
We sailed on Grand Princess on February 11th, 2020, out of San Francisco and south along the coast of Mexico. We chose this cruise because friends were going, and because we had never visited any of the ports before, so we thought it was a good way to get a snapshot of these ports. The cruise got off to a poor start, which was not the fault of the staff, but we felt we paid for it in substandard service for the first couple of days. There had apparently been a medical emergency on the ship on the cruise just prior, and the ship arrived in San Francisco 9 hours late. That meant that passengers like us had to check out of hotels in San Francisco in the morning, with nowhere to go until we were finally allowed to line up to embark at around 9 pm. Princess did give each passenger a $25 US refundable credit, ostensibly to cover dinner, as we were supposed to board in time to sail at 4 pm. They also clawed back $15 of that credit for a tip for a day on which we only spent two hours on the ship. I know tips are optional, but it wasn't the fault of the crew and we didn't feel comfortable punishing them for the late departure. Unfortunately, because of the late arrival and subsequent rushed preparations for the next cruise, it took at least a couple of days before members of our group were able to get things as basic as bathrobes, wine glasses, and distilled water. We were told at one point part way into the cruise that they had not had time to load wine, or relish for burgers on the ship in San Francisco, and the crew was not particularly helpful or even pleasant on occasion. There seemed to be a turning point at dinner time on the third day out, and things were mostly better from that time. Again, we understand the delay on departure day would have been very hard on the crew, but it wasn't easy for embarking passengers (or I expect for those disembarking who missed flights, etc). It was no one's fault, but somehow we felt we paid for it anyway. Other than the initial glitch, embarkation and disembarkation went exceptionally smoothly. San Francisco is an excellent port. Grand Princess is showing her age. The ship has visible rust on the hull, and balconies. There was a bucket catching water dripping from the ceiling in the middle of the corridor a little way down from us for nearly the whole cruise. There were two elevators not working midship for pretty much the entire cruise, and one at the back that was also down by times. That one was one of the only two that went to the 15th and 16th decks, so for anyone who is mobility challenged, getting up there was tough. Unfortunately, there are also no stairs midship, so while I am normally happy to leave the elevators for those folks needing them, there wasn't an option. As a result, the waits for elevators were often very long, and some people resorted to getting on and riding in the opposite direction to where they were going just to be able to get on. That was a lot of fun on disembarkation day when elevators would arrive at the 14th floor full of people with their suitcases while people were trying to leave the buffet. On the up side, the food was excellent, even in the buffet. Breakfast in the main dining room was a real treat, and dinners in Michelangelo were superb. The only drawback is that Princess seemed to want everyone booked into fixed dining, and the wait time to dine in the anytime dining room was awful for the first few days. No matter what time you went, there were lineups and a real push to join a larger table. We did agree to that one day, only to discover that when we were the 4th and 5th people seated at a table for 12, we had to wait for the table to fill up (meaning 7 more people had to agree to sit at a large table) before they would take our dinner orders. We met some lovely people but also missed an activity as a result, despite all of us being asked if there was anything pressing we wanted to make. We did take in a couple of shows, including a magician/comedian, a comedian and former police officer, and the British invasion music show. The shows were of a high quality and we very much enjoyed them. We often don't do the shows, but I would definitely look at them in the future. We also did the second wine tasting, and we always enjoy these activities. We do trivia twice a day on sea days, and I try to go to the crafting group in the mornings. These are activities we have come to really enjoy on Princess, and the staff typically go above and beyond to ensure the activities are fun. We have always been fortunate enough to book mini-suites on Princess, and the cabin was mostly what we have come to expect, other than the issue I noted below in the cabin review. We only did two excursions, but both were enjoyable. We visited the turtle sanctuary in Cuyutlan when we stopped in Manzanillo, and we did the luxury sailboat trip in Cabo. The sailboat excursion was excellent, and we would happily do that one again. We snorkelled, tried paddle boarding, and saw lots of whales. The crew went out of their way to ensure that we had a wonderful time. For perspective, this is our fifth Princess cruise, and we have another Princess cruise already booked for next summer. We have sailed primarily with Princess because we have always enjoyed the ships, the food, and the service. This won't put us off Princess, but I would not sail on this ship again. I would, however, do the same cruise again if offered on another ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Ship I’ve been on well over 35 cruises with many different cruise lines so I’ve seen a lot of ships. The Grand Princess is one of the most poorly designed ships I have ever been on. The first few ‎days were cold which eliminated ... Read More
Ship I’ve been on well over 35 cruises with many different cruise lines so I’ve seen a lot of ships. The Grand Princess is one of the most poorly designed ships I have ever been on. The first few ‎days were cold which eliminated the use of outdoor areas. This resulted in interior spaces being ‎quite crowded. The covered pool area was not as well sealed off like it is on many ships. This ‎resulted in being just cool enough that it wasn’t usable for the cold days thus increasing indoor ‎crowding. The doors at the buffet, Horizon Court, rarely closed so during the cold days it was ‎like a frigid wind tunnel blowing through the buffet. There were constant complaints about how ‎cold it was in there; you really needed to wear a jacket to eat there. ‎ Many ships I have been on have an observation deck in the front where you can sit and look out. ‎This is very prevalent on Holland American and Viking ships. Royal Caribbean ships have an ‎observation bar up in the back were you can sit and look out. The Grand Princess did not have ‎this. There was an area called The Sanctuary that may have filled this need but it was at a very ‎high additional daily rate. This makes the ship to be avoided in the future. There were no places I ‎found where you could get a great view of where we were going. Actually, the best view was ‎from the gym which was below the costly Sanctuary. ‎ The ship was very tired. It was maintained but heavily worn. In my view the elevators are a ‎disaster. Several elevators required a card key to activate, I assume for suite passengers or the ‎more elite level returning cruisers. This meant the regular passengers were limited in the number ‎of available elevators. Taking elevators out of service for regular passengers was then ‎compounded by the number elevators that didn’t work and were out of service. One specific ‎elevator was out of commission the entire cruise. In the center of the ship where most traffic was ‎focused there were six elevators. One was restricted. One was out the entire cruise and another ‎was out of order for more than the majority of days. This meant there were only three elevators ‎serving the busiest area of the ship. Long waits were the norm and passenger grumbling was the ‎norm. ‎ The elevator problem was compounded even more by the number of people in walkers, wheel ‎chairs and electric carts. There were a limited number of elevators but then it was then ‎compounded by the walkers etc that took up a large portion of the space inside the elevator. This ‎meant fewer people could get on these small elevators. Future ships must be designed with larger ‎elevators to accommodate the needs of passengers with disability vehicles. One temporary ‎solution is to make interior freight elevators accessible to wheel chairs and electric carts. I’m sure ‎there may be liability issues involved and they aren’t very luxurious but it could be one resolution ‎to this problem. The elevator problem on this ship and the lack of a quality observation deck will ‎be the two main factors that will keep me from ever booking this ship again. ‎ Food We booked this cruise to travel with my son and daughter-in-law. They had taken a couple ‎Princess Cruises and raved about the food. I was disappointed. ‎ The first morning I went to the buffet for breakfast. I couldn’t find any half grapefruits. I had to ‎ask a kitchen attendant to get me one. He then went down 9 floors to the main dining rooms to ‎get a half grapefruit. Then I searched for ham. On every ship I’ve ever sailed on there were ham ‎slices (and usually English bacon) and/or a large ham that is carved on request. On Grand ‎Princess I asked one of the people in the Buffet with the high chef’s hat, “where is the ham?” I ‎got a look that made me feel like it was the most incredulous question he had ever heard. I said ‎‎“ham steaks are from a large ham that is sliced. It is baked ham that you would get on a ham and ‎eggs breakfast.” He pointed me to a counter that ham luncheon meat ham folded in neat slices. I ‎wondered, didn’t they know what baked ham is? But, then I discovered they served little ham ‎steaks in the dining room so why not in the buffet? ‎ We went to the Crown Grill one night. The appetizers were mediocre at best. I love shrimp ‎cocktail but they had some other type of “scampi.” So, I ordered them with cocktail sauce. At ‎the specialty restaurant on Royal Caribbean and Holland America the scampi are huge. On ‎Princess they were about the same size as the shrimp in the regular dining room. Very ‎disappointing. The Chocolate Molten Cake was mostly “molten.” It was undercooked chocolate ‎syrup. However, I had the rib steak and it was a excellent piece of meat, one of the best I’ve ever ‎had. ‎ We did the anytime dining and it worked out very well. About 50% of the time we made ‎advance reservations and requested Natalia. She is one of the best servers we have ever ‎encountered. She has high energy and is extremely efficient. She is all business yet maintains a ‎vibrant personality. If I owned a high class restaurant I would try to hire her as I’m confident she ‎could run the entire operation. She is an amazingly gifted young women. If I weren’t retired I ‎would try and hire her and find a job for her, whatever the job is I’m confident she would soon ‎master it; she is just one of those special people. ‎ The food in the main dining room was adequate. I had to send a couple entree’s back because of ‎taste and I was surprised that the everyday items didn’t include a NY Strip Steak. There were a ‎few days I didn’t find anything appealing and would have had the steak, if it were available. ‎Overall I’d rate the dining room food in the lower quartile of all the cruises I’ve taken. Again, the ‎service was exceptional, the food wasn’t. ‎ The Pizza Parlor was quite good, the best of any cruise line I’ve sailed on. I’ve been to Naples ‎many times and the grand Princess pizza is the closest to authentic I have ever experienced on ‎a cruise ship.‎ The Grill hamburgers were good. The best I’ve had were on the Maasdam. All Grand Princess ‎needs to do is make a smashburger type burger, grill the buns and it would be a great hamburger. ‎ Crew Overall a good crew. Our cabin steward, Raymond, did a very good job and we ‎appreciated him. But, I didn’t connect with the crew as I normally do on a ten day+ cruise. ‎Returning on the tender in Cabo I sat next to the Cruise Director who was buried in his cell ‎phone and didn’t even say hello. I’m not a crew member but out of courtesy I always ‎acknowledge people who sit next to me. It’s just common courtesy. Most of this crew just ‎seemed to on auto-pilot. ‎ Delay and Insult: Embarkation Our embarkation was delayed until 9:00 pm. An ill passenger required the ship to detour for a ‎medical drop-off. I am not angry about the delay because someday I may be the passenger with a ‎medical emergency. We were notified in advance so we located a place to store our luggage in ‎San Francisco ($50 for four passengers). We were then able to be tourists in San Francisco for the ‎day (making lemonade out of lemons). We had dinner at a favorite restaurant ( $200+ for four of ‎us). We were then informed we’d get $25 each per room credit to “help cover our dinner.” ‎Seriously? I believe there was only one comment by the leadership on the ship about this ‎inconvenience and that was it. We arrived tired and late and got one comment and $25: totally ‎inadequate. The $25 credit was a joke among every passenger we encountered. It would have ‎been much better if we had been offered a drink on-the-house when we arrived to help us all ‎relax; just a way to say thanks for being patient (maybe two drinks.). The next night at the shows ‎the Captain could have appeared to thank us all for our patience and understanding. Just ‎basically say “I appreciate all of you.” But unfortunately nothing was done. We had a great day ‎while waiting for embarkation but many passengers were extremely inconvenienced and that ‎should have been acknowledge much more effectively than it was. Prior to retirement I taught ‎organizational leadership at a major university in the masters and doctoral program. I believe this ‎was a real failure on the part of the leadership team on Grand Princess. Ports The port talks were very uninformative. Other than the explanation of tours we got very little ‎information about the ports. I didn’t mind as I’ve been to those ports many times before. But, for ‎people new to these areas it was like their only option was to take ship tours. I know the tours are ‎a big profit center but I’m confident you can give insightful information and still sell tours. ‎ Entertainment We always enjoy the entertainment. The specialty acts were OK. Anne Martinez was exceptional. ‎She is a star and since we live in Las Vegas we will try and catch her as her career progresses. ‎ The singers and dancers, frankly, were horrible in the British Invasion Show. Their voices just ‎didn’t sound right doing the songs. But, they redeemed themselves with the show featuring the ‎‎“oldies” like Stardust. Their voices excelled at these songs. The piano players and lounge singers ‎did a good job. There seemed to be a lot of music on this ship which was a real plus, but we ‎didn’t listen often as there was very limited seating inside and we don’t like standing for 20+ ‎minutes.‎ Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We have cruised with several other lines but always come back to our favorite - Princess This was our 10th with Princess and as always total relaxation and enjoyable. I was in a wheel chair for the first time in my life and bypassing ... Read More
We have cruised with several other lines but always come back to our favorite - Princess This was our 10th with Princess and as always total relaxation and enjoyable. I was in a wheel chair for the first time in my life and bypassing the normal lines was terrific. I wrote Princess prior too the cruise and advised we were celebrating our 42nd anniversary, however there was absolutely no acknowledgement by the cruise line and the only room with a supposed view (Without paying the usual fortune for a balcony) had a 98% restricted view. The Grand Princess seemed to be in need of a serious updating as everything appeared older and more worn than other Princess ships we have sailed in. I do not know how they do it but the Princess crew were as always friendly, smiling, appeared happy to greet and serve us and extremely pleasant to be with. Our cabin was clean as always, but appeared well worn as above stated. We felt our cabin steward was assigned too many rooms (18) to allow time for chatting or getting acquainted as is usual. Everyone from the steward to the waiters and cooks were helpful, and helped us enjoy another cruise of a lifetime. Although the comedians were much better than ever before the entertainment was not up to the usual Princess par, as I believe there were only 2 or 3 production shows for this 15 day cruise and we always look forward to an almost nightly show. The food was fresh enough and of good quality, but we were extremely disappointed in the menu which was definitely NOT up to Princess par. A little more "down home cooking" instead of the "Pretty" gourmet type satisfy and sustains one much better for all of the many available activities. The life or death trip interruption was a sad first as was the warning prior to disembarking at Maui that security was lacking and it might be difficult to get back on the ship. As a result we canceled our looked forward to whale watching at Maui and stayed on board. We were also disappointed that we were unable to complete the trip to Ensenada as planned, but the Captains decision to bypass that stop was understandable and the best decision to make. Speaking of the Captain - CAPTAIN JON PAUL BRYANT IS A DIAMOND IN THE PRINCESS TREASURE CHEST. He was the best communicating Captain and had the absolute best sense of humor in his announcements regarding cruise changes due to the life or death patient and the disembarking/embarking concern at Maui made it almost the best possible cruise we could have ever planned. KUDO after KUDO to Captain Bryant, and please let me select him as our Captain on all future cruises!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Disembarkation was more orderly and better than most past cruises EXCEPT the gangplank walk was extremely long. GREAT CRUISE Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
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