We are both retired - in our mid-sixties. This was our 42nd cruise - the 23rd on a Princess ship.
First time on the Grand Princess. We used to live in California - choose this itinerary simply because we had been to all of the ports before - just wanted to have a relaxing time on-board (no shore excursions this time !)
We cruised in an Aft Suite for the first time about 10 years ago - have never stayed in anything else since ! (Dreaded beam that "obstructs" balcony in the Vista Suites never a problem for us - usually just the 2 of us cruising)
Flew into Seattle the day before - took the Seattle Light-Rail from the SEA-TAC Airport to the "Stadium Stop" - (easy !) walked over to our hotel (The SilverCloud) - chosen for location to the ball-park(s) and to the Amtrak Station - went to a Seattle Mariners game that night - easy to walk from Hotel to park - next morning took a $5 taxi-ride over to the King Street Amtrak station (shuttle service at the hotel is free - but doesn't start until 7:00 AM - we wanted to get to train station early enough to check in luggage and get "good" seats) thanks to CruiseCritic for suggestion to take train from Seattle to Vancouver - easy and fun ! - Arrived in Vancouver - took $10 taxi to the Vancouver cruise-port
LONG line at cruise-port (3 different ships all boarding at the same time) - but it moved along quickly - we have "priority" check-in - so were on-board the ship by 1:00 PM
Decided to try the MDR for lunch - asked for a table for 2 - were seated in a TINY little space - squeezed in among several large tables - menu looked awful (can't remember what was on it now) - decided to leave - and go up to the Lido deck to the Grill for a hot-dog or hamburger
FOOD: - Not as many really good offerings on the MDR menu each night - We checked it each morning - never did go back to the MDR for a meal !
Loved (as always) the "Suite Breakfast" in Sabatini's each morning - ordered what ever we wanted - food good, there, as always (see note, however under "Service")
Room Service Food was awesome ! - took advantage of it more that any other past cruise - ate several meals out on our balcony.
Went to Sabatini's one night for dinner - was just "so-so" - Manicotti for appetizer was the best thing that I had - DH had the lobster - said was "OK"
Went to the Crown Grill 2 times (usually our favorite) - Filet was awesome - DH had Chop - said was tough - next time tried the Sea Bass (told him he should have stuck to the Filet !)
SERVICE: - As mentioned, we love Sabatini's for breakfast in the morning - but this time the service was REALLY SLOW ! (good thing we were never in a hurry) - others commented also - servers were polite - but not enough of them - had to wait and wait even for coffee - not at all like the absolutely wonderful service that we have had in Sabatini's for breakfast on other ships.
Room Service: As mentioned food was great - service was even better ! - Very prompt - food hot and tasty
Other: Room Steward was great - very quiet guy - very prompt with all requests.
Immigration: - What a mess ! - Everyone HAD to leave the ship in Seattle - to go through US Immigration (since we had just left Canada) - LONG, LONG lines - seemed really, really disorganized - we've been through several other "immigration control" situations on-board a Princess ship - and they went very smoothly (I remember simply walking through the dining room, and picking up our passports on one occasion) - not sure if the decision for passengers to go through the check-in process ashore was the authorities ashore (In Seattle) or Princess - but it sure was a mess !
OTHER: The Grand Princess was the first ever cruise ship to dock at the new cruise-port in San Francisco. Good thing we weren't in a hurry here ! - First - they had trouble connecting the "ramp" to the ship - Captain expressed apology as well as frustration several times over inter-com (nice that he kept us informed) - some passengers really got all upset that they couldn't leave the ship right away (get a grip !) - others appreciated the updates by the Captain - on-shore security both leaving the ship as well as returning was not organized either - 2 people at a table - checking everyone's ID. etc. as they returned - again , good thing we were not in a large group when we left or returned. Hope is that San Francisco gets their act together before next cruise ship docks there !
Love Aft Suites - "obstructed" view on the balcony on VS Suites never a problem for usLove the "Suite Perks" - Sabatini's, free laundry, inter-net minutes, etc.Aft location never a problem - "ship movement" never that much of a bother