After cruising on Royal Caribbean for most of our previous dozen plus cruises, we took this 15 day cruise to the Hawaiian Islands aboard the Grand Princess. To be honest, we took this cruise mostly for it's itinerary. We have neighbors who sail Princess almost exclusively and after listening to them, felt comfortable taking our first Princess cruise.
We had our friends who live just a bit north of San Francisco take us to the pier. He's a retired SFPD officer who worked the marina district for many years so he not only knew all the best shortcuts but also the officers directing traffic at the pier. Those officers even helped us with our luggage. That's what I call public service!! We arrived about 1:00 PM which was a bit later than we planned but traffic headed to the pier was awful. Just as we were getting close, a semi truck pulled out in front of the light rail train that runs in front of the pier. Pretty nasty accident! When we got unloaded from the car and headed inside to check in we walked right up to a counter, took care of the paperwork and were given our cabin keys. We then walked aboard and were in our cabin by 1:30. We had heard so many horror stories about embarking in SF that frankly, we had put this trip off for a couple years. I don't know if our experience was different than most, but that was pretty painless. I am sure that having someone (friend, taxi, bus, shuttle) drop you off is the easiest way to go. We were planning to park nearby (there are a couple lots) but after fruitlessly trying to get someone to confirm a parking reservation, we decided to impose on our friends. It's nice to have great friends.
Our first impression on boarding the ship was that it was nicely decorated but not as clean as other ships that we have sailed on. I had read previously where people had complained that their balconies were dirty. After seeing them first hand, I now understand what they meant. I'm not sure dirty is really the right word but a lot of the trim on the balconies could have used maintenance and I really wish they would have cleaned the glass on the balconies on a regular basis. Also, although the ship hasn't been that long out of dry dock, there are some places where the wear and tear are beginning to show again. It's not like there aren't people always working on the ship, it just seems like some things are let go. Another issue I had is that there were leaks everywhere on this ship!!! There were always buckets catching drips from the ceiling and wet spots and puddles on the floors. I'm not sure what's up with that... 3 other beefs with the ship. Two of them are inherent in the ships design and probably can't be dealt with, first is the size of the theaters and lounges. Every show was SRO. Now I will grant you that the shows were entertaining but the venues were just too small. We missed a couple of shows because of that reason. My wife can't stand for 1 hour due to a recent knee surgery. Second is the elevators. They were dreadful. On most other ships we have learned that if you avoid using the central elevators, the elevators are tolerable. On this ship all of the elevators were awful most of the time. My other complaint is about the Jacuzzi pools. None of them operated properly. There were probably 8 jacuzzi pools on the ship and none was hot enough and none of them bubbled properly. Not acceptable!!!
A forward starboard cabin with a balcony. I wish the balcony were better kept but the room itself was nice and clean, good size for a cruise ship cabin. I wish the shower had a door and not a curtain. I also wish the closet had doors. The bed was quite comfortable and we think it was bigger than a queen. We liked having a mini fridge to keep our waters and a couple medications cool. There are only a couple outlets up near the vanity so it makes keeping all of your ipods, ipads, etc. charged. the internet connection in the good was good and strong but still not very fast. Our cabin was very quiet and very rarely could you even hear people passing in the hallways. For some reason, this was the heaviest cabin door I ever remember. I could imagine small kids and older folks having trouble with it. this cabin is fairly close to the laundromat facilities (one of the reasons we chose it). The Aloha deck is right below the Horizon court so getting to breakfast was always pretty easy, but getting to the Piazza could be a chore depending on the elevators. Overall, I'd take the same cabin again....