1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Grand Princess
The first cruise was taken because I have always wanted to go to Alaska. Living in the San Francisco area, the Grand Princess was top choice for convenience. Our first trip on the GP was last year (2017, June). We booked the exact same cruise with different objectives. We booked balcony cabins both trips, as we felt this was well worth the added expense. Baha 323 and 315, which are near the ship's mid-point. This was also very important, as I might be unhappy with the ship's motions. Before you go: MAKE SURE YOU READ ALL THE PRE-CRUISE DOCUMENTATION! There are many things you cannot bring on the ship, like power strips... Of course, prepare for any weather condition. We brought musicians ear plugs for noisy environments. Used them lots. Staff: We found that both cruises had excellent staff that were very accommodating. Dining rooms were well staffed. There were some lapses in service sometimes, but that happens everywhere one goes. If anything, we will remember the folks that went over and above - like the maitre'd, who reached over a railing between us and the entry path to clear our dishes for us. Exceptional! They were regularly on the lookout for the welfare of the travelers. One issue that a traveler may find is an accent issue. Most of the staff are Filipinos with occasional rather thick accents. We took the ship tour (a must!) and could not pick up most of what the kitchen folks were explaining (also due to background noise). Notable Note: The big on-ship and off-ship push is SALES. It is always surprising how much effort is spent on easing your loot from the purse. And they are very successful. Streets are mostly out-of-state shopping malls, mostly for jewelry. Second trip, we chose going for long town walks. Had fun talking to folks along the way (and in the shops, for that matter). Entertainment: Some reviewers have issues with the presentations. We found them professional and quite enjoyable. We mostly saw the shows the second cruise. Yes. the shows averaged 35-45 mins, which we found to be perfect. Maybe others - not so much. At the ship tour, we got a good talk from the tech rep. who described the extreme effort they go though to put these shows on. We were very impressed! Weather: If you go to Alaska, then you have likely been briefed that the trip will likely be cold and/or rainy. Our last trip was spectacular (relatively warm (abt. 64F) and come clouds/sunny). We didn't know who to tip on that one... Ship Shape: Yes, the ship has signs of needing a walker sometimes. But they do their best to keep things well-maintained. They were constantly painting, varnishing, etc. But, we do wonder abt. this being done "on the run," though. Food: Yes, we could think of enhancements on food rotations. More variety and better quality. But, considering their budget, storage and prep. needs, and logistics - we found the provisions acceptable. Do not expect white towel food preps. We would be shocked if any cruise had five-star grub. If you are bent on getting high-class fixins, then there are two restaurants that have high-hat food, but is abt. $50 extra/person for dinner. Spa: My wife got her hair cut and styled. The operator was proficient and did a super job. The pricing (abt. $80) is very reasonable and an excellent value. They offered many other services that we didn't use, but others were taking full advantage of. Excursions: These are amazingly well orchestrated. Never had any problem finding our bus and tour. Outstanding coordination. We went on two airplane rides (glaciers and fjords), Roberts tram, town bus tours, boat rides, and more. All were very enjoyable.Second trip, we did fewer and enjoyed the walks and our own town experiences. Other Offerings: There are many other things that one can do like gambling, games, crafts, culinary, etc. Movies are shown outdoors, in the large theater, and on the room TV. The outdoor LED screen worked well, but the sound was a bit muddy and we missed lots of dialog. They really should offer blu tooth transmission for one's personal ear buds. That would have been neat. Well, folks - as mentioned above, we took this cruise twice. This should be the best indicator of how much fun we had. Lots. We found no issues that were even approaching "the threshold of pain." Maybe the fixed cabin window would be important.

Second Alask Cruise. Most excellent time.

Grand Princess Cruise Review by zandora

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
The first cruise was taken because I have always wanted to go to Alaska. Living in the San Francisco area, the Grand Princess was top choice for convenience. Our first trip on the GP was last year (2017, June). We booked the exact same cruise with different objectives. We booked balcony cabins both trips, as we felt this was well worth the added expense. Baha 323 and 315, which are near the ship's mid-point. This was also very important, as I might be unhappy with the ship's motions.

Before you go:

MAKE SURE YOU READ ALL THE PRE-CRUISE DOCUMENTATION! There are many things you cannot bring on the ship, like power strips... Of course, prepare for any weather condition. We brought musicians ear plugs for noisy environments. Used them lots.

Staff:

We found that both cruises had excellent staff that were very accommodating. Dining rooms were well staffed. There were some lapses in service sometimes, but that happens everywhere one goes. If anything, we will remember the folks that went over and above - like the maitre'd, who reached over a railing between us and the entry path to clear our dishes for us. Exceptional! They were regularly on the lookout for the welfare of the travelers. One issue that a traveler may find is an accent issue. Most of the staff are Filipinos with occasional rather thick accents. We took the ship tour (a must!) and could not pick up most of what the kitchen folks were explaining (also due to background noise).

Notable Note:

The big on-ship and off-ship push is SALES. It is always surprising how much effort is spent on easing your loot from the purse. And they are very successful. Streets are mostly out-of-state shopping malls, mostly for jewelry. Second trip, we chose going for long town walks. Had fun talking to folks along the way (and in the shops, for that matter).

Entertainment:

Some reviewers have issues with the presentations. We found them professional and quite enjoyable. We mostly saw the shows the second cruise. Yes. the shows averaged 35-45 mins, which we found to be perfect. Maybe others - not so much. At the ship tour, we got a good talk from the tech rep. who described the extreme effort they go though to put these shows on. We were very impressed!

Weather:

If you go to Alaska, then you have likely been briefed that the trip will likely be cold and/or rainy. Our last trip was spectacular (relatively warm (abt. 64F) and come clouds/sunny). We didn't know who to tip on that one...

Ship Shape:

Yes, the ship has signs of needing a walker sometimes. But they do their best to keep things well-maintained. They were constantly painting, varnishing, etc. But, we do wonder abt. this being done "on the run," though.

Food:

Yes, we could think of enhancements on food rotations. More variety and better quality. But, considering their budget, storage and prep. needs, and logistics - we found the provisions acceptable. Do not expect white towel food preps. We would be shocked if any cruise had five-star grub. If you are bent on getting high-class fixins, then there are two restaurants that have high-hat food, but is abt. $50 extra/person for dinner.

Spa:

My wife got her hair cut and styled. The operator was proficient and did a super job. The pricing (abt. $80) is very reasonable and an excellent value. They offered many other services that we didn't use, but others were taking full advantage of.

Excursions:

These are amazingly well orchestrated. Never had any problem finding our bus and tour. Outstanding coordination. We went on two airplane rides (glaciers and fjords), Roberts tram, town bus tours, boat rides, and more. All were very enjoyable.Second trip, we did fewer and enjoyed the walks and our own town experiences.

Other Offerings:

There are many other things that one can do like gambling, games, crafts, culinary, etc. Movies are shown outdoors, in the large theater, and on the room TV. The outdoor LED screen worked well, but the sound was a bit muddy and we missed lots of dialog. They really should offer blu tooth transmission for one's personal ear buds. That would have been neat.

Well, folks - as mentioned above, we took this cruise twice. This should be the best indicator of how much fun we had. Lots. We found no issues that were even approaching "the threshold of pain." Maybe the fixed cabin window would be important.
zandora’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Grand Princess price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC B315
Both cruises offered clean and comfortable appointments. Some have reviewed the personal storage space as limited. We found them to be perfectly adequate - two very large cases and cloths hung in the open closet and across was a small closet with shelves and a safe. The beds were new last year and were super (foam). This year, though, although comfortable generally, they had sagged a bit and my back didn't like it much. We had this problem with our own foam bed and have converted to air.

The shower is quite confining, but is okay. The shower head last year was quite plugged water scale. This year they are new. Great! Water from the faucet was plentiful (unlike hotels, which is a trickle!) and very hot. We wish the shower had a small light in it - dark.

The windows in 323 were clear. 315 had inter-pane discolorations and were not totally clear. That needs work. TV remote function was marginal.

Biggest cabin beef: Temperature control. I brought a thermometer (for outside, but used it indoors also). The thermostat has no markings, just a red and blue zone indicating level of heat or coolness. Mid-point varies between 70 and 66 degrees. Two notches above middle is 68 to 72. This follows generally around the ship. Wide swings in "climate." Mostly, I was comfortable with a thick flannel shirt. I noted others putting jackets, etc. on, as the air was pretty regularly on the cool side.
Lido Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    The tour was in an antique bus. The lady driver was a stage actor that really was the tour. Very humorous and informative - the best guide we ever saw. The tour interests were ok, as the town is not of particular note with many exceptional interests. She made it really fun.
    View All 52 City Tour Reviews
  • Float Plane
    The flight was in an old Beaver airplane. It was an amazing experience to see the islands and water from the air. Well worth the expense. Pilot was great. Plane lands (we would have been happy if it kept flying around) on the water allowing folks to get out and stand on the floats(!). We did not!!
    View All 81 Float Plane Reviews
  • Gardens/Hatchery
    The hatchery did not cause extreme excitement. Could have been skipped w/o regrets. The gardens tour was very enjoyable. Surprisingly so. Mostly consists of upside-down trees with gardens in the "roots." Fascinating.
    View All 56 Gardens/Hatchery Reviews
  • Mount Roberts Tramway
    The view from above was spectacular. Ride up and back offered great views. There is a gift shop (of course!) and some wildlife if you get there before dusk.
    View All 217 Mount Roberts Tramway Reviews
  • Ketchikan On Our Own
    We walked on a small loop that took us around park-like settings and a very scenic stream that passed through the city. Excellent photo-ops. The first visit, we didn't do this due to winds, cold, and rain - sounds like Alaska, huh?!
    View All 27 Ketchikan On Our Own Reviews
  • Lighthouses, Totems and Eagles
    The ride was scenic but unremarkable. Mostly, you got to see the shoreline with all the homes (and a couple of eagles). Water tended to be choppy and one of us almost got a bit seasick. Narrator was humorous and informative.
    View All 51 Lighthouses, Totems and Eagles Reviews
  • Misty Fjords Flightseeing
    Trip was on a old radial-powered Beaver sea-plane. Although it was overcast on several layers, we still got super views of the islands and waterways as well as the city going out and returning. It did rain on the flight back, but it stopped during our landing. We'd do it again. Did not appreciate the opportunity of getting out and standing on the floats, though.
    View All 148 Misty Fjords Flightseeing Reviews
  • Rainforest Hike
    Fortunately, the weather was fantastic! Smell was amazing. Rylee, our guide, was great and personable, as well as quite knowledgeable. Good exercise, but not taxing. Most enjoyable; more than shopping at 100 jewelry stores downtown! At the end of your nature walk, a tour of the lumber mill and wildlife was done (two eagles, an owl, and a hawk. Great stuff.
    View All 91 Rainforest Hike Reviews
  • Street Car Tour
    Very informative driver. Was quite familiar with the city and was good-natured. City was unspectacular, but educational.
    View All 41 Street Car Tour Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    The ride was most scenic! A must. BUT you have to be prepared for weather. Whether or not you will be able to see out your window! On our ride up, we were on the right side and saw super views. Then, at the top we all trade sides so others can see a different view (the left side going up is the most scenic). We were on the left going up and after switching sides, the folks going down had a fog bank obscuring their view )-: We took the trip both cruises.
    View All 1,032 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
  • Butchart Gardens
    The beauty of this garden is legendary. Our visit was very warm, making us a bit uncomfortable. An adequate review on this would take volumes. Drawback: Disneyland-level crowds. Brace yourself.
    View All 260 Butchart Gardens Reviews
  • Butterfly Gardens
    This one was a bit of a sleeper. We were surprised at how interesting this butterfly zoo was. We were sad that there was not a lot of time to digest the copiously prepared displays, although most might see it as perfectly adequate. Dress coolly, as the insides are VERY warm and humid. Outstanding.
    View All 26 Butterfly Gardens Reviews
  • Craigdarroch Castle
    The castle is the house of a very wealthy coal baron. Well laid out with period settings and was well-organized. We enjoyed it. be prepared to climb five stories of stairs for the full tour. Very interesting.
    View All 33 Craigdarroch Castle Reviews