Organized embarkation. Had lunch at buffet and luggage was waiting in room. I always practice extreme sanitation— wipe down room (doorhandles, light switches, remote, desks, patio furniture, bathroom), frequent hand washing, no touching handrail/elevator buttons (elbow) and being very selective about exposure to crowds. Did not get sick, and I notice this cruise did not have a lot of sick coughing people by the end of cruise (sorry, but that’s been the norm).
This is our 11th cruise, all on Princess, and the 4th on the Grand. It was our 50th anniversary and did not disappoint. We made it restful and relaxing and did not overdue things.
FOOD: First, I want to compliment the food. Where do these reviewers normally eat that they find the Princess food below standard? There are so many places and things to eat on the ship, how can you not find something? We started in the buffet— even mundane things like rice or carrots were perfectly cooked and seasoned. The pasta was al dente. The buffet had some basic things that would be there every time, and many things were switched out. A seafood salad contained shrimp, baby scallops, oysters with no grit– sweet! The Grill (hamburger stand) had great offerings, this time including tacos, and a pizza stand. We didn’t eat there, but our travelmates did. Alfredo’s Pizzeria is gourmet. More selection than in the past, and they will customize, ie: adding pepperoni to your vegetarian pizza. The International Café is perfect for a light snack. The main dining rooms were great with a mainstay menu on the left, and changing offerings on right. I love the salmon and am hard-pressed to stay with it or try something new. Service is still slow and harried– they’re too busy. We did not see any lines except when passengers gathered prior to opening, but we also showed up to eat on the later side, around 7, when early diners were leaving. Here’s a secret for anytime dining— go to DaVinci from 7pm on and the maitre D (head waiter) will get you right in. On our anniversary night, we ate in the Crown Grill and it was stupendous! They now limit the steak and lobster and have a $10 additional fee to have both. Probably from that cruise our party of 5 ate too many!
Food complaints? The coffee cards are different. We brought an unfinished card from the last cruise and it was ‘confiscated.’ The barista keeps them in a cup and punches them each time you order. When that card was used up, we purchased another, calculating using the last on departure morning. Otherwise, you’re out of luck! And there’s so much card swiping and key entry on the part of the barista it was hilarious– what industrial engineer thought that up? You can’t get a large orange juice in the buffet— have to order 2 small. I’ve been a critic of the 2 sink hand-washing station in the buffet but it is closely monitored. It’s still glitchy in that you have traffic heading to the pool, or returning from the rear dining area but it’s not disastrous. I like the ‘smart casual’ dress code in the main dining room. It needs to be more proactively displayed so it doesn’t put the maitre D in a tough spot. On formal night, there were several diners who were not formal; a group of 4 girls next to us were in their bluejeans and Ts, except one had her jammies on.
PHOTOGRAPHY: The photogs make you look good. Picked our favorite photos and got digital files too. Included one with Captain John Smith who was very obliging. There were not as many set-ups on formal night, but there would be photogs on ‘casual’ night. Hate the port jackass photos and ducked out of every one.
ENTERTAINMENT: CD Steve Campbell was talented. Attended every art event, especially the history or artist lectures, and the auctions. Art Director Henry was a walking encyclopedia. The Crew Show is always entertaining. The last night was a new Princess production, Born to Dance. It was fabulous! No Spanish class, no port lectures.
CABIN: The cabin size is fine. You want to hear about my brother’s facilities in the USN? We booked with adjoining travelmates and kept the patio door open between balconies for memorable visiting. There’s shampoo/conditioner, bath wash, soap, lotion, hair dryer. There’s now plug-ins on bedside lamps to recharge phones. I don’t go on a cruise to watch TV, but it’s limited– you select an on-demand program or movie, it plays, then ends until you select another program. The ‘live feed’ includes 2 sport channels, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox but they don’t have ‘news,’ only politicizing. Entry is a swipe of key card, no more mail box or name on room. Greatly reduced ship mail, tucked under door handle. We had a problem with shower temperature water– tepid at best. Reported, argued, and it was never fixed.
SHIP: The Grand is in good condition, with the expected rusty places the sea demands. The numerous repainting causes drips on the balcony— painters don’t bother with drop cloths. The elevators can be slow. The sofas in the venues sit too low. The public can lack consideration: jumping on elevator before riders can get off, stopping to have a conversation in an aisle, and please, don’t take your shoes off and put your bare feet on the table!!
This was a wonderful, relaxing cruise to a warm place. I’m happy to celebrate with Princess.
The cabin is fine. Carpeting was new. TV is now large flatscreen on the wall. We had a problem with shower water temperature being tepid which was not resolved. Balconies have pass through doors that can be opened if you have a travelmates next door.