This was our 25th cruise, 5th on Princess and 3rd on the Grand Princess. My wife and I have cruised all the major mass market cruise lines, Carnival, Princess, HAL, Norwegian, RCCL and Celebrity. We cruise just to be on the ship, not for ... Read More
This was our 25th cruise, 5th on Princess and 3rd on the Grand Princess. My wife and I have cruised all the major mass market cruise lines, Carnival, Princess, HAL, Norwegian, RCCL and Celebrity. We cruise just to be on the ship, not for ports or itineraries. We enjoy relaxing, reading, looking out at the ocean, entertainment and good food. We are basically cruise potatoes. I provide this information just so you know where this review is coming from.
As stated, this was our 3rd time on the Grand Princess and she had just come out of dry dock, which basically was done to electronically equip her for their Medallion service. There was some changes of carpeting and some cosmetic sprucing but really not a distinctive noticeable change since the last time we sailed on her, other than the mailboxes outside the rooms were gone. My problem with Princess as a whole is with their stateroom size. We typically book an oceanview cabin (picture window) and their oceanview rooms are among the tiniest of any of the mass market cruise lines (ditto their bathrooms).They seem to be competing with Norwegian for who can have the tiniest oceanview staterooms. Sometimes we get a balcony (we didn't this time) and those are also smaller than most standard balconies. We knew this going in, so it was expected and was not a surprise. What was a surprise was our oceanview stateroom was even tinier than normal. I'll get to that later.
The other negative surprise is that the food, particularly the buffet food, has gone down in quality (and choices) from when we last sailed this ship. It went from sometimes mediocre to now, mediocre at its best. The MDR menu has, as do most cruise lines, one side of standard choices that never change and the other side of the specialty options for that particular evening. The standard fare usually consists of a meat dish (typically a steak of some kind), a chicken dish and a seafood dish. The daily change entrees usually consists of different fancy or gourmet dishes. On their standard side of the menu, the dinner meat option is now a hamburger and fries. How classy can you get??? It seems like they are trying to go cheap on the food wherever they can. We did eat at the Crown Grill one night, their extra fee specialty restaurant and I had one of the best filet mignons I have ever had but you have to pay extra to get that.
So why did I give this ship 4 stars?
Because we had possibly the most fun on this cruise ever. Every single one of the staff we encountered could not have been nicer. They bent over backwards to do what they could to make sure you had a great time.Friendly and accommodating to the extreme. While the food has deteriorated the entertainment and cruise activities have improved. Kevin, the cruise director, was the best cruise director we have had in 25 cruises. he obviously loves his job and it shows. Ditto for his assistant, Martin, who ran many of the activities and has a great sense of humor and fun. We got more involved in the activities on this ship than we usually do just because the entertainment crew were so personable and so much fun to be with. My wife and I enjoy production shows with singing and dancing, costume changes and set changes. The singers and dancers in the main theater were outstanding and fun to watch. Loved the costumes and sets. There were four production shows, The last one, Born to Dance, is a show that Princess commissioned Steven Schwartz to produce for them. It is, as you might suspect, a showcase for the dancers. It is absolutely the best production/dancing show I have ever seen, and I have seen it four times now. The choreography is just phenomenal. There was a lounge act, Fee Fee and the Sentimentals, two female sings and a 4 piece combo band that were just great. It was hard to not want to dance when they played. Their shows were usually packed.
Aside from the usual trivia and Karaoke game activities. they had some unique fun and funny game shows that we really enjoyed. So while the food quality went down, the entertainment quality, which was already high, went up.
Now, for my cabin surprise. I supposedly had an upgraded oceanview cabin on midship Plaza deck. As stated Princess cabins are small. Normally, there oceanview cabin consists of a bed or beds (depending upon whether you request twin bed or queen size) pushed up against the back wall where the window is. There is a night stand on each side of the bed, if you have it configured as queen or two nightstands in between the two twin beds. That takes up the whole width of the room. Across from the bed is a desk with a mirror, a refrigerator built in at one end of the desk, some shelving above and that is it.
On the other side of the wall the desk is mounted to is a closet, some shelving for clothes, a shelf safe and the tiny bathroom. The first thing I noticed when we entered the room, is there was only one nightstand (which also holds the reading lamp). It was on the side my wife traditionally sleeps on and she is also an avid reader. I have a CPAP machine. Without a nightstand, my only option was to place it on the floor. I copntacted my room steward who told me the room WAS TOO NARROW to place a second nightstand in there. I had been in an oceanview room on Princess before and had two nightstands and told him so. He said that the other oceanview rooms had two nightstands except for the room I was in and the one next too mine. They were a little more narrow that their already narrow oceanview rooms. He said he would talk with his supervisor to see what could be done. He later brought in a cardboard carton for me to use as a nightstand to solve the problem although I still had no reading light.
So except for a cardboard nightstand and dummying down on the food, we had a great cruise on the Grand. Would I sail her again? Probably, if the incentive package was right but I would be very careful about my room.
Alaska is drop dead gorgeous and even though we do not cruise for ports or itineraries, Alaska cruise are among our favorites. Read Less