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jsiegel

Review - Alaska for my sixth time aboard the Grand (for my 3rd time)

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Here is my review of the July 25-Aug 4, 2018 sailing to Alaska on the Grand Princess:

 

 

I've been on about 16 Princess cruises and also cruised a few other lines for a total of about 20 cruises. I have cruised on the Grand two prior times and cruised to Alaska five time before. I was with four other adults and one 10 year old kid on this sailing.

 

I was part of a travel agency’s large escorted group and took a chartered bus to the ship. I was on board in time for lunch in the Da Vinci dining room and found my friends, who had taken a different bus, already there. The embarkation lunch menu was shorter than on past cruises with only one dessert option but luckily for me it was a souffle.

 

I was in an inside cabin on Caribe, deck 10. The bed was extremely comfortable. As with all standard cabins, the bathroom is small and the shower tiny. There was a steady and relatively loud fan noise in the cabin but it eventually became unnoticeable.

 

The ship is in pretty good shape but I noticed that the upholstery in many of the lounges is torn and tattered. There were blowers set up here and there at times, often in some of the lounges so maybe someone spilled something as opposed to a leak.

 

We had anytime dining so the first night we planned to eat around 7 p.m. There was a huge line for the anytime dining room and people were issued pagers or encouraged to come back after 8 p.m. We took a pager, a half hour later the pager went off and we (and several other people) were told to follow an escort up two levels, down to the rear of the ship and down one level to the Botticelli Traditional dining room. One friend has bad knees so this was a bit difficult. We had a great waiter and after we were finished he invited us to keep that table for the rest of the cruise so I spoke to the Maitre ‘D and we were given his table in Late Seating Traditional. The next day the 10 year old’s mother said late seating was much too late so we decided to see if getting into Anytime at 5:15 would work better. There were huge lines then too. This time after a brief wait we were escorted to the Da Vinci Traditional dining room, one floor up. After ordering I went back to the Botticelli dining room to let the Maitre ‘D know we would not be keeping our Late seating table. He then offered us an early seating table. I took it for the next night forward since we were already seated for dinner elsewhere that night. The following nights we had Traditional Early in the Botticelli with a great pair of waiters from Peru. Traditional early dining is 5 p.m., a bit early and late dining is 7:30 p.m., a bit late, but the Anytime dining system is broken. Princess needs to get rid of Club Class, reduce the size of Traditional Dining or do something to shorten the long wait times of Anytime dining.

 

The main dining room menus had special selections for the Alaskan itinerary. On the Always available menu was Hazelnut crusted maple glazed salmon. It was delicious and I ordered it a few times. Even the Crown Grill had special Alaskan waters selections, such as Copper River salmon. I only had a couple of misses in my entree selections during the 10 nights. The food in the Horizon Court, International Cafe and Pizzeria did not disappoint either.

 

There were over 1,700 Princess first timers on this sailing. There were less than 300 elites on board so the complimentary laundry service took the advertised time of next day return.

 

I'm into Zumba for fitness and a class is held on sea days in the Vista lounge and is very well attended. There is no fee for this activity. There was even a class the morning after our Tracy Arm scenic cruising.

 

For entertainment I saw one comedian who was just OK and a comedian/impressionist (Mike Wilson) who was downright rude to an audience member. His rant was totally inappropriate and uncalled for.

 

Ports of Call:

 

Ketchikan - I had booked the Duck Boat tour but most of my friends and I cancelled due to safety concerns of the duck boats. Two of our group did take the tour and enjoyed it. I just wandered around town. As we were allowed ashore at 7 a.m. and were to be back on board by 1:30 p.m. I got an early start. Unfortunately my favorite art gallery on Creek Street was not open early though some other shops did have early openings for the ship’s passengers. Of course the international jewelry stores (Diamonds International, etc.) were open.

 

Juneau - We were in Juneau on a Sunday. I walked to the Alaska State Museum and discovered they were open 7 days a week. Admission is $12 and the museum contains exhibits about Alaska’s history, cultures, natural history and a technologically amazing “Science on a Sphere” Allow at least an hour for the museum and make sure to play with the computerized Sphere, I suggest that you have it show earthquakes. The museum had clean restrooms. Speaking of restrooms, the Convention Center nearby has clean restrooms too. Not far from the museum by the water is the beginning of the finished portions of the new Seawalk. There are interpretive signs, views of salmon swimming up a creek, lots of eagles and ravens and at the west end a huge sculptural fountain of a life size breaching whale. Well worth the walk.

 

Skagway - I took a hike to Yakutania Point and Smuggler’s Cove, about two miles round trip from the pier. A basic map and description can be found online by searching “Lower Dewey and Yakutania Point” or stopping at the National Park Service counter in town.

 

Victoria - I took the Princess Butchart Gardens excursion. The bus driver provided entertaining history, descriptions and commentary of Victoria to and from the gardens. We had two hours to explore the gardens. We arrived before 10 a.m. and towards the end of our two hours the gardens were getting quite crowded. I recommend this tour if you have never been to the gardens.

 

Overall a very enjoyable cruise. All the staff were friendly and my room steward and many of the waiters in the various venues called me by name after the first day.

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

Jackie

 

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Solid report, and thanks for sharing your experience

 

 

Srpilo

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Thanks for your review.

FYI these dining issues were there long before Club Class.

I agree the ATD system is broken. :(

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Thanks for your review.

FYI these dining issues were there long before Club Class.

I agree the ATD system is broken. :(

 

I have never found the original Grand class ships as bad as the other ships when it comes to Anytime dining.

 

I agree about getting rid of Club Class - they dedicated a whole dining room on the Sapphire Princess for it.

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Thank you for your review most appreciated. I will be on the Grand in 2 weeks....Appreciate the heads up on "any time" dinning.

Any tips for when there is the least traffic...other than 9 at :evilsmile::evilsmile:night:evilsmile:.:evilsmile:

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We sail on the Grand often and have another 3 sailings booked on her, the next one being up to Alaska for our 12th time.

We have never had any real dining issues for ATD and like to eat around 6 PM. We were on the Grand a couple of months ago and had Club Class dining. We absolutely loved it and have it booked for one of our three upcoming cruises on that ship. I don't think it should go away but I may change my mind if I experience long lines at the ATD room. I will keep your warning in mind. :D

I agree about most everything you've mentioned about the Grand, but she is here right in our backyard and we are so tired of traveling so far just to catch a cruise, we do tend to sail on her often. The crew is fantastic (for the most part), the food is pretty good, the entertainment is generally good, the new beds are wonderful and as mentioned, the embarkation/debarkation port is the best! Being on the water ... priceless!

Thanks for your review!

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ATD I like it and do like to eat later so no problems of lines.

Plus you can eat when you want and where you want. You don't have to tell

anyone you won't be at the table tonight.

 

On 6 mid if go when the seating for early is over 7:30 to 8:00

and opens to ATD usually it's easy to get a seat. Sometimes even before 7:30.

 

On 5 mid go around 8 easier to get a seat and if go later it's easier.

If you get a buzzer usually just a 5 to 10 minute wait.

 

Remember if a long port day or something special going on the ship the

dining room might not even be full. You just have to play it night by night.

Just have fun and go with the flow.

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Thanks for posting your review. In response to someone's remark, did they really devote a whole dining room to Club Class on the Sapphire? There aren't that many passengers eligible to justify doing so. Even if everyone in a Club Class mini and suite came at the very same time, the dining room would be about half of capacity.

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Thanks for posting your review. In response to someone's remark, did they really devote a whole dining room to Club Class on the Sapphire? There aren't that many passengers eligible to justify doing so. Even if everyone in a Club Class mini and suite came at the very same time, the dining room would be about half of capacity.

 

 

Remember the Sapphire and Diamond each have the large dining rooms on deck 5 and 6 split into 2 dining rooms on each deck.

So 4 smaller main DR's near the atrium. It still is a major hit to ATD as far as I am concerned when you take that much space away. :(

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Thank you for taking the time to write a review of our cruise. Thanks to gdisney for writing a review of the cruise also. Between the two reviews just about everything has been covered from this great Grand Princess Alaska cruise!

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