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Recent Grand Cruisers, The 411 Please...

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I'm on the Grand in 5 weeks and my expectations are low for this ship from reading reviews.

 

Please oblige me feedback of your recent Grand cruise under any heading including food, service, condition of the ship, entertainment, cabins and anything else you can regurgitate.

 

I need to be psychologically ready for whatever this old ship throws at me.

 

Thanks,

Need2Cruise

 

 

 

 

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I spent 37 days aboard the Grand in September/October 2019.  She is more than fine.  She is great.  At about 25 years old, yes she shows her age and she has to be headed to P&O soon, but the ship has been well maintained. The furniture, beds, tv,s, curtains, and such are very comparable with all the other ships (except the new builds).

 

The entertainment staff moves around the fleet, so that is the same too. 

 

The crew is wonderful and San Francisco will miss them all when this is no longer her home port. 

Edited by tcdcruiser

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17 minutes ago, tcdcruiser said:

she has to be headed to P&O soon

Not happening yet as she's just about to become a Medallion ship this March. Time will tell, though, in this next decade.

 

Otherwise, I echo many of tcdcruiser's sentiments. I also cruised on Grand in October 2019 and found she's still maintained her charm and makes a great vessel for being outdoors, although cruising out of SF means it'll be chilly anyways. We thoroughly enjoyed the crew we interacted with and many of them seemed happy to be on Grand as well. I will say that there's a few things I was not a fan of:

  • Her age is definitely evident -- for example, there were leaks in the Horizon Court and it's unfortunate, but to be expected. Furnishings were also probably mostly new from the March 2019 dry dock, but not all necessarily looked or felt modern, so it's debatable. Crooners felt very worn to me, and the carpeting throughout the ship did not seem like it was largely refreshed. 
  • Her elevators were very slow and old, and don't make as obvious of a tone to indicate they've come, so make sure you scurry if you're waiting for one.
  • This might have more to do with cruising out of SF, but Grand was the "least stable" ship I've been on so far, and most of that was due to the Pacific and weather I cruised in (so it's not entirely Grand's fault)...but it was still one of the most uncomfortable journeys I've taken and many crew and passengers alike showed their discomfort in their faces pretty easily. I hadn't taken any seasickness meds so if you're prone to it, bring the meds.

With the dry dock, cabins were minorly refreshed, so you have the new beds and the new lamps with a USB outlet on them. As mentioned, TVs are great. 

 

I don't actually have a very strong impression of the entertainment, and the assortment of activities seemed to be less and maybe even a little less refined than what you might see on other "more prestigious" ships in the fleet. The production shows are some of the older ones in the fleet. But this is all nitpicking, at best, and many others seemed to be enjoying themselves.

 

I think the food in the dining rooms was comparable with, and possibly even better than, that of other Princess ships, but note the Horizon Court closes at 10:30PM on this ship, if that matters. IC & Alfredo's were fine.

 

All in all, I think you'll honestly be fine. No need to psychologically prep yourself or psyche yourself out for this trip, because you'll end up leaving the trip feeling worn out and loathing the experience altogether. Find what you know works for you and try to make the best out of what you have, and I'm sure you'll have a great trip.

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The P&O guess is based on the current schedule. You will not that the very last port on the schedule is Southampton.  Also word is P&O will also adopt the medallion technology. Again, this is my guess.  

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I was also on the Grand in October 2019.  I had low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.  The only area where I really felt letdown was the spa.  I much prefer the Enclave on the newer ships to the facilities offered on the Grand.

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I echo tcdcruiser’s response. We cruised on the Grand in October 2019 with another couple. We all felt the bed and pillow were so comfortable that we regretted not looking for tags to find out the brand so we can purchase at home. 
 

The service was excellent through the ship. We only used the stairs so I can’t comment on the elevators. Yes, the ship is old but it is still a great ship.  We had a mini suite and our friends had an obstructed window view. None of us have anything to complain about our stateroom. 
 

We ate breakfast and lunch at the Horizon. The food there was from good to excellent. The Ernesto burger was delicious. I thought it was much better than the burgers at the Umani Burger Restaurant. Our meals in the MDR were very good. I didn’t experience any meals that were served lukewarm.

 

The production shows are the same ones I’ve seen on other ships. On our October cruise, we never had a problem finding 4 seats together going to the show 10 minutes before show time for the first show.  I was disappointed with the magicians, Brent and Sarah. 
 

No need to psych yourself up for the cruise. You will have a wonderful time. 

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Hi, new poster, long time reader.

 

We just finished (Feb, 2020) a 15 day cruise on the Grand from San Francisco to Hawaii and back.

 

Overall, my husband and I thought the food was excellent.  The offerings at the buffet became a bit monotonous after 15 days, but the quality of the food was always good.  The desserts were killer!  We ate dinner (anytime dining) in the dining room several times and were never disappointed.  We weren't overly impressed with the slices of pizza at the place by the pool, but the pizzas coming out of Alfredo's on the piazza were very good.  The Salty Dog Grill produces tasty burgers and the best hotdog I've had in a very long time.  We also enjoyed stopping by the International Cafe to pick up a few freshly baked chocolate chip  and oatmeal/raisin cookies before heading to our cabin for the night.

 

With the exception of the bartenders at the casino bar, we were really disappointed with the service which surprised me because I've heard so much about how great it is on Princess ships.  We found most of the crew to be polite, but not particularly friendly.  More often than not, they were huddled off to the side talking to each other rather than interacting with passengers.  I tried several times to engage a bartender in conversation, but he made it pretty clear that he wasn't interested.  Our cabin steward did a great job cleaning our cabin, but we requested that our ice bucket be filled with ice each night.  I specifically asked her if filling it would cause her any sort of difficulty, and if so, I'd go up to the buffet to fill the bucket, but she assured me it wasn't a problem.  As it turned out, sometimes it was filled and other times it wasn't.  One time the ice bucket had been removed from the cabin and found it's way back the next day.

 

The worst experience we had was at The Crown Grill during the free fish and chips lunch.  The food was delicious, but the service was horrible bordering on rude.  Actually, it was rude.  It was so bad, that we didn't stay for dessert and went up to the buffet to have dessert instead.  The bad service at The Crown Grill may explain why each day during lunch, a waiter from The Crown Grill was going around to the other restaurants (including the buffet), menu in hand, interrupting people's lunch and trying to persuade them to come to The Crown Grill for dinner!  Honestly, we're not difficult, demanding or fussy people, but we do have certain, reasonable expectations of service and the Grand didn't meet them.

 

We very much enjoyed the entertainment, particularly the production shows.  I've read in reviews that others didn't think much of them, but we thought they were great.  While we thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment, we felt the onboard activities were lacking.  I understand it's very popular, but there was way too much trivia and very little else that was of interest to us.  However, I do realize this is subjective and that there we probably many passengers who did enjoy the activities.

 

I very much enjoyed spending my afternoons on the Horizon Terrace on the Lido Deck where there is a bar (Al Frescos) and a small pool.  For whatever reason, this area didn't seem to have been discovered by most passengers so it was very quiet, peaceful and relaxing.  It was so relaxing to sit out there reading, working on my computer or just reflecting.  I also enjoyed the convenience of the bar if I wanted something to drink and having the buffet nearby if I wanted a snack. 

 

The ship does show it's age.  As noted above, there were leaks in the ceiling at the Horizon Court (I actually had water drip on my hair), many of the women's bathrooms had at least one stall closed for repair/maintenance during the entire cruise,  elevators were out of service often and I noticed a lot of rust around the outside of the ship (although, the maintenance crew was painting while we were on board).  As noted above, the carpets look worn except in some of the main public areas like around the elevators and on the stairs.

 

We had an inside cabin, and while it looked dated, it was perfectly fine and comfortable.  We had plenty of room, the bed was comfy and the bedding new.  The pillows were a bit soft, but that's a minor thing. 

 

Overall, we enjoyed our cruise very much and it exploring the Hawaiian islands was a terrific experience.  But, mainly due to the poor service we experienced, I doubt we'll sail on Princess again.  We are not experienced cruisers, having only done one other which was on the Norwegian Jewel.  While Norwegian didn't have near the quality of food or entertainment we experienced on the Grand, their crew made me feel like a princess from day one until the end of the cruise.  So much so, that's all I could talk about for weeks after we got home.

 

Unfortunately, Princess didn't make me feel like a princess  and I think that's one of the appeals of cruising - being pampered and having your every need taken care even when you don't know that you need or want something.  I certainly don't want to throw rain on your parade, but just be aware that you may experience some service issues while on your cruise.  And, then again, you may not.  Maybe it was just our bad luck to be onboard the Grand during an off trip.  I dunno.  Regardless, I send my very best wishes to you for a wonderful cruise and a fabulous time!

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We were on the Grand last May for 10 days. We loved it. We went up to Alaska from SF and back, so we did not use the pool areas at all and had an AFT corner cabin that we spent a lot of time in watching the world go by. We used stairs 90% of the time, so limited knowledge on elevators.  Loved to hang out at Crooners before dinner with whomever was performing. The boat was fresh out of dry dock and while I read people complaining it is an older ship, it was perfectly fine for us. If I wanted a new boat with all the crazy new toys, I would have booked somewhere else. We did not use any spa treatments this round. I always feel people worry about the small things without seeing the larger picture and enjoying the moments. 

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12 hours ago, need2cruisesoon said:

I'm on the Grand in 5 weeks and my expectations are low for this ship from reading reviews.

 

Please oblige me feedback of your recent Grand cruise under any heading including food, service, condition of the ship, entertainment, cabins and anything else you can regurgitate.

 

I need to be psychologically ready for whatever this old ship throws at me.

 

Thanks,

Need2Cruise

 

 

 

 

just got off the Grand.  The ship is still fine.  We did just go thru out 2nd major disappointment with the Crown Grill tho.  Aboard the ship the food is in the okay category (nothing you would write home about ).  to our surprise we loved Sabbatini's and highly recommend it but they serve toooooo much food for one meal.  Kiddingly I said they should make Sabbatini's a two night dinner.  Night one should be the  antipasta, appetizer, soup and salad.  Night two Course 1, Course 2 and dessert.

 

Cabin was pretty standard, service was much much better than expected - especially in dining room.  

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I don't know about Grand becoming a PANDO ship soon. We have just booked a 24 Night New England and Canada cruise for Sep 2021 as a round trip from Southampton England. Branded as a Princess cruise

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As it happens, we’re on Grand right now (so if you have any specific questions, I’ll happily check them out).  This is our fifth sailing on her, including two last year, the last before dry dock and the second after.  We LOVE the ship though there is no doubt she shows her age her and there.

 

Positives:

Compared to later grand class ships there is one less deck of cabins meaning 500 less lax fighting for space.  You notice this everywhere from boarding to lounges.

Has a covered pool which is helpful for cool weather, especially since she has been home ported in San Francisco for many years.

Has Alfredos which somehow went away on some of her sister ships.

Has Window Suites, the best cabins in the fleet IMHO.

 

Negatives

Is decidedly less glittering that even later ships in her class such as Ruby.  It’s amazing how far glitz has come in 20 years.

Lost her “shopping cart handle” Skywalkers some years ago, a very nice observation lounge.  The One5 is fine, but nothing compares to the old place for views.

Signs of age and wear are evident, especially if you tend towards a critical eye.  These things don’t by and large bother me, but I recognize others are genuinely put off.

 

Other comments.  
pools and hot tubs were refreshed last year during dry dock, prior were in really poor shape.

There have been select furniture upgrades even since our last sailing, such as new bedside lamps with USB chargers.

Medallion internet is lightning fast.

She is not Medallion yet, another couple sailings, but she looks ready now.  Door locks and the like are already RFID, Medallion maps near elevators etc.

 

As I said at the start, we love Grand and will be sad to see her leave San Francisco.  Would sail her anytime and would expect you to have a lovely time, provided.a bit of wear here and there doesn’t overly bother you.

 

 

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need2cruisesoon

 

We also live just outside of San Francisco and share your concerns about the Grand, although, we've sailed on her quite often since she has been home ported here in the City.  

The ship is noticeably old and has a few design flaws that we've discussed in the past, ie:  no mid ship passenger staircase beyond deck 7, smoke draw from the casino, lack of venues appropriate for the size of the crowds, small closets in the staterooms, bottlenecks of passengers past the wheelhouse / photo booth area, etc.  Then there are rust issues, plumbing issues (leaks and toilet overflows), air conditioning issues, worn and dated furniture, etc.  

But ... and this is a big BUT, I doubt you will find a better crew / staff onboard any ship ... ever!!  With the exception of one staff member in all our times onboard, we have found the Grand to have wonderful service by the most accommodating and friendly personnel.  I don't know how they do consistently get the best ... but they do. 

We also find that we actually like the oceanview cabins better than the balcony cabins on the Grand .... that blue matting is just so gross to us.  We refer to it as the filth catcher.  That's on most Princess ships, though ... not unique to the Grand.  

Our most recent sailing on her was in October.  We had a wonderful time with one mishap with the ventilation system ... it was rectified pronto!  

We ate in the Crown Grill a couple of times and found the food and the service to be superb!!  The waiters could not have been any more attentive and they went above and beyond to meet our needs.  The service in Vines, the IC and Alfredos was also just nop notch.  We found the service in the CC part of the MDR to be the best ever.  We also ate just a couple of times up at the Trident Grill (I think it is now the Salty Dog?) and they have some new additional menu items that were really good!  I can't recall getting anything at the buffet, though ... maybe we did and if so, it wasn't memorable either way.  The One5 is just ok ... we'd hit it for the PES event on occasion but, I like Skywalkers better overall.  A few of the days it was just too hot up there so we didn't stay for long.  

The entertainment was good to great ... Steve, the CD was friendly, energetic and talented.  He organized a great party in the piazza one evening with excellent music ... everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  At first, the Brent and Sarah show looked rather dorky but, we ended up enjoying it ... much more than we thought we would, actually.  The piano player in Crooners was very talented, just didn't draw the crowds like some of them who do a better job at engaging the audience.  The house band was great, as was the one production show we saw.  The casino was fun but, the smoking in there ... argh!  I won't turn this into an anti-smoking thread, though but I will say that the formal nights are a treat in there. 

We booked a WS so the room was super comfy and we had an excellent room steward.  We were missing a few things ... quickly taken are of, though.  When we experienced a problem, maintenance showed up very quickly to fix it.  

The staff in every bar was just wonderful!  I also appreciate their wine bottle package ...we enjoyed some excellent wines at a nice savings without having to lug them all onboard.  Embarkation and disembarkation were both excellent!! 

All in all, we had a wonderful cruise but, just don't expect a new ship feel.  As mentioned, the staff / crew make up for it.  

 

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We were on the Grand in January and will be again at the end of March. 

 

I think she's a great ship. Our cabin was spotless, and the steward provided great service.

 

Food in the MDR varied from very good to so-so, but that's always my opinion on the food. Alfredo's is still great. We got a burger from the burger place out on Lido, and that was a wonderful burger indeed! It had bacon jam. Mmmm. Bacon jam. 

 

General condition of the ship is good. You do see some rust here and there, but everything's clean and maintained.

 

Updated internet was nice. Perfectly acceptable speed.

 

My hubby particularly appreciated the on-demand movies in our cabin. 

 

Oddly, the thing that fell short for me was the egg drop. I know, I know. Who cares about the egg drop? I do, that's who. When we were on the Royal last year, the young man who ran the egg drop was a real ham. He chicken danced his way through it all, and by the end of it, the crowd was chicken dancing too. Lots of fun. There was no chicken dancing on the Grand.

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It is interesting the way people have a worry or dislike to older ships..... We haven't been on the grand but have spend a lot time on the Golden,   yes a bit rust... a few leaks, some thing look a little worn....

 

But we have had some great cruises on her..... now that she going to P&O... we are moving to the Sapphire.... which have read some reviews of being old and worn..... but I am sure we will have some great cruises on her in  later in the year....

 

So I think it is a bit of mind set,... new and shiny is best ??  or older and comfortable is best ??

 

Anyway enjoy your cruise

 

Cheers Don 

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Hi Don,

 

I'm new so I hope I'm not overstepping by piping in.

 

You've made such an interesting and astute observation that I felt the need to respond.

 

For me, it's not so much old ship vs new ship (as long as there are no safety issues that are being neglected).  I can easily overlook a bit of rust or a worn carpet or dated furniture.  In my mind, it's the crew/staff that makes the cruise.   If they are fun, friendly and positive, it's going to be a good cruise even if other things aren't up to par.  However, if they are cool, indifferent and rude the cruise is going to be a disappointment no matter how new and sparkly the ship is. 

 

I'm not singling out the Grand or Princess with my remark above.  That's true of any organization be it a cruise line, airline, restaurant, hotel, store or amusement park.  The people make or break the experience.

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23 minutes ago, getting older slowly said:

It is interesting the way people have a worry or dislike to older ships..... We haven't been on the grand but have spend a lot time on the Golden,   yes a bit rust... a few leaks, some thing look a little worn....

 

But we have had some great cruises on her..... now that she going to P&O... we are moving to the Sapphire.... which have read some reviews of being old and worn..... but I am sure we will have some great cruises on her in  later in the year....

 

So I think it is a bit of mind set,... new and shiny is best ??  or older and comfortable is best ??

 

Anyway enjoy your cruise

 

Cheers Don 

where do you get that she is going to PANDO? Not 7 hours ago I booked a 24 night cruise from Southampton to New England for Sep 2021 (19 months away) with Princess not PANDO

 

IGNORE that. I see you mean Golden not Grand, sorry

Edited by staygulf

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10 hours ago, Knickearth said:

just got off the Grand.  The ship is still fine.  We did just go thru out 2nd major disappointment with the Crown Grill tho.  Aboard the ship the food is in the okay category (nothing you would write home about ).  to our surprise we loved Sabbatini's and highly recommend it but they serve toooooo much food for one meal.  Kiddingly I said they should make Sabbatini's a two night dinner.  Night one should be the  antipasta, appetizer, soup and salad.  Night two Course 1, Course 2 and dessert.

 

Cabin was pretty standard, service was much much better than expected - especially in dining room.  

You know there is no rule that you need to have every course.  I usually get by with 3 courses and am very satisfied 

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36 minutes ago, DawnInCal said:

 I'm not singling out the Grand or Princess with my remark above.  That's true of any organization be it a cruise line, airline, restaurant, hotel, store or amusement park.  The people make or break the experience.

You are so right   with that....

 

On our 80+ days cruising, we have had some of the most wonderful staff....

 

And it is great when you run into them on a latter cruise in a different position and they are glad to see you.

 

29 minutes ago, staygulf said:

IGNORE that. I see you mean Golden not Grand, sorry

That is all right...... interestingly the price P&O are asking if higher than Princess for the first few cruises.....

I never knew a water slide cost soooooo much ..... LOL

 

Also sometimes I find my fingers are faster than the brain

 

Cheers Don

 

( time to book another cruise )

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Quick question for jondfk who is currently on the Grand.  We read on another post that some Princess ships have tuxedos available to rent at the passenger service desk.  We will be on the Grand next month and are wondering if you could stop by and check to see if they are indeed renting formal wear on the Grand and let us know.  Thank you in advance. Hope you are having a wonderful cruise.

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2 hours ago, memoak said:

You know there is no rule that you need to have every course.  I usually get by with 3 courses and am very satisfied 

Dear memoak, yes we know.  We ordered appetizers to share. Two of the four had salad and yet we were stuffed by the first course.  I had 2 courses and regretted that another course was coming.  But my point was the food was the best on the ship.  The service was impeccable and it was the most enjoyable dinner time onboard.

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I did look up what was 411 ....  ohhhh I now understand.... in Australia it would be 1223...

 

Well I have now got another bit of trivia in the brain box....

 

Cheers Don 

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on the Grand in January 2020, crew were OUTSTANDING.  Friendly, fast and fun.  (sounds like the next promotion!)  The Grand is fine, but a broken elevator for the whole voyage is frustration. 

Hi to Seahag, sorry I missed you onboard.

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on the Grand in January 2020, crew were OUTSTANDING.  Friendly, fast and fun.  (sounds like the next promotion!)  The Grand is fine, but a broken elevator for the whole voyage is frustration. 

Hi to Seahag, sorry I missed you on board.

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4 hours ago, Leo Mcgary said:

Quick question for jondfk who is currently on the Grand.  We read on another post that some Princess ships have tuxedos available to rent at the passenger service desk.  We will be on the Grand next month and are wondering if you could stop by and check to see if they are indeed renting formal wear on the Grand and let us know.  Thank you in advance. Hope you are having a wonderful cruise.

My husband rented a Tux for a cruise a couple of years ago  the rental is actually online before you board. You get measurements at a men’s ware store. The Tux is in your acabin when you arrive. 

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Unfortunately, the company that the cruise lines used for tuxedo rental went out of business last year - i always used them. I did read on another post that some Princess ships now rent them at the passenger service desk and am hoping that the Grand is one of them!

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