This is my review of the 15 Day Hawaii Cruise aboard Princess Cruise Lines aboard the Grand Princess round trip from San Francisco, CA.
This was our 11th cruise. Princess Cruise Lines holds a special place in our hearts as they were our very first cruise in 1999 and we've always enjoyed the service they afford us. When I became an agent, one of the first certification programs I took was with Princess Cruises. Upon completion of the training, I was certified as a Commodore Level agent. As such, I was awarded one graduation cruise. Although it has been at least three years, we finally chose our graduation cruise and this was it.
|Grand Princess at anchor in Mau'i, Hawaii|
The Grand Princess was built in 1998 at the Fincantieri ship yards in Italy. Generally considered the first of what are now known as "mega ships", she was the largest cruise ship in the world when she was launched. She is still a large ship, but nowhere near the largest ship anymore, but after her substantial dry-dock refurbishment in 2012, she is in excellent shape.
The Grand Princess is very well designed. Our stateroom was forward on the Lido deck which is the same deck with the swimming pools and the Horizon Court buffet as well as access to the Movies Under the Stars screen. The way this deck runs from front to back, you get the open air pool, then the covered pool, then the Horizon Court buffet and then back to the fantail of the ship with an easy stair down to the aft adult pool. It was nice that even in inclement weather, you could walk from front to back without getting rained on as the sides are covered the whole way.
The Piazza area is also outstanding. Complimentary pizza at Alfredo's pizzeria, complimentary breakfast items, pastries, lunch salads, soup and sandwiches are available at the International Cafe as well. We enjoyed this area very much as they have many fun activities happening in the central atrium.
|Aft pool on deck 13 (adults only)|
This itinerary is heavy with at sea days. This works for my wife and I as we really feel cruising is about the ship at least as much as the itinerary and it is helpful that neither of us suffers from sea sickness. We felt this was a pretty smooth cruise. There was occasional movement, but my wife calls it a big cradle when we sleep. We filled our time with reading, trivia, shows, dining, shopping and, of course, relaxation.
The weather was warm. 85 degrees and 81% humidity takes a little getting used to, but it never rained on us and we think this might have been the fastest 2 weeks ever.
The embarkation in San Francisco was very quick and easy. Disembarkation took awhile due to a new customs procedure, but once off the ship, getting our luggage and getting out of the port took all of 5 minutes.
During the Captain's Circle cocktail party, we won a bottle of champagne when they drew our cabin number! We also had excellent table mates, which really makes for an enjoyable trip when you have chosen the traditional dining. The best part of this trip was just being onboard this fine ship.
The two most popular excursion for this cruise are 1) Visiting the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and 2) Visiting Volcanoes National Park on the big island. Both of these were unavailable during this cruise because of the Federal Government Shutdown. Really bad timing for these folks.
We are fans of Princess Cruises and this trip only enhanced that view. If you don't mind days at sea, this trip is for you.
Our Ratings (* = poor, **=passable, ***=fair, ****=good and *****=excellent)
Cabin **** - Well laid out, functional, plenty of storage
Bed *** - A little firmer than we are used to, but no problem sleeping
Steward **** - Our steward serviced our stateroom well, but no towel animals.
Service ***** - Service was good to excellent everywhere. The Horizon Court Buffet had plenty of staff to serve coffee and juice and take away your plates. The dining room staff were super attentive, generous and efficient. Traditional dining is still our favorite choice.
Activities **** - With the help of the Princess Patter daily newsletter, we were able to plan our days around the activities we liked. Morning and afternoon trivia, comedy shows, Ukelele lessons, movies under the starts, movies in the theater and great quiet places to read and relax as well as 4 swimming pool choices kept us satisfied.
If you'd like to discuss taking a cruise or would like more details, please visit us at NorCalCruises.com or give us a call at (877)622-7784.
Our video of this trip is available at youtube: http://youtu.be/v8zj-bE3R6I
Thank You and Happy Cruising!