Great way to see the islands on the Grand Princess: a detailed review.

Grand Princess Cruise Review to Hawaii

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 52

Overall rating:

5 out of 5
Verified Review
Grand Princess

15 Night Hawaiian Islands (San Francisco Roundtrip)

Sail date: November 23, 2016

Ship: Grand Princess

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: C530

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 4 years ago

Review summary

We had a great time on this cruise even with the unusual circumstances.

 

We are a young married couple in our late 20's/early 30's and had never been to Hawaii. We chose this cruise because we wanted to see multiple islands on a budget. We loved leaving straight out of San Francisco since we live in the East Bay and it was just a quick Uber ride to the port. It was a unique way to see the city from the water! 

 

The first 4 days at sea were very rocky but I think in general we had some strange weather. This was my husband's very first cruise and he did fine but if you don't have sea legs you may want to bring a lot of dramamine patches. We spent those first few days exploring the ship's many bars, playing in the casino, enjoying live music, watching newly released movies, and just relaxing in the lounges with a coffee and a good book.  We wish the weather would have been better for those first days because the pools were beautiful. We got one good sunny day out of those first 4 sea days but we had plenty to do on the boat otherwise.

 

The food was surprisingly good. We knew not to expect the Bay Area gourmet quality that we've come to be spoiled with but considering this is food for the masses we were impressed. The food was overall fresh, flavorful, and was diverse. I remember the cafeteria quality of the buffets on Carnival cruise lines and was not looking forward to the Princess version however I found this was one of my favorite places to eat! The Horizon Buffet had a huge selection of fresh greens, salad toppings, and paninis which I really enjoyed. They also had a lot of hearty warm foods like roasted potatoes, rice and vegetables, and soups/stews. Of course there were some junk food favorites we couldn't resist like chicken fingers, mac and cheese, and french fries! All were good quality in my opinion. Other places for quick bites were the two pizza bars and the trident grill. For dinner we mostly ate in our dining room. We chose the fixed time with the same servers, Diana and Nichola, who were fantastic. The food in the dining room was good, not necessarily excellent. Again, we are extremely spoiled in San Francisco with our restaurants so we didn't hold the Princess dining room to these standards. Some meals did surprise us though! We tried two of the specialty restaurants: The Crab Shack and Sabatini's. Both were a cover charge ($29/person) and you could order whatever you like. The crab shack was nothing to write home about. The seafood was definitely frozen (which is probably the only way to keep it on the boat) and the atmosphere was a bit silly. They closed off part of the Horizon Buffet seating and dressed it up as a seafood restaurant. The Italian restaurant, Sabatini's, was worth it for us! The atmosphere was quiet and romantic. The food was good and the service was excellent. We enjoyed it so much that we stayed until we finished an entire bottle of wine!  

 

Speaking of wine, I recommend for most people who are not heavy drinkers to stay clear of the beverage package. My husband and I drink moderately on vacation but we worked out for the package to be worth it you would have to each drink at least 5 drinks a day to get your money's worth. And those drinks have to be under $10 which means no bottles of wine or high shelf liquor and they charge you for the days you're on shore. The wine selections were good for those of you who are from Napa/Sonoma they had a lot of choices from California wine country. Their beer selection on the other hand was lacking. Not many craft beers, mostly bud light and dos equis. I do recommend the coffee card. Their drip coffee is not very good so we liked to get americanos in the morning down at the International cafe. The card is $30 for 15 coffee drinks and you can get more expensive drinks like lattes and dessert coffees. That comes out to about $2 a drink, well worth it!

 

Some reviewers complained the ship is showing her age. I have to say I disagree. The ship looks very well kept for her age and Princess had spent a lot of time updating the public areas to keep them looking modern. The ship is over 18 years old and has been sailing almost non-stop on the salty seas since she was built. There is going to be a bit of rust in places, get over it, she's still a beauty! 

Our room was great! We chose a balcony room and were upgraded to a premium balcony though this website. If your on a tight budget an interior or port hole window room will do just fine (even for 15 days) but its certainly a luxury to walk out onto the balcony to look at the ocean. The bed was comfortable, I prefer soft beds and this was somewhere in between. We requested our twin beds be converted to a queen and I barely noticed that it was two separate beds. I think they put a thick mattress topper on so you don't feel the seam. The bathroom was plenty big and they had a desk and vanity mirror in the room where I could do my makeup and hair while my husband used the bathroom. The shower was always hot, no waiting for the water to come to temperature. We also felt there was plenty of space for all of our stuff: clothing/toiletries/make-up.

When we finally made it to Hilo, Hawaii we had less than perfect weather but we chose a bike ride excursion in Volcano National Park. The rain was actually kind of nice on our bike ride and we were still able to see the park sites with ease. 

In Honolulu, the weather didn't hold up either for some of the outdoor activities we had planned so we rented a car and were able to see Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Aquarium, Diamond Head Crater, and drive through the beautiful neighborhoods. We had until 11pm in that port and the rain let up that night so we spent a great evening having drinks and dinner on the beach in Waikiki at Dukes. I highly recommend this place!

In Nawiliwili, Kauai we received better weather. We were able to go on a tubing tour of the manmade pineapple plantation water trenches. So much fun! After the tour we had time to lay out on Kalapaki Beach and grab a drink. My husband found a great little music shop that sold ukuleles, we purchased one and played the rest of the time on the ship.

Maui was our favorite port although this is where a few problems arose. This was the only port that we required a tender. The port side Maui security forgot that our ship was coming in that day and didn't have enough staff to accept our disembarkation tenders so we were delayed several hours to get into port until they retrieved enough security personnel. There was not much the Princess crew could do but once we were OK'd to go on shore they sped the process along quickly. The captain also delayed our embarkation by one hour to try and make up for the time we had lost. Because of the delay we missed our excursion to the Kaanapali Beach, which Princess refunded us. Instead we took an Uber to the beach and rented a cabana at the Westin which ended up being cheaper than our excursion anyways! Unfortunately the wind kicked up after about an hour and we had to run to the bar and wait out the rain but still had a great time! Apparently this was an exceptionally wet week in Hawaii, terrible luck but we still enjoyed ourselves.

Here comes the interesting part of our itinerary. After 1 day at sea, back towards Mexico, we received damage to one of the tender platforms overnight. The door was forced open and damage occurred in the hull of the ship. We spent about half of the day halted in the ocean while the door was secured and the damage accessed waiting to here from the captain on the state of our itinerary. Although we were safe and the tender platform was "not part of the watertight integrity of the ship" the decision was made to return back to Honolulu and fly all the passengers home. I'm assuming a transpacific trip was not worth risking an already damaged vessel. Honestly since we had less than great weather in Hawaii we were happy to come back and have another chance to enjoy the islands! Princess did an amazing job organizing thousands of passengers' flights home and accommodating us during this unusual situation. They went above and beyond paying for all flights and baggage fees, offering a 50% refund on our cruise, AND an addition 50% off any future cruise booked through them! We felt safe and secure the entire time and they acted professionally and with great hospitality! We will definitely travel with Princess again.

 

 

 

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
We were probably a little young for most of the activities. Choir, knitters and natters get together, trivia, etc.

Entertainment

5 out of 5

Service and Staff

5 out of 5

Ship Quality

5 out of 5

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Our room was great! We chose a balcony room and were upgraded to a premium balcony through this website. If your on a tight budget an interior or port hole window room will do just fine (even for 15 days) but its certainly a luxury to walk out onto the balcony to look at the ocean. The bed was comfortable, I prefer soft beds and this was somewhere in between. We requested our twin beds be converted to a queen and I barely noticed that it was two separate beds. I think they put a thick mattress topper on so you don't feel the seam. The bathroom was plenty big and they had a desk and vanity mirror in the room where I could do my makeup and hair while my husband used the bathroom. The shower was always hot, no waiting for the water to come to temperature. We also felt there was plenty of space for all of our stuff: clothing/toiletries/make-up.

Ports of call

San Francisco, California

5 out of 5

Hilo, Hawaii

5 out of 5

Honolulu, Oahu

5 out of 5

Nawiliwili, Kauai

5 out of 5

Lahaina, Maui

5 out of 5

Ensenada, Mexico

3 out of 5
I've been here before on another cruise but it wasn't my favorite port to go to in Mexico so we weren't too upset to have missed it to go back to Hawaii instead.

Traveler Photos

Diamond Head Crater Oahu Neptune Pool Neptune Pool Maui Sunset Blue waters of the Pacific Kalapaki Beach Maui Waikiki Beach, Oahu Kauai Sunrise Dukes at Waikiki Waikiki Beach, Oahu
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