We have been on the Grand and the Golden (twice) ans enjoyed every minute of it.
2. Yes, check you bill with the pursers desk. However, I generally know what to expect.
3. Ignore it. We don't spend a dime on that stuff.
4. The 15% is on the bar tabs. They do not add 15% in the shops. The 10/p/day does not cover the bar staff.
5. There is bottled water in the cabin and outside the places where you meet for the tours. If you don't want ot pay for it, bring a large bottle of water and fill it on the ship.
6. We felt that both ships are luxurious and spacious. I don't know what you envisioned, but there are tons of pictures on the Web to look at before you book.
7. We never go to the Horizon Court for that reason. The only time we go there is to get the wife some iced tea.
8. We did the Antartica cruise on the Golden and layers were not enough. We would have froze if we did not bring our "NY Snow Stuff". I am sure Alaska can be the same.
9. Never seen a clock in any of our cabins. Just like LV; no clocks in the casinos. Use your watch and the phone for a wake-up call.
10. Never had any issues with receiving messages.
11. We just get the soda from the cabin. Maybe it cost a little more, but it is more convienent.
Sorry that you had a bad experience.
SS Norway (12 times) '85 - '97; Radiance OS 06/01; Island Princess 11/04, Grand Princess 11/04/05, Golden Princess 7/21/06, Golden Princess 2/24/07, Explorer of the Seas 12/23/07, Island Princess 11/15/08