I think that most of the perks with the suites/mini-suites on Princess are gone, but for 4, I think a mini-suite would be much better. The beds in the regular balcony room won't go together (if that is important, this is a common knoweledge fact on Princess that some 'writers' have missed in the past).
Had a mini-suite on the Grand Princess I think that 4 would be much more comfortable in that.
I've sailed on the Grand Princess, and we're on the CruiseMates New Years Cruise on the Golden.
We has a standard balcony cabin on the Grand.. CAT BA if I recall. It was a decent cabin, but not overly well designed or spacious. With 4 in the cabin, if the budget allows, I'd opt for the mini suite. It is larger, and you might still be talking to each other after the cruise<G>
The mini's do have larger balconies as well... though less private.
Mini's used to come with butler service.. but they stopped that practice. My bet is there were alot of butlers standing around doing nothing. If they gave me a butler, I'd likely be serving him slush drinks on the balcony, so alot of people may have been like me..
We had a mini-suite with 4 of us on the grand. The beds are together (requested) and the mini sofa is one bed and the other pulls from the ceiling. Both kids fought over the upper bunk. Plenty of room for 7 days!! Unfortunately I didn't see the BA category to compare it to.
Also, we had our room across from the laundry facilities, which was wonderful. We could put a load in and keep tabs on it from our room.
And the balconies aren't private at all on the mini suites, but was never a problem. We could talk to our neighbors above and its such a beautiful large balcony, we really enjoyed it. We could put our kids to bed at a reasonable hour, and sit outside and enjoy a drink and munchies from the windjammer. (which by the way is very close to the minisuites).
If you have any questions feel free to email me. Have a great time whatever you decide!!
We've done a suite and a mini-suite on the Grand. Much prefer the suite, but since that isn't your question, I would definitely go with the mini-suite. We had 2 kids with us too and believe me, you need all the space you can get!
Also, make sure you pack some of your kids favorite action figures or small toys. Our sons missed their toys when they were waiting for us to shower and get ready for dinner. Just a couple would really help.
The perks are pretty much non-existent nowadays with Princess for minis. You'll still get the before-dinner-snacks (can't spell hors deouvres), but that's about it. The cabin is very narrow and long. As Tracey said, the balcony is wonderful. We loved being able to get the full sun during the day and see the stars straight above us at night. Our older son didn't like the pull-down-from-the-ceiling bed and didn't feel safe in it. It was very study and solid, IMO. I even slept up there one night and it was quite comfortable!
The best thing we ever did on the Grand was to get Personal Choice Dining. The boys didn't want to eat in the dining room, so they ate at the Horizon Court around 6pm. We'd sit there with them and talk about their day while they ate. Then, my husband would take them to the kids' center (they couldn't wait to get there) and I'd put our name in for dinner. By the time my husband got back, our name was being called. We had a nice, relaxing dinner and the kids didn't have to sit there for 1 1/2 hrs. eating food they didn't like. Everyone was really happy with this arrangement.
Make sure you bring plenty of money for the Voyage of Discovery! We spent $120 easily in there! The ride is a must. You'll have a fantastic time!