We were on the Dawn during 1997, the inaugural year. It was also our first cruise and we were wowed. We are heading for our fourth Princess cruise in about two weeks, on the Crown. The Sun, and Grand have not take over first place in our hearts. As you said, all ships have an off week and cruise lines tend to send some of their more experienced crew to the new ship. Even so, Alaska on the Dawn will be remembered as our "first love" and it will probably take a lot to displace the Dawn from the top position in our heirarchy of cruise ships.
Congrats on the letter from the "big cheese" at Celebrity. Good guys don't always finish last, I'm happy to see. Your complaints were reasonable, indeed, and well-balanced with praise.
I agree with your husband and prefer the size and layout of the Dawn (and Sun) to the Grand. I kept running into blind alleys on the Grand and even got lost in the galley in a vain attempt to find another way out of the Boticelli dining room! I also talked to some crew members who had the same problem after months on the Grand. I hope the "blind alleys" have been designed out of the Golden and the mega ships that follow. We still enjoyed the Grand immensely and the Grand Med itinerary was a show stopper.
p.s. Leaving for the Canada/New England itinerary on the Crown in 15 days! I get excited each time like a kid at Christmas! I think I'm a cruiseaholic!
My history with Princess goes back a long long way. I've sailed Pacific, then and now and was booked on Island at the time they sold her. Iv'e sailed the original Sun Princess. Absolutely plain and the niftiest most fun ship to ever sail. I've sailed Royal, on her second cruise, a great lady. I sailed Star right after Princess bought Sitmar. It wasn't very nice because the Sitmar officers were determined to screw up the deal and were making life miserable for everyone, the crew and passengers. The new ships I've sailed are Grand and Ocean. Clearly I love Princess. Which is my favorite? Da Da, and the winner is Pacific! The ship has none of the amenities of modern ships, no fancy show lounges, no balcony cabins and none of it matters. Babette is right. The food is divine, but for me it was the service. When we said goodby to our charming waiter we got hugs and kisses instead of handshakes. He was everyone's favorite Italian grandfather. The maitre'd, one of the executive chefs and one of the bar waiters went back for years and years on Princess and when we found free time together I found out lots about the inside workings of Princess through the years. Loved that ship. I'd love to sail her again and I'd better do it before they sell her. Second favorite was Grand. Liked the cabins better than I did on Ocean, bigger and an open verandah. Loved the Bistro. IMHO, best food on the ship. I don't have a clue what Princess was thinking when they built the verandahs inside the hull on the Sun class ships, little, airless and claustrophbic. Would I sail a Sun class ship? Sure, just not in a balcony cabin. Third was the old Sun Princess. Not for anything particular but absolutely everyone remembers the old girl as the most fun ship in the fleet, passengers and crew alike. Then it has to be Royal. Since I sailed her when she was brand new, I was amazed at the technological innovations onboard. We sat at the chief engineer's table and he was always studying the book about the ship. It carried a much smaller crew than usual. Wasn't built to need it a large crew. And all outside cabins with full bath and tons of verandahs. Boy she was ahead of her time. Anyway. Liked the look of Star, but with a crew in rebellion, it was impossible to like the cruise. Am hoping to make the cruisemates' Golden Princess Med cruise next year, but next cruise is scheduled for the Millenium. I don't have the history on Celebrity I do on Princess but it hasn't been around as long either.
We've been on the old Island Princess -Alaska, the Star, Sky-twice -the Royal & the Crown. They ALL had their special memories -but I think my favorite was the Star, as several people have said. Our favorite hangout was the pool/bar at the waterfall; We'd sit, our legs hanging over the waterfall. cooling off to our great enjoyment! The Royal was nice too - it was a transAtlantic from London [Dover] to the USA [NYC] via Iceland & Greenland. It CERTAINLY has its followers. Our FAVORITE cruise, however was on the Sky with our family........Gosh; I seem to have listed MOST of them as favorites.....hummmmmmmm. Going on the Grand in 20 days!!!!!
Even with the advent of all Princess's new ships in the Grand Class, I'd have to say my favorites are still the Pacific and Royal.
They're small and mid sized, undertstated and oh so comfortable. The crews aboard are the absolute best and such a devoted bunch. I do hope Princess sees fit to keep both of these ships around for some time.