We will soon be boarding the Grand Princess which will be our first cruise with Princess. We have previously sailed with Celebrity (Mercury), can anyone tell us what the noticeable differences will be?
Both Celebrity and Princess are quality "premium" cruise lines, so each offers an "upscale" product. I understand that the decor aboard Celebrity vessels tends more toward "California Modern" whereas the decor aboard Princess vessels tends more toward "Old World Tradiational" (except, of course, in spaces such as the casino and the disco) but this is mostly a matter of personal preference. MV Grand Princess is a much larger vessel than MV Mercury, but Princess has opted to provide more smaller spaces rather than simply making the existing spaces larger. Many of the spaces aboard MV Grand Princess actually feel intimate rather than overwhelming and there are more choices of activities -- including a choice of three different main shows each evening. Likewise, MV Grand Princess has three main dining rooms (named for famous artists whose works are reproduced in their respective murals) that are terraced and subdivided by partitions of wood and etched glass into small, relatively intimate areas. When you sit down to dinner, it really does not feel like you are in a room with about five hundred other passengers!
Each line has its relative strengths. Most published reviews credit Celebrity with the best cuisine and Princess with the strongest program of shore excursions, but I don't hear many passengers complaining that the other line is seriously deficient in either area.
The other significant new feature of MV Grand Princess is the alternative specialty restaurants, named Sabatini's and The Painted Desert. If you want to try them, I recommend doing so for lunch rather than for dinner. These two restaurants require advance reservations and a cover charge ($3.50 per person if I remember correctly) which goes to the servers in lieu of gratuities.
You didn't say which itinerary you have. If it's the "Grand Mediterranean" itinerary, you might want to check my post about the ports of call on the "Eurpoe" board. If it's the trans-Atlantic itinerary, some of that information would remain relevant.
Norm, thanks so much for your reply. We are really looking forward to sailing on the Grand Princess and your offering certainly helps. We were booked on the 11/26 sailing of the Millennium, we are looking forward to trying out a different cruise line.
Well ive never been on a celebrity cruise before but just looking at the comparison in port shes quite a bit larger, One problem I ran into on the grand was that i got lost quite often. But my biggest problem was that my room was in the bow of the ship and my dining room was in the stern, so it was a hike every day to dinner or any other meal in that dinning room. When you get on board you will have a small guide (or at least I did) that says "grand princess pocket guide" this will come in handy. Each floor has its own carpet pattern this might get confusing. Well I hope that this post helped you in some way, shape, or form.
Hope you have fun
In my opinion the difference you will see is that the Grand will be a much superior cruise. Have sailed on both the Grand and the Mercury. Our group absolutely hated the Mercury, service was horrible, staff was unfriendly and the food fair. In fact, on the Mercury one lady in our group had to order a hamburger from the childrens menu every night everything was so bad. Had same experience on the Horizon and the Century.
Cathy: My wife and I have been on 6 cruises, once on Celebrity and last March on the Grand, we enjoyed it so much we are booked with our friends again to sail on Nov 12 on the Grand, we just enjoy the ship. Three days at sea is very relaxing. I believe the choices of shows, alternative dining and having just plain fun is what makes it nice. The staff, both dining and cabin are excellent. We are in the Air force and have traveled the world but I must tell you crusing is the way to go. If you have any questions, please e-mail me. Enjoy
My parents just got back from Europe on the Grand. My mother had been VERY excited for this cruise - she had been on two other cruises on board RCCL's Sovereign of the Seas. I'm sorry to say, I think she was fairly disappointed in the ship, the food and the service - and she is not one to complain about that kind of stuff AT ALL - she's just glad to be there. But, when I asked her about the ship, she said everyone they met, including their 6 table mates, felt the ship was too big, that the food was not as good as Sovereign of the Seas, and that the service was not friendly or warm at all. She said the cabin steward didn't provide them with some papers they were supposed to receive, when she didn't eat very much one night, the waiter didn't try to see if there was anything else she'd like, etc. I asked her if the ship was pretty, again, she said she didn't think it was as pretty as the SOS! Finally, I said what about the library? She said it was small and noisy cause I guess it was on a busy, active deck instead of secluded. I asked her about the entertainment - she said she saw some shows and that many of them were good, but again, she was surprised a the LACK of shows - she said most nights, all they showed was a movie! She felt she could see a movie at home! All in all, they had a really good time on the cruise, because they didn't HATE the ship or anything, and they enjoyed the ports, but they felt the ship was pretty mediocre. Again, she said everyone else they spoke with, including people who had been on over 50 cruises, agreed that, although the ship was ok, it was way too big and impersonal. In fact, she said everyone was lost the whole time - it wasn't till the end of the 12 day cruise, that everyone started getting their bearings...
I'm going on the Millennium next week, and tell you what I think! It only has 1800 passengers vs. the 2800 or so on the Grand.