Hello cruisers! This is my first time using this service, but I have read with interest all of your message postings. I am sailing on the Grand Princess this February to the Eastern Caribbean. I have been on 3 other cruises (Sitmar--a long time ago, Norwegian and Celebrity). The Celebrity was--so far--by far the best! But we're looking forward to the Grand Princess. Our cabin was just upgraded from Baja deck to Aloha deck - one deck above Baja. It appears to be the same size cabin, just one deck above. Aloha is just below the pool decks. Can you hear the chaise lounges being dragged around upstairs? Perhaps sounds like a crazy question, but we had the experience once before! Not really a big deal but we're just curious. I have heard that Caribe deck has larger balconies and was hoping we'd get upgraded to that deck. Do they ever upgrade you more than once? If you don't like your "upgrade" can you change it? Are the decks private or can people above look down? Next question: how are the alternative restaurants? Any recommendations? We may book in advance, if possible. And last, any advice on excursions would be great. Many thanks for all your help.
Haveing been on our first Princess cruise earlier this year, I think you will be pleasantly suprised with the cruise line, first class all the way. We were on
Ocean, so don't have to much knowledge of Grand. I did find one members review on "Grand" that you may want to read through. Glad you got an upgrade, we weren't so lucky, but book a catagory that was fine anyway, but its always nice to get one. Here is the review, enjoy:
On my first cruise, stayed in a similarly situated cabin on the Aloha Deck aboard MV Sun Princess. On that cruise, I heard no noise whatsoever from the activities directly above me on the Riviera (pool) deck. Princess seems to build adequate sound insulation into their ships, so I doubt that you will have a problem with noise.
Although the cabins on the Caribe Deck do have slightly larger balconies than the cabins on the Aloha Deck and the Baja Deck aboard MV Grand Princess, it's not enough larger to offset the fact that the cabin is on a lower deck. Thus, a swap to the cabins on the Caribe Deck actually would be a downgrade rather than an upgrade.
I guess you have aready read my comments about the Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John. Yes, I'm ready to fork over another $96 to do it again on my next cruise that calls at St. Thomas -- and I'm a cheap buzzard that normally books an inside cabin to cut costs.
Princess does throw a fantastic barbecue and beach party on Princess Cays, too.
We were on the Grand early Nov of this year and our cabin (A335) was on
the Aloha deck. We did not hear noise when they chaise lounges around.
(They do move them every night to clean the deck.) If you are out on
your balcony in the evening and listen very carefully, you maybe able
to hear some footsteps above you. However, the nosie level is very low
and I don't think you have anything to worry about.
Since the Deck above is extend beyond your balcony and is all glassed in,
there is no way people can look down into your balcony.
Enjoy, you will have a great time.
Lucky you being upgraded. But, if you decide, you do not have to accept the upgrade if you had been previously assigned a cabin number. Sometimes as you seem to suspect, the upgrade may not be where you want it or have the cabin emenities that you prefer. As far as shore excurisions, the Champagne Catamaran to St. John sound's so appealling that we too may do it in March when on the Grand. You can shop downtown or right at Havensight pier in St. Thomas. Taking a taxi to Maegan's Bay is also a thing to do on your own then return to town if shopping is on your agenda. Although it is still mentioned that the prices in St. Martin may be slightly better. When in St. Martin, a tour or taxi to Orient Beach is a nice way to break up the day if you don't prefer to take the America's Cup Race challenge. You could rent a car on St. Martin, but traffic in Phillipsburg can be bad. On the Princess Cays either go to the far Left or Right for more quiet beachfront relaxation. Rent floats and just relax and enjoy a beautiful beach party includinging bar services that comes to you! I can't wait!
Probably the least understood subject on cruise boards is that of upgrades. Here is what I’ve pieced together on the ‘how and why’ of upgrades. There are other types of upgrades, but this covers the basics.
There is a myth among some cruisers that individual travel agents can somehow influence an upgrade. While there are many reasons that upgrades occur, keep in mind that the cruise line's main motivation is profit. Your travel agent might be a great person, but the cruise line doesn’t give you an upgrade because they like you or your travel agent. They do it because it is economically profitable for them to do so.
There is the limited time ‘Free Two Category Upgrade’ at time of booking. These ‘upgrades’ are usually restricted to within a type of stateroom, i.e. inside-inside, outside-outside. If these were ‘true’ upgrades one would be able to move across the type boundary. You will rarely see these upgrades offered when a cruise first becomes available for booking and sales are brisk, but rather when sales slow, and/or for ‘unpopular’ ships or itineraries. Cruise lines have figured out that psychologically, consumers are more predisposed to book if they think they are getting something for ‘free’ than if the line dropped the price according to supply and demand. When the upgrade offer is extended the line is in a win-win situation - they stimulate sales without having to drop the fare for those who booked before the upgrade offer as the price has not been reduced.
Most upgrades are given so that the line always has inexpensive cabin to promote. Usually the first staterooms to sell are the most, and the least expensive. When the least expensive are sold out, the cruise line would be left with trying to promote the mid-range priced staterooms, and they may be doing so against other cruise lines’ lowest prices. Consequently, they came up with the ‘Category Guarantee’ and ‘Run of Ship’ bookings. In these you pay for a category of stateroom and for the lowest category respectively, but are not assigned a room until very close to the sail date. The cruise line ‘guarantees’ you will get the category you paid for, or better. This gives the line the chance to sell the same inexpensive staterooms over and over, moving previous purchasers up into higher cabins. Indeed, some ships are built with this process in mind - the lowest categories have only three staterooms in them. They are going to sell more than these three; they just move the first purchaser up into the next category and so on. On some ships you can move up seven categories and still be in a stateroom that is identical to the one in which you started.
There is also the ‘Right Place at the Right Time’ upgrade. This kind of upgrade can happen for a number of reasons and all of them have to do with luck. Let's pretend that it is two weeks prior to sailing and someone calls the cruise line and cancels. They have a mid-priced cabin and the cruise line has already figured out the TBA assignments. The cruise line will do a ‘chain reaction’ upgrade. Category "B" cancels, so they move up someone from category "C", then move someone up to the now empty "C" from category "D" and so on. This does a couple of things: Four or five couples may be very happy that the cruise line likes them or their TA so much that they were offered a free upgrade. What’s really happening is the cruise line ends up with an inexpensive cabin to sell at the last minute. If they were to keep the category "B" cabin and sell it at a discount, they would be violating their own stated policy of having the best discounts on cabins sold months ahead of time. Soon, no one would buy ahead of time, but wait until the last minute to see what kind of deal he or she would get.
There is an urban legend that you can walk up to a ship on the day of sailing and get on for next to nothing. The reality is that if you get on at all, you will probably pay a very low price for a very inexpensive cabin. Everyone knows someone whose brother's friend's mother-in-law's great uncle’s second cousin once went on a cruise for $4.99 and had the Owner's Suite. Remember, the cruise lines promise that if the price of your stateroom goes down, you can rebook at the new price. Technically, if they sell you a category ‘ABC’ cabin at a price that is less than the rest of the people paid, they could be hit with all kinds of requests for refunds. If they upgrade people so the only thing they have to sell on the date of sailing is the lowest price stateroom, discounting doesn't come into play.
The best way of increasing your chances of an upgrade is to book early, and book a low category or ‘Run of Ship’. However, always book the minimum category with which you will be happy. If you get an upgrade it’s the icing on your ‘cruise cake’; and If you don’t, you won’t be stuck with a stateroom that makes you miserable because you gambled and lost.
Bumblebee that was very detailed and so precise. As one who does a lot of research for an upcoming cruise, it did not take me long to realize that the "initial" upgrade offer was just a selling ploy for most agents. That is one of the reason's I always recommend for people to compare at least 3 different agents quotes for the same trip. We will be on our 9th cruise in 2001and this is the 1st time I am trying the "category guarantee" feature. I have only been truly upgraded once from a designated outside cabin and it was just to a higher deck and it was on my most reasonable priced cruise.
We've done the Grand twice (so far), and had a balcony cabin on Caribe Deck both times. We didn't notice any noise from the movement of deck chairs above or around us. There is a fairly thick rubber mat/carpet that covers the entire balcony floor to muffle any noise. As to privacy, one would have to look around the partition to see your neighbor's balcony, and if you're on Aloha Deck, there won't be any cabins above you, again, adding to your privacy.
I've posted our review on several sites and have sent it to Cruisemates today. If they don't post it, email me and I'll email a copy.
Have to agree with everyone, the upgrade information from Bumble Bee was right on the money. You may also want to read what our "Kuki" from Cruisemates has to say about booking a guarantee and the possibility of receiving an upgrade. Your best bet if booking a guarantee is to book the catagory that you will be happy with, in case thats what you get. Good luck!
Thanks for a great explanation of the "upgrade" phenomenon!
I would add that most cruise lines will give "good will" upgrades on cruises that are not sold out. Basically, if the better types of cabins don't sell out, they will move as many passengers as possible from the inferior types of cabins to the preferred types. This policy makes the passengers "feel good" about the company (so the passengers hopefully return again and again) and it also distributes the workload more evenly among the cabin stewards (for example, by ensuring that all outside cabins are full). Your chances of an upgrade are very good if you book the cruises offering the biggest discounts during the slow periods of the year (usually January after the week of New Year's Day, the first week of February, May, September, October, the first two weeks of November, and the first two weeks of December) when ships tend not to be full.
Each cruise line has rules that govern who gets the "surprise" upgrades and who does not -- or, more precisely, that set priorities for awarding upgrades. These rules may vary from cruise line to cruise line, but generally they consider such factors as how frequently you cruise with the line and perhaps how long it has been since you last received a similar upgrade. On my second cruise, for example, I received an upgrade from an inside cabin to an outside cabin with a balcony -- eighteen categories -- aboard MV Sun Princess. I met another passenger who had received a similar upgrade, and in both cases it was our second cruise within that calendar year. Other passengers had received upgrades from inside cabins to standard outside cabins, but their prior cruises had been much earlier.
Finally, your chances of an upgrade diminish dramatically if you require a cabin with non-standard features such as third or fourth berths or handicapped accessibility due to the limited numbers of cabins equipped with these features.
Hi Sue, We were on the Grand Princess over Christmas to the Eastern Caribbean. We were on the Aloha deck A414. Our deck was very private as was all the others on Aloha. Although the balcony is larger on the lower deck, it is by all means not private. People from the Aloha deck can see right down on top of them. We had a great time. This was our 1st cruise and we're planning another for March of 2002 on the Century. If yiou have any more questions, feel free to contact me at RKMJDJ@aol.com Ron