My wife and I are booked for the Grand Princess to the Western Caribbean for May 20th. We've been on Royal Carobbean 5-times and Carnival once. This will be our first Princess Cruise. Like any cruise, everyone has a different opinion of what is good and what isn't.
At this point, we're booked in a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck in room D-420. I have a couple of questions. I have read in a cruise book that many balconies are not private like they indicate. It appears that our room does indded have a private balcony, even though many of the higher room categories have balconies that are not private and can been seen from people above. Does anyone know about the balconies of these mini-suites on this deck and room?
Also, can anyone tell me what it means if you choose a stateroom that instead of listing a room number, it only says Guaranteed, then says To Be Assigned? It says it can't issue a room at this time but upon check-in, you will be guaranteed a room in this particular category or HIGHER. Is this a good choice to make or take a room number ahead of time? It sounds like if you take the guaranteed room with no assignment until check-in, that you have at least a chance of a higher upgrade, versus getting an exact room assignment before check-in with no possible upgrade option.
Finally, we are not that fussy about ship activities or decor, we just like it without tons of kids, and party animals. We are both 46 and love to have fun, but also love the pace a bit less hectic with cozy lounges.
In regard to the privacy of the balconies on the Grand Princess, I can't be much help. I can give you my observations in regards to guarantees and upgrades.
If you have a strong desire to have a cabin in specific location on the ship then booking a specific cabin is the best choice. If you are not particular about the location of your cabin then a guarantee is a good choice. With a guarantee you will be guaranteed a specific category of cabin. You do not have a choice about the cabins location. If you book a guarantee, then book the lowest category you would be happy with. With a guarantee you also have a better chance for an upgrade. It is possible to be upgraded to a higher category cabin. If you book a specific cabin your chances for an upgrade are very slim.
Even if you book a guarantee you are not assured of an upgrade. I have known people that have taken 10 cruises and never received an upgrade. I have also known people who received a multiple category upgrade on their first cruise.
So as I stated earlier: Book the category of cabin that you would be comfortable with. If you receive an upgrade then it's just icing on the cake.
I have seen the Grand Princess in Fort Lauderdale and she is definetly a beautiful ship. I hope you have a great time and I hope you post your impressions about the cruise when you return.
We too took our first Princess cruise this year on Ocean and really loved the "Princess" expierence, would go again any time. I'm sure you will also love it.
Our cruise director here "kuki" wrote a very good article on booking a guarantee cabin, I'm sure you'll find it very informative:
You can check the attached picture to see if your cabin is private enough.
From top to bottom, it shows the balconies of Lido, Aloha, Baja,
Caribe and Dolphin deck. People from the decks above will definitely be able
to see the front half of the balconies on the Dolphin deck.
MV Grand Princess is a beautiful ship, albeit with a few annoyances in the layout of her public spaces.
Aboard MV Grand Princess, all balconies are private -- which means that you won't share it with passengers in another cabin or suite. The amount of privacy that you will have on your balcony is another matter. The balconies aboard MV Grand Princess are terraced, so other passengers may be able to look down onto part of your balcony from various points higher in the ship.
The difference between booking a specific cabin or suite and booking a guaranteed category is largely a matter of personal preference. I usually book a guarantee of one of the better inside cabins (only slightly more expensive than the cheapest category) and have twice landed in an outside cabin with a balcony. Nonetheless, I suspect that your chances of an upgrade from a minisuite are pretty slim because it's probably pretty rare for full suites to go unsold. Of course, you could end up in a higher category of minisuite, too. MV Grand Princess has four categories of minisuites and five categories of full suites, in addition to her two "family suites" (essentially double minisuites with a bunk room in one and a normal bedroom in the other).
We just got off the Grand Princess this past Sunday. We went to Eastern Caribbean. We had a private balcony on the Aloha Deck. Our Balcony was private buck the ones below us were not. I don't know about the suites. We are in our mid to late 40's and there are plenty of lounges sitting areas that are quiet. We went over Christmas so there were more kids than normal. No complaints at all.
If you are used to Royal Caribbean, there are some differences on Princess. You pay additional for ice cream on the Grand. There is also a service charge in the casino for getting cash on your room card. Also, your key cards will list both your name and your room number -- so if you lose your key card -- it gives the "finder" access to your room. When they find a key card on board, the staff announce both the name and the room number. Princess seems less concerned about personal security than other cruise lines these days.
There are some wonderful quiet bars on the Grand. And also some secluded or quiet lounge areas on deck. So, you don't have to be forced to sit around a noisy pool.
It's a large ship, so there always will be some children. But, it is easy to be away from them.
we have also just booked for 5/6, we went with a cat bb on the caribe deck. can't wait until we can get on board and get on the water. we just returned from a weekend in miami and saw alot of ships in port and it really gets your cruise juices flowing. we are choosing to do the traditional dining, late seating. i guess we prefer the old style cruising. maybe we can say hello onboard.