I have sailed on the Grand Princess and also the Explorer. I thought the food was better on Princess, but both ships are absolutely beautiful. Might rate the Explorer a little higher due to the promenade deck, as I thought the sidewalk cafes and designer shops were most impressive! I also found the service in the dining room to be better on the Explorer!
I've also saild on Grand and Explorer and echo Carol's comments exactly. Two other comments: We thought the entertainment on the Grand was HORRIBLE. However - if we had to choose between the two - i'd take Grand for the balconies! They are fabulous! Open above your head, and glass in front so you truly have an un-obstructed view of the beautiful ocean.
I've been sailing Princess for the past 27 years. I'd never been impressed with Royal Caribbean until early this month when I had the chance to sail Btilliance of the Srea. The food wasn't bad at all, better than I remembered and the service all over the ship was top notch. But the ship, ah the ship, what a beauty she is.
While I agree totally with Carole's assessment of the Brilliance of the Seas, and can't wait to sail on her again, my answer to your question would be: neither is necessarily better than the other because there are few, if any, objective criteria available on which to make such a claim. As the Roman's wisely said "de gustibus non disputandum est" - you can't (or shouldn't at least ) argue over tastes. People's tastes differ and what one person views, quite validly , as better may be viewed quite differently by another. You really have to try both, or any number of lines and ships, to make that determination for yourself. And even then, be prepared for the time when you cruise again on the same line or the same ship and find that it doesn't conform to your memories of your previous experience. Both lines have many satisfied and loyal guests, some of whom are fiercely loyal to one line or the other, and others who find good qualities in both. If you can afford to, try both and see where your preferences lie, but also realize that there might be still another which is a better match for you.
You will get many, many different opinions on this one. My best advise to you is this:
Try both!!! Let us know what you decide.
Mary Lou Scanlon
NCL Pride of America April 24, 2010
NCL Epic February 12, 2011
RCCL Allure of the Seas - September 18, 2011
Celebrity Eclipse - February 11, 2012:
RCCL Navigator OTS - February 9, 2013