Now that I have returned to my “shore life” I have been giving some consideration to how my most recent cruise experience on the Princess Cruises Grand Princess compares to my experiences aboard the Holland America and Celebrity cruise lines.
As I previously said on my foodie blog, it is my opinion that the quality of the the food and the food choices on the Celebrity and Holland America cruise lines was superior to the food on the Grand Princess . However, there were other differences between the Princess, Holland America and Celebrity cruise experiences that are interesting to consider.
One thing in particular that I very much enjoyed about my experience aboard the Grand Princess is the philosophy of having a central gathering place aboard the ship. From what I understand, Princess Cruises has a central gathering place on a number of their ships.
Princess Cruises calls their central gathering place the Piazza which for me, and many others who gathered at the Piazza, was an inviting centerpiece aboard the ship. The majestic atrium spans several decks and features the International Café, Vines Bar, which was voted one of the “Best Wine Bars at Sea,” by USA Today, a spiral staircase and several glass-walled lifts that provide panoramic overviews of the ship.
To me, it was really nice to have central gathering place where small crowds gathered to eat, drink and watch/listen to a variety of entertainers. There always seemed to be an entertainer putting on a show. Whether there was a dance duo, a piano player, a guy sitting and playing the guitar, a magic show or some other demonstration, there was always something going on to keep the gathered people entertained.
On the other end of the ship was the kids’ centre. I have to admit that I have no firsthand knowledge about what the kid centres were like on Holland America or Celebrity ships because I didn’t have my kids with me on those ships and the security in those areas, especially if you don’t have kids, was very tight. I was not allowed into the area nor was I allowed to take any pictures of the kid area.
They really do take the security of the children aboard the ship very seriously.
Seeing as I had my kidlets with me on the Grand Princess I was able to see what happens in the youth centres on this Princess ship.
I consider the Youth Centre aboard the Grand Princess to be an excellent resource. The centre for 3-7 year old kids called their “guests” Princess Pelicans and I will say that my kids loved their time in the Youth Centre.
There were lots of very stimulating activities for the kids from very early in the day until quite late in the evening.
I was a little worried that my kids would end up spending time watching TV or playing electronic games, but that was not the case whatsoever. Most of the staff were super high-energy staff individuals who were very engaging for the kids, very welcoming, and very professional.
I’ve never had the opportunity to meet the captain of a cruise ship and yet now my kids have! He visited the Youth Centre, introduced himself and asked the kids if they were enjoying their time aboard his ship!
Perhaps this is him building future loyalty to the Princess Cruise line brand. Whatever it is, I thought it was pretty cool.
Back to the entertainment aboard the Grand Princess; I was very impressed with the shows that were offered.
The first night I took in their dance show – a super high energy dance and song show. The other show I saw was their British Invasion musical show. Both had inspiring choreography, dancing and singing.
I also very much enjoyed the comedian’s shows. He had an early show and then a later in the evening show that was almost all original material (I saw, and enjoyed both of his shows).
Overall, my feelings are that the food and food choices aboard the Celebrity and Holland America ships were superior, the entertainment aboard the Grand Princess was superior to the entertainment aboard the other cruise lines. I don’t have quantitative data to show this to be the case but that is my feeling.
The central Piazza as a gathering place, the variety of shows and performers at the Piazza, the quality of the dance and singing shows, the comedian, and the Youth Centre, all lead me to believe that Princess Cruises nailed it on the entertainment