Over the past 25 days the Grand Princess, once the most expensive ship at sea, has been given the most extensive re-fit that Princess Cruises have ever undertaken. The former flagship has been given a huge facelift, a whole host of new venues, and some much needed TLC.
To celebrate bringing the Grand Princess back to the forefront of cruising, Princess Cruises enlisted the ship's Cruise Director, Martyn Moss, to produce a video diary documenting the transformation of the ship, from her arrival into drydock to preparing for her first passengers. With 26 videos maybe being a little excessive for one viewing, I have put together a three part story on the 'New Grand Princess' for you.
To get the ball rolling we meet Martyn and the ship as she makes her way to drydock and with the deconstruction already in full flow. In the first 24 hours the crew have got straight into stripping out the old lounges, restaurants, casino and atrium, ready for her soon-to-be stunning revamp.
Grand Changes On The Horizon
The drydock is the largest that Princess Cruises have ever under taken. 1,000,000 man hours have been put into the last 25 days, with 15 miles of carpets laid onboard and £50,000 of stone laid in the Piazza's tile work alone! We see where the new suites and some of the ship's new venues will be calling home by early May.
Cruising Into Drydock
We rejoin the crew on day 2, as the Grand Princess gently sails into dock, before being lifted out of the water. Apparently they had divers speaking to the captain helping him line her up onto the stands and mules. Slowing sailing a 109,000 tonne ship onto some glorified pieces of wood must have been nerve racking stuff, definitely not a job I'd be after!
Stairway To Heaven
The atrium onboard Princess ships has long been a defining feature, its style, elegance and layout meant that you new you were onboard one of their ships. As part of the huge update, Grand Princess has been given the 'Piazza', which is their evolution of the atrium and found on their latest ships, and includes great new venues such as the International Cafe, and the new to Princess Cruises, Alfredo's Pizzeria — named after their executive chef. Tearing down old atrium is a defining moment of the refit and, as expected, is given plenty of coverage by Martyn.
Skywalker's is another iconic part of the Grand Princess, as with all Grand class ships. Removing the 162 tonne nightclub is a huge job, and not only changes the appearance of the ship, but will improve the balance, fuel consumption and life of the ship.
By day 12 most of the ship's old features had been removed, with the crew in full flow adding the new venues and refurbishing the old ones. The kids club and teen centres will be updated — including a new Playstation centre. The salon was gutted and will have a full, modern, replacement and the renowned Sterling Steakhouse is being replaced with the popular Crown Grill, where you can see the chefs preparing your fantastic food.
There is a lot to do and only 25 days to do it! Next we'll see a bit more from the guys onboard, from the men heading up the refit, to the teams keeping them fed and watered.