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Cruise Blog

Grand Princess — The Drydock Story, Part 3

13th May 2011

With the clock ticking and passengers due to embark on the new Grand Princess in a matter of days we pick up the action with Martyn as the crew madly put the finishing touches into place.

With the Piazza taking shape the old Atrium has almost been forgotten about and the new hub of the ship is coming together at an incredible pace. With new bars, restaurants, cafes and shopping all calling the Piazza home in a matter of days. From here on in the way the ship transforms in just four days is incredible impressive.

Tick, Tick, Tick

There are fours days until the first passengers arrive onboard the ship and Martyn meets up with Casey Scholtz, the Piazza's project manager to see how things are going. Alfredo's pizza oven is in place and the flooring and tile work throughout the International Cafe, Vines and Alfredo's is taking shape.

All Hands On Deck

Martyn is back in the Piazza as the finishing touches to Crooners are put into place and Leaves Tea Room kicks into gear. The gym has had a face lift with new equipment fit throughout and up on deck the teak decking is being replaced and the area where Skywalker's once stood is taking shape.

Finishing Touches

With one day until passengers arrive the Grand Princess is taking shape at an incredible rate. The Casino is finished and the completely rebuild spa has their first customer as Martyn gets a trim while admiring the new facilities.

The New Grand Princess

To sign off from this great video dairy Martyn heads to the International Cafe for coffee and cake before taking us to Alfredo's, where Princess Cruises executive chef prepares the first pizzas. He pops into Vines Wine Bar for a chat with the maitre d' and sommelier and to sample the new menu, followed by a trip to leaves to show off the 250 tea variations on offer.

In less then four weeks Princess Cruises have taken one of their most popular ships and given her some serious TLC. The former flagship, and one time most expensive ship at sea, can take pride among the best ships to sail from Southampton this year, and I can't wait to go and see her in person. The question will be whether to enjoy the new rear sun deck, one of the updated lounge bars or whether to indulge in the great new dining venues, such as the New York themed Crown Grill.

The New Grand Princess has undergone an incredible impressive revitalization in an even more impressive amount of time. Well done Princess and well done to all the crew involved.

Grand Princess — The Drydock Story, Part 2

10th May 2011

When ships head into drydock we usually hear about all the fantastic new facilities and changes that are taking place onboard, but rarely do we get to take a look behind the scenes. Having taken a look at what Princess Cruises have planned for their former flagship I thought I would take the time to look at the crew involved in brining the ship back to life, from the ships Captain, to the vast team looking after the crew.

Taking a 109,000 tonne ship, that has been a signature of Princess Cruises for such a long time, and brining her back to glory in 25 days is no mean feat. The new Grand Princess was pulled apart and affectionately bought back to life by the ships crew along with 1,000 contractors and the shipyard's own team.

To get a huge amount of work done to incredible standards, in such a short space of time is very impressive and needs a dedicated team. Whether you are the artist bought in to touch-up or repair the ships art work, the engineers working on the in-port power connections, or you are preparing the meals and refreshments for this tireless crew, you have all played a huge part in giving us a good-as-new cruise liner, ready to grace the port and Southampton and Europe's wonderful destinations.

Captain's Blog

Captain Tony Herriott takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to Martyn about the work taking place onboard. It's a very different job being in drydock, having replaced his passengers with 1,000 contractors and doing a sand coloured uniform (I'm not sure his usual white uniform would last too long!) while attending the major jobs onboard.

Ready, Steady, Cook

During drydock Executive Chef, David McDonald Greves, takes a few minutes to discuss feeding the 2,000 daily, hungry workers onboard. During a typical breakfast they were going through 275kg of scrambled egg, 80 kg of bacon and 80kg of pork sausages, lunch would consist of up to 3,000 sandwiches and 200 litres of soup, with 90kg of pasta being served in the evening.

The People In Power

Martyn heads down to the engine control room to talk to the engineers about the upgrades and changes to the ships power plant. With Alaska imposing increasing stringent requirements to cruise in the region, the ships engineers are developing a new power room, so in ports such as Juneau, the ship can connect to the ports own power supply, offering more environmentally aware solutions to keeping the ship running. There is also some news on the engines efficiency, as the Grand Princess can now sail at 22 knots, will only consuming the same amount of fuel as she did at 21 knots.

The Fall Guy

To round off the team revitalising the Grand Princess, Martyn talks to Steve Storey, the project manager onboard Grand Princess. Steve has over seen 30 drydocks in his career, though this has to be the largest project yet. His day-to-day work includes managing up to 1,400 contractors, managing the budgets, crew and every aspect of the changes and improvements onboard.

With the ship now at sea, we know that the crew have pulled together to bring about an amazing transformation of the ship, but they are often forgotten about. The 'new' Grand Princess has been a home, construction site, dining room and place of work for a huge team during the project, and it already looks like it was worth all the effort.

Grand Princess — The Dry Dock Story, Part 1

6th May 2011

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.

Walking Away

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.

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