Occupation:international civil servant
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: 2010-08-14
Itinerary: Seattle-Juneau-Skagway-Tracy Arm-Ketchikan-Victoria-Seattle
My wife and I travelled with our two teenage children, and they too, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, not the least as there were enough other teenagers on board for bonding and joint action (day and night); furthermore, the boat's "Remix" teen club turned out to be a central meeting point for the younger ones and the club itself also offered enough activities that attracted the teenagers.
Perhaps because of the variety of onboard offerings, and the scenery around us, one never felt the presence of over 2000 passengers on the ship. Hardly ever were there any queues.
Fitness aficcionados, getting to the gym at the wrong time of the day, may have waited a while for the next treadmill to be available, but as all passengers seemed to be considerate, the wait was no longer than perhaps 10 minutes at the most.
This was a big surprise. Coming from Europe, we expected a rather US-based cuisine, but it turned out to be excellent overall, both in the buffet/cafeteria style settings as well as in the regular dining rooms. Desserts were on average less good than the main dishes.
We did not use the speciality restaurants that require an extra charge. For the one week we were on the boat, the combination of buffet offers as well as a well-mixed choice of menu dishes in the dining rooms was more than enough and overall thoroughly enjoyable.
The wine selection was good too, but of course you need to accept that any alcoholic drink is offered for an additional charge.
The bar drinks were OK, to my taste the cocktails came with too much ice, but I guess that is what most passengers expect.
A big surprise was also the quality of the coffee. Of course it is not freshly brewed (in the restaurants perhaps) but is generated from a concentrate, similar to cold soft-drink. But, as mentioned, the quality was better than usually to be found in mainland USA.
On the other hand, drinks from the soda-fountain (coke/tonic) had an odd taste to it, and unless someone is "addicted" to soft drinks, water and ice-tea do the job perfectly well.
We had a room with a balcony, the children an interior room. Both had ample space. The bathroom/shower perhaps on the small side, but perfectly adequate.
The beds were excellent, and noise insulation perfect.
The TV programme - for those who wish to stay in their rooms - had a good variety, and information on forthcoming or current destinations was ample.
There is more than a normal passenger can take in. The only disadvantage is that if someone is set out to "do it all", it won't be possible. But there is something for all tastes every day and that results in excellent distribution of all passengers throughout the boat and the day.
The main shows were offered twice in the evenings, so really no need to get worried or to reserve a seat "hours" in advance. Truly amazing.
The quality of the shows was good, too. Of course they are not all at the toppest of the toppest level, but all were entertaining and, considering this was a cruise boat, very good.
All the musicians on board were true professionals, and manged to provide a "we are playing this for the very first time, and only for you" feeling even thouth they had probably gone zillion times through the same moves.
I guess that depends on how adventurous one is, how individualistic, etc etc.
No destination was "risky" in any way, and one can discuss endlessly whether it is better to book a recommended excursion on the boat, or try to find an own deal or a different type of activity at a destination.
After all, the destinations on the cruise (with the exception of Seattle and Victoria) make a living off cruise passengers, so there is no scarcity of offers for any taste, but expect to pay a LOT for anything that is a bit more exotic or takes you more than 2 miles away from the boat.
Excursions booked on the shore tend to be a bit cheaper than those sold on the boat, but be aware that the itineraries may be different, and the "we will wait if the excursion is late" guarantee given to excursions booked on board may be worth the extra dollar.
We did not book any excursion on board, and we heard good and less good reports from those who had done so.
We had good weather, albeit a bit cool in the northern sections, throughout the trip with no major rainfall, occasional drizzles perhaps.
Boarding and leaving the ship was extremely well organised.
Staff were overall very friendly and efficient.
Most passengers came from the US with a large Asian contingent, several Russian speaking and not too many Europeans.
The "movie under the skies" is a great feature of the Golden Princess. The screen - and visibility - is excellent also during the day, so just relaxing at the pool for a while and taking in a concert film or a feature movie (or part of it) were agreeable moments.
We particularly enjoyed: the dance classes, the good photographers, the fact that staff had their nationality mentioned on their name plates (makes small talk easy for those who are interested in who is actually making their life on board so pleasant).
Sales pitches were measured. Some cruise reviews warn of that, but it was well measured on the Princess (or well packaged) and not a nuisance.
It would be nice if the artists on board had a web-page of their professional past (sometimes greater than the present) and present.