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Ralph Walker

Age: 58

Occupation:Travel College Manager

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Golden Princess

Sailing Date: November 22nd, 2003

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean


Itinerary
22 November 2003 Departure from Fort Lauderdale
23 November At sea
24 November At sea
25 November St Maarten
26 November St Thomas
27 November At sea
28 November Princess Cays
29 November Arrival Fort Lauderdale

We are Australian, married a “Baby boomer” couple still working. We travelled with 2 very good friends, also from Australia. Our occupations are Manager of a Travel College, Registered Nurse and our friends are Managers of General Stores in the Australian outback. This was their first cruise and the fourth in total for us.

We stayed at The Holiday Inn express prior to the cruise and between cruises. This hotel is well located about 5 minutes by taxi from the Princess Terminal. It is a comfortable “no frills” hotel reasonably priced.

We took a taxi to the ships, as the Shuttle bus at times was unavailable or booked out. The taxi ride was about USD 5.00 per person.

We will talk in this report about the cruising experience on the two ships as much has been written about the ports of call in other reviews.

The Golden Princess cruise

In June 2002 we undertook a cruise from Barcelona to Venice on the Golden Princess and were so impressed that we booked again on the same ship for the above Caribbean cruise. We had exactly the same cabin, B316 an inside on Baja deck 11.

1/ Positive Comments

The design of the inside cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and storage space for our requirements. The self-service laundries were spacious with plenty of washing machines, dryers and ironing facilities. Change machines and laundry powder dispensers were available in each laundry. Cost of laundry – USD $1.00 per wash and 0.50 per drier.

The service in the “Go as you please” dining rooms was excellent on all occasions. We tried these restaurants at breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the evening, if there was a wait for a table, we were given a paging device and we had a drink in one of the bars until it activated. We found this very civilized.

The two “Ozzie” men having hearty appetites, had 2 entrees at some dinners. This was not a problem for the waiting staff or kitchens and the second entrée was supplied cheerfully and graciously. Exactly the same thing happened on a few occasions with extra desserts being requested.

The Horizon court buffet self service operates 24 hours a day and was also very popular, particularly before and after shore excursions. The availability of any type of cooked egg including boiled eggs for breakfast in the main dining room was great.

Sabatinis Restaurant, where a surcharge was paid was good. The Italian food was excellent and well presented. The service was a little slow, possibly due to the staff stopping to sing congratulations to most of the customers who were celebrating birthdays and anniversaries etc.

A master class wine tasting was also very well done, held in Sabatinis during an afternoon when we were at sea. The Head Waiter was extremely knowledgeable about the wines presented.

The coke card, purchased for USD $22.50 per person enabled us to get as many club sodas or cokes as we wanted. We found this very good value, particularly when we came back hot and thirsty from the tours.

We were the only four “Ozzies” on board and must have made a lot of noise or had distinctive accents as quite a few people commented, “you must be one of the “Ozzies”.

The wine list in the restaurant is a great improvement on our last Princess cruise with much greater variety and well priced.

The Skywalkers lounge is a great place to relax during the day a very quiet spot with a great view.

Afternoon tea is served in one of the dining rooms at 3.30pm by white gloved waiters worth “putting on the Ritz”

The cooking demonstration and tour of the galleys is great. The Golden Princess was also promoting its cookbook, personally signed by the Head Chef. Our mate Gary, who is also a very good cook himself, bought one and was impressed with its photographs and recipes.

The service aboard Golden Princess was exemplary. Toiletries were replaced in our cabin without asking. The dining and drink waiters didn’t miss a beat. These staff came from all parts of the world such as Eastern Europe and South East Asia and spoke excellent English, even understanding our Aussie accents!

Captain Bernard Warner stated, “This is a happy ship.” How right he was. He and his officers were highly visible in all areas of the ship – managing by walking around and ensuring the passenger’s needs were met. Nothing was too much trouble.

2/ Negative comments

The decking or wooden veneer on the Promenade deck was very slippery when wet for people walking and running for exercise.

The main evening show “Lights, Camera and Action” we had seen 18 months previously on the Mediterranean cruise. Perhaps they could change the shows every 12 months or so. The comedians were also not very funny in comparison to our previous cruise.

I think that ice creams and Cappuccino should be included in the cruise fare, rather than as an added expense.

We were confused once we arrived at the Princess Cruise terminal at Fort Lauderdale. After getting out of our taxi we were not sure if we had to take our luggage to the check in counter ourselves as was done on our Europe cruise. Eventually a porter told us to leave our bags behind and they would fix things up. It was a little confusing and we suggest that a large sign be placed telling people to leave their bags with the porters and that bags do not have to be taken into the terminal building. I think that more Princess staff should be outside the Terminal building assisting with “meet and greet” as first impressions that people make are important.

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