Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: August 22nd, 2004
Itinerary: Classic Southern Caribbean
This was our 5th cruise. This was our first Princess cruise and we were so impressed. here is how we rated Princess in terms of food, comparing them to the other lines we have been on:
Disney A / A-
Carnival B +
Royal Caribbean D-
The food: We were so impressed with Princess. The food on this cruise was better than any other vacation we have had / land or sea. Was this food similar to mass-cooking catering hall - no way! If it were a restaurant at home would we return - as soon as possible! Here is why Princess had the edge on all others:
1) Impressive quality of food, not just in dining room, in Horizon court buffet as well.
2) Variety at buffets - not just the usual suspects like on other lines! We were so impressed by the unique and varied offerings, even at breakfast.
3) Personal choice dining - Let me tell you, every cruise line shoud do this if they are smart. We fell in love with anytime dining. Whenever we were ready, we just want to one of the 2 dining rooms. We never made a reservation. (We had 1 wait of 10 minutes on formal night when we got there at 8:00, no big deal). We did not like to make reservations because to us that was the whole point of anytime dining, you have dinner when you want. Some days we wanted to eat at 7:00, others later if we were watching a movie or wanted to see a show. My husband was saying how he would have trouble getting used to a traditional dining again. By the way those of you who prefer table for 2 like we do, PC dining is the way to go. A table for 2 is never a problem!
The shows: We only made 1 show, the "words of broadway" on the second formal night.. We did not particulary like this show because it focused on the older broadway shows from the 50's that we are not familiar with.
Pools / Chair Longue Situation: Great, for all you late sleepers there were always lounge chairs available. Great music & band by the main pool. The port side of the ship was for smokers. The majority of smokers seemed to stay by the solarium pool, closer to the Horizon buffet. We stayed on the port side of the main pool and was never bothered by smoke. There was only 1 sea day on this cruise which was good in a way because there was so much to see, on the bad side, we missed our usual last day at sea towards the end of the cruise to unwind.
Service: A+ again, from the room stweards to the PC dining room staff, we were also impressed by the friendly, efficient crew. We met a lot of nice servers in PC dining, some people made standing reservations the first night because they loved their server, but we just went wherever they put us in a table for 2 and met a lot of great servers that way!
The room: We had room A227 balcony. What I liked about Aloha is that you are not exposed on your balcony like on lower decks. (The floor right below us was not exposed, but from 2 floors below us on were exposed) We loved this foward cabin, felt very little movement, could not ever hear your neighbor's toilet flushing like on other ships we had been on! (And we all know how loud those toilets are)!
The only criticism of the room was the unreasonably small bathroom and shower. Hubby had problems fitting ito the shower. Next time we will spring for the JS which has a bigger bathroom.
Excursions chosen/ports of call:
Note: We usually do our on thing on our cruises, but I had a hard time locating independent opertors prior to this cruise and the ones I did charged the same rate as the ship's excursion, so we stuck with the Princess excurions.
Barbados: We did the sea turtle and snorkel (that includes snorkeling at a wreck site). We loved this excursion and recommend it highly. Tey even took us to a beautiful beach and had free drinks after snorkeling. Wonderful guides, had a blast.
If shopping, in our opinion stay away from the town here. We had a bad experience in town & were hasseled. The shopping at the port terminal is better & safer in our opinion.
St. Lucia : We did the New Waves Snorkel St. Lucia\. We snorkeled at Anse Chasnet marine park (although on the ships tour info. lists it going to Soufrie to snorkel). The snorkeling was terible, I got stung, also riptides, marine life very limited (not counting jellyfish). The only nice thing about this tour is that they sailed us by the Pitons, that was great. We wished we did the whale & dolphin watching excursion here.
The shopping at the pier terminal was great. For a wonderful copy of a designer bag, go to the Oasis shop. I got a magnificant copy of a Gucci there1
Antigua: We did the New Waves Antigua snorkel adventure (39.00 pp). Loved it, had a great time. The boat we were on , the Excellence, was beautiful. Crew was great, also it was a great way to see the island, sailing by all the sites on the way to Cades Reef which was very nice.
St.Martin: We did our own thing here. We took a cab to Dawn Beach (which was listed as the snorkel beach). Terrible! No sea life and we had to leave within an hour because of sand fleas biting us. Took the water taxi to town & did great shopping there. Town was great.
St. Thomas: We had vacationed here before so we knew what we wanted to do. We took one of those cute trolley taxis to Coki Beach & snorkeled there. The snorkeling was great & the beach very nice. Did shopping in town & got nice things (Took a cab to town).
Disembark: Great, had a 12:15 flight, had over 3 hours to kill at the airport. Wish we had an earlier flight, had NO problems at all at this airport.
Vibe of ship: I have read in other reviews that cruises that leave from San Juan have a very latin vibe, and that spanish is spoken more than English. That was not true at all on this cruise, all the other passengers we met were from US or Canada, we did not meet any passengers from San Juan. The only people we got to meet from San Juan was the people at the airport and our taxi drivers, who were very nice.