Clem & Edwina
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: April 3rd, 2005
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: We boarded the ship without bother. However, it was a case of find your own cabin and our luggage took four hours to reach us after handing it to Princess staff at the airport. Information on boarding the ship could have been better. We didn’t find anything to eat until after the obligatory lifeboat drill at 8:30pm. This was tiresome for passengers who had traveled from Europe. The purser’s desk did not ease this first impression either. When asked the girl behind the desk said that soup and sandwiches were available in one of the restaurants but wasn’t sure which. Sorry Princess but your greeting of passengers needs work. It was equivalent to 1:30am British time before we got any food. Though the food available was a lot better than soup and sandwiches. This communication problem was a continuing theme throughout the cruise. The purser’s desk never quite sure what was happening aboard.
The following day we went on a guided tour of the ship, which made things a whole lot easier as this is a very big ship and finding your way around is difficult for the first couple of days.
We opted for fixed dining in the Donatello dining room. Every evening we had our own table reserved for two. The waiters were pleasant and seemed to know the menu well. We found the food and presentation, including lunch, in the main dining rooms very good but perhaps not excellent. The menus were quite varied throughout the two weeks.
We did try the Desert Rose but didn’t think it was worth the extra 15 dollars per person cover charge as the food and menu here was perhaps not as good as we had so far in the main dining rooms. This stopped us from trying Sabatini’s, which may have been a mistake.
We used the Horizon Court buffet for breakfast the food was so-so but tea and coffee were always available and to the English palette not that bad. The fare offered was more to American tastes during breakfast but the staff, when you could make yourself understood, were quite happy to prepare English bacon and fry the eggs so they weren’t so runny. British sausage was a little harder to come by. Only saw it once in two weeks, but so what, we are on holiday abroad right?
There was plenty of entertainment on board most of which we thoroughly enjoyed. Although the ship was sailing fully booked we didn’t think it felt crowded and there was always somewhere to sit in peace and quiet. We had an inside cabin on Carib deck the room was big enough with a pleasant stewardess. She was the usual cabin steward type, always helpful and always there when you needed her.
When aboard we mainly used the spa pool as no children are allowed in that area and it’s a shallow pool, good for someone who is not a strong swimmer. Don’t get us wrong we are not against children, but it’s nice to get a bit of peace now and again when you want to. There were quite a few children of all ages aboard but the ship catered really well in the provision of children’s areas and there were ships staff available to take them off parent’s hands for a few hours. They even had children exclusive areas set aside.
We went on an excursion every day. The one we least enjoyed was at Harrison’s caves in Barbados. The rest of the tours were all somewhere between good and great.
Our Princess charter flight home from San Juan was not until 5:50pm. We left the ship at approx 8:30am we were taken to the airport to check-in our luggage then onto a hotel to pass the rest of the day. This was all part of the Princess package and we were very very pleasantly surprised by the standard of the hotel resort chosen. The Westin Rio Beach Resort Hotel. Listed as fours star but easily deserved five. We were served with a buffet lunch and had the full use of the facilities. We were also given the use of four suites to have a shower etc this was an excellent service from Princess cruises, which we did not expect.
The cruise directors staff were very pleasant and worked extremely hard to entertain us. Overall the cruise was excellent and we will be cruising with them again but I do feel that some things could be improved. We do not like the gratuity system as I think individual tipping makes for a better service and this is an option available to you by arrangement with the pursers. Also they closed the spa pool for painting on the last day while we were at sea I think this could have been done on a day when were at port. The only poor thing I can say about the whole cruise is the drinks. If you are a drinker you will find it expensive. The range of drinks is limited to a fixed menu and you would be hard pushed to taste much alcohol in many of them. Beer is canned and a pina-colada is a sugary tasteless concoction from a carton. That said, we are not big drinkers so no problem.
Last of all I would like to say something about the ship itself. Golden Princess is an extremely attractive ship. Attention to detail is fantastic, beautifully wooden paneled and finished with marble throughout. Deck screens and many of her guardrails are of blue tinted glass, which add to making her exceptionally striking and modern. All public areas were kept spotlessly clean by a whole army of workers toiling away in the shadows. She is big. Very big which made sure there was always room beside one of her four passenger pools but does as first seem daunting.