Occupation:Information Technology Manger
Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: June 1st, 2005
Itinerary: Northern Europe
My cruise experience: 7th cruise and have traveled with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America and this is my first time with Princess. Previous itineraries include Eastern and Western Caribbean, Alaska, Mediterranean.
The embarkation: This has been the worse experience by far. The Southampton Port – Queen Elizabeth Terminal is not capable to handle the volume. Only 12 or 13 counters were open for check in. We arrived at 12:25 p.m. and took us over one and half hours to complete check in check in process. During this time, there was no service at all. By simple math, with a completely sold out sailing (which we later learnt) it would take way too long. It was very disappointing that Princess did not properly plan for it.
The Service: I think with the automatic charging of the gratuity, the service level in dinning room various based on the staff’s work ethics. I found my housekeeping attendant was very friendly and efficient. Some waiting staff were good too. However, our group did have a bad experience with one of the waiting room staff. One the first day when inquiring about whether they have any wine package, the waiting staff was hard selling the wine tasting. I told him I was not interested and he responded, “If you don’t go to the wine tasting, how would you know what to order?” I was stunned with such response. I may not be an expert but certainly will have no problem matching food and wine. Interestingly, one night when we were asking what the waiting staff would recommend with the food we have ordered. The reply was “Would you like red or white?” Sure it was a lot of help.
The food: Food in the dining room was better than other cruises I have been on. For the seafood lovers, they had lobsters 3 times, one was with pasta, one was stuffed and one time broiled. King crab legs were served once as well. The steaks were good too. However, the food and arrangements in Horizon court was not as good as other lines.
The stateroom: I found the design of the staterooms were better than other lines. I had an inside room on the Aloha deck and the room was very functional and by comparison, it was even my spacious than the balcony room I had traveling with Holland America. This was great.
The dining rooms: We did not try any of the specialty restaurants this time. We originally booked the 1st sitting but the noise in the dining room was unbearable. Also, the dining room was small by comparison. We later switched to free style dining and we found it much more pleasant.
The lounges: They were acceptable. The band (ONLYNE) in Explorer’s Lounge was good, but they did not seem to be engaged at all. They seemed to be tired and just getting the night over. The wheelhouse lounge was ok. May be because the average age of cliental was 61, there did not seem to have too much activities going on in the skywalkers nightclub.
Other public area: One thing I have observed that for a ship of 110,000 tonne in size, the public rooms were small and resemble that of a 70,000 tonne class ships. That’s was a shame. I was expecting it to be more grand. The layout of the ship was not convenient especially for the elderly with mobility challenge. If you, by mistake, try to go to the dining room (a lot of us did that) went to deck 6 by the aft elevators, you will find that you can neither get to Donatello dining room by walking to the centre of the ship. Instead you have to head up one deck and walk to the central set of elevators and then go down one deck to Donatello or two to Bernini dining room.
The entertainment: They were somewhat equal or a touch worse than my previous cruises. It is kind of interest to see one entertainer appearing 5 nights out of 10 night cruise. Even if he the best in the industry, it would be a bit much to my liking (may not be shared by other fellow cruisers).
The debarkation: Again, there was along line up exiting the terminal after claiming our luggage. There had been some temper flying. After experiencing the embarkation, nothing of the sort would surprise me anymore.
Now as for the ports visited, our group went to Berlin and Paris by arranging with tour companies. We went to Oslo, Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Brussels by ourselves and I think they are worth visiting. If I could do it all over again, I would like to visit Bruges instead of Brussels. All in all, these cities were worth visiting.
Making your own excursion arrangement would be more economical than joining the ones arranged by the cruise liners. We had made our own arrangement to get to and back between London and Southampton. The one we used can be located at www.london-transfers.com (firstname.lastname@example.org). The service and price were both good. The Berlin tour was arranged through www.berlin-starting-point.de. We used MBT Minibus tour (email@example.com) and we were very happy with all our vendors.
Will I go with Princess again? I doubted very much. Why? It is the overall experience been more negative than positive.