Princess LinesGolden PrincessSouthern Caribbean Snehal Trivedi
Occupation:Information Systems Analyst
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: November 19th, 2005
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Princess Cruise Lines
I am using a previous post as a template as I found the format the most useful when I read it before going.
Boarding/Port San Juan: When you arrive at the port, they take your bags outside and I recommend you take a bunch of five's with you as they will come in handy for tipping. The people who will handle your bags were a bit push, but nice enough, and they really did make it a bit odd about demanding the tip by the way they flashed their hands full of cash. After that bit, it was relatively easy, though it does take a while to get through the line because they group the lines by deck and ours was the busiest.
Tip: Buy your alcohol at this port, we bought a few bottles and put one in our carry on and the rest in a bag that we would check-in to the cruise that we get back at the end of the cruise. You an also buy on the ship, and they will price match the brochure you get at San Juan, and if you buy 3 or more bottles, a 10% discount on top of that. The only concern there is the limited options on the ship, though your vodka and scotch should be fine.
Staterooms: We had a interior room on Caribe Deck( Deck 10). Since this was our first cruise we didn't know quite what to expect, but we were told that it would be small. And it was a little small, but it was nothing that bothered either one of us. The only problem with the stateroom was that we had two small beds put together, so at night it was a pain if you're a roller like I am as the mattress tends to move easily. The service in the stateroom was excellent and we couldn't have asked for more.
Ship Facilities: We are pretty active people and so were quite glad of all the active things we could do on the ship. I played a bit of table tennis (and they have tournaments), padi-tennis (again more tournaments) and my wife enjoyed the pool area.
Entertainment: The shows were fine, but not really great. We went to the comedian, and I have to say he sucked. They had a second comedian that we did not make it to, Sarge, that apparently was pretty good. My wife was impressed by the magician, and I thought he was rather lame, so I would call it a wash, as I'm probably a little extra critical and expect too much. There was a dance show called "Caliente" and we thought that was excellent and enjoyed it immensely. One of our favorite things were the free dance classes that they offered. Shelby, the instructor was very good and even my lead feet managed okay. In the evening we would go to "Salsa beat" a Latin band thing and practice what we had learned. Skywalkers was a nice hangout, but we thought the music selection rather sucked, it was pretty much 70's and 80's. We heard reports that they played newer stuff after midnight, but we didn't see that, and it might have actually happened after 2 A.M. but we were in bed by then.
Dining: I thought the dining was rather good. We had anytime dining initially, but our friends were in 2nd dining, so we requested that we be transferred, and even though they said it was unlikely, we ended up getting 2nd dining on the second day of the cruise. The dinner menus were great and offered a good variety of choices. My wife is a vegetarian and she thought the food options for here were good to great. She wasn't stuck eating salads and pasta everyday. I thought that the buffets were rather poorly stocked. The food was nothing special, but they did have a variety of fruits and other healthy things that made up for the calorie filled dinner/dessert we devoured the night before. After reading the reviews, I was looking forward to the pizza place, but I again thought that it was okay and nothing special. Lunch was a tough meal to plan out, the time for seating was from 12-2 or something like that and we only made it once due to excursions. The service at lunch was terrible, took too long to get the food.
Tip: We bought one unlimited soft drink pass, and in the end we think it was a wasted $27 dollars, we ended up not drinking that many soft drinks and quite honestly we shouldn't because of all the calories we were packing away in food. It wasn't worth it, and that was with my wife and I sharing the drinks when we did get them. So think long and hard before you throw that money away.
Tip#2: You can request via the head waiter a special meal, just let them know the night before. My wife requested vegetarian Indian food and they had something for her the next night. You obviously don't get to dictate what exactly but if you wanted something different they will try and accommodate.
Service: We thought that the service was fantastic, from our Steward to everyone else. We had one bad incident, but I think it was just that one person, and quite honestly we only saw that person once. Everyone else was great, the cruise director (Omar) and his staff were fun people.
Ports of Call:
- San Juan is okay, we didn't really get to spend a lot of time there before the cruise. We went to the Old San Juan the night before our departure, visited the fort there which was nice. I would have to recommend a restaurant called Berlin, in Old San Juan for their service and selection.
Tip: This is where the 5's will come in handy. After the excursion, you'll probably want to tip the excursion provider, so remember to take it with you, though of course they don't quite demand it like they do when you leave San Juan and those baggage people. We felt like we wanted to give due the excellent service they provide.
- St. Thomas was a nice port, the shopping was good, we mainly walked around and bought a few small things. Our excursion was the "Bob" and snorkel adventure aboard the ship Mustang. We have to say the crew was very friendly, fun and went beyond the call of duty. Apparently the ships had overbooked the excursion and so instead of 66 people on one boat, they called in their second crew from their day off. It turned out good for us because we had about 20 people on our ship.
- St. Kitts We did a hike through a rainforest here, though I forget the exact name. It was fine, nothing too great, as we have been on better hikes in Seychelles while we were on our honeymoon there a few years ago. The staff of the excursion was and we have no complains.
- Grenada was a bit of a mess. The island is beautiful and green!! We loved it as soon as we started our hike and beach excursion. The hike is a bit steep and a few of the older people on our excursion were a bit winded by the time we reached the top. We went to Grand Anse beach after the hike and spent a few hours there and we like the spot. Our guide was excellent and gave a great history of Grenada and the U.S involvement in their independence. We rated this as the second best excursion and island for us.
- Isle Margarita : We did not have a planned excursion on this port, and maybe we should have. Our stop here was brief, and we learned that a beach was walking distance from the port. It was, but the beach was a dump, there was some awful stench from somewhere and we hade more further away before we could away from it. The water was shallow for a long while out, and not at all clear, so no chance of snorkeling. This was by far or least liked port, but maybe with an excursion it would have been better. Our friends did do an excursion to some Lagoon and they enjoyed it. The shopping for crafty things was pretty good here and my wife bought a few trinkets.
- Aruba was nice. We did a snorkel tour that took us to two spots, a reef and a wreck. We enjoyed the wreck it was really remarkable, but the reef could have been better. The rest of the time we spent on "Palm Beach" which was $10 cab fare from port. I would recommend that you get off at the Hyatt, walk through it (its really nice) to get to the beach. But do not go in the water at the Hyatt, the water is full of seaweed and it stinks. Walk from the Haytt to the Holiday Inn and the water there is better. Again no snorkeling as there is nothing there to see and the visibility was low. Overall Aruba was nice, but we liked St. Tomas and Grenada better.
Disembark: This was really a lot better than the boarding, and I have no complaints. Just be aware that the line for customs was rather long. Our turn was in the middle and there were quite a few people ahead of us. Fortunately for me, my wife is a Canadian citizen and they came around asking if there any non US citizens in the line, since they had a different process for the non-US'ers. The non US line had about 5 people in it, and it was a great blessing. If you can find some non-us people and you might be able to jump the gun if you say that you're traveling together.
Final Words: Overall we loved the cruise and will do it again with Princess. Being our first time we didn't know quite what to expect and it was beyond our best hopes.