Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: Jan 2nd, 2005
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
This was our sixth cruise, number three in
a row with Princess. Always a great experience. As we are from PR it only took
us a one hour and a half car ride from our town Isabella to get to San Juan.
This was a very special cruise for us because we took with us our 3 years old
daughter, it was her first cruise and she enjoyed it very much. We were on a
party of sixteen, including friends and relatives.
When we got to the cruise dock we found out that it was changed, PR port has like 6 docks for cruises, Golden Princess were departing from the Pan-American Dock in Isla Grande, but due to something we don’t know that day it departs from the Frontier Pier in Puerta de Tierra (we were told by tour travel agent in advance). We had departed from this pier already with Dawn Princess and with Sea Princess, but both are smaller ships compared with the Golden, the Pan-American Pier is new and big enough to manage over 3,000 passengers but never the Frontier pier. To add at this nightmare this was the date of the inauguration of PR new governor and all San Juan streets were closed or jam with traffic. Anyway it took us almost two hours to get to the ship in a long never ending line at the pier. We always arrive early, since embarkation begins at 11:00 am, but that day we arrived the pier at 3:00 pm when all the passengers that came from the airport had arrived or were arriving.
Once we get to the ship our first thing is to go to our cabin, it has a balcony at last, thanks to a Princess upgrade, they’re great. We reserved an ocean view cabin in the 2nd floor but we asked for a upgrade because this was our third Princess cruise, and they gave us a balcony cabin in the eleventh floor. Then we went to the Horizon Court (buffet area) to eat something, the food is good there, but don’t expect caviar…
Next we went to the Calypso Reef pool area, there was a Calypso/Soca band playing great music, I love steel pan music it’s very tropical, but I asked them for a request and they told me that they played it tomorrow, What?? forget about it. We reunite with all our group and had a great time talking and drinking beer and piña coladas (note: Cruise ship piña coladas are not that good, if you come to PR drink one here you will taste the real and the original one). At night we went to our muster station with our lifesaver jackets for the drill, believed or not, I like this part, I enjoyed it very much it is part of the beginning of out trip. We departed PR at 11:00 pm en route to ST Thomas.
It was our sixth visit to St Thomas, always great, I am always wondering what does the ship does in that period of time because St Thomas is like two hours away from San Juan, if you take a plane you can get there in 45 minutes. But the ship gets there at 7:00 am. This time we took the Tramway to Paradise Point, Great View of the Bay and the cruise ships, there was too the Carnival Destiny who departed from San Juan one hour before us. We went to the Charlotte Amalie Downtown to look for a SD card for our digital camera, we bought one of 256 mb for $25, the same cost us $50 in Wal-Mart later on, so believe it St Thomas is the place for shopping, don’t waste your time there on the beach or touring the island, this is the place to do shopping, let the beach for the other islands.
That day was the first formal night, we went to the Explorer’s Lounge to dance to Latin Music. Here I had to say something, I am a musician, and I play Latin music as well as rock, disco etc, but I don’t’ know where the cruise company (all of them) find their Latin musicians, on the Dawn Princess there were a Pilipino band playing meringue, it sound like anything but meringue, and in the Golden there was a band from Mexico, but I don’t like it either, a suggestion to the cruise companies, if you want a Latin music band for a cruise that departs from PR you need to hire one from PR. that’s the right choice.
Something you had to know, every cruise that depart from San Juan gets a lot of PR locals in it, specially in the holiday season, be prepared because when we go on a cruise we are going to get noticed, culturally we are a melting pot of three different cultures (Indian, African and Spaniard) so we are the best of those cultures, we love to party, to sing, to chant, to have a great time, so anytime that someone gets the opportunity to tell where he or she is from, is going to shout from Puertooo Ricoooo and the audience will go crazy. Reading other reviews I found out that some fellow citizens on the mainland didn’t like that, If you don’t like to cross culture on a cruise don’t take one from San Juan. But if you want to have a great time and get to know a lot of great people take it.
We took anytime dinning and the food there is great, better than other cruises that we were on (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian). The service was good, but I had it better. The shows, well I don’t like Vegas style shows, they’re boring, I preferred live music, there were a great band called “Just Kidding”, they played a lot of great old American rock, and there were too a three piece variety band who play jazz, samba and a lot of different styles, their guitarist was great, as I told before I don’t like the Latin band. But there was a guy who had a show, he was Puerto Rican and sings Christmas songs he was the Ricky Martin of the cruise, for the Puerto Ricans of course.
I had to say that Omar Rios, our Cruise
Director, was the best, I had read in other reviews that some people don’t like
him, I don’t know why he was the best. Of my six cruises 3 of them were on the
Christmas season, we celebrate on January 6, the Three Kings Day, on the other
cruises that day they had taken away the Christmas decoration already, but in
the Golden Princess they celebrated with us that day, they even put 3 guys in
Kings costumes and gave gifts to the children, my daughter Lara, was very happy
because she don’t know that the three Kings were onboard the cruise with us,
that was a big asset for Princess and for Omar our cruise director, at last a
cruise that think about the Latin Americans onboard, the other cruises were made
only for the mainland fellows. But I think myself as an American too, so that
didn’t bothered me either.
Princess has a lot of activities to do at night, shows, live bands, island night party, get away party, champagne cascade etc, you always find something good to do. There aren’t a midnight buffet, I think that is because the buffet at the Horizon court is 24 hours open the whole trip, why they need to add another one to just one night.
The other island we visited, St Kitts – very poor, not good appearance, Grenada, it was devastated by a hurricane three month before the cruise and it didn’t look well, Isla Margarita Venezuela, this was the big mistake of the cruise, everybody were waiting to visit this Venezuelan paradise, but we received a notice that due to the distance from Isla Margarita to the next port Aruba our visit to this island is going to be of 5 hours, we got there at 7:00 am, and the ship departs al 12:00 noon. Yes we made a doctor visit to Isla Margarita, we are hoping to visit it sometime in the near future, it was the only one who speaks our language (Spanish).
Aruba was our next stop, it is a great island, a little expensive to do shopping, but you can find there Holland cheese very cheap, and their local beer “Balashi” is great!!!! It taste a little like Heineken but with a better after taste, I drank a whole six pack alone in my stay there. You can buy there the Venezuela’s beer “Polar”, it is good, it reminds me a lot our local beer “Medalla”, but taste better. If you are a beer drinker like me you going to find a lot of different types of beer on board, I love MGD you cannot find it anymore in PR.
If you take a island tour in Aruba be sure
to let your driver know you are in the Princess Cruise, because maybe there are
going to be more cruises in dock, if there is the Carnival Destiny or the RCCL
Adventure of the seas, those cruise ships departs later at night from Aruba,
Destiny at 11:00 pm, AOS at 1:00 am, but our Princess cruise departs at 5:00pm,
we almost got stranded in Aruba. Our driver told us that she will let us pass
the night in her house, she was great, if you going to take a tour with a local
tour operator ask for Finita, she’s the best. Thank God we got to the ship on
time, to tell the truth they closed the door behind us, not a good sensation, so
get to the ship on time.
Our last day was a day on the sea, it was the worst, there was a bad weather it was very windy, they had to close the pool for security. I never get seasick on a cruise, but that day the ship move a lot. Don’t get the impression that if the ship is big you are going to feel its movement less, no, it depends on the weather and how it is at sea.
The disembarkation process were smooth compared to the embarkation, the ship returns to the Pan-American Pier and it was a lot better. We took a cab to the parking lot were our minivan was, there we had the first bad service in the whole trip, the cab driver was very rude, she drove us very fast and with bad manners, I think she was upset because our route was very short, she preferred a trip to the airport that would gave her more $$$. But I’m sure that she treated us like that because we are not tourist, we are locals, well she didn’t win the tip.
The Golden Princess was a great adventure, we had a great time on it, this year the Golden gets changed by a new ship the Crown Princess, we are going to take it in January 2007, Southern Caribbean trip again we love it. That is going to be another story…