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Age: 65


Number of Cruises: 15

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Golden Princess

Sailing Date: March 20th, 2007

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Western Caribbean

Jerry Atkinson

This is not only a review of our cruise but also a warning to anyone anticipating taking the 23 day cruise on the Star Princess for the spring of 2008 on a similar itinerary stopping in Acapulco, Mexico.

This cruise though booked for 23 days was treated by Princess as a 16 day cruise from Santiago, Chile to Acapulco then a 7 day cruise to San Francisco. Some passengers started their cruise in Buenos Aires 12 days earlier.

The first 16 days were enjoyable. Even though we had “Any Time Seating” we identified a waiter and his assistant that were excellent and requested a reservation at their table for 6 PM each evening. The food was as usual for Princess, nothing extraordinarily scrumptious.

The Norovirus raised it’s ugly head causing the suspension of bread baskets, salt and pepper shakers and sugar packets being placed on the dining tables toward the end of the 23 days. Self service at the buffet was also eliminated to the point of not being able to fill your own coffee cup or tea glass.

We found that there was always entertainment available from the main acts and production shows in the Princess theater to other live music and first run movies in the evenings on the promenade deck at different venues. More constant entertainment than found on most cruise ships but with the usual singers that stepped on each other’s acts with their own renditions of Neil Diamond, Tom Jones and Bobby Darin.

The main band was exceptional in setting up with musicians and vocalists that only came on board for short 1 to 2 day performances then flying back to Australia and the UK. The production dancers and singers were not exceptional. Always look for the one singer or dancer with that extra energy or vocal ability. No one was found, no one out shown any one else which results in average.

Tours were as usual overpriced but in some instances required to make the most use of time and the absence of alternatives. Shuttle service was provided at South American ports at $10 round trip per person.

The port of San Martin’s purpose is only as a jumping off point for Machu Picchu tours. Three charter planes were brought in to the local Peruvian military air field to take 300 guests to Cusco. No matter how attractive the city of Pisco is described it is not worth your visit from this port. As we did, you may not want to get off of the shuttle bus. A walk from the port area along the bay is better.

The trip to Machu Picchu is expensive and can be done for less if you plan to return to Peru. The contractor that Princess uses (Condor Travel) is excellent. The first day is spent being accustomed to the altitude in Cusco. A little cocoa tea at your hotel and a little rest prior to your city tour which ends with the always shopping stop, which should not be mandatory for everyone. More rest at the hotel would please some.

The early morning trip to Machu Picchu and the return in the evening arriving back in Cusco at 9 PM is tedious (dinner after). 3.5 hours train ride to the ruins, bus ride to the site, lunch, tour of the site (3 hours), bus ride back to the train, a mandatory hour plus shopping at the train station and 3.5 hours back to Cusco.

Our group which left from Lima and re-boarded the ship at Manta, Ecuador was ideal at 33 with guides and a nurse from the ship. We could each claim a window seat on our flight from Lima to Manta on our charter aircraft. Arriving in Manta it took inexperienced immigration officers 45 minutes to process 33 people.

The cruise continued on as previously enjoyed until Acapulco. A rumor had spread through the ship during the first 16 days with no confirmation from ship’s personnel that spring breakers would join the ship in Acapulco. We also were made aware by our UK friends that they had not been allowed to book the onward cruise to San Francisco but were required to disembark in Acapulco.

As we got closer to our 16th day our excellent waiter provided us with more up to date rumor information that we could expect 500 family members (parents and children) boarding in Acapulco. It was an onerous statement uttered by a street vendor in Acapulco when I objected to his continued sales harassment of my wife “this is Mexico” that foretold our future.

Golden Princess became a Carnival ship sailing the Caribbean at spring break. If this is your idea of a pleasurable experience stop reading now.

We started off with what would be considered Princess’s usual mature clientele and ended with uncontrolled/unsupervised minors and irresponsible adults condoning their actions through their absence.

Running in the passageways at all hours of the day and night, hide and seek in the buffet area, pranks, jumping down the stairways, cart wheels and tumbling in the atrium. Never a parent in control. The ship had been turned into a child friendly play area with no controls, no security watches evident for passenger’s safety on a ship at sea.

Our excellent cabin steward’s schedule was destroyed because he never knew whether the key slot requests for “make up my room” or “privacy please” were correct. After walking in on couple asleep he was required to wait until later in the morning to be sure he would not intrude on passengers.

On a cruise have you ever seen a child sitting on a sink in a public restroom with his feet in the bowl pumping soap as fast as he could go, down the drain?

The crew of the Golden Princess were placed in a terrible situation. They had no authorization of control. Even though the buffet area was under the highest food safety controls children bypassed clean hand protocol and use of utensils to help themselves to food items. Dining room ambiance was destroyed with parents who would not sit with their own children.

The Purser’s office could only empathize with guests listening to their complaints, expressing their own concerns. To my knowledge no one was injured by impact sending an elderly passenger to the hospital.

Luckily we had a nice cabin with balcony and spent the major part of our last seven days, when not ashore, holed up there out of the main stream of traffic. Visits to the entertainment venues in the evening, strolling along the promenade deck and dinner dining with our excellent waiter were halted until our last evening onboard.

We substituted room service and quick visits to the buffet for dinner and quick walks to the Vista Lounge for entertainment, avoiding high traffic areas. Both of these areas were at the aft of the ship and could be accessed by the rear stairs and elevators.

So this is our last cruise. Between oversold airliners which delay flights in an effort to get passengers to default to next day flights or circuitous itineraries. By the way did you know if you book your air with Princess and have a problem you are on your own? If you miss a flight it is up to you to pay any additional flight charges to get to the ship. The help line, forget it, they have no authority.

If you cannot depend on Princess’s brochure statements as to their concern for your cruise enjoyment it’s time to stop.



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