Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Golden Princess
Sailing Date: June 16th, 2007
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
My in-laws treated us (my husband, me, our
two children ages 2 and 6, and my brother- and sister-in-law) to a Princess
cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. We sailed from
Seattle to Juneau, Skagway, the Tracy Arm Fjord, Ketchikan and finally, Victoria
BC. The sites were amazing. The Glaciers and wilderness were sites to behold.
Alaska is truly the last frontier. We did take advantage of two of the ship’s
recommended excursions: the Mendenhall Glacier and Alaskan Salmon Bake (4
hours), and the White Pass Yukon Railway tour to the Canadian border and back
(about 4 hours). The train ride was a bit long for my delicate posterior, but
the sites were none that I’ll ever see the likes of again.
I have only a few complaints about the Golden Princess, and Princess in general. For the benefit of people who’ve not cruised before, the Princess Terminal in Seattle is where 2700 passengers are processed and let onto the ship. This includes checking IDs, passports and birth certificates, checking luggage and going through security. The majority of the Princess terminal employees were extremely rude. I have never seen so many rude people and felt so bad about beginning a vacation. I’ve worked two jobs that entailed moving several hundreds of tourists through a small area, so I can sympathize with these people and what they’re trying to do. I saw one female line employee yell at two little old ladies who were trying to say goodbye to their party that they couldn’t stand where they were standing. A simple “please” or an “I know you’re trying to say goodbye BUT” would have gone a long way.
Upon arriving in our cab/van to the Princess terminal, our driver asked for directions as to where to drop us off. The parking security man directed him to drop us off by the busses, even though we were in the front of the terminal entrance. When our driver pulled up and let us out, a Princess employee came over and told my brother-in-law that he couldn’t be there with his luggage, that he was in the way. My brother-in-law said, “but the parking security man told our driver to drop us here”, to which the employee responded, and I quote “oh, no he didn’t”. He basically called us liars.
We then took our luggage over to be checked, which went smoothly. Then came the ID, passport and birth certificate dance, which we did several times before we checked in. Security is extremely tight, which I appreciated. At this time (June 2007) the passport law has not yet gone into effect. A birth certificate and government issued ID is sufficient. Ken, our very rude but capable intake person, informs me that I should really get a passport. I will eventually, but I don’t need Ken to tell me this. Ken proceeds to lecture me about how I need a passport. I politely tell Ken that I don’t travel outside of the country. He continues to tell me that soon I’ll need it for everything and there is a six-month wait, after which he pauses a long time, looking at me, for dramatic effect. I tell him, through my teeth, thanks for the advice; I’ll take it into consideration.
When we finally board the ship, we find our room very comfortable and much like other staterooms we have seen. For the children, there are bunks that come out of the ceiling that our stateroom steward pulled down each night. We had a nice balcony on which we spent a lot of time. Nopporn, our steward, came in to introduce himself. He was very nice and capable. We only had one problem with our room, and that was the shower drain. It was slow, and slow became stopped up. After a two-minute shower the water rose quickly and all over the bathroom floor. It took three calls to finally get someone with a plunger, and before I could stop him, he was out the door, leaving us still with an inch of water in the bathroom. Nopporn showed up with beach towels and plastic bag and took care of it. Not a big deal except it took two hours for it to be taken care of.
My second big complaint is service in the dining room. We were a large party (8) and they added another couple to our table to make ten. On the first night, things went very smoothly. I think cruise food is basically all the same: kind of old school and safe. Some things were great, some were just OK. The second night, which was a formal night, we were all but forgotten. It was 6:15 before they took our order (seating is 5:45) and we never got some of the things we’d ordered. By the time we’d finished our dessert, the place had cleared and they were clearly waiting to give us the boot for the second seating. We skipped the dining room for the rest of the cruise and tried the other restaurants. I recommend the Desert Rose Steakhouse, if not for the side dishes, for the steaks.
And now for the good things. The entertainment aboard the Golden Princess was pretty good. We watched the Princess Pop-star show (Princess’ version of American Idol, funny because of drunk people singing karaoke) and played a lot of Bingo. We took the kids to see a magic show. The rest of our crew said the comedy shows were ok. The Newlywed and Not So Newlywed game was hilarious. The best entertainment of our cruise in my opinion was our Senior Assistant Cruise Director, “Little” Mark. He made Bingo worth playing and Princess Pop-star worth watching.
Princess isn’t like Carnival Cruise Lines, which are more family friendly, but they do have a kids’ club and an arcade and two great pools, not to mention a children’s menu was available in every restaurant. Our kids are too young to really take advantage of the kids’ club and were with us all of the time. They enjoyed thoroughly the pool, arcade, going ashore and the buffet. I think it’s important to mention that cruises can be fun for children, but everyone appreciates well-behaved kids, even the parents of other children. For this reason, we never attempted to take the kids to any late shows or venues better suited for adults, with the exception of a couple of nice restaurants. I would stick with Carnival if we ever cruise with our children again.
At the end of our cruise, we received a notice that if we wanted to pay $15 per person to have our luggage taken to the airport for us and checked, and have our boarding passes delivered the night before we disembarked, we could. We all signed up for this option. By dinnertime, when we were to put out our luggage for the baggage handlers to collect, we’d not received our boarding passes. Some of our party hadn’t even received their color-coded luggage tags. After three trips to the Purser’s desk by three different members of our party and three different stories, we found out that because of a computer glitch with Alaska Airlines, no boarding passes would be forthcoming. And, had I not asked, we would have walked off with out claiming our luggage at the terminal because they weren’t going to take our luggage to the airport either. There were a lot of very frustrated people. And since we had to go back the way we came, whom should we encounter at the Princess Terminal on our way out, but the infamous Ken. Ken told me to wait in the wheelchair section with my stroller (while my husband went for our bags) and would I stay back so he could get these people out of here? Oh, well. Some people can only do what they know how to do.
To summarize, Princess’ terminal people in Seattle need serious sensitivity training. A few employees on the ship could use a break, too, but most were very accommodating. Some were even extremely nice. I can’t help but compare my Princess experience with Carnival, which was much more pleasant (funny, since they operate under the same umbrella). Of course, my experience could be chalked up to a bad day, the stars’ alignment, the Golden Princess in general. I know there are other people out there who had a fine time. I will definitely cruise again, but I would seriously investigate other lines before I’d cruise with Princess again.