This was our first cruise for a number of
years. The reason we chose the Golden Princess was the itinerary and
the personal choice dining which really appealed to us. We are in our
mid 50's my wife a nurse and I a Tourism Lecturer.
We departed Barcelona on 07 June for the
cruise to Venice and enjoyed our voyage very much. From the moment we
arrived at the dock until disembarkation we were looked after
superbly. The crew were there to make sure that you had a great time.
We are planning another cruise with some friends on this ship later
this year in the Caribbean.
We highly recommend the express check-in
which can be organized on the Internet before you leave home. We were
on board the ship within minutes of arriving at the dock. Other
passengers who had not arranged this had to queue for quite a while
prior to embarkation. You are given security cards which you use for
all purchases on the ship, entry to your cabin and embarking and
disembarking at the various ports of call.
Once we were on board we went to Horizon court
to sample the buffet. What a great introduction to the ship. Make sure
you get the soda soft drink sticker when you first get on board. This
is stuck on the front of your security card. For a flat fee of USD
25.00 per person you can have as many soft drinks as you like whilst
on the ship. After returning hot and bothered from a tour the idea of
several cold soft drinks was very welcome.
We suggest that the ship evacuation drill time
be set so that all passengers know exactly when it is. We were told it
would be prior to embarkation and were half way through a meal in
Horizon court when told the drill was on. This was a little
inconvenient. I might add that we take lifeboat drills extremely
seriously. Our last cruise was many years ago and about 6 months after
we returned home the particular ship we traveled on hit a rock
somewhere in the Aegean sea and sank. Unfortunately there was some loss
We would strongly recommend that you undertake
the introductory tour of the ship as it quickly shows you where
everything is and some very useful tips. Use the stairs if you can. Sometimes the
lifts can be a little slow. We suggest you photocopy the cabin plan of
the ship from the tour brochure and take that with you. The deck plans
they give you on the ship are a little small.
We had a large inside cabin Baja B316 which
was away from the stairs and elevators and beautifully located. The
room had lots of wardrobe space and drawers and was very spacious.
There was a safe which you could use with your own pin number. Towels
were replaced morning and night. Our cabin steward Arthur was
fantastic. Couldn't do enough for us.
We would strongly recommend the personal
choice dining. Some passengers returning from a tour were late and had
to rush to get to the 1st sitting at 6.30pm. With preferred dining you
can dine when you wish and it is nice to meet different people each
meal. Some of them we dined with again during the cruise. We quite
often had drinks in one of the bars prior to having dinner later. We
never had to wait for more than a few minutes for a table. You can
book a table if you want. The quality and variety of the food in both
the restaurants and the Horizon court buffet was excellent. Horizon
court is open 24 hours a day but does get very busy late morning.
However busy it is you still will not have to wait long if at all for
a table. We would highly recommend a visit to the special Italian
restaurant Sabatini's. A great dining experience. It costs USD 15.00
per person extra.
Cocktails generally seemed to be cheaper than
ordering a glass of wine. The price of bottles of wine were reasonable
and the quality generally fine. Very few Australian wines however!! Be careful to get a receipt for any drink or
other purchases on the ship. On several occasions we were not
given a receipt and it made it hard to reconcile our account at the
end of the cruise. Sometimes we obtained a receipt but there was no
date on it. This should be rectified. You receive an account the night
before departure for all purchases on the ship.
There were two formal nights for the trip the
rest of the cruise was smart casual in the dining rooms. If you don't
want to dress up you can go to Sabatini's or one of the other theme
restaurants. Antonio Cereda is the executive chef and we complement
him and his staff on their service and quality of the food. We would
thoroughly recommend his culinary demonstration and tour of the
kitchens. The size of the kitchens is overwhelming.
We were amazed at the versatility of John
Lawrence our cruise director. He would be out and about at 1.30am in
the morning then you would see him on the Good morning show at 6am.
Great effort from him and his staff.
We went on several tours and generally
speaking they were well organized and reasonable value, however you
need to undertake some research prior to departure, in order to ensure
you have booked the right tour for you. Our favorite tour was in
Naples to the Amalfi Sorrento coast and Pompeii. Excellent guide and
comprehensive tour. At one port all the Tour buses returned at the
same time and everyone was waiting out in the hot sun for about 30mins
waiting to get back on board. They should try and stagger the return
of the busses so this doesn't happen. All of the tours can also be
pre-booked on the Internet prior to your departure from home. Spain,
Italy and Greece are good places for pickpockets. We always use safety
pouches attached round your neck and inside your clothing and have not
had any problems.
If Princess cruises are contemplating
returning to Valetta Malta in the future I think a different tour
company should be used. Our tour guide seemed to be very inexperienced
and traveled at a cracking pace so much so that she left half our
group behind. There were quite a few older people in our group and
they were getting very upset. I think she was on a very tight time
schedule and that didn't even leave enough time for a toilet stop. She
had to be told in no uncertain terms that it was not good enough. Even
when we finally did have a toilet stop she was hurrying people up. Not
In Athens we took the tour to the Parthenon
temple on Acropolis hill and then journeyed to the Temple of Poseidon
on the Cape Sounion drive. This was a excellent tour with an excellent
guide. We had one elderly man on the trip who wasn't able to walk from
the coach car park to the top of the Acropolis to view the temple of
Poseidon. It was a very hot day with the temperature about 33 Celsius or 90
Fahrenheit. This was the one thing he really wanted to see and
it was unfortunate for him to have to miss out. People should be
warned that the climb up the hill is quite strenuous for older people.
In Livorno we took the tour to Pisa and
Florence. An excellent tour but there is a fair bit of walking to be
undertaken. Lunch in Florence was excellent Make sure you have a glass
of champagne in your hand and that you are at the rear of the ship for
the departure from Monaco with Edith Piaf playing in the background. A
very beautiful sight. We also enjoyed the departure from Athens/Piraeus
seeing all the ships of various sizes coming into the harbor. Naples
is also a good departure with Mt Vesuvius in the background.
I am a reasonably fit person but would like to
warn people about ports where tender boats are used to transfer
passengers from the ship to the shore. When we arrived in Monaco there
was a large swell and as I transferred to the tender boat I lost my
balance. You need to hang on extremely tightly whilst on the tender
boat. The eye viewing socket of my video camera was damaged but
luckily I was still able to use the camera for the rest of the trip.
When I returned home I wrote to Princess cruises and received a refund
from them. It is most important if you have a problem with loss or
damage to articles associated with your time on the ship to report the
matter to the Pursers office. You will have to complete a claim form
and you keep a copy of this form. I have suggested to Princess cruises
that a warning sign should be erected near the disembarkation
point to the tender boat making passengers aware of the dangers of traveling
on the tender boat if the weather is inclement.
Most of the decks have laundries and the best
time to go is early i.e. 6-7am on at sea days. 20mins for wash. USD 1.00
for wash and 0.50C for drying. Jean took own laundry powder and bounce
for spin dryer. She said that visiting the laundry was a great way of
meeting people and getting some useful hints about the ship etc.
Skywalkers lounge at the back of the ship is
great during the day if you want to find a quiet area for reading with
an excellent view. Very few people are there during the day. In the
evening Skywalkers is where the disco operates and this starts up
around 10.30pm. You had to pay extra for the ice cream bar and we think
this should be included in the cruise price. There was however was a
free ice cream bar near horizon court open between 3.30pm and 4.30pm on
I was able to get up early each morning and go
for a run around the promenade deck. All the staff would greet you
with a cheery good morning. The gym is well equipped and the assistance
there very good.
We went to quite a few of the shows and they
were all very good. They usually last for about an hour. The comedian
was wonderful. He was able to talk about shipboard life and staggering
around with food overload. As it was a Mediterranean trip he was
talking about "rocks and ruins". A very funny man. The live
bands were great and Maurizio playing in the lobby lounge drew a large
following each night.
The general age of the passengers was 45 years
upwards with very few children. Mainly Americans, but I did find out
there were approximately 100 Australians on board. Some passengers
were in wheelchairs and they seemed to be having a great time.
We would strongly recommend that passengers
use the Princess transfers to and from the airport. We arrived at
Barcelona airport independently and took a taxi to the port. It cost
about EUR 23 and the driver wasn't sure where to go. I had to draw a
picture of the Golden Princess on a bit of paper and he got the
message. Spain was playing in the World cup football and as we were
driving along the motorway Spain scored a goal and the driver
was beside himself. The hands came off the wheel and he was a very
happy man. We weren't so sure if we were going to make the ship alive
however!! If you haven't got transfers arranged in Venice it will cost
you a lot of money for a water taxi from the ship to St Mark's square
unless you are prepared to walk with all your baggage to the
nearest vaparetto station which would be about 15 minutes walk
We tried the internet cafe and found it very
convenient, no wait although it was a little expensive at USD 7.50 for
We took the opportunity to speak to quite a
few members of the staff and crew. They seemed to be very happy
working on the Golden Princess and said they were well looked after.
Captain Bernard Warner is an excellent Captain and can be seen from
time to time moving round the ship. He is a very approachable person
and the right person for the job. One day he had 6 weddings to perform
so he was fairly busy that day.
We are extremely happy with this ship and look
forward to being back on board later this year. Even though there are
1300 crew and 2700 passengers on board when fully laden you don't realize
that there is this number on board. There are plenty of places
where you can avoid the crowds.