This was my 18th cruise onboard a Princess ship, so needless to say I'm used to how a Princess cruise functions. From passing through the painless check-in to stepping off the ship one final time, the cruise was very enjoyable! So sit back and relax while I explain some of the highlights (and low lights) of our trip to Hawaii.
For starters, I'm 23 and I traveled with my parents. Our friends from Rhode Island (whom we met on a cruise many years ago) accompanied us as well. Together, we met up in LA for a two week cruise. Upon first arrival at San Pedro, we had minimal wait at check-in. In all, took us about 10 minutes of filling forms, picking up our cruise cards, and passing through security. We did have to wait in a room before we were allowed to board--no biggie, considering we did arrive early. By noon, we were on the ship, ready to begin our cruise.
Overall, the rooms, both public and private, were nice and comfortable. Our stateroom steward, Eduardo from Mexico, was by far the best we've ever had. Everything was spotless. When we had any issue, it was handled appropriately. Above all, he was friendly and talkative...he even helped me practice my Spanish!
However, the ship is starting to look a bit tired. We sailed on this ship in 2004 and definitely noticed some differences. For example, we had a large crack on our sink vanity, combined with the mosaic tiles coming loose from the bathroom floor. In addition, our balcony was rusting in certain places.
The food was delicious...no complaints! We had the same waiter combo every night: Julian from Romania and Isabel from Peru. They were attentive, had a sense of humor, and couldn't have done enough for us. If we had any questions or requests, they always delivered. The service has continued to be exceptional, accommodating to passengers as best as they can.
Entertainment was the same as always. I'm not big into shows, but I did catch snippets of "British Invasion", which was phenomenal. I did spend some time (and money) in the casino. Machine selection has greatly improved over the years. Our cruise staff was a tightly knit group. They interacted with us, had a great sense of humor, and always had smiles on their faces.
The weather was perfect while in Hawaii. A little rain on the morning of Hilo, but sunny the rest of the time. Everywhere else was really cold--even Mexico! You wouldn't think to pack sweatshirts and jeans while crossing the Pacific. If you do take this cruise, take my advice: pack a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. It can be quite chilly!
The port selection was mixed. Our favorites were Honolulu and Lahaina because there was a lot to do around you. Hilo was not bad, even though the Port is far away from the town itself. Without the free shuttles, there is nothing around the area. Kauai is laid back and simple...not much to do. As for Ensenada, Mexico, we were not impressed. Nothing really built up around the ship--just one small building with about eight or nine shops within it. The merchandise is overpriced, and the patrons will not barter with you. It was hard to walk around because everything was so condensed. Plus, we were only there for a couple hours, so there was no opportunity to spend more time exploring around the city.
Overall, this was a successful cruise. Princess did another great job allowing us to relax and unwind for 14 wonderful days. My only suggestion is for them to send the Golden Princess into drydock soon. It needs a little bit of a face lift.
Hope you enjoyed reading this! Thank you.