Golden Princess Cruise Review by LovesTeachingHistory: Great experience cruising through Alaska!
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Great experience cruising through Alaska!
Overall, I must say that my husband as well as my in-laws were all very impressed with the Golden Princess. Having had mediocre cruise experiences in the past on other lines, this was a pleasant surprise.
Pretty efficient overall and a pleasant end to three great days exploring Seattle prior to the start of our cruise. We filled out our luggage tags in advance and therefore could check our bags immediately... some other passengers had not yet done this and were held up. If you are checking luggage, have these ready before you get there. Our embarkation time was 2pm, we were on the ship by 2:30, and had our luggage waiting for us in our impeccably clean balcony state room by the time we got to our room.
We had balcony room towards center ship on the Aloha deck (12th floor.) The view from the balcony was incredible and well worth the extra cost. The beds were small but comfortable, and for the most part the room was very quiet. The only More complaint we had about the room was the temperature - the room never really seemed to cool down as much as we would have liked. This was solved easily by cracking the balcony door before bedtime to cool the room down. Even though the room wasn't huge, it was larger than we expected. The balcony was an especially good investment - especially when we sailed through Glacier Bay. The views were incredible and we didn't have to fight for a spot on the upper decks to see the beautiful glaciers. You could hear the narration from the naturalists on your deck as well.
By the end of the 7 nights, we had eaten in just about every eatery - many more than once.
Buffet - could get crowded at peak hours, but tended to move people through quickly. We found the breakfast buffet to be especially good and dined there most days. The eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, etc was all very good and I especially liked the healthier options like fresh fruit and yogurt. At lunch the buffet would vary in quality, but the real stand out for me was the salad bar - many fresh options, everything green and fresh, multiple dressings, etc. The dinner was pretty similar to the lunch buffet, but with a few more signature fish and meat dishes - these varied in quality but there was always something pretty good to eat. There were a lot more seafood options than on other cruises we had been on in the past.
Pizza - very good pizza. Thin crusts, good flavoring, ample toppings, etc. I ate here many times and my husband had a slice or two most days.
Ice cream bar - surprisingly disappointing. They only had two flavors of soft serve and the only toppings were sprinkles. You could also not get a "dish" of ice cream and could only get a small cone. Shakes etc. were extra.
Burger grill - hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers all cooked to order. My husband and I each had a burger and were surprised how good they were. The line could get quite long.
Regular dining rooms - we ate in the Donatello one night and thought the soups and salads were good, but entrees (steak medallions for me) were pretty mediocre and bland. Desserts were fabulous. Another night we ate in the Bernini dining room and this was a better experience. Excellent french onion soup and my pork tenderloin was surprisingly moist and pretty good. The service in both was very good.
Specialty Dining - we ate with my in-laws at each of these restaurants.
-Crown Grill was an incredible meal and worth the menial up charge for what you get. Their gorgonzola onion soup was out of this world. Their steaks and lobster were also very high quality - a significant improvement over the regular dining. I would also recommend ordering their specialty dessert - some chocolate lava thing - it was insanely good. Our service in this dining room was impeccable. After the somewhat disappointing dining in the main dining rooms, I didn't think this would live up to a true high-quality steak house, but it really did.
-Sabatinis was also very enjoyable. The caprese appetizer was amazing and the fresh mozzarella used was some of the best I have had. The chef includes a signature pasta each night - on our night it was a spicy marinara with shell fish. Very delicious. I had the lobster three ways for my entree and was not disappointed. Dessert was also very good. Even though Sabatinis was good, it still didn't beat out Crown Grill! If I could only choose one next time, Crown Grill would win.
Entertainment - we didn't really attend any of the night shows since they didn't interest us, but we did enjoy the naturalist talks. The on-board music was not really geared towards our age group (we are both late 20s) but the musicians were talented and music was still enjoyable. The night club looked fun, but each time we went up there there were very few people in attendance or dancing - probably due to the mean age demographic on the ship. We went to a vodka tasting which was fun as well as some "remember the lyrics" game show that was hokey, but entertaining enough.
Bars/Lounges/Casino - we especially enjoyed the service in the Wheelhouse Bar and spent quite a bit of time there each night. Lounges were pleasant and we enjoyed the wine bar. We also enjoyed the Outrigger Bar at the back of the ship - great ocean views, no where near as crowded as other parts of the ship. The casino was small but had enough tables/slots it seemed to suit everyone who wanted to play. Had quite a bit of fun playing blackjack a couple nights.
Service - everyone was polite and helpful. From waitstaff, to bartenders, to our steward (awesome) everyone had a smile on their face and went out of their way to be welcoming.
Cleanliness - ship seemed clean. The vacuum cleaners were running every day, windows were being washed, dining spaces and restrooms were clean, no complaints here.
Fitness center - great. Lots of machines, plenty of free weights. Tried to hit this frequently to justify all the other indulgences :)
Spa - my in-laws loved their massages, neither myself nor my husband used the spa.
"What to Wear" on the ship - the varying temperatures really brought out the "eclectic" in what people decided to wear. Clothes tended to be on the casual side during the day and somewhat more formal at night. Formal nights were pretty formal - tuxes and ballgowns were not uncommon sights. Most wore dark suits and dressy pant suits or cocktail dresses. Definitely bring a variety of clothing options. Some days were cold and wet, some were warm and sunny.
Fellow passengers - no complaints here either. Very few screaming children running around unattended and virtually no loud "party hard" college-types. Both of those things are fine in their proper setting, but didn't really "fit" with the whole Alskan cruise vibe. The majority of those on board were couples in their late 20s and older, most were 40s and up, as well as some families with a variety of ages.
Cons or areas that could use improvement -
-room temperature (maybe it's because we're from FL and used to cranking the AC down, but I found our room on the warm side)
-entertainment - not much geared at our age group, but I'd rather have this than a loud party cruise any day.
-pool decks could be very slippery. I found myself almost slipping a couple times and did see some other slip, fall, and get injured. It did rain frequently but there has to be some better design to make these areas safer. Less
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