The Golden Princess is very similar to several other Princess ships we have been on (the Sapphire, Star, and Emerald) and, like the others, a very attractive ship with good use made of the cabin space. This was our first time booking a balcony, and we were surprised and pleased by how large it was, with plenty of room to accommodate all 5 of us traveling together.
In the past we found that service has suffered, but that was not true on this cruise, with excellent service throughout. The food is still some of the best we've had on cruise ships, except the pathetic coffee they serve; fresh brewed coffee is available for purchase which I think is a poor way of attracting and maintaining customers, many of whom really like their coffee. For those doing Anytime Dining, it can be difficult to get a table during prime dining times (say 6:00 to 8).
Princess should really improve their coupon books as there was nothing of value in either of the two different books we received. Also, it was nice to provide robes in the room, but they were so small as to be of questionable use. Perhaps they were washed too often and kept shrinking.
I am glad that Princess provided a venue for a Meet & Greet and extended an open invitation to the available senior staff. All three members that spoke were interesting and informative, especially Captain Bommarco. There were two last minute changes that I know not all interested cruisers were aware of, but sometimes changes can't be avoided. I hope that in the future Princess supports this even more than they do now, as does NCL (which reads, and obviously acts on, reviews and comments from CruiseCritic members) and especially Royal Caribbean.
Once concern about cruising is having enough activities on board (for those of us who are not pool people), especially for the At Sea days and in the evenings. I'm happy to report that Princess is still doing well in this regard, providing many opportunities to play trivia (our favorite); watch movies in your room or outdoors (blankets provided); comedians and magicians in addition to the normal big production numbers; naturalist commentaries; karaoke and the Pop Princess competition; and music choices for all tastes to name but a few options.
One problem for the many people that enjoy listening to, or participating in, the Princess Pop Stars contest: the timing for this could not have been worse, with the final competition scheduled for just when we wanted to go to dinner the last night of the cruise so we could make the (Princess) tour we had booked. Instead we went to the competition and had to then grab a very quick dinner. Our last dinner on board would have been a lot nicer had the competitions been held earlier in the cruise with the competition final held the day before, which was at sea.
Our one disappointment was in Juneau where our whale watching expedition showed us plenty of spouts but no actual whales. Princess contacted the company on our behalf, and then said that any further correspondence should be between the tour company and us. For that kind of non-service and added cost, we will continue booking most of our tours independent of Princess. When we did contact the tour company, they graciously fulfilled their whale sighting guarantee.
The bottom line is we certainly enjoyed the cruise, but there are areas that Princess could improve to make it even better the next trip.