Golden Princess Cruise Review by Fostersmom: Some Good, Some Bad
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Some Good, Some Bad
My husband and I have cruised about a dozen times, but this was our first trip on Princess and first to Alaska. Some parts were excellent; others left a lot to be desired. We enjoyed our mini-suite and it was very roomy with lots of storage. The balcony was nice (although viewable from those above). Our cabin steward was extremely friendly, attentive and readily available. Most of the staff was friendly and helpful, we enjoyed the shore excursions, the naturalist's programs enhanced our visit to the area, and there was a nice choice of activities. We were disappointed in the food and dining room service, and the entertainment was mediocre at best.
The good/bad combination started with embarkation. Only 15 minutes from entry until final check-in. But then, we had to STAND in line for 45-60 minutes while waiting to enter ship and in line to get security pictures, etc. It was nice that we were able to go to our rooms immediately upon embarkation, but I would have preferred to More either embark earlier and go to a public area, or at least provide seating for us while waiting.
As stated above, the room was very nice, although the cleanliness upon arrival was so-so. The biggest disappointment was the food. The food in the buffet was often terrible, and at best, mediocre and ordinary. And, instead of having stations like many ships do, there were only two "cafeteria like" small enclosed areas. Oftentimes only one was open at a time, and you had to wait in line and stand behind people getting full meals, even if you only wanted one or two items. After a couple breakfasts and lunches, we stopped going here altogether. Breakfasts and lunches in the dining room were better.
This was our first "any-time" dining experience, and we enjoyed the freedom of eating when we wanted. Although the food in the dining room was generally good, and better quality than the cafeteria-buffet, we were disappointed in the service and atmosphere. My pet-peeve was the "bus-stations" throughout the dining area, each serving 6-10 or so tables. So, while you are trying to have a nice dinner, you can watch and listen to the waiters scraping the plates, piling the garbage, and clinking and clanking the plates and silverware while loading them up to be washed!!!!! Add to the fact that the dining room seemed small and crowded (not 2 stories high like on many ships), the noise level was very high. Plus, it seemed like the waiters were way too busy and overworked. Service was hurried. The best ones attempted to be gracious and friendly as they quickly served you and then rushed on to the next table; one was downright rude and surly and made it seem like any request was a bother and imposition. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants, but it seems to me that you should not have to pay extra to get elegant service and a pleasant dining experience.
We liked the fact that there were many swimming pools and hot tubs, although the jets on several of the hot tubs didn't work, and the staff just shrugged. Oh well. The main theater was quite small -- only one floor without a mezzanine. Maybe the size limited the extent and quality of the production numbers. However, they did have multiple entertainment venues, and you could choose among various options.
Getting on and off the ship during shore excursions was easy (although it seemed like our ship was always docked the farthest away). The shore excursions were very enjoyable, although pricey. The time in Victoria was so short, in the evening after dark, and further limited because of our arrival was delayed due to fog, that it wasn't even worth getting off the ship. Ketchican, Skagway, and Juneau were nice, although, the activities nearest the ship seemed to consist primarily of shopping at the usual Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, Del Sol, and all of the other typical "approved shopping vendors".
The scenery was magnificent, we were fortunate to have great weather, and there were many very nice things about the cruise. However, I felt that the above negatives were significant. While I would not say I would never sail on Princess again, I would be very careful to check out the ship to see if it had the shortcomings we experienced. Less
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The room was very spacious, with more than enough storage. We enjoyed it very much! Although the cleanliness upon arrival was so-so (even found a coat from a previous occupant under the bed). I also didn't like that the balconies above us could look down on us.
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