A good value, but a mixed bag: Golden Princess Cruise Review by SpendingTheirInheritance
Overall Member Rating
A good value, but a mixed bag
Destination: South America
Embarkation: Santiago (Valparaiso)
About the cruise line: This was my first cruise on Princess. Customer service prior to the cruise was top notch. Embarkation was odd because I was dropped off late by a tour, so I was swept aboard quickly and didn't go through the usual process. Debarkation was awful, but I don't think I can fault the cruise line. We visited many countries and (from what I heard) it was US customs that caused the mess. I got off the ship about two More hours later than expected.
About the ship: The Golden Princess was nice. I really liked that she had self-service landromats! Very handy for a longer cruise. The ship was always spotless (bonus points), but there were some areas of carpet that were pulled up/worn (tripping hazard) and some draperies falling down. One complaint was that they were constantly varnishing and painting, which made for a lot of unpleasant fumes (including an area near my cabin, which irked me). I don't understand why they would be varnishing railings on a ship while so many older people were aboard (people who tend to need to use railings). Once I grabbed a railing that was not properly labeled with a caution and I got varnish all over my hand. Yuck. The ship's layout was decent and I liked very much that you couldn't smell the casino before you got to it (butts). The ship had great wifi; easily accessed and reasonably priced. I paid $99 for 120 minutes. Another thing I really appreciated was that they didn't have thumping music playing everywhere, so there were plenty of quiet spaces to read or nap.
About activities: Pretty much non-existent. The games/shows they had during the day were lame and boring. They did have some Wii bowling and some board games going on, which were fun. The daily "patter" listed too many sales, which I don't think should be considered activities. Honestly, the most prevalent activity I saw on the ship was laying in a lounge chair and reading.
About entertainment: I can't comment because I didn't go to any shows.
About my cabin: For the first time I got an inside cabin, which I will never do again. I was constantly wakened by the crew slamming and banging around. I complained and they did tone it down a bit around bedtime, but come 5:00 AM they were at it again. I started sleeping with my head at the foot-end of the bed. Otherwise, the cabin was a good size and had excellent closet space, a desk, and a comfy bed. I do despise those clingy fabric shower curtains, though.
About the crew: The crew was a mixed bag, so to speak. The dining and bar staff were all great. The retail staff were all very helpful and friendly. The customer service staff didn't smile very much. Neither did the stewards, who spoke more to each other than to their customers; they weren't very personable and I doubt they even knew my name.
About the food/drinks: The food was good, though I would have liked more variety on the buffet. The main dining rooms did a great job, even with the lobster (being from New England, I happen to know something about that). For specialty dining they had a crab boil a couple of nights, which was $20 and was very good. The steak house was OK, but not anything to write home about. Drinks were well-made everywhere, but the staff in the Promenade Lounge really went above and beyond. Great fun.
About the itinerary/excursions: I boarded the ship in Valparaiso and took two of the Princess excursions; Isla Ballestas, Pisco, Peru (boat tour to a sea lion and penguin rookery) and a bus tour to Grenada, Nicaragua from San Juan Del Sur. The boat tour of the rookeries was outstanding. We got so close to the wildlife. Highly recommended! The tour to Grenada was quite sedate. We had a nice lunch, walked around Grenada a little (it was very hot so the guide kept the walking to a minimum), stopped at an overlook over a crater lake, and at a beach to see the twin volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua. The tour guide was very, very good! So well informed. I learned more about that country than I ever expected.
To wrap up, I think the cruise was a good value; 17 days for $2k was a great price (that's the cabin price). Would I go again? Not likely, but mostly because the cruise was so long with a low entertainment factor. I'll try Princess again for the right itinerary and price. But never again in an inside cabin! Less