Golden Princess Cruise Review by Lollipop's Mom: Fun 1 Night Cruise, But couldn't do this ship for a week!
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Fun 1 Night Cruise, But couldn't do this ship for a week!
I am an avid cruiser. Been on Carnival (not a great time), 4 amazing Disney Cruises and a couple of 2 night NCL (repo Vancouver-Seattle). I am a Disney cruiser at heart, but one good thing about living in Vancouver is taking advantage of last minute cheapie 1 night cruises to get a cruise fix for 60 bucks now and then.
It was my daughter's 18th birthday the same night as the cruise - which for a well travelled and cruised teen, it meant FINALLY being allowed into adult areas, spa, etc... This made a perfect choice! I brought her best friend along and the 3 of us set off for a mini-adventure.
I had booked 2 side by side BB balcony staterooms on deck 12 mid deck. Single supplement fee was only $15 and was worth it to have my own cabin so the 2 'kids' could stay up as late as they wanted and I could go to bed when I wanted. I paid $59 plus $80 in port/taxes each (and $15 supplement for me). About 5 days before the cruise the inside rate was $29 and all the inside people More got upgraded to balconies - so wishing we had done that - but we got upgraded to mini-suites. Only problem was mine was Deck 9 D120 and they were waaaaaaaaaay at the back around D630 I believe. We were hoping to travel light and were going to share a few toiletries and stuff, so had to double pack everything because of this. Only one night so not a big deal. Enjoyed the upgrade.
We took the skytrain down to Canada Place, grabbed a starbucks and then headed for the line up around 10:55am. First security line took about 15 mins, then through the next one, about 10 minutes, then another 15 to get our key cards. We sat and waited about a half hour and were on the ship by about 12:15pm.
I was hoping we were going to get the patter to read in the waiting area before boarding, but we didn't. No big deal.
When we boarded the ship we were surprised that they said our rooms were ready. Any cruise I have done in the past the rooms are usually not ready until about 2pm -so this was a bonus. We went and checked out just one of the rooms and then headed to the Horizon Buffet.
Was not overly crowded. Food was pretty terrible. I found a few things I liked but things were just over cooked and too salty. We noticed this a LOT on this ship - everything chewy and salty.
We went exploring, went to the spa to make an appointment for my daughter to have her first 'adult' spa at sea experience. Spa staff were super nice.
I didn't find the staff elsewhere on the ship overly attentive or nice -I really got the vibe they hate these 1 night cruises, and who can blame them? A load of people for just one night - knowing they have to re-do everything the next day (muster drill, welcomes, etc....). I have often thought they should make these 2 nights or just give the staff a night off.
We explored the ship a bit, not much was going on anywhere so I went to my stateroom. I arrived to my bed request of 1 queen to be 2 twins. Sat on the balcony and my room steward came by to see if everything was ok and offered me a free glass of champagne. I asked him to please put the bed together later and he said no problem. I sat on the balcony and enjoyed some peace and quiet with my drink (terrible champagne) and then had a quick 20-30 min nap to refresh for the rest of the day.
We went and found the pizza and had a slice (it was so thin you couldn't just hold it and eat it - you had to use a fork and knife). My daughter's friend had a burger and fries and said it was good. We were debating whether to bother with the dining room later or just get burgers.
Being separated at different ends of the ship meant 2 different muster stations. I had to go this alone. Let me say, on Disney, they have muster drill to a fine art - no life jackets needed, go to your station and in 10 mins you are done. My station was the theater. We had to bring life jackets. Of course a ton of people showed up very late. Our muster captain was on the mic and said this should take no longer than 25-30 mins. WHAT??? Are you kidding me??? We sat and waited, and waited - and waited. Finally the captain came on, then left - and apparently still many people were missing. Then people showed up with no life jackets and we had to wait for them to get them - almost 45 mins later we were done. I almost fell asleep in there. They really need to work on this muster drill thing and get some lessons from Disney on how to do this!
We then all met back up at the sail away party.
Again - on Disney, the minute the drill is over you have to book it up to the pool for the party - its packed FULL of people - nowhere to stand if you don't get there in time. So we meet on deck 14 and nothing is going on. I asked where the party was and was told 'here' - well there was no party. We went up to deck 15 to overlook the pool area and waited for the sailaway party. Finally a band started playing and about 6 staff members danced. That was it - no blowing of the horn when we actually sailed away - nothing. Very underwhelming.
I checked out the patter to see what was happening. I was surprised there was no bingo at all - I enjoy a cruise bingo and have won a lot of cash at them in the past, so was hoping for that. Nothing. We opted to explore the ship and check out that adult only area back by the spa.
When we arrived at the sanctuary it was a hot mess. The pool was under some major reno, dirt everywhere. I was really hoping to use that area. The entire area is very tired and worn looking and needs a serious dry dock. The green 'carpet' throughout was filthy and coming up in the corners. It needs a complete refurb.
Went and wandered the ship and found it an odd layout. I found when I went to deck 5/6/7 that it feels like there is nothing beyond the restaurants. If you didn't look at a ship map, you would feel that is where it ends. The atrium is underwhelming and dark. I checked out the restaurant menus and saw prime rib, so we decided we would eat there that night.
Fast forward to dinner and we went to the dining room. The staff was rude and short with everyone. It was my daughter's 18th bday and we wanted a table to ourselves. We didn't want to share, and got a huge dirty look when we requested this. There were dozens and dozens of tables open.
We had ceaser salads and they were made with a vinegrette dressing, not ceaser. I had the prime rib and it was not much thicker than a piece of roast beef, overly salty and kind of tasted like ham. It was fatty and gross. My potatoes were good but the corn on the cob was mushy and gross. The 'kids' both ordered the chicken and it was inedible. It was tough and salty. They ate a bit and just sent it off. They brought out a little chocolate mousse cake to my daughter and sang and I had the flourless chocolate cake. YUCK! We left hungry and decided to go get a burger. In the patter it said the pizza and burgers were open until 10pm - they were shut down at 6:30pm. Went to the buffet - shut down (even though was to be open until 11pm). We got ice creams. We went to the comedy show and it was good - the guy was really funny (Aj something...). We enjoyed that. Then went to deck 14 as we were starving - we caught the buffet 10 mins before closing. Food was terrible, but it was something.
We went down to the casino because it said it would be open at 10pm - closed still. Went down to deck 5 and found the international café - Ok finally found some decent food!!! If we ever go on a one nighter on this again I know to grab burgers early and then just eat at this café!
We then checked out the skywalkers nightclub. I was exhausted - it was about midnight so I left the kids to the club and I went back to the casino - still closed. I opted to go back to my cabin to watch some tv and enjoy the balcony at night.
My room steward had never been back to my room - the bed was put together earlier in the day (during the drill I believe) and I had no disembarkation info at all - I phoned guest services and was thrilled to hear we could stay on the ship until 10am.
Had a good nights sleep.
Went down to breakfast buffet at 845am and food was 'ok' -pancakes and waffles were good. Eggs were gross (liquid eggs). Lots of cornbeef hash and stuff offered, but not our thing. It wasn't great. I was sure happy I didn't have to eat on this ship for a week.
We went down to the international café again and had good coffee (pay for) and really yummy apple Danish and choc croissants - again we should have just gone there to begin with!
Overall we had a fun time - was nice to get on a ship and get my fix in for a night. Laying in a lounger in the sun (we had great weather) can make you fee like you are on a mini vacation.
I wouldn't sail this ship (or possibly even Princess at all) for more than 1-2 nights as I felt the ship was very tired. My sink countertop was cracked, lots of dirt and rust in the 'corners'. The pool area needs a paint job - basically this ship could really use a good few months in dry dock and a big spruce up.
I wasn't expecting tons of offerings of 'things to do' on a one nighter, but with casino being closed, offering a bingo would be fun. They had gravity playing by the pool and it was fun to lay out there and watch. Someone needs to teach them how to put some flavacol in the popcorn though - just plain popped is pretty boring - 1 tsp of flavacol costs about 10 cents and turns it yellow and yummier.
I also felt nickeled and dimed on drinks - they 'just happened' to always be out of anything free to drink but water. No lemonade ever seemed available, and if it did become available it was gone in 2 seconds and never refilled. I am spoiled with all the free drinks on Disney cruise, but also expected at least one self serve beverage station that was more than coffee and tea! Even on NCL they have fountain drinks of the freebie stuff all day. The food was all extra salty on princess in an effort to get you to buy more pop!
My daughter said the spa was nice but not as nice as some she has been in before (off ship). They didn't darken the room for her massage and play soft music. She is a bit of a day spa junkie and said she would give this one a 6/10. I found the services more expensive than other ships.
Our 2 nighter on NCL was a better short cruise - more things offered to do, didn't feel like we were 'putting out' the staff.
These staff were not into this cruise (really can't blame them, but please don't show it). They all were tired and could have used a day off I think.
I would definitely do this one nighter again for some fun and a quick getaway from my stressful job, but this cruise did not entice me to look into cruising anything longer with princess ever again. I came home from my 2 night NCL and was looking up future cruises with them, but not with Princess. Very under-whelmed! Less
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