Have you ever heard Louis CK talk about the miracle of flight? That is how I feel when I read some of the negative reviews.
I would like to say this was my, my mother's, my husband's, my daughter's and her boyfriend's first cruise. I had done reading to prepare for our cruise, and we booked our rooms as soon as the cruise date became available. We had our pick of cabins, and based our choice on recommendations. If someone does not want to hear noise above them, they should not wait till the last minute, and book a cabin below a pool area or dance floor. We began our booking at full price, but were able to upgrade our room, and lower our cost throughout the countdown till departure. We were center ship; Caribe, mid-forward. Although the water was a bit choppy our full day of sailing, and a few of our companions had forward staterooms that rocked quite a lot, the mid section was calm, and you had to be thinking about where you were to perceive the gentle movement.
Embarkation felt a little disorienting, but we had never done it before, so we were just soaking in the new experience. Without having seen the ship yet, I felt a little bit like cattle. There are just so many people to get on board in such a short time. That being the case, it really is amazing despite the quantity of people trying to get on board, that it was done in such a timely, and organized manner.
Obviously, Princess Cruise Lines cannot control the weather. Although there was some detectable rain off and on, we were fortunate to have some of the hottest days of the year at our ports. We did not do many of the Princess shore excursions, but created our own. We rented a car in advance in Skagway, and completely enjoyed our drive to the Yukon.
Out of the 8 in our party, with only 2 people being seasoned cruisers, we were all blown away by the food. For the non-cruisers, the exercise in formal dining; receiving a menu, being doted on by the energetic staff, delighting in the conversation with the waiters, and crew was truly marvelous. We chose from an incredible selection each night, and although there was a rotation in featured foods, there were also standard selections to look forward to. All the food was beautifully presented. I could not stay away from the crème brûlée. Everyone raved on their featured selection of the night, but that crème brûlée would have gladly been my nutrition staple if my body would have tolerated it.
The International Cafe was open for tasty snacking for as late as any of us stayed up. We were walking around at 1:30 AM, and still were able to eat a panini sandwich, or milk and cookies.
Our cabin was clean. Our steward was entertaining, thorough, happy, and always left us a cleverly folded towel, and chocolates for when we arrived back at our stateroom.
When we arrived for our 4 hour port stop in Victoria for our only Princess excursion, the organization for the disembarkation of so many people was quite a marvel. Passengers were sat in the theater, and allowed to file out neatly in the order we had arrived. I thought it was fair, and quick.
Lastly - the glacier was a sight to behold! We saw numerous calvings, wondered at the thunderous sound they created, and stood in awe of the miracle we were all partaking in.
We will cruise again.
My advice would be to anyone cruising their first time: Commit. Do research. Book early. And don't go to have the "perfect experience". Princess cannot control the weather, or where you booked your cabin if you signed up late for a "better deal". Go to have a good time, and enjoy yourself and the people you go with. The Golden Princess was part of a memorable lifetime experience for us.