This was my third cruise on Princess in the past 2 years. Each was on a different ship.
The Golden Princess was relocating from Los Angeles to Vancouver and my primary purpose for booking this was to participate in the casino's tournament series; poker, blackjack and slot tournaments awarding a free cruise to the winners.
Having arrived at the airport early Princess arranged for their transfer participants to be "housed" at a local Sheraton and checked in before taking them to the port. This is an excellent idea. The staff at the airport, Sheraton and on the bus were very friendly and outgoing.
The staff aboard the Golden Princess were friendly. Since we had the anytime dining option we experienced four (4) different sets of waiters and assistant waiters. (we dined at the buffet on the first night).
On two nights the waiters were outgoing, smiling, talkative and very attentive to us. However, on two nights the waiters were lazy, unattentive and very non-customer oriented. It was quite bizzare since we would have graded our good waiters/assistants with an A while the other two received grades of C-.
The food was acceptable but like the service it was either hit or miss. Each and every night we tried their Fettichini Alfredo and absolutely loved it. Some of the desserts were to die for while others were merely acceptable. Overall the food quality would be a B- to B.
My biggest complaint was with the casino dealers. As a person who spends lots of time in that environment the crew on the Golden Princess need to re-evalute their attitutdes. Not once did I have a dealer who initiated any conversation. The host, Anna, was outgoing and pleasant but the table dealers stiffs. I felt like I was in a European casino not an American casino at sea. To be honest Princess could save themselves money and just purchase the electronic blackjack machines because their dealers weren't as nice as the electronic ones; maybe that explained why many of the tables weren't filled.
The first stop was the Island of Catalina. Due to the weather we weren't allowed to tender into the island which was a disappointment. The next stop was San Francisco. My wife and I booked the Alcatraz/Saucalito tour. DON'T DO IT!
The Alcatraz tour was nice but you can walk over and purchase it for only $26 pp. The bus ride from Alcatraz, across the Golden Gate bridge to Saucalito was relaxing. However the tour left us alone in Saucalito for 60 minutes. Thank goodness we had 90 minutes left after the trip in which to explore Fisherman's wharf on our own. The $99 cost of the tour was disappointing.
The quality of food is better than RCL but not on parr with Celebrity or NCL. The ship - nothing special as we preferred the Equinox. The staff was nice and pleasant but once again forgettable. Unlike other cruises we didn't encounter any truely "unforgettable" encounters.