It had been 13 years since my last cruise and changes were to be expected. The ship was big! big! big! compared to my last one with Princess, the old Crown Princess.
We live in British Columbia, so we decided to drive down to LA, park and sail. The ship was there the morning of December 7th and I parked the car around 10:30am after dropping off my wife and the bags. The bags disappeared into a staging warehouse while we checked in. As a Platinum level passenger the embarkation went without hassle. We were on board and sitting in the Horizon Court by 11:30am, watching all the action as others boarded. You get the feeling that you are the first ones to ever do this cruise, but remember: they just off-loaded the last cruise 3 hours earlier.
The staff was great! Everyone always had a "Good Morning" or "Hello" with a big smile. We had an inside cabin on Aloha deck midships and it was perfect. We did not plan to spend much time in the cabin over the next 14 days so why get an outside or balcony? -- unless this is what you want...
Sea day weather was as predicted: COOL, COOL. Traveling to Hawaii, the only people that I saw at the pool on the first few days were a Saskatchewan family. This was like the tropics to them.
We had Donatello traditional dining at 5:45pm. We were set up with three other couples and a single male. They were all very pleasant and fun to dine with. The food was always superb -- can't complain about anything there. There was lots of variety and all was prepared to specifications.
Our waitress and her assistant were Nancy and Eugene, who were perfect. Others in the food service that we saw often and were exceptional were Dejana and PeeWee. We enjoyed mostly calm seas except for a few nights of rougher stuff which we slept through. We noticed it must have been rough in the night because all our chest drawers were extended in the open position in the morning.
All ports were great since the temperature had risen to pleasant sunny, winter Hawaiian temperatures. The tours we took with Princess were exceptional. All shows and entertainers were excellent. Some comedians were not to our liking although other passengers seemed to enjoy them. My favorite was a Harmonica player named "Bernie Fields". Great! Great! Great! Elua did enjoyable sets in the Piazza and gave great Hula and ukulele lessons.
Disembarkation was painless, except for the elevators which were at a premium with waits guaranteed. My only disappointment was my purchase of the "Reflections Cruise DVD" which was to be a 3 DVD set that included footage of personal events on the cruise. However, all I got was a 2 DVD set of stock port videos. Princess was notified two days after disembarkation but as of this writing no response has been had.
I used to cruise to get away from it all. Now they take the big screen with us and NFL Football seems to be the priority on board. What happened to getting away and forgetting everything for those two weeks? There are parts of the ship I did not visit. Good reason to sail her again.
This is my opinion and I'm sure Princess must cater to the new cruise genre to stay afloat. Great job Princess and the crew/staff of the Golden Princess!