Updated by Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
Golden Princess, a vessel measuring 109,000 tons with a double-occupancy capacity of 2,590 passengers, offers a boatload of possibilities. While Golden Princess' design was created more than a decade ago, its indoor public spaces feel modern -- specifically Princess' famous Piazza. Golden Princess also has the Sanctuary and the Crown Grill, made popular in the line's newer Crown Princess series of ships.
Golden Princess is in line to get another refurb in early 2014, when cosmetic work will be done to fix spots that are showing some wear. The most noteworthy change will come in the ship's Horizon Court, its buffet area, which will be expanded to improve the flow.
Our favorite onboard spaces include the following:
The Piazza is the perfect onboard hub, surrounded by the International Cafe for coffee and anytime snacks. (The aroma of baking cookies and cafe lattes is heavenly.) Vines Wine Bar is also nearby for tapas, sushi and drinks. Clusters of cozy chairs make it the best place to enjoy the street theater-type entertainment, meet with friends or just people-watch.
The two specialty restaurants, Crown Grill and Sabatini's, take onboard dining up a notch. At Sabatini's, you'll eat your way through Italian favorites like antipasto, pasta and tiramisu desserts. The New York-themed Crown Grill expands the typical steakhouse menu to include all sorts of seafood while still offering a wide assortment of premium-grade beef. Both are well worth the extra fee.
The Sanctuary is an oasis of calm for adults, with snooze-inducing cushy lounge chairs, a soothing atmosphere with touches of greenery and the ultimate in pampering -- alfresco massages.
Movies are always better on the big screen, and Princess' pioneering Movies Under the Stars has made its way to Golden Princess' Calypso Reef Pool. Enjoy a concert or sporting event as you splash around during the day, or curl up next to your sweetie under a blanket with some popcorn to take in a feature film at night.
The teens-only sun deck provides this hard-to-please group with an outdoor place to mingle, and the splash pool area, although small, offers parents a tot-friendly place for water play with their preschoolers.
Four pools ease the swim crunch. The outdoor Calypso Reef draws kids, teens and adults, while the covered Neptune Reef provides a climate-controlled space so water enthusiasts can get wet even in inclement weather. The spa's outdoor current pool, targeted for swimmers 16 and older, is peacefully located off the ship's Lotus Spa, while the heated Terrace Pool provides great views at the aft of the ship.
Three show lounges -- the Princess Theater, Vista Lounge and Explorers Lounge -- allow you to find entertainment, no matter what time you finish dinner. Production shows and performances by headline entertainers are repeated three times over two nights, so everyone has a chance to enjoy them.
With supervised activities in the Fun Zone (a children's area for ages 3 to 7 and 8 to 12) and Remix (the daytime teen room), Golden Princess works well for families, especially on the ship's seven-day summer Alaska sailings. In the winter, when the ship focuses on longer cruises to South America and Mexico, the ship caters to an older clientele.
Golden Princess Fellow Passengers
Golden Princess' demographics change with the seasons. On its two-week-plus South America cruises, expect an older crowd, specifically retirees with more time for vacation. Seven-night Alaska sailings tend to be skewed younger, with more families and multigenerational groups. On Alaska sailings, expect a more international group of fellow cruisers, especially Asian and Indian travelers.
Golden Princess Dress Code
Evening attire is typically "smart casual," but two or three nights will be formal, depending on the itinerary length; a standard seven-night cruise will have two formal nights. On formal nights, most women wear gowns or cocktail dresses, and men wear tuxedos or dark suits. Men don't need to wear jackets or ties on smart casual evenings, though some do; open-neck shirts are just fine. Shorts and T-shirts, frayed or holey jeans, and swimwear are not acceptable attire in the dining rooms. For Alaska cruises, bring layers, and be prepared for both warm, summery days and chilly, rainy ones. Passengers generally tend to dress more casually on Alaskan cruises.
Golden Princess Gratuity
Gratuities, which are automatically charged to onboard accounts, are $11.50 per person (including children), per day, for passengers staying in standard accommodations and $12 for passengers staying in mini-suites and suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to beverage purchases onboard. Spa and casino staff do not share in the gratuity charges, so if you use these services, tips are advised.
Our group got off the boat feeling gobsmacked and generally ripped off. Even those among us who had been on multiple cruises prior, and love going on cruises, agreed this was the most miserable of trips.
THE GOOD: The rooms were clean, ...continue
We left Friday October 17 and came back October 20. This was my second cruise overall with me and my wife. My first cruise was with carnival. Do the same destination. I don't know if my expectations for princess were to high. The amenities and ...continue
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The ship is showing its age, numerous issues presented themselves on this journey. From the air conditioning not working for two days, pieces of ceiling tile falling down during rough seas, The pool/tile areas could use a good resurfacing. The ...continue