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.