With four pools onboard, there was less of a rush to grab a lounge chair than on ships with just one or two pools. Alas, some passengers still insisted on saving chaises for the afternoon by plunking down towels and books in the morning.
In warm weather, most kids and teens congregated around the outdoor Calypso Reef pool, while the glass-roofed Neptune Reef pool attracted fewer kids and more adults. But on rainy or chilly days, the climate-controlled Neptune Reef pool was quite crowded. The Conservatory offers extra indoor deck space above the pool, and it's there you'll find Ping-Pong and, interestingly, jigsaw puzzles. Tucked away on Deck 12, aft, the smaller heated Terrace Pool offers views off the back of the ship. Outriggers Bar, on Deck 14, overlooks the Terrace Pool. Sun deck space above on Decks 14 and 15 ultimately lead to the Oasis on Deck 16, which includes two hot tubs, sun loungers and a giant chess set. The Oasis Bar is also located there, but it was closed during our trip, and we were told it's open seasonally.
In addition to these pools, the spa features a small outdoor current pool, activated with the touch of a button. It's targeted for swimmers 16 and older. It's flanked by two hot tubs.
Above the spa and spa pool is the Sanctuary, Princess' adults-only, spa-inspired deck area. Access to this gated sun deck is available by purchasing half-day passes (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) for $10 per person, per half day. There, you'll find two cabanas for alfresco massages; cushy padded lounge chairs in striped, neutral hues; and serene, potted plants and small trees. Serenity Stewards provide cooling Evian misters, chilled towels and, at a nominal fee, MP3 players and healthy and refreshing drinks and snacks, such as fruit skewers, spring rolls and smoothies.
The Lotus Spa offers a range of wraps, massages and treatments, including facials, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, men's barber services and teeth-whitening, done by competent therapists. We enjoyed the bamboo massage, which made us feel a little bit like a piece of dough being worked over by a rolling pin -- in a good way. We also tried out the teeth-whitening and were satisfied with the results -- and the price, which was significantly less than we would have paid on land. Spa services book up quickly, especially for the popular afternoon hours.
Unlike some other ships, Golden Princess doesn't offer a pre- or post-massage relaxation area -- only some chairs that ring the often-busy treatment check-in desk. Also missing is a thermal sanctuary suite with heated mosaic tile lounge chairs, common on other vessels. The small dressing room has three very narrow showers and not a lot of privacy. Incongruously, the sauna and the steam rooms are located on the outside area, facing the coed current pool, which made it awkward to sashay over wearing just a towel or bathrobe. The women covered their glass-fronted sauna with a towel, which, of course, slipped off every time someone opened the door.
Although the aerobics area takes up a major portion of the gym, treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals are available, along with weight-training equipment and a small assortment of free weights. If you arrive during peak morning hours, you'll likely have to wait for equipment; we showed up at 7:30 a.m. and waited about five minutes for a treadmill. The sea views from the gym made exercising more fun than usual. Golden Princess hosts a variety of free fitness programs, including stretch, Zumba and abdominal classes. Pilates, yoga, boot camp and Tour de Spin sessions cost an additional $12 per class. TRX costs $45 for a three-class package. Participants in boot camp classes use the free weights in the main gym area, so if you arrive while class is in session, you might not have access to the weights you require.
Golden Princess doesn't have a traditional jogging track. We asked several different crewmembers where the jogging track was located, and all of them directed us to Deck 7: the Promenade. Yes, you can jog on the Promenade deck, if you're comfortable feeling a bit like a jerk running between people out enjoying the views. You'll also have to walk when space is tight around the aft of the ship, and you'll need to take a flight of stairs up to Deck 8 to get around the bow of the ship before returning down to the Promenade Deck. During peak hours in the early morning and around dinner, jogging is nearly impossible. For deck-strollers who exercise by taking long walks, the Promenade Deck proves perfect anytime, though. A mile requires you to put in 2.5 laps.
Passengers will find shuffleboard on Deck 16 and can shoot hoops on a half-size basketball court. A large putting green, with a number of holes to practice your short game, is located on Deck 16 behind the Movies Under the Stars screen.