Editor's Note: Golden Princess' theater now hosts the line's own spinoff of NBC's "The Voice," called "The Voice of the Ocean," in which passengers who are handpicked from karaoke auditions earlier in the week compete for winning title.
Both the Princess Theater and Vista Lounge can host production shows and featured entertainers, and each show runs several times onboard. The Princess Theater is done up more like a Broadway theater than a typical cruise-ship show lounge. It has same-level orchestra seating, with stadium seating behind and a few boxes, though there's no second balcony level. The Vista Lounge is more cabaret-style, with chairs clustered around small drink tables and large windows facing aft, making the room pleasant and light during the day.
Side by side on the Promenade Deck, the Wheelhouse Bar and Explorers Lounge are smaller entertainment venues, hosting theme parties, karaoke, pianists and dance bands, as well as trivia and games during the day. The blue-and-gold Wheelhouse Bar has a nautical theme with model ships and captain's wheels on display, and it boasts plenty of nooks for tete-a-tetes. We especially liked its comfortable couches, live oldies band and modestly sized dance floor, where even we felt at ease moving to slow rhythms. The larger Explorers Lounge has a somewhat over-the-top Egyptian theme, not quite in keeping with the "casual elegance" exuded by the other venues.
The Grand Casino is on Deck 7, just forward of the atrium. It's outfitted with 11 gaming tables for poker, blackjack, craps and roulette, as well as oodles of slot machines. There are even screens for video poker. If you're extra-competitive, look for poker and other tournaments held throughout the cruise.
The moving ramp that takes passengers into Skywalkers Night Club enhances the spaceship feel of this top deck (Deck 17) disco with its panoramic sea views and outer space-inspired decor. The place didn't get busy until after midnight. Each night, a D.J. spun country, contemporary, Latin and other dance tunes. Open to ages 18 and older, the nightclub only serves alcohol to passengers 21 and older, as do the other bars onboard.
Other places for drinks include the Promenade Bar at the top of the atrium. For smokers, the Players Bar, tucked away behind the Crown Grill, offers cigars and cognac in an intimate space, with big TVs for watching sporting events. It's completely enclosed, so, for the most part, the smoke didn't seep out into other areas.
Movies Under the Stars, the big-screen outdoor theater located above the Calypso Reef Pool, shows movies, concerts, sporting events and other special programming throughout the day and evening. Afternoon movies might be shown in the Vista Lounge, as well, and on in-cabin TVs. At night, you might also be able to catch a late movie in the Princess Theater.
The video arcade is oddly located on Deck 6 near the Passenger Services Desk. It's nowhere near the youth facilities.
Through Princess' ScholarShip@Sea program, lecturers discuss art, diamonds and digital editing. The line brings on fascinating specialists to speak about destination-specific topics, such as Alaskan wildlife and sled dog-racing. We enjoyed the enrichment activities onboard, especially the expert lecture on Alaska as we sailed through Tracy Arm.
For wine-lovers, the ship staged one tasting in the dining room for $7.50 per person and a gourmet tasting for $25. Passengers can purchase ship tours, which will take them to places such as the bridge, the medical facility and engine control room for $150 per person.