We based our decision to sail on the Golden out of New Orleans on three things 1.) The pricing was extremely reasonable. 2.) We wanted to sail with Princess, as we had never done so before, and 3) My time off was limited to the week of Christmas, and since we'd never sailed during the holidays, we thought we would give it a try. This was our 9th cruise, and we have visited Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel several times before.
Embarkation I won't go into great detail here for the simple reason the ship sailed out of the Poland St. Temporary Cruise Terminal in New Orleans, and this terminal isn't widely used; as a matter of fact, I don't see any sailings in the near future out of the terminal. We had no problems driving into the terminal, parking was painless, and we had the luggage unloaded and were onboard the ship is less than 35 minutes. Luck was with us timing wise, as after we boarded and were on our balcony, we were looking down onto a huge line that was barely moving.
Cabin Our cabin was C316. We had originally booked a BF, Guaranteed balcony, so we were extremely pleased with the upgrade. I had requested the beds be pushed together, robes in the stateroom, and an egg crate mattress pad (All requested online on myprincess.com) and everything was done as requested. We were very surprised at the large balconies on Caribe deck much deeper than those below and above us. With four large chairs and table, we would have had ample room for four people.
The bathroom was well designed; space was never an issue for us. Princess provided Lotus Spa Shampoo (which I might add I enjoyed a great deal), Conditioner and Hand Lotion. The shower maintained a good pressure, and was also enjoyable. Storage space was ample; the hanging area was large and LOTS of coat hangers were provided. There was also plenty of space for luggage in the clothes hanging area. There were also individual shelves in a closet that also housed the safe. The safe was large enough, with the combination of four numbers that the cruiser sets. The bed appeared to have new bedding, and was very comfortable; the best yet I have had on a cruise. The cabin was well laid out with access to the lighting at different points, and swing away night stand lamps.
Our cabin steward, Rudolfo, was very attentive, and took care of us. No complaints or problems at all with the cabin.
The Ship I have heard many positive comments about Princess and in particular the Golden, and I must say I was impressed with the line and the ship. The ship was particularly clean with workers continuously cleaning and wiping down surfaces. There were automatic antibacterial stations at the entrances to the Horizon Court Buffet, and people for the most part were using them. The ship is large and takes a bit to get used to and we found the dining room layouts in respect to the elevators a little strange, but easy to navigate once you'd been there a couple of times. The ship was full (according to the purser's desk), but never seemed exceptionally crowded unless there was a popular event going on. With so much space it seemed one could always find someplace that wasn't so busy. The Terrace pool deck 12 Aft was a very nice adult only pool, with great views. You can access this area easily by going straight through the Horizon Court to the very end. The wave pool, adjacent to the Lotus Spa, forward, was adult only as well.
The Atrium was decorated beautifully for Christmas.
The passenger mix on the ship was anywhere from months old to pax in their nineties. It was wonderful. The kids had a great time, but were so well behaved. I never encountered a rude person on the ship the entire time. Maybe because it was Christmas. Smokers (and yes, I am one) were very well behaved; only smoking on the port side of the ship.
Dining We had open seating any time, Princess Personal Choice, and we really liked it. There was one night, and one night only we had a long wait. We opted that night to dine in the Horizon Buffet, and the food was acceptable. The other six nights we dined in the Bernini dining room, and had a different waitstaff each night. The waitstaff offered excellent service the six nights we dined in the Bernini. Also, there are pagers available when the wait is over twenty minutes.
Bar/Room Service We enjoyed good service from the bar staff. We ordered a liquor package from room service Bourbon and Coke the menu states, however they kindly substituted Sprite, and the Bourbon was Jim Beam. The bottle is 375 ml. The package was quoted as 17.95 and after tip, it is slightly over $20.00. The beer special order five, get one free, basically, is only available for room service for US domestic beers. By the pools, this package was only good for Dos Equis. The service was prompt. The continental breakfast available for room service was quite yummy.
Entertainment Deep Blue was the band of choice, performing all over the ship. They were very good, in my opinion. There was also a New Orleans jazz band, never quite figured out their purpose as they didn't seem to fit in as well as Deep Blue did. We enjoyed a comic show, but didn't go to any other shows. We heard good comments about most of the shows, especially the magic act.
Activities I especially enjoyed Princess Links. It's not your normal putt putt course, but very challenging. Played in a qualifying round, and barely missed the final tourney.
We were well entertained by the rest of the activities, not a boring ship! The survivor competition was great! The cruise director was David Cole.
Ports In Jamaica, we visited Margaritaville, where there are good photo ops.
The seas were high in Grand Cayman, and only the Golden and the Navigator of the seas were able to tender off in Spott's Bay. A taxi ride to Georgetown was in order where we were able to visit the new Margaritaville.
Cozumel was another tender port. Not a lot of fun on these tenders as they are very large, and it takes forever to fill them up. Cozumel has done wonders in San Miguel new buildings, beautiful renovations to the downtown square.
There are probably a lot of things I've missed in this review. I hope it helps you, and enjoy. Oh, and disembarkation was just as painless as embarkation was. A LOT of folks chose the new walk off/carry your own luggage off feature. They pretty much got off first. Also, you will be given a chart to show when your color will be called off, so there's not much guessing. We got very comfy seats in the library to set in while we waited. A perfect end to a perfect cruise.