The Captain always concluded his PAs with, “Please enjoy the magnificent Golden Princess.” Sadly we didn’t find the Golden Princess to be magnificent at all but very tired and with problems. For us, this had to be our worst cruise/ship with Princess and we are their Elite members. We booked this cruise mainly for the Asian ports of call. We did enjoy visiting the various Asian ports. As we had cruised before to Darwin and Brisbane, we thought we would stay on board to enjoy the ship all the way back to Sydney. We didn’t expect to end up spending a lot of time in the refuge of our cabin watching movies. Will give more details at the end of this review.
Our major disappointment with Golden Princess was its very poor management and operation. Here are a few incidents.
Nha Trang - We were on board one of the first few tenders going ashore. After the tender was filled to its full capacity with passengers, an officer started to organize loading heavy metal railings and equipment onto the tender. These blocked one of the two exits and both stair cases leading to the front/rear where most passengers were sitting. When we raised our concerns, the officer just rudely ignored us. Amazingly no other passengers also realized the dangers and voiced in. When the tender started to move, water began to pour in through the front windows. One of the 2 crew members had to climb over and through the railings/equipments to close the windows. The time he had taken and the difficulties he had clearly demonstrated how dangerous it would be in an emergency. We took some photos and put in a written complaint on our return to the ship. Next day we got to meet with the Staff Captain, the Safety & Health Officer, the Customer Service Director and one of her staff. To our utmost surprise, the Safety & Health Officer was one of the two crew members on board the tender. It was not two junior crew members acting on instructions from an officer! He was quickly shut up by the Staff Captain when he started to make weak excuses. The Staff Captain thanked us for reporting the incident and apologized on behalf of the unknown officer who rudely ignored us and made us looking like complete idiots in front of a full load of passengers. Instead of usual procedure to have ALL necessary equipment on board a tender without any passenger to set up the landing first, the safety of passengers was grossly compromised by having loose heavy metal railings and equipment on board and blocking exits. Without doubt, it was a huge operation and safety failure, not by juniors, but by two officers and one was in charge of safety himself!
Bali - In the morning, at least 4 tenders and 1 local catamaran filled with passengers had a long wait (30 mins for ours) to unload because (surprise! surprise!) only one side of the pontoon could be used. The other side of the pontoon was blocked by a huge yacht - very poor organization and operation on both the ship and local authorities. To make things more chaotic, one of the tenders as it was drifting struck a reef and needed help! It was a fair walk, with no cover under the hot sun, to the terminal from the pontoon. In the afternoon, again a fair walk under the hot sun from the terminal to the pontoon. An officer came around to ask the ‘slow walkers’ to join the short line but then another officer stopped these ‘slow walkers’ from using the short line because it was for ‘wheel chairs only’!
Hong Kong - Passengers were made to wait for nearly an hour after the scheduled arrival time even though the ship had already docked for two hours. There was no public announcement as to why. An officer at the gangway was telling passengers that the ship was not yet cleared hence nobody could go ashore while another officer was wasting her and others valuable time in not seeking help from her colleagues or passengers but just repeatedly telling a non-English speaking passenger that his wife needed to come down now to join the ship’s shore excursion to Macau as all the others had already gone ashore. Thanks to a passenger who volunteered to solve the language barrier, the missing passenger came then shortly afterwards, the gangway was opened. Good job, Princess! Once again as you are well known to seasoned cruisers, 2000+ passengers were held back from going ashore for the sake of the few going on your shore excursion.
STAFF - The Golden Princess had just finished its 4-month Asian season. We were very impressed with the excellent service provided by the unusual high % of Chinese and Japanese crew in all departments. They were very friendly, very eager to help, hard working and went really out of their ways to please. Although English is not their mother tongue, they all spoke good English. They didn’t get overly talkative but conversed politely and friendly if we engaged them. Crew members from other countries were also excellent. We had 2nd seating for dinner in the Canaletto Dining Room. Both the maître d and headwaiter, Rafael from Mexico, were the best we had ever had on board a Princess ship. They were friendly to ALL passengers. Unlike some senior serving staff who would only be friendly to passengers of certain nationality or race. Rafael came around to every table every night briefly to check on things and have a friendly little chat. Our cabin steward from India was excellent. He also quickly got to know our habits and always had our cabin serviced before we returned from breakfast or dinner.
FOOD - We found the quality of food in both MDR and buffet was quite good. Not once we couldn’t find something we liked. Aside from the MDR and buffet, we also loved that we could grab some goodies from the 24-hr International Café, burger or hot dogs or fries (yum) from Trident Grill, pizza from Prego Pizzeria and soft serve ice cream from Sundaes Ice Cream Bar.
BARRIER REEF PILOT – a different one to the usual one on board Princess ships, very informative and interesting talks.
ENTERTAINMENT – We totally agreed with other reviews that entertainers in the Theatre, apart from just a couple, were extremely poor. We didn’t participate much in other ship’s activities to avoid getting a 2nd dosage of the coughing bugs and the poor air quality and unhygienic condition of the ship because of:
Our cabin was located in the front of Deck 8. As soon as we boarded the ship, we noticed that water was dripping down from a couple of the fire sprinklers in the corridors. One day we saw a mechanic removing a whole drum of water from one of those ‘crew only’ doors. Shortly after, one of the two entrance doors and the ramp to the Theater on Deck 7 were roped off. When we went to use the Deck 6 port side entrance, we saw water, like heavy rain, coming down from the ceiling in the area between the Cigar Bar and the stairwell. Then wall panels in between Deck 8 and 7 stairwells were taken down and the areas were roped off for over a week. Carpets were noticeably wet. A musty odor lingered in that area throughout the cruise.
We used the front set of lifts to go up to Deck 14 for the open decks or the buffet. We found the carpets in between the lifts and doors to the open decks to be extremely stained and again a musty odor in the air. We never saw the water leakage near the starboard side door fixed. It was so unpleasant to walk through that area. From another review, apparently there were leaks on decks 5, 11 and 12 and Vista Lounge.
SEWAGE SMELL ON DECK 7 – Amazingly the sewage smell on Deck 7 aft as reported in another review of March 2016 was not fixed. Every evening we had to walk through that area twice to/from the Canaletto Dining Room. An alternative route for us was to walk all the way on Deck 8 and take the lifts down but we would need to walk past all the service trolleys for turning down service with soiled towels and rubbish!
PASSENGERS & CREW WITH RESPIRATORY SICKNESS AND DIARRHEA
Shortly into the cruise and throughout the cruise, most passengers and some crew had bad coughs, cold and diarrhea. No matter where we went, we always had someone coughing and sneezing near us. Apparently many passengers had to visit the ship’s doctor. We both became sick too.
UNUSUAL REPAIRS AND ON GOING MAINTENANCE
- phones on a couple of decks were out of order for days
- lifts in our area were out of order many times
- renovation was carried out in the Lotus Spa pool area. Floor covering with dust & dirt was not hosed down
- one of the pools was closed for days because the water filter was installed the wrong way
- cabin steward informed us that our laundry was held up because the tagging machine was broken
- shower head in our bathroom dropped off by itself
- other passengers were upset because token machines in the laundromats were not working.