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We did the 13 night cruise from Brisbane to Sydney on 06MAY17 visiting Alotau, Kiriwina Island and Rabaul in PNG and then onto Espiritu Santo, Port Vila in Vanuatu and Noumea on the way home. PNG - like you would expect, it is quite hot even in "autumn" and as it is a 3rd world country, you have to assume things won't be like home. Always amazes me when people make comments of how "backward and dirty" places like this are, but to me, that is why I want to visit them before the become like everywhere else. Go with a sense of adventure. In Alotau we did the transfer with Princess to the Alotau Festival which was very enjoyable and you got to see alot of dancing by different tribes and regions. Heaps of handicrafts on sale. Very enjoyable day out. Alternatively you can do the hot walk into town if you don't want to do this and a few different tour operators offer great tours compared to the ripoff on Princess. Kiriwina Island - was not one of our favourite places, only for the reason that I felt like I was in Asia. Always having to say "no thanks" to the villages wanting money from you for something. Also as it was low tide, not a great beach for swimming at this time. You can walk out over all of the rocks to the edge if you want to snorkel. Canoes everywhere offering little trips and handicrafts on sale. Rabaul - enjoyable day out with a tour company (not Princess). We got a 5 1/2hr trip for half of the price that Princess offered for only a few hours. Do you homework before you go and make sure your driver isn't under the influence of Betel Nut (red colour on their teeth is a giveaway). We went to the hot springs (sighting across the lake to the volcano), around town, the WW2 tunnels (very interesting), Kokopo War Memorial (which is amazing to see and so well kept) and then back to the ship. Be aware that the road from Rabaul to Kokopo is about 45klms, nothing but a dirt road which is full of pot holes everywhere. Very slow going). Totally enjoyed our day out here but it was very hot. Also FYI, there are heaps of tour operators on the wharf which you can book with. Espiritu Santo (Vanuatu). Never been here before and so looking forward to seeing Champagne Bay without the huge crowd of the whole ship on the beach. We organised a tour with Paradise Tours before we went. Very reasonable cost compared to the ship and they were waiting for us on arrival. The only thing that was a downer for the day were a few others on the tour (didn't want to stay long at Champagne Bay because they had seen if before and didn't swim or snorkel (why come on this tour then?), so we got rushed and only spent 45mins here). Went onto a Blue hole, lunch at Moyyan Resort (beautiful spot) and then to the Magic Music Cultural show which was very enjoyable. Next time we are there, we will organise a private tour for just us. Benny our driver was great and will use Paradise Tours again. We have been to Vanuatu many times, but first time to Espiritu Santo which is so laid back and quiet with beautiful beaches everywhere. Port Vila - only had a short window from 7am to 1.30pm here. We booked like we normally do with Atmosphere tours and had our private guide pick us up and drop us back in time. Great company to deal with. Went to Blue hole (too early for a swim but beautiful spot to take a picnic lunch and spend some quality time), then onto Eton beach for a swim (again gorgeous spot), the turtle sanctuary and then duty free shopping (end of town and cheapest in all of South Pacific) and then back to the ship to shop for some last minute gifts. Great half day out. Noumea - did our own thing here and just went on the hop on hop off bus ($12 pp). Never book on the ship unless doing Armadee Island and all are on sale at the cruise centre for 1/2 the price. Next time we will do the transfer out to Duck island (bus, water taxi) and do some snorkelling which is fantastic here. Cost around $20 plus bring your own gear and you can hire umbrellas/lounge chairs over there. Cruise itself: Enjoyed most aspects of the cruise. Inside cabin we had was large, service (by Jefte)was amazing like always with Princess and food was pretty good. Food: Buffet was good quality but breakfast got very boring after a while. Same thing every day. Lunch at the buffet was always different and good quality. Pizza and the grill - enjoyable and always available at not cost. Great for late afternoon lunch after doing a tour. Dinner - we did anytime dining and never had to wait long, if at all. Food and service was always great. Speciality Restaurants -we did do the speciality restaurants of Crown Grill - which we found disappointing and also Sabatinis - which was amazing. Crown grill - service was fantastic, great entrees but the steak for both myself and my husband was terrible (even sent back once). Heard from other passengers very hit and miss here. Some say it was great and others agreed with us. They need to ensure that their steaks are amazing for a $29 pp surcharge. Sabatinis - service again amazing and so was the food. Better steak available here than at Crown Grill. Do yourself a favour and order for desert the Espresso cream brulee. Nothing like a normal brulee but you will ask for more than one. One of the best deserts I have every had. Yummy. Entertainment - most very good. We prefer to go to the late shows and you can get a seat. One of the comedians wasn't very good but most things were worth seeing. The Santuary - great place but empty. Princess are charging way too much for it. 1/2 day $20 pp or $40 pp full day. If they made if $20 pp for the full day, they would have alot of people using it. Tips on ways to save money: - Happy hour 3-4 pm at Wheelhouse. Buy one drink and get the 2nd (same) for $1. We did this and took some cider, soda water back to the room for our fridge. Also I hate paying for water. You can get refills at the buffet or bars (they will do it for you) but we just order ice bucket as part of our coffee order in the money, and when it melts we refresh our bottles. Take your own bottles of wine onboard. You are allowed 1 each per person free to consume in the room, and additional bottles at $15 surcharge per bottle, which you can then drink anywhere on the ship. I do this when getting on at my home port as I get great bottles of NZ Sav Blanc online for $6 per bottle and even with the surcharge, I am saving about $20 per bottle compared to buying on the ship. Only negatives - smell of sewerage always around Vista lounge entry, I wish Princess would address this. Much older crowd (but to be expected on PNG trip). We will continue to sail with Princess and I have 2 more booked this year.

Great size ship but getting a little old in places

Golden Princess Cruise Review by Allawah

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2017
  • Destination: South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Interior
We did the 13 night cruise from Brisbane to Sydney on 06MAY17 visiting Alotau, Kiriwina Island and Rabaul in PNG and then onto Espiritu Santo, Port Vila in Vanuatu and Noumea on the way home.

PNG - like you would expect, it is quite hot even in "autumn" and as it is a 3rd world country, you have to assume things won't be like home. Always amazes me when people make comments of how "backward and dirty" places like this are, but to me, that is why I want to visit them before the become like everywhere else. Go with a sense of adventure.

In Alotau we did the transfer with Princess to the Alotau Festival which was very enjoyable and you got to see alot of dancing by different tribes and regions. Heaps of handicrafts on sale. Very enjoyable day out. Alternatively you can do the hot walk into town if you don't want to do this and a few different tour operators offer great tours compared to the ripoff on Princess.

Kiriwina Island - was not one of our favourite places, only for the reason that I felt like I was in Asia. Always having to say "no thanks" to the villages wanting money from you for something. Also as it was low tide, not a great beach for swimming at this time. You can walk out over all of the rocks to the edge if you want to snorkel. Canoes everywhere offering little trips and handicrafts on sale.

Rabaul - enjoyable day out with a tour company (not Princess). We got a 5 1/2hr trip for half of the price that Princess offered for only a few hours. Do you homework before you go and make sure your driver isn't under the influence of Betel Nut (red colour on their teeth is a giveaway). We went to the hot springs (sighting across the lake to the volcano), around town, the WW2 tunnels (very interesting), Kokopo War Memorial (which is amazing to see and so well kept) and then back to the ship. Be aware that the road from Rabaul to Kokopo is about 45klms, nothing but a dirt road which is full of pot holes everywhere. Very slow going). Totally enjoyed our day out here but it was very hot.

Also FYI, there are heaps of tour operators on the wharf which you can book with.

Espiritu Santo (Vanuatu). Never been here before and so looking forward to seeing Champagne Bay without the huge crowd of the whole ship on the beach. We organised a tour with Paradise Tours before we went. Very reasonable cost compared to the ship and they were waiting for us on arrival. The only thing that was a downer for the day were a few others on the tour (didn't want to stay long at Champagne Bay because they had seen if before and didn't swim or snorkel (why come on this tour then?), so we got rushed and only spent 45mins here). Went onto a Blue hole, lunch at Moyyan Resort (beautiful spot) and then to the Magic Music Cultural show which was very enjoyable. Next time we are there, we will organise a private tour for just us. Benny our driver was great and will use Paradise Tours again. We have been to Vanuatu many times, but first time to Espiritu Santo which is so laid back and quiet with beautiful beaches everywhere.

Port Vila - only had a short window from 7am to 1.30pm here. We booked like we normally do with Atmosphere tours and had our private guide pick us up and drop us back in time. Great company to deal with. Went to Blue hole (too early for a swim but beautiful spot to take a picnic lunch and spend some quality time), then onto Eton beach for a swim (again gorgeous spot), the turtle sanctuary and then duty free shopping (end of town and cheapest in all of South Pacific) and then back to the ship to shop for some last minute gifts. Great half day out.

Noumea - did our own thing here and just went on the hop on hop off bus ($12 pp). Never book on the ship unless doing Armadee Island and all are on sale at the cruise centre for 1/2 the price. Next time we will do the transfer out to Duck island (bus, water taxi) and do some snorkelling which is fantastic here. Cost around $20 plus bring your own gear and you can hire umbrellas/lounge chairs over there.

Cruise itself:

Enjoyed most aspects of the cruise. Inside cabin we had was large, service (by Jefte)was amazing like always with Princess and food was pretty good.

Food:

Buffet was good quality but breakfast got very boring after a while. Same thing every day.

Lunch at the buffet was always different and good quality.

Pizza and the grill - enjoyable and always available at not cost. Great for late afternoon lunch after doing a tour.

Dinner - we did anytime dining and never had to wait long, if at all. Food and service was always great.

Speciality Restaurants -we did do the speciality restaurants of Crown Grill - which we found disappointing and also Sabatinis - which was amazing.

Crown grill - service was fantastic, great entrees but the steak for both myself and my husband was terrible (even sent back once). Heard from other passengers very hit and miss here. Some say it was great and others agreed with us. They need to ensure that their steaks are amazing for a $29 pp surcharge.

Sabatinis - service again amazing and so was the food. Better steak available here than at Crown Grill. Do yourself a favour and order for desert the Espresso cream brulee. Nothing like a normal brulee but you will ask for more than one. One of the best deserts I have every had. Yummy.

Entertainment - most very good. We prefer to go to the late shows and you can get a seat. One of the comedians wasn't very good but most things were worth seeing.

The Santuary - great place but empty. Princess are charging way too much for it. 1/2 day $20 pp or $40 pp full day. If they made if $20 pp for the full day, they would have alot of people using it.

Tips on ways to save money: -

Happy hour 3-4 pm at Wheelhouse. Buy one drink and get the 2nd (same) for $1. We did this and took some cider, soda water back to the room for our fridge.

Also I hate paying for water. You can get refills at the buffet or bars (they will do it for you) but we just order ice bucket as part of our coffee order in the money, and when it melts we refresh our bottles.

Take your own bottles of wine onboard. You are allowed 1 each per person free to consume in the room, and additional bottles at $15 surcharge per bottle, which you can then drink anywhere on the ship. I do this when getting on at my home port as I get great bottles of NZ Sav Blanc online for $6 per bottle and even with the surcharge, I am saving about $20 per bottle compared to buying on the ship.

Only negatives - smell of sewerage always around Vista lounge entry, I wish Princess would address this. Much older crowd (but to be expected on PNG trip).

We will continue to sail with Princess and I have 2 more booked this year.
PrincessCruises3, Social Team, Princess Cruises has responded
Hi Allawah, thank you for the great feedback regarding your recent voyage on Golden Princess! We will share your concerns regarding the Vista lounge entry with our team. Thank you for choosing Princess, we look forward to welcoming you onboard again soon!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of The Independent Traveler, Inc.
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin IF B746
Larger and well set out. Shower very small though. Our room steward Jefte, was AMAZING.
Lido Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins