We holidayed on the Diamond last Xmas (2016) and had a ball. Great ship, great food and entertainment and thought we would do it again this year but closer to home to save time in transit. We flew to Singapore for the Diamond cruise and this used up 4 days of our holiday time, so this time we chose to cruise from Australia (Golden Princess) so we could spend more time on board.
First issue which we didn't really mind was that we received an email from Princess that advised that due to some mechanical problems the ship was unable to travel at the usual speed but by reversing the itinerary and limited time in port, thew ship would be able to visit all ports that were included. This meant cancellation of shore excursions and some other rescheduling.
Embarkation was fairly trouble free except that the priority queue included all those with mobility issues and as we were about to find out, this was about 75% of the passengers. And that pretty much dictated the whole cruise.
We had stateroom D217 which was a mini suite and it was well appointed. the bathroom was Ok but really mouldy with white silicon holding everything together. we requested the mould to be cleaned on day 3 as it seemed to be overlooked each time our cabin was "refreshed".
On day 3 I enquired with passenger services as to whether we had inadvertently booked on a " Seniors Cruise" as at least 75% of passengers were over 70 years of age and of that 70%, 50% of them were in wheelchairs,mobility scooters,walking frames and other mobility aids. I was informed that as the cruise had originated in Adelaide( we didn't know this as we boarded in Melbourne and we booked a Melbourne round trip cruise) and this was the first time princess had sailed from Melbourne, that a lot of passengers who can't fly to other ports, due to mobility issues, has booked on this cruise.
Now we expected an older group of passengers as that is what Princess attracts, but not immobile or disabled and certainly not the huge percentage that we now had on board for this cruise.
The demographic then pretty much dictated all the activities, the food and entertainment. It was like being in a nursing home. food was bland and soft, activities were all indoors and sedate, karaoke was Frank Sinatra V's Doris Day, group get together were The Returned Services , Caravans and Campers, Knitters, Bridge Club, war veterans, Freemasons and Red Hats etc all old persons groups. The activities included poetry,carpet Bowls ( probably the highest intensity activity on board) Bingo ( huge following here) and several lectures on Pain and Mobility management.
Over the 13 days there were only 3 line dancing classes, probably due to the fact that you can line dance in a wheel chair. There were no deck parties, the outside bars closed at 8pm, the nightclub was virtually empty each night, Karaoke was always the same people singing the same songs and new comers were excluded,
The entertainment was poor quality with singers of the bands not knowing the words to the songs and just making sounds. The Princess dancers were great in their one and only performance on the 2nd last day, the banjo player was embarrassingly bad, something you would see in a run down country RSL club, The two comedians we OK but not really anything better than you would see in a local club. Now this is IF you could get into to theatre as it was usually blocked by wheelchairs and mobility scooters unless you got there 45mins before the show. which leads me to the next issue , the shows were jammed in just before or just after dinner seatings, so if you ate dinner later than 8pm you couldn't see a show unless you went to the early bird special. Then everything closed and it was still light until 9.30pm. The Outriggers Bar on the Diamond saw us spend many a night looking at the wake and enjoying music until at least 11pm, on the Golden the bar shut at 8 with not a passenger in sight.
formal nights were disappointing with only a handful of passengers dressing up. On the Diamond you couldn't eat in the dining rooms unless you were formally dressed, however on the Golden as long as you had clothes on they let you in.
The staff were un-engaging and looked bored, it was if they had lowered everything to the pace of the old folk.
The pools and hot tubs were closed more often than not, with the saunas and steam rooms out of order or as the "Deck Staff" would tell us "Under Maintenance".
It seems this ship is limping towards retirement and is being held together with silicon and duct tape.
We met several passengers who all told us that they would never travel on princess again and some never cruise again.
We seriously considered getting off at the first Port and flying home it was that bad. Now we are in our mid 50's so we certainly didn't expect a raging party, we just wanted a relaxing holiday with atmosphere, similar to our Xmas cruise on the diamond Princess only 12 months previously.
And also NO music was ever piped through the ship only a constant update of the next activity. No music at the outdoor bars and the only music inside was from the performers. these performers played violin , not very uplifting.
We certainly didn't "come back new" disappointed, let down, bored but certainly not new!
Starting to show its age, A big "pothole" in the floor. mouldy shower tiles which were never cleaned properly even after requesting a clean.
Bed very comfortable with nice pillows and sheets. Doona too heavy and very hot so only slept under the sheet.
Plenty of wardrobe space and other storage, One of the air conditioning outlets didn't work, would have been uncomfortable in a warmer climate.
Nice big balcony with outdoor furniture.
TV's x 2 always blurry and didn't have the ability to select a Movie as they do on other ships.
The bathroom consisted of a shower over the bath with good water pressure and hot water but had obviously leaked and over the years a thick bed of silicon was holding it all together.