One of the attractions of this cruise was that it left and returned to Melbourne, which saved us the trip to Sydney. We were a group of six - myself and husband and our 2 adult kids and their partners. We wanted a value for money, easy holiday to New Zealand and that is exactly what we got. Golden Princess certainly has no frills and is looking her age but overall she does her job well. This was our first cruise with Princess and they were pretty good.
So the good things were:
The crew were friendly and obliging. Particularly impressed with the dining room staff attention to my son's special diet. They were great. Our cabin steward was great.
The dining room food was very good. Good variety, excellent service and the food arrived hot and well plated. We enjoyed our dining experience and ate the vast majority of our meals in the dining room.
The inside cabin was remarkably OK. Yes, it was small, but the design with the walk in robe was very efficient use of space and the mirrors were well placed to give a sense of space.
Wheelhouse bar was a great space and we really enjoyed the jazz/swing trio who played there nightly. A great spot for an after dinner drink and good space to play card games.
Enjoyed the trivia
Princess Theatre shows were mostly very good and hit the demographic.
Movies were good.
Embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient from the ship's perspective.Once we got out of the Uber we got onboard very quickly. The huge car queue for embarkation was a Station Pier problem, not Princess. If more cruise lines are going to use Melbourne there does need to be some upgrading done to Station Pier. We used the ships shuttle to Southern Cross station at the end of the cruise and that worked well for us.
Now the not so good things:
This ship needs a quiet space were you can relax and read. Usually I find a spot on the promenade deck and watch the sea and read a book. The Golden Princess Promenade deck is too narrow for deck chairs. So that leaves the only outdoor space on very noisey decks with loud music. With three sea days each side of the NZ ports, that makes it a crowded and noisy ship.
The Horizon Court buffet was pretty bad. Cold food, hard to find a table and its hard to believe that the same chefs prepared the dining room and buffet food.The curries were bland and the meat dishes were overcooked. Cheese and 'salami' were beyond description.
Can't believe that they ran out of English Breakfast tea on a ship that was based in Australia.
Some of the port days were very short. Seems that Princess were saving a bit of money here. Needed more time in Wellington and Napier to take advantage of these lovely towns. It wasn't as if the next ports were far away.
The Captain's weather forecasts (and those on the Princess Patter) were always 21-22 degrees. These were always wrong. It became a bit of a joke after a while. We got much better forecasts on our cabin TV.
The three sea days coming back were pretty boring. On the way over we had good cultural and port lectures which really helped to heighten our excitement for the ports that we were about to visit. On the way back all we got were activities that were based on selling us something or drinking. Enjoy a drink - but not all day.
So overall, yes I would cruise Princess again. It is not a luxury line but you get what you pay for I enjoyed most aspects of this ship. Princess delivers a good product and meets expectations.
Good use of space. Bathroom is small, but works OK. Love the walk in robe - clever design. Bed was very comfortable.