As we hadn't cruised with Princess Cruises before, we had no big expectations, except to enjoy and experience whatever the Golden Princess had to offer that was included in price of the cruise (which was a bargain at $104 per day for ... Read More
As we hadn't cruised with Princess Cruises before, we had no big expectations, except to enjoy and experience whatever the Golden Princess had to offer that was included in price of the cruise (which was a bargain at $104 per day for a 5 night cruise).
Let's start at the beginning - Embarkation Process: from when we pulled in to Station Pier Melbourne in an Uber car (35 mins before the 'close off' boarding time) to when we arrived at our cabin door, all went flawlessly well with little waiting time, good customer service (including security) and smiles all the way welcoming us on board. Our luggage arrived 10 mins after we entered our upgraded balcony cabin (courtesy of Princess, from a guaranteed inside cabin we'd originally booked, and at no extra charge).
Our cabin B210 (located forward on the Baja deck - 11) was quiet, and clean with a clever, fairly spacious layout (plenty of hanging and storage options, with everything working as it should. The ensuite bathroom was adequate with good storage space for toiletries and no plumbing problems, and no hot water problems. The balcony, with unobstructed views, was big enough for the 2 of us to extend the deck chairs to lay on with a small round table (which had a couple of red wine round stains on top - obviously overlooked re the cleaning, but I easily removed them the next day). The queen size bed was very comfy, and we slept well, with only a little rolling motion from the waves.
Our cruise from Melbourne to Adelaide, (which had an assortment of cruisers of all ages, mostly in the 35 - 80 age bracket) was full of variety of things to do and with various shows/events to experience on board, and activities to be involved in,
Entertainment was varied and very good throughout the cruise, and a special mention to the talented Roel de Vries on piano in the Promenade Lounge, who was happy to play and sing many requests (with the trusty help from his ipad/tablet) and encouraged sing-alongs (people even got up to dance!). Even the Comedian was funny in his Princess Theatre shows! Fortunately, the beautiful Princess Theatre had just enough seating for all their shows and you could see the stage no matter where you sat. Karaoke nights were mostly a lot of fun, and hosted well.
The huge screen (Movies Under The Stars and showing international music concerts such as Sting, Rolling Stones during the day) made for good viewing too on the decks surrounding the outdoor pool.
My partner and I even had a game of Boche and created our own game of Mini Golf putting, with all equipment needed there (and we were the only ones around) behind the screen on the Lawn (synthetic grass) Court.
Depending on the time during the day, 2 outdoor heated whirlpools/spas (near Oasis bar) were shaded, so we made use of them, and bring a towel from any of the pool areas with you as there's none provided there.
The food overall was excellent - with delicious dinner meals from both the Canaletto Dining Room (which we were assigned to) and the Horizon Court's buffet (Breakfast and lunch), with attentive service from food and beverage/bar staff. we also had a breakfast in the Donatello Dining Room, where you could have side dishes to compliment your cooked breakfast from the menu (I chose buttered mushrooms), as well as a really good cup of tea at Donatello's re their Afternoon Tea service. Each day we had a good Cappuccino or Flat White or a Chai Latte equivalent, for $3.50, and this also included any of the savoury or sweet food displayed - at the International Café (opened 24 hours) and all was tasty! - we both really liked the prawn salad with decent sized prawns! There was plenty of tasty seafood dishes on board and vegetarian options (even fresh sushi varieties on one day) and gluten and sugar free options as well, without going to the speciality restaurants if you're on a budget like us. Alcoholic drinks were pricey, including the Cocktails of the Day, so thankfully, since we could bring soda water bottle and a bottle of red on board, we did!, and had a glass each day on our balcony.
Of course you could always try your luck at winning a bottle of champers at one of their events/activities, like we surprisingly did (and shared it with our fellow diners at dinner).
Three of the outdoor bars were closed.
The biggest let down (and I only looked not booked) on this ship is the adults only Sanctuary that costs $20 for up to 4 hours (drinks with service are extra and same variety of food you can get elsewhere free) - not much protection from the wind, though there is some shade, and mostly padded seated chairs with some lounge chairs, a fair amount of wasted open space (no pool or spa) and potted plants here and there. There's no cabanas or daybeds, except for 2 that you can use if you buy a massage, That is where Celebrity ships shine, as their several daybeds, cabanas and comfy modular lounges with sea views (inside lounge bars and outside) are available to anyone free.
Finding your way around the layout of the ship can be daunting to start with, as only certain lifts and stairs will go to certain areas of the ship eg - the Canaletto Dining Room, the Skywalker's Club (bar not opened during the day, only from 9:30 pm), and the upper decks, so keeping the pocket sized, folded ship's map with you is a good idea.
I did pre-book and go on Princess Cruise shore excursion - Orientation Tour of Phillip Island, (as I've never been there) which was good with a knowledgeable local, friendly bus driver, but our tour's time wasn't long enough for us to see all the places mentioned in the itinerary, (due to traffic congestion and a too tight schedule) so a little disappointed there.
The other huge disappointment for me, was the cancellation of visiting Kangaroo Is (transferring from the ship to the transfer/tender boats to go on shore) because of the big swells and windy weather, as this was one of the main reasons for going on this particular cruise., however, the ship's crew did their best to keep us entertained and I was involved in a few different activities and enjoyed myself nevertheless. :)
The Golden Princess is an older ship, but she's been looked after well and oozes of charm and elegance inside, with several; sea themed sculptures and a quite a large art gallery, and has an old world feel, particularly re Wheel house Bar, along with themed Lounge Bars as well.
The Disembarkation in Adelaide, also went smoothly, though we waited 30 mins for Uber to take us to the airport (still plenty of time for our flight back to Perth) and those waiting for a cab had a longer wait time.
Overall - an enjoyable cruise. :D Read Less