Was on the 6/1 sailing of Western European Capitols...Sterling Steakhouse was 15.00 p/p, Sabatini's 20 p/p. The food was good, not excellent in the Steakhouse, service poor - we had to walk to a bar outside the restaurant to get drinks. The Steakhouse is in the location where they usually have the Desert Rose Mexican Restaurant when sailing in the Caribbean. Having been on Carnival Glory and eating in their specialty restaurant, Princess can't compare. The experience as a whole was much better on Carnival - much more formal, much better service and much better food. For this reason, we did not choose to eat in Sabitini's.
While speaking of Golden Princess, the food was good, but personally just a notch below Carnival's. If you eat from the Horizon's buffet at midnight, much of the food is dried up - you can definitely tell (for example, the pasta) some of the food had been there since dinner started at 5pm. They even keep a bowl of sauce behind the dish, where I suppose a cook is supposed to replenish to keep it looking and tasting fresh, but this rarely happened. You know how pasta sticks together after it dries out? I did like the idea of Personal Choice dining in the dining rooms where you can eat from 6-10, you choose the time. Allowed for flexibility.
Embarkation was a mess, waited just over 1 hour in line. Disembarkation, however, was very smooth.
Time in most ports was an issue, whereas on some days you felt rushed.
The ship was rather boring, but probably to be expected on a European Cruise. The average age onboard was between 55 and 60.
Rooms smaller than Carnival - had a balcony cabin A420 - the bathroom is pitiful, no counter space and the shower seems smaller than those on Carnival.
One last thing, Carnival chose to charge a 8 dollar and change additional port charge (I can't remember what port). On that particular day, they did advise you in the Princess Patter (which is the daily newspaper with scheduled events for the day), however, my feeling is they should have eaten this cost because they did not advise you of this prior to the cruise. I'm certain it's in their terms and conditions...but, just left a bad taste. Ok, I know it's only 8 bucks.
Wait I'm not done, the drinks on Princess appeared to be somewhat cheaper than on Carnival, however, be prepared as on Princess they push doubles and triples almost every time you order a drink, which of course drives up the price. I don't ever recall this happening on the 12 Carnival cruises I have been on.
I did not enjoy their broadway style shows at all - Carnival has much better entertainment. Their entertainers on this particular Princess ship appear to be very ammature and really not one of them stood out. Most of their shows were held in the Vista Lounge - probably because once you sit down in the large Princess Theatre there is barely any walking room to leave the theatre within the aisles. If you have to go to the Princess Theatre and you sit in the "lower bowl" choose an end seat or you'll have a hard time leaving the theater if you do not like the show. In addition, they can't sell drinks in the Princess Theatre because the servers cannot walk within the aisles- much easier to do in the lounge.
The Golden Princess was very clean - probably cleaner than most Carnival ships and I noticed that attention to detail was greater on this ship. Servers picking up dirty dishes much more frequent than on Carnival ships, etc.
One thing I did notice on this ship is the tension amongst the crew. On a few occasions, I saw arguments between bar staff and even one day saw a senior officer chewing out a bar staff member because champagne was not ready for a wedding party. Additionally, I witnessed a bar manager scolding an employee for being late. All this could/should have taken place behind the scenes, although it was entertaining.
If you or your kids look forward to the towel animals, forget about it - Princess doesn't do it!
Overall, the cruise was good and I would do it again, but I do favor the Carnival product over Princess. I am certain they will begin to adopt different philosophies from each other as Carnival is now a major owner of the Princess line.