Fellow cruisers: I am interested in cruising Princess for the first time in April 2006. This will be a mother-daughter cruise to celebrity my 50th birthday. I have cruised Carnival twice and Celebrity once. The cruise I am interested in is a 7-day cruise called the "Southern Caribbean Explorer" and it has 4-5 port calls and only one sea day. If anyone can give me any insight on this cruise, I would appreciate it. This itinerary is on the Golden Princess and sails on April 22, 2006. Anyone else already booked on this one? Thanks!
You will find almost everything on the Golden exactly in the middle between the two lines you've done before. ie: better than Carnival, but not quite as good as Celebrity. Having said that, the Golden is an excellent ship, and you may well like the dining procedures much better, in that you can choose "Personal Choice" dining. Most people like that a bit better than having to be at the dining room each evening at a specific time.
I found the itinerary to be a bit much, but the lovely Mrs. Jones and I enjoy sea days. It's quite busy, with a new port every day. Of course you don't have to do something at each port, but you probably will.
The only thing about this cruise that I absolutely didn't care for, is flying out of the San Juan airport. It is a mess, to say the least, and can be somewhat stressful. Flying into San Juan isn't so bad, as you don't have to hang around the airport much on arrival.
In any case, have a great time, and as an alternative, you might want to consider the Caribbean Princess out of Ft. Lauderdale. Great ship, great cruise, and much easier airport to deal with.
I have not posted for a long time, but just wanted to tell you that we also did a mother-daughter cruise on the Golden Princess last April during that same week. It is an excellent ship, terrific crew, lots of entertainment, and the itinerary was great because we like to see lots of new places and keep busy. The Golden does 2 different routes, 5 ports each with one sea day. The one we were on was St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Isla Margarita and Aruba with one sea day on the last day. We enjoyed all the ports and really loved this ship, it had a special feel about it. Things that set Princess apart are fresh water pools and hot tubs open late, I think it is 24/7, buffet is open 24 hrs, lots of entertainment choices (we had a hard time fitting in everything we wanted to do) and a real choice for meals, you can pick either traditional or personal choice. We love the personal choice because we eat early and have never had to wait for a table, other people prefer a set time and dining companions, so to each his own. The best thing about Princess is that it is your choice and not the cruiselines. Flying to San Juan can be expensive, I just kept checking airline sights and waited for a sale. I have sailed from there 3 times now because of the port-intensive cruises that leave from there. We have found that if you are able to go down a day early and stay a day after, it is much less stressful and starts and ends the vacation better, so if you are able to do this, I would highly recommend it, because the airport is a big mess on Sundays when so many ships unload at once, but I found the same mess, worse actually, in Ft. Lauderdale and New Orleans when we cruised from those cities. I would sail on the Golden again in a heartbeat, so if you do go, I'm sure you will both enjoy it a lot. Happy sails.
totally agree with the others.
Southern is a great route - yes it is port intenstive but it is filled with interesting and diverse ports of call.
The Golden is a great ship, anything specific you want to know about her?
I am on this same cruise. I have cruised Princess once quite a few years ago--I am hoping the fodd is good. We have been cruising Celebrity the last few cruises, and were happy with the food there. We are looking forward to Personal Choice Dining. we find the first seating too early and the late seating a little late.
We are traveling the day before the cruise --any suggestiong on hotels in San Juan. There are 4 couples and for that one night two couples will share a room. We were thinking about Embassy Suites for that reason--a little more room than a standard hotel room, but we are open to suggestions. Any? Also will we be at the Pan American Pier?
Author: Chris M (---.90.118.70.cfl.res.rr.com)
Date: 06-19-05 10:33
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.