Just off Golden: Review Nov 17-24

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#1
61 Posts
Joined May 2001
Let me start with a short background: husband and I are in late 30s early 40s with one child (11yo). Have cruised 10 times, 4 with Princess. Booked only available 3 person cabin at time of booking: inside midship, Aloha deck.

Embarkation: Flight landed at LAX at 10:30, took Princess shuttle to pier, arrived around 11am, walked right through registration and had a short line to get on ship. Very easy, no hassel.

Ship: The Golden was in pretty good shape overal. Dining rooms, theater, etc, all still in nice condition..some wear around decks, but still nice condition.

Dining: We had anytime dining, and ate everynight around 5:45. Never had to wait. We ended up staying with one wait staff, and after asking for the table a few times while entering at dinner, the head waiter said, "I'll just make this your table for the cruise, so just walk in from now on.."
Service: I think the service was pretty good overall in the dining room. We received refills on drinks, staff was accomodating for special requests, extra entrees etc.
Food: I was a little disappointed with the quality of the food. I thought most side dishes were bland and most meat entrees overcooked, even after ordering medium rare. The salad greens were also a little strange for me...almost like a cross between lettuce and parsley.
Anytime: I actually enjoyed anytime dining. I ended up at #333 for traditional dining.
I missed not having some of the traditional desserts I am used to, like the Baked Alaska, and Cherries Jubilee.
Pizza: I prefer the pizza parlors on the Dawn rather than a pizza by the slice type service. I enjoyed the anti-pasta trays on the Dawn.

Dining Room attire: For those of you who do not own a suit or dinner jacket, I would not go out and buy one for this cruise. On formal night, I saw many people with just shirts and ties,and some men with just collared shirts. On casual nights, I saw people with jeans, t shirts and shorts during dinner.

Pools: I thought they were too cold overall the entire week from what I am used to on a ship. I thought they would warm up, but never did

Entertainment: I was a little disappointed in this area as well. There were a couple comedians (3 nights), a magician/illusionist 1 night (he was good, but a very short act, around 30 minutes) and the Princess dancers the remaining. I thought the dancer shows were the worst I have seen on my cruises. No broadway type recreations of Phantom of the Opera, etc..just not as high quality...but they were ok..

Ports: I have been to these ports several times. We pretty much went to a resort and hung out at the beaches at each resort. In Puerto Vallarta, we met up with some friends at their timeshare, in Mazatlan, went to Playa Mazatlan,and in Cabo took a water taxi to Medano Beach and hung out at the Baja Cantina and had some beers, rented jet skis and my husband and daughter did a dual parasailing together.

Cabin Stewart: We had a great cabin stewart, and had a few towel animals throughout the week. Plenty of shampoo and conditioner provided, etc.

We had a great week, and although I may sound negative somewhat, anything lacking did not ruin my time.

Weather was great, low 80s at all the ports. The seas were pretty calm the whole cruise.
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#2
chatsworth, ca
2,429 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
This is pretty much the same review I would give of the 11/10 sailing. my only difference was the food....ours was always good and cooked the way we wanted it. After the first night I always got an extra plate of steamed veggies (love vegatables) (traditional dinning)
I really agree about the pools. on the TV they report the pool temperature as in the high 80's...I would say more like low 70's
#3
San Diego, CA
35 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
I was excited to see your review of the Golden. We leave on 12/8.

I would love more feedback on your cabin and location. Friends who are traveling with us booked a midship inside on Aloha too. It was the one of the only quad cabins left. Were you happy with the location? They are nervous thinking it might be noisy from above.

Thanks again for taking the time to let us know how your cruise went.
#4
263 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by marial
Cabin Stewart: We had a great cabin stewart, and had a few towel animals throughout the week. Plenty of shampoo and conditioner provided, etc.
Those cabin stewarts sure do a great job don't they....
#5
61 Posts
Joined May 2001
Hello again

Our exact location was A323. I was also worried about hearing noises from above, but can honestly say, I never did. It was a nice location, only having to go up one floor to the pools. It was also close to the gym.
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#6
61 Posts
Joined May 2001
I forgot to mention, my daughter did go to the kids club for a couple hours a day during the days at sea. Her group was only 11-12 year olds due to the large number of kids on the sailing (700 under 13 year old). There was a daily schedule waiting for us at our stateroom upon check-in. Mainly boardgames, crafts and video games during the day..Night time was movies, some more games,etc..She did not go there very often, but went a few times, and enjoyed herself..
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#7
San Diego, CA
35 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Our friends are right in that location and it might be the same cabin! I know it was 320 something... I will pass that info. along to them.

Thanks for taking the time to answer.
#8
61 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
We were on the 11/17 sailing too:

Our cabin was A326, the noise from above was VERY noticeable and loud. Seems everybody liked to drag their chairs on the deck above rather than lift them. On formal night you get to enjoy those ladies with high heels out for a stroll. It wasn't terrible, but we'd never book an Aloha deck under the overhang again.

The entertainment was pathetic. We've been on 7 cruises, 2 Disney and 5 RCCL, and this was by far the worst of any cruise. The dancers were laughable, we went to the dance shows only to watch the terrible anorexic dancer and see just how bad it could be. We were not disappointed in it's terribleness. The comedians were not funny, I think being funny should be a prerequisite to being a comedian. Just because the drunks laugh every time you open your mouth does not make you funny. The magician wasn't too bad, but I agreed with the comedian, less Gaitano and more Tatiana. Some in our party went to the juggler/comedian in the Vista lounge and said he was by FAR the best. Make him the headliner in the big room and put the dancers in the lounge. The "Princess Idol" was terrible too. Celebrating drunk young adults that are in need of a staff member to hold them up during the judging of their "act" is inappropriate. We heard nothing but extremely disappointed people in reference to the Idol thing. The little girl that they had sing while they "tabulated" the votes was amazing, she got a standing ovation from the crowd but was not even a contender.

Food was OK, not better nor worse than any other cruise.

Ship was laid out very poorly, you can get to there from this elevator, but not from that elevator. These elevators you cannot use, this stairwell will get you to that deck, but not to this deck, you must use the midship stairs to get to that place, etc... Walking the decks was sort of a bummer too, they cut them all up so you feel like a rat in a maze trying to get to the cheese. There is nowhere on an outside deck where you can look forward and see your course, you must hang over the edge and look forward like a dog in a car.

I'm completely fed up with the new attitude about cruising. It is no longer an "all-inclusive" experience. The cost of booking is merely the price of admission, chocolate milk at dinner:$2, ice cream on deck: $4, soda: $1.75 plus mandatory 15% gratuity, $10.50 per day per person charged to your on board account for tips, mandatory (add well over $400 for our group of 6). I'm distressed that now the cruise lines are using our tip money to augment their employee pay. It was much better when we could tip using the envelopes provided. Since we don't drink, the wine steward would get nothing from us, the maitre d, would get very little, since peeling our lobster from the shell and fawning over our babies would not warrant a large tip. This cruise we got nothing special from any of our cabin staff, other than shoving all of the kids's clothes under their beds and a couple of chocolates on our pillows. He knows he gets the tip no matter what, so why make an extra effort? We have tipped handsomely on previous cruise because of excellent service, this cruise we got little more than maid service and had no choice but to tip.

In PV we did the Los Veranos zip line tour, and found it to be great. They went out of their way to make it a great day for our family and were tipped accordingly. The animal cages and feeding of the monkeys have given us some great photos and memories.

In Mazatlan we did Randi's horses and also had a great time. Although there was a mixup on meeting Randi at the port, we made our way to her spot on our own and she refunded the money we spent to get there. She was great too, and her staff was handsomely tipped for going above and beyond for us. It is true what has been posted here before, the best food of our trip was at Victor's on the beach in Mazatlan.

Cabo is a bit of a joke due to the short port time. The ship departs at 2pm, and they want you in the tender line by 12:30. There is a reason for that, the line for tenders is well over an hour long. You get to stand in the hot sun for over an hour waiting to get on the tender back to the ship. We thought 2pm meant 2pm, so we got off the ship at 10 thinking we'd have 3+ hours in Cabo on the beach. By the time we got to shore at about 10:30, there was little point in hiring a water taxi to take us to the beach for less than 2 hours. We shopped at the trinket bazaar, some of our party went right back to the ship and some stayed and parasailed. Needless to say, there were some very upset people arriving at the tender dock and seeing a line of people 150yards long waiting for a tender with no shade. In fairness, this may have been a Thanksgiving cruise phenomenon, it may not be as bad on other weeks.

We had anytime dining, and learned early on to get to the dining room very early. We lined up no later than 5:15 when the dining room opened up at 5:30. We found that it took about an hour and half to eat, so you'd be out of there by 7, change clothes and then hit the theater to get a decent seat for the 8:15 show (we don't drink or gamble, so we had little choice but to go to the shows, or sit in our room and watch the view from the bridge). We were surprised to find that on the first formal night as we came out of the dining room to find people milling about the atrium with those square pagers they give you at restaurants. We heard the wait was an hour and a half! That would have sent me over the edge, to sit in the atrium listening to muzak, hungry in my formal clothes for that long. Getting there early each night we were able to ask for a window table on whatever side of the ship would feature a sunset too, that was nice. We eventually settled in with one server next to a window, she was the best staff member of the whole cruise for us.

Our kids didn't use the youth facilities, after touring them the day we boarded they were not interested. They were far inferior to RCCL, and obviously Disney.

I guess we expected Princess to be on par or even better than RCCL, and found it to be not as good. We spoke to 3 other families that all felt the same way, we compared notes on the zip line tour, and all felt that RCCL was better for different reasons.

This was the first cruise where we felt the ports were better than the ship.

Your mileage may vary.
#10
Arkansas
30,166 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by Jayjoans
We were on the 11/17 sailing too:

Our cabin was A326, the noise from above was VERY noticeable and loud. Seems everybody liked to drag their chairs on the deck above rather than lift them. On formal night you get to enjoy those ladies with high heels out for a stroll. It wasn't terrible, but we'd never book an Aloha deck under the overhang again.

The entertainment was pathetic. We've been on 7 cruises, 2 Disney and 5 RCCL, and this was by far the worst of any cruise. The dancers were laughable, we went to the dance shows only to watch the terrible anorexic dancer and see just how bad it could be. We were not disappointed in it's terribleness. The comedians were not funny, I think being funny should be a prerequisite to being a comedian. Just because the drunks laugh every time you open your mouth does not make you funny. The magician wasn't too bad, but I agreed with the comedian, less Gaitano and more Tatiana. Some in our party went to the juggler/comedian in the Vista lounge and said he was by FAR the best. Make him the headliner in the big room and put the dancers in the lounge. The "Princess Idol" was terrible too. Celebrating drunk young adults that are in need of a staff member to hold them up during the judging of their "act" is inappropriate. We heard nothing but extremely disappointed people in reference to the Idol thing. The little girl that they had sing while they "tabulated" the votes was amazing, she got a standing ovation from the crowd but was not even a contender.

Food was OK, not better nor worse than any other cruise.

Ship was laid out very poorly, you can get to there from this elevator, but not from that elevator. These elevators you cannot use, this stairwell will get you to that deck, but not to this deck, you must use the midship stairs to get to that place, etc... Walking the decks was sort of a bummer too, they cut them all up so you feel like a rat in a maze trying to get to the cheese. There is nowhere on an outside deck where you can look forward and see your course, you must hang over the edge and look forward like a dog in a car.

I'm completely fed up with the new attitude about cruising. It is no longer an "all-inclusive" experience. The cost of booking is merely the price of admission, chocolate milk at dinner:$2, ice cream on deck: $4, soda: $1.75 plus mandatory 15% gratuity, $10.50 per day per person charged to your on board account for tips, mandatory (add well over $400 for our group of 6). I'm distressed that now the cruise lines are using our tip money to augment their employee pay. It was much better when we could tip using the envelopes provided. Since we don't drink, the wine steward would get nothing from us, the maitre d, would get very little, since peeling our lobster from the shell and fawning over our babies would not warrant a large tip. This cruise we got nothing special from any of our cabin staff, other than shoving all of the kids's clothes under their beds and a couple of chocolates on our pillows. He knows he gets the tip no matter what, so why make an extra effort? We have tipped handsomely on previous cruise because of excellent service, this cruise we got little more than maid service and had no choice but to tip.

In PV we did the Los Veranos zip line tour, and found it to be great. They went out of their way to make it a great day for our family and were tipped accordingly. The animal cages and feeding of the monkeys have given us some great photos and memories.

In Mazatlan we did Randi's horses and also had a great time. Although there was a mixup on meeting Randi at the port, we made our way to her spot on our own and she refunded the money we spent to get there. She was great too, and her staff was handsomely tipped for going above and beyond for us. It is true what has been posted here before, the best food of our trip was at Victor's on the beach in Mazatlan.

Cabo is a bit of a joke due to the short port time. The ship departs at 2pm, and they want you in the tender line by 12:30. There is a reason for that, the line for tenders is well over an hour long. You get to stand in the hot sun for over an hour waiting to get on the tender back to the ship. We thought 2pm meant 2pm, so we got off the ship at 10 thinking we'd have 3+ hours in Cabo on the beach. By the time we got to shore at about 10:30, there was little point in hiring a water taxi to take us to the beach for less than 2 hours. We shopped at the trinket bazaar, some of our party went right back to the ship and some stayed and parasailed. Needless to say, there were some very upset people arriving at the tender dock and seeing a line of people 150yards long waiting for a tender with no shade. In fairness, this may have been a Thanksgiving cruise phenomenon, it may not be as bad on other weeks.

We had anytime dining, and learned early on to get to the dining room very early. We lined up no later than 5:15 when the dining room opened up at 5:30. We found that it took about an hour and half to eat, so you'd be out of there by 7, change clothes and then hit the theater to get a decent seat for the 8:15 show (we don't drink or gamble, so we had little choice but to go to the shows, or sit in our room and watch the view from the bridge). We were surprised to find that on the first formal night as we came out of the dining room to find people milling about the atrium with those square pagers they give you at restaurants. We heard the wait was an hour and a half! That would have sent me over the edge, to sit in the atrium listening to muzak, hungry in my formal clothes for that long. Getting there early each night we were able to ask for a window table on whatever side of the ship would feature a sunset too, that was nice. We eventually settled in with one server next to a window, she was the best staff member of the whole cruise for us.

Our kids didn't use the youth facilities, after touring them the day we boarded they were not interested. They were far inferior to RCCL, and obviously Disney.

I guess we expected Princess to be on par or even better than RCCL, and found it to be not as good. We spoke to 3 other families that all felt the same way, we compared notes on the zip line tour, and all felt that RCCL was better for different reasons.

This was the first cruise where we felt the ports were better than the ship.

Your mileage may vary.
Like food, the best cruise line is very subjective. My least favorite happens to be RCCL, as for the kids program, one thing about PRincess, they are not known for being extremely family friendly. The best lines for families are RCCL, NCL, Disney and Carnival. this does not mean families should not cruise other lines, including Princess, many find Princess to be just what they want. It is a shame your kids choose not to try the kids program at least once, they may have been surprised. As for long lines, anytime dining, etc, it is important to remember this was Thanksgiving week.

Nita
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#11
61 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Nita-

Thanks for your input, but my post was a review of my cruise. By me, through my filter and experience.

This is why it is referred to as MY cruise review.

I didn't say anything about a "best" cruise line, only that we had high hopes for Princess and they were not met. I know it was Thanksgiving week, I was there. I understand that not all days, weeks, ships, itineraries, weather, other guests, programs, entertainment will be equal to the next, but this is why we post reviews of our experiences.
#12
South West MO
6,659 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
How were the waiters? Did they keep your glass half empty for you?
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#13
212 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Could you tell us who your server was? I am sailing 1/5 and have been designated anytime dining. I would love to be able to not have to go through many servers to find a good one.
Thanks,
Diane
#15
Arkansas
30,166 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by Jayjoans
Nita-

Thanks for your input, but my post was a review of my cruise. By me, through my filter and experience.

This is why it is referred to as MY cruise review.

I didn't say anything about a "best" cruise line, only that we had high hopes for Princess and they were not met. I know it was Thanksgiving week, I was there. I understand that not all days, weeks, ships, itineraries, weather, other guests, programs, entertainment will be equal to the next, but this is why we post reviews of our experiences.
and I was just giving my opinion as a professional. I used the term "best" referring to the professional critics reviews on kids programs. I was agreeing with you about Princess not offering a program quite up to par with other lines. No one is trying to discredit what you have to say, yes, reviews are exactly that; personal opinions based on experieces.

Nita
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#16
San Antonio, Tx
806 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
I just finished a trip on the Star Princess. We did anytime dining for the first time. It was a very Port intensive trip. I actually changed my tipping from the $10.50 per day to $3 per day. I then grabbed the envelopes that they still offered. I gave my room steward the tip directly. I also gave a couple of waiters extra that gave us great service.

I feel that I tipped the people that helped me the most.

Just a thought for those that want to get the money to the right people.
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#17
Wine Country, California
1,601 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Perfect example of why you take ALL reviews with a grain of salt:

marial--"Our exact location was A323. I was also worried about hearing noises from above, but can honestly say, I never did."

Jayjohns--"Our cabin was A326, the noise from above was VERY noticeable and loud. Seems everybody liked to drag their chairs on the deck above rather than lift them. On formal night you get to enjoy those ladies with high heels out for a stroll. It wasn't terrible, but we'd never book an Aloha deck under the overhang again."
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#18
Wine Country, California
1,601 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Originally posted by Jayjoans
Our kids didn't use the youth facilities, after touring them the day we boarded they were not interested. They were far inferior to RCCL, and obviously Disney.

I guess we expected Princess to be on par or even better than RCCL, and found it to be not as good. We spoke to 3 other families that all felt the same way, we compared notes on the zip line tour, and all felt that RCCL was better for different reasons.
Who gave you the idea Princess was a family cruise line? They have kids facilities as all ships do but any travel publication or any TA knows that for families RCI, Carnival and Disney are the choice.
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#19
61 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Originally posted by sonomaphil
Perfect example of why you take ALL reviews with a grain of salt:

marial--"Our exact location was A323. I was also worried about hearing noises from above, but can honestly say, I never did."

Jayjohns--"Our cabin was A326, the noise from above was VERY noticeable and loud. Seems everybody liked to drag their chairs on the deck above rather than lift them. On formal night you get to enjoy those ladies with high heels out for a stroll. It wasn't terrible, but we'd never book an Aloha deck under the overhang again."
Sonomaphil-

Those cabins are on opposite sides of the ship (even=port, odd=starboard). Additionally, the overhang of the deck above does not affect the whole A deck, if we had been 3 cabins forward there would have been no walking/sitting deck above us. Don't know what is above the "same" room on the starboard side. Above A326 is seating closest to the pizza counter.....
#20
Wine Country, California
1,601 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Originally posted by Jayjoans
Sonomaphil-

Those cabins are on opposite sides of the ship (even=port, odd=starboard). Additionally, the overhang of the deck above does not affect the whole A deck, if we had been 3 cabins forward there would have been no walking/sitting deck above us. Don't know what is above the "same" room on the starboard side. Above A326 is seating closest to the pizza counter.....
Oh I understand that, I just think that people need to understand that mostly it's a perception issue. Your review differed greatly from the OP in most ways. I think yours was tainted because of the kids program issue. Perception again. You picked the wrong line, Princess is not a line that caters to children like you want. They never claimed to be. You'd have the same issues with Celebrity of HAL.

We cruise with no kids so it's a non issue for us and is the reason why we wouldn't even consider Disney as an option. RCL might work for us but if the big selling point is a rock wall, well, count me out. And Carnival is what it is.
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