Golden Princess Ship Review
We sailed on the Dec 15th sailing of the Golden Princess on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. We sailed on the Grand Princess, the twin to the Golden Princess twice before, so I am familiar with the ship's layout. This is a plus because I can get lost in my front yard.
We found that the added security did not slow up the boarding process at all. Luggage drop-off is pierside and processing really quick. The ship is spotless and well maintained. Boarding began before noon and a full buffet lunch was served in the Horizon Court. An experienced traveler might notice some downgrades, probably a result of the plunging price structure. On balance, the passenger is the winner. Princess used to provide robes in every cabin, now they are available only on request. True in all categories.
Also, there seems to be a slight downgrading in the food. Small items such as fresh strawberries were missing. Princess used to offer caviar as an appetizer on one of the formal nights and that is gone. Small sacrifices for the lower prices.
We saw no difference in the service levels aboard ship. Cabin service and cleanliness was as sharp and crisp as ever. Deck service was more than adequate. Princess offers a deal where for $17.50 charged to your on-board account you are offered unlimited soft drinks, a good deal.
We took late seating and that was a mistake. Personal choice is the way to go and I suspect that in a year or two it will be standard. Early seating is to early, and late seating much to late for me. People on board all felt that personal choice worked well and I heard no complaintsb about long waits for seating. I recommend it. Another change is that each passenger is charged $6.50 per day to cover ALL dining room gratuities. Service in the dining room was good as it has ever been and even the Maitre'D was visible and helpfull. Our table requested a special dessert one night and a special, complex, appetizer the last night. Both requests were graciously filled and the Maitre'D did not come looking for any additional gratuity for that service. None of our group had a negative response to the $6.50 charge.
Appreciation of entertainment is a subjective thing, but the consensus in our group is that is has fallen off. The big production show lacked electricity, it just had no pazazz. No one in our group was particularly impressed with the comedian/juggler either.
All-in-all I still think that Princess is as good a value as you can find out there. Their balconies are affordable and delightful. If anyone wants more detail they can e-mail me and I will happily respond.