for my wife Terri (aka the "Terrific" reason for my "terrific_surprise"). Our Golden Princess cruise would begin on March 27, my wife's 50th birthday. I hoped and dreamed it would be a perfect day, and a perfect cruise.
Right from the start, we experienced some serious problems, some of which threatened to ruin everything. But in the end, I think our response to those problems was actually more important than the problems themselves.
Many of our problems were caused by over-planning: I often tried to squeeze too much into a single day (especially port days). But isn't a cruise supposed to be a vacation, an opportunity to relax? How can you relax when you're constantly trying to hurry to the next event?
What you're about to read (if you choose to embark on this journey of words and pictures) is a love story, at times a comedy, and at times a tragedy. Therefore, it will include many personal anecdotes along the way which may not seem to be significant to the casual observer, but which we as a couple found to be quite significant, and which may be significant to a few who followed the pre-cruise process on CC (and I will probably provide additional comments on the other thread for those who were following it).
It is also the story of an obsession, and of the inevitable consequences (positive and negative) we would reap from that obsession. As such, it was the opportunity to learn some important lessons, some of which I will share here (and others which may require some reading between the lines). Perhaps others can learn from my mistakes.
In many ways I knew before the cruise that I had set myself up for some trouble. I tend to be kind of a rigid person, but I had enough foresight to realize that my plans would go awry if I couldn't exercise some flexibility. I didn't realize quite how seriously my flexibility would be tested.
I also set us up for trouble by planning this cruise at a time when I knew that my wife and I would both be exhausted, at the end of several weeks of intense ministry which I knew would tax our strength to its limits. (My wife and I lead a Christian ministry to pregnant women and their babies.) That pre-cruise exhaustion, coupled with my over-planning, set the stage for a train wreck.
My wife and I are different in many ways. She is more outgoing, while I tend to be more of a wallflower in social settings. My favorite form of exercise (well, maybe second favorite ) is walking, but it is a struggle for her to walk far, and she has difficulty keeping up with me. She likes to eat healthy, while I just like to eat! She is very sensitive to motion sickness and cold temperatures, while I can usually adapt to the environment.
But in spite of our differences, we are used to functioning as a team in ministry and family.
This cruise was planned by me (in great detail), but it was not for me. I always knew that it was for her, and tried to mentally prepare myself to alter my plans for her whenever necessary.
We also have some important similarities. Without a doubt, Princess Cruises is our preferred cruise line, and we don't expect that to ever change. Frankly, I doubt if we will ever cruise on another line (our first cruise on Carnival was ok, but it was nowhere near our Princess experience). Nevertheless, along the way we noticed some things which did not seem to attain the level of Princess' high standards, and I will try to share such problems candidly, trying not to let our bias in favor of Princess color our opinions too much.
So, this cruise review probably won't be quite like anything you have read here before. If you're just looking for details about the ship and the itinerary, you may want to skip this review.
In addition, as you may have already noticed, this cruise happened months ago. (I didn't intend to wait this long to post my review, but life happens.) So if you're looking for the latest news on the Golden Princess, you may want to look elsewhere.
But if you have the time, and you're up for a bit of a journey, welcome aboard.
Star Princess to Hawaii!
Previously sailed on:
Crown Princess to Mexican Riviera! (December 2015)
Crown Princess 4 day getaway to San Diego and Ensenada (February 2015)
Grand Princess 10 days to Sea of Cortez (November 2014)
Sapphire Princess short getaway to Ensenada (January 2014)
Golden Princess short getaway to Ensenada (December 2013)
Golden Princess to Hawaii (March-April 2013) - * L O N G * pre-cruise story - * L O N G * review
Sapphire Princess to Mexican Riviera (April 2010)
Carnival Paradise to Catalina and Ensenada (April 2005)
Watch our version of "Come Back New"!