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milamber

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About milamber

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  1. We were on the Golden from Singapore to Vancouver recently, a total of 36 days, so hopefully can give an objective view of the state of the ship. It was our 3rd Princess cruise and 23rd cruise in total (on 20 different ships and 8 different cruise lines). Obviously not everyone experienced the same issues, but from our point of view: Good Food in MDR for dinner. We were on Anytime in the Bernini and did hear people complaining about food quality and temperature in other restaurants, but with one or two minor exceptions the food was as good as any ship we have been on and better than most. Port timings and arrivals. We didn't miss a single port which is very good for that region. We saw plenty of ships missing Taiwan and South Korea in the weeks before our cruise and were a bit concerned. We arrived on time at every port except for the final port of Ketchikan where we were about 90 mins late for some reason. I've read reports about propulsion issues on the ship, but that simply wasn't the case. Junior crew. On the whole the attitude and helpfulness of the junior crew was excellent Cabin. Cabin and cabin attendant were both fine. Fridge door didn't shut, but we didn't use it anyway. No other issues apart from the odd toilet problem which always seems to happen on all ships. Shower temperature control and flow were excellent compared to most other ships we've been on. Poor Ship condition. The condition of the ship was very poor. The refit had given a superficial gloss to the inside areas with new carpets and some new furniture, but this couldn't hide the constant leaks with buckets and fans everywhere, sewage smells inside and out at the forward area of the ship, problems with the sound and PA system (more later) very rusty exterior, very noticeable on the promenade deck and significant problems coping with even moderate seas (again more later). We didn't experience too many problems with the toilet, but heard that others did. PA system. Combination of technical issues and lack of care, but we were woken three times in the early hours because of faults. Firstly at 1.30 am on the first night when all the music in the corridors turned on at full volume, then again 20 minutes later. The captain mentioned it the next day, but joked about it. Not a joke for people who struggle to sleep as I do and who were still coping with jet lag anyway. On another morning the speaker system in the cabin came to life at a loud volume for about 15 minutes. No messages over it, just turned on accidentally and relaying sounds from somewhere on the ship. Lastly a request for a first aider from the captain mistakenly relayed at full volume over the cabin speakers at 3.30 am, followed by an 'explanation' from the captain about 20 mins later, presumably to allay fears from passengers who woke thinking it was an abandon ship alarm. No apology in the explanation. Problem with stabilisers? Not sure exactly what the problem was as I'm no engineer, but we have never been on a ship so unable to cope with even moderate seas. Even with a fairly gentle swell the midships in particular experienced a profound and violent shudder every few seconds. The whole ship creaked and groaned. This must have been unbearable for anyone in a low midships cabin. It was pretty bad far forward on deck 10. We've been in 80mph winds on other ships with severe swells and never felt movement and shudder like we did on the Golden and doubt the seas reached above a 3m swell on this voyage. This, more than anything else, would stop us ever going on the Golden again. Customer services desk. Without any doubt the worst we have ever experienced. It took 6 reports and over 13 hours to get anyone to look at our toilet when it stopped working the first time. The customer services staff couldn't have cared less and were unhelpful to the point of rudeness on several occasions. Buffet. Whilst the buffet food for dinner was mostly of pretty good quality on the few occasions we used it, overall the buffet was the worst we have experienced on any ship. I didn't see the ship before the refit so no idea if this is a recent change, but both sides are completely separate so you end up with two small identical buffet areas now instead of one larger one. They were rarely both open so concentrated a large number of passengers into a tiny area. We were never able to find a seat in the main buffet area when it was open, though we were usually able to find one in the overflow area at the rear. Even that became more difficult as the voyage progressed due to the large numbers of card and Mahjong players who camped out there all day. The breakfast choice was dreadful for anyone who likes a healthy breakfast. Yoghurt was only sporadically available in individual tubs and often of poor quality from a large communal bowl. Toast was limited to brown or white, both tasted like cardboard. No granary, seeded or pumpernickel bread at any time. Fruit choice and availability easily the worst we've experienced. Mostly just apples, oranges, Kiwi fruit and slices of melon. Bananas rarely available and generally of very poor quality. That's it. We didn't see anything else. Absolutely no comparison to our last few ships. No healthy breakfast area, no juices or smoothies normally available. The odd smoothie, but mostly water. General information. There were a huge number of mistakes in the daily Patter and in the the other leaflets distributed by the ship. Mostly nothing too serious, except for the timing of the last shuttle being wrong once which resulted in people being late back to the ship. On another occasion the all aboard time was brought forward an hour. There was absolutely no announcement about this, it was mentioned in the Patter, but that evening the Patter didn't arrive until after 11pm, presumably reprinted to reflect this change, so not everyone saw it. The first we knew was when crew were saying "all aboard 8.30pm" as we disembarked. I queried this at the time and was told it had changed. There was nothing in the normal slot by the exit showing the all aboard time. Some friends missed this change and returned to the ship at 9.10pm to a very rude reception. Later Princess apologised and admitted the mistake. Minor mistakes on a daily basis included currency exchange rates (my 300000 Vietnamese Dong was worth $150000 according to Princess instead of about $15) and constant reprints of the same weather over and over again and incorrect port information for the time of year. Presumably old Patters being updated and reprinted without proper checks. Overall attitude to guests. The ship is being sold to P&O and we got the impression over and over that Princess no longer cared less about the ship or the guests. Aside from everything mentioned so far there were constant little issues that made you think that the guests were less important than the running of the ship. On two occasions, that we were present, a film in the theatre was interrupted by the captain's noon announcement. The films weren't paused. Luckily the first time the film had only just started so after much booing from people watching it was re-started. The second time around we were already 30 mins in to the film. After we lost 10 mins most people just upped and walked out. Windows across the ship were filthy and we didn't see any cleaning of them at any time during the 36 days we were aboard. Dreadful for Alaska if you weren't able to be outside. Poorly designed ship for Alaska full stop, in our opinion, due to the lack of places to sit inside and look out if the weather was inclement. The Skywalkers might have been ok, but after Tokyo Princess allowed it to be used constantly by passengers holding their own line dance classes at high volumes of music and shouting, after which it was unusable for sitting quietly. There was definitely an issue with aircon in public areas for the first two weeks or so. Some parts of the ship were so cold it was impossible to use them. Despite these issues we still had a great time, but for us the itinerary is far more important than the ship and the itinerary and weather, on the whole, were great. We aren't complainers by nature and have never had a bad cruise and we certainly wouldn't say this one was bad either, but there were enough small niggles to make the overall ship experience our worst so far. Our first two cruises with Princess were excellent so it might simply be this ship, but the combination of the issues we experienced mean that we certainly wouldn't go on the Golden Princess again and, I have to say, might take some persuading to go with Princess again in the future, given that we have plenty of other lines to choose from
  2. milamber

    Golden Princess Problems Aft Dry Dock

    We were on the Golden from Singapore to Vancouver recently, a total of 36 days, so hopefully can give an objective view of the state of the ship. It was our 3rd Princess cruise and 23rd cruise in total (on 20 different ships and 8 different cruise lines). Obviously not everyone experienced the same issues, but from our point of view: Good Food in MDR for dinner. We were on Anytime in the Bernini and did hear people complaining about food quality and temperature in other restaurants, but with one or two minor exceptions the food was as good as any ship we have been on and better than most. Port timings and arrivals. We didn't miss a single port which is very good for that region. We saw plenty of ships missing Taiwan and South Korea in the weeks before our cruise and were a bit concerned. We arrived on time at every port except for the final port of Ketchikan where we were about 90 mins late for some reason. I've read reports about propulsion issues on the ship, but that simply wasn't the case. Junior crew. On the whole the attitude and helpfulness of the junior crew was excellent Cabin. Cabin and cabin attendant were both fine. Fridge door didn't shut, but we didn't use it anyway. No other issues apart from the odd toilet problem which always seems to happen on all ships. Shower temperature control and flow were excellent compared to most other ships we've been on. Poor Ship condition. The condition of the ship was very poor. The refit had given a superficial gloss to the inside areas with new carpets and some new furniture, but this couldn't hide the constant leaks with buckets and fans everywhere, sewage smells inside and out at the forward area of the ship, problems with the sound and PA system (more later) very rusty exterior, very noticeable on the promenade deck and significant problems coping with even moderate seas (again more later). We didn't experience too many problems with the toilet, but heard that others did. PA system. Combination of technical issues and lack of care, but we were woken three times in the early hours because of faults. Firstly at 1.30 am on the first night when all the music in the corridors turned on at full volume, then again 20 minutes later. The captain mentioned it the next day, but joked about it. Not a joke for people who struggle to sleep as I do and who were still coping with jet lag anyway. On another morning the speaker system in the cabin came to life at a loud volume for about 15 minutes. No messages over it, just turned on accidentally and relaying sounds from somewhere on the ship. Lastly a request for a first aider from the captain mistakenly relayed at full volume over the cabin speakers at 3.30 am, followed by an 'explanation' from the captain about 20 mins later, presumably to allay fears from passengers who woke thinking it was an abandon ship alarm. No apology in the explanation. Problem with stabilisers? Not sure exactly what the problem was as I'm no engineer, but we have never been on a ship so unable to cope with even moderate seas. Even with a fairly gentle swell the midships in particular experienced a profound and violent shudder every few seconds. The whole ship creaked and groaned. This must have been unbearable for anyone in a low midships cabin. It was pretty bad far forward on deck 10. We've been in 80mph winds on other ships with severe swells and never felt movement and shudder like we did on the Golden and doubt the seas reached above a 3m swell on this voyage. This, more than anything else, would stop us ever going on the Golden again. Customer services desk. Without any doubt the worst we have ever experienced. It took 6 reports and over 13 hours to get anyone to look at our toilet when it stopped working the first time. The customer services staff couldn't have cared less and were unhelpful to the point of rudeness on several occasions. Buffet. Whilst the buffet food for dinner was mostly of pretty good quality on the few occasions we used it, overall the buffet was the worst we have experienced on any ship. I didn't see the ship before the refit so no idea if this is a recent change, but both sides are completely separate so you end up with two small identical buffet areas now instead of one larger one. They were rarely both open so concentrated a large number of passengers into a tiny area. We were never able to find a seat in the main buffet area when it was open, though we were usually able to find one in the overflow area at the rear. Even that became more difficult as the voyage progressed due to the large numbers of card and Mahjong players who camped out there all day. The breakfast choice was dreadful for anyone who likes a healthy breakfast. Yoghurt was only sporadically available in individual tubs and often of poor quality from a large communal bowl. Toast was limited to brown or white, both tasted like cardboard. No granary, seeded or pumpernickel bread at any time. Fruit choice and availability easily the worst we've experienced. Mostly just apples, oranges, Kiwi fruit and slices of melon. Bananas rarely available and generally of very poor quality. That's it. We didn't see anything else. Absolutely no comparison to our last few ships. No healthy breakfast area, no juices or smoothies normally available. The odd smoothie, but mostly water. General information. There were a huge number of mistakes in the daily Patter and in the the other leaflets distributed by the ship. Mostly nothing too serious, except for the timing of the last shuttle being wrong once which resulted in people being late back to the ship. On another occasion the all aboard time was brought forward an hour. There was absolutely no announcement about this, it was mentioned in the Patter, but that evening the Patter didn't arrive until after 11pm, presumably reprinted to reflect this change, so not everyone saw it. The first we knew was when crew were saying "all aboard 8.30pm" as we disembarked. I queried this at the time and was told it had changed. There was nothing in the normal slot by the exit showing the all aboard time. Some friends missed this change and returned to the ship at 9.10pm to a very rude reception. Later Princess apologised and admitted the mistake. Minor mistakes on a daily basis included currency exchange rates (my 300000 Vietnamese Dong was worth $150000 according to Princess instead of about $15) and constant reprints of the same weather over and over again and incorrect port information for the time of year. Presumably old Patters being updated and reprinted without proper checks. Overall attitude to guests. The ship is being sold to P&O and we got the impression over and over that Princess no longer cared less about the ship or the guests. Aside from everything mentioned so far there were constant little issues that made you think that the guests were less important than the running of the ship. On two occasions, that we were present, a film in the theatre was interrupted by the captain's noon announcement. The films weren't paused. Luckily the first time the film had only just started so after much booing from people watching it was re-started. The second time around we were already 30 mins in to the film. After we lost 10 mins most people just upped and walked out. Windows across the ship were filthy and we didn't see any cleaning of them at any time during the 36 days we were aboard. Dreadful for Alaska if you weren't able to be outside. Poorly designed ship for Alaska full stop, in our opinion, due to the lack of places to sit inside and look out if the weather was inclement. The Skywalkers might have been ok, but after Tokyo Princess allowed it to be used constantly by passengers holding their own line dance classes at high volumes of music and shouting, after which it was unusable for sitting quietly. There was definitely an issue with aircon in public areas for the first two weeks or so. Some parts of the ship were so cold it was impossible to use them. Despite these issues we still had a great time, but for us the itinerary is far more important than the ship and the itinerary and weather, on the whole, were great. We aren't complainers by nature and have never had a bad cruise and we certainly wouldn't say this one was bad either, but there were enough small niggles to make the overall ship experience our worst so far. Our first two cruises with Princess were excellent so it might simply be this ship, but the combination of the issues we experienced mean that we certainly wouldn't go on the Golden Princess again and, I have to say, might take some persuading to go with Princess again in the future, given that we have plenty of other lines to choose from
  3. milamber

    Guernsey QV

    We just hopped on a local bus first which took us right around the island in about 2 hours. It's not that big an island. We did a lovely walk afterwards up a coastal path to a wood, turning left after the tender dock. It was well signposted.
  4. milamber

    ADD ON / side trip to Taj Mahal

    The only slight snag at the moment is the ongoing renovation work. I know at times that lots of the building has been covered in scaffolding recently. Might be worth checking in advance. Fodor's Travel guide has included the Taj Mahal on its list of places not to visit this year. "Unless your dream Taj Mahal visit involves being photographed standing in front of a mud-caked and be-scaffolded dome, maybe give it until 2019 at the earliest," the guide recommends. That said, I know there are periods in between work when it's not too bad
  5. milamber

    Currency for circumnavigation of South America

    When we went we found that US dollars were readily accepted by shops and market sellers etc. In fact in some countries they preferred it to their own currency. However if you want to do anything official, visit a museum, go on public transport etc, then you need local currency. We took a small amount for countries like Brazil, Chile. Uruguay etc, but you can change US dollars quite happily at banks and money change outlets. Often the rate of exchange for cash was better than we would have got at home. Bermuda/Jamaica etc, no problem at all with US dollars anywhere.
  6. milamber

    Mutiny not on the Bounty

    There are at least two. One being the photo of the incorrect ship and the other being that Mauritius was missed when it's where the cruise began and ended and they are docked there now.
  7. milamber

    India, visa question

    It was Isafjordur I was specifically referring to. One of the most beautiful places we have ever been to and, I should imagine, even better in July. We went in May. We did an amazing little trip. Only lasted about 3 hours or so, but was truly memorable. We went with a local eider duck farmer who took us to his house, all around the fjord to a lovely village, out to see his ducks (they are all wild, farmed only in the sense that they gather the down). Had a terrific insight into what it's like to live there. His name is Björgvin and his website is bstours.is. We picked up the tour at the local tourist office, but well worth contacting him in advance to get him booked. Wasn't expensive either, about £40 I think. In Reykjavik we did the Golden Circle tour with GeoIceland, http://www.geoiceland.com and in Akureyri we did a Game of Thrones tour with The Travelling Viking, http://www.ttv.is. Not too specifically Game of Thrones, mind, and just as enjoyable for anyone who doesn't watch the show.
  8. milamber

    India, visa question

    No worries. I'll dig it out and let you know. Which ports are you going to?
  9. milamber

    Which Tuxedo

    According to my "Gentleman's Guide to Etiquette" :) "The white dinner jacket's origin on cruises and at tropical resorts speaks to its specific role as a less formal alternative to traditional black tie. It is only appropriate at formal occasions in the tropics year round and in America during the summer season, typically at open-air social gatherings such as country club dances and yacht club parties. While summer in the southern United States qualifies as being at least subtropical, the same cannot be said for the more temperate northern states and Canada. It is for this reason that numerous experts advise using discretion north of the Mason-Dixon line in order to avoid dressing for effect rather than for the occasion. Indeed, black-tie guests north of the 49th parallel would be wise to heed the example of their British cousins who do not consider the United Kingdom's temperate climate to be appropriate for white formal wear at any time of the year (with the notable exception of Last Night of the Proms). And if a man is particularly serious about formal convention, a white jacket should never be worn “unless one has a napkin over his arm or a saxophone up to his lips” as Esquire once put it. Don't forget that the white jacket is an alternative, not a directive. The black jacket is perfectly acceptable in any season and any locale and actually trumps the formality of the white version" Or as PG Wodehouse wrote [about the white jacket] Jeeves: I assumed it had got into your wardrobe by mistake, sir, or else that it has been placed there by your enemies. Bertie Wooster: I will have you know, Jeeves, that I bought this in Cannes! Jeeves: And wore it, sir? Bertie Wooster: Every night at the Casino. Beautiful women used to try and catch my eye! Jeeves: Presumably they thought you were a waiter, sir.
  10. milamber

    NeoClassica cruise, Madagascar

    We have friends on a Costa ship now with three stops planned for Madagascar. Initially after boarding they were told one stop had been cancelled. Today they have been told that all three stops have been cancelled with extra time now in the Seychelles and Reunion. I think you can assume that no Costa ships will call at Madagascar now until the situation improves
  11. milamber

    India, visa question

    It's possible the main tourist area of the Backwaters is a long way away, but we had a private tour and travelled no more than an hour by minibus. We had an amazing day on the Backwaters at Kerala - wouldn't have missed it for the world either. I don't understand people who make snap judgements about countries when they don't bother to look further than the ports in most cases. We've seen this all over the world from cruise passengers. We had one of our best trips ever in Iceland last year and only travelled 10 miles or so from the port. Back on the ship everyone was moaning about it being a 'dump' because it was 'cold' and 'the shops weren't very good'. Meanwhile we were having the time of our lives in the some of the best scenery I've ever witnessed on a glorious day.
  12. milamber

    Information Required Please...

    Hi Jennie Ships clocks will change one hour at a time over a period of 4 days each way. Each time we've been the days of the change have varied so I can't say which days this will happen on. It's a nice gradual change and especially nice to get the 25 hour days on the way out. Not so great on the way back! Can't help with 2 and 3 sorry as we've always booked the saver fare and an inside cabin! Wasn't even aware that there was a courtesy shuttle in Manhattan as Cunard run a shopping trip coach that stops outside Macey's It's dead easy to continue a diet on a cruise ship, but you will need willpower. I lost 5lbs on a 60 day voyage and still ate well. Cunard have a healthy breakfast option area on the QM2. It's in the Chefs Galley at the end of the Kings Court. Loads of stuff available there, but I can't say about kippers or raspberries. Definitely seen pears - not sure if they are Conference or not. Lots of yoghurts, fruit juices, granolas (with raspberries!). Don't make the mistake of going there at lunch as it turns into the burger bar.........At night it turns into a super complimentary Italian restaurant which is a great alternative to the main dining room if you fancy a change. The line dance classes held in the Queens Room in the morning are usually fun and a nice way of getting a bit of exercise. The gym is great and not much beats walking around the promenade deck in an Atlantic breeze.
  13. milamber

    Nightlife on Queen Elizabeth

    Odd that because the nightclub on the QM2 has always been practically dead every time we've gone in, aside from a few crew members off duty.
  14. milamber

    India, visa question

    That's interesting because the last time we spoke to Cunard and RCI about this, which was only recently, they both said the e-visa for ports hadn't taken effect yet, even though Indian High Commission said otherwise . Just shows how much confusion there is around this issue. That would make things easier certainly, but it looks very much like Cunard and others are trying to put passengers off from using them anyway, which rather defeats the object. It would certainly be better for a multi-port stop in India, even if it meant a slightly longer delay getting ashore at the first port. My main concerns with using one for a cruise would be the cruise line not recognising/accepting it at check-in and/or the Indian Government changing the rules again in the meantime.
  15. milamber

    India, visa question

    The Indian visa saga is a long running one and subject to frequent rumours and changes as you've no doubt found in your reading. Despite frequent news stories that the system is going to get easier, nothing really seems to change. There is an e-visa scheme mostly up and running that allows you to fly into certain airports without going through the whole visa process. It's been rumoured several times that this will extent to certain ports for cruise ship visits, but nothing has happened yet and is unlikely to in the meantime. As it stands you will need a full Indian visa to visit even for a single day on a cruise ship, even if you choose to stay on board. It's not so much the Indian authorities that will necessarily insist on this, but Cunard will not let you board without it. This won't be want you want to hear, but that's how it is, sadly, unless things change in the meantime. Even if they do, the cruise lines take ages to catch up. Whilst we love India, the visa nonsense is why we will no longer visit for the time being. For a while it was a requirement to attend the visa centre in person (3 hours each way for us). Not sure if this is till the case? Even reading about again now it's unclear. Cost is around £120 each from memory.
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