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llarosa

Just Back from the Golden!

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We had a great time. This was our first Princess Cruise. DH and I had a balcony and two daughter's (ages 12 and 14) had an inside cabin directly across the hall from us. This worked quite well. We were all together about 85% of the time. Sometimes the girls just wanted to hang out in their room watching movies on TV - and that was a fine time for us to try out the casinos or just be around the pool.

 

We stayed two nights pre cruise in San Juan at the Marriott Stellaris in the Condado area. We arrived rather late on Friday night and had arranged a tour with East Wind Travel on Saturday (early!). The tour was a power catamaran ride to Culebra Island. There was great snorkeling and a wonderful beach (Flamenco Beach - reported one of the ten best beaches in the world). Even the ride there was fun. It was a fast boat! There were about 45 people on the boat. The trip included transportation from our hotel and also included lunch. We were picked up about 7:30am and were dropped off at 5pm. It was $93pp.

 

We attended Easter services on Sunday morning and then lounged around by the pool till about 2pm. We arrived at the ship near 2:30 and had very little waiting to get on.

 

Our rooms were on the Lido deck (port side) which we found quite convenient for the pools, the pizza, and the Horizon Court. We were under the Spa so there wasn't really any noise above us.

 

Here's a run down on what we did at each port:

 

St Thomas - took the Red Hook ferry to St John to meet some friends at Trunk Bay. Spectacular! We didn't allow ourselves much time for shopping though... On the way back to the ship, we browsed the shops next to the port but since we really weren't looking for jewelry, we just quickly passed by.

 

St Kitts - took a taxi from the port for a "half island tour". The price was $12.50 per person. It was fine - but nothing special. The tour did stop at the fort - which was another $8pp - but we decided not to go in - so we explored a bit on our own (on foot) while the others in the taxi spent about 20 minutes there. (Although $8 doesn't sound like much - multiplying by 4 made us think twice about proceeding. If the girls expressed ANY interst in seeing the fort, we probably would have gone in.) We didn't do any shopping here either.

 

Grenada - We prearranged a tour with Mandoo which we enjoyed very much. It included stops at the Spice Factory, the waterfalls, the Batik factory (Romney Manor), a drive through the rainforest, and a stop at Grand Etang Lake. We also had about an hour at the beach before we were dropped back at the ship. This was $40pp and went from 9am till about 3pm. Mandoo is very articulate and taught us a lot about the island.

 

Isla Margarita - This was our only Priness-arranged tour. We were supposed to meet at the port at 7am (ouch!) - but we had some trouble docking so we didn't actually leave the ship until 7:45. We took the La Restinga Lagoon Nature Tour for $39pp. Our first stop was a "tropical garden and labyrinth". It was about a 45 mnute ride to get there (which allowed us to catch up on a little sleep). The garden's were great. They included the flora and fauna of the island. In addition to the cactus, orchids, and the labyrinth (which was fun - especially since my 12 year old was the first to find her way out) - there were also a variety of animals. Parrots would sit on your shoulder or arms, small monkeys would eat from your hands (and occasionally jump to your shoulders), and tarantuala could crawl up your arms if you were willing to do wo. There was even a snake (boa constrictor) that the attendants would put on your shoulders. Great photo ops! The second stop was a pearl/shopping area and the final stop was the lagoon. The lagoon was a salt water mangrove swamp. There were sea horses, crabs, star fish and lots of birds to enjoy from the small boats we rode in with our "non English speaking captain". We all enjoyed this a lot.

 

Aruba - We aranged a jeep tour with ABC Jeeps called the half day "xtreme" tour. It was pretty extreme! We sat in an open air vehicle that seated 6 -8 in the back plus the driver and one other person in the front. At the start of the trip, the guide asked if anyone knew how to drive stick shift and one man from our cruise raised his hand. He became our driver! The ride was rugged and spectacular. We saw the natural bridge, a gold fort of some kind, the natural pool, and a lot of the coast and desert. We had a nice lunch of chicken and rice. We started at 9am and were supposed to be done at 1... but didn't get back to the ship until almost 3pm. (The guide reminded us we were on 'island time'.) We saved just a bit of time for shopping before we had to be back on board.

 

On the ship, we attended several shows which were all pretty good (but not excellent). We especially enjoyed the hypnotist.

 

The food was excellent. We had a great waiter who got us everything we wanted including plenty of extra lobster on the last formal night.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

 

Lynne

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Lynne, great review, thanks! How was the cruise director? Did you do traditional or anytime dining? Any signs that they're preparing for a future MUTS installation? It's supposedly going to be installed for the Europe season (and please, everyone else, let's not turn this into a MUTS thread!).

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Thanks so much for the great review. We are sailing on the Golden this Sunday! What time was the muster drill on Sunday? Did it interfere with dinner (we have late seating)?

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I enjoyed your review!

We are planning a trip next Jan. on this same ship and same intinerary.

We have sailed the Golden several years ago, so we are aware of the ships amenities. Your review has made me so much more excited!

Did you enjoy the ports and was Grenada recovering from the hurricane?

Why weren't you able to dock in Caracas?

Did they have shows before late seating? We enjoy late seating but prefer when the cruise offers shows before dinner-when we are wide awake!

Thanks so much for the info.

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Lynne, great review, thanks! How was the cruise director? Did you do traditional or anytime dining? Any signs that they're preparing for a future MUTS installation? It's supposedly going to be installed for the Europe season (and please, everyone else, let's not turn this into a MUTS thread!).

 

The cruise director, Paul O'Loughlin, was fine.

 

We did traditional late seating and enjoyed it. We were originally placed at a table for four (although we had requested 8 or more). It was changed (per our request) to a table for 8 the next night (and the rest of the cruise). We enjoyed getting to know a family from Guernsey (near England but not England as we learned).

 

There were no signs of a MUTS install. We did see one movie in the Princess Theatre on the "at sea" day. If you go, get there on time. They don't show previews!

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Thanks so much for the great review. We are sailing on the Golden this Sunday! What time was the muster drill on Sunday? Did it interfere with dinner (we have late seating)?

 

The Muster Drill was at 8pm - which is right between the two dinner seatings. We were done with enough time to get back to our room (to put away the life jacket) and get to dinner just a bit after 8:30. The drill was done inside. Our location was the Internet Cafe. (On the other non-Princess cruises we've been on, the drill was outside near the actual lifeboats.)

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I enjoyed your review!

We are planning a trip next Jan. on this same ship and same intinerary.

We have sailed the Golden several years ago, so we are aware of the ships amenities. Your review has made me so much more excited!

Did you enjoy the ports and was Grenada recovering from the hurricane?

Why weren't you able to dock in Caracas?

Did they have shows before late seating? We enjoy late seating but prefer when the cruise offers shows before dinner-when we are wide awake!

Thanks so much for the info.

 

We did enjoy the ports. Grenada was recovering, but there were still many signs of the recent hurricane.

 

We got word about two weeks before sailing that Caracas was officially removed as a port for our cruise. I've heard others say that Princess has officially removed it from all future sailings as well - but you might want to check with your TA to be sure. There really wasn't a specific reason given. I believe the notice refered to "passenger safety" but I'm not certain (since I've discarded it long ago).

 

We found that the early shows weren't available to late seating diners. They typically started around 8:30 - which is exactly the same time as the late dinner. There were a couple of shows that were at 7:15 or 7:30 - but not many. So... most shows were 8:30 or 10:30.

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I neglected to mention that there was much more motion on the ship that I expected. During the sleeping hours, it merely rocked us to sleep. It wasn't uncomfortable - but you definately knew when we were at sea.

 

We did see dolphins off the balcony a couple of times!

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I .. We did see dolphins off the balcony a couple of times!

 

We have seen them off Alaska, but never in the Caribbean. Gosh, I hope we see some in December. Thanks for your review.

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I'm glad that you enjoyed your cruise on the Golden. We did this same itinerary (and it seems excursions as you, except for St Thomas). I was able to relive my cruise through your review. . .Thanks!

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llrosa, Great review...One question, if they cancelled Caracas did they substitute another port or did you just have an extra day at sea?

 

 

Thanks,

ScooterTrash

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Thanks for the great review. We just booked this cruise for March 2006 same itenerary. Did you notice many teenagers? My 15 year old daughter will be with us and on our recent cruise on the Grand there were many and she made good friends.

 

Thanks

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llrosa, Great review...One question, if they cancelled Caracas did they substitute another port or did you just have an extra day at sea?

 

 

Thanks,

ScooterTrash

 

The substitute for Caracas was Isla Margarita - which is a Venezuelan island. The stop was very short - scheduled from 7am till noon. We had some trouble docking (too windy) so we didn't actually get off the ship until 7:45 or so. We were on a Princess tour and they allowed us to return a half hour late... and we were actually 45 minutes late... but since it was a Princess sponsored tour, they waited for us. We highly recommend the La Restinga Lagoon tour - which had a bit of gardens, zoo, shopping and a tour of a mangrove lagoon.

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Thanks for the great review. We just booked this cruise for March 2006 same itenerary. Did you notice many teenagers? My 15 year old daughter will be with us and on our recent cruise on the Grand there were many and she made good friends.

 

Thanks

 

There were a fair amount of teens on the ship - but not an overwhelming number. I'm sure your daughter will be able to make many friends.

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