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Sheebah

Golden Review, Photos & Full Ship Video Tour (Coming soon!)

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Hey Cruisers!

We had the pleasure of enjoying the 10 night Alaska itinerary on the 5/22/15 sailing on Golden Princess. On this sailing, we took my mom (74), & son (6). I am 41, my husband is 52, and we love to cruise as often as we can afford it. Our hobby is to film cruise ships, so stay tuned. . . We’re almost done editing our full ship tour, and hopefully captured some good footage of the ship, and it’s recent renovations.

A bit about us & why we chose this itinerary:

We live in California and prefer to drive to port, rather than flying. This is mostly a cost consideration, but also a convenience as we take our 6 year old son everywhere with us and flying is a pain. Often, we cruise out of LA and Long Beach, but the port of SF is just a 5 hour drive for us. We loved this date (5/22) for many reasons. 1) it straddled two weekends, so I didn’t have to exhaust as much vacation time at work AND the Memorial Day holiday was another “freebie” day. Bonus! 2) Historically, we’ve loved cruising to Alaska in May. The weather has been dry, and we simply prefer the early season experience.

Now, for the fun stuff!

 

Day 1: Embarkation

We started our vacation by driving ¾ of the way to SF the afternoon before our cruise, then made the remainder of the journey the morning of embarkation. We had received the “noro” email several days prior to embarkation informing us that due to a larger than average number of norovirus cases on the prior cruise, embarkation would be delayed to 3pm due to sanitation of both the ship AND the terminal. This was a huge disappointment to us because we normally film over half the ship just after boarding on embarkation day, while certain areas are empty. We also love that you can enjoy the main dining room on embarkation day. None of that would be possible, however we rolled with it because you shouldn’t cruise if you can’t remain flexible, right? So, on embarkation day we drove to the Embarcardero, dropped our luggage at the terminal, then parked at 80 Francisco (55 was booked), then arrived at the terminal around 12:30 and checked out the scene…passengers were patient and respectful of the delay and mostly headed to the tourist areas to entertain themselves until boarding started around 2 or 3. Starving, we grabbed a pager and a seat at the bar at the restaurant closest to the new Pier, and waited it out. The food was sub par, but we had an up close and personal view of the aft end of Golden, and it was a short walk with our carry-on bags when we heard my Mom would be arriving from the airport. We grabbed Mom a chowder to go, and headed to the pier, where the lines to enter the building just started forming. Embarkation was exceptionally quick and smooth. We never sat down and were on the ship within 20 minutes. The terminal is lovely and the staff were amazingly kind and professional.

My husband took off to film what little he could before the muster drill, and we unpacked in our little room, met our delightful steward, and got settled. Our room steward had already emptied our fridge- hooray! We had an inside cabin on this trip (too pricey on a 10-night for a balcony or suite) and loved the ample hanging space in the closet. More on the cabin later.

The muster drill came quickly since embarkation was delayed and thankfully…was painless and quick, as always with Princess. I love that they gather everyone in theatres, instead of in the elements on the open decks. It’s so much more comfortable.

After muster, sailaway was upon us and we weren’t going to miss that gorgeous “Under the golden gate” moment! So, we headed up on deck bundled in our coats, and ordered a mojito to mark the occasion. The sailaway was so perfect- sunny with whispy clouds, light wind, and just the right amount of light changing as we passed under the bridge, waving to pedestrians on the bridge, snapping photos, and reveling in the fact that our vacation had just begun. Is there any greater feeling?

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352229&stc=1&d=1434304407

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352230&stc=1&d=1434304412

 

Everything was moving too fast, it was now time for dinner, and we decided not to mess around with those night one crowds in the anytime dining room, and promptly called Crown Grill for a steakhouse reservation. We secured a reservation and were glad we did as we heard the restaurant quickly booked for the remainder of the cruise. Likely because of all the free vouchers princess is offering with their 50 year promo. We dressed for the occasion and headed to the restaurant. The food was amazing, but sadly, our waiter was not. He didn’t offer drinks at the start of the meal (or ever) and ignored us for long periods. We saw table after table being served before us, even though they were seated after. So, we made the best of it and enjoyed the delicious food. The service issue was probably a result of using our voucher. We couldn’t figure out any other reason why. We were just unlucky, as every other server in the restaurant seemed attentive and friendly. We’ll likely review Crown Grill with a video in the coming month, so check back. Make no mistake, the food was lovely.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352231&stc=1&d=1434304412

 

After dinner, we explored the ship a bit on foot, then retired to our staterooms for our first sleep onboard.

More to come soon…..

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Pier 23 was the restaurant we dined at on embarkation day. If you're facing the water, it's just to the right of the ship, within short waking distance.

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Thank you for starting your review. I'm looking forward to more including pictures. I was on the Golden in November so would love to see what has changed since then.:):):)

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I'll consolidate the first two sea days into one short segment, as I don't have many photos and we laid low. After breakfast with my Mom in Horizon Court, Saturday morning started with an awesome 9am Zumba class held in the Vista Lounge, Aft on Deck 7. This is a very popular activity, to my suprprise, and the dance floor was full!

Walter, the instructor, was talented and clearly experienced in Latin dance.

Now, let's go back for a moment to the Horizon Court. Word on the previous cruise was that there was a wind tunnel in the buffet, making it super chilly, particularly in the mornings. This definitely held true, but only for the first three days of the trip. Whatever the issue was, seems to be resolved, but man, those omelettes would not stay warm those first mornings and we wished we'd headed to the main dining room instead. Regardless, Horizon Court service was so attentive and friendly. I love that on Princess, you are offered beverage service at your table at all hours...they pamper you..."orange juice ma'am". It's very sweet, and a highlight of dining in Horizon Court.

I know this may disappoint many, but we didn't attend much in the way of activities or published entertainment on the first few sea days - we were exhausted, and my son and I found that sitting in the hot tubs for hours on end, watching the big screen at the Neptune Pool was entertainment enough.

Let's talk about anytime dining...we just couldn't pull ourselves together to arrive at the Bernini Dining room at 5:30, which is opening time, so each night (eek), we ended up showing up between 6:30 and 7:00pm to be told the dining room was full, and handed a pager. Now, if this would have just been my husband and I dining, it would have been no big deal, but Mom (74) and 6 year old Son weren't as comfortable in this situation, and we vowed to book earlier next time to secure early fixed dining. What this usually meant for us is we left the dining room after 9pm each night. Not the end of the world because HEY, we're on vacation, but in my opinion, there need to be two options for anytime dining...or (don't laugh) free champagne and ice water while you wait (I said don't laugh).

Our second sea Day, Sunday, was formal night and we were excited to dress for the occasion. But first, my tap dance lovin' mama and I hit the "Happy Tap" dance class with Kim from the cruise directors staff, this tiem held in Explorers Lounge. It was fun and terrific to learn a whole routine but the lights were too hot on the stage (first world problems...hee hee...my fault for wearing jeans and a sweater). Kim had even the novice tappers shuffling and tapping to an adorable song, and at the end, there were cheers and bows. What a blast! Now off to hot tub and rest and dress to the nines fo the Captians Welcome aboard party. There were many activities on today's agenda we intended to hit, like the Tlingit Culture presentation, and the British Style pub lunch held in Crown Grill, but we didn't pull it off. We DID however enjoy tea at 3:30pm in Bernini (I think it was the first, not second sea day, can't remember). I so love the white glove tea service on Princess, with real clotted cream, scones and the works. After spending lots of $ at the Empress on tea (more on that later), we greatly appreciated the complimentary daily tea offerings that Princess so graciously continues. We always head to tea on days when there is room for a little snack, but sometimes, it's just too filling!

 

At 7pm, in the classy, always-buzzing Piazza, we attended the welcome party where the champagne was being passed generously, and the AMAZING chocolate on a stick pops were being passed out. I chugged a few glasses of bubbly while we waited for our table, and even got to pour into the champagne waterfall with the captain, without waiting in a long line. What a special way to kick off the cruise. After another late dinner, we again missed all the shows, and walked the ship for an hour or so, then retired to our cabin to rest and take photos. I must say here that my 6 year old was a very good sport about the "ROOM they call an arcade on this ship". He usually likes to play a nightly video game, if he behaves well at dinner, but the arcade on this ship is just wimpy. I'm not referring to the youth deck, which looked fantastic, but rather the weird afterthought of an arcade they placed off to the side of Crown Grill. There were maybe 5, barely functioning games and after one look, we laughed it off and never went back.

 

So we hot tubbed, ate, and rested our sea days, in great anticipation of Tracy Arm, the next day (our ship was scheduled to enter the passageway at 1pm)...of which I have LOTS more photos.

 

Here are some pics of the WONDERFUL anniversary dinner choices we enjoyed. We loved this specialty menu, as I'm seeing that most cruisers are so far this season. We will produce a FULL food video/slideshow in a few weeks, and if time a separate one for Crown Grill, so more on that later.

 

If anyone knows an easier way to upload photos aside from copying and pasting the url from the attach files area, let me know, I think I'm botching this and the menu photo below DOES NOT belong...sorry!:

 

Not necessarily in order, the Turbot, beef entree, palate cleansing sorbet, and Princess special dessert:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352291&stc=1&d=1434333716

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352289&stc=1&d=1434332888

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352290&stc=1&d=1434332817

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352289&stc=1&d=1434332888

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352288&stc=1&d=1434332601

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352287&stc=1&d=1434332601

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Edited by Sheebah

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Thank you for starting your review. I'm looking forward to more including pictures. I was on the Golden in November so would love to see what has changed since then.:):):)

The video tour is almost done, and will give you the best snapshot of what has/has not changed. Thanks for hanging in there for us. We were so busy when we got home...just catching up!

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Thanks for your review. Are you aware that if you use a site like Photo Bucket and download your photos they will appear as a large photo on the page like below? It means that people don't have to click on anything.

 

DSC_0617_zps50e239d9.jpg

 

It's just another way to post any photos.

 

Tom😎

 

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Thanks for your review. Are you aware that if you use a site like Photo Bucket and download your photos they will appear as a large photo on the page like below? It means that people don't have to click on anything.

 

DSC_0617_zps50e239d9.jpg

 

It's just another way to post any photos.

 

Tom😎

 

Please tell me how to do this! Thanks for rescuing me. Do i just click the URL? I have shutterfly...would that work?

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Thanks for your review. Are you aware that if you use a site like Photo Bucket and download your photos they will appear as a large photo on the page like below? It means that people don't have to click on anything.

 

DSC_0617_zps50e239d9.jpg

 

It's just another way to post any photos.

 

Tom😎

 

 

Okay tbarton...here's my test run...can u see the photo or is it still appearing as a link? Trying this from my phone.

1434338770179.jpg.e234b35dd600da91d3356e99629a533b.jpg

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Hey Cruisers!

Day 1: Embarkation

So, on embarkation day we drove to the Embarcardero, dropped our luggage at the terminal, then parked at 80 Francisco (55 was booked), then arrived at the terminal around 12:30 and checked out the scene…passengers were patient and respectful of the delay and mostly headed to the tourist areas to entertain themselves until boarding started around 2 or 3. that our vacation had just begun. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352229&stc=1&d=1434304407

 

 

How was the parking at 80 Francisco? You can prepay at 55 which is nice, but 80 would be about 1/2 the cost (they don't charge more for minivans). Did you reserve with 80 Francisco? Just curious as we will be doing this in about 3 weeks--thanks!

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How was the parking at 80 Francisco? You can prepay at 55 which is nice, but 80 would be about 1/2 the cost (they don't charge more for minivans). Did you reserve with 80 Francisco? Just curious as we will be doing this in about 3 weeks--thanks!

 

80 was great and is adjacent to 55, but $2 cheaper per day I believe. Yes, you must pre-reserve by email but you pay at exit. Have a fabulous trip!

Edited by Sheebah

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Tracy arm part 1- coffee and quiet

 

The morning before entering Tracy Arm was peaceful and quiet. Glacier Days in Alaska are my favorite, and I was looking forward to entering the passageway around 1pm, so I set out, as the lone early riser in my party, to get my morning started. By now, I had my morning routine down. Head to the International Café (IC) with by coffee card, and enjoy my Macchiato or Cappuccino with a view in the adjacent bar, then take pastries back to the family when they wake. The donuts, as others have mentioned on these boards, were NOT sweet, but the toppings and/or fillings were, making them such a unique treat. I loved that they weren’t sugar bombs, and we tried every variety of donut and pastry offered in the IC throughout the cruise.

 

 

 

The espresso drinks were high quality and impressive, and I loved that the IC staff didn’t punch my card when I ordered an Americano (well, some of the staff did, but not all). The coffee card was definitely a money saver for our family because we shared the card, drank 3-4 espresso drinks per day for 10 days, and still have over half the punches available for our next cruise.

 

 

 

After coffee and reflection, it was time to gather the family and start making preparations for an afternoon on Deck. We were elated that the weather was cooperating and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We had lunch, then bundled in layers with backpacks full of cameras and headed to the open decks. We opted to start at the back of the ship, which seemed less crowded, probably because you couldn’t hear much of the naturalist commentary from that area. Despite the sunshine, the weather gradually became cooler as we weaved our way down the narrow passage toward the glacier, yet we found ourselves swapping layers constantly as the weather seemed to vary by 20 degrees or more, inconsistently. One minute, we’d be in tshirts, and the next, we’d be digging for our packable puffer jackets…it was all depending on the wind.

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Sheebah, thanks so much for doing this report.

 

DH and I will be doing the Alaska cruise for the first time this August and we are looking so forward to it.

 

I do have a question about the Tracy Arm Fjord scenic cruising.

We do have a balcony this trip. I was wondering if setting up the camera on our balcony was a good idea. We will be on the Lido deck so we can't get any higher and will be on the port side. What was your experience?

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Sheebah, thanks so much for doing this report.

 

DH and I will be doing the Alaska cruise for the first time this August and we are looking so forward to it.

 

I do have a question about the Tracy Arm Fjord scenic cruising.

We do have a balcony this trip. I was wondering if setting up the camera on our balcony was a good idea. We will be on the Lido deck so we can't get any higher and will be on the port side. What was your experience?

 

If I were in your situation, depending on the weather, I'd likely do both. In my next Tracy Arm post I'll mention how crowded it gets on the upper decks on the way IN to Tracy Arm and during glacier viewing, but on the way out (especially if you are visiting in the afternoon), the upper decks become desolate and it's amazing to be walking around on deck with so few people, at least that was our experience. So, you might consider setting up the balcony camera for the trip IN to the passageway to catch some of the waterfalls and icebergs, then see what you can from your balcony while at the glacier itself, then head up on deck for the trip out of the passage. It's very different to be up on deck where you have a 365 view, vs. on your balcony. It's far more grand, and you'll see more, though you'll be less comfortable. I hope this helps you and have a wonderful cruise!!!

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Thank you for answering my question. I'm guessing that it will have to be a bit of both. I'm game!!:D

 

Definitely. And you have 6 hours, give or take to take in the whole experience, so you'll have plenty of time!

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Pier 23 not known for their food....but the drinks are :)

 

Haha, yes, that is INDEED consistent with my experience.

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In case anyone is wondering, I can confirm that the old quarter operated laundry system has been replaced with the card swipe system (ironically, the card system then spits out tokens). The attached images show the pricing, process and wash/dry times for those of you that launder on board like me ;-)

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352380&stc=1&d=1434407085

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352381&stc=1&d=1434407085

 

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http://boards.cruisecritic.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=352383&stc=1&d=1434407085

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Thanks.....

At the rate they are changing them out it will be another year to finish all the fleet. :eek:

I bet! I think I liked the old quarter system better ;-( So many people were having issues with their room cards and having to call for help. It was sad to see.

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Thank you as I was going to take stock in a roll of quarters.... nice to know.

I bring my own laundry sheets. I may pack different knowing the prices.

 

Yah, it's pricey. It's a long cruise though, and hard to avoid laundry on a 10- nighter! Out of curiosity, what type of laundry sheets do you use? I took some tide pods on this last cruise.

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