Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

jdocter7

Just back from Golden--long trip report

Recommended Posts

This isn’t a politely worded trip report, rather my rambling thoughts on our trip while I do laundry & drink my first coffee of the day. Forgive the misspellings, and feel free to fire away with any questions. Honestly, this was our best vacation ever!

 

Princess Cruise 5-30-04 from San Juan, with stops in Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten, and St Thomas. Hubby & I, and daughters, 22 & 18. We had 2 cabins, E617 & E619. They were “partially obstructed view†type outside cabins. Fine by us, as long as we could see a bit of scenery & the weather outside. We got a steal on these cabins at $584 per person. Our airfare from St Louis was around $400, with nonstop direct service and the perfect times for us.

 

This was our first Princess cruise, and we were anxious to compare it with Royal Caribbean and Disney. We’ve been cruising for 20 years, and are very loyal to Royal Caribbean. Princess won us over—mostly for the food, and the genuinely warm people. We had been told to expect an older crowd, and a dressier crowd. Neither was true on our cruise. Most of the people my kids their own age were Puerto Rican, and they didn’t try to mingle with them after the first night. We four enjoy one another’s company, and with 5 ports in 5 days, we stayed very, very busy. We didn’t go to a single show, as we all feel like we’ve been there, done that.

 

Flight was smooth, trip through the San Juan airport was slick. We had 8 checked bags, and all of us had carryons, like tote bag size stuff. Airport porters saved us! Embarkation was a nightmare from hell. (This was about the only negative of our entire trip, so don’t think this will turn into a rant!) It was 87 degrees, and very humid, as we got into a huge line. Someone in line told us we were in the wrong line & needed to take our stuff to the luggage line. Fine by us! Then a Princess luggage guy came by & told us to keep our stuff, they were only collecting very large bags—we had rolling suitcases & a garment bag. Of course, we had no way of knowing it would be *2 hours* before we’d actually get on the ship, or we would have insisted they take our luggage. We arrived around 2pm, and apparently, so did everybody else on the ship. I’ll never ever let a cruiseline do that to us again. I mean, we didn’t have to wait for our luggage, which is a plus, but the amount we hauled was ridiculous. Ah well, live & learn.

 

We unpacked quickly & went back to the pier where we bought a case (12 big bottles) of bottled water—that turned out to be the perfect amount, and it cost less than half of the ship’s price. We also bought liquor for dirt cheap prices. We really didn’t compare liquor prices in the ports—we were busy shopping for other things.

 

Our first lunch on the ship was less than impressive—in the buffet, and it was totally chaotic. No one to help serve, and they had no ice at all for drinks. We were still optimistic, but we didn’t get a good first impression of Princess!

 

 

We had anytime dining for dinner, where you don’t have a set time or table, as we just booked this cruise a month ago. We probably would have chosen traditional dining if given a choice, but it worked out so beautifully! I had told the cruiseline in advance that our younger daughter has food allergies, and she can’t eat anything with butter, milk, or cheese. There was a card in her cabin asking her to introduce herself to the head waiter about it. We did so at dinner, and promptly got adopted by Tiziano, a very motherly Italian type of guy! He not only helped our daughter figure out what was safe to order, he set us up with 8pm reservations every evening without even us asking---with Oscar, who not only was a fabulous waiter, he even did dining room tricks. Words cannot express how well we were treated, and it was a genuine kindness, not the kind where they’re cramming the word “excellent†down your throat for ratings on comment cards. Tiziano became concerned that our daughter wasn’t eating enough vegetables, so he had some especially made for her—grilled zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and lots more. She tried them, and he took notice of what she ate the most of (it was a table sized platter for us to share) and then he proceeded to have special veggies for her on other nights. All without us asking. Our daughter tried lots & lots of new food, and her allergies didn’t give her a bit of trouble the entire trip. Even at the buffet, where they normally had people to serve the food, all she had to do was ask, and she was told whether the food had butter or milk---it’s hard to tell in things like scrambled eggs!

 

The food was wonderful every night. We aren’t big seafood eaters, but the shrimp cocktail was great. The filet was wonderful, as was the prime rib. Every time we ordered any kind of chicken dish, the chicken was fabulous. Any pasta dish was to die for. Wonderful food, wonderful service. Princess won us over in the dining room.

 

We live in the middle of Illinois, and love time on the beach, especially snorkeling. We did our homework, and tried to choose beaches in the ports that would give us snorkeling right off the beach, and some shade. Changing facilities and a bar or restaurant were an added bonus. We had a Plan A & a Plan B ready, and didn’t take any of the excursions off the ship. We prefer to find a cab & go a different direction than the crowd. Hubby & I had been to all the islands but St Lucia, the girls had been to St Maarten & St Thomas before. We take our own snorkel gear—2 sets for the 4 of us. We agreed on a price in advance with the cabbies, and made sure the price was in US dollars. BTW, every beach we visited had bathrooms and changing rooms for us to use.

 

In Barbados, we went to Folkstone Beach, where the locals go—and there’s another great beach if you walk to the right, over some rocks, facing the ocean. Great snorkeling, no hassles from vendors, just a lovely spot. The cab ride was maybe 20 minutes, and we don’t remember the cost, so it wasn’t too high! We prearranged for the cabbie to pick us back up. Our first cabbie’s name was John Fitgerald Kennedy, and he looked ancient. He couldn’t make it, but he sent another guy, who looked even older! We spent a glorious day on the beach. Chairs are for rent here, but we just sat on our towels. None of us were sitting much, anyway. There were 2 ladies selling clothing above the beach, but they weren’t pushy at all, just friendly & ready to talk about their beautiful island.

 

St Lucia is such a special place. It really does look like it belongs in the South Pacific! Again, we had done our homework, and then asked the cab dispatcher to make a recommendation. We went to Anse Chastenet, which is a “one hour†cab ride away. Island time, maybe! We knew it was far, and that the last bit of road was so bad that some cabbies won’t take their cabs down it. St Lucia is *mountainous*, with the curviest roads I’ve ever seen—no wonder they honk lightly when approaching a curve. There’s no way to know what’s around it! Our cabbie was great, and told us lots about his island---“We got plenty mango!†Who knew they have breadfruit, corn, banana plantations, papaya---they have it all! Our ride was really closer to 2 hours, but we got to see the Pitons, St Lucia’s 2 picturesque mountains, and the beach at the end was just a bonus. This ride, and tour, cost us $40 each. It was a bargain! The beach at Anse Chastenet was volcanic black sand—we’d never seen sand like this. No chairs for rent here, but they did have beach waiters for drinks. Again, very friendly, never pushy. The snorkeling was wonderful, but we did see some little jelly fish, and after out older daughter got an ouchie on her arm from passing one too closely, we just played in the water at the edge. We enjoyed some cold Piton beer---we tried to sample locally brewed beer on each island. Asking for a local beer always got a big smile from the bartenders. Our cabbie was waiting for us—he told us there was no way he was going back on that rough stretch of road till he had to. The bad stretch was 2 miles long, according to the sign. It took at least 20 minutes to drive it, and we bottomed out once. Bad road. Our trip back was just as breathtaking, and we stopped for pictures & souvenirs & drinks. At every scenic outlook, people had tables set up selling stuff, and once they swarmed the van. They backed away when we insisted we weren’t interested. We arrived on St Lucia on laundry day, and in 2 of the fishing villages we passed, that meant the women were washing clothes in the stream, and laying them out on the rocks to dry. Some of the road signs were even covered by the laundry. St Lucia is one of the places we agreed we could happily spend a week exploring, but we surely wouldn’t attempt driving around on our own!

 

Ah, Antigua. We went to Long Beach, which is now one of our favorite spots on the planet. On the way, our cabbie took us to see Devil’s Bridge. It’s a natural bridge where the water is very rough. He said it was calm that day, often the waves crash over where he parked the van. He told us it was a spot where the slaves used to jump off to commit suicide, and that no one ever survived. It was a beautiful, mournful kind of place. You could just feel the sadness there. Long Beach has powder white sand, it’s shallow, had great snorkeling, chairs to rent, and 2 bars. One was a funky rusty kind of place, full of friendly people. The other was at a family run hotel—very civilized. There were booths set up selling all kinds of things, and one very stoned looking lady roaming the beach selling things. No hassle, tho. She did offer to get me an umbrella, as my cheeks were getting red----I was sitting under an umbrella at the time… We could happily spend a week on Antigua, and we plan to do more research on the 2 hotels on Long Beach---Allegro Pineapple & Long Beach Hotel. Our cabbie picked us up as prearranged, and he told us more about life on Antigua---they average one hurricane per year, and once his home was without power for 3 months while waiting for the lines to be replaced.

 

St Maarten is all about shopping for us. Raj at Joe’s Jewelry takes very good care of us, and we brought back some pretty baubles. We had lunch at Kangaroo Court—great food & service, a lovely place to escape the hustle & bustle of shopping in St Maarten. This was a good day for us to get out of the sun.

 

In St Thomas, we hoped to go to St John, but caring for immigration on the ship slowed us down, and it involves so much travel time, so we headed to Sapphire Beach. It was very windy, and the water was rough compared to the other beaches we’d seen, but what spectacular views! The colors of the ocean there are just breathtaking. The beach was a bit rocky after Antigua. We rented chairs & had a wonderful time. The snorkeling was okay, but not as good as what we’d seen earlier in the week. There was a nice bar nearby—pricey compared to the others, but friendly service & great drinks.

 

This trip, we didn’t bring home a single T-shirt. Instead, we bought jewels and art! I have had my eye on some Mexican fire opals, and learned on the ship that Princess controls 30% of the world’s supply! They had a huge selection---we hardly saw any at all on the islands. I came home with a pendant & earrings. I also got Caribbean topaz—another pendant & earrings. And my husband surprised me with a Hearts on Fire diamond pendant. It’s our 28th anniversary & he told me next year I’ll get a second, then on our 30th I’ll get a third & we’ll have a 3 stone pendant made. It’s amazing. If you’ve never heard of this cut of diamond, do an internet search. Just amazing, and I’m one lucky girl!

 

The art auctions on Princess were so entertaining, and educational. We attended the first one on a whim, and wound up going to all four. We bought some beautiful pieces, and that gives us something to look forward to when they arrive!

 

I’m sure I’ve left out some important details, but we had a really wonderful cruise. We already paid the $100 down toward our next cruise. They give you shipboard credit that way, and it just has to be used within 4 years, so it’s a great deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just realized I forgot to mention we all loved Goden Princess, although we still were getting turned around (us, not the ship) even the last day. We've neve had that problem on previous cruises. Maybe it's the signage. :::shrug:::

 

No signs or word of anyone being ill on our cruise, but they did have hand sanitizer thingys at the buffet & dining rooms.

 

Gail

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detailed report of your sailing. We too sailed on the Golden for our first Princess cruise and found the ship and crew much as you did.

 

Happy Cruising

 

Chris

 

www.LifeIsCruising.com

 

Next up:

Caribbean Princess 06/26/04

Star Princess 10/24/04

Diamond Princess 12/22/04

Sapphire Princess June '05

Caribbean Princess 09/17/05

Carnival Valor 10/30/05

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great detail. Thanks for the beach info.

 

All the best!

 

Jay & Karen Turner

Mount Hope, Ontario

 

Westerdam 12/93

Statendam 10/95

Zenith 05/96

Westerdam 05/97

Norway 10/97

Westerdam 10/98

Sun Princess 10/99

Volendam 10/00

Volendam 10/01

Century 10/02

Zuiderdam 05/03

Caribbean Princess 05/04

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thought! Coffee is better at my house. LOL The coffee on Golden was okay, drinkable, but not like my freshly ground Colombian!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the 5/23 Golden we also fell in love with Oscar in the Donatello! He is really the best -everytime we ordered something he thought we wouldn't like, he'd order us an additional serving of something he thought we would. And he was always right. He (and his assistant - can't remember his name) were the best. I'm glad you also enjoyed him.

 

Golden 2004

Wind 2002

Grandeur 1999

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are hooked!! icon_biggrin.gif Great detailed review. Welcome to princess!! The Golden is beautiful. We loved her.

 

Sue

7 days on Star Princess 10/24

 

GROWING OLD IS MANDATORY..... GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thare was Oscar's assistant, and we ate in the Bernini dining room. I really miss those guys today... LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had oscar in October on the Golden. In a past post I had mentioned a large table that really hassled him and Richard, his asst. at that time. We met him one day when he was working the Horizon, and he thanked us for being patient, and said he was glad we were at his table. That was nice. Excellent waiter and personality. We have a picture with them from the last formal night, that another waiter took!! icon_cool.gif

 

Sue

7 days on Star Princess 10/24

 

GROWING OLD IS MANDATORY..... GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the info. Our family is getting real excited also - we leave in 5 days. Was just wondering if you booked your specific cabins or when you received your room assignment.

 

countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=111111&cdt=2004;6;13;23;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We booked our cabins online--chose them for being next door & on the right side of the ship. One of our cabins, okay, mom & dad's cabin... didn't have as much obstruction. The other had a lot. It didn't bother us at all. We prefer balconies, but if we're not going to pay for a balcony, this was a great way to go. I didn't mention it, but we had such a smooth ride, and wonderful weather. Our location was very quiet--just across the hall from the laundry room, which we used to wash swimsuits.

 

Gail

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great info. We love to snorkel and beach it,so your review is really helpful. We're doing the same itinerary in January aboard the Golden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Nice review. DH and I will be sailing on the same ship and ports of call...Oct 31st for our 20th anniversary. I love HOF! DH gave me a HOF upgrade for our 19th. Way to go! And just think you've got two more coming! Thanks again for the review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jdoctor7,

I leave on the Golden 6/20 and I want to know where to find Oscar for dining. What dining room did you eat in that Oscar was your waiter? Thanks! Can't wait to go!

 

sue c.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're going on this same cruise on October 31. We're currently signed up for Personal Choice dining? I don't mind a few minutes wait. Is Traditional better than PC? Any thoughts from anyone who's done this on the Golden?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We found Oscar, by lucky chance, in the Bernini dining room. From what I'm reading today, tho, he could be in any of the dining rooms. He's a peach!

 

Gail

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the infor. I'm going to try to track him down on my cruise. I'll check with the head waiter. icon_biggrin.gif

 

sue c.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • Celebrity Edge in Europe Sweepstakes
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...