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DoniaG

Golden Review - July 11-18 (Part 1)

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The cruise was wonderful! I'm doing this review as I recover from the trip home, so it will come in parts as I have a chance to write it. It's a bit "stream of consciousness" as I'm not yet capable of really organizing my thoughts. However, if I wait until I am, I'll probably forget something!

 

Grades

 

 

Embarkation F

 

Ship appearance A+

 

Cabin A+

 

Staff

 

Dining Room B-

 

Other A+

 

Food

 

Dining Room B

 

Horizon Court C

 

Entertainment D

 

Casino A+

 

Experiences ashore A+

 

Disembarkation A+

 

Transfer to airport C

 

 

Overall experience B+

 

 

 

 

Friday, Saturday – 9-10 July

 

 

Got up at the truly wretched hour of 3:00 AM, picked up Tish at 4:00 and had an easy two-hour drive to New Orleans. As forecasted, Tish had stayed up most of the night packing, but we were both so excited that it didn’t matter. She caught up on a little sleep on the plane, and we arrived in San Juan about 4:00 in the afternoon. No problems of any kind with the airport or the cab to El Convento in Old San Juan.

 

 

El Convento is a beautiful place! I have to confess to a mild disappointment with the room (considering the price charged), but the location and charm of the property and staff more than made up for that initial letdown. We walked around OSJ for a while and just fell madly in love with it. The colors, the architectural details, the lush landscaping – all of it just wiped us out! Had dinner that evening in the hotel’s tapas bar, El Picoteo – excellent food and the most incredible champagne sangria I’ve ever tasted! It’s worth a side trip to see that hotel and drink a glass of that sangria.

 

 

We spent Saturday making a pretty serious contribution to the area’s economy in several of the wonderful shops in the area and had a grand time doing it! Sunday morning, I was up early and having breakfast on the terrace on the hotel’s third floor when I looked over the rail and saw a very tall man in a red shirt and baseball cap with a small, pretty woman with curly hair taking pictures of the adjacent cathedral from the square below. Of course, I knew exactly who it was – Jon and Amy Meyer. I yelled down to them (in my most ladylike manner) and we introduced ourselves. It was so much fun to actually recognize them! Tish and I toured El Morro on Sunday morning – a fascinating place with the most phenomenal views from the ramparts.

 

 

Then we were off to Pan Am terminal, arriving about 11:45. The first people I saw were, of course, Jon and Amy! They were at the front of the line – while we were maybe a couple hundred people behind them. Seeing them was literally the last highlight of the embarkation experience. Almost three hours later, after endless standing in lines and frustration, we finally got on board. Princess gets a flat F for that day’s procedure. No one seemed to know what to do; the staff was arguing among themselves; new arrivals were walking straight into the check-in area in front of those of us who were seated in the waiting area without even being asked if they were Platinum members – it was a mess! And when people began to complain, they got lectured on how difficult the process was for the staff instead of soothed. The lines were endless – a line to get into the waiting area; a line to get checked in; a line to go through security; a line to get boarding pictures taken; and a line to get on the elevators. Adding to the frustration was the fact that so few of the Princess staff on the ship seemed able to give directions! I realize that the ship is vast and that the crew members work very hard in their assigned areas – but we were amazed to find how few of them could tell us how to get from point “A” to point “B” on the ship. Thankfully, that was the end of any seriously negative experiences!

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Welcome back! Can't wait to hear your review of the islands. We will be on the Golden in January and of course I'm already scouring all info on the ports. What cabin & category cabin were you in?

Hope you get some rest!

Looking forward to the rest of your review!

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Thanks, Sue and nu2cruz. I would say that it's good to be home, but I would much rather still be on the ship!:( We were in C606, category BA, outside with a balcony. It was perfect!

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Hi Donia,

 

Met up with Jon and Amy and a couple of others, but didn't get a chance to meet you. We were at the first day get together for a short time as we had late dinner seating.

 

Just to add a couple of tidbits - we were on B2B, 7/4-7/18. We were told there were about 30-40 in transit on this exchange (as opposed to 300-400 on the other week due to a Virgin Atlantic charter). Since we did not plan to get off in San Juan (had spent 3 days there pre-cruise and chose to enjoy the slow ship day), we were told we needed to go through immigration following completion of disembarkation, which was expected to be at 11 or so. At 11:30, we went downstairs, thinking it would be any time. There were still people on board. We finally got to handle things at 12:30, a good half hour after everyone was off the ship. While I'm sure there were line problems with the quantity of people trying to get on, the time at which they could start was controlled by the speed (or lack thereof) of immigration/customs. Rumor among a couple of on-board staffers coordinating things that we chatted with was there was a shortage of personnel handling things that week, for whatever reason. I would suspect that the late start just helped make things even more chaotic.

 

When we arrived on the 4th at about noon, there was a big taxi line to even get into the terminal area, our driver said worse than usual. Few hundred waiting to get on, we managed to get through it all in about 30 minutes or so, I'd guess, from exiting our taxi to entering our stateroom.

 

Bernie

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Thanks for the info, Bernie. I'm really sorry we didn't catch up with you at some point during the cruise. If the prior disembarkation was as slow as you describe, that would explain a lot about our embarkation. Our experience with getting off yesterday was totally smooth and perfect, so I would guess they've got the problem solved. Donia

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Sorry we missed you all too at the Oasis. By the time Frank and I got to our mini suite D618 which was superb and got dressed and went to and finished dinner it was close to 11 pm. Made a quick stop to the casino enroute back to our cabin, on a whim plunked $20 into a $5 machine and hit for $400 and then went to bed:) Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure Jon and his wife Amy were on our America's Cup excursion, and on our boat which I was chosen to be the captain lol. What a fun but exhausting excursion, but would do it again in a heart beat. Went to Orient beach after by cab for a few hours which was a gorgeous beach, and only wished we had more time there. We also did the sub ride in Barbados which too was great, and after hired a cab on our own for and island tour which too was a great experience. That cost us $20 pp and well worth it. The dolphin encounter in Antigua we really enjoyed. Although you do not get rides from the dolphins, they provided a good amount of hands on interaction with the dolphins which was fine for us. We absolutely loved St.Lucia and the boat/botanical gardens/mineral bath excursion. A good amount of uneven trail walking in the heat on this excursion so I would caution someone who is not in great shape to think twice about choosing this one. By the time we got to St.Thomas we were really beat and only did a little shopping, then vegged out by the pool. A side note, we had late seating traditional dinning. We were at a table for eight and had great dinner mates and waiter, but I think I would choose PC in the future since two nights we being so exhausted, napped till 8 and really did not feel like dressing up for dinner, cancelled out and ate laround 10 pm at Horizon Court which was a nice change of pace. A few of our table mates did the same as well. We also did the rain forest post excursion tour. Frank like it, but I did not care for it since I found the guide rather obnoxious and full of himself. Maybe I was just too tired and cranky to appreciate his political humor.

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Donia,

Glad you had a great time. We are so ready to cruise again!

We were on the 4th cruise and arrived about1:15. We walked right up to the counter and were on the ship in less than 5 minutes. Must have missed the big rush!:D . Disembarking to much longer. Our group from Dophin was not even called down until close to 11:30 and there were 3 more groups after us. So I imagine loading the next group was backed up.

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