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DoniaG

Golden Review - July 11-18 (Part 3)

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An explanation of the grades given in Part 1 seems in order. I’ve already explained the grades for embarkation, ship appearance, and cabin. The crew/staff were almost uniformly friendly, charming, and helpful. The only glaring exception was in the dining room where we found the service very slow, and, at times, less than gracious. We had Anytime Dining and usually ate in Bernini because our single experience with Donatello was pretty awful. We had a different wait team every meal because we kept hoping to find one we wanted to stick with. With a completely full ship, I just don’t think there were enough service people. They were harried, disorganized, and so slow that dinner never took less than 2 ½ hours. I enjoy a leisurely meal, but waiting for 20 minutes after finishing one course for another is a bit more than leisurely! No one was ever actually rude, but at least two wait teams never bothered to introduce themselves, and few gave the kind of personal, friendly service we expected. I loved the flexibility of PC (we ate at many different times), but I think I’ll be trying for traditional the next time around.

 

 

Perhaps my opinion is also colored by my disappointment in the food. I certainly wasn’t expecting gourmet fare on a ship this size, but I was expecting something a bit more exciting than we got. It was bland and seldom served at the right temperature – both chilled soups and main courses were only warm. The brightest spot was the best cheesecake I’ve ever tasted in my life!

 

We limited our meals in the Horizon Court to breakfast because we found the other food we saw there was so unappealing. They seemed to have a particularly hard time with pastries. We picked up several desserts at various times as snacks and found them fairly tasty, but too dry to chew! We didn’t eat in either of the specialty restaurants, but heard excellent comments on them. We only had room service once (on the last night), and it was very prompt and the club sandwiches we ordered were quite good. All that said, we certainly didn’t go hungry!

 

 

The entertainment was a pretty heavy disappointment. Our first show was a comic juggler who had just come on board and had about an hour’s rehearsal before his first show. The person who booked a juggler into the Vista Lounge (with its extremely low ceilings) should be taken out and shot! The comedy was lame and the juggling awkward, to say the least. We did hear that the second show was much better. Lights, Camera, Action was also pretty amateurish and boring, with the notable exception of Uber Rossi, who was great. Interestingly enough, we saw Shake, Rattle, and Roll later in the cruise with the same leads. If you hadn’t recognized the names, you wouldn’t have known it was the same people. They were miles better in the second show. Tish was the magician and thought he was quite lame. We skipped the ventriloquist (though Jon Meyer said he was also pretty bad) and the Broadway show. The brilliant spot was Sarge, who was absolutely hysterical! He was so good that he made the rest of the entertainment look even worse!

 

 

We thoroughly enjoyed the casino. It was never crowded, probably because of the large number of families on board. We played Blackjack (usually at different tables) on three different nights and never had a dealer who wasn’t thoroughly charming and entertaining. We hadn’t expected to spend that much time in the casino, but we enjoyed the staff there so much that we kept going back. Tish lost a little, and I came out about even, but the entertainment was worth the cost!

 

More about shore experiences later. Disembarkation was a smooth as embarkation was rough. We were Red 2, and were off the ship, had claimed our bags, were through customs (we both had to pay), and on the bus by 8:15. However, we would not have made our 10:45 flight (booked by Princess) if we hadn’t gotten back off the bus and told the staff member we needed to leave. They usually wait until the bus is full before they send it on its way. When we finally did pull out about 9:00, we were further delayed by an exit gate from the terminal that wouldn’t open. It seemed to take forever for someone to get there to open it. By the time we got to the airport at 9:30, we were nervous wrecks. But we made our flight and that’s all that really counts. I kept wishing I had followed the advice to take a cab. I can’t stress strongly enough how much better that can be in San Juan. It’s cheaper, much faster, and totally dependable!

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Totally forgot to report that the hamburgers and pizza from the pool grills were great! Highly recommend trying both. And I totally concur with the poster who said the guys working there had the worst jobs on the ship (cooking outside in glaring heat!), but they were very nice and helpful. Donia

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Donia, my wife and I were also very disappointed with PC dining. We consider ourselves fairly easy going but PC dining tested our patience. The first formal night ( at 9:00PM ) we had a 20 minute wait. But I just chalked it up to people running late because of the pictures being taken. The next night it was only a 5 to 10 minute wait. Not wanting to wait again I asked the maitre'd for a set sitting reservation at 9PM . Talk about an attitude. I thought this was allowed however he made it seem like this was not the case.He said he would try. We did get our reservation and the second formal night our wait was now ONLY 30 minutes. The reason they gave was that people from traditional seating decided to eat in PC dining that night. I felt like we PC diners were being treated like 2nd class citizens. I have to say that our wait staff while being overworked were very pleasant and professional in a difficult situation. Princess has more work to do to get PC dining to work. We were always placed by ourselves at a table for 4 or 6 anf were weren't they only ones. So table space was not utilized. I will definitely request traditional dining next cruise. I rather have a set time and wait staff than being given a beeper and having to wait 20 to 30 min.

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We were on the Golden 7/4 and loved PC. The first 2 nights were in Bernini at around 7:00-7:30 and we requested to be seated with a group on Sunday and TUesday had a table for 4 with another couple we had met. Neither time did we have to wait and the service was just fine. By Wednesday we trekked up to Donatello and were seated at a table of 8, with a fantastic waitstaff. We had so much fun that the whole table decided to reserve the table and meet every night until the end of the cruise. So I guess we got the best of both worlds.:)

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