Hi Everyone, I have never cruised before and I want everyone to know that this review is probably a little bias because my husband and I had the most wonderful vacation we have ever taken. It was my dream come true and all my expectations were met. The Golden Princess is a magnificent ship; her beauty is not deterred by her size. The ship is elegant but very comfortable. Therefore, I will try to tell you my views of what I experienced on the Golden.
Day 1 Oct 13,2001
This morning I awoke with the excitement of a child waiting for Santa Claus. I had anticipated this very moment for 8 months and it had finally arrived. It was 5:30 am Saturday morning and I wanted to see the Golden as she docked after her "two day cruise to nowhere", but she was not there yet, I tried to curb my excitement and go back to bed for awhile but I couldn't. About 5:50 am, I looked again and there she was. I was amazed at her size and the grace she had as she maneuvered into her berth. The Golden Princess is everything you dreamed of and more. I could barely curtail my enthusiasm; this was going to be the most wonderful week of my life.
First, I wanted to explain that we had stayed at the Best Western Marina; they have recently remodeled this hotel as I had been told horror stories about it, and however it was very nice. The lobby is gorgeous and the rooms are nice with subtle colors and very clean. This was perfect for us and reasonably priced as well. In addition, it is directly across the harbor from where the Golden was docked. Our stay was pleasant and I would stay there again.
We went to the terminal around 11:00 am and people were already boarding, even with all the security we were onboard and in our stateroom by 11:40am. Everyone on the board had told me how efficient the embarkation process was and they were correct. As I walked up the gangway into the main atrium I was mesmerized, all the beauty of the marble and etched glass reflecting the light off the polished brass and the rich and elegant woodwork, it was truly a remarkable sight. I had never seen so much beautiful craftsmanship in my life. There was a classical sting trio playing as we boarded and the sweet sound of the music filled the atrium and added to the effect. The Golden Princess gleamed and sparkled like a new penny. Everyone was very helpful and pleasant but I was very grateful for all the times I had looked at the ships deck plans because I was able to make my way to the stateroom with no problem. Our stateroom looked exactly like the ones in the brochure, Caribe deck C306 it was close to the forward elevators, which was a good thing. The bathrooms seemed smaller than I had expected but since it was my first cruise, I had nothing to compare to. Being on the Caribe deck our balcony was one of the larger ones and I loved it, my husband and I spent a lot of time looking at the sea and the stars at night.
Like everyone else we went to the horizon court on the Lido deck for lunch, it was very good the food was fresh and hot and nicely displayed. After lunch we looked around the ship some, my husband soon gave way to all the walking and we went back to the room to rest and relax. I knew the luggage would be coming around 4:00 pm because of all the good tips I picked up from the board. Our room steward was Jose, he introduced himself and spent much of the afternoon filling our cabin with the amenities of our anniversary packaged I had purchased for my husband. We had roses and champagne, balloons and steamers. Our luggage arrived about 4:15, we attended the muster drill at 4:30 pm and once again thanks to all the help from the board, I knew what to do and what to expect. Sail away was set for 5:00 pm but it was about 5:15 before we started to edge away from the dock. My heart almost jumped out of my chest with excitement as we slowly entered the channel past all the farewells from the condominium residents. It made for a memorable day. The Coast Guard was very prevalent and as they escorted us out of the harbor and were ready to release us, people on board clapped and cheered thankful for their hard work and effort for our safety. We stayed on our balcony for a while and I was just taken aback at the grace this lady had as she cut through the water, never cruising before I was afraid I may be seasick, but from the minute the ship started to move I was too spellbound to be sick. The sound of the waves splashing against the hull and the breeze blowing in my hair provided me with the most serene and calming moment of my life. I began to feel completely renewed and refreshed, this was certainly a "hallmark" moment for me.
I had unpacked and around 6:30 pm we went to the Donatello Dining room for dinner, we had personal choice dining and I really like the flexibility for we ate at different times almost every night. Our waiter was Florien, he was from Romania and Marius, his assistant was from Portugal, we requested his table every night and there was not a problem. The food was wonderful, Florien was very attentive and the meal was a very pleasant experience. We walked around some and just checked out a few of the lounges the first night, we went up to the room around 11:00 pm and had a romantic evening on the balcony, part of this balcony is private and part can be seen from above. The gentle rocking of the ship lulled me into my first night sleep on the ocean, it was very soothing and I slept like a baby.
Day 2 Oct 14, 2001
I woke up early this morning and watch the sun come up, as we were on the port side of the ship, the view was breathtaking, seeing the sun peaking over the horizon, all the explosive colors in the sky, it was an awesome sight. We had breakfast in bed (part of our anniversary package) it was very good and hot, we had western omelets and the works, even champagne. My husband wanted to sleep in after that and I went to the terrace pool for some sun. It was so nice but it is very windy on the top deck. Later I just browsed around the ship, I went back to the room around 1:00 pm and just chilled for awhile, I was suppose to meet fellow cruise addicts in the Wheelhouse Lounge at 3:00 but my husband and I lost track of time, if you know what I mean, after all it was our anniversary. I got to the Wheelhouse and 4:00 and did not find anyone. I am so sorry I missed everyone.
Tonight is the first formal night and I went to get my hair done around 5:00 (all they did was put my hair up and it was 30 dollars plus tip) but it looked very nice and the girl was very pleasant. My husband wore a tuxedo that we had rented through Cruiselineformal.com, he looked very handsome. I would have to say that most people I saw were dressed very nice, probably 60/40 tuxes for men and most all the women had long formal gowns. Again, dinner was wonderful, we had our formal portrait made (it came framed with the anniversary package), and then went to the comedy show to see Steven Rawlings, he wasn't all that good, that is only my opinion. He juggled a lot! We went up to our room about 11:30; it has been a wonderful day.
Day 3 Oct. 15, 2001
This is our second sea day and has been very relaxing, we had breakfast in the horizon court, it was very good and lots of choices, the coffee was not all that great, but that's a little complaint. The rest of the morning we just walked around the ship stopping to find all the hidden away spots. We went to the Skywalkers disco on the 17 deck, the view was gorgeous, the weather today has been a little overcast with sporadic showers, today was the first time I had noticed the ship rocking much, but it wasn't bad I sort of like it. I did spend some time this morning on my balcony and when I looked over the railing down to the balcony below, a young man was lying in the sun in the "buff" with just a bath cloth covering his private area.
We went to the casino for a while before lunch and I lost $3.05, I guess we don't qualify as high rollers. We had hamburgers and FF from the Trident grill, on the Lido deck, also tried a slice of pizza, it was ok but not much selection, only cheese, pepperoni and vegetarian. We decided to go back to the room for a while around 3:00 pm and I took a short nap (3 hours.) At 7:30 pm, we had appts. for massages in the spa (anniversary package), it was so relaxing; I wanted to do this again but never found the time. We had dinner about 8:30, this time we sat with another couple from Fla. They had been on many cruises so they keep us busy answering all our questions. After dinner, we went to the 50's sock hop in the Explorer's lounge, and then went to see the Magician, Guitano, in the Princess Theater. Tomorrow is St. Maarten
Day 4 Oct 16, 2001
We awoke early this morning to watch the docking in St. Maarten, I hadn't booked any excursions with the ship so about 9:30 am we just decided to walk into town and look around, It took about 20 minutes to walk it but after all we had been eating we needed the exercise. It is very commercial, vendors everywhere trying to sell you something, or someone wanting to braid your hair. We stayed a few hours and then made our way back to the ship. I wish now I had booked an excursion for this island, but live and learn maybe next time.
In the afternoon after lunch (horizon court) we went to the hot tub on the Sports deck, it was really nice not crowded at all, we stayed for the Sail away party, it was nice to hear the band playing as we pulled away from the dock toward our next destination, St Thomas. At 7:30 we dressed and went to dinner, again it was fantastic, and then we went to hear the comedian Philadelphia, in the Princess Theater, we had to stand thru this on as all the seats were taken. It was so bad. During the program, a man named Bill came on stage and asked his girlfriend to marry him. It was very romantic the whole crowd applauded his effort. After this we went up on the lido deck around the Terrace pool for the "Island Party", it was funny watching all the people line dance and do the limbo. They also had a Mr. Golden Princess contest with great participation from the audience. A man around 80 won the title.
Day 5 Oct 17, 2001 St. Thomas.
I woke up very early just as we were docking at the pier, we had an excursion scheduled for 8:30 am but first had to clear immigration. I understand that this is new at St. Thomas since the events of Sept. 11. There was a lot of confusion, that I am sure with time will be handled better by both the cruise line itself and the passengers. One source of confusion was that many passengers received to letters the night before with two different areas to report to. Many passengers did not go at their allotted time but went early, which caused more confusion. Just remember that U.S citizens report to one area, ours was the Vista Lounge aft of the ship, and all non-U.S. citizens reported to the Princess Theater in the forward part of the ship. Once inside the line moved fast and all went on as scheduled. It was just a minor annoyance unless you wanted to create a bigger one. We cleared immigration with time enough to spare for breakfast in the Donatello the omelets were great. We were going on the Coral World and Island Drive tour, everything was right on time and very efficient the drive and tour guide were one in the same and did a fine job. I really enjoyed the marine park even though it was small it was very interesting especially to watch the helmet divers. Coki Beach was nice the water was beautiful. We toured in an open-air bus, which made it easy to see the sights; up in the mountains the view of the ship was spectacular. When our tour was over we went to the Paradise tramway and rode to the top for the most awesome view of the island, we stayed for a few hours just looking over the island and watching the boats in the harbor. It cost 15 dollars per person but we felt it was worth it for the serenity and beauty we saw. After this, we spent sometime at the Havensight Mall, which is walking distance to the ship, found some good prices on souvenirs then returned to the ship about 2:30 pm. After depositing our goods to the stateroom we went back up to the sports deck and the hot tubs, it was still not crowded and was very peaceful. We watch the sail away from St. Thomas from our own balcony, it was gorgeous, the city lights were just beginning to twinkle and the breeze was mild, I could hear the sound from the band on the Lido deck Neptune pool, wow, what a life. We dressed for dinner and went to the Donatello and our favorite waiter Florien. Just to clarify for some we chose not to eat in either Sabitino's or the Desert Rose because the food was excellent in the dining room. I have heard some complaints about the food but I think maybe that is from people who are hard to please anyway. My opinion only! We also made reservations for the last two nights for 8:30. The desserts on this ship have been “to die for” and Florien would bring us three or four selections to try. I gained about 5 pounds; definitely take looser fitted clothing for the last few days. No shows tonight even though there was a lot going on we just went to the room and watch a movie. It had been a glorious day! Only two days left! Tomorrow is our last sea day, I think I like these the best of all, and the second formal night. We also were invited to take a tour of the bridge even though the Princess Patter had said there would be none.
Day 6 Oct 18,2001
We slept in this morning until around 9:30, and then went to the Horizon court for breakfast, I cannot say enough about this because it was consistently good. It seemed no matter what time we went the food was hot and the choices plentiful. Like others, I do wish the coffee would have been stronger but that again is a minor thing for a few days. We walked around for a while looking at the photo gallery and trying to decide if we should buy some more. 5X7's were $6.95 but one of the 8X10's I purchased was $21.95 this can really add up if you are not careful. I went back to the room for a while because I needed to wash a few things, the Laundromat was located just a few doors down from our stateroom, it cost $1.00 a load, and $.50 to dry; laundry detergent was $1.00 also. It was painless. When that was done it was time to eat again, we went back to the Horizon had to much to eat and then went to lay by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. It was a little crowed but there was enough lounges for everyone. The Terrace pool is so nice and I just love the view from the back of the ship. The waiter's on the deck are a little slow but then again patience is a virtue, so either wait for them or go get it yourself. At 4:45 pm, we went to the forward elevators on the Lido deck to wait with the group that was to tour the Bridge. There were 24 people and when they had accounted for us, all we made our way through the locked doors to the bridge of the ship. On the Golden, this looks like wings on the front of the ship. The view from there was great and the technology used to run this magnificent ship is nothing short of amazing. All the instrument panels were explained to us and we were given detailed explanations on how the ship is maneuvered and how she operates. It was very interesting.
Then it came time to get all dressed up again for the last formal night, I really enjoyed getting all decked out and strolling down those marble staircases, it made me feel like royalty. Most everyone I saw was dressed so nice, however I did see a few people that were turned away from the dining room because of their attire. The lobster was great, I ate and ate; once again, I have to say that the food in the dining room was excellent. I have heard a few critics but for the most part I believe you could not have found any better. We had photos done again, just to see how they turned out, you don't have to purchase them so we had them taken. I did go the next day and buy some more, I mean my husband does not wear a tuxedo very often. We went to see some of the action in the bars, in the Explorer their was the Murder mystery evening and the Vista lounge we saw another comedian, David Orion, he was pretty good, but I like Philadelphia better, just get there early or you may have to stand like we did a few nights before, that was not fun.
We then went back to the Explorer's lounge for Maurizio he was a good entertainer. Then we went to the room and crashed, boy this having fun makes you very tired and tomorrow was Princess Cays day.
Day 7 Oct 19,2001
We slept till about 9:00 and waited till after 10:30 to go get our tender tickets from the Explorer lounge. We didn't have to wait at all for a tender to take us over to the island, when we arrived we went to the left and it was pretty crowded, by 11:15 they had started serving the buffet so we had to eat again. They served chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, slaw, baked beans and plenty of fresh fruit. It was pretty good. We walked around the beach some and then went to the other side and found two lounges and plopped our stuffed self's down for a rest. The water is beautiful, so many shades of blue and green, it was so inviting I had to go in, it was also a little cold when you first got in but in a few minutes you adjusted and it was great. You could see all the way to the bottom even at about 20 ft. People were on floats and using the banana boats, snorkeling, there was a lot to do. One of the people from the spa was even doing massages on the beach. There are three bars on the island and they serve all kinds of drinks and plenty of restrooms too. Of coarse you can purchase souvenirs. We went back about 1:45 because it looked like it may rain but it went around us instead, back on the ship we went to our stateroom, showered, changed into shorts, and went walking around. The sun had been hot so we stayed inside where it was cool. There was still a lot going on, we stopped by a watched some of the Art auction, this is probably my least favorite thing about the ship. The art is beautiful but there is so much of it. There was a backstage tour it was interesting too!
Later on, we went back to the stateroom to start the awful task of packing; I cannot believe it was our last night. We did go up to the Lido deck to watch the sun go down it was breathtaking. Our time on the Golden has been the best vacation of my life; I know that some people did not see it quite as I did. I cannot wait to go again.
Saturday Oct 20, 2001
It was sad to get up this morning knowing we had to leave the ship. The immigration process was painless this time, when we were through we had our last breakfast in the Donatello. The disembarkation process was slowed down due to some people not having their accounts settled; they will call your name over the whole ship. We were of by about 9:45 or 10:00 am, it to was painless, we had use the terminal parking, which cost $70 for the week and we were on our way home. Back to the real world.
I hope that you have not been to bored by my ramblings. I have never experienced cruising before and I feel my trip was greatly enhanced by the knowledge I received from the many different boards and their members. Thank you so much for your help.