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  • Princess-Cruises-private-balcony - If you choose a Balcony Stateroom on your Princess cruise, you'll be able to take in the passing seascapes in comfort and in private.
  • Ocean-View-Double-Balcony-Princess-Cruises - The Ocean View Double Stateroom with Balcony offers a furnished balcony patio, a bathroom with shower, spacious closet, desk, TV and twin or queen size bed. This is a shot of Emerald Princess; check with your Cruiseable cruise specialst for precise room details on the ship you're considering.
  • Princess-Cruises-stateroom-balcony - Stay in a luxurious stateroom on your Princess Cruise for a roomy private balcony where you can take in the parade of sights in solitude.
  • balcony-stateroom-Princess-Cruises - Enjoy a beautiful ocean view and personal service from crew while staying in a balcony stateroom on your Princess cruise.
  • balcony-stateroom-view-Princess-Cruises - Room with a view: Guests get a private veranda to take in the passing parade of eye candy when they book a balcony stateroom aboard Princess Cruises.
  • Golden-Princess - Golden Princess offers a rejuvenating retreat at sea with itineraries along the Paciifc coast, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Golden-Princess-Belfast-Northern-Ireland - Golden Princess docked at Belfast Harbor, Northern Ireland.
  • Golden-Princess-Hilo-Hawaii - The Golden Princess in Hilo Bay, Hawaii.
  • Suite-Princess-Cruises - Choose a Suite on your Princess ship to get a separate sitting area and coffee table, furnished balcony, large walk-in closet, two flat-panel TVs, a twin or queen bed and exclusive amentities. Discuss the room that's right for you with a Cruiseable travel professional.
  • Golden-Princess - Golden Princess offers a rejuvenating retreat at sea with itineraries along the Paciifc coast, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Humpback-whale-Princess - A humpback whale off the coast of Alaska during a Princess Cruises sailing.
  • Kennecott-Copper-Mines - Explore the Kennecott Mines in McCarthy, Alaska, during a Princess expedition. The Kennecott mill town and copper mines are an extraordinary relic from America's past.
  • Princess-Cruises-private-balcony - If you choose a Balcony Stateroom on your Princess cruise, you'll be able to take in the passing seascapes in comfort and in private.
  • Golden-Princess-Nawiliwili-Kauai - Golden Princess docked in Nawiliwili Bay, Kauai.
  • Princess-Cruises-Lotus-Spa-2 - Rediscover serenity in the treatment room of the Lotus Spa aboard your Princess ship. Treat yourself to a body wrap, body therapy or a number of other spa services.
  • Mt-McKinley-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge - During a stay at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, you can take in beautiful views of the Alaska Range. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • Harbor-seal-Alaska - During your Princess Cruises sailing to Alaska, you'll have the chance to see a diverse range of Alaskan wildlife, including the harbor seal.
  • sea-kayaking-Alaska - Kayak through the icy blue seas of Alaska, one of the activities offered on your Princess cruise.
  • Denali-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-Alaska - Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge sits in the middle of  Denali Nature Park and Preserve in Alaska.  Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • Sydney-Opera-House-Princess-Cruises - Head Down Under to take in the Sydney Opera House and other memorable landmarks. Princess Cruises offers travel options throughout Australia and Asia.
  • Sanctuary-Princess-Cruises - The Sanctuary aboard your Princess Cruises ship offers guests a relaxing outdoor spa-inspired escape.
  • golden-princess-at-sea.jpg - Golden Princess sails in and out of the U.S. West Coast, British Columbia, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Princess-Cruises-Movies-Under-Stars-2 - Watch the latest films, family fare and sporting events on a 300-square-foot digital screen while relaxing at the pool under a backdrop of sea and stars on your Princess cruise.
  • International-Cafe-seating - The International Café aboard your Princess cruise offers guests an easy dining option, no matter the time of day or night. (This is a shot aboard Royal Princess.)
  • Taste-of-Alaska-buffet - While cruising through Alaska, passengers aboard  Princess can try regional seafood specialties in the Taste of Alaska buffet.
  • balcony-stateroom-view-Princess-Cruises - Room with a view: Guests get a private veranda to take in the passing parade of eye candy when they book a balcony stateroom aboard Princess Cruises.
  • Lobster-tail-dish - A  broiled Lobster Tail and King Prawns dish straight from the Princess Cruises kitchen.
  • chocolate-souffle - A chocolate souffle dessert tops off a meal during a Princess Cruises sailing.
  • Princess-Cruises-balcony-dining - Dining with a view for two: Guests who choose a Balcony Stateroom get to soak up the views on their private veranda.
  • Sabitinis-restaurant-Princess-Cruises - Enjoy Mediterranean fare and attentive service at Sabitini's Italian Restaurant aboard your Princess ship.
  • International-Cafe-Princess-Cruises - The International Café is a 24-hour cafe you'll find in the Piazza aboard your Princess ship.
  • Pub-Lunch-Princess-Cruises - Enjoy a taste of British pub grub and lift a pint with a friend at the Pub Lunch on your Princess ship.
  • Master-Chef- Alfredo-Marzi - Master Chef Alfredo Marzi, a graduate of one of Paris's top culinary institutes, supervises Princess's culinary offerings.
  • International-Cafe-seating - The International Café aboard your Princess cruise offers guests an easy dining option, no matter the time of day or night. (This is a shot aboard Royal Princess.)
  • Taste-of-Alaska-buffet - While cruising through Alaska, passengers aboard  Princess can try regional seafood specialties in the Taste of Alaska buffet.
  • Sabitinis-restaurant-Princess-Cruises-2 - Sabitini's Italian Restaurant aboard your Princess ship offers guests a wide selection of Mediterranean dishes.
  • Crown-Grill-Restaurant-Princess-Cruises - Look for upscale steak and seafood fare at Princess Cruises' Crown Grill Restaurant, voted one of the "Best Cruise Ship Steakhouses" by USA Today.
  • Glacier-Bay-Princess-Cruises - A Princess ship cruises through scenic Glacier Bay, Alaska.
  • chocolate-tiramisu.jpg - Chocolate tiramisu mascarpone cream and espresso gelato, part of Chocolate Journeys on Princess Cruises.
  • assorted-chocolates.jpg - Enjoy assorted chocolates, part of Chocolate Journeys on Princess Cruises.
  • chocolate-and-caramel-tart.jpg - Chocolate and caramel tart, part of Chocolate Journeys on Princess Cruises.
  • chocolate-hazelnut-bar-with-citrus-cream.jpg - Chocolate hazelnut bar with citrus cream, part of Chocolate Journeys on Princess Cruises.
  • chocolate-pistachio-dome-with-almond-and-pistachio-nougatine.jpg - Chocolate pistachio dome with almond and pistachio nougatine, part of Chocolate Journeys on Princess Cruises.
  • coconut-mousse.jpg - Coconut mousse with dark chocolate cream and crunchy roasted coconut, part of Chocolate Journeys on Princess Cruises.
  • international-cafe-princess-cruises.jpg - Creative chocolate desserts served in the International Cafe on your Princess sailing.
  • aft-pool-Golden-Princess - The aft pool aboard Golden Princess.
  • Sanctuary-Golden-Princess - The adults-only Sanctuary area on Golden Princess.
  • Golden-Princess-Greenock-Scotland - Locals bid farewell to cruise ship passengers as Golden Princess leaves Clydeport Ocean Terminal, Greenock, Scotland and sails down the Firth of Clyde.
  • Princess-Cruises-Movies-Under-Stars - Watch the latest films, family fare and sporting events on a 300-square-foot digital screen while relaxing at the pool under a backdrop of sea and stars on your Princess cruise.
  • Boutique-store-Princess-Cruises - Aboard your Princess cruise, check out jewelry and other merchandise from top-of-the-line brands at the boutique store on board.
  • Princess-Cruises-splash-pool - Take a dip in the splash pool aboard your Princess cruise.
  • Chefs-Princess-Scholarship-at-Sea - Learn new cooking skills with seasoned chefs during your cruise. Princess Cruises' ScholarShip@Sea Program offers up to 40 enrichment classes on every voyage.
  • Princess-Cruises-wait-staff - Look for attentive service from the crew's wait staff during your Princess cruise.
  • Princess-Cruises-Lotus-Spa-massage - The Lotus Spa aboard your Princess ship offers massages, facials, scrubs, body therapy, body wraps, Botox and acupuncture.
  • Princess-Cruises-Lotus-Spa - Make time for serenity during your Princess Cruise. Head to the Lotus Spa to relax and get pampered with a body wrap, body therapy or a number of other spa services.
  • Princess-Cruises-captain - The ship's captain and crew frequenty interact with guests during a Princess cruise.
  • Sanctuary-Princess-Cruises - The Sanctuary aboard your Princess Cruises ship offers guests a relaxing outdoor spa-inspired escape.
  • Vines-Wine-Bar-Princess-Cruises - Head to the Vines Wine Bar on your Princess Cruise to unwind with a drink or to meet new people. It was voted one of the "Best Wine Bars at Sea" by USA Today.
  • Vines-Wine-Bar-Princess-Cruises-2 - Head to the Vines Wine Bar on your Princess cruise to unwind with a glass of wine that suits your palate. It was voted one of the "Best Wine Bars at Sea" by USA Today.
  • Sanctuary-Princess-Cruises-2 - Your Princess ship offers passengers a relaxing spot in solitude in the Sanctuary.
  • Princess-Cruises-Movies-Under-Stars-2 - Watch the latest films, family fare and sporting events on a 300-square-foot digital screen while relaxing at the pool under a backdrop of sea and stars on your Princess cruise.
  • Chateubriand-dinner-Princess-Cruises - A Chateaubriand steak with vegetables served to guests on a Princess cruise.
  • Menage-a-Trois-dessert - Try the Ménage à Trois dessert — a raspberry chocolate dish of delicious decadence — on your Princess cruise.
  • naturalist-Alaska-Princess-cruise - On its Alaska itineraries, Princess Cruises gives guests the chance to hear and ask questions of expert naturalists, giving passengers a better understanding of the places they're encountering.
  • Sanctuary-Princess-Cruises-3 - The Sanctuary aboard your Princess Cruises ship offers guests a relaxing outdoor spa-inspired retreat.
  • Princess-Cruises-production - Princess Cruises offers several sources of live entertainment, such as its renowned production shows.
  • Youth-Center-Princess-Cruises - Bringing your little one on board? The Youth Center aboard your Princess ship offers a venue full of activities, including drawing and face painting.
  • Teen-Center-Princess-Cruises - Princess Cruises' Teen Center offers passengers ages 13-17 lots of entertainment and activities suited for their age group.
  • Teen-Center-Princess-Cruises-2 -  The Teen Center onboard your Princess ship gives young passengers lots of ways to stay active and entertained.
  • Princess-Fine-Arts-Auctions - At lovers will want to check out Princess Fine Arts Auctions. They're a fun, fast-paced way for guests to purchase works of fine art — just make sure you do your homework.
  • Princess-Cruises-Lotus-Spa-2 - Rediscover serenity in the treatment room of the Lotus Spa aboard your Princess ship. Treat yourself to a body wrap, body therapy or a number of other spa services.
  • couple-on-aft-rail.jpg - Ramp up the romance with your special someone on a Princess cruise.
  • girl-eating-pizza-on-deck.jpg - A young woman eats pizza on the deck of a Princess cruise.
  • fitness-yoga.jpg - Keep up with your fitness or yoga regimen on a Princess cruise.
  • voice-of-ocean-judges.jpg - Judges during the talent competition The Voice of the Ocean on Princess Cruises.
  • princess-cruises-man-yoga.jpg - Keep fit with yoga, Pilates, spinning and other fitness routines on your Princess cruise.
  • Golden-Princess-Honolulu-Hawaii - Golden Princess at nightfall in Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Copper-River-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge - Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge, an upscale Princess retreat featuring 85 rooms and suites with spectacular mountain and forest views, is located on 200 acres at the junction of the Klutina and Copper Rivers in Alaska. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • Tracy-Arm-Fjord-closeup-Princess - Your Princess cruise takes you along the Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska, providing breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers.
  • Skagway-Fancy-Goods - Princess Cruises brings you to the doorstep of Skagway on the Alaska Panhandle, population 920, where you can check out its small-town charm.
  • Libby-Riddles - On some Princess Cruises itineraries, guests get an exclusive opportunity to spend an hour hearing the inspiring story of Libby Riddles as she recounts her journey to become the first woman Sled Dog Race champion.
  • Eagle-Crest-Restaurant-Alaska - A scene from "Northern Exposure"? Nah. A peek inside the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge's Eagle Crest Restaurant.
  • Mt-Roberts-Tramway - As you leave the Princess cruise ship pier in Juneau, you'll take a short walk to board a tram for the scenic ride up Mount Roberts.
  • Creek-Street-Ketchikan-Alaska - On your Princess Cruises visit to Ketchikan, Alaska, be sure to check out Creek Street and the antique boardwalk on wooden pilings over Ketchikan Creek, home to restaurants, curio shops and, on some days, great salmon viewing.
  • Princess-Cruises-guide-Alaska - A guide has some fun with a young passenger during a Princess Cruises sailing through Alaska's Glacier Bay.
  • White-Pass-Scenic-Railway - Princess Cruises offers the White Pass Scenic Railway for quick transportation from the ship to your inland itinerary.
  • Glacier-Bay-National-Park-seen-from-Princess - Book a Princess cruise to take in the natural beauty of Glacier Bay, a U.S. national park just west of Juneau.
  • Glacier-Bay-National-Park-seen-from-Princess-2 - From your Princess ship you can take in the grandeur of Glacier Bay, 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords.
  • Tracy-Arm-Fjord-Alaska-1 - Sail through Tracy Arm Fjord, the magnificent fjord in Alaska near Juneau, on your Princess cruise.
  • Wilderness-Rail-Service - Hop on the Direct to the Wilderness Rail Service to take in the scenery in Princess' glass-domed rail cars on most options.
  • Wilderness-Rail-Observation-Platform - Many Princess Cruises guests extend their stay in Alaska and take in the scenic landscapes on the observation platform of their glass-domed rail car.
  • Mt-McKinley-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge - During a stay at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, you can take in beautiful views of the Alaska Range. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • Humpback-whale-Princess - A humpback whale off the coast of Alaska during a Princess Cruises sailing.
  • Harbor-seal-Alaska - During your Princess Cruises sailing to Alaska, you'll have the chance to see a diverse range of Alaskan wildlife, including the harbor seal.
  • sea-kayaking-Alaska - Kayak through the icy blue seas of Alaska, one of the activities offered on your Princess cruise.
  • Kennecott-Copper-Mines - Explore the Kennecott Mines in McCarthy, Alaska, during a Princess expedition. The Kennecott mill town and copper mines are an extraordinary relic from America's past.
  • Denali-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-Alaska - Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge sits in the middle of  Denali Nature Park and Preserve in Alaska.  Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • Denali-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-Alaska-2 - Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge sits in the middle of  Denali Nature Park and Preserve in Alaska. Surrounded by forests and wildlife, it offers Princess Cruises guests a comfortable place to stay with phenomenal views of the surroundings. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • Denali-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-Alaska-3 - When guests visit Denali National Park, Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is the most convenient place to stay. The entrance to the park is less than a mile from the lodge.
  • Denali-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-Alaska-4 - Taking in the scenic landscape from the deck of Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge in Alaska.
  • Denali-National-Park-wildflowers - Explore Denali National Park and Preserve — 6 million acres of mountains, wildlife and pristine landscapes bisected by one ribbon of road — during your Princess Cruises voyage.
  • Alaska-Railroad-Denali-National-Park -  Ride the Alaska Railroad through the vast, rolling Denali National Park en route to your Inland Passage itinerary on your Princess expedition.
  • Wilderness-Rail-Service-2 - Wanna race? Princess Cruises allows you to enjoy even more of Alaska by offering its Direct to the Wilderness Rail Service for fast travel.
  • Sydney-Opera-House-Princess-Cruises - Head Down Under to take in the Sydney Opera House and other memorable landmarks. Princess Cruises offers travel options throughout Australia and Asia.
  • Kenai-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-view - At the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge in Cooper Landing, Alaska, you can hang out on the deck and take in scenic views of Kenai River valley. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
  • College-Fjord-overlook-Princess-Cruises - Take a one-of-a-kind voyage through scenic College Fjord, Alaska, and experience a glacier up close on a Princess cruise.
  • Libby-Riddles-2 - On some Princess Cruises itineraries, guests get an exclusive opportunity to hear Libby Riddles, second from left, as she recounts her journey to become the first woman Sled Dog Race champion.
  • Mt-McKinley-Princess-Wilderness-Lodge-2 - Stay at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge to take in remarkable views of the surrounding forest, mountains and rivers. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise to Alaska with Princess.
  • Princess-Cruises-Alaska-helicopter-tour - Helicopter tours take Princess Cruise passengers to glaciers.
  • Princess-Cruises-Alaska-glacier-hike - Princess Cruise passengers on a glacier hike in Alaska.
  • Princess-Cruises-Alaska-ice-calving - Ice calving (where chunks of glacier fall into the water) in Alaska.
  • Princess-Cruises-Alaska-Denali-Lodge - Denali Lodge packages are available from Princess Cruises.
  • Golden-Princess-Aruba - The Golden Princess docked in port in Aruba.

Golden Princess: A serene, rejuvenating retreat at sea

Our review

Snapshot

Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, teems with spectacular marine life.
Sarah Ackerman / Creative Commons BYAustralia's Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, teems with spectacular marine life.

Golden Princess is a 109,000-ton gem of a ship that makes you feel good the minute you walk on board. A lot of the credit has to do with the crew on board. I have sailed on just about all of Princess Cruises’ mega-ships. And while I enjoyed them all, I can’t say I became a fan of sailing on jam-packed ginormous vessels. But Golden Princess was really an exception to the rule (along with the Ruby Princess, which is also reviewed on Cruiseable by yours truly). It passed muster with flying colors.

From art auctions, boutique shopping and poolside lounging to spa treatments, sports and a kinetic nightlife, the ship is loaded with fun things to do. But one highlight is the lack of activity in the adults-only Sanctuary, an outdoor spa-inspired setting where Serenity Stewards offer you refreshing beverages, light snacks and the occasional massage. It makes for one ultra-relaxing, rejuvenating retreat at sea.

Who will like sailing on Golden Princess

Cruise passengers wanting a wide choice of shipboard activities, but still that touch of personalized service, will enjoy sailing on Golden Princess. The ship's programs for children and teens also make this a family-friendly cruise.

The median age usually tends toward the older side, but on Caribbean cruises you do find young couples and families. You'll likely see plenty of wheelchairs and scooters: Older passengers are super fans of the company and they're rewarded well — Princess has one of the best loyalty programs in the industry.

Where Golden Princess sails

Golden Princess sails in and out of the U.S. West Coast, British Columbia, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. The ship features itineraries ranging from two-day Australia Coastal voyages to a 31-day Andes and Cape Horn Grand Adventure cruise.

Ratings & awards

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Berlitz           
Cruise Critic           

About Ratings & awards

Cruises on this ship
The Sanctuary aboard your Princess Cruises ship offers guests a relaxing outdoor spa-inspired retreat.
Courtesy of Princess CruisesThe Sanctuary aboard Golden Princess offers guests a relaxing spa-inspired outdoor retreat.

Where I went & what I loved

Love Boat chocolates.
Richard Pietschmann / Special to CruiseableA tray of Love Boat chocolates greeted us in our stateroom with the message, "Welcome on board Princess Cruises — Escape completely."

For me and my first mate, Richard, our 14-day cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back provided five days each way at sea with island stops at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, Nawiliwili, Kauai, Lahaina on Maui and Honolulu on Oahu. Golden Princess has stopped her Hawaii runs, at least for now, but other Princess ships still sail from L.A. to Hawaii and back.

Although we often cruise as guests of Princess Cruises and have logged more than 30 voyages, we paid for this trip because it was a birthday/anniversary celebration. We received priority boarding, got a bar set up in our veranda mini-suite, had our laundry done and received lots of other perks, such as special breakfasts served daily at Sabatini’s, a fantastic treat usually reserved for suite guests. We dined each morning with about 70 other passengers in the same category. It was a special treat that came with extraordinary service, fresh orange juice, specialty dishes and our choice of cappuccinos or espressos.

Highlights on the ship

For us, a real highlight was meeting the gregarious hotel director (or maître d'hôtel), Giuseppe Castino, who went out of his way to provide a top birthday/anniversary celebration for us, complete with decorations in the mini-suite plus cakes in the Crown Grill and Sabatini’s. We brought a bottle of very expensive Opus One on board for the occasion (there is a corkage fee we happily would have paid but Giusseppi waived it), and the wine steward carefully decanted the fine Bordeaux-style wine and had it ready at the table for our anniversary dinner in the Grill, where the steaks were huge and impossibly delicious.

Sabitini's offers guests a wide selection of first-rate Mediterranean fare.
Courtesy of Princess CruisesSabitini's offers guests a wide selection of first-rate Mediterranean fare.

Other best bets on board

We had lots of time to wander, and so we had the chance to encounter quite a few highlights during our sailing:

  • The promenade deck, where you can jog or walk all the way around in the fresh sea air with a slight detour up the bow stairs.
  • The fitness center, spacious and well equipped with everything an exerciser needs--but not ear phones, so bring your own.
  • The two alternative restaurants, Crown Grill and Sabatini’s, proved exceptional. More on that below.

To truly review this 2,600-passenger ship properly, one must take into perspective its class. While not considered high-end luxury by industry standards of price (think Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea), Golden Princess ranked with some of the best service at sea we’ve ever encountered. The crew was simply sensational, helpful, attentive and more like those on higher-priced vessels.

Highlights on shore

Mala
 

Because we spend a few months a year in Hawaii and know it well, we did our own thing ashore. That meant making a beeline for the beach, except in Lahaina, Maui, where we walked around the crowded town and went for lunch to Mala Ocean Tavern, one of our favorite spots. 

Shore excursions are usually tops on Princess. There were lots to choose from and we heard nothing but positive comments from passengers who took them. We love days at sea, and this cruise was filled with choices such as the educational programs from the line’s [email protected], lei making, photography classes, treasure hunts, trivia sessions, pingpong tournaments, movies, shows and more than we have space for here. Of course, there’s also a well-attended casino, terrific fitness center, a jogging/walking deck, the signature Wheelhouse bar with a piano player and plenty of  nooks and crannies to get lost in.

Crown Grill was voted one of the
Courtesy of Princess CruisesCrown Grill was voted one of the "Best Cruise Ship Steakhouses" by USA Today.

Dining

Like other ships in the Princess fleet, Golden Princess offers three main dining rooms. Traditional cruise dining — a set seating time with the same tablemates and waiter each evening — is hosted in the Canaletto Dining Room. For a more relaxed, flexible dining schedule, you can go to either the Donatello or Bernini dining rooms when you want, with whom you want. There's no extra charge for any of the main dining choices. 

Specialty restaurants

A dessert sampler at Sabatini's.
Richard Pietschmann / Special to CruiseableA dessert sampler at Sabatini's.

The two alternative dining venues on Golden Princess — at $25 per person — were exceptional, as were our servers. The hotel manager, wine steward, maître d' and captains were phenomenal.

  • Sabatini's: A refined but casual restaurant rich in atmosphere, Sabatini's showcases an Italian and Mediterranean menu with a heavy emphasis on premium seafood.
  • Crown Grill: Chefs at this showplace steakhouse, which features an open, theater-style kitchen, custom-prepare steamed shellfish such as lobster, scallops, clams and mussels and cooked-to-order steaks and chops.

Reservations are recommended. Princess perks for Elite level passengers also include an Internet package of 250 minutes and first dibs on reservations in the alternative dining venues where we ate most meals, opting out of the crowded dining room most evenings.

Casual fare

It you'd like to maximize your pool time and minimize your mealtime, just grab a quick bite whenever you like at one of the casual dining eateries, or get takeout and dine by the pool.

  • International Cafe: Open 24/7, the restaurant serves a range of sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. (Surcharge applies to select items.)
  • Horizon Court: Nice sea views for your breakfast or buffet dinner, but disappointing fare, as mentioned below. 
  • Vines: A wine bar that offers 30 wines, sushi and tapas.
  • Wheelhouse Bar: Serves fish and chips and other traditional British pub fare for lunch.
The treatment room of the Lotus Spa .
Courtesy of Princess CruisesThe treatment room of the Lotus Spa.

Room for improvement

Although our enjoyment aboard ranked as five stars, in all honesty I cut it down a notch because the ship  slipped up in two categories. For one, I thought the buffet in the Horizon Court — the ship’s three-meal-a-day casual dining venue — barely passed muster. The food was uninventive and it was sometimes difficult to find something satisfying to eat. The coffee was subpar, and to get some good joe you have to actually pay for a coupon which is stamped every time you order even a regular brewed or specialty coffee (espresso or cappuccino). That said, the crew working the room (open from morning to midnight) was exceptional. 

The other area that was lacking is the Lotus Spa: not the facility itself, but the staff and quality of the three treatments we experienced. Attendants tended to stare blankly when passengers walked in. (Spas on most ships are operated by Steiner’s and not the cruise line.) A special “head to toe” treatment that cost $139 was way below par, perfunctory at best. The $50 “Fire and Ice” manicure didn’t even include cuticle cutting  and amazingly there were so few polish choices that I had to fetch my own from the suite. There was also a hot stone massage of the arms that was so light I barely felt it. (Note: I cover spas both on land and at sea for various publications and websites, so I am fussier than most).

YOLO (You only live once!)

For $100 a couple, you can book the Ultimate Balcony Dining experience, served by a dedicated waitstaff on your balcony al fresco style. (A breakfast option is also available).

Entertainment, activities & lounges

A martini in Skywalker's lounge on Golden Princess
Richard Pietschmann / Special to CruiseableA martini in Skywalker's Nightclub on Golden Princess

A really nice touch on the ship is the relaxed dress code of resort casual at night, which means no tie and jackets for guys and optional formal attire on three evenings. The shows, activities and Hawaiian diversions on board rated a 10.

To say the nightlife on board is entertaining is an understatement. Musicians, singers and dancers illuminate the stages in three theater venues, Princess Theater, Vista Show Lounge and Explorers Lounge. The outdoor Movies Under the Stars shows first-run feature-length films. Other activities include a swim-against-the-current lap pool, nine-hole putting course, shuffleboard and Center Court for paddle tennis, basketball and volleyball. 

For adults, the colorful neon dance floor on the top-deck Skywalker's Nightclub and casino tables beckon. Other choices for cocktail sipping include Wheelhouse Bar, Player's Cigar Bar and Promenade Lounge and Bar, a live piano bar that serves cocktails, wine and a caviar menu.

Head to the Vines Wine Bar on your Princess Cruise to unwind with a drink or to meet new people. It was voted one of the
David Martinez / Courtesy of Princess CruisesHead to the Vines Wine Bar on your Princess Cruise to unwind with a drink or to meet new people. It was voted one of the "Best Wine Bars at Sea" by USA Today.

Staterooms

Our superb and reasonably roomy mini-suite was fitted with two flat-screen TVs, queen-size bed, sitting area with sofa and table, desk/vanity, mini-fridge and a one-time complimentary set-up of libations. The bathroom had a tub and a separate shower, robes and slippers, and upscale spa products. We love the suites on the Golden, but they do sell out quickly. No problem as our choice worked out well for 10 full days at sea.

Under 18

When kids and teens need a break from their parents, they have their own place to hang out. Golden Princess' youth and teen centers are equipped with the latest video games and movies, arts and crafts, Foosball tables, board games and jukeboxes. And for the littlest ones, activities like kids' karaoke, pizza parties, pajama nights and more are available.

Final observations

Golden Princess was sparkling clean everywhere. Deck space was ample for a ship that was filled to capacity. The four pools (two of which are large) were all kept at a comfortable temperature and deck stewards were always on hand to bring you anything you desired.

The cruise director was entertaining and informative. Our oh-so-British captain, Ronald Wilson, a pure delight, and our cabin steward efficient if not effusive.

Bon voyage!

Your take

Have you sailed on Golden Princess ? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight? We would love to hear about your experience — please share!

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Interested in a cruise on this ship?

 

SEE ALL GOLDEN PRINCESS SAILINGS

Patti Pietschmann
I'm the LA Travel Diva and spend time cruising with first mate Richard, traveling the world, reviewing fine restaurants, going to plays, movies and events. It's the good life.

Top highlights on this ship

  • What: Movies Under the Stars
  • Where: Golden Princess

  • What: Balcony stateroom
  • Where: Golden Princess

  • What: Lotus Spa
  • Where: Golden Princess
  • Spa services
  • Casino tables and piano lounges
  • Wide range of dining and nightlife options
  • Programs, activities for children and teens

Top dining options on board

International Cafe

  • Style: International
  • No additional cost
  • Open: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Crown Grill

  • Style: Steakhouse
  • Additional cost
  • Open: Dinner

Main Dining

  • Style: Gourmet
  • No additional cost
  • Open: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Fast facts

2,600 Passengers [?]
1,100 Crew
17 Decks
2001 Maiden voyage
108,865 Tonnage [?]
951 Length in feet
118 Width in feet (max beam)
2009 REFURBISHED

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