Golden Princess is a Grand-class ship, and is the sister ship of the Grand Princess and Star Princess. Some of the Golden's most popular features include over 700 balcony staterooms, two upscale specialty restaurants, three state-of-the art show lounges (including the two-story Princess Theater), a few pools, a great youth program, the Lotus Spa (including a fitness center) and the Atlantis Casino.
Although she's a large ship, Golden Princess was well designed and gives the impression that there's not as many people onboard the ship as there actually may be. Overall, Golden Princess is a spacious ship with a beautiful decor, offering a nice value in today's cruising world.
During April and May of 2009, Golden Princess underwent the most extensive makeover ever undertaken by Princess Cruises. Among her many new features are a new piazza-style atrium, an adults-only Sanctuary, a Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, and a new Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant. Also as part of the renovation, Golden Princess was also given seven new suites (with ocean-view picture windows), a relocated casino (on deck 7), ten new balcony suites and two ocean view cabins (replacing the former video arcade). Other changes include new locations for the sports court, a new Limelight boutique, new shore excursions and Captain's Circle desks, new Internet cafe and library, and the addition of new gym equipment in the fitness center.
Golden Princess will be featuring cruises in the following regions (subject to change, based on the cruise line's discretion):
2012: Hawaii 2013: Hawaii, Alaska, Cruise to Nowhere, Mexico, Pacific Coast, South America
There is a variety of accommodation types onboard Golden Princess. Rooms range from standard interior staterooms all the way up to a huge 1,300+ square foot suite. All of the staterooms onboard Golden Princess come with a bathroom (with a shower), closet, refrigerator, TV, hair dryer, safe and phone.
Interior Staterooms: Golden Princess' interior staterooms are about 160 square feet, and feature two twin beds that can be converted into a queen-size bed. Interior categories (in order of usual cost, from least expensive to most expensive) are M, L, K, J, JJ, I and II.
Oceanview Staterooms: The oceanview staterooms onboard Golden Princess have all of the amenities that an interior stateroom has, plus they have either a picture window or porthole (depending on the specific room category). Category C staterooms have portholes, while categories E, FF, F, GG, G and HH have partially (E) to fully obstructed views (FF, F, GG, G and H). An obstructed view is when there is something on the outside of your window that's blocking your view (such as a lifeboat). These staterooms are about 168 square feet in size.
Balcony Staterooms: There are many balconies onboard Golden Princess. Because of this, the price of a balcony onboard this ship is usually quite reasonable (relative to the typical prices found elsewhere in the cruising industry). The most basic stateroom with a balcony onboard this ship is called an Oceanview Double with Balcony. Such a stateroom ranges in size from 232 to 274 square feet, including its balcony. Amenities in such a room include a spacious closet, desk and a bathroom with a shower. There will be some patio furniture on the balcony too. Categories (in order of usual price, from least expensive to most expensive) are BF, BE, BD, BC, BB and BA.
Suites: The most basic suite onboard Golden Princess is a Mini-Suite with Balcony (which are categories AE, AD, AC, AB and AA). At about 323 square feet, such accommodations are much larger than a standard balcony and feature everything a standard balcony stateroom does, plus a welcome glass of champagne, a separate sitting area, a sofa bed, a luxury mattress and pillows, two TVs (instead of just one), a spacious closet, desk, bathroom tub and massage shower head. A category AE mini-suite has two twin beds and no tub.
The full suites onboard Golden Princess have all the amenities that a mini-suite does, plus luxury balcony furniture, deluxe canapes, fresh flowers, a DVD/CD player, free access to a DVD library, one complimentary mini-bar setup, a roomy walk-in closet, upgraded bathroom amenities, laundry and dry cleaning services, and web access in the Internet Cafe. Among the full suite categories are an Owner's Suite (category OS, which is about 591 square feet), a Penthouse Suite (category PH, which is about 534 square feet), a Premium Suite (category PS, which is about 470 square feet), Vista Suite (category VS, which is about 511 square feet) and a Family Suite (category XS, which is about 491 square feet).
The most premium accommodation onboard Golden Princess is its one (category GS) Grand Suite. This massive suite is about a whopping 1,314 square feet, including its balcony. This suite features a large balcony with panoramic views and includes all of the features that a suite has (as listed above), plus a deluxe queen mattress, spacious sitting room, convertible double sofa bed, a large walk-in closet, a personal computer and corner tub equipped with whirlpool jets and a multi-directional shower.
The dining setup onboard all Princess ships is known as Personal Choice Dining. This gives you the choice of traditional or anytime dining. Traditional dining means that you have to select between an early (at 6:00 pm) or late (at 8:15 pm) seating time, where you will have dinner at the same table each night, with the same people and same wait staff. Anytime dining is where you do not have an assigned table or wait staff for dinner. In such a setup you would just show up when you want to (within the appropriate dinner hours, which are 5:30 pm or 6:15 pm, depending on the dining room, until 10:00 pm) and would be seated at the next available table. Breakfast (served from 7:30 am to 9:30 am) and Lunch (served from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm) are at the same time each day of the cruise, regardless of the type of dining you've selected. You will be assigned a specific dining room, regardless of which dining setup you choose. The menus are the same at each dining room, so it doesn't really matter which one you're assigned to.
Golden Princess has three main dining rooms: Canaletto Dining Room (located on the Fiesta deck; used for traditional dining), Bernini Dining Room (located on the Plaza deck; used for anytime dining) and Donatello Dining Room (located on the Fiesta deck; also used for anytime dining).
Sabatini's is Golden Princess' Italian specialty restaurant, with a great menu and attentive staff. This upscale venue is open for lunch (from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm), on select sea days, and dinner (from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm). Sterling Steakhouse, an upscale steak & seafood specialty restaurant onboard Golden Princess that features top-quality cooked to order meats, is only open for dinner (from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm). Each specialty restaurant is located on the Promenade deck and has a per person cover charge ($20 per person for Sabatini's and $15 per person for Sterling).
There are many casual dining options available onboard Golden Princess. Among them are the Burger and Hot Dog Grill (open from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm), the Horizon Court (a large buffet that's open 24-hours), a poolside pizzeria (open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm), a patisserie (a French bakery, open from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm) and an ice cream bar (open from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, but there is a charge for the ice cream). Besides all of those options, afternoon tea is served from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm on each day of the cruise and there is an evening bistro available from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am.
Ultimate Balcony Dining is a special option offered onboard Golden Princess. Breakfast is available from 7:00 am to 11:00 am on select days at sea, while dinner is available from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm on any day of your cruise. Of course, this is only available to guests whose stateroom has a balcony and does have a per person cover charge (the cost of which depends on the specific meal you choose). An example of an entree you can enjoy for dinner is fresh lobster or steak.
Don't forget that 24 hour room service is available for all passengers. There is a basic complimentary menu, but it's an excellent option for a late night snack, or for when you're feeling a little lazy and would rather the food come to you. There are a few items on the menu that you can order at an additional cost, such as bar drinks.
There's a wide range of things to do onboard Golden Princess, including many entertainment options. The most popular of them might be the two-story Princess Theater, located on the Fiesta and Promenade decks. Nightly shows are performed at this venue, including Broadway-style production shows, comedians, singers, dancers, magicians and acrobats. The Atlantis Casino, now located on deck 7 (after a 2009 refurbishment), can get quite busy (especially after the theater's shows end each night). Princess Links, a 9-hole miniature golf course, is located on the Sports deck. Also on this deck is Center Court and a jogging track. The Oasis is an area located at the rear of the Sports deck, and has a bar, outdoor lounge seating, two shuffleboard courts, a deck chess set and a couple of hot tubs within it. One deck below, on the Sun deck are digital golf simulators.
Golden Princess features many bars and lounges. Among them are the Wheelhouse Bar (a relaxed nautical-themed bar), Players Cigar Bar and the Promenade Lounge and Bar. The Explorers Lounge is where you can see nightclub-style performances and enjoy a dance floor. A great nightclub onboard Golden Princess is Skywalkers Nightclub, located above the sea, on the highest deck of the ship (the Sky deck). This nightclub is accessible via a cool motorized walkway called the Skywalker. Skywalkers features a colorful neon dance floor that lights up while everyone is dancing to the DJ's music. The Vista Show Lounge is located towards the rear of the ship, on the Promenade deck, and features many shows (such as comedians, production shows, cabaret and magicians).
One of the most popular decks onboard Golden Princess is the Lido deck. This is because on this deck you'll find a couple of pools (Neptune's and Calypso, both of which have two hot tubs), as well as a ton of outdoor lounge seating for you to relax and catch some rays in. Right by each pool is a bar, and also on this deck are Prego Pizzeria and Sundaes ice cream bar, as well as the Trident Grill (serving burgers and hot dogs). Also on the Lido deck is the Horizon Court (a large buffet area, serving a bistro menu), a great casual option for a full meal or quick snack. Another pool (the Terrace Pool) can be found aft (towards the rear of the ship) on the Aloha deck (one level below the Lido deck).
The Lotus Spa is located forward on the Sun deck. Within this area of the ship you'll find a fitness center (with an aerobics section), a beauty salon, massage tables and separate changing rooms for men and women (each with its own steam room and sauna).
Your children and teens are sure to have a good time onboard Golden Princess. There's a great program onboard for children ages 3 to 17 (see below for more details). The teen center and youth center are both, appropriately, located (forward) on the Sports deck.
The 24-hour internet cafe (with wireless access) is located on the Promenade deck. Also on that deck is Hearts & Minds Wedding Chapel. One deck lower, on the Fiesta deck, you'll find the passenger services desk (which is where you'll want to go if you need to ask a general question or check your onboard account). The art gallery, library (including the writing and card room) and future cruise sales office are all located on the Plaza deck (one deck below the Fiesta deck). There are also various duty-free boutiques located on the Fiesta and Promenade decks. Popular items for purchase include liquor, jewelry, memorabilia and clothing.
In the case of an emergency, or even if you just don't feel good and need to see a doctor, there is a medical center located on the Gala deck. Please be aware that Princess will charge you for any medical attention you receive from their onboard doctor. That's why it's always a great idea to purchase traveler's insurance.
For dinner, there is a certain dress code in place on a Princess cruise. Depending on the night, there may be a smart casual or formal dress code. The number of formal nights on your cruise depends on the length of your cruise (see the chart below for details). Please be aware that the number of formal nights on your cruise is subject to change at the ship's discretion. Princess considers smart casual to be the same as what you'd wear if you were going to a nice restaurant at home. Formal night clothing is considered by Princess Cruises to be tuxedos, dark suits or dinner jackets for men, and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or elegant pant suits for women.
Here's a general guideline (subject to change) that Princess Cruises provides for its nightly dining types:
# of Formal Evenings
# of Smart Casual Evenings
3 to 6 Days
7 to 13 Days
14 to 20 Days
21 to 28 Days
The youth & teen program onboard each Princess ship is for 3 to 17 year olds. Children under 3 are allowed to visit the youth program if they're with a parent at all times.
Fun Zone Activities are available for children 3 to 12 years old. This program is divided into two age-based groups, Princess Pelicans (ages 3 to 7) and Shockwaves (ages 8 to 12). This program offers activities that may include arts & crafts, discos, movies, cartoons, scavenger hunts, educational programs, t-shirt coloring, theme parties, pajama parties and video games.
The Teen Center onboard each ship (except Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess) features a Playstation 2, new movies and music, giant screen TVs, card games and board games. Activities for teens include teens-only dance parties, t-shirt painting, mocktails, pizza parties, hip hop dance classes and teen dinners. Onboard the Grand Princess and Golden Princess there is a separate Jacuzzi and sun deck just for teens.
Group kidsitting is available for children ages 3 to 12 and is available on all Princess ships, except for Royal Princess, Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess. It's available from 10 pm to 1 am and costs $5 per hour per child.
Princess will only operate a youth & teen program onboard Pacific Princess and Ocean if 20 or more children ages 3 to 17 are onboard that particular sailing. Those ships do not have the youth & teen facilities that the rest of the fleet has. The age groups listed above may vary onboard the Diamond Princess, Caribbean Princess, Sapphire Princess and Star Princess.
Princess automatically charges your onboard account $10.50 per person per day ($11 per person per day for mini-suites and suites) for a Hotel and Dining charge. This fee is shared amongst the staff, including the wait staff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards, galley staff and laundry staff. The casino and spa staff do not get any of this money. If you feel that this fee is too high or low it is at your discretion (before the cruise ends) to go to the passenger services desk to ask them to adjust it to an amount that you are comfortable with. A 15% charge is added to any bar charges (including drinks ordered in the dining room). This is shared amongst the beverage staff (and their support staff).
Because of these automatic charges you don't really have to worry about tipping, unless you find that a staff member that deserves something extra (or if you'd like to tip a casino or spa employee, since they don't get a share of the standard charges).
The official minimum drinking age on all Princess cruise ships is 21. You may bring one bottle of wine and/or champagne onboard the ship to celebrate a special occasion, all of which will be subject to a $15 per bottle corkage fee (subject to change). Alcohol purchased at any port of call cannot be consumed onboard. It will be collected at the gangway by the staff and returned to you on the last day of your cruise.
The gambling age onboard all Princess cruise ships is 21 years of age.