A special holiday for Angela's (dum-de-dumth) birthday. Flight: Virgin, Heathrow to LA. Cruise: Golden Princess, LA to Hawaii, Ouhai, Kalai, Maui and back to LA. Four days at sea to get to the islands, four days visiting them, and four days back. I'm writing this on my bed, in my stateroom (cabin) with the ocean sailing past my balcony at 20 knots, on day nine, having eaten too much - again.
Golden Princess is very similar in design to P&O's Ventura. I'll compare my P&O experience in the Caribbean to this. The cabins are almost identical, but P&O provides kettles etc. for morning coffee. While speaking to a senior crew member, Angie mentioned the lack of a kettle and was offered (and accepted) a tray left outside our door at seven each morning containing tea, coffee, and a flask of boiling water. Princess claims that it's the 'consummate' host and I wouldn't disagree. Staff friendly and obliging - more so than on P&O. There are plenty of waiters around the buffet, whereas on P&O, waiters were conspicuous by their absence.
On service, Princess is the clear winner.
I hate (HATE) the buffet scrum. It's the same on all ships I've been on. However, there are times when you're just too tired to dress for the main dining room and suffer a scrum instead. The Princess buffet, Horizon Court, has a greater variety on offer than Ventura's buffet, and the food is tastier (Ventura buffet food is okay, but fairly bland. For lunch today on GP, for example, I couldn't decide between chicken tandoori, pork something or other, chicken Wellington, Thai beef curry, clam chowder, cauliflower cheese, or, or, and, slurp, so I had a bit of everything. Meals in the main dining room are better than on Ventura too. Getting a table for two is not a problem.
On dining, Princess wins hands down (whatever that means).
I intended to dine in Sabitinni's and The Crown Grill (25 dollars pp). A wonderful aroma came from Sabitinni's, and the steaks in the grill made me drool. However - after breakfast: prunes & pineapple with honey; bacon, egg Florentine, sausage. Mid morning chocolate float. British pub lunch in the Crown Grill at no extra charge. Desert at the fruit buffet on deck. Washed down with ice cream. Please forgive my punctuation; I'm excited! Mid afternoon pizza and, if there's space, poolside burger and chips. Then (waddle to the main dining room and faint at sight of the menu) Sabitinni's and the Grill are just too much unless you have a whale-sized stomach ... And I almost have.
Wine tasting: 9 dollars 50. Cocktails: 7 .95. You have to remember these are in dollars with an additional 15% gratuity, which makes a cocktail about £7. I'm a tad grumpy about the 15% - not because of the cost, but because it is not optional. And since it is not optional, calling it a gratuity is a contradiction in terms. On the subject of gratuities: 11.5 dollars per person per day will be added to your on-board account. This is a gratuity, folks. You don't have to pay it. This sum charge should be opt-in; instead, it's opt out - which, of course, makes it harder if you don't want to pay it. I went to reception soon after boarding and opted out. Doing so involves signing a form. That's it! No questions, just a happy, smiing receptionist. Having said that, the service on Golden Princess is so good maybe next time I'll stay opted in.
Entertainment: I never bother much with on-board entertainment, but usually end up in one venue or another. The best shows I've seen have been on Thomson cruises. Golden Princess has more variety than P&O Ventura, though acts suited to American's don't quite hit the spot with me. So far as P&O entertainment is concerned, I think 'staid' is the word.
On entertainment: Princess by a nose.
Shore excursions: We visited Volcano National Park, a Polynesian cultural centre, and went whale watching. I've never known any excursion to be worth the money. Volcano National Park was interesting, but the picnic meal was a big disappointment. The Polynesian cultural center is run by Mormons and you can't get an alcoholic drink there. Also, a few hours is too long to spend there. Whale watching was cheapest and best, although, to be honest, you can whale watch from your balcony. Either there are whales everywhere, or they've booked a single whale and it shows up at different locations. Take a hat and wear protection (I don't mean a condom) if you go whale watching, or you'll get a burnt nose and forehead like me.
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Times cruised before: 6-10 Sailed: March, 2013
Occasion: Wedding anniversary
Quality of Food
Better than P&O. Much better than Thomson. More quantity than both.