I highly enjoyed my cruise on the Golden Princess to New Zealand. It was nice to be able to cruise from Adelaide. Staff and entertainment were amazing on-board with high quality musicians and service. The Golden Princess is looking a little tired as Princess doesn't appear willing to do anything other than short term maintenance before the ship's hand-over to P&O Australia in October 2020. Details of my experience can be found in the full review.
5 out of 5
Embarkation in Adelaide was quick and hassle free. From being dropped of at the Port Adelaide Passenger Terminal by the Andrew's Airport Parking team, the process of boarding took 15 minutes. There were no queues, our baggage was whisked away by friendly volunteers as soon as we arrived, identification verification was streamlined and (amazingly) the security screening process for passengers was efficient. It was the most pleasant embarkation process I have ever experienced anywhere.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
On this cruise I had the pleasure of eating at most of the dinning options on Golden Princess. Our family had booked second sitting Traditional dinning. We were given a 7:30 dinning time at the Canaletto dinning room. The food at dinner was consistently very good. Presentation of food was excellent, particularly with appetisers and desserts. Food quality was generally good in the main dinning room, with occasional low par meals. The recommendations made by your waiters are worth heading, as my experience of ordinary meals was when I didn't follow the recommendation of my waiter. Formal night meals generally had an exceptional selection of excellent meal choices that did not disappoint.
The Horizon Court had okay to good food. In terms of quality, the Horizon Court is not the best in my opinion. I had have a few excellent meals in the Horizon, particularly curries.
If you are looking for quality food on the Golden Princess, I recommend the International Cafe. Its food was consistently excellent. Don't be fooled when you see the same option available at the International Cafe that is also available at the Horizon Court. I had a Waldorf Salad at the Horizon Court that was ok, but I had it again at the International Cafe and it was excellent. I'm not sure why this but I always had a better meal at the International Cafe than the Horizon Court.
I also had the privilege of eating at Sabatini's Italian Trattoria while on-board the Golden Princess. The food was amazing. I must say however, the portion size for a six course meal was too big for me personally, but that can't take away from the high quality ingredients combined by experienced chefs that resulted in an amazing dinning experience.
4 out of 5
I was slightly disappointed by the lack of supervised or hosted events while on-board the Golden Princess. However, certain events that were hosted, such as Trivia, were in my experience excellent. A big shout at to Alex, who ran both Bingo and Trivia in such a way that had everyone rolling on the floor with laughter. He was an excellent member of the entertainment team. However, even with such noble efforts by the seemingly understaffed entertainment team, I was a little disappointed that there were very few hosted sports events, like shuffleboard and table tennis. I was also a little disappointed that Friends@Sea events were also un-hosted.
5 out of 5
Personally, I found the entertainment on-board amazing. In particular, the Golden Princess Orchestra was the most outstanding jazz band I've heard outside Generations in Jazz. The technical proficiency of the musicians is not only revealed in the shows but also the days when they perform alone in the Wheelhouse Bar. If you have the time, check them out when they have their solo jazz performances. The production shows were excellent as well as the quest entertainers they brought on-board. My Personal favourite was Yohan Anderson. If you have the opportunity to go to any of his shows, make it a priority. He is an amazing musician and vocalist.
I did not take part in any of the Children's Programs.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The Service from staff that we experienced was consistently excellent from all the ship's staff. Even in challenging situations were we had a passenger jump overboard and the staff got very little sleep due to the search effort, staff were excellent. Our room steward did a great job, but of notable mention were our two waiters from dinner. They deserve a category higher than excellent because their service was amazing. Peleton and Thomas gave excellent recommendations, predicted our preferences and provided us with the best service we have ever experienced. We also were visited at our table a number of times by the Head Waiter Alberto who shared his passion for the sea with us and food. He was an inspiring person to meet. Overall, excellent service ship-wide.
3 out of 5
I feel Princess is attempting to do as little as possible with the Golden Princess in regard to maintenance of the ship until she is handed over to P&O Australia. In places she seems tired. The design of the ship is one which I think works but more could be done to make it better. Having said that, I will be really to see Golden Princess leave the Princess fleet.
Cabin / Stateroom
3 out of 5
Our Cabin was small. I would not recommend for those who are elderly and can not easily get out to open decks or move about the cabin easily. It worked for us because we really didn't spend very much time in our cabin, apart from when we were sleeping.
In my experience, the best mocktails to be found on the Golden Princess can be found in the wheelhouse bar. All my drinks that I had at the Wheelhouse Bar were suberb and, combined with great service and entertainment, I returned there often.
I live in Adelaide, so the rating really comes from my embarkation experience and my disembarkation experience. The embarkation experience was quick and hassle free. Well done to all the volunteers around the Port, who made it clear where to go and what to do. However, the lack of Australian Border Force and Customs infrastructure at the Port made disembarkation uncomfortable. It would be great to see Immigration take place in somewhere other than a hot shed.
Kangaroo Island is beautiful and I recommend the island to anyone who intends to visit South Australia. Penneshaw does unfortunately get a bit seething when the cruise ships are in and the lack of wharf for ship's tenders makes the re-embarkation process slow and tedious, as only one tender can be docked at a time. I recommend that those not doing a tour walk along Penneshaw Beach, past The Frenchman's Rock and along Binneys Track to the Dolphin Lookout. We were fortunate to see two pods of 20+ dolphins, but even with no dolphins, it has beautiful views of Hog Bay. (Funny name for a something so beautiful.)
Our experience of Melbourne was not very pleasant. We visited it twice on this cruise. Both times we had to go through the re-embarkation process. Which was chaotic and crowed (everything the Adelaide embarkation process had not been.) Have to say I was not impressed considering we were transit passengers. We got to do some pleasant walks along some very good walking tracks on the coast, but the whole experience at the Terminal was a dampener those walks.
Sadly, we were not able to enter Milford Sound, but the other two fjords more than made up for that. It is always a highlight of any New Zealand cruise. It would be nice, to hear clearer commentary, but that couldn't take anything away from the amazing scenery.
We stayed in Port Chalmers and were amazed beautiful the town was. We ventured up to all of the towns lookouts with fantastic views of Otago harbour and Harrington Point. If you have the legs to walk up to Centenary Lookout and the Robert Scott Memorial it is definitely worth it. If you don't fancy climbing, a walk to Careys Bay is a lovely, quiet spot away from the business of the town and port. The Careys Bay Historic Hotel is worth a visit. The town itself is relatively small and overlooked by the Iona church, again, worth a visit.
I have to say I am impressed with the Wellington council for providing complimentary services into town. Tauranga offered a shuttle service that you had to pay for. We went up on the Cable Car and then walked down through the Botanic Gardens and Bolton Street Cemetery which were both beautiful and fascinating. If you have the time, take the Cable Car to the Kelburn Cable Car station and go to the Fragrifert- Victorian Perfumery. My mum and I loved this quaint perfumery that makes both traditional and Maori perfumes.
We visited the Auckland Maritime Museum, a very short walk from the cruise Port. It was very interesting and probably worth a visit. The area around the Port was featured a large deal of construction work for the new underground system, which didn't make our time walking around Auckland very easy. Would have probably appreciated more time in Auckland when the work is completed.
3 out of 5
The disembarkation process was relatively painless, but I would like to see more infrastructure added at the cruise terminal, so that immigration doesn't have to take place in a storage shed with delays to passengers due to no electronic Border security facilities.
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