Showing posts with label Golden Repo Cruise 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Golden Repo Cruise 2019. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Golden Princess Repositioning Cruise Wrap-Up

It has been a whole year since we did a short repositioning cruise between Vancouver and some US port. Last time hubby and I told each other they just aren’t worth it. Too short to pack (and unpack) for, services from crew members suffer because they have more of a laisse-faire attitude, and Vancouver is a cruise port difficult to navigate when multiple ships are in port. This time was no different. But this short cruise on the Golden Princess was our best way to see our favorite bartender before he heads to Australia so it was a must-do for us. While I’m certainly glad we were able to spend as much with him as we could, I also know if not for him and a couple other crew we knew it would have been not nearly as enjoyable. We had highs, lows, and some new learnings. You can decide for yourself which category things fall into.

*The Golden Princess is about to be a Princess no more as she will be heading to P&O. (Near the end of next year, I think.) Since the ship isn’t going to be staying in the Princess family, you won’t find the updated MedallionNet WiFi. It’s the same old slow minutes. This cruise it was even shut down for almost 24 hours. (I know, I know, first world problems.)
I know for a fact the crew still had access but passengers did not. Of course, the Internet Manager wouldn’t tell anyone that – just told everyone the entire system was down - but as you know we have folks working on the ship who tell us everything.

*No MedallionNet and no upcoming Ocean Medallion means you’ll find the old mailboxes still outside the cabins.
*No upgrading of food venues also meant the International CafĂ© hasn’t changed out their sandwich and salad menu like the Royal Princess did in the last few weeks. Same things we’ve seen for years and tasty either way.
*We had a mini suite cabin somewhat midship on Dolphin deck. The balcony was almost completely uncovered and those above could see us when we were out there.

*While we had two TVs we only had one TV controller to share between the two. You can imagine who was the one in charge of it.
*We I am always interested in where the mini bar items come from. In the past we’ve had Diet Coke from several places around the world. This batch was from Canada and was in French.
*We again found inconsistencies in the level of service the cabin steward provided. Whether it was having to wait for four hours for the cabin to get cleaned, not delivering ice as asked, or the lack of bathroom cleanliness, it’s something we’ve unfortunately seen before. If we had told him we were staying on until Australia I'm sure the service would have been better. And again like in the past, the smoking on the balcony thing was dealt with nonchalantly.

*The tablet Bingo is super-popular. I haven't checked prices in a while, but I did this time.
*Starting this sailing, the Platinum/Elite/Suite Lounge was moved to the Vista Lounge because of the high number of qualifying guests. The time has also been shifted to 4:15-6:15pm. For those interested, here’s the drink list.
*We were excited to see the Royal Princess with us in Victoria, but unfortunately they couldn’t dock. They basically did some paperwork showing they visited a foreign port and then went on their way. We also had other Princess ships following us on our way down to San Francisco. We'll meet up with both the Royal and Coral Princess in Los Angeles on Sunday.

*Since this was a short three day cruise, most people were assigned walk-off disembarkation. Us included. With hubby’s limitations we never do walk-off but decided to just go with it. Since we were heading straight to our hotel to drop off our luggage and then to the San Francisco Giants game we figured it might work out better.

Would I sail another three day cruise? Nope. Another sailing on the Golden? Maybe. Still sail on Princess Cruises? You betcha. We love we can visit our friends in their cruise ship homes. Best part of cruising, I think.

One more thing to note…all these opinions are my own and probably things others may not notice. As much as we cruise we can see nuisances in how things are done fleet-wide. Some ships and some departments do things better and some do things worse. But it doesn’t keep us from coming back again and again.
The view out our balcony this morning. Geez, I should be a photographer.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Golden Princess Sea Day

I tossed around all kinds of song titles for today’s blog post:

  • You Shook Me All Night Long
  • Don’t Rock the Boat
  • Hippy Hippy Shake
  • Shake, Rattle, and Roll
  • I Walk the Line (but not a straight one)
  • Shake it Up
  • Rollercoaster

The Captain made an announcement as we were leaving Victoria yesterday, warning us we were in for high winds and rough seas as we made our way to San Francisco.

He was right.

It was a noisy night. Creaks and groans and shimmies and shakes. The 40+ knot winds and choppy seas made it rough going. Rough enough to grab handrails or walls when possible. Otherwise, a wide stance with arms spread seemed to be the best way to get around. Sometimes the ship was rolling, sometimes pitching, and sometimes both with lots of white caps thrown in.
And an FYI for those in a mini suite: The grab bars in the shower aren’t nearly as effective when the ship is rocking and rolling. At least when you’re in a cabin with just a shower you can both hold the grab bar and lean against the wall when needed. In a mini suite with the tub/shower combo? You’ll find when showering the ship is moving you from one end of the tub to the other as you try to hold on. Might as well call it a spread eagle shower stance. But at least one of us in the cabin smells clean!

The waters have calmed this evening and it’s much easier to get around.
Tonight we used our freebie Most Traveled Guest voucher for dinner at Sabatini’s Trattoria. Big mistake. I don’t know what word best describes how I felt leaving the restaurant. Disappointment? Frustration? Again, we are seeing a pattern on Princess Cruises of crew just not giving a sh**. The food gets served. The server goes away, never to be seen again until the next course comes around. My lamb skewers were so overcooked and rubbery it makes me never want to eat lamb again. I would have asked for something different or to get a lamb skewer do-over order, but the server never returned until he picked it up and took off. Didn’t even get a chance to stop him and ask for anything.

Then my soup was turned from this to this:

without me asking for it, without me being able to stop it. (I so don't do pepper.) And the pasta course? Same thing. He started covering it in pepper again. I was able to get it stopped before it got too covered, but by then it didn’t really matter. I was done. Before our last course was delivered, the head waiter finally made his way to the table to ask how things were going. And me, who usually keeps her mouth shut about these kinds of things, told him. Did he really care? Not sure. Yet again we heard the whole I’m sorry, let me make it right thing. While I appreciate the effort by him for the last course, it gets so very frustrating/disappointing to see this again and again, no matter which ship we are on. I took plenty of pictures, but it doesn’t matter. There is absolutely no way I would recommend Sabatini’s Trattoria on the Golden Princess. Ever. (Sabatini’s on the Royal Princess when Franco is onboard? Absolutely!) 

Tonight’s dinner just put a damper on things. We came back to the cabin, packed, and decided we’re ready to move on. Move on to San Francisco tomorrow where we have a SF Giants Baseball game and where we’ll spend the night before flying out Sunday to Los Angeles. What will we be doing in Los Angeles? Heading back to the Royal Princess, of course! We were on her for her first-of-the-season cruises to Alaska and now we’ll be on the ship for her first-of-the-season cruises to Mexico.

I’m working on a trip wrap-up for this short three day cruise and hope to have it posted in the next day or two.

Until next time….

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Golden Princess in Victoria, Canada

Hello from Victoria! Today was an early arrival and early departure, neither which mattered to us much. We've done all we can do in Victoria over these past few years. We've taken city tours, been to Butchart Gardens more than once (three times maybe?), been shopping, eating, and pub hopping. So today was a ship day for us. A leisurely breakfast in the covered Calypso Pool area (boy, I've missed that space - the Royal Princess doesn't have it) followed by a relaxing morning on the balcony. What a way to spend a day.
With handicapped hubby's physical and stamina issues it takes A LOT of accommodations (with a big chunk of determination, persistence, and a healthy dose of patience) to make it work. But once we're here and it all comes together, it's so worth it. And having amazing crew member friends we get to visit with day after day is like icing on the cake. Having Princess make a mistake with our cabin turned out well for us, too.

When we first were looking at some shorter cruises, the prices were super low on the Princess website. Since pricing is important for us, we put several cruises of the super cheap cruises on hold for a couple days before making final decisions. In between the time of the hold and the time we had to put a deposit down, we got a call from Princess. An "oops, we made a pricing mistake" phone call. While they wouldn't honor the prices on their website for these cruises, they did offer a pretty dang good deal.

A mini suite cabin. For an inside cabin price. (I'll post more photos later, but here's a taste.)

Going rate for the inside cabin on this three day Golden Princess voyage? $155 per person for the entire voyage. So here we sit, in a mini suite, at a per night price less than what we'd pay for a cheap hotel in Boise. Plus we got onboard credit for using our future cruise deposit, and another $100 onboard loyalty credit we get for each and every cruise. When I looked at our account this morning I realized, even with gratuities being charged, we are going to have credit left over. Since it's all non-refundable it looks like we're going to have to do some shopping. I know hubby will be buying himself some coffee - here on the Golden it's the crap liquid concentrate.

We certainly won't be leaving any extra dollars for our cabin steward. As we've seen time and time again on these shorter cruises, crew members have an I-don't-care attitude. They know you're leaving soon and they have no interest in putting their best foot forward. A first-time cruiser may not notice the difference, but it's a glaring issue for folks like us who have been around the block (or in this case, the ship). Like the cigarette butt we found on on our balcony today. You may remember, we've had issues with passengers smoking on balconies on other ships and have been routinely told the same thing. While stewards keep their eyes out for evidence, they really can't do anything. So when we found a cigarette butt on our balcony and pointed it out to the cabin steward, the non-caring attitude really shouldn't have been surprising.
But at least from that balcony we got to see the Royal Princess. I so wanted to just toss our luggage on over to her since we're joining her on Sunday. But oh well, guess I'll have to pay the airline the baggage fee instead.
Tomorrow we're off to a sea day with absolutely no plans, other than our freebie dinner tomorrow night.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Golden Princess Quickie Cruise

If you've read the blog during my Grand Princess cruises over the past year, you know we kept going back and back because it was the ship where our favorite bartender was year after year. I recently mentioned that as soon as he moved on from the Grand, so would we.

Well, he did. He's on the Golden Princess now, but the ship will be spending the entire winter cruising season in Australia. And since we won't be going to Australia anytime soon, we had to do the next best thing.

A short Boise to Seattle flight yesterday.
A relaxing evening in an airport hotel.
A morning Amtrak ride to Vancouver, the only way one should travel between Seattle and Vancouver. Believe me, I know! Sit back and enjoy these kinds of views all morning.

Jump on the Golden Princess for the three last days before it heads to Australia.
Map showing the port stops for Australia Getaway. For more details, refer to the List of Port Stops table on this page.
Find your favorite bartender and spend every moment you can with him. 
Sort through all your first day paperwork where you find some important stuff. First, since this is a short cruise, there is no Captain's Circle Party for repeat guests so we each received a free drink voucher.
There also is no Most Traveled Guest Party for the top 40 passengers. Instead the top 20 passengers received a specialty dining voucher. We made the cut, so I guess we're getting up there in days! We'll be trying out the new Sabatini's on the last night of the cruise.
Because there are over 1,000 Elites on board right now, the Platinum/Elite/Suite guest evening event has been moved from Skywalkers down to Vista Lounge.
But boy, did that event cause a stir. We typically don't go to these things, but our bartender was working the event which turned into a cocktail time where no cocktails were allowed to be served. Not long after the bar opened, Canadian officials showed up and shut it down. Made them remove all the alcohol and the officials used zip ties (with numbers on them) and zip tied all the cabinets shut (and recorded those numbers). It was a big deal.

Did you know, according to Canadian regulations, a ship can only have one bar open per deck when docked in a Canadian port? And the ship has to notify the officials at the beginning of the season exactly which bars will be open for every single stop in Vancouver? Since one bar on deck 7 was already opened, and then they opened the bar for the P/E/S event, they got themselves in trouble. Big trouble. If you know me, I always like knowing the whole story and I ask lots of questions. Lots and lots of questions. Not only did I talk to the bar stewards and bartenders, I talked to the bar manager, the hotel general manager, and even the Canadian officials. Princess may be paying a $15,000 fine for their actions. Ouch! 

I think that's it for today. Thanks to our favorite bartender, this rheumatoid-arthritis gal has pain-free joints for the first time since, well, the last time we saw him.

Tomorrow we're in Victoria and I'll show off the $155 per person cabin we're staying in this time. (That's not a per night cost - it is a per voyage cost. And nope, it's not a broom closet.)