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Cruise Wonderland >> My Cruise Voyages >> Golden Princess (2012 August) >> Review (Ship)

REVIEW (ABOUT THE SHIP)

Making her debut in 2001 May, Golden Princess is the second member of the Grand Class, after sister ship Grand Princess in 1998. These vessels brought a success to Princess Cruises in large ship cruising, and thus more similar ships were built afterwards, including Star Princess (2002), Diamond Princess (2004), Sapphire Princess (2004), Caribbean Princess (2004), Crown Princess (2006), Emerald Princess (2007) and Ruby Princess (2008). Sister company P&O Cruises also owns two Grand Class ships called Ventura and Azura.

As a brief comparison, the latest four Princesses (Caribbean, Crown, Emerald, Ruby) and the two P&O ships have one more cabin deck than the earlier five Princesses. Diamond and Sapphire are the only two members constructed in Japan but not Italy, and have more oriental features in interior design. On the other hand, the only ships with an aft, trolley-like observation lounge are Caribbean, Golden and Star (the one on Grand was removed last year), and others have this lounge attached to the back of the funnel..

I was not used to travel on 100000-ton-plus ships which might be too big for me. Until last year I had only sailed on a number of vessels at around 70000 tons. However, my travel diary this year was full of such megaships. In April I visited Diamond Princess when she arrived Hong Kong, whereas in June travelled on P&O Cruises' Azura and visited Ventura in England. Therefore, before I stepped on Golden Princess, I could almost imagine how it looks like and where various facilities are located.

The general layout of the ship is quite well arranged, where passenger cabins and public areas are separated clearly. Cabins are distributed on the whole levels of Decks 8-12, as well as forward part of Decks 5 and 14 and aft of Deck 15. Public rooms, on the other hand, congregate on Decks 5-7 and 14-18.

In such a large ship with over 3000 passengers (full occupancy), three sets of stairways are a must which help to smoothen passenger flow especially during disembarkation. Together with plenty of elevators and wide hallways, there was little congestion.

The main dining venues were spread into three main restaurants, two at midships and one at the stern. Thus passengers will be separated to different various areas that can avoid long queues. All the passenger service desks are now positioned on Deck 6, where guests can easily find them for queries. The three major entertainment venues are all on Deck 7 (the forward Princess Theater, the midship Explorers Lounge, the aft Vista Lounge) which allow various shows to be performed simultaneously. The atrium, known as The Piazza, only spans three decks which is definitely not a large one in today’s standard. However it still gives a spacious feeling, with many shops, restaurants, bars and library situated around that can be easily accessed.

All in all, the indoor public rooms on the ship are usually not designed to be large. They may be divided into several smaller areas to create a wider array of venues, and most importantly to provide an intimate environment for the passengers. Princess Cruises refer this characteristic as “big ship choice, small ship feel”. The interior décor and colour scheme is comfortable and elegant. Furthermore, an extensive collection of artworks are featured in the corridors and stairs.

On the upper decks, a large selection of sport facilities is provided to suit passengers at different age groups. The newly added adult-only resting area, The Sanctuary, is a serene and perfect place to relax. Not forget to mention is the Skywalkers Nightclub which is a very special design on Grand Class’ ships. Located atop at the stern, it offers great panoramic views for both day and night.

Movies Under the Stars is really a marvellous feature. During good weather, passengers could sit beside the pool and watch a movie on an extra large screen under gentle breeze. This was a unique experience quite different from that in an indoor cinema, and is a must-try activity onboard.


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