“How come you got a Gold Cruise Card? Mine’s blue?” Said my friend Nova as we checked in for the Golden Princess.
“Yeah mines blue too” Bert pipped in looking slightly confused.
“‘Cause I’m a Gold member!” I replied.
After my previous short cruise on the Sea Princess I was hooked. I was hooked like a fish to a line, like an addict to a new vice, I had to go again.
This time, I brought my friend Nova along and when there was a last minute sale Bert booked himself a cabin. We were sailing from Sydney to Melbourne on a relocation cruise after the ship made its way Down Under from San Francisco and completed its first ex Australia cruise to New Zealand.
The Golden Princess, a grand class Princess cruise ship entered service in 2001 and at 109,000 tonnes and carrying 2600 passengers, it is larger than the Sea Princess which I sailed on previously. This was her first time sailing from Australian waters, being based in Melbourne for the summer cruise season.
The ship, too large to fit under the Harbour Bridge was moored at the Overseas Passenger Terminal or OPT, the three of us met at the aptly named Cruise Bar at OPT prior to embarkation. Boarding was quite orderly and quick and after security took our pictures we found our cabins and dropped our bags off. She looked amazing on this warm Autumn Wednesday and as we strolled around the deck we took in one of Sydney’s most amazing icons, the Opera House.
We booked an Inside ‘guarantee’, we received an Obstructed Oceanview, cabin number 5616 located on the Emerald deck. If you’re not familiar with what a ‘guarantee’ is, basically you are not given a cabin number upon booking and are guaranteed that category or higher. There are pros and cons to it, and I wouldn’t suggest it if you are travelling with others who have their separate cabin and wish to be near each other, nor if you are particular about which part of the ship you like to be such as midships, you might end up with a higher category but aft or forward. In our case we were upgraded from and Inside to an Obstructed Oceanview. To be Honest, I wouldn’t rush in to book this category as there was nothing but the interior of a lifeboat outside out window, but it did allow natural light into the cabin, something which an Inside would not have and while it wasn’t the most pleasant of views, I knew if I saw people climbing in there we should probably leave the cabin….
The Daytime Activities
You can lay around the pool, there are several of them although while we were sailing I noticed the main pool was full of kids so we kind of avoided there. While the art auction didn’t really appeal to us we did find ourselves watching part of it as the auctioneer was such a performer. Trivia is something that we all love and we took part in that although only reached a score of 11/20! Brushing up for next time.
Of course if its a nice day, its better to be out on deck enjoying the sunshine and taking in the sea views, or watch the entertainment on the big screen while enjoying a few cocktails.
The Night Time Entertainment
The Nutbush city Limits. Unless you like hearing and performing the moves to this song over and over again and/or get seasick DON’T head to the Sywalkers nightclub. Located aft and above the deck the nightclub shakes and moves, no seriously, the movement is momentous, it shakes and sways and rumour has it that it slows the ship down and/or costs more in fuel.
The shows are another story, while on board, Bert and I went and saw the production British Invasion, while we lost Nova somewhere in the casino.The show wasnt as good as what I saw on the Sea Princess and there seemed to be times where they were miming, nonetheless it was a quality production although perhaps the theme may have been better suited to say an Australian show? Didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it. There was also a comedian on board and a wonderful pianist which kept us entertained in the Promenade Lounge and Bar.
The Food: Breakfast
Breakfast was taken in the Horizon Court Buffet on both mornings and we had our fill of delicious breakfast fare. Several types of bacon and sausages, eggs done many ways and cod cuts and cheeses. Muffins, Danish pastries and fruit galore, there was an awe inspiring array of food to start our day.
The Food: Lunch
Food is generally the highlight of any cruise and this was definitely true of ours, dare I say it, even better than my cruise on the Sea Princess. This time, we dined mostly in the restaurant and it was a cut above. We didn’t head to the specialty restaurant, we didn’t feel we needed to as the cuisine was wonderful in the main restaurant, Canaletto
Bert went for the Soup and Sandwich combo opting for the English Green Pea Soup with cheddar and chive croutons and Philly Steak Sandwich on Toasted French Baguette with smothered onions and cheddar cheese melt, crisp fries.
Bert: “The entree was smooth and had traditional flavours” he commented.
Yes I tried a bit of Berts lunch and while the Philly Steak Sandwich was yummo, the fries reminded me of the frozen kind which was a bit of a damper.
Nova went for the Mozzarella and vine ripened tomatoes with basil, anchovies and balsamic reduction for her entree and Spinach Fettuccini with Mushrooms in a garlic-tomato sauce.
Nova said “The pasta was perfectly al-dente!”
I tried some of the mozzarella s well and it was divine, there is nothing like the almost squeaky puffiness of of the milky balls
For myself, I went for seafood for both entree and main. New Zealand Green Shell Mussels in Teriyaki-ginger broth for my starter and Sautéed Red Snapper on Marinara and Basil Sauce with succotash and roasted potatoes. The mussels were cold yet fresh with a couple still holding their roe and the teriyaki-ginger broth added to the fresh flavour. The Snapper with the succotash was equally as impressive. So what is succotash? In Australia, the word is usually associated with Sylvester from Loony Tunes “Sufferin’ succotash” but as I leaned it is more than a term coined by a cartoon, but a dish or side of corn kernels and beans. It went well with the fish which was moist and pan fried beautifully, although I found the marinara sauce to be a little too rich.
Desert was almost entertaining with its presentation.Walnut, Pear and Chocolate Turnover in Vanilla Sauce was rich while the Fresh Fruit Tartelet with Whipping Cream was indeed fresh although I swear it was looking at me until I ate the grapes 😉
Oh The Food: Dinner
Bert ordered the Pan Fried Sea Scallops in Lemon Butter Sauce for entree and the Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Crispy Crackle, roasted carrots and English Spinach. I was jealous, both dishes looked divine.
Bert: The plump scallops were full of flavour and the pork delish, although the crackle (crackling) could have been crispier.
On another night, I went for the pork dish and I found it quite nice.
Nova went for the salmon starter and the pasta for main, with a serving of cracked pepper.
Nova: “Again the pasta was perfectly al-dente!”
For my entree I chose the Asparagus with Filo Pastry in Garlic Cream Sauce and I was kind of surprised that the filo pasty was just that, pastry, but the dish was nice and the asparagus cooked perfectly. For Main I chose the Lamb rack with Herb Crust and Roasted Potatoes with Pan Juices. Cooked to perfection still rare but but bleeding the meat simply meted in the mouth.
I’m not sure if its an Australian thing, but on the 4 cruises I have on been on there is always the Bombe Alaska on the last evening, strangely though, they didn’t serve any! I’m guessing its all just for show.
The three of us had a ball! While the ship is bigger, it didn’t feel to big and yet people weren’t on top of each other. I did feel the entertainment and activities were lacking, but the food was outstanding.
It was nice being a Gold Member and I was greeted with a “Welcome back Sir” Everywhere I went on the ship. So how do you become a Gold Member? All you need to do is take one cruise with Princess Cruises and you’re automatically one on your next. Nova and Bert will be Gold Members next time!
FreakyFlier, Nova and Bert all paid their cruise fares independently.