Anyone Who Says Cruising Is Boring Is Doing It Wrong
“So you’re saying I can order room service, whenever I want, for free?” I say incredulously to my exuberant steward, Kanit. He nods with bemusement. He must get that a lot.
I wouldn’t say I was a cruise critic (more like cruise rookie) but with an unexpected extra like free food delivered to your room 24/7, I’m not sure why anyone would criticise a holiday at sea. I had almost 48-hours to experience all that the Golden Princess had to offer and I wasn’t going to waste a second.
At 108,865-tonnes, Golden Princess is the largest ship ever to dock in Melbourne, the base for her maiden Australian cruise season. She made quite the entrance to Victoria’s capital, arriving in the glow of sunrise behind two gigantic, 20,000 foot-square metre golden curtains.
Stretching 290 metres long by 40.5 metres wide, Golden Princess is one voluptuous royal. She’s elegant, but accessible; comfortable, but sophisticated.
And when you’re talking about balcony staterooms, spoiled is an understatement. At 21-square-metres, there’s more than enough room to move, settle in and of course, unpack just once.
Light floods in from a private veranda, an unbeatable spot to enjoy the aforementioned room service. A cushy, cloud-like bed and the gentle sway of the ocean mean falling asleep comes easily. Especially coupled with non-stop reruns of TV classic The Love Boat (set mostly on Princess ships, for those of you playing at home).
Each evening, a four-page, jam-packed ‘Princess Patter’ newsletter is delivered to your room. The ship’s schedule features the goings on, from sun-up to sun-down.
Think singles meet-ups, bowls, arts and crafts, yoga classes, line dancing, trivia challenges, bingo, wacky pool games, Movies Under the Stars, comedy shows, stage productions and so much more. Art auctions, jewellery sales and a duty-free store mean keen spenders can also splash the cash if they so wish.
While Princess cruisers are generally in an older demographic, there’s something for all ages. Kids clubs offer countless activities to keep tots and teens alike amused.
The Golden Princess may be a more mellow affair than other liners, but its Skywalkers Nightclub services night owls seeking a late-night boogie. Unashamedly glitzy and kitsch, this sky-high hangout welcomes revellers by travelator. Talk about making an entrance.
Needless to say, it’s not hard to work up an appetite, and an appetite is just what you’ll need if you’re going to do the dining rooms justice.
The Horizon Court buffet is a constant procession of ever changing dishes and sweet treats, as are the main dining rooms and speciality restaurants.
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Breakfast, morning tea, pre-lunch, lunch, afternoon tea, aperitifs, dinner and supper – you can really go overboard (sorry, not sorry) on the food front. ‘Anytime dining’ at Donatello and Bernini restaurants means you only need heed the call of your stomach, but seasoned cruisers may prefer a set dining schedule.
What’s that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen? Even with 185 chefs working in the galleys, not one of them is spoiling the broth.
Cruise critics may sneer at onboard fare, but Princess Cruises have much to offer even the most discerning, especially in partnership with celebrated chef, Curtis Stone.
The top restaurateur has three ‘Crafted by Curtis’ menu items in all Princess dining (the roasted pork belly is a firm favourite on this cruise), while his specialty restaurant, SHARE, rolls out on select ships in the fleet from April this year.
Other onboard restaurants that charge a premium to dine (a mere $20-25) are Sabatini’s and Crown Grill – their made-to-order steaks rival some of the best on dry land. Diet schmiet!
But if you’ve really got the guilts, there’s a fully equipped gym, complete with morning classes if you’ve had one too many bread rolls with dinner.
I suppose I didn’t feel too guilty given I didn’t make it onto any of the equipment – as appealing as a 6am workout session is when you’re on holiday.
Lotus Spa is just next door, a lovely, serene oasis in which you have a bounty of beauty treatments to choose from. My indulgence was a 50-minute facial that had me floating out and straight onto a day bed at The Sanctuary, Princess’ adults-only retreat.
This little slice of at-sea serenity is almost like stepping into the Hamptons. Abundant greenery, lemon yellow and ivory details, and Sanctuary staff ready to deliver an array of fresh, healthy spa fare (a small charge) right to your chaise.
So, still think cruising is boring?
The writer travelled onboard Golden Princess on a two-night cruise from Sydney to Melbourne as a guest of Princess Cruises.
Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest Princess Cruise deals.
I thrive on discovering hidden gems and local haunts wherever I travel, from hole-in-the-wall cafes and dive bars, to antique stores and eclectic markets. I feel just as content in a cosy cabin in the wilderness as I do lost in the crowd of a buzzing city.