We recently completed our fourth sailing from the west coast round trip to Hawaii, this time on the Golden Princess. We had been on the Golden two years ago, and were anxious to see all the enhancements that Princess made to the ship.
You might think that four sailings to Hawaii is a bit excessive, but for us it’s a win-win. You get to see a beautiful destination and you get a total of eight sea days to totally relax and unwind. It’s hard for us to decide which aspect of the cruise we like best, the islands or the sea days.
Maybe you are thinking that you couldn’t find enough to do for eight sea days. Well, with Princess, and any cruise line for that matter, the lack of something to do is never a consideration. On this last cruise, we often had to choose between two or three activities that overlapped on the daily schedule.
Every cruise line has an enrichment series, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings, dance classes, cultural programs and port talks on the destination. On this cruise, Princess offered even more with guest lectures and performers.
The naturalist onboard gave a presentation on each sea day on such topics as Hawaiian ecology, flora and fauna, marine biology, and volcano creation. Additionally there was an enrichment lecturer who gave a presentation each sea day on the history of Pearl Harbor, Midway, the Pacific Fleet in World War II, Route 66 and the migration to California. There was also a bridge director who taught and organized games. On this cruise there was a wonderful husband and wife duo — she is a native Hawaiian and he is an accomplished steel guitar musician. In addition to performing in the atrium, they gave hula, ukulele, lei making, sarong tying, and Hawaiian language lessons.
Additionally, in each port of call, Princess brought local entertainment onto the ship. In Hilo there was a presentation by a ukulele master. In Lahaina a native from Maui shared his teachings and thoughts on the native Hawaiian culture and value system. In Nawiliwili, Kauai lei makers from island of Ni’ihau gave a shell making demonstration and shared stories of the “forbidden isle” where they live. And in Honolulu we were treated to the wonderful Halau Hula Oiana Show with music and hula performed by award-winning troop of children, ages 6 to 13. I took several videos that I need to upload to You Tube. These kids were just amazing.
Of course there are the usual activities that you can find on any cruise, such as scavenger hunts, boat building, ice and vegetable carving, line and ballroom dancing, trivia games several times a day, art auctions, golf instruction, bingo, casino tournaments, salon and spa treatments, yoga and aerobics classes, and of course movies. Or maybe you just want to get a book from the library and curl up in the sun.
This brings me to the enhancements to the Golden. Like many other ships in the Princess line, the Golden now has “movies under the stars”, or MUTS. From early morning until late at night, you can enjoy many different movies around the pool, with free soft ice cream and popcorn. Blankets are issued on chillier evenings. Enhancements to the atrium include a wine and tapas bar, a chocolate bar and shop, with occasional free samples and the International Café, where you could get fabulous desserts, soup, salads and sandwiches (the name cannot convey the delicious concoctions served) throughout the day. So you have another alternative to the buffet, formal dining rooms, pizza and hot dog and hamburger stations, and two specialty restaurants. Three times on this cruise an English pub lunch was offered, with traditional English dishes. You can never go hungry with Princess.
Holland America is the only other cruise line with regular round trip sailings from the west coast to Hawaii. They sail from October through March from San Diego. Princess sails October through April from Los Angeles. In addition, both lines have longer sailings round trip from the west coast that go to Hawaii, Tahiti and Polynesia.
Next to Alaska, Hawaii is our favorite destination. There is so much to see, both scenic and cultural attractions, there is no language barrier, no foreign currency to decipher, no gangs and drug violence to worry about. Having been to Hawaii many times, we can help you decide which shore excursions would match your interests. Having been on Holland’s Oosterdam and the Golden Princess, we can guide you with cabin choices and ship amenities. All this information is free from an accredited travel agent. Bring us your online price and we will try to match it. We also have several group sailings that offer amenities such as on-board credit, specialty dining, as well as greatly reduced cabin rates. Call us at (928) 472-7878 or stop by Cruise Port Travel at 900 W. Driftwood in Payson, or check us out on the Web at www.travelpayson.com.