Relaxing in the wine bar (iPhone 4)
I believe I have remarked before that travel is one continuous exercise in queuing. Getting on a cruise ship is certainly not going to dispel that notion, but one thing I’ll say is that Princess’s embarkation procedure is much more orderly than Norwegian’s. Once we got through all the security to the holding area in the terminal, we were given a boarding number. Ours was 6, they went at least as high as 17. We then boarded as groups by number, stretched over 3 hours.
While my impression of the Norwegian boarding is chaotic – the atrium is crammed full of people wheeling their carry-ons around waiting for the cabin to be ready, the excursions booking is a mass of people in line, and the cafeteria needs a shoehorn to get the last people in, the Princess process is anything but. All of that chaos is kept in the terminal and off the ship.
Instead, you come into a quiet, relaxed environment with people to guide you around (staff showed us to the stairs and gave us directions to our cabin). Cabins are available immediately so you can drop the carry-on, and excursion orders can go on a dropbox, so there’s no lineup. With the boarding stretched out over 3 hours people clear through the cafeteria at a steady rate. All in all it gives a very elegant impression.
The Golden Princess is a good sized ship – she is 952 feet long, 17 decks, 109,000 tonnes. The main activity decks are 5 – 7 and 14 – 17. Our cabin is on deck 5 so that means lots of stairs.
The last time we took a cruise it was on the sister ship of our previous cruise, so we missed the fun of exploring a new ship. This one has made up for that. Its divided up into little sections that create small, private areas and hidden gems. Surprises keep coming out of the woodwork – on the second full day we took a wrong turn and found an entire mini-golf course we didn’t know existed.
On our tour before leaving port, we found 4 pools. I think there may be a fifth. Once we got underway and everything got turned on, we discovered the two main pools are actually wave pools, and impressive ones at that. Unfortunately that means we won’t be swimming laps anytime soon.
I hadn’t realized that Princess started as an English company. Now the boarding makes sense. This English background shows up throughout the ship – although we are on the “anytime” eating plan, it is still in a restaurant with sterling silver service, waiters that pull out the chair for you, candles, chandeliers, and a menu that has appetizers, soup and salad, entree, and desert courses.
That’s the restaurant that’s described as “charming”. I shudder to think what the “elegant” one must be like.
They also do afternoon tea in the dining rooms.
The difference in attitude shows with alcohol too – on Norwegian I could buy a bottle of wine and carry it around with me for 3 days. Here, when you buy a bottle of wine at the restaurant, they will store it for you for tomorrow night – nobody’s walking around with a wine glass in one hand and a bottle in the other! 
I am getting a bit concerned about this trip now – the system is reporting light waves 1-4 ft, but I had to walk out of a movie because I was feeling so queasy from the constant motion – front to back and side to side. I think tomorrow is going to start with a search for Dramamine. Thankfully our cabin is midships on deck 5 and makes for a good refuge.
Speaking of decks, an observation – when you’re very tired be very careful how you enunciate – it turns out that swapping the vowels in “deck six” will lead to gales of laughter from those around you.
 I discovered later that it appears you could walk around with the bottle, but apparently nobody was willing to suffer the impropriety of it, so they kept their bottles stored where they could be retrieved the next night.
The atrium (Nikon D80)
A nice, basic dinner (Nikon D80)