Around a year ago, Princess Cruises took the bar which represented average cruise capacity departing from Melbourne and, by inserting the 2,600-passenger Golden Princess into the Victorian market, significantly raised the number of Princess cabins available to the city over the course of a full Australian cruise season.
Just by looking, it’s plainly clear a vessel of this size features a host of modern lounges, bars and entertainment options to keep passengers sufficiently occupied while sailing around Tasmania, along the eastern coast, to New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Having been built in Italy in 2001, Golden Princess was one of the first of the world’s major cruise ships to sail for an extended period in Antarctica. Having been significantly refurbished just last year, the ship delivers a cruise experience along the lines of the most modern that Princess Cruises currently offers. Loaded with exciting dining options and comfortable staterooms, here we will take a look at some of the entertainment offerings onboard.
Even though the main theatre is capable of comfortably seating more than 1,000 guests per performance, Golden Princess still plays its major shows twice each night to alternate with the set dining seatings. Keep an eye on your daily program as during the day you can also head to the theatre to catch a first-run feature film.
Despite being such a sprawling facility, the theatre is pillar-less in the middle which means every member of the audience enjoys an unobstructed view of the stage.
The theatre is usually closed in the afternoons as the evening performance is sound-tested and final rehearsals are taking place among the cast as they perfect their acts.
Movies Under the Stars
If your mood in the evening is just to relax with your family or friends and catch a movie, warm nights on deck will often see a feature film, usually different to anything which screens in the theatre during the day, played on the Movies Under the Stars screen on the top deck.
Travellers can rustle up one of the poolside lounge chairs, grab a drink or some supplied popcorn and settle in under a blanket to enjoy the movie. You can even sit in the pool, one of the spas or up at the bar if you wish.
Exuberantly bright and colourful, this lounge is a comfortable bar area which is particularly popular either side of dinner, when you’ll likely also find one of the ship’s guitarists or performers playing some classic sing-along favourites. This concept is fairly new to Princess Cruises ships in Australia, the first being rolled out to Sea Princess during a routine dry dock refurbishment around two years ago.
As the name suggests, the bar is nautically themed, with ocean-going designs on the floor, the walls and replica relics such as diving helmets positioned in different parts of the room.
On Golden Princess, you can find the Wheelhouse Bar just outside of Sabatini’s restaurant on Deck 7. It is also near the Explorer’s Lounge, so you can move between the two venues if you find adequate seating numbers to be a problem.
As far as nightclubs go, Princess Cruises has really taken this concept at sea to new heights. Skywalkers Nightclub is appropriately titled as it is accessed from the main part of the ship via a moving walkway which takes you high over the rear pool area several decks below.
During the ship’s construction, this venue was literally hoisted by a crane onto the top and connected to an outside stairwell. It is plainly visible from the outside as unlike most nightclubs nestled within the ship, Skywalkers makes up part of the ship’s exterior body.
Inside, it is quite a spacious venue with plenty of bar space and an expansive dance floor.
Like most casinos, the gaming area on Golden Princess is expansive and features hundreds of poker machines, table games and bars.
During day at sea, there may still be activities held in the casino where passengers can learn how to play some of the table games via a tutorial program. There may be a small fee to join this class, however it will teach you some cool new skills you can take home with you. There’s always plenty of activity going on at night in a ship’s casino as many head there after the evening show to see if they cap off the night with a bit of a financial windfall.
Vista Show Lounge
For slightly smaller events such as less theatrical entertainment (comedy, musicians etc), Golden Princess offers the Vista Show Lounge, which is actually quite a sizeable venue.
Sometimes, you might find trivia held here or activities such as karaoke or bingo. Most of the day though, it serves as a good place to sink into a comfortable chair (probably by the window) and enjoy a book with a fully stocked bar located at the back of the room.
Perched at the top of the ship, passengers can knock over an hour or so by taking on a fairly challenging nine-hole mini golf course.
There are plenty of putters and golf balls in stock up here on a self-serve basis, but it might be handy to keep an eye on the daily guide as the Teen Club hosts regular fun tournaments for their young guests to enjoy.
The course is open pretty much all day, so if it’s too busy when you head up, maybe consider playing a round on a port day if you happen to go back to the ship earlier than others.
Jumping by night, this energetic venue on Deck 7 is always packed early in the evening with those who either haven’t gone to the theatre show or the casino and by the time the curtains have come down, there is usually not a seat to be found.
With wait staff quickly moving about the venue all night delivering drinks and taking orders, the stage will feature one of the ship’s bands and the dance floor will likely be packed too. Explorer’s Lounge is located mid-ship, meaning it’s easy to access from practically anywhere. The casino is a short dice throw away and if you’re keen to keep the party going late into the night, the Wheelhouse Bar is also nearby.