golden princess - princess cruises - cruise ship review & photos

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She is big. She is bold. And whether she is beautiful remains to be seen as we travel to Southampton, England on a sunny day in May, 2001 to witness the birth of a new Princess. At 108,865 gross register tons, Golden Princess is not exactly a lightweight, but after getting to know Princess Cruises' new baby it seems she was well worth the 2 year pregnancy. Delivered well in time for her spring debut, Italian builders Fincantieri managed to create a stunning sister to the 1998-delivered Grand Princess. Costing an amazing US$ 450 million, Golden Princess spent her first summer in Mediterranean waters before heading to Florida for a winter in the warm Caribbean.

Together with my good friend Teun Wim, I was able to join the first-ever bunch of guests to ever sail on this magnificent ship on a 2-night pre-inaugural cruise to "nowhere" from Southampton, England. The sun shone as Golden Princess slowly edged away from berth 106 on the Southampton waterfront on Tuesday, May 8, 2001. At 6:30 pm, with her decks filled to the brim with passengers sipping champagne, Captain Bernie Warner hammered the ship's horn. Clouds of blue and yellow confetti filled the air and Spandau Ballet's Gold played over the PA System. What a way to start a cruise!

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Year built: 2001
Price tag: US$ 450 million
Yard: Fincantieri, Monfalcone, Italy
Gross Tonnage: 108,865
Length: 289.0 m (951.4 ft)
Beam: 36.0 m (118.1 ft)
Passengers (norm.): 2,592
Passengers (max): 3,300
Crew: 1,100
Service speed: 22.5 knots
Flag: Bermuda

Golden Princess is easily recognizable as "the ship with the spoiler". She looks somewhat like an ocean-going shopping cart, but once you set foot on her, the design grows on you as it holds numerous surprises not found on traditionally designed ships. With her 18 decks, her terraced balconies, giant funnel and "flying" bridge wings, she is a sight to behold - even though opinions about her looks vary widely. But - she sure does attract attention. And isn't that what it's all about?
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Photos and text: 2001-2005 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com. Exterior photos courtesy of Kees van Garderen.

Originally published in 2001. This revised version with new photos was published on January 30, 2005.

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