Coral Princess May 16th, 2012
I would like to say that this was my first cruise so I have nothing for comparative value except my experience with Princess and what the other companions in our group expressed about other lines, so that being said here is my thoughts on this cruise.
We stayed at the Marriot Pinnacle which is 3 blocks downhill from Canada place so getting to the ship was very easy. Princess had enough employees to direct luggage and people to parts unknown in this massive hall. We were corralled into an area seated given water and waited maybe 30 min to embark.
Princess allowed us to bring on two bottles of wine, one a large one and in each port to bring on one bottle per person. It was a lot cheaper than buying their alcohol. Liquor is very expensive on board and they are trying to sell you plenty. Lots of profit in a watered down drink.
Flash, Flash, Flash, everyone gets an ID and the welcome aboard photo. One of way too many for my taste. People who boarded the ship were already engaged in a get to know the ship scavenger hunt so elevators were in use more for that than moving passengers to their rooms. Congested.
We arrived at room C509, our home for the next 7 days. It was a nice room with a covered balcony mid ship. There was plenty of closet space with wooden hangers for the clothes we brought. A large cupboard for folded clothes. The bathroom had a shower, toilet and sink it was basic, but I have had less space in European bathrooms in the past. There was always hot water, but maybe not enough pressure depending on time of day.
This was not a luxury room more on par with a low to midrange chain hotel. The story of the Princess and the Pea fit the bed. We all had different complaints. Once I got the egg crate it helped a little with the dip. There is no top sheet, just a duvet. My sister in Law requested and received her sheet. There is a small refrigerator, flat screen TV which does not receive many channels, but again the view is what you come to Alaska for.
The balcony was wonderful but mid-May in Alaska has some draw backs, and when the ship was under sail it was just too cold to hang out. We also found that sitting in the chairs you didn't get a really good view of the shore. The chairs were comfortable and I believe the older version since we did see newer chairs on other decks. There was a speaker outside the door but could not hear the naturalist speak. It looks like it does not work and one has to turn on the TV to hear her speak. There should be an option for outside reception. The room steward was fine, kept the room clean and made up, but, than again we are not messy guest. There was always ice, clean towels, waste bins clean, sink wiped down. Some of the others missed the towel animals on the beds at night not ever having any I did not miss it. They did do a demo later in the cruise in the atrium. I believe the steward is one of the hardest working souls on the ship. Our luggage was waiting for us when we got up to the room. There are a lot of hard working people behind the scenes on these cruises. A to all the workers behind the scenes.
All in all the room was fine.
We than needed to get our dinning taken care of since one couple in the group were given another table. We had been seated at a table for 10 and we had 11 in our group. We waited in line and the Matrie de rearrange our seating, all he had to do was add another chair to the group. We were close to a window, not seated in the middle of the room so we could look out while dining. Happy with our table.
We located our group on the upper deck to watch Vancouver sale away. They were doing games on deck and the young woman who was with us won a bottle of champagne. We were under way for 4:30.
Had the mandatory safety drill, lots of Princess Staff on hand to get you to your station. It was clear and understandable. Done in 40 minutes. No confusion at all.
The food in the Provence Dining room was wonderful. Our waiter was excellent as was the junior waiter. There is a lot of attention to detail. They want the fork on the left hand and they reset it there each time a course is presented. Even when one places it on the right. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner met all expectations. We had open seating at the earlier meals and met nice people. Looking at the Horizon Court Buffet, it looked like they had a lot to offer. We only had a snack in there. The view is wonderful from the front windows. The waiters move around during the day to either large dining room. We ate at Sabatini's one night and our waiter, Hector was down there making sure we got our birthday cake. The food was wonderful and this was dining, very slow and relaxed. I give the Dining and A+.
There are two formal nights and the dress was cocktail to long dresses. Most of the men wore suits. I did see some white dinner jackets and a few tuxes. Remembrance of high school prom night. Many photo stations to get that great picture. Back drops of boat, mountains, Rome? Almost anything you wanted.
The entertainment is not Disney and or Broadway maybe your local dinner theater production. We have a nephew who is a professional dancer and the movement of the dancers was stiff and not fluid . The comedians were very funny and clean. Enjoyed them the most. There are numerous bars on board with music; I found the beat to be a little slow for my taste. The cruise directors worked hard, but I feel I can only give the C here.
Customer Service Desk the people staffing this branch of service were lacking in many areas and added to confusion all around. As they say the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing is correct and I have to give them a C- in this area. This should be an area where each of the staff can give precise answers to a customer's question and not have to go into the back to check.
The one excursion we went on out of Juneau to see whales was wonderful. Everyone I spoke to also gave high marks for their trips. The excursions are a bit pricey and add a good bit to your bill at the end of the trip. The tours do their best to make you happy and see as much as possible. A for excursions.
Having done most of our travel in large cities with lots to see and do I was not so happy with the ports of call. If you are a shopper than you have reached Nirvana. The ship pushes you to go shopping at their shops on land. Great discounts. Everything is marked up 500 percent for them to give you a discount and bargain and the shops and the ship still make a profit. We walked around in Skagway and Ketchikan. Skagway being the most interesting to me. The Park Service offers a free tour which was very good. There is a bus that runs all over the place and for 5 dollars you can ride it all day a great deal. Princess always seems to have the furthest berth from the city.
At 55 I was one of the younger passengers. There were a few children on the cruise but didn't see them. I would venture on this cruise the average age was 65 on up and the cruise is geared to this age group. I have to say they could stay up longer than I. One night we were going to bed for 10:30 and two 80 year old ladies were heading to the 11 o clock movies! Than on the flip side not too many people up at 5:30 am on board.
We had prepaid our tips, but felt that the room steward and the wait staff deserved more so we padded their tips and gave it to them personally.
I found the disembarkation was easy but getting the right info was difficult, are we were going to the airport or the Civic center. The bus drivers to the city give a brief description of what we were passing. There seemed to be some confusion as to which lane to be in going through the tunnel which is only one way and trains have the right of way. This held us up 30 minutes. Ones bags can go to the airport or the civic center (Egan Center). We had our large bags go to the airport and toured around Anchorage on our own in a rented car.
Retrieving our bags at the airport was easy. There was a help desk and a person to take you up to the storage area to get your luggage. Than you must check in with the airline with baggage. There is supposed to be a service that Princess offers to check your bags all the way to final destination, but United Airlines would not allow us to use this service.
My final thoughts on Princess Cruise are these: A person is nickeled and dime to death. Photos are way too expensive at 25.99 for an 8 x 10. They throw out bags of photos at the end of the cruise, so why not make them more affordable to the masses in the first place. One is there to see Alaska in all her splendor and the cruise makes this happen. Food and wait staff excellent. Shows are so, so. Personally I would not choose this cruise line for myself again , the demographics just were not a good fit. I would have preferred more educational lectures not shopping talks. It was a good time spent with wonderful family and friends.