The highlight of our trip was the pre-cruise day we spent in Vancouver - a beautiful city! We spent the night at the Holiday Inn Downtown on Howe Street. It is conveniently located to walk to Yaletown restaurants. Port Metro is several blocks away and with sidewalk construction it would not be an easy hike with luggage. It's a lovely walk without luggage, though. The cab ride was $9 CDN + tip from the hotel. Regarding the cruise itself, I'll start with the negatives (there are several):
1. After embarkation, we were exploring the ship and saw Princess charges $10/half day and $20/whole day to use the area that restricts children 16 and under (Sanctuary).
2. My first cocktail purchase proved that they charge more than we paid on another line.
3. We witnessed bickering among the crew/management on more than one occasion. The morale of the crew seemed low, especially in the Horizon Court.
4. The energy of the entertainment wasn't vibrant - Motown songs in the Revue were performed like Broadway tunes. We saw one comic and his material consisted of him repeatedly pointing out that he was over 60 and sex him involved viagra.
5. "Movies under the stars" - movies shown on the outdoor pool deck in wet, 40 degree weather aren't a great idea. I tried it one night and lasted less than 1 hour before the cold ran me inside. There are 2 theaters that were underutilized during the day and could have shown the movies.
6. We had Anytime dining - if you weren't at the door when it opened at 5:30pm you usually would be waiting a while. Also, reservations were accepted for Anytime - how is that Anytime?!
7. The shower in our stateroom (a balcony cabin) was VERY small and a handicap bar placed midriff level led to bruised elbows/arms.
8. FOOD - Horizon Court was mediocre. The desserts were usually not very tasty and/or dry. One exception was the cookies they had at the dinner service. The hunt for a table took a tag-team effort - one to find the table while the other dished up. The Extravaganza Dessert Buffet looked amazing but the actual desserts didn't taste very memorable. The service in the Bordeaux dining room for dinner was usually very good, but I was not blown away by the menu choices. At times I chose from the left side of the menu (the standard items that didn't change) when I wasn't interested in the items that changed daily. And I love to eat and try new things so this was surprising to me. One server in Bordeaux was not impressive; when I asked him for the salad dressing choices, he responded by asking me, "what is your flavor?" When I asked him what one of the dishes came with, he proceeded to tell me how the menu worked and didn't answer my question.
9. We didn't find many of the daily activities appealing. If you are considering an Alaskan cruise, consider how you like to spend your at-sea days. We usually spend a lot of time outside (en route to warmer destinations) on our balcony or by the pool - not good options on this cruise. We would have used the library more, but the shelves were locked when a crew member was not there, which seemed to be a lot.
10. I agree with other posters that the beds on the Island Princess are hard.
If I haven't lost you yet, here are the postives:
1. The scenery and landscapes seen on this cruise are beautiful - every bit.
2. Our steward, Nilo, was fantastic. Not a bad word to say about him.
3. One of the bar servers, Johnny Luis, remembered my name and my favorite drink every time he saw me.
4. Disembarkation was seamless. We had a transfer to the airport and we were kept as a group and funneled onto waiting buses. Our driver gave us a mini-city tour on the way out of town by pointing out landmarks and providing informative commentary.
5. I appreciated very much that the downtown area of the 3 ports of call (Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan)were an easy walk from the dock. We didn't book any excursions but explored each town on our own.
Finally, the average age on this cruise appeared to be 65+. My husband and I are mid-40's and active, so factor this into my input here if you are taking any of this info into consideration while researching cruises.