I had high hopes for Princess. Figured "step up" from Carnival, Royal..... Costs more, older target demographic... Unfortunately, while I had a good trip, it was far from extra-ordinary.... So I didn't think it was worth the extra cost over Carnival or Royal.
Embarkation - I found it to be a breeze. arrived early, on early.... We left late due to number of ships in port, but I don't blame Princess. I have traveled from Vancouver before and this was smoother.
We ate in the Main Dining Room for lunch, which was a nice change compared to normally eating buffetts. We used the hot tubs which were nice, and tested the buffett and pool deck pizza. Pizza was best I've ever had on a cruise ship. buffet was bad though - very cold and yucky. Lacked selection as compared to Royal and Carnival. Ships decor was nicer than others.
Dinner in dining room was great every night we went. I liked the specials and the menus were better than Royal.
Tried to go out at night, but nothing going on.... ship was dead... two clubs - both empty (why two clubs??)
The Patter (Princess's schedule) did a poor job detailing activities on the ship - didn't know what things were or what types of music bands played which was a bummmer as we missed out on a really great Irish band (Indigo) and another band featuring Liza Minelli's great niece. I feel If Patters were well written it would have been a better time.
First sea day - trivia and gym were great - best gym instructors I have had on a ship (wesley and james). Princess also offers Zumba at sea which - as someone who frequents zumba - was wonderful. Dining room food was again great - Breakfast buffett, not so much. ice cold and gross. Even my made to order omlette - cheese not melted / cold. Formal night was well done - champagne flowed more than I've seen on the othe lines. Champagne waterfall was good. Also noticed that art auctions were especially giving with the alcohol compared to other lines.
Ketchikan - Not enough time in port. sentiments raised by everyone we chatted with. we went fishing through the ship for King Salmon and walked around near the ships. we were parked at the furthest dock. Wanted to see creek street and stuff but no time. very rushed. Went to sit down Pizza place for lunch second best ship pizza - first as mentioned was their deck pizza - great lunch
Juneau - did glacier dog sledding on own through TEMSCO - same tour as ship, $100 less. Amazing. Then hiked by the glacier on our own ($8) RT Bus...The Naturalist reccommended some trail not open. Then went on Alaska Brewery Tour (again, on own) which was great. Went to red dog saloon and had reindeer pizza - yum! Ship allowed us to bring a case of beer back on with us - a no-no on the other lines. Shopped around as well. Nice long day in Juneau
Skagway - Did a 15 mile downhill bike ride through cruise ship. It was great. Saw a Black bear dangerously close and rode bikes through customs. Then did the red onion saloon and quick brothel tour and next the Skagway brewing company. Tasted beers and had a snack. Both fun. We tried to do shopping but unfortunately this is a casewhere we were not made aware of shops closing early (530). We were back on ship pretty early unfortunately. Which ship told us of early close times - we would have shifted our plans around a bit....
Went to Sabitinis for dinner. Waste of money - not much better than main dining room. Lobster was chewey - menu was wierd... I don't like cruising norwegian, but I do think there is a better quality to their specialty dining. I didn't think this was worth the $$
Glacier bay Scenic cruising. So while my destinations were great, nights on the ship were boring. So when the naturalist said shed be on the upper deck / bow @ 5am, we went to bed early to be on the deck to whale watch with her. maybe 40 showed - guess who didn't!!! the naturalist!!! ate at the breakfast buffet again - since I was up - omlette was better - other stuff just as cold. glacier bay was fabulous. Park rangers did a great job. Naturalist unapolegetically got on later and was useless. we stayed on our balcony and saw way more than her. Great wildlife spottings by all of us balcony goers starboard - sorry for those of you just following along with her - but you saw an eagle, we saw two whales jumping around.
Another formal night - bummed that I only got one lobster tail(tasted way better than the chewey junk from sabatinis) - Royal shoves it down my throat. people say I could have asked - but I didn't feel I should have had to - Carnival and Royal ask me.
Also noticed we hadn't had one cute towel animal with sunglasses. While uneccessary they do make us smile.
College fjords was nice as well.... didn't get to go all the way in due to ice bergs and unsafe cruising conditions. Be on your balcony early - I missed all kinds of whales during spinning!
Debarking was easy - we were off earlier than they said....
Train to Talkeetna - Overrated - we chose princess because of this great experiance. Eh. Not bad, not special - you move too fast 90 percent of the time to see anything great
Talkeetna - did a hike through the cruise line - it was great. Bags were really late though, and they lost my luggage tag. Ate in the hotels casual restaurant - staff was not prepared for all the passengers and told u they were overwhelmed. food was fine. next day went to town and had breakfast at the Roadhouse as reccommended by the tour guide. Best meal of the trip. Had to have luggage out of the room at 6:30 am for a 2pm departure!!!
Denali was great - went white water rafting through ship awesome - even saw wildlife. had dinner at Prospectors Pizza - across from hotel. Very very good meal. 49 beers on tap (you all probably think we are alcoholics but we like local beer. Next day took the Tundra Wilderness tour - an upgrade from what was included in the cruise tour. We saw every thing and their babies. Be sure to upgrade!!! Bears, moose, caribo, wolves, squirrels, bunnies, dall sheep, goats, eagles, etc. Had dinner at the hotel bar. Best seafood mac and cheese ever.
Next day had breakfast at the hotel. it was fine.... and went to Fairbanks. Heres where it all went downhill... Our bus didn't show up. when it did, it was overbooked. Once it was all figured out (40 mins or so late)we were off. We did the riverboat which was included and it was good - took a couple hours. Back to the bus.... which they hadn't straightened out... eventually they figuredto reassign the 4 to a different bus - but that bus was MIA - we waited a bit - eventually left them in the parking lot with their luggage. At the hotel, they misplaced my two bags. one went to the wrong room. The peron tried to getthem to come get it and return it to me, but they wouldn't listen, so they tracked me down and got it to me. Not sure how they found my other bag - eventually they did. They did admit it was missing though - so i had a stressed out excursion while they looked for it..... we did the salmon bake and palace theater - my advice - get to the hotel and book the salmon bake for yourself with no theater and go nice and early. food was great but we were very very rushed 35 mins to eat - then we were in the theater for the cheesey show.
Next day we took the hummer tour which was awesome - felt like a VIP. Shuttle to the airport was 15 mins late - we learned that on land they operate on "Princess time"
So I had a good trip, excursions were for the most part great - we saw McKinley on multiple days and had the best trip to glacier bay one guy said in 10 years. Was it worth the $$ compared to Royal or carnival - absolutely not. So good trip Yes. Great destinations yes. the Princess experiance - a bit of a let down.