This was our fourth cruise, the first on Princess. After doing our research on cruising to Alaska we chose Princess and were very pleased with the choice. Things we liked about the ship:
1. No smoking policy aboard ship (only a very few designated areas were available for smoking).
2. Fellow cruisers tended to be more senior, less party-oriented, and were interested in learning about Alaska.
3. Tips for all service staff was automatically added to the bill. This removed from us having to quickly analyze and decide how much to tip staff right before the end of the cruise. Also, it seemed to us to be more fair. On previous cruises we learned that some passengers did not tip the staff at all, which to us was unethical after all their hard work. The staff on Princess did their jobs very well, and seemed relaxed in a positive way in their work. We had no complaints at all about our staff who were assigned to us.
4. The ship always left and arrived on time at every port. Our bus driver in Victoria said that Holland America was usually late (up to an hour) which cheated them out of their port time in Butchart Gardens.
5. We were on Baja deck, and the balconies were covered, which helps since it WILL rain on your cruise at some point! Some of the balconies on other decks are not covered.
6. We are not haute cuisine types, so your mileage may vary on our comments. We felt the food was just fine -- sometimes great, sometimes just okay. Our waiters -- Marlo and Janssen, were super.
7. We travelled with elderly parents, one requiring a wheelchair. We reserved the wheelchair through Special Needs on the website, and everything flawlessly. They delivered the chair to the cabin, and picked it up in the cabin after the cruise. In Seattle, boarding and disembarking, the Princess staff wheeled our mother on and off the ship. At every port, they wheeled her on and off the ship. They couldn't have been more helpful.
8. If you can afford a balcony, do it. Bring binoculars so you can scan the ocean for whales, seals, bald eagles, etc. It was so nice just to sit outside our cabin and view the wildlife, shoreline, glaciers, etc. Bring one pair of binoculars for each person. We did. Sharing would have been a problem.