The DW and I booked a Cruisetour to Alaska with Princess for 5/23/12 to 6/2/12. There were a few glitches, but we enjoyed the adventure all the same. We arrived in Anchorage late on 5/22 and stayed in Anchorage the first night on our own. Early on the morning of 5/23 we traveled to Fairbanks by Alaska Railroad, Adventure Class. We used the Alaska TourSaver for this and several other Tours along the way which saved us quite a bit of money. We were fortunate enough to be guided and entertained by Conductor Steve who had almost 41 years with the Alaska Railroad. He had many interesting stories and made our trip very enjoyable.
Were left Anchorage with partly cloudy skies, but as we approached Mt McKinley we were lucky enough to see it out. They say the weather covers it about 80% of the time. We also got a chance to see a Momma Bear and her Three Cubs as well as lots of Moose along the way. We arrived in Fairbanks about 8pm and made our way to the Hotel. Princess had arranged for the Bear Lodge for our two night stay in Fairbanks. We got our check in packet from the front desk right away. When we took our bags to the room, we quickly discovered there was already someone else occupying that room. It was a little embarrassing, but it was quickly resolved by a very apologetic Manager. The next day we inquired about the complimentary shuttle to the airport, we had reserved a rental car for the day. The front desk staff advised that the shuttle service was only for non-Princess customers. We paid for a Taxi and got our Rental Car. We visited The Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. We later booked a tour on the Riverboat Discovery. That was a very enjoyable and informative tour. Later we visited Pioneer Park and ate at the Salmon Bake. It was good. Most of the vendors at the park had not opened, so I can't comment on the other attractions, but they looked interesting. We made a stop by WalMart and Safeway to pick up some supplies, which were cheaper there than anywhere else along the way.
The next day we headed to Denali on the Train. In Denali we had only about a half day to enjoy the park, so we went to the Dog Sled demonstration and then caught to shuttle bus to Savage River. These two activities were free we enjoyed ourselves. Later we attended the "Cabin Nite Dinner Theater" near our lodge, it was entertaining and the food was good. The accommodations at the Denali Princess were very good.
The next morning we boarded a Motor coach for Whittier to begin our cruise on the Sapphire Princess. We did have a two hour lunch break in Anchorage and got a chance to walk around downtown.
The Sapphire is a beautiful ship and our cabin was nice. Our Room Steward was accommodating and worked very hard to make our vacation a special one.
We visited Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay NP on our first two days southbound, both were spectacular and very much highlights of our trip. We visited Skagway next and took the SMART bus out to Jewel Gardens for a visit. That was fun and a nice break from the touristy stuff (shopping) that goes on downtown. Our next stop was Juneau and we booked a private Whale Watch Tour. It was fun, but not too many Whales were out that day. Later we took the Tram to the top of Mt. Roberts. We spent about an hour up there and enjoyed our time. We even got to see a Black Bear on one of the trails on our way back down the mountain. Our third stop was Ketchikan. We made this our shopping stop. We also had Halibut and Fries on the Dock for lunch, that is always a treat. We didn't go on any tours here, just walked and shopped.
Our on board experience was generally good except of two incidents. 1) on our last day a sea the DW and I decided to go to the pool forward near the Spa/Salon, before we could get into the pool the DW cut her foot on a piece of glass in the pool area. It wasn't a serious injury, but the was a fair amount of blood on the deck. When assistance was requested from Spa/Salon staff twice) it was ignored. They didn't seem to be interested. 2) there were two changes on out sign and sail that the DW and I could not account for (five day apart). We inquired and the customer service staff acknowledged that we had not made the charges, and said they would make the corrections. The corrections were never made.
Disembarkation was not a real smooth process either. We had transfers from Vancouver, BC to SEATAC. That intial process was far too long and disorganized.
Even though there were some glitches along the way, we very much enjoyed our Alaskan Adventure.