Sea Princess June 12-22, 2012 San Francisco to Alaska and back
This was our 12th cruise to Alaska, but the first time we have sailed out of San Francisco. We prefer to sail from Vancouver as it provides better viewing of scenery and wildlife going through the passage between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada, but we are tired of flying. The cruise embarkation port, San Francisco, is only about 25 miles from our home on the Peninsula.
We have found that the easiest way for us to travel to the SF port is to take a taxi to San Francisco Airport and take the Princess transfer from there to the pier. There is always a traffic jam along the Embarcadero heading to the pier and the flat rate charged by Princess is always less costly than paying a taxi to sit in the jam for a long period. We arrived at SFO around 10:45 AM and were on the way to the ship by 11:15. Boarding took only a few minutes and we were in our cabin before noon.
The Sea Princess is well maintained and in good shape for her age. I did not observe very many places around the ship that needed attention.
The cabin was a bit of a disappointment. We were in D704, an outside cabin in the rear of the ship on deck 8. It had the head of the bed against the side wall which is a plus. With this configuration, you are able to look out the window without climbing up on the bed. Unfortunately, there was no dressing area between the bathroom and the closet as there is on other Princess ships. There is far less closet space and fewer drawers. One person has to use a part of the vanity for a night stand and also must use the vanity drawers for storage. That leaves only one side of the vanity for storage of female stuff. The bathroom was extremely small and crowded. It was the worst we have ever had on any Princess ship. We have sailed on all three of the Sea Princess sister ships and have not experienced such a situation.
The location of the cabin was good. My wife's sister and son were with us and had a cabin near the bow where they were bounced around at a couple of places where we hit rough seas. We slept well on those nights and never noticed the roughness. The bed was very comfortable. Reading lights are suspended from the wall above each side of the bed and provided excellent light for reading. An adequate sized, flat screen TV is above the refrigerator near the foot of the bed. There is no lack of mirrors. They seem to be everywhere. The safe is on the small side, but we were able to cram all our stuff into it.
Being Elite members of the Captain's Circle, we are entitled to certain benefits. Princess asks that we indicate in our Member Profile what kind of items we would like to have in our cabin. Unfortunately, the information from the Profile never seems to make it to the ship.
1. Complimentary Mini Bar Set Up. We are asked what type of drinks we want in the Complimentary Mini Bar Set Up. We have never received what we asked for and always have to call room service to exchange the items. I don't understand why Princess asks for this information if they don't plan to follow through.
2. Complimentary Wine Tasting. I am not a wine drinker, but my wife is. We attended the wine tasting one afternoon and were a little disappointed. On our last cruise, they provided brochures that described each wine and provided the name of the vintner. No such written information was provided on this cruise.
3. Complimentary Internet Packages. The Internet service on this ship was much better than on previous cruises, but we were still knocked off line a couple of times. Email I tried to send using AOL would disappear when I tried to send it. I was not sure whether the problem was with the ship's service or with AOL.
All the other Elite Benefits worked out very favorably.
The food was very good in the main dining room throughout the cruise. There was a good selection of entrees each night. Most evenings, the menus had a selection of at least six items plus those that could be ordered every night. There was also an excellent selection of soup, salads and appetizers. Desserts were good throughout the ship. All the breads and rolls were very good. Once we were in the dining room, service was usually excellent, however there was a serious problem getting into the room. Unless we arrived before they opened, it was necessary to wait up to an hour or more for a table. When we finally got into the room, we noticed that many tables were empty. I suspect they were short of waiters for some reason. Usually, we can arrive whenever we want and get a table immediately.
We had a few meals in the buffet restaurant. The food there was not the same quality as the dining rooms. Most of it was lukewarm and tasteless. We tried the hamburger stand near the pool a couple of times and found them to be very good. The fries were excellent. They also made waffles at the grill each morning and they were good.
We don't care for the production shows, so we only attended one. It was well done. We did go to all the comedy shows. The ventriloquist, Don Bryan, was very good. One comedian, Scott Wyler, did two shows and both were excellent. The other comedian, Billy Vader, seemed to be struggling to stay on topic. A harmonica player, Bernie Fields was very good.
We usually bring good weather with us when we travel. This was the first time we have been cold in Alaska. We had no rain in any of the ports and their temperatures were comfortable, but being out on deck between ports was not comfortable. Glacier Bay had heavy fog when we entered the bay, but it cleared up later in the day and the glaciers were visible all during the time the ship was there.