This was my family and my 2nd cruise. Our first was going to Mexico on Royal Caribbean. Alaska was truly spectacular. It was very beautiful and memorable. Overall, Golden Princess was fine, but it was not as good as Royal Caribbean.
Our boarding time was at 2pm. But we got to the port before 11am. We finished checking in by 11:45am. But everyone had to sit in the terminal, because Princess wasn't letting anyone to board until 12:30pm. While we were waiting, we got very hungry. When we got on the ship, we went straight to Horizon Court. It was completely empty. By the time we finished our food, we went to check out our stateroom. Our luggage were waiting for us already. Very fast.
We booked two mini-suite with balcony cabins on Dolphin decks. At first, I hesitated to book those rooms, because of the uncovered balcony. I was worried about two things. First, people may look down, so there is no privacy. But during the whole trip, it was always cold on the balcony, so there weren't many people out of their balconies. I didn't feel like that people were watching us. Second, sun and rain may be a problem. It was cold overall. Sun was a plus to keep us warm. We were lucky that we didn't get much rain. If not, it would be hard to get out to the balcony. I am very happy about the balcony overall.
Our room was a really good size. There were tons of spaces and storage spaces. It was very comfortable.
Other than we had a saxophone neighbor. You didn't read it wrong. Someone actually brought a saxophone on the ship and played it everyday. We can hear it clearly. It was pretty annoying when the person practiced playing the same three songs over and over again.
WATER ROUGH OR CALM:
On the 1st night, the water was pretty choppy. I remember that I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. The ship was definitely shaking back and forth. I had to hold the walls and handle bars to get to the bathroom. The next morning, the water was slightly better, but I wasn't feeling well and I had no appetite. I took a motion sickness relief pill. In the afternoon, I was much better. But my rest of my family were perfectly fine. The night show "British Invasion" was cancelled due to rough water that night.
But going into that late night, water was calming down. During the rest of the cruise, the water was very very calm. My husband and I said that it was so calm that there was no wave. Thanks to the protection of the islands.
Food was not amazing, but it was ok. I have only eaten there a few times. I liked their curry. Fruits were fresh and sweet, especially the papayas. Servers were always nice and friendly.
French fries were delicious!!!!! There were crispy on the outside and always burning hot. They were wonderful for a cold day. Hot dog was ok. Burger was blah. You can skip that.
Similar food to Horizon Court. Good shrimp salad. It is another place for you to get a quick bite.
Canlaletto Dining Room:
Bread was tasty, but they were not hot. (Royal Caribbean serves hot bread.) There were hits and misses on the food. Fish dishes were always pretty good. The scallops were one of the worst. It was bland and overcooked. Chocolate souffle was a miss. It was dense. One night, my sister ordered a pasta dish. It was unbelievably salty. We sent it back to the kitchen and got something else.
For the service, that was another story. "Unlucky" would be the word that I used to describe our service. It was slow. Our two waiters (1 head waiter and an assistant waiter) served 3 tables (our table of 5, 1 table of 8 and 1 table of 4). People on the big table ordered at least 3 bottles of wine every night. Therefore, our servers were over pouring wine all the time. The table of 4 seemed to have a special connection with the dining room manager. We saw the manager coming to their table almost every night, so I am sure our waiters needed to pay extra attention to that table. We were always sitting and waiting for service. We all felt bad for the servers, because they were working hard and sweating. They tried their best to get the work done, but there were too much work for them. I just wish there was better arrangement for the seating and we could have faster service.
I booked a helicopter ride to the glacier with Coastal Helicopter ($267/person). It was a wonderful experience. They provided a car ride to their helicopter airport. The people were nice and professional. The ride was smooth and calm. We went to Herbert Glacier. It was just incredible. We landed on the glacier and hanged out for about 30 minutes. What a life time experience!!!!!
After the helicopter ride, we walked around town and ate at Tracy's King Crab Shack for snack. It was pretty pricey, but well worth it. I don't eat crab often, but I enjoyed it. My dad loves crab and he said those were very sweet and fresh. Then, we headed back to the ship for dinner.
I booked the White Pass train excursion through Princess. There is only one train track. Our train was the 3rd one out, so we were sitting and waiting for at least 30 minutes. Then, our train had an engine problem. They had to switch it out immediately which took another 30 minutes. All the passengers were all bored out by then. Overall, the train ride was fine. The view was ok. We saw 2 bears. But it was definitely hard to get some good pictures through those glass windows. White Pass was nice. But this would be a one-time thing, I wouldn't do it again. Because of our delay, every passenger got a free cap! Yea!
For lunch, we went to Stowaway Cafe for lunch. Their halibut fish and chips were great! They had a crunchy crust and very flavorful.
The town was nice, but we didn't buy anything or see much.
Tracy Arm Fjord (Scenic cruising):
Perfect!!!!!! We ordered room service that morning, so we can spend as much time as we can on the balcony. The view was spectacular. We got pretty close to the glacier, and everyone got a great view. We even saw and heard some parts of the glacier falling into the water. I like the naturalist, Michael Modzelewski, who gave great information and facts about wild life, glacier and history over the speakers. We can hear everything clear on our balcony. We saw some seals, eagles, and bears.
At first, I planned to go to Totem Bright Park. But the time was tight. We went to Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Totem Heritage Center instead. We just took the free Ketchikan shuttle bus to the hatchery. We saw two bald eagles. It was cute. Unfortunately, it wasn't the salmon season yet. We didn't see any salmon in the fish ladder. But they did have tons of small salmons in the hatchery. Totem Heritage Center was small, but there were a few old totems. Worth it? If you want to see bald eagle close up, the hatchery was a good place. If you are interested in old totem, you will like Heritage Center. Again, this is a one-time thing. I wouldn't do this again.
After that, we walked down to Creek street. It was a short and downhill walk. Creek street was nice. There were tons of shops. We walked Salmon Etc and tried their samples. Yum... Those were good! We bought 10 cans of salmons. Perfect gifts.
It was a rainy day. We almost didn't go out, but we did after all. We took a cab to Empress Hotel. Then, we walked along Government street. We bought some Victoria cream chocolate from Roger's Chocolate. They were big and sweet. Since it was raining, we didn't walk for long. We took a cab back to the port.
There weren't many things to do on the ship, especially for teens or young adults. The sport courts were always closed. We went to check it out 3 times during different days and times. It was closed. We never got to see what it was like. It was too cold for swimming or even hot tubs. I wanted to keep my clothes on.
We went to 4 of the night shows in theater. British Invasion was a broadway show with British hit songs over the years. It was cool. Even though we didn't know all the songs, but it was pretty good. The comedy show was so so. Magic show was a bit boring. The transition between each tricks were way too long. The worst show had to be the Stardust. It was designed for older generation folks. I personally love oldies. But those songs were even older than that. My sister is 19. My parents are in their 50s. My husband and I are in our late 20s. We were bored out of our mind. We wanted to walked out many times, but we didn't want to disturb other people. We stayed until the end. I wish Princess would have made shows that suitable for wider range of people.
One thing I like was the music entertainment. There were tons of musicians playing and singing on the ship. It was nice to be sitting in the Piazza having some desserts and listening to some great music.
In the room, there were tons of pretty new movies on the TVs. We spent a lot of time sitting in the room watching TV, relaxing and sleeping.
It was a very nice trip. I really like Alaska. I would love to go back and visit for the 2nd time. For Golden Princess, that probably would be the last time. Royal Caribbean has better food, better activities choices and better shows. I think Royal is more suitable for younger people.
1. Bring your binoculars!!!!!!!! If not, you will miss most of the bald eagles, bears, and whales!
2. Bring your umbrellas!!!! It will rain, so bring a small one and keep in your luggage.
3. If you can, get a balcony room. My husband and I spent a lot of times out in the balcony. We were outside to try to find whales and eagles. We saw a few humpback whales and 8-10 bald eagles. If we didn't have a balcony, I don't think we would have seen the whales and some eagles.