This was our second trip to Alaska with Princess. The first time was the Inland Sea RT from Seattle since we were newbies to cruising that time. Now being semiretired, we went northbound from Vancouver on the Island, and planned our own landtrip after disembarking in Whittier.
Getting to Vancouver went smoothly on Alaska Airlines, Oakland to Vancouver. We had originally planned to fly to Seattle & take Amtrak, but Alaska offered a sale price that was comparable, a few weeks before, so we switched. Our precruise night was spent at the Ramada Limited Downtown Vancouver, close to Canada Place. In any other part of town this hotel would be rated higher since it has been extensively remodeled and service was really emphasized. Although there were bars on some neighborhood shops, we felt safe enough. The location was ideal, allowing us to walk everywhere we wanted, including dinner in Gastown, and to the cruise dock. The price was also right for one night.
Embarkation was smooth, and sailaway was on a sunny afternoon. We met a few CCrs at the Lido Bar after Muster, but this cruise seemed to attract few folks who knew about CC.
We'd rate this cruise as very enjoyable - dining room food was ok, but the menu is getting a bit routine, buffet was top notch however, as one could eat more healthy. Plus, they were creative with the theme nights - Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Mongolian BBQ, Fish Fry, etc. Cabin service was fine, with our steward leaving a couple of towel animals for us in honor of a birthday and an anniversary. Entertainment included two shows we hadn't seen - On the Bayou & British Invasion - we enjoyed both. We also were able to catch Carlos Oliver, Princess' Entertainer of the Year. We found him mildly funny, and family friendly. The other music was ok - pianist tended to country which isn't our thing. The jazz trio was very good and I wish we had spent more time where they were playing.
Our cabin was fine, with the exception of a bad case of moldy grout in the tub/shower. This is the second time its happened with Princess. The last time was on the Golden. I don't know if its a ventilation problem, lack of proper cleaning products, or what, but I'd wish they'd fix it. Each time I've been told that the ship was full, and that it takes 3 days to remove, replace grout & dry. Yuck...
Port calls: Since we'd been to Skagway, Juneau & Ketchikan we didn't feel a lot of pressure to get out & see as much as possible. We privately booked flightseeing in Ketchikan (how much can you do when there are 5 or 6 ships in port), took the Blue Bus to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau & did a little shopping, and walked to Jewel Gardens, the Pioneer Cemetery & Lower Douglas Falls in Skagway. We were able to take a picture of a client's grandfather at the Park Service Museum. He was one of the gold rushers who braved the Yukon Trail.
The scenic cruising was the highlight of the cruise for us. The naturalist and ranger who came aboard were great, and added a lot to our enjoyment of what we were seeing. Plus, we were fortunate to see a lot of wildlife - bears, whales, seals & sea lion, calving glaciers. We felt the time we spent on deck to be totally worthwhile, even though we had showers that day.
Disembarkation in Whittier went smoothly, and we were in Anchorage by 10:30 or 11:00 with our private transfer.