Let me start by saying that I went into this cruise with an open mind even after reading some negative reviews. I would say that overall it was not a bad cruise, just not up to the standards that I would have expected, based on reputation.
The cleanliness was an issue from the first day. My wife had a stain on her sheet which, was unpleasant right from the start. The ship itself was pretty clean although some of the tables in the buffet area were not cleaned especially well, not bad, just not what I would have expected. We found the service in the buffet area especially poor, considering it took forever to get a glass of water, coffee, or tea. On Carnival there were self serve drinking areas, not so on Princess. This was very frustrating as if you did try to serve yourself, you were given a nasty look or a brusque response. Princess should, in my opinion, put self serve water stations in at the very least.
As for the buffet food....not real good...usually it was More
either cold or overdone, depending on what you ate...the roast beef I had, was under cooked and tough...not a good combination. I will say the deserts were very good either at the buffet or the dining rooms. Regarding the menus, they did not change very much from day to day, unlike Carnival which changed every day.
Now for the more positive aspects, the wait staff in the dining rooms either at breakfast, lunch or dinner was supreme. They were excellent in every way. The head waiter, Giovanni, was outstanding in helping get a menu for our vegan son. I wish all the food service staff was as good as the dining room staff. The International Cafe has some wonderful deserts and snacks available 24 hours, which was very nice.
I will say the food in the dining room was very good, but if you really want to treat yourself, I suggest the Crown Grill, especially if you like beef. It is an extra $25 per person, but I will tell you that it was the best steak I have ever eaten. I had the Fillet Mignon and it was cooked to perfection, the rest of the meal was as good as the steak and you could order as much as you like for the 25 dollars! Not a better deal in the "real world" anywhere that I know of.
The entertainment on the Star Princess was excellent as well, although I thought they would be longer, I enjoyed them very much. The ports of call were excellent, even if the weather was not ideal..lots of rain, but I am from Washington, so....
Overall I had a good time, but I also felt that this trip was lacking in some way that the Carnival trip didn't. We did find it harder to find nooks and crannies to just get quite time without smokers around, that was a real drawback. I don't know that I would take Princess again, as I think I will try another cruise line next time. I hope this is helpful to someone in the future. Less
Star Princess Cruises to Alaska
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Value for Money
The cabin configuration is not really made for 4 people unless you have little kids, then it might be okay. The bunk beds are on opposite walls which does limit the ability to put the 2 twin beds together for a queen. I would like to see a design change that puts the bunk beds on 1 wall much like Carnival.
When we came to Juneau, we arrived only a few minutes from the downtown area. There is a lot of shopping to do as a tourist. If you want a good experience I suggest the Mount Roberts Tramway.
It gave us a great view of the downtown from a long way up. At the top there is a nature preserve, complete with a gift shop and lots of trails to take. We had a good time with this. As for shopping, there were a couple of interesting shops to visit, but mostly just trinket shops. I am sure if we were to have taken an excursion, we would have seen more of Juneau, but even if you don't, you should be able to enjoy yourself.
Ketchikan was a good place to see once you got away from the touristy areas. The one thing that is prevalent on all the ports was the jewelry stuff..a lot overdone if you ask me...We just walked around the town and saw some of the non tourist stuff which was good for us. If we bought anything we tried to make sure it was from a local, not a cruise ship affiliate. Overall it was a neat little town.
I found Skagway to be the best of the stops. I was fascinated by the architecture of the old buildings and found that if you get away from the downtown, you can see more of the town and what it really must be like when no tourists are there. We found some good local shops to buy from and the folks were very friendly and helpful. I would have loved to take the train trip, but we did not plan well enough to do so...but I still really enjoyed my time here.
Victoria seems to me to be just a place to stop on the way back to Seattle. When you arrive at 7 pm, there is not a lot to see in the dark, although I will say I took some excellent night photos.
I have been to Victoria before, years ago, and not much changed. The downtown port area was very vibrate even at night. I am sure some of the excursions would have been fun, but otherwise, just a shopping area.