First off let me say this was my first cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. My family and I arrived in Seattle the day prior to the cruise and stayed near the airport(Holiday Inn Express). Very nice stay and they took us to the pier the day of the cruise. Had fun seeing the sites in Seattle.
Embarkation: Check in was very quick, but the rest of the process was crazy. After we checked in they seated us in several sections of chairs. After a few minutes one of the staff came through and let everyone know they were moving us outside to wait for boarding. We were informed we could sit inside but would lose our place in line to those that went outside. So we gathered our belongings and proceeded outside with the rest of the group. Not sure why we had to go outside and stand, but waited about 25 minutes or so to board.
Once we boarded the ship, several of the staff members were rude in helping everyone get on the elevators to their rooms. Not a good first impression for me!! Our room was ready which was a surprise to me. On other cruises my room has not been ready. A plus for Princess. Once we unpacked a few things we headed to the Horizon court buffet for lunch. The line was coming out the door to get to the food. The buffet is set up very poorly as you have to wait in a long line just to get food. Not everyone wants the same food. I am used to going to different food stations and never hardly waiting in line. Food was just average and selection was ok for a buffet. Also the inside seating is very limited.
We had traditional seating in the Donatello dining room. Food and service were excellent. My only complaint was that the menu did not change much day to day.
Juneau: We took the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale watching tour. Tour was great as we saw several whales and the view of the Glacier was awesome.
Glacier Bay National Park cruising was beautiful. Saw a few Glaciers that were breathtaking. I was disappointed; however, as we saw hardly any wildlife. Not sure if the time of year had something to do with it.
Skagway: We took two tours here. The Klondike Summit and the evening wildlife tour. Saw a lot of beautiful scenery on the Summit tour. I was disappointed on the evening wildlife tour. We were on a school bus which in my opinion made the wildlife viewing hard. We did see a bear, some bald eagles and lots of salmon. Again thought there would be more wildlife sightings. One word of advice if you take two tours you won't have time to do anything else at this port.
Ketchikan: This was my favorite port as people were very friendly. Everything to see was very close to the ship within walking distance. We took the Duck tour which was a lot of fun. A lot of neat souvenirs to purchase here as well.
British Columbia: In my opinion this was a waste of time. Paid for a tour that we could not see anything as it was too dark outside. The weather was great in all the ports we visited. Had very little rain which was unusual.
Now aboard the ship
-Ship was in good condition for its age
-Food/service in dining room was excellent
-Good ice cream and pizza
-International Cafe had great pastries
-Indoor wave pool was fun
-Cruise director and staff were excellent
-Crown Grill speciality restaurant was well worth extra money
-Room had two twin beds and pull down from the ceiling. I slept on the pull down and it was terrible. I am 6'4" so had a really hard time sleeping. There was a misunderstanding as I thought I would have a sleeper sofa. I guess Princess does not have these. Enjoyed the balcony, but would never book this sleeping arrangement again. Be advised if you plan on sleeping more than two adults in a balcony room.
-Buffet set up was terrible
-Movie screen by pool had terrible picture quality and we were provided with half of a blanket to keep warm. Really, what were they thinking on an Alaskan Cruise?
-Announcements by crew were almost non-existent and could barely hear them in your room. Did a terrible of job of keeping you informed of activities, etc.
-Entertainment was below average at best. Comedian was good but rest of shows were boring.
-Evening activities were very limited. Last night of cruise there was nothing to do while in British Columbia. Everything except one night club was closed.
-Crew really did not go out of their way to make the cruise enjoyable
-The Princess signature "warm cookies and milk" was a joke. If you could find them they were not warm. I would not advertise this to the public.
-Spa area was very small and had outdoor showers in the cold. Also the steam room and sauna looked out to the pool area.
In summary, I am glad I had the opportunity to see Alaska. The scenery was breathtaking. I was not impressed with my first Princess cruise and will sail with Royal Caribbean on future cruises.