My wife and I sailed on the new Pacific Princess to Alaska. This was my fifth Princess Cruise and the best of the Princess cruises I've been on. I've been on over 30 cruises and this ranks high on the list.
We had a mini suite which was spacious. There wasn't enough closet space but that was our fault not Princesses. The dEcor in the room is very nice. The balcony was very spacious. They even have lap robes for glacier and other cold days. They are replacing the mattresses 50 a trip. Ours hadn't been replaced. The bed was wretched. They will put an egg carton thing on it, but theirs isn't very good. I had gotten a better one from Target for $16. We took it on in a carryon and left it on board. With it sleep was hard. Without it it would have been impossible. One interesting thing is the "mailbox" outside your cabin door. It is a glass box. Your name is on it when you board. You receive all of your Princess Patters, invitations, etc. in that box rather than under the door.
The ship is wonderful. The decor is like an English Manor house. Very comfortable. A lot of antique reproductions. Beautiful paintings are everywhere as are artifacts. The library is stunning. All of the public rooms are furnished tastefully and beautifully. The restaurants too are well decorated. The main dining room can be a bit noisy. We had a table for two by the window but it was only inches away from a table for six so we really felt like we were at a table for eight. The room between tables is minimal.
We loved Sheila Turner in the Casino bar. She knows something like 2000 songs and has a great voice. While we were aboard she got engaged to the trumpet player in the band. And two crew members got married. Maybe they should go back to the Love Boat theme.
The entertainment troop on board is first rate. Supposedly the top rated troupe in Princess. They are from Australia and New Zealand. They were put together for this ship and didn't know each other prior to signing up. That said, one would never know that. They perform exceptionally well together as a group. The chemistry and the fact that they enjoy working together are obvious. Richard Joseph the cruise director is excellent and has a fascinating session on cruise ships. He tells the story of being a hostage on the Achille Lauro when it was hijacked. He was on the ship when it was the R3 as were Sheila and Ian.
Dick Gold was on board. He is a staple of Princess Cruises and a good comedian. We also had Bob Mills on board who was a writer for Bob Hope. It was especially timely as Mr. Hope passed away during our cruise so Bob Mills could give us reminiscences of him.
Brent Nixon was our naturalist. He can be wonderful as when giving narration in Tracy Arm but his style is a little over the top for us. Perhaps it's because it is the third time we've been on a cruise with him and the appreciation of the histrionics tends to fade with repeated performances. In all fairness though most people liked him.
The singer on board was terrible. (name available on request). He was slick, sleazy, greasy, and oily also manipulative and maudlin. He began with a tribute to Barry Manilow. As one person said, "Barry Manilow is bad enough but someone imitating him is even worse." Many people liked him but many people walked out as did we.
Princess now has an educational program called Scholarship at Sea. It included the naturalist and Bob Mills as well as other interesting "classes" one could take. A broad spectrum of courses including cooking, martini making, and other fun things as well as informational classes.
The service was great on the ship. Always smiling people. Always friendly. One felt as if one were on one's own personal yacht.
The food in the dining room was good and the service as well. The fare is standard Princess fare. If you've been on their cruises before you'll know the menu.
The breakfast buffets were a little redundant, but there's only so much one can do with breakfast buffets. The lunch buffets were good and varied. The one exception was the Chinese/Asian buffet. The worst Oriental food we'd ever eaten.
We ate in Sterling's (steak house) three times. The beef is excellent. And you may wish to order the Dover sole just to watch them debone it. A fascinating feat. My wife says that usually when you eat steak the first bite or two are good then it tastes like steak but at Sterling's all of the bites are great bites.
We also ate in Sabatini's as we were sailing away from Sitka. Great service but a lot of food. Sterling's is better. Sabatini's is open when Sterling's is not so the same staff services both venues.
There is also a pizzeria on board. Available for lunch pizzas by the slice and at night one can order Pizzas and Calzones from the menu. There is a night grill open from 11pm to 4am in Sterling's.They also have sandwiches and salads available from 2:30-5:00. There is a hamburger/hot dog venue as well as ice cream and high tea.
Our first night and day were a little rough...ok a lot rough...we didn't get sick buy many many people did. Even people who had cruised 20, 30, and 40 times without ill effects.
Tracy Arm is incredibly beautiful. Sitka, Skagway, and Juneau were great. Especially Sitka. We have been on many Alaskan cruises and Sitka is our favorite. We were there on our anniversary so that was especially meaningful for us. We would have liked longer port times. Especially in Vancouver. In Skagway we went to the Red Onion for lunch. A very fun place. I suggest you get there early to get a seat. We took the tram in Juneau.first time we've done it. Very picturesque view.
We often rent cars in port and just roam. We did this in Sitka and had a grand time. We drove to the end of the road.a beautiful romantic spot.
We also took the walk behind the National Park Building which was beautiful and gives a great view of your ship. We ate lunch in Van Winkel's and sons. Excellent Halibut.We were able to add to our collection of Northwest Indian Art in Sitka with three carvings by natives.
The ship never seemed crowded. There was always a place to sit at shows. Always a place at events. Always a couch or a table in our favorite bars. Even on the last day it was easy to get through the breakfast buffet.
Embarkation/Disembarkation both went smoothly. The only hitch was waiting in line for a long time for Immigration. But once they actually started the line flew.
The exercise room is well equipped. . The showers in the dressing room are awesome. One of them has seven heads that hits you from all around and above. The other one has a regular and a waterfall head. It is called a fog shower, but no one seems to know why. I went from one to the other. Even though our bathroom was spacious the tub was off the ground and if I stood whilst showering I would hit my head on the ceiling. So the other showers were the perfect answer for me. The steam room was a little feeble.
Princess really seems to have gotten it right with this one. Even the crew remarked on the family feeling aboard. They feel as if they are a family and when you get on board you feel a part of their family. When we disembarked we felt as if we were leaving friends.
And when we disembarked the friends we met on our cruise last year on the Regal to Alaska surprised us and met us with flowers and an anniversary card. A perfect ending to a wonderful cruise.