This time we wanted to experience Alaska in more normal weather. While the weather this time was in the 50s, we did have some sunny periods, and the visibility was always good.
We arrived in Seattle on the Wednesday evening before our Saturday, May 11, sail. Spent two nights in at the Hampton Suites in Lynwood about 30 minutes north of the City. This proved to be an excellent location for visiting the Wineries and Indian oeresort casinos nearby. On Friday night we moved to the Homewood Suites on Pike, across from the Civic Center, and took in the Pike Street Market and our favorite restaurant, Elliotts Oyster Bar on Pier 53. Elliotts has the best in regional oysters, plus a great location on the waterfront.
Took a cab to the new Princess north pier location; we arrived at the designated arrival time (a new Princess loading scheme), but had to wait an hour. The staff seemed to be disorganized a first time experience in this our 5th Princess Cruise. Once on board, we were quickly impressed with the condition of the Sta the same ship we had sailed on five years ago. The ship had the appearance of having recently been refurbished, although I dont think this was the case. Our favorite place to look at, the Sky Walker Lounge, was still in place, and had not been removed as it has been from the Stars sister ship, the Grand.
Our cabin, C424, was great. The steward was very attentive and efficient, and the cruise so lacked any rocking, etc. that we thought we were on a lake rather than out on the Pacific for the first two days. The glacier state park at Juneau was beautiful to see, and we also were able to observe two bear cubs in a tree, as well as several mountain goats. At Skagway, we rented a car and drove one hour north to the Yukon Territory, and had lunch at the only restaurant just north of Carcross. Enjoyed spectacular scenery this is an option to the train at Skagway that I highly recommend.
Cruising in the Glacier Bay National Park was the highlight of the trip! Ketchikan was good for shopping, while most of the shops in Victoria were closed when we arrived.
Service on board the Star was uniformly excellent. The jazz performances were very good. Meals at the specialty restaurants were good, and the International Food Bar was excellent. Now the bad news. The food at the Horizon buffet was often cold, and not very tasty. The menu selection at the traditional dining room was very poor. Princess needs to do something, quickly I believe, to address their food preparation and variety.
Debarking went smoothly I recommend checking your bags through from the ship at a reasonable cost. The bus service purchased through Princess was a near disaster. The driver got lost in downtown Seattle, almost hit a car on I5, and drove between lanes on the Interstate. The trip to the airport took twice as long as it should have taken.
All in all, we will cruise on Princess again, but we hope the food, especially, will be much improved.