Embarked at San Fran & wow what a long queue & horrendous traffic. Lucky it was warm & dry & the queue moved fairly quickly but passengers were not happy. Worst embarkation I have ever experienced. We had preferred boarding but the separate queue for that didn't start until after you got into the building! A new cruise terminal is being built but I am sure that traffic will still be a problem. On board we quickly settled in. Stateroom was clean but a little on the small side. Why don't staterooms have clocks?????? Balcony was narrower than those on decks below but that meant we weren't overlooked & were sheltered from rain when watching whales etc.
We ate in traditional dining - Botticelli. The waiters were excellent & the food was too. The menu was very varied but if there was something special that you wanted & it was not on the menu they were always able to conjure it up. We did eat at Horizon buffet a couple of times but food choices there are not as good as previous cruise ships & they have a ridiculous dessert station where the desserts had no labels on (just a list of all of them on the counter but you had no idea which one to point at in the glass cabinet & so you invariably got the wrong one) & you often had to wait a while to be served. Not seen that on Princess before. No point in paying for speciality restaurants. Alfredo Pizza restaurant very good as were the pastries etc in the International Cafe. Breakfast was usually traditional in Michelangelo & was very nice except for the weak Bigelows tea - get Twinings tea please Princess! We often had room service breakfast if we were on a trip. That was quite good although coffee not always that hot. No need for bottled water - just put some ice in a glass & it soon melts to drinking water. If you like a small spoon for those mini desserts/yogurts in Horizon you had better take one in your pocket, because a waiter informed me that teaspoons are only available on deck 12! When I laughed about this he reappeared about 10 mins later with one & told me to keep it for next time.....
Passenger services were a little unhelpful & some accents difficult to understand. They insisted Shuffleboard was in the Library for instance(Deck 16 if you are interested, but only one court was in working order) Disembarkation information was confusing & had incorrect dates! They blamed Windows operation system for incorrect details!!! Sometimes these staff were quite rude & would stop mid conversation to answer questions from another staff member without any apology. Entertainment was very varied & excellent. Cruise director & his staff were very good & great fun. Casino host Matt did a great explanation of rules & etiquette of various casino games but sadly we didn't win.
Internet connection was very patchy- said to be due to mountains around Alaska. Be careful of buying an expensive Internet package on an Alaska cruise. All of the staff were friendly & always said a greeting as they passed.
There were the usual photographers at the most inconvenient places. Do passengers really want to be photographed after standing in a long windswept queue for over an hour? Would you like your photo taken with a fake parrot etc every time you left the ship? I think the majority would answer no & printing all these unwanted photos is a waste of resources. The towel animals on the beds have departed but the bedtime chocolates are still there. The beds were very comfortable & bedding was changed as soon as it looked crumpled, even after an afternoon nap!
Each time I cruise various little extras have vanished e.g the cheeseboard, grape jelly, fresh lemonade (free) in the International cafe & money making ventures have appeared instead. It used to be free to visit the bridge but is now $150 albeit with an engine room tour add on. No free 'ships tea or coffee' in International Cafe except between midnight & 6am. Hardly any free tables in that cafe, they were often occupied by card players or ladies knitting.
Having said all this we had a very enjoyable cruise & will certainly cruise with Princess again.