Planning for this cruise began a few months ago. My grandson graduating from high school was a joyous occation and one that I wanted to celebrate with him and his mom on a cruise to Alaska. To me the easy choice was to take a Princess cruise - which was my husbands and my first cruise back in the mid-ninties. We had a minisuite on that first cruise, so I thought it would be a good choice for our little threesome. With several cruises from which to choose we decided it would make for easy travel if we sailed roundtrip from Seattle. The Golden Princess looked like it would fit the bill. Several years ago I had been on the Golden for a caribbean cruise and my recollection was that it was a nice ship. Even more impressed - I had read it had been updated! I had no qualms that it would be a great venue for our "celebration" cruise. June 1 we flew to Seattle & could not wait until our somewhat early boarding time the next day @ 11 a.m. The embarkation was quite busy even though it was early...but with my "platinum" status I was not worried since I knew we would be whisked to boarding within a short time. But the embarkation lines were snarled and while we did not wait an extended time to register, we were directed with a small "elite" paper that assured us of quickly getting on board. However that was a huge area filled with folks awaiting their expedited entry too. There was no que just a jumble of people wanting to be first to board. When we arrived on board there was no staff to show where to proceed to. No one waiting to show how to find the elevators, etc. Very disorganized. When we found our way to the Dolphin deck and to our room - much to my chagrin, the room was not ready, beds unmade with porters or stewards standing in there. When they saw us walk in no one said anything so we put down our personal things and decided to find some place for a quick lunch (and let the room get prepared). We munched on burgers and fries by the pool and took off for a quick look around the ship. By the time we got back to the room the beds were made but the bathtub had not been cleaned - filthy really and the balcony windows had not been washed. The room decor was very dated and looked old dated. The sofa bed looked like a cheap naugahide and when it was made into a bed later that night the mattress was approx. 4" high. This was where my grandson slept. When I complained to the steward about the bathtub he said it was a stain (a stain which was all over the bottom of the tub - appeared like long black hair strands). We had no champagne in the room as stated in the brochures - had to ask for ice. The next morning I spoke with someone at the desk and voiced by displeasure - asking what could be done about the bathtub and the deplorable sleeping condition of the sofa bed. We were changed to another dowdy minisuite 2 doors down D215. And it was determined that a regular mattress could be put over the opened sofa for the comfort of my 6 ft. grandson...it worked! But after a few hours in the room we noticed a distince "pet" odor eminating from the bathroom. It smelled like either wet dog hair or used litter box. So I asked the cabin steward to reclean the bathroom and put in a room deodorizer. While he did clean the bathroom with bleach....that smell stayed with the room the entire cruise. No kidding. Even though I had numerous talks with the customer service man Ferdinand - all he offered - and this was the last two days of the cruise - a dinner in one of their specialty restaurants and a minimum credit to our shipboard account.
What I liked about the cruise....well of course the scenery of Alaska - truly breathtaking. The food at all the restaurants was good - well, except for the coffee which was tastless and watery. To get a good cup of coffee luckily they did offer a coffee bar - for a price naturally. They also had a naturalist onboard, Kathy who did a great job. Sadly we only saw one show, British Invation and another speaker about winning the Ididarod. The spa services were very pricey for the service offered. The art auction person I found to be condescending and rude, showing pieces that I had seen before. In the past we have purchased several pictures, but I would not have bought anything from this guy.
Ketchikan it was raining but my grandson and daughter went ziplining and had a super time. They spotted a bear with 2 cubs and a deer while whizzing thru the tree tops. Their best shore excursion. I went shopping in town and took a hike on a trail in town. Juneau - well, still raining there - we took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier and walked to the waterfall. Very worthwhile! Skagway we got a break in the weather with sunny skies. We walked into town for shopping in the morning and had a shore excursion which left at noon for a Chilkoot hike and river trip. Our group was only 5 but it was an enjoyable hike in a lovely spot about a 20 - 30 minute trip from town. I recommend this excursion for those who like to enjoy nature, but if the weather had been wet & cold as it was the first two days....well, I'm not sure! Unfortunately our time in Victoria was only a few hours so we decided it would be too hurried to try to do the Butchart Gardens - I have been there a few times before but it was disappointing that our time there was so brief. The disembarkation was as smooth as I had ever experienced. We were told which lounge to report to & when. We only waited approx. 15-20 minutes and then it was time to go. And finding our luggage was relatively easy. We called a town car to pick us up and take us to the airport which went smoothly.
So summing up. I will not be taking my 9th cruise with Princess. Perhaps with 7 great cruise experiences...it was just too much to ask for to have felt like a "valued" customer on this eighth one. No sense of urgency to addressing my concerns, really. Never offered the champagne, a "motel 6" accomodation with a "kitty litter" smell for 5 days....well, what can I say? Who in their right minds would wish to do that again? Not sure what has happened to Princess - maybe they are under new management. No more Princess for me!