My husband and I cruised on the Golden Princess on the week of July 4th 2013. This was our 4th cruise, we have done a 7 night Hawaiian with American Hawaii, a 7 night Mexican Riviera with Royal Caribbean, and a 3 night Caribbean with Royal Caribbean as well. This was our first time cruising in a "non tropical or beachy" type of cruise. I wanted to contribute to the readers on CruiseCritic since it helped me out on planning for our cruise and I like knowing what to expect.
Our port was in Seattle. We arrived in Seattle area in the morning and was picked up by a friend who lived there, and had enough time to go around and see the space needle and Pike place market. We got to the cruise terminal, which was a further pier (pier 91) Smith Cove. I suggest heading to the terminal no later than 1pm to avoid any traffic issues. Once we arrived, the check in process was smooth and quick.
The room looked great, we chose a balcony for this cruise, per the recommendation of More
people we know who have done this cruise before and the message boards, and boy it was worth it!!! We opted for anytime dining and we could choose whether we wanted table mates or not, since we weren't sure what time we would like our dinner time to be, and didn't want to feel pressured to stick to a set time or set dinner mates. We loved that they had this option. It was an issue on our last cruise since our dinner mates drank heavily at times and were a bit annoying. I would suggest making reservations, which is a simple process and very accommodating. We dined at the Bernini dining room our first night and had the prime rib and some seafood dish. It was delicious. The staff were friendly, and the service was excellent. We also tried room service- it was great, the club sandwich was amazing, must try. We liked the International Café, we got the coffee card, for about $30 you get 15 specialty coffees/teas/hot chocolate so average of $2 per order, which is so worth it, we love our specialty coffees in the am and after dinner. They also had desserts, sandwiches, salads and soup 24/7. We had the buffet for both breakfast and lunch, the selection was average, but it varies from day to day, which is nice. The previous cruises we had always had the same selections which can get tiring.
The first port of call was Ketchikan. It was a beautiful, sun shiny day (unusual per the locals). We booked a tour directly that included Tongass national forest stroll and the Totem Bight state park. It was great!
At 6 am we entered the Tracy Arm Fjord, what a magical place. Beautiful. I wish we signed up for the boat that came up close to Sawyer Glacier, costs about $200 per person, but since we booked a sea plane tour over the glaciers in Juneau we opted out of that one. Having a balcony was a special treat, we didn't have to go out on the rainy, cold deck to enjoy the sights. Having an onboard naturalist narrating as we cruised through the fjord was also amazing.
It was raining in Juneau throughout the day, but we were prepared for it, we went on weather.com to check on the weather. We took the shuttle to Juneau-good call! The "15 minute" walk, is not 15 minutes, the dock is far from town, and with the rain, no way, didn't want to catch a cold. We had reservations at first about flying out in the rain and fog, but it wasn't an issue. The glaciers seen from above is truly a life changing, amazing experience. Everyone should try this at least once in their lifetime.
The third port of call was Skagway. We walked to town, the 5 minute walk was indeed only 5 minutes and picturesque. We browsed leisurely in town while waiting for our Discover Skagway tour to start at 1:30pm. I wished I knew about the train that went to White Pass that offered a 3 hour roundtrip tour leaving at 8 am and 12:45 pm. I would have done the 8 am and had plenty of time before our tour.
The fourth port of call was Victoria B.C. We took the shuttle to town bought at the cruiseline and just walked about. I didn't book any tours since we only had about 4 hours at port. It was a nice little town and the weather was perfect, felt like high 70s at 7pm!
Overall, this was an amazing cruise. The food was good, the ports were nice and had different characteristics. Didn't feel pressured at all to purchase anything, could be because I didn't attend any of the shopping shows. Enough activities to keep us entertained during our days at sea. I didn't understand at first why people kept telling us that Alaska was the best cruise, now I do... Less
The room is on the 12th floor, Aloha deck, Great Balcony, protected from the rain, good water pressure in the bathroom, across from the Laundry room but never heard any noise from it, occasional shuffling heard above but not too bothersome, if elevators get too crowded it's only one floor below the buffet Horizon court, so you can just use the stairs