My family and I have cruised several times over the years prior to booking this cruise. We had never cruised with Princess before, but I heard Glacier Bay was amazing and since Princess has permission to cruise inside Glacier Bay, I booked it.
Starting with the GOOD. Embarkation was pleasant, and the lines moved quickly and efficiently. Our stateroom was large, was equipped with lots of closet space, and had a nice sized balcony. Alaska itself was breathtaking and majestic so there were absolutely no disappointments there what so ever. In Juneau we did the Whale Watching/ Mendenhall Glacier combo tour and we saw Whales, Eagles, and Seals. The Glacier was magnificent. In Skagway, we did the helicopter tour to the Mead Glacier which was exciting, and amazing. Plus the tour is literally right outside the ship so there are no shuttles to worry about. Next was Glacier Bay, we had great weather and booked the sanctuary to relax and have our own area to call our own equipped with personal Bose headphones and MP3 players, complimentary Bloody Mary/Mimossas and lots of Hot Chocolate. It was an up-charge to stay there, but I felt like it was worth it. We didn't go into Ketchikan because the itinerary was very early in the morning and also very short. Victoria, BC was simply gorgeous, the people there were so friendly and accommodating. It is a lovely city, and I wish we had more time to explore, but again the port of call was very short, and in the evening from 7-11pm. We managed a couples massage, and that too was very enjoyable until they tried to sell sell sell.
Now the BAD. The Buffet in the Horizon's cafe was not very good at all. The food was either cold or lukewarm, or dried out. The salad was wilted on more then one occasion, and the selection seemed to be left overs after left overs. The carving station was ALWAYS dry and overcooked. The desserts were exactly the same every day. On this ship, they take your drink orders, and that was a bit of a hassle because often times you were done eating before you even got your drinks. Breakfast was limited to orange juice as opposed to other ships where its self service and you have your choice of Orange/grapefruit/cranberry juices. Ice cream was also manned by ship personnel, so you couldn't just run up and grab a quick cone, there were always lines. Pizza was good, but closed very early as opposed to other ships where Pizza, and ice cream flows until the wee early morning hours. The ship is furnished with two specialty restaurants that we did not try because I don't think you should have to pay additionally for food when you pay so dearly for the cruise itself. We dined in the dining room every evening, and found the food to be ok, but not 4-5 stars. It's almost substandard so that you WILL go and pay the specialty restaurant to get a great dining experience.
Our worst fears came true in light of some recent cruise line events, and the toilets stopped working twice during our cruise. One time for nearly 4 hours, and the entire zone smelled like raw sewage. It was GROSS. The ceiling in the corridor outside out stateroom caved and fell on my husband and son's head. and then to add insult to injury when Hubby went down to get something for his headache because of the ceiling incident the Medicenter charged us $16.88 for Advil. No one apologized and there was never a follow up call after the incident. The personnel at the purser desk was unhelpful and uninformed as to simple questions. The Horizons staff chatted up amongst themselves quite often leaving you without drinks in which to wash your dry food down with during the buffet hours. The complimentary coffee was absolutely undrinkable but the specialty coffee hotspot that you had to PAY FOR was delish.
As I stated above, we did a couples massage, and all they wanted to do was try to sell you a $1,000 worth of Elemis to DETOX your sick body. Can't a gal just get a massage without a sales pitch? Also, the steam room aroma therapy and the sauna were both out of order, so instead of charging you $99 for the week to use the facilities it was discounted to a mere $50. Huh? why would you pay to use facilities that were out of order? I felt that they tried to nickel and dime you to death on this cruise line, and it really put us off and left a bad taste in our mouths.
The entertainment was awful, there is no place to really converge, its all pocketed throughout the ship. We found the entertainment to be boring and amateur like. It really was the most BORING cruise we ever took, my 20 something yr old kids were twiddling their thumbs, and consequently lost way too much money in the casino where some of the dealers acted as if they were fronting the house with their own money.
Our Steward was extremely pushy and made no bones about the fact that we were on HIS time table. On the morning of Ketchikan, we decided to sleep in and put our "relaxation in progress" sign on our door. That didn't stop Izzy from knocking on our door not once, not twice, but THREE times between 10 am and noon.
I've had amazing adventures and memories that will last a lifetime on other cruise lines, and although Alaska is a bucket list cruise for sure, The Star Princess didn't do it for us what so ever. I will NOT ever cruise with them again. Do yourself a favor and chose a different line to explore Alaska with.