Received some emails on cruises and got to looking at options. Found this Princess cruise round trip from Seattle to Alaska at a great price and couldn't afford to stay home. We have traveled on Holland America in Alaska 2 years ago, southbound from Seward to Vancouver. Wanted to try Princess and glad we did.
Boarding in Seattle was simple and efficient. We were on deck 12, Aloha, so information requested we arrive at terminal at 130 pm which we did. Process took about 1 hour from unloading off the shuttle to waiting in line at the lunch buffet.
Cabin was nice and this great price was for a balcony cabin which we enjoyed. The weather on the trip was unbelievably good so we really got to enjoy the balcony. Early or late season trips would render the balcony not very usable due to cold. This ship is built a little different. Most of the bars are on deck 7 and rooms from 8-12. As a result you get to walk a lot of stairs or wait for the elevator. Buffet was on standard Lido Deck, 14, so it was an easy walk up one flight of stairs to pool, buffet etc. Health club on 15 and our cabin was forward so no excuse not to go to the treadmill.
Once we got use to the ship layout we enjoyed it. We did go to the Crown Grill one night on a last minute idea. They were able to accommodate us and we had a very nice meal of surf and turf. Service was ok but not great. Waited almost half hour from salad to entre being served. Had no place to go so it wasn't really a problem but just seemed like a long time.
As previous reviews have mentioned, the Princess singer and dancers where only fair. I have seen more impressive acts on other cruise lines. Saw one of the comedians and he was good. Normal activities during the day were standard fare for any cruise lines. We did not participate in the movie on deck. Great idea if weather was good. It was on our cruise but often cool on deck being Alaska.
Greatest thrill of the cruise was Capt. McBain's decision not to go to Tracy Arm as scheduled due to 3 other ships in the fjord. Instead we went to Endicott fjord and the Dawes glacier. Oh my God. We got 300 yards from the glacier and just as we arrived it caved an iceberg then a rare shooter iceberg. A shooter is a chunk of ice from beneath the glacier which come shooting up from under water. Very rare event. Then 3-4 more caving events and another shooter! According to the Captain you could come to Alaska 20 years and not see a shooter and we got two!
Didn't do much of anything in Juneau as we had been there previously. Go to Mendenhall Glacier if it's your first visit. In Skagway we did the Yukon and White Pass train to the top of the mountain. Really nice. Highly recommend this trip. Ketchikan was a previous stop so didn't do anything except see a dentist as my wife chipped a tooth. He wasn't able to do much but was very kind and helpful. Victoria was new and I walked into town. Took about 30 minutes and got to see some of the local neighborhoods. Beautiful evening so enjoyed the street festivals going on and walked back to the boat.
Disembarkation was very simple. We chose to do standard process and get bags on the dock. Our flight home was not until mid afternoon so we waited in the assigned Crown Grill. Used Seattle Express Shuttle from the hotel to the ship and from the ship to the airport. Great service. Use them if flying in, 206-793-8430. Charge is $12 per person each way. It's important to make a reservation on front end as the service fills up. Cab is $30 or more and last stop on the light rail from the airport is still a long way to Pier 91 so $2.75 train ticket and taxi plus hassle factor isn't worth it. Use seattleexpress.com.
For those of you considering an Alaska cruise. This ship or Holland America Westerdam from Seattle is really the way to go. You get to experience most of Alaska unless Denali is really important to you. Denali is really cool and we did it on the previous trip but airfares get expensive flying into or out of Fairbanks and Vancouver. Glad we did Princess and will likely try them again. Nice mix of people, food ok, not as nice as Holland and ship is large, 2700 people versus 1900 with Holland. We are not a fan of larger ships especially the new mega ships. This cruise should really be on your bucket list. Alaska is really an amazing place.