Star Princess Cruise Review by Crentist: Wonderful cruise
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We had been somewhat concerned about this cruise because of all the negative reviews, especially about the food, on cruise critic. But either princess turned it around quickly or the previous reviewers were overly sensitive or picky because we had just the best time.
There were 7 of us (no children), and we had very few issues or problems. Embarkation took less than an hour and we arrived at 11:30, when many other people odd as well. Yes, there were several lines, but they moved quickly and everyone was so excited no one cared. Very efficient and organized.
The common theme from the many reviews was the dreaded buffet. But other than embarkation day, when the lines were out of control, we never had a long line or trouble finding a large table or getting drink service. For the most part, the food was ok. Not great, but certainly nowhere near the poor quality we had been led to believe. And you can always have breakfast or lunch in the dining room, and at the More international cafe.
The ship had a naturalist on board to explain life in Alaska and what we would be seeing. Very interesting, and especially helpful when we went through Tracy arm. He was on the bridge, pointing out many items of interest over the loudspeaker. He reminded me of Chris in the morning from Northern Exposure. A combination of folksy humor combined with philosophical and literary references. The only drawback was he became a little too preachy at times.
We didn't go to much of the entertainment but heard that the bigger shows were only average. The ventriloquist wasn't so good but comedian Steve White was rather funny.
We thoroughly enjoyed all the ports and excursions. Service for drinks was plentiful and, for the most part, friendly.
Debarkation was a breeze. Even though there were 7 of us and tons of luggage, we were out of the area and on our bus in about 20 minutes.
All in all. A wonderful cruise. We would use princess again. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Mount Roberts Tramway
We had gorgeous weather in Juneau. In fact, it was probably too hot. We didn't book whale watching through the ship. Instead, we found an operator on the dock. They took us by bis to the ship, and then right away out to look for the whales. Very organized and friendly. On the way, they spotted a bald eagle perched on a post so they drove slowly around it so everyone could get a good view. Then we went out to several spots to look at the whales, which were plentiful. A great experience!
The bus then took us to mendenhall glacier, which, while nice, was somewhat of a disappointment after all the build up. Probably global warming is to blame, because the glacier was not as magisterial as we had been anticipating.
The only real problem was the return trip to the dock. When we got to the glacier, the bus driver pointed out where to pick up the return bus, at the top or bottom of the hour. There were no signs at the stop, and what he didn't say was that many different tour companies used the same stop. So the line was extremely lengthy and there was a lot of confusion in the crowd as to which bus we could board. It turned out we could board any bus but we didn't know that and there was almost a stampede.
We took a seaplane to meets bay hatchery, where we saw many bear catching salmon. Probably the highlight of the trip. This was the only day when it rained so the view from the plane wasn't as good as it could have been, but that can't be helped. Another good guide who showed as the salmon hatchery and then led us to watch the bear come out of the woods, catch and eat salmon(which were plentiful), and lumber back into the woods. A wonderful visit.
We decided to hike in the woods just outside of town. It was absolutely gorgeous. Creeks, lakes, and waterfalls all over. The problem was that it was much more difficult and longer than we anticipated. The maps were a little too crude and the path markings not too helpful. And our biggest mistake was not taking any water with us. Because of the heat and the unexpected length and difficulty we became quickly dehydrated. We will remain forever grateful to the couple who gave us their full water bottle. Please take this hike, but also be prepared.
Yukon Van Tour
Very nice tour, booked in town with frontier. They were knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. Our driver had a lot of insight and told corny jokes. It was a beautiful drive with frequent stops for pictures. Highly recommended.
Double Decker Bus Tour
Unfortunately we had little time in Victoria so we took a bus tour of the town and surrounding area. And the tour didn't begin till 8:00 pm so it became too dark to see many of the sites. But the tour was enough to whet our appetite and make us want to return. Victoria seems like a charming and interfering city.