Flew into Vancouver the night before cruise. We took the Canada Line Train from the airport to the Waterfront Station near Canada Place. This was easy to do. After you get your luggage go across to the parking garage, go upstairs and catch the train. Our hotel was the Pan Pacific which is located about two blocks from the Waterfront Station. We booked a cruise package at the hotel which included breakfast and transfer of your luggage from the hotel room directly to your ship cabin. In the hotel you can actually take an elevator from the lobby to the ship terminal.
Very easy getting on the ship at Canada Place. It took about thirty minutes total from the time we left our room until we were in our cabin on the ship. This included going through US Customs in the terminal. For the first time since we have been cruising, our cabin was ready upon boarding and this was at 12:30.
We enjoyed the layout of the Coral. It was built to go through the Panama Canal so it is very narrow, long, and tall. It had many public areas that were great for viewing and we especially enjoyed the aft areas on Decks 8-11. The promenade also went completely around Deck 7. If the weather is nice you can also have great viewing from the Sanctuary aft on Decks 12 and 14. The ship was in great shape and we saw no maintenance problems anywhere.
We had an aft balcony cabin one cabin from the back on the Emerald Deck. We enjoyed having the balcony as we cruised to Alaska and spent quite a bit of time on it even though the weather was cold and rainy for most of the week. Our balcony did have protection both above and to the sides which helped. Even when we were in our cabin we opened the drapes so we could see the view. We especially enjoyed our Ultimate Balcony Dinner although we ate at a table inside our cabin. The cabin had plenty of room and lots of storage space. We don't mind the tradeoff of a smaller bathroom for more cabin space.
This was the smallest Princess ship that we have cruised on and it was most noticeable in the Horizon Court Buffet. The food was good but the selections and seating were limited. The seating for the Coral is mostly group seating in all restaurants and the buffet and you will have to wait if you want a table just for two. We had anytime dining in the Main Dining Room and the food was good and service excellent there other than one occasion. One night our waiter put the heavy sell on us to buy some kind of drinks with our meal and when we didn't was quite rude. After a day of cruising, shore excursions, etc. we like to just have water with our evening meal. All other servers were excellent. We did not do either of the specialty restaurants but did do Pub Lunch, Afternoon Tea and made quite a few trips to the International Cafe. All of these were excellent. Burgers and pizza were also fine as usual.
The Coral is different in that they have two production show areas, the Universe Lounge and the Princess Theater. We enjoyed going to all of the shows. The comedian and magician were also good. We did not go to any of the performances of the house bands or piano players.
Ketchikan-Misty Fjords Floatplane Flightseeing with Island Wings
Fantastic trip with Michelle. Landed on a lake and got off the plane onto the shore. Spectacular flight and scenery. After flight, had wonderful meal of halibut and chips at the Waterfront Restaurant. We then toured Creek Street and back to ship.
Juneau-Harv and Marv's Whale Watching
Another great excursion. Saw tons of whales all around and even under the boat. Only six passengers. It could not have been better. It included a short tour to Mendenhall Glacier afterwards. We had planned on spending more time here but the weather was bad. After our excursion went back to ship and went back into Juneau later in the rain for some drinks and a good time at the Red Dog Saloon.
Skagway-White Pass and Yukon Railroad then Dyea Dave Tour
Enjoyed the train to Fraser and then a van tour with Dyea Dave. Dave took us to the train station in Skagway and picked us up in Fraser, Canada. We then toured stopping at Carcross for lunch and on to Emerald Lake before we returned back down to Skagway. Very interesting trip.
Glacier Bay and College Fjord
Glacier Bay was awesome with a lot of time spent at Marjorie Glacier. We were in the bay for nine hours. The next day we were at College Fjord for three hours but the weather was cold and rainy and nothing to see.
We arrived at Whittier at midnight and were off the ship in the morning. Easiest ever. There were only about ten suitcases in the line to pick up as almost everyone takes a Princess Cruisetour or Princess Shuttle.
We did an independent land tour of Alaska for four days. We started by taking Alaska Cruise Transfer to the Anchorage Airport with a stop at the Wildlife Center. Good trip with a tape narration the entire way. Picked up a rental car at the airport and were on our way to the Princess McKinley Lodge. This was a good base for us for the next few days. The weather was still overcast and raining but we made the most of our time and truly enjoyed our stay. We spent the first day exploring the area around the lodge. We had time if we had wanted to do an excursion that first afternoon and evening. The next day we headed out for Denali and the Eielson Shuttle into the park. It was an eight hour tour and we were back at the Wilderness Access Center at 6:00 PM. We ate that night at the Denali Salmon Bake and were back at McKinley Princess for cocktails at 9:00 PM. The next day we were scheduled for a Glacier Landing Flight with Talkeetna Air Taxi. Our trip was cancelled in the morning and we found out that landings had been cancelled for five straight days because of the rainy and overcast weather. They said the weather might break that afternoon and that we could wait list if we wanted to. We spent the day enjoying Talkeetna and sure enough the weather improved after 3:00 PM. We were able to get our glacier landing in and it was one of the top excursion we have ever taken. Afterwards, we ate dinner in Talkeetna and drove back to Anchorage. We spent the night at the Marriott Courtyard which was just okay.
Despite wet and cold conditions we made the most out of our first trip to Alaska. We enjoyed ever minute of our cruise and our independent land tour with rental car made the difference.