Embarkation: We arrived at Port 91 at about 11:20am. We dropped off the luggage and went upstairs to get our cruise cards. They do not let you board until noon. There was a line like you would find at Disneyland for a popular ride. It started to move at noon and we were on the ship by about 12:30pm. We dumped our carry on things in the room and went to the buffet. Lines were long but not too bad. Two of our family members were already up there and we shared a table with another couple. Do not be afraid to ask to sit at a table that has open seats. Just be nice about it.
Cabin: Caribe BE Balconies on the starboard side. We had C227 and my aunt and uncle were C231. We had them open the small connecting door on the balcony which made it very nice. The Caribe balconies are half covered half open. You can be seen from above but we really liked them. These balconies are really large about twice the size of the Baja and Aloha decks. Really worth it if you can get one. There were two chairs that the backs reclined along with foot type stools and a table. The cabin was great. Carpets were clean and without spots. The closet was big with lots of room for storage. There is a cupboard with many shelves to store your non-hanging items along with a small safe for valuables. We stored the luggage under the bed. The bathroom is very small with a shower curtain. I figured out that you could attach the pants hangers to the bottom of the shower curtain to keep it from touching you. The flat screen TV was nice and with lots of room to charge our electronics. The hair dryer attached to the wall is not powerful and did not dry my hair. I did bring my own so no worries there. I asked first thing for egg crates which made the beds very comfortable. We slept with the balcony door open every night. It was not cold enough for us in the room.
Ship: The ship is in very good shape. She is clean and they were always painting something. We used the gym each morning on the three sea days. We went at 8am the first morning and the machines were already being used. We did manage to get two of the treadmills to use for about 45 minutes. The two other days we went about 7am when it opens and had more choices with less people. We also used the hot tubs in the adults only Lotus pool. Those are the only hot tubs that are actually hot. The hot tubs in the covered Neptune's Reef and Pool area were cold or just a little warm so we went to the Lotus.
Food: We are foodies and love great food. We had heard that the food was not very good. We ate every evening in the dining room for traditional late seating. We had great waiters and the food was really good. There were a few things that I did not enjoy as much as others. So I just ordered something else. No problems. We love seafood and ordered shrimp cocktail each night. There are several items that you can get every night like shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, Tri-Tip, etc. We did eat a couple of times for breakfast and lunch in the buffet. It was ok. It really depends on what you get. We like smoked salmon which they had most mornings. I really liked the spa muesli, fresh cut appears etc. The Piazza on deck 5, International Cafe had some really nice items. Breakfast has the spa muesli, donuts, pastries, egg, cheese, ham on English muffin. They use a sandwich press to crisp up the outside and meat the cheese, very nice. There are always desserts there. At lunch, they have different salads; shrimp, Waldorf chicken, grilled veggies and several different sandwiches. We also did the high tea in one of the dining rooms which had good sandwiches and desserts. We had lunch in one of the dining rooms one day and the food was good much like dinner. We had room service deliver breakfast on several days. That menu is simple with dry cereals, the egg muffin deal (not as good as the International Cafe since it was not toasted), fruit, coffee, tea, juices, pastries etc.
We did not really see any shows. We did do the Shopping Show, which is big infomercial for the companies that pay the cruise line. We only went because we did the scavenger hunt and were hoping to win something.
We did see about 15 minutes of the British Invasion show which was pretty good. Sarge was the comedian but we did not go. There was a magician but did not go either.
Captain's Circle Party for returning guests was nice and in the Vista Lounge. They acknowledged the most cruised guests with one lady having 605 days at sea on Princess. The drinks were free along with some appetizers.
Meet and Mingle
I did organize a Meet and Mingle for our cruise. We had a pretty good turnout of about 25-30 people but I planned it for 10:30am on Monday. We had two officers come to our M&M. The Hotel Director and Food Director, I believe, were the ones that came for us. We did photos with them. The Captain was busy and did not show. The M&M people were really nice. We did a group photo hoping that Cruise Critic would post it on their website for us. The Shopping Show started at 10:15am and went until 11:30am. We left the show to do the M&M and then went back to the shopping show about 11:15am.
We arrived a day early, Saturday, and stayed at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott. Expensive but very nice hotel. It is as the name states, on the waterfront. We walked up to Pike's Place Market. Since it was Labor Day weekend, it was very crowded. We had lunch at The Pike Brewing Company. Food was pretty good. We then got a taxi to the Underground Tour. Tour showed how Seattle was founded and how it emerged to what it is today. Google the tour, there are several YouTube videos. We took yet another taxi to the Space Needle. The views are amazing. Taxi to Waterfront for dinner at Ivars. Taxi back to hotel. Sunday morning got up early to walk without people for Pike's market, first Starbucks, etc. Then took a shuttle ($7) to Pier 91 to board.
We got up early and were off of the boat by 7:30am. We walked around without a lot of people. It was very foggy and the ship's fog horn blew most of the night. It did clear up nicely for the rest of the day, full sun. We walked up to Creek Street, saw lots of swimming and dead salmon. I purchased a heavy coat at Tongass Trading Company for $20. Worked great in Tracy Arm and Juneau where is rained and was very cold. We booked the Wilderness Exploration Cruise & Crab Feast. We boarded a bus and went south for about 15 minutes to the George Inlet Lodge. There we got on a boat and toured the inlet and stopped to pull up two crab pots. They show to how to hold and sex crabs. We saw an eagle and eagle nest. After about 1 hour of boat tour we went back to the Lodge and had an all you can eat crab lunch. They teach you how to eat the crab legs etc. This was good for the non-crab eaters, but we were professionals. We felt like we eat a stick of butter by the end. Good thing we were walking and going to the gym. The bus took us back to the ship.
It was cold and rainy but totally beautiful. There were many icebergs and water falls. The half covered had open balcony worked out well. We had breakfast delivered at 6:30am. The hot coffee and food was great. When we got too cold, we stood inside the cabin. The glacier at the end was really beautiful. Took so many photos and videos. Now I need to put it together and upload it.
Juneau was chilly, rainy and windy. It took the ship about an hour to push up to the dock. They even had a tug boat pushing trying to get it close enough to throw the lines out to help. Needless to say, we were late docking so there was a huge line to get off of the ship. I think that almost every passenger on the ship was in line to get off. We booked the Mendenhall Glacier, Salmon Hatchery & Salmon Bake. We boarded a bus for a 20 minute ride to the Glacier. Just as we got to the park, a bear walked across the road in front of the bus. Did not see it but heard it was there. It was raining, not hard but enough to be cold and wet. Walked around the park. Saw many icebergs, an eagle just sitting in a tree like he was posing for photos. Saw many salmon in the stream. Also saw a porcupine and her baby. Back on the bus to see the salmon hatchery. Very educational. Back on bus to Salmon Bake. Pretty good food. All you can eat salmon, chicken, baked beans, cold slaw, corn bread, and blueberry cake. The bus will take you back to the ship or you can have it drop you off in Juneau. We got off in Juneau to visit the Red Dog Saloon. Walked around and did a bit of shopping and got another shuttle back to the ship. We wanted to do the Roberts Tram but ran out of time plus it was rainy.
Beautiful weather when we got off the ship early. We walked from the ship to town without the hordes of people if you wait until later. We got a map from the visitors bureau and walked the two miles to the Gold Rush Cemetery. Google Soapy Smith, a con artist, for a little history on Skagway. Again, we were the only ones there so it was great. We walked around the cemetery and found a waterfall sign. We walked up to the beautiful waterfalls and took fabulous photos. When we walked back down from the falls, there was a tour from another ship. We listened to what they had to say about it and walked down to where you can take a shuttle for $2 for a single ride or $5 for the entire day. We did the $5 and got on and off. We did some shopping then shuttle back to the ship for something to eat. I did take the train ride nine years ago when I first cruised. Nice ride but did not feel I needed to spend the money this time.
The ship does not arrive until 7pm. We purchased the $9 shuttle from Princess and it was worth it. There was a big line of people to get a shuttle from the port. We just walked onto the bus and were dropped off by the Empress Hotel. We walked all over until about 10:30pm. We took the shuttle back to the ship.
Disembarkation: Leaving was easy. You have to be out of your cabin by 8am. We got up and went to the buffet for breakfast about 7:25am and it was already busy. After breakfast, we went down to our lounge to wait for our color to be called. We were supposed to leave at 8:55am but they did not call us until about 9:20am. Basically walked off the ship and found our luggage. We got on a shuttle to the waterfront. We checked our luggage at the hotel we stayed at prior to the cruise until our 4:10 flight home.