For our ninth cruise we decided to go to Alaska and celebrate my 75th and my wife's 70th birthday. We flew Alaska Airlines non stop from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle. Next time we fly that route we will pay the premium for extra leg room. We took a yellow cab to the pier which cost $55 including tip.
At embarkation there was a large crowd of passengers, but the cruise people were well organized and although it took the good part of an hour to board, the queue seemed to always be moving which helped.
Our mini suite was clean upon arrival and we were impressed with the roominess as well as the bathroom. This was a comfortable home away from home for 7 days. The TV surprisingly did not offer a news type of station, such as CNN or Fox.
The ship was in excellent condition showing no signs of wear and tear. We stayed out of the Casino as they allowed smoking except for one night, but the odor of tobacco lingered.
We opted for anytime dining, but in most cases had to share a table as tables for two were limited. There were three dining rooms and we discovered that all three offered identical menus so there was no need to visit them all. We enjoyed the food in the regular dining room rating it above other cruises we had taken. We did book two nights at their extra cost restaurants. First we dined at the Crown Room. The meal was not that impressive. My filet mignon was very bland and dry although cooked to my preference of medium rare. I shared with my wife that the filet I had at an Outback restaurant a few days prior was better. The service was excellent. The other premium meal was at Sabbatini's. Our server Stamen was excellent. We made a mistake and ordered the striped bass for two and it was too dry for our taste, but everything else was perfect.
Overall the food experience was pretty good, even the buffet on the lido deck. Pizza and burgers were good, but the ice cream station disappointed as they only offered soft serve in two flavors and it was gritty. The pool and hot tubs were great. Drinks were reasonably priced and mixed very well with a wide choice of premium brands offered. Overall staff and service were great.
Entertainment was decent. The most enjoyable was a series of lectures on Alaska by Mike the Naturalist. They had a ventriloquist that was super the first night but was not as entertaining in his two subsequent shows. Carlos Oscar the comedian was very funny.
Best highlight of the trip was cruising Glacier Bay. This is not to be missed!
We booked two shore excursions though Princess and one on our own. One of the highlights of our trip was to go whale watching. Unfortunately this was not to be as the tour boat that Princess booked for us never left the dock due to engine problems. Bummer! The other excursion was a bus/train ride out of Skagway. In retrospect we could have skipped that and just do the bus to the Yukon as the train ride was boring. We had fun at the Yukon and paid for a dog sled ride that was a great experience. We also booked a seaplane tour of Misty Fjord out of Ketchikan, but alas that was not to be - oh double bummer!
We never got to do that excursion because we never got to Ketchikan. The Captain announced that we were going to miss that port due to inclement weather and rough seas. We could understand that he was looking out for our safety and comfort. He announced that instead we would go to Victoria spending more time there and as a plus also go to Vancouver. OK, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. The next morning the Captain announced that we would not be going to Victoria, but go on the Vancouver. Guess what? We never even made it to Vancouver and ended our trip in Seattle as planned.
OK, we kept calm and decided to book a future tour for next July and left them a $200 deposit. We liked the ship and wanted to have an opportunity to whale watch and see Ketchikan in the summer.
Disembarkation was smooth as silk. We were on the pier 15 minutes after we left our stateroom as we opted for their EZ whatever program.
When we were on the pier waiting for our Seattle tour bus to pick us up I want across to side that the Westerdam (Holland America) passengers had disembarked to see how they made out with the weather situation. Keep in mind that they sailed the same day and had a similar itinerary, and are owned by Carnival as Princess is as well. SHOCKER! Their Captain never wavered from their itinerary and docked at ALL ports! Hearing this I was surprised, but kept calm and enjoyed our tour of Seattle and the flight home.
Once home I sent a courteous email to Princess Customer Relations detailing what had happened. Since we had a deposit for a future cruise I asked if the would give us any consideration due to missing the three ports of call. In my mind I was hoping they would be apologetic and maybe give us an upgrade of some extra on board credit as a good will gesture.
Two days later we received a call from Andrew in Customer Relations. He bluntly told me that he reviewed the ships log and that there would not be ANY form of consideration as it was a weather related issue. I politely explained we had booked a future cruise to return to Alaska and again reminded him that the Westerdam's Captain did the right thing. It fell on deaf ears, so I told him we would never sail with Princess again. His reply was, "OK, I'll have your deposit returned." We have yet to received the refund.
Bottom line is that for us, even though it was a great ship and cruise, we will never travel with them or a sister company if that is how they care about their reputation and good will.