We were on the Sep. 8th sailing out of Seattle. We have sailed on two other cruise lines but this was our first time on Princess and not fully sure what to expect. We were very pleased with our overall experience. We went with two other couples, so we were a party of 6. We booked Seattle Airport Express to take us from airport to Pier 91. It was a great deal. $12 per person each way. They used a black Cadillac Escalade, very nice.
Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze. I knew that Princess had advised us of our designated boarding time of 12:30pm, according to our deck, but timing had us arriving at the terminal at 11am. When we arrived we just got in line, checked our luggage, and then got in the line to go to "check in". We figured they might tell us we were early and needed to wait and that would have been fine, we just wanted to get rid of the luggage. We breezed through security fairly quickly, went through the check in process and no one ever mentioned the boarding time... We then went to a sitting area to wait to board the ship. As we were sitting there we saw the lines becoming very long with most people having to stand to wait to board. Seating was very limited for the amount of people boarding. We were on the ship by 12pm.
We went directly to our cabin to drop off our stuff. We were greeted warmly by our Cabin Steward, Jensel. We requested an extra foam topper for our bed & slipped him an advance tip, which usually ensures us excellent service. Our cabin was very quiet. It was located near an elevator and a self service launderette.
The launderette was nice. It had 2 ironing boards and irons available for use at no charge. Laundry costs were $2 wash $2 dry per load. I sent my husbands suit out to be cleaned the 1st day and had it back in time for formal dinner the next evening. Very reasonably priced at $10.50 for dry cleaning and they did an excellent job!
We then Went to Crown Grille to make reservations for later in the week and then began touring the ship. We stopped by the international cafe to purchase a coffee card, which proved to be a great deal, (unlimited fresh brewed coffee & tea as well as 15 punches for specialty drinks). We also purchased a beverage plus card which is good for unlimited soda, shakes & mocktails. This was an excellent choice. We had many virgin Mojitos, virgin strawberry Daquaris, virgin margaritas, Etc.... well worth it!!! : )
We thought the ship was beautiful and well kept. The Piazza was gorgeous, although there was never enough seating especially during events. Almost every staff member was warm and friendly.
The food was fabulous. The pastries at the International Cafe were to die for!!! I also really enjoyed their toasted Panini sandwich and chicken salad. I had heard mixed stories about Princess food, but we were very pleased. We chose traditional early dining. It was in the Donatello dining room. We had requested a table for the six of us. We found the menu had a good variety and the food was tasty. Our servers Silvano and Marco did a fabulous job. We ate the pub lunch on one sea day, excellent fish & chips and the bread pudding very yummy! We only ate lunch at the buffet twice and breakfast once. We enjoyed the slower pace and personal attention of breakfast and lunch in the main dining room. We had 2 formal nights and the menus went along with the atmosphere. The second formal night they served huge prawns and lobster. The Crown Grille was Excellent!!! The steaks were huge and perfectly cooked to order! A truly great dining experience!
We had mixed feelings about the entertainment. The illusionist was great. Sarge the comedian was very good, although He used a lot of swear words and some off color jokes that I thought should have been saved for a late night show when children were not present. He was an excellent singer and pianist as well. The "princess singers and dancers" were good on most shows, but we did not enjoy "British Invasion". The Entertainment staff was great. We attended many of the game shows held in the Explorers lounge. We also enjoyed the Karaoke contest. There were plenty of activities around the ship. I had read others comments about the pushy sales on board. I just did not find that at all. Of course they held the typical shopping show, we just chose not to go and there is always a certain amount of "offers" out there but not any more than I have seen on the other lines. There were different sales events taking place on sea days, and I enjoyed browsing and never felt pressured to buy.
We chose an inside cabin and were very pleased. It was plenty roomy and had a lot of storage, (and I am NOT a light packer). There was sufficient drawer space and the closet is very big. There was room to store luggage under the bed, but I had enough room in the closet so i just stored it on one end. There was also a cabinet that had a lot of shelves, great for storing jeans, sweaters, etc... It also held the safe.
Even though we had an inside cabin, we had bathrobes, twice daily service with nightly turn down and a fresh fruit basket every day. We received excellent service from our room steward, Jensel.
The bathroom although small was sufficient. We found that with the shelves on the wall and the big shelf under the sink, we had plenty of space for all of our toiletries. Our bathroom was kept very clean & we had fresh towels twice a day.
We enjoyed our time in the ports; Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Disembarkation and Embarkation at the ports was very organized. Both Juneau and Skagway were quite a walk to the town, but shuttles are available. Tracy Arm was beautiful!!! We were able to get fairly close to Sawer Glacier - Stunning! The Naturalist on board, Kathy Slamp, was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.
We had beautiful sunny weather the whole week. This was our second cruise to Alaska, 2nd week of Sept. and both times gorgeous weather. So Awesome! We planned for wet, rainy weather and were so thrilled to have sunshine! : )
Disembarkation was simple. Princess requests that you are out of your cabin by 8am and they give you a designated lounge to meet in and the time. We were to meet there at 9am. I know that the buffet is usually a crowded mess on disembarkation day, and was pleased to find that one of the dining rooms was open. We left our cabin at 7:45 and went for a nice relaxing breakfast at the dining room. It was not crowded at all. We met at 9am at the lounge to wait for our color/ number to be called. We only waited about 5 or 10 min, walked off ship, found our luggage in the proper color area in the sea of luggage, went through customs (literally! The guy didn't even look at our passports & that was kinda disturbing to me). We then went outside to wait for our return shuttle to airport.
Although we have enjoyed Holland America and Royal Caribbean in the past, we equally enjoyed Princess and will definitely sail with Princess again.