We flew into Vancouver from Kansas City. When we arrived at the Vancouver airport we had to go through customs. The line was enormous! It did steadily move and after about an hour we were through customs. The bus ride to the port was enjoyable. Seeing Vancouver made us regret not coming a day early and exploring the city. It looks very clean, a very large residential population in the city. Next time we come we will stay a day or two there to explore. Once we got into the port we had to go through security and customs all over again because the ship was going back into the United States. So we had to stand in another long line! That is another reason to stay in Vancouver a day before the cruise actually leaves. At least you only go through one long line each day; one getting into Vancouver and one when you go to the port. By doing it all in one day, it seems a bit much.
The port itself was easy to get through. The staff at the port were helpful and pleasant. Check-in was fast and we were told we could go immediately onto the ship. It was about 1:00 p.m.
Our room was ready when we boarded so we were able to drop off our carry-ons and head to lunch. The ship is similar to most Princess ships. It is very clean and comfortable.
Throughout the week the food was excellent, both in the dining room and the buffet area. The service was exemplary. Our two waiters made our meals very enjoyable. At dinner we were assigned a table for two in front of a window. One evening we saw a whale go by while we were eating. That was pretty exciting! We saw many more whales after that while on deck but the whale while eating dinner was a pleasant surprise.
The first day was just a day of cruising. But we could tell by the first day that we were in for a treat. The scenery was pretty starting out and it just got better as we went through the cruise.
Our first stop was Ketchikan and it was wonderful! The shopping is great and we were able to walk to an old area of the town that had the history of the first settlers there. There were interesting totem poles to see. We also went to the Lumberjack Show. It was cute, entertaining, and reasonably priced. It rained that day, they say it rains about every day except about 6 days a year. So plan on bringing a rain coat. The light drizzle did not bother us at all. It was a very enjoyable day.
The next day we went to Juneau. Shopping is good there too. We did a lot of walking that day. We walked a ways through the town. On our way back we saw a tram that will take you to the top of the mountain and there is a trail there and more things to do. I regret by the time we saw it I was exhausted and too tired to think about walking more trail. So we just went back to the ship. However, next time we go to Juneau we plan on doing the tram ride!!
The next day we went to Skagway. It is one of the areas the prospectors came to get ready for the Klondike gold rush. We really enjoyed the history of the place. We rode a bus to the summit in Canada where the prospectors had to haul their 1,000 pounds worth of supplies up and over. It must have been quite an accomplishment. Of the 100,000 that started out for the gold rush about 10,000 made it to the fields and less than a 1,000 actually found gold. Most were sidetracked along the way because of the hazards or lack of money that prevented them from their goal. The gold rush only lasted two years and by the time most of the prospectors made it to the fields the claims were all taken already. So they ended up working for someone else mining their fields. The history and the beauty surrounding Skagway made the visit very enjoyable.
The next two days were cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and the Valdez Strait and Prince William Sound. The Glacier Bay National Park is wonderful and the Prince William Sound is the most beautiful place that I have ever seen!! I would like to go to Alaska every year and see the sights. I will never forget the sound of the glaciers falling into the water. It almost sounds like dynamite going off when the ice hits the water. We stood outside for hours watching it all. There was beauty on all sides of us. I can honestly say those two days had the most beautiful sights I have ever seen!
We got off the ship in Whittier, which looks like a very small fishing village. The bus ride to Anchorage was very enjoyable, seeing more sights of Alaska. I had a little trepidation about going through the tunnel outside of Whittier. It is a tunnel that goes through the mountain and only one way traffic can go at a time. So every half hour they switch the direction of traffic and the other lane can go through. I am claustrophobic and worried about how it would be. My worry was foolish. It did not seem closed in at all and the lights made it very comfortable to go through. Do not allow the tunnel to worry you!
The entertainment on the boat is poor. They did have a naturalist that gave some talks on the area and that was very informative and enjoyable.
We were sad to see the trip end. It was thoroughly enjoyable! I would like to go every year to Alaska. I do not think I would ever tire of seeing the sights that we saw.
Disembarkation was wonderful. They took our luggage to the Anchorage airport and had it waiting for us in a storage room. The bus took us to a hospitality area in downtown Anchorage. At no cost to us we could check in all our carry on items so we could walk around Anchorage unencumbered by large bags. We went to a outside vendors marketplace and ate ‘reindeer dogs’ on the streets of Anchorage, watching the people go by. It was an enjoyable day. We felt like we got to see Anchorage and it was all because of the way Princess handled our luggage and carry-ons. We would not have attempted walking around Anchorage with our carry-ons with us. When we were done seeing Anchorage we went back to the Hospitality area and a bus went to the airport every half hour. So we boarded the bus and went to the airport. Everything went very smooth.
I would definitely recommend this port, this ship and their crew! It makes for a wonderful vacation.