This cruise was a Christmas/Birthday/Mother's Day gift for my mom. Going to Alaska was on her bucket list. She stated that she really enjoyed seeing Alaska and it was all that she dreamed of. That is the important thing and the main goal over all. However, I was disappointed in Princess and they did not meet my expectations. This was my first (and mostly likely last) cruise with Princess and my 4th cruise overall. I booked with Princess based on the rate, the date available and their reputation as being the best cruise to Alaska. We were late to 3 ports, which I understand we were on the first cruise this year to Alaska however, due to their reputation, I am not giving them a break. I find it unacceptable to be late to 3 ports with no offer of a future discount, etc., I have never experienced this on any of my previous cruises.
What did they do right: The Princess agent that booked my cruise over the phone recommended that a stateroom on Deck 5 the Plaza. We passed by the International Cafe coming and going to our room which was very convenient for a quick breakfast or late night snack. We were also on the same floor not far from our dining room as well. This location on the ship was the best for us, I really appreciated her suggesting it for us. We did not have a problem with noise at all while in our room. Our steward was friendly and extremely helpful. Our interior state room was roomy enough for us. The closet by the bathroom was very convenient as well with plenty of room to store our luggage and shoes. This is much better than having it in the hallway. First full sea day the water was rough & my mom was sea sick big time. She could not keep any food down. The nurse gave her a shot and told her to rest & she would feel better by dinner. The nurse was a very kind young lady. Mom did feel much better by dinner time and was able to eat in the dining room. She was fine the rest of the week just taking Dramamine. The water was not as rough the other days either.
I was disappointed in the amount of wildlife and ocean life that we did not see on this trip. I expected to see a lot more.
An hour delay getting off the boat and over 2 hour delay for our excursion made for a long day in Juneau. The bus took us to the Juneau Rain forest Garden which I had mistakenly confused with the Glacier Garden. (where my mom wanted to go) for a short 30 minute visit. The muffins and tea served here were really delicious. The rainf orest was pretty as well but too early for blooming flowers. Mendenhall Glacier was amazing and beautiful. We walked down by the lake and got as close as we were allowed. I wish we would have had more time here to walk part of the trail. We are slow walkers and did not want to walk over a mile. We did go in the visitors center and viewed mountain goats on the mountain through the telescope. We touched a piece of ice from the glacier as well. The gift shop here is nice but pricey. We shopped in town before boarding the tramway. We were exhausted by this time and did not walk around at the top to see anything other than the gift shop. The view from the tram of Juneau is really amazing and beautiful however. The weather was unseasonably warm that day. I ended up taking off the coat and jacket.
The day before Ketchikan was the Glacier Bay Inside Passage day. Seeing and hearing the calving of the glacier was wonderful! The views were beautiful and everything that I hoped it would be. Mom saw a pod of Orcas about 20 feet from the ship. I missed them for the most part except for their dorsal fins. (frown) I did see humpback whales far far from the ship and seals far away as well. i really wish we would have seen sea life closer to the ship.
We were late (again) to Ketchikan and thankfully we did not have an excursion planned for this port. Mom stated this one was her favorite place as well which was funny because we only spent $2 on our bus trip out to Totem Bight Park. Ketchikan lived up to its reputation with rain on and off while we were there. The walk through the rain forest to see the totem poles was alot of fun. The rain forest in this area is very beautiful. I even walked down by the lake to get close to the water. We took the bus back to town and found Creek street. We rushed through this area as we were running short on time. Mom loved this scenic area the most. We shopped at Taste of Alaska for local jams/jellies and glacier soap. Great place to shop.
We flew in a day before our ship sailed, to see Seattle. We LOVED it! After we checked in at our hotel we walked down to the Chihuly Glass & Garden. AMAZING and well worth the price of admission. Mom loved it. (I knew she would). Then we walked over to the Space Needle and I went to the top to see the view of the city. I enjoyed this as well but, it is cold up there. We also shopped in the big gift shop here. The next morning we visited Pike Place Market. We purchased beautiful tulips for our stateroom, sampled Ellenos Greek Yogurt and La Panier Bakery. (both delicious and wonderful places to grab a snack). Two hours was just not enough time to see all of the market but, we enjoyed it all the same.
Thankfully we were on time to this port as our excursion was at 7:30 am. We road the train up and took the bus back. Despite a little fog we enjoyed awesome views from the train. Early in the season the snow was still on the ground which made for an even more beautiful train ride. The narrative provide a lot of informative facts about the points of interest as well. Our train car was not full so we were able to move from left to right as we wanted. I walked to the back of the car and outside to take photos as well. After the train ride our bus driver Vanessa took us to Caribou Crossing. She did stop once before we got there for us to take photos. We enjoyed our BBQ lunch which was different than the food we had been eating on the cruise (more southern style that we are used to). It was too early for a new batch of sled dog puppies, they were due any day we were told. We did pet the one year old sled dogs and retired sled dogs. The gift shop here was really nice as well. Our bus ride back to town was enjoyable. Vanessa stopped at Carcross but everything appeared to be closed so no one wanted to get off. She was happily drove us on. We stopped at the Welcome to Alaska sign, the Yukon sign and a frozen lake. She dropped us off downtown so that we could shop before boarding the ship. The weather was really nice this day as well.
Originally I had booked the Evening Whale watching & Ocean exploration tour however, due to the ship being an hour late.. this was cancelled. (big frown) This was a big dream of mine and I was not happy we were not able to do this however, we booked the Horse Drawn Trolley tour through Victoria which was basically the only thing that did not get cancelled other than the shuttle bus to town. Our driver and the beautiful horses did a a great job of showing us Victoria. We viewed the heritage homes, legislative building all light up in the dark, the harbor area and also went through a park area. The driver did a great job giving us facts about the Victoria area. We shopped at the one gift shop at port before boarding the ship.