Our biggest motivation for this cruise was to check the #1 on my 85 year old grandmother's bucket list (who am I kidding, mine too). There were 4 of us in our party: my aunt, my psuedo aunt, my grandmother, and I. I'll break my review into pros and cons for easy reading.
-You can't help but being awestruck by the beauty of Alaska (I think everyone should aim to go there at least once in their lifetime)
-the option of doing a land tour and cruise
-for the most part, well organized
-Blown away, that they had a LGBT event...very proud of Princess to do so
-Guides on coach buses, front desk employees, waiters were fantastic
-they brought on rangers to the ship which gave great narrations and discussed what we might see and the best times to look out for them
-Entertainment was pretty good.
Cons (need improvement):
-you essentially label yourself handicapped or not handicapped (this was an issue, because my grandmother falls somewhere in the middle). By not labeling her as handicapped she was expected to walk long distances. She's almost 85 and for example on the land tour they'd book us in the farthest lodges/rooms, some with stairs. Suggested solution: Princess could perhaps offer a limited mobility option.
-Communication: Communication was poor.
When I book the cruise, verbally tell me that if I book a flight it has to be at least x hour after disembarkation. I scheduled a flight 4 hours after we were to disembark, and then come to find out a week before we leave that that is not enough time, which resulted in an additional $500+ in change fees for me. Later I found this information in fine print on the Princess website.
Communication about Itineraries-they give you your itinerary/room keys as you exit the coach bus and then expect that you know where you're going. The 2 minutes walking off the bus was not enough time for me to figure what I have to do, before I step off the bus in the rain. Also, on the cruise portion, they drop off schedules for the next day, late late at night while you're asleep. I wish they were earlier so you know if you should get up early in the morning for something. Instead, I missed many of the early activities.
Communication amongst land tour excursion desks-In Denali, I was interested in finding an active excursion that fit in my schedule in McKinley. When asking the tour desk, they told me that each desk is pretty "localized". Also, improvement I envisioned is maybe a kiosk or something in your room that will give you your schedule AND tell you what excursions would fit the free time with descriptions.
Kayaking excursion communication- They did not tell us they would give us dry bags for our things until we got there. That caused me to keep my camera back on the ship and miss out on some fantastic shots.
General mistreatment of their employees: These workers work 12-16 hours a day with very limited time off.
Nickel and Diming-Princess is really good at charging you for almost every little thing.
OVERKILL with jewelry
Would have loved a way to communicate with my family-suggest maybe onboard text messaging-meet me here. I know we used to have to plan back in pre-2000 or just miss out, but the technology is there and I feel like we missed out on some things because we were wasting our time trying to find each other.
Would have loved more time in each port-sometimes 6-8 hours is really pushing it
No sommelier in the dining room-DO NOT GO ON THIS CRUISELINE IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY WINE ON A CRUISE. The wine was beyond mediocre and no one could tell me a single thing about a single bottle, but I hear a "Merlot" is good. Forget it if you want a nice bottle of Bordeaux, the oldest bottle they had was a 2011. At the very least tell me a little something on the wine menu. They could at least offer some wines that have been rated. Also, if you like dark beer..DO NOT GO ON THIS CRUISELINE. Bright side is I saved a lot of money by not drinking hardly at all.
Lack of attention: In the dining room, my grandmother fell on a poorly designed 1" step. The table next to the step said they've seen someone fall at least once a night. What is worse is that no one from the ship addressed the incident, only a Physician Assistant who was another guest. Way to go Princess! You should probably at least put a sign there that says watch your step.
Lack of providing tools for employees: I can't tell you how many times, I would see employees struggling to do their jobs...though they always kept a smile on their face. Princess is in the dark ages as far as giving their employees tools and information for them to succeed.
I would have really loved to see that they had more icebreaker events for guests to meet other guests...common interests...geographic...something..they did have the LGBT one that I was proud of Princess that they had.
Would be nice if they threw in maybe 30 minutes of wifi for each guest. I couldn't contact my mom to tell her how my grandmother was doing without selling my right arm.
They could have communicated how to tip extra our waiter, room attendant, for great service.
And last but not least, because I know you're all wondering about the food.
Food-they probably save money by people not ordering seconds or missing courses because the food just isn't worth the calories. In their defense, there were some nights, where the food was better than average but for the most part the selection and preparation were lackluster. For better food, go on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean