First Cruise: I did not understand how great the ship workers would be and how many hours they work. My hat is off to them. They made sure that we had a great time.
An Alaskan Cruise had been on the list for a long time. It did not disappoint although I have no other cruises to compare it to. Originally we were booked for a cruisetour through Princess. I only had three days so the only option was one night at McKinley and one night at Denali which only allowed time for a short trip into the park. I decided to do my own arrangements and spend both nights in a cabin near the park entrance and I am very glad I did. I have a friend in Fairbanks and she stated that I should drive and take my time and not take the train. Once again a good decision for me. The ride to and from Denali was wonderful. Stopped by Talkeenta on the way up. Way too many people in a small place but it was worth the extra time. Had a clear day so the mountains were stunning. We decided to take the 92 mile trip into the park. Almost 13 hours on a bus but overall it was worth it. It was another beautiful day and we were able to see both peaks of Denali from the north side without clouds. Saw most of the wild life that the park has to offer including 4 grizzly bears. Return trip to Anchorage was cloudy.
Arrived back in Anchorage where we had a night at Captain Cook and 2 hour train ride to Whittier the next morning (booked through Princess). Princess was great at the hotel and everything was ready for us(no line). The next morning was cloudy with light rain so we rode the bus for the 5 minute ride to the railroad terminal where once again everything was ready with no line. The entire train trip was in the rain but still wonderful. Train pulled up right next to the "tunnel" to the Princess building.
Embarkation: Our train arrived a few minutes before the embarkation counter opened. We walked in, filled out the health form and headed to the front of the line. In less than 5 minutes we were on the ship and headed to our room. Not at all what I expected. No line to get in or through security and the rooms were ready to go. Spent the afternoon exploring the ship, eating and taking a nap. Rain left that afternoon and never came back the rest of the trip
Sail away was at 8 pm. We were the only ones out and watching it seemed. Very low key affair. Next few days were at sea with scenic cruising including Glacier Bay. Sat on the balcony eating room service lunch in 65-70 degree temps watching the calving glaciers. UNBELIEVABLE. Worth the entire price!
Skagway: Did a 7 hour private tour with Beyond Skagway Tours. Went into the Yukon Territories and had a great day. Renewed our vows next to the lake surrounded by mountains. Saw wildlife and 3 bears from about 20-30 feet away!!! If you visit Skagway you should look them up.
Juneau: took the tram to the top of the mountain and went to the Alaskan Brewing Company. Both were terrific and would do both again. We were missing 2 people and waited for more than 30 minutes before the decision was made to leave them behind. My balcony faced the pier and we were only a few feet away from the dock when we saw them running towards the ship but it was too late. Most of the port side of the ship was watching them.
Ketchikan: As part of our anniversary package we received a bridge tour. It was a highlight of the trip to get to see that part of the ship. No planned tours, we walked around town and relaxed.
Arrived at Vancouver on time. Disembarkation was a breeze. They called our color and number and we were off the ship, had our luggage and in a cab in less than 30 minutes. Short ride to the airport.
Food: was good and plentiful. Ate at both Sabatinis and Bayou and really enjoyed both. We personally thought it was worth the extra price as the dining room got old. Did not enjoy the Horizon buffet. Food was not that good and it was always crowded regardless of when we went.
Entertainment: good but shows were very short. Crooners was our favorite venue. Staff was great and Daniel Oliver on the piano was very good. Dejanna, Vlada, and Jerry made sure we were never thirsty. Yes it is sad that I know their names. Wheelhouse bar was always empty but was very nice. Most venues closed early or should have closed early as Alaska typically an older crowd.
Cabin was much bigger than I expected. Center of the ship on the 10th floor. Motion often could not be felt. Cabin Steward was terrific and seemed to be able to read our minds (or maybe had done it a while). Bigger bathroom than I thought after reading reviews. Shower was small but not bad. Lots of room and hangers for clothes.
Ship: showing a little age but very clean. Several rust spots around the balcony. Constant smoke smell in certain areas that were not close to the smoking areas.
Spa: the only area of the ship that I thought needed improvement. The only rude employee was there and they seemed very unorganized. We did massages and they were good and the staff was great. However, you change and sit in a robe in an open area next to a main walkway. Seemed odd.
It was a great trip and would do it again. Much less waiting in line that I thought. Very organized. Would sail Princess again. Cruise workers are great! I am sure there is more that I will think of soon but this has probably gone on long enough.