This was a 3-generation Family Reunion Cruise, 19 in all from ages 3 – almost retired.
Pre-cruise we stayed 2 nights @ Silver Cloud, Broadway in Seattle, a lovely hotel. A little distance from downtown but they provide a shuttle to take guests to local sites. We took the Lite Rail from the Airport to West Lake Ctr and the hotel shuttle picked us up. Easy as can be. If you have a lot of luggage it might be a pain but we mastered it coming & going.
Boarding – the trick is to get your luggage to a longshoreman and then you can bypass getting in the line with luggage, it’s much quicker that way. We got in line around 12:15PM and were onboard eating in the dining room less than an hour later. It’s true no one wants to tell you which dining room is serving lunch; it’s a Princess Best Kept Secret.
We loved the Golden. She is in great shape for her age. As other posters have mentioned the crew was constantly maintaining, painting, cleaning etc.
The beds were very comfortable and we had a choice of pillow types. Our room steward was wonderful, always aiming to please. I heard similar comments from our family regarding their room stewards. We all had interior cabins (6) on Aloha Deck mid-ship. We’ve previously had a balcony when cruising in AK but wanted to be near family. BTW, A403 is a great cabin. It’s one of the cabins configured sideways. One of the nice things about an inside cabin is a great night’s sleep. We were not troubled by noise above or below or in the corridor.
We ate dinner in Canaletto DR @ 5:30. A little early but with all the little ones, it worked out best plus some of us are on east coast time. One family member is lactose intolerant and the staff worked with her and provided her with menus a day in advance to choose food items. We were pleased overall with the selections on the menu. The dessert menu got a little boring but there is always Crème Brulee which is a winner! Also, don’t miss the Flourless Chocolate Cake. SO GOOD! It’s only offered once. Learned something about the dress code “Smart Casual”. Shorts are not allowed in the DR with the exception of when you are in port. The maitre’d told us that they allow them on days when the ship is in port and guests come straight to the DR from excursions. My husband showed up wearing shorts one evening and they sent him back to change and then apologized the rest of the cruise because it was a day we had been in port. It was no problem and our kids chided him about his “smart casual vs. low IQ casual”.
The grandkids really enjoyed Kids Club & Teen Center. They were so busy and had so much fun we had to schedule time with them. 3 of them signed up for Jr. Chefs at Sea (sign up immediately, it fills up fast) but they added a 2nd offering on Friday morning for addt’l sign ups. We were all delighted when their cake creations were ceremoniously delivered to the DR for our dessert. (We were encouraged to order addt’l desserts as well as the special cakes).
Skywalkers was our favorite place to hang out during the day. A perfect place to read a book; play a game or even nap. The naturalists remarks were broadcast intermittingly in Skywalkers but you need to be out on deck or on your balcony to enjoy the true majesty of the Glaciers and hear/see the calving.
We really enjoyed International Café. The cronuts are AMAZING! The coffee line was a bit long but we aren’t coffee drinkers, so no problem for us. When we visited in the wee hours they encouraged us to try different items, they were happy to fill our plate. I wish there were more tables in the piazza. It’s a lovely place to hang out as well. Their tuna & chicken salad Panini’s are delicious, even our teens loved them. The music by Princess Musicians was lovely. I didn’t even really notice the piped in music that others complained was too loud. Also enjoyed the Trident Grill and Horizon Food Court.
Juneau – rainy. We walked around and went to the State Capitol Bldg. We’ve previously done whale watching, etc. and were happy to just “hang out.” I work in a Govt Bldg and chuckled that you can walk into the Alaska Capitol and just get a tour by showing up, no metal detectors, ID etc. Loved it. Had a late lunch in the Crown Grill, British Style Pub Lunch, complimentary.
Skagway – went hiking, whoever said the hike to Lower Dewey Lake is “moderate” is mistaken, especially if the trail is muddy from rain. It was very challenging! The hike to Gold Rush Cemetery and Lower Reid Falls is very easy. Bonus, when Princess ships are in port together, the crews from different ships play each other in a soccer game. We watched the game for a bit. Fun! (soccer field is on Main Street I think, on the way to the Gold Rush Cemetery).
Glacier Bay – What can I say? Breathtaking & amazing, not extremely cold and the sun came out for a while. Not a lot of wildlife; we were hoping for lots of whales, otters, maybe bears.
Ketchikan – We booked the Coastal Wildlife Cruise. It was a beautiful day, mild temps. They provide binoculars. Again, we were unlucky in finding bears but saw lots of salmon leaping out of the water, otters, harbor seals, lots of eagles & eagles nests but not bears BUT not for lack of trying from our guide. He went everywhere he thought they might be but they were hiding. We did see deer but we have those in our backyard. Even though we were disappointed in not finding bears, we highly recommend this excursion. Many family members went to the Lumberjack show and loved it! We would love to have spent more time in Ketchikan, our favorite stop but had to return by 11:45AM.
Victoria – Didn’t get off the ship. Some family members did & enjoyed walking around.
We enjoyed the Joseph Tran Magic Show, Motor City Production Show, Volume Band in Explorers Lounge & Trivia Games.
Only a few items to mention that could use improvement in my opinion:
1. The elevator indicator lights in several banks of elevators weren’t working. You would hear the bell that the elevator had arrived but by the time you finally located which elevator it was, the doors were closing – goodbye. It actually became a game that we lost most times. The plus side of this is that we spent a lot of time walking up/down the stairs.
2. Our adult children were curious as to why the smoking area is right next to KIDS CLUB so you walked through smoke coming/going from pick up and drop off.
3. The last thing (please be kind, this is my opinion) I think the Cruise Director is dreadful. Horrid! His morning show was like a train wreck. I wasn’t sure if his sidekick (sorry I can’t remember his name) is really that uninformed about current/past events & people or just played dumb but it was uncomfortable for me to watch them interact. Also the Cruise Director Staff (emcee) that hosted the 50’s Trivia Show was very disrespectful. He enjoyed ridiculing participants and even made unkind remarks about a former First Lady. It just seemed unnecessary.
In spite of these very few hiccups, it was a wondrous vacation, memorable for all of our family and we will definitely cruise Princess again. The ship’s staff was wonderful; they always greeted us with a smile and “good morning, etc.” They work so very hard ensuring that passengers have an enjoyable vacation and we really appreciated it.
The little kids especially loved the soft serve ice cream and the pools. They swam everyday. The adults loved the hot tubs in the evenings.
We used Princess EZ Check for disembarking and had our bags checked through to our end destination, seamless and worth every penny.
Oh, forgot to add that I wish the Exercise/Fitness Room was open 24 hrs or at least longer hours.