Grand Princess Cruise Review by clicker_70: Our Alaska Adventure
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Our Alaska Adventure
On July 27th, 2014 we arrived in the Seattle airport to go on our Alaska cruise. We chose Seattle Express as our shuttle to and from the ship. Going to the ship, it did NOT go well. We waited almost two hours for the shuttle to pick us up to take us to the ship! We had left home at 3am to get to the airport, and we were already tired. The oblivious attitude of the guy at the counter didn't help. Finally, they put us on a shuttle and after dropping the others off downtown, the shuttle took us to the ship. It was a first cruise for our son's, ages 13 and 17. Our 13 year old was so excited as we approached the ship that his legs were shaking! ;) The line to embark was long, but went relatively smoothly and quickly.
When we got to our balcony room, C523, I was surprised how small it was. The balcony, however, was large...........about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of our whole cabin! I was grateful for the tips that I had received here at cruisecritic.com. There was only one plug in the More room, so I had packed a multi-plug surge protector (got it at the container store) to plug in our alarm clock, cell phone chargers, hair dryer, and curling iron all at once. Another tip was to bring an over the door shoe holder. I'd packed a cheap mesh one and hung it on the bathroom door. There wasn't much counter space, so the shoe holder held most of our toiletries. My husband and I had to sleep in single beds across the room from each other, with the two boys sleeping above us. We had 7 pieces of luggage and managed to survive the cramped quarters.
Once we were finally onboard and had found our room, it was time to register the boys at the Teen Club. One thing to keep in mind.........the teens are considered "safe" as long as they are with the club, but the teens may come and go as they please. They don't shut down until 1am, so each night I was waiting and worrying about the kids being on their own to come back to the room (my boys have Autism). Anyway, my boys loved the teen club! They made lots of friends, played dodgeball, Ping-Pong, basketball, had a scavenger hunt on the ship, had a "mocktail" party, and a hot tub party.
Our cruise had two Sea Days. On those days the boys hung out with their friends at the Teen Club while my husband and I dozed. We did do both formal nights. The boys complained about having to dress up until they had the experience of being in the formal dining room. They loved that part! Even my picky eater was trying new things. :) On the second formal night, we had the boys portrait done. The pictures turned out very nice...................and were very expensive! At $25 each page, it added up quickly.
Ketchikan: We were off the ship and shopping by 7am. By 8:30am, we were on the Aleutian Ballad from "Deadliest Catch" to go out crab fishing. Even though it was raining, we had a wonderful time. It was covered, with heaters and hot chocolate, so we were fine. First they fed the bald eagles right from the side of the boat! Then they caught 2 rock fish. Next they pulled in a load of small crab that the guests could hold. Then they pulled up a load of King crab, then they pulled up an octopus. They told us stories as we headed back to port.
We decided to do two excursions in Ketchikan, so next we went to the Lumberjack Show. Yes, it was rather corny, but we had a good time cheering on our team of lumberjacks. They really are athletic.
We did a little more shopping and then we went back to the ship..........all by lunchtime!
Juneau: We decided to wait until we were off the ship to buy our excursion for this port (I had read that it was much cheaper that way). We got bus tickets to Mendenhall Glacier for $18 each (round trip). The glacier was beautiful. The visitor center there is $3 per person. From the visitor center, we hiked 1 mile through the woods to Nugget Falls beside the glacier. Incredible!!!!! The falls are large and we could feel the mist from it on our faces. We hiked back to the visitor center (nice trail) and beside it was a stream with lots of salmon. Although they had seen a bear there that morning, we missed it. Then we had the bus drop us off downtown to have dinner and shop. A shuttle took us back to the ship later.
Skagway: We did the Yukon & White Pass Railway tour. This is an 8 hour tour! The bus took us on the short ride to the train depot. Sit on the LEFT side of the train to get the most incredible views! The train took us into Canada. The train ride is amazing........snow capped and glacier capped mountains, waterfalls, lakes, streams, and wildflowers. In Yukon of Canada, we got off the train and onto the bus and rode to Caribou Crossing. They gave us a bbq lunch, and then the boys rode the dog sled for $35 each through the woods. Then they got to pet the puppies and go to a museum that had a wholly mammoth! We got back on the bus and slowly made our way back through Canada and Alaska to the ship with lots of stops. We decided to skip the shopping this time!
Victoria, B.C.: Our excursion for this port was the Orca Viewing Adventure. It wasn't until 7pm, so since it was our last day, I worked on packing after sleeping in. While we waited for the ship to dock, the seagulls were flying right by our balcony. Our 13 year old decided to give them some food right from his hand.......and it worked! I got a picture of it. By 7:30pm, we were on the boat to go see the whales. It took about 45 minutes to get there, but then one popped up, then another, then another. Soon they were splashing. It lasted for almost an hour as the sun set................beautiful!!!!
Going home on our final day, our shuttle experience to the airport went much more smoothly. We could have let our delay at the beginning set the mood for our trip, but we weren't going to let that happen. We made up our minds that we were going to have a good time..........and that's just what we did. :) Less
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Cabin review: Grand Princess C523
When we got to our balcony room, C523, I was surprised how small it was. The balcony, however, was large...........about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of our whole cabin! I was grateful for the tips that I had received here at cruisecritic.com. There was only one plug in the room, so I had packed a multi-plug surge protector (got it at the container store) to plug in our alarm clock, cell phone chargers, hair dryer, and curling iron all at once. Another tip was to bring an over the door shoe holder. I'd packed a cheap mesh one and hung it on the bathroom door. There wasn't much counter space, so the shoe holder held most of our toiletries. My husband and I had to sleep in single beds across the room from each other, with the two boys sleeping above us. We had 7 pieces of luggage and managed to survive the cramped quarters.