My husband and I cruised for 7 nights from Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C. (one-way south bound). This was our 6th cruise, all of them week-long cruises, but our first with Princess.
We spent two nights pre-cruise at The Hotel Captain Cook, which we booked through Princess. We had a great experience in Anchorage, which is a really clean, charming town. We also enjoyed the 2+ hour train ride to Whittier. You can stand on the outside platform between the train cars and soak up the gorgeous scenery. One really nice touch was the cruise line collecting our luggage from our hotel room and then depositing it outside our cabin door on the ship. It made traveling from hotel to train to ship very easy.
Boarding the ship was a breeze. Within 5 minutes of stepping off the train from Anchorage, we were stepping onto the ship. Can't beat that! We had about 7 hours until the ship set sail, but not to worry, our cabin was ready and the buffets and bars were open. The weather was so nice and sunny and our luggage made it so quickly that we were in the pool enjoying cocktails by mid-afternoon. The pool area was very nice and clean, and was rarely crowded, except during movies. They show "Movies Under the Stars" here and give out blankets and popcorn in the evenings. Our kids would have loved it, but they did not sail with us this time.
Our mini-suite was clean and quiet. It seemed longer and more narrow than other mini-suites I've traveled in, but was nicely appointed, made good use of space, and felt spacious and comfortable for two. Our room steward quietly went about his job and was always courteous, although we didn't interact with him much.
We dined in the buffets for breakfast and lunch, but always in the Bordeaux Dining Room for dinner. We never had to wait for open seating, as we discussed with the head waiter our time/table preference and gave him a tip. All the wait staff were professional and friendly, although sometimes meals took awhile. It wasn't an issue, since we drank more wine and cocktails and relaxed; the whole purpose behind the cruise. All of the food was good, although I didn't like a few things I ordered. This was never a problem, I just asked for something else. I will say that the best thing I ate on the cruise was the Glacier Bay pizza special with white sauce, garlic, and four cheeses. Amazing!! The pizza on the ship was better than expected. We also ordered room service in our cabin a few times, and everything was fine.
The Coral Princess is not as big a ship as we have sailed in the past, and that is actually how I prefer it. The ship is well maintained, albeit a bit outdated with the décor. The public spaces never felt cramped, and it is easy to find your way around this ship pretty quickly. We swam in the nice outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, worked out at the gym, ran on the running track (Deck 7), went to the Spa, and even played bingo. We never went to any of the shows, as those are not our thing, nor did I really visit the casino. The gym can be pretty crowded in the mornings.
We booked two shore excursions through the cruise line. They were both nice, although pricey. You can walk off the boat and book your own tours to save money, which we have done in the past. There are tons of excursion vendors when you stop in all the ports, of course. Alaska is gorgeous and we especially loved seeing the glaciers calve in Glacier Bay. You are at the mercy of the weather in Alaska, and we had both good and bad weather. It poured in Ketchikan! It would have been nice to have some type of cover when waiting in line to re-board the ship, as we stood in the driving rain. Bring your umbrella there!
I was curious to see how Princess would do in comparison to other cruise lines. It didn't feel any fancier or more upscale than Royal Caribbean, but it was very nice. There were very few children, which was a bonus for us this trip, but that might have something to do with the destination. I informed Princess about our anniversary before we set sail, and they gave us a nice 8x10 photo frame, a voucher for a free 8x10 photo, and a bottle of wine. Nice touch! Overall, a very positive experience. I would definitely sail with Princess again.