Dawn Princess Alaskan Voyage D828 July 16th through July26 2008 Sailing roundtrip out of San Francisco
This is the 3rd Alaskan cruise I have taken, 2 with Princess, the other being with Celebrity on the Infinity. This was my 3rd cruise on the Dawn Princess. Since I live right next to San Francisco I was able to drive right to the ship is 20 minutes, gotta love that! Since I am an Elite member with Princess, embarkation was quick and easy with no waiting in line anywhere, I was on the ship in 5 minutes. The port of San Francisco is old and not much different than it was 45 years ago when I took a cruise on the Matson Lines Lurline to Hawaii. The political system in San Francisco is so screwed up that they haven't been able to agree on either upgrading or building a new cruise terminal. It's too bad because the San Francisco Bay is such a beautiful place to cruise in and out of, I've done it 6 times and it always has been amazing going out under the Golden Gate Bridge!
The Dawn Princess The ship one of the Sun Class Princess ships, the other being the Sea and the Sun and it's in great shape! It's a bit smaller than the Princess Grand Class ships and holds about 1,950 passengers and it never felt crowed. Most everything was clean and shiny. The only area that looks worn is on the top deck where the Astroturf is coming up a little at the edges as well as the Horizon Court carpet looks a bit worn. I had an inside cabin and it was clean and well maintained and was well stocked with complimentary booze and soft drinks, free to all Elite Members. The other great free items that Elite members get is free laundry and shoe shine service and a free internet package that varies depending on how long your cruise is, since this cruise was 10 days I got 250 free minutes! No other cruise line gives you so many free items and services. The public rooms are great and the ship is easy to navigate. The Princess Theater makes watching the entertainment great wherever you may be sitting. I used the internet café almost everyday and never had to wait for a terminal and the connection is fast.
Since I have food allergies I eat both breakfast and lunch at the Horizon Court everyday. For breakfast I usually have fruit and hot cereal of which there is always an abundant supply of fruit, my favorite being the papaya. The fruit was always fresh, ripe and delicious. For lunch I made a huge salad of which there was always a great selection of veggies to choose from. I like to put cranberry sauce on my salad and the Horizon Court staff always made sure I had some everyday. One thing I have found on cruise ships is that you can ask for almost any food item and the staff will get it for you, they almost never say no! For dinner I have always eaten in the main restaurant at the later seating. This way I don't have to rush to dinner and have the same waiter and table mates each night. All the dinners were great every night. I order a special salad, sautéed vegetables and a yam for each night, while choosing between the various fish, lamb and chicken items. For dessert I either had a bowl of berries, chocolate cake (that they made without eggs for me) or they made me an Apple Tart Tatin. Like I said if you ask they will make it for you. The head waitress and crew were always friendly and efficient, getting me everything I asked for.
I found the staff to be very helpful - it seemed every time I turned around there was someone with a name badge asking if they could get me something. Everyone from the Passenger Services Desk to the Deck Crew were willing to go the extra mile to help. My cabin steward had my cabin clean and well stocked all the time and he was always around most every time I was going to or leaving my cabin. Entertainment The Dawn Princess Dancers did a good job with their shows and the, comedian, magician and ventriloquist were fabulous! I saw all but one of the shows. The theater is great from just about any seat. The other entertainment was in the Vista Lounge where I saw the ventriloquist, a comedian and the not so newly wed game going on, all shows were great and it always easy to get a good seat.
Lotus Spa and Gym
I hit the gym 7 times - I lift weights rather than do cardio so there were no real problems waiting for the machines. The equipment was enough for me to do maintenance workouts. I was there at 4-5pm and there was never any waiting for equipment. Everything was clean and worked! In the mornings I walked the Promenade deck for an hour everyday at sea to burn some extra calories so I could eat more chocolate cake. I only gained 1.5 pounds on this trip.
I booked tours through Princess for peace of mind regarding schedules and getting back to the ship on time If it's a Princess tour, they'll wait for you if it's late getting back to the ship. We were always right on schedule, arriving spot on time at every port. We were given assembly times for our pre-booked tours and they were orderly and we got off the ship without too much delay. All in all the process was organized and smooth. In Ketchikan I did the Zip Line excursion and it was awesome! There were about 8 rides between trees and 3 walking bridges between trees in all, the crew was great, they knew all of our names and put safety and fun at the top of the list. In Juneau I took the shuttle bus for $7.00 from the pier to the Mendenhall Glacier which was beautiful! It was raining so I got to wear my rain gear and it was cold! Make sure you bring your cold weather gear, you never know what the weather will be up there, it was in the low 50's. In Skagway the rain had stopped and the sun was peaking out. I took the train ride up into the mountains which was great! Tracy Arm was wonderful, nice and cold, beautiful icebergs, great waterfalls and the Sawyer Camp Glacier was beautiful as always, gotta love a nice down jacket and gloves! In Victoria I walked into town, it was sunny and warm. All the tours were right on time and everyone was very helpful in making sure we all had a great time.
On the mornings of disembarkation I usually get up eat breakfast and find a nice lounge chair either on top deck if it's nice or down on the promenade deck and wait there for my time to get off the ship. Princess has implemented a new way to disembark their ships and it works! Instead of announcing our color, they now give us a time to get off the ship and make no announcements. You just look at your watch and when it's your time you exit the ship no waiting! I've done it twice now and works, in the past I was always in a big line, the new way is very refreshing.
As with all other Princess cruises that I have been on this one was equally enjoyable, you know what you're going to get on a Princess cruise. The staff is always helpful and friendly, the ships are always clean and nice, the food is always great, the atmosphere is always casual and relaxed, the entertainment is always professional and varied, everything is usually always on time and the price is always competitive. I've got my next 2 cruises booked and they are both on Princess.