The Dawn Princess to Alaska in late July 2008 from San Francisco is one of the best vacations I have ever been on. It is very relaxing compared to a bus escorted tour and stress free with no time limits as well. Here are the highlights of the tour:
Our flight to Oakland Airport was delayed for almost 2 hours, not Princess' fault. Even with the delay, we were still able to make it to port on time and the check in was fast, stress free and were on the ship and lunch buffet instantly. Our checked bags arrived to our cabin quickly as well.
The Public Rooms were clean and spacious with lots of room for reading and servers to request for drinks. The Library could be bigger with more books, and the Internet Room can use a much faster connection than just 56K. Our Cabin was spacious and clean. Our room steward was available to clean whenever requested with a sign attached to the door.
Fitness & Recreation
The Gym was small for a ship this size, so it gets packed very often. There is usually long waits for cardio equipment. The ship can also use indoor pools and indoor Jacuzzis. The staff is nice and allows you to check out lockers for free. I did get a discounted Swedish massage at the Lotus Spa as well. The masseuse was good at her job and made a few recommendations as well.
The buffet was very good for breakfast and lunch. They had a variety of items, and were never cold or inedible. The La Scala Pizzeria served great fresh tossed pizza as well. The Balcony Grill served great burgers and hotdogs. We had traditional dining with 2nd seating at 7:45. The time was much better than the 8:15 or 8:30 on most ships, and was able to make it to the 10:00 shows with no problem. The food was great and I never had a bad meal.
The shows were a great way to end the night. The magician was entertaining. The production shows featured talented singers and dancers. The matinee movies, presentations, and naturalist speakers were a good way to past time on sea days. We never went to a comedy show, so I can't comment on that.
In Victoria, we did a city tour and Butchart Gardens, which were very worth it. The gardens are very pretty, and got great views with the city with the double decker bus. In Ketchikan, the Lumberjack show was entertaining, and the Saxman village was picturesque. The Deer Mountain Hatchery was also educational with bald eagles, salmon farming, and totems. In Juneau, we did the Mendenhall Glacier tour, whale watching, and salmon bake with Allen Marine Tours. The glacier was beautiful and the hike was scenic as well. We saw many humpback whales on our tour. They were flipping tales and breaching in Aucke Bay. The salmon with glaze on the salmon bake was tasty as well. The Mount Roberts Tramway was not worth it, considering there is nothing to do on top. In Skagway, we did the White Pass Railway and Klondike Highway Tours with Chilkoot Charters. The forest scene was magnificent from both the rail, and highway. The dogs were cute at caribou crossing, and the museum was realistic as well. In Tracy Arm, we saw lots of floating ice, and eventually, Twin Sawyer Glaciers.
This is a great cruise to Alaska. The people who badmouth this trip are ones who have too high expectations. If you expect a round the clock steward service, Bellagio Buffet food, 5-star food in the dining room, spa service identical to a spa town, or a Cirque de Soleil show, you will be disappointed. If you just want a stress free vacation away from the world, this is a great trip.