Dawn Princess to Alaska August 14-25, 2008
My DH and I just returned from our first Alaskan cruise. It was a wonderful combination of fun, relaxation and natural beauty.
We opted for a one night pre-cruise package from Princess. We were met at the airport by the Princess rep who deposited us in a pre-paid taxi to the Mark Hopkins Inter-continental Hotel. Due to a convention the hotel lobby was always congested, but our room was nice. We walked a few blocks to the Nob Hill Café for a lovely Italian dinner. Later that evening we walked 1 mile (mostly downhill) to the Orpheum Theatre on Market Street. We saw "The Drowsy Chaperone" a very amusing play within a play comedy. Georgina Engel was in the play and she barely looked older than in her "Mary Tyler Moore Show" days. Hailing a taxi after the play took about 20 minutes. From the Mark Hopkins we walked across the street to enjoy a cocktail in the quiet lobby bar at the Fairmont Hotel.
Day 1- The Princess bus picked up about 15 of us from the hotel. At the pier we proceeded to the Platinum line and were checked in and aboard the ship in a record 5 minutes. A few hours later we bought some Alaskan Ale to celebrate sail away. This was the last nice weather we experienced until Victoria. The Welcome Aboard show featuring Don Cherry was a nice end to the day.
Day 2- We attended the North to Alaska talk by Dean Paige, the on-board naturalist. He isn't the most polished lecturer I've heard, but his enthusiasm for Alaska is infectious. We kept busy all day with ballroom dancing, line dancing, reading and relaxing. That night's entertainment was a very good comedian, Milt Abel.
Day 3- We had 70 degree weather in Victoria which was perfect for our Butchart & Butterfly Gardens tour. The flowers at Butchart were incredible. The butterfly gardens were crowded and not very impressive. That night we went to see "The Bucket List" at the Princess Theatre. What a great movie!
Day 4- This sea day started with the immigration inspection. There were only 2 officers and it took over 1 hour in line to get through. The rest of the day passed quickly with various activities. The Internet Café functioned fairly quickly for most of the cruise and kept us in touch with home. That evening we went to see Jeff Peterson who combines comedy and magic. He had the audience in stitches most of the show.
Day 5- Woke up to dry skies which is rare in Ketchikan, so we disembarked by 8 a.m.. We walked for 2 hours enjoying seeing Creek Street and other local sights. At the fish ladder we saw salmon swimming upstream- a first for us. That night we went to the Duncan Tuck musician/comedy act. We didn't get half of his jokes, but his guitar skills were extraordinary.
Day 6- We went to the Vista lounge for a tender ticket for Sitka at 10 a.m.. The wait was about 45 minutes. On shore we walked to the Sitka National Park, spotting a bald eagle on the way. In the park there are several nice hiking paths. At the park bridge there were hundreds of salmon spawning in the very shallow water. It is quite a sight. Back on the ship we discovered the Aft pool on deck 12 was super heated and not too crowded. We went to the Country Western Hoe Down that night to practice line dancing. We stayed to watch "The Marriage Game". I can't believe anyone would volunteer to embarrass themselves in this way, but they do.
Day 7- Typical Juneau weather (drizzle and rain all day) did not stop us. We did the Whale Watching and Rain Forest Trail tour. It was everything the brochure promised. That night was a special treat. Libby Riddles gave a talk and showed a brief film on her Iditarod experience. She is a fascinating woman with a powerful message: believe in yourself.
Day 8- Tracy Arm Fjord- What a day! We hit the deck at 5 a.m. Dean Paige was broadcast over the speakers to explain what we were seeing. By about 8 a.m. we had made it to the end to see the Twin Sawyer Glaciers. They were beautiful to behold. After a break and breakfast we went back on the deck for whale watching. It was unbelievable. We must have seen about 15 whales, far more than we saw the day before on our whale watching tour. That evening we attended the ventriloquist, Willie Tyler's show. It was more amusing that I had expected and the audience loved it.
Day 9- A quiet day at sea. The weather outside was awful, so we pretty much frittered the day away with the hot tub, internet, and a future cruise presentation on Europe. We put $100 each down on an open booking. Tom Briscoe was the comedy act for the evening. He did a really funny bit on women and pantyhose.
Day 10- Another quiet day that sadly included packing to leave. Our last evening was spent enjoying antipasti and pizza at La Scala as well as the company of our new friends Mike and Trudy, then music and dancing at the Wheelhouse.
Day 11- This was the best disembarkation we have ever experienced. They called our color group at 9 a.m. and we were off the ship at 9:05.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip that met all of our expectations.