Our great adventure to Alaska began in Seattle with a bus ride to Vancouver early Saturday morning. Trip started badly since one of the party requires a breathing machine and forgot the mask. The Princess contact at the hotel helped him get in touch with a Medical Supply shop in Vancouver which had the mask. The bus driver let him off near the shop, and he got the mask and was on the ship in short order. Both the Princess rep and the bus driver were quite helpful! Overall however, we were not happy with the service on the ship - the bar staff seemed less than attentive and with the exception of one waiter, the dining room waiters certainly were not the best we have had either. The food was above average, and the presentation quite good the majority of the time. we did eat at the specialty restaurants. The steakhouse menu and service was well worth the extra charge of $15/pp; the Italian restaurant however was not as above average as expected for the extra $20/pp charge. service was quite good but menu quite limited. Food in other areas of the ship was fine, with the exception of their pizza, which needs some help. Buffet had a nice selection for each meal we visited there - lovely fruit choices at breakfast!
Our balcony cabin on the Caribe deck was nicely appointed and plenty spacious for our stay. Storage for both handing and folded clothes is more than adequate and accessible. Our cabin stewart was excellent and addressed us by name from the first day forward. We had a mini-suite earlier in the year on the Golden Princess however, and were unaware the tolietries were not the same on balconies and mini-suites. The shower gel was missing sadly - we loved it!
We enjoyed the nightly shows on the Diamond and were the first audience to see one of their new shows with a new crew and the 6th night of the cruise. The show was well presented, had lovely costuming and choreography and was enter taining. The costuming on Holland is always A+, but this was a close contender!
The days at sea cruising Glacier Bay and College Fjord were relaxing and quite informative thanks to the naturalist aboard who broadcast on the open decks, and in your cabin on the TV if you were watching from your balcony. She provided wildlife alerts for sea otters, whales, seals, eagles, etc., as well as information concerning the actual glaciers we were viewing. Approaching the Harvard Glacier within 1/4 mile, was awe inspiring when you realized the size in comparison to the ship. Althought not technically 'in port', the days were full sightseeing from the ship.
Probably the very best part of the trip were the days spent at the Princess lodges in Denali and McKinley. The lodges were beautiful, the staff very friendly and helpful, the sites were endless, and we were fortunate enough to see many wildlife including lynx during our stay. The food was very good in the restaurants and was perhaps only $2-3 more than we would have paid for similar fare in Denver. On our first morning at McKinley, there was not a cloud in the sky and the mountain stood clearly visible and majestic off the deck of the lodge. The staff said it was the best they had seen it in weeks so we were fortunate. We took a trip to a Iditerod kennel which was informative and a lot of fun. The owner, Jeff King, gave a very good presentation, and was very personable and informative. We went into Talkeena and took a raft trip which was relaxing even tho we didn't see much wildlife other than fish during the trip. The bus service Princess provided was excellent during the entire trip.
Certainly was not the Caribbean or Hawaii - much colder, more rain and clouds, totally different wardrobe requirements, no catchy music - but the sights were amazing. It was an unforgettable adventure that we all hope to do again in a few years with Princess. Princess did a very good job with hotels in Seattle, bus transportation, luggage handling between locations, airline reservations, and lodging making the trip stress free. DEFINITELY take the cruise-land tour package - it was well worth the extra money!