This was my 10th cruise, second time to Alaska and second time on Princess. The 10 night cruise tour was a great experience, I am glad that we took the land portion first. I was first on an Alaskan cruise in September of 2006 on Celebrity's Summit. I must admit The Summit is STILL my favorite ship of all I have cruised. Anyway. We arrived late afternoon in Fairbanks after being on planes and in airports from 4:30 AM, so needless to say we were tired. Alaska Airlines service was as good as I remember and even though I flew coach the planes were comfortable and the crews friendly. The last flight was especially memorable as we flew to Fairbanks, and got a lot of narration from the crew. The views of the glaciers were spectacular. Once in Fairbanks we were met by the Princess Rep and boarded the bus. Some people went to The Fairbanks Princess while we were booked into the Rivers Edge Resort. This was a very nice place, I suspect an older facility, since there were individual cabins. Our cabin was modern, neat, clean and very comfortable, I would have liked to stayed there another day or so. The next morning our baggage was piked up promptly and we ate breakfast before departure in the Rivers Edge Buffet, EXCELLENT!
From there we went by coach to the train and boarded on time and went to our assigned seating in the Domed observation cars. We met two ladies from Canada who would become good friends during the train travel and on the cruise as well.
First stop was the Princess Denali Lodge. Very nice lodge, and of course the scenery was wonderful. I We were scheduled for the 1/2 day tour which was nice however we did not see a lot of wildlife. We ate in the Princess restaurant, I did find the menu a bit limited and prices a bit higher than expected, but the service was good. All In all ate there 3 times, one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner. The morning of departure we ate at the Buffet, I was disappointed with the quality and service, I suspect that this was being run by a contractor and not Princess.
Back on the train for the trip to Mt. McKinley, we actually did get to see it from some 75 miles away while we were on the train. Ate lunch on board, very nice and not terribly over priced. The rest of the trip was spent admiring the beautiful Alaska scenery and playing cards with our friends.
After you disembark the train for the Mt McKinley stop you have about a 1 hour bus ride to the lodge, our driver was a young lady who had lots of knowledge and was very informative and funny. We only had one night at the Princess Lodge, that was a shame, the lodge there was beautiful, great views , McKinley hid however, but service and food was excellent. We really felt that this was the nicest of the Two Princess Lodges.
Back on the train to go to Whittier. This was a LONG day, thank goodness for good friends and cards and nice scenery. No dome car on this leg, but the windows were big and the views again were great.
Arriving at Whittier we boarded the ship very quickly, princess has the boarding process well in hand there. The Coral Princess has yet to get it refurb, (Big Movie Screen) but it was in excellent shape. Our partly obstructed stateroom was clean and comfortable and out attendant was very attentive to our needs. One real high point was the Head Waiter in the Bordeaux Dining room. Since we had anytime dining we made reservations for a specific time each night to meet our friends. The service was excellent, food superb, and portions very nice. We ate all but 1 evening meal there.
The buffet, is another story. I hope when they do the refurb they redesign it, it is cramped with little rhyme or reason to the layout. The food, other than breakfast was not as good as I had on Celebrity at their buffet. All in all I was disappointed with the buffet area with the exception of breakfast.
Ports of call were fine, we didn't do any sightseeing other than Ketchikan, where we piked up a local tour on the dock. Saw some bear, eagles, and some of the city highlights, well worth the time. Skagway, we got off the ship to go to the drug store and The Alaskan Shirt Factory, other than that we stayed on the ship and had a good time. As usual I played trivia everyday, and had fun we won a couple of times. The production shows were very good I did not go to any of the single acts, however.
Disembarkation in Vancouver was smooth, we had a VERY long wait for our flight back. Our air was arranged through Princess, I do feel they could have done a better scheduling job so in the future I will probably schedule my own air.
All in all the trip was wonderful, but I did feel the land portion was a bit pricey.