We travel every summer with our big amazing family. Usually to condos near our favorite beach in Maui for 2 weeks. But this year we tried something new, a Cruise. It was also a fund raiser for our favorite history project, The John Marsh Historic Trust. We are board members and decided to surprise the family and contribute to the worthy cause at the same time. Princess has a wonderful program for non-profits to earn a little extra money for the organization. Only 2 of us had been to Alaska before. My husband was the Division Geologist for Alaska for several years. Our family, and friends who are close as family [we call them FRamily] varied in age from 75 to 7. The geologist and I are already devoted Princess passengers so the decision as to what cruise line to take was easy.
First the caveats, Sea Princess is one of the older ladies in the fleet, and her inside staterooms reflect this. If you are happy with twin beds then the inside rooms will be great. But if you like to snuggle up in the same bed, you will be in for a surprise. Princess offers the option of twin or double. But the double is the twin beds pushed together. When they do that, one of you is going to have to crawl over the other to get in or out of bed. To her credit our travel agent did try to warn us, but I just couldn't imagine that they would offer a queen or double that would not allow access even by a few inches to each guest. So I was wrong. We never let things like that spoil our trip, but if the Geowhiz hadn't been in good climbing form it could have ruined someone else's trip as the ship was totally sold out and there were no cabins to swap or upgrade to. We always buy an inside, we spend very little time in our cabins. Sleep and shower is really all we use our room for.
We have never had a problem on the other newer Princess ships, and have already booked another trip to Alaska in 6 weeks! [Couldn't pass up the price which included the land tour to Denali.] The rest of the trip was wonderful. We were lucky enough to have the new itinerary stop at ICY STRAIT POINT. A lovely scenic spot, gentle walks in the woods, whales in the bay, and the world's longest zip line. We went for the zip line. Best thing we ever did. Paid for the trip on the ship. Took the morning group. Loaded us onto a charming old school bus and we rumbled up the most beautiful scenic bumpy road, 3100 feet at the top, where you could see the curvature of the earth if you tried. The Tribal people that live at Icy Strait built the most high tech, environmentally friendly zip we had ever seen. Neither of us had ever done anything like this. Travel is good, it broadens your horizons, right? I'm 68, Geowhiz is 72. It takes 1/2 hour to drive up the mountain. Then a short walk to the Zip portal. 5 adventurers go down on each run. You are firmly strapped in to a comfortable canvas chair with all the safety considerations you would want. They provide the goggles you need to fully enjoy the trip. You will leave your bags and purses down at the warehouse where they are well cared for. When you are all safely secured the gate in front of you opens wide and we rushed into a lovely cloud only to emerge from it within a few seconds and there it was, the most incredible panorama I have ever witnessed in my life. Like an eagle soaring at 3000 feet you see everything. The lovely bay below, the islands that scattered themselves along the coast, the Sea Princess sitting like a Christmas toy in the bay below. The tops of the trees, I can only describe the experience as a spiritual one. Tear came to my eyes, brought by the beauty, not by any fear. If I had any real fear it was gone in the first 6 seconds. From then on I just wanted to store up every second of the changing vista. You are moving about 40 miles an hour, it takes 90 seconds to reach the bottom. The zip slows very smoothly when you are near the end. Handsome woodsmen help you out and let you gush about what you have just seen. It's about $100 per person, and we never spent better money. I would go back in a minute! Just so you know, I hate roller coasters, this is not anything like a roller coaster. We will now seek out Zip Lines wherever we go.
I mentioned the Framily. First you should know we had grandchildren varying in age from 30 to 7. The youngsters, age 7 to 14 all took advantage of The Princess Kids program. We hardly ever saw them, they loved all of the activities, painted t-shirts,sang songs, my favorite was the pre-teens & teens, they learned many new life skills that will come in handy for any future cruise lovers. How to dance, play 21 and poker. Marcus, our princely heir insists it was really a sneaky way to make everyone use math. All of the children also participated in the formal nights, shook hands with the crew and skipped the slow elevators in favor of the mostly unused stairways. They ate their first lobster, learned to make friends with the waiters and be gracious when they needed two scoops of ice cream instead of one. Our adult son was a finalist in the Princess Pop Idol contest, the little girls all participated in the talent show. They were wowed by the Princess Theater productions every night. The first 2 0r 3 days service in the dining room was spotty. We always choose Anytime dining, the ship seemed to have a very large number of new employees and this can cause problems. Once we got with the Maitre'D and expressed our concerns things improved. One thing we have noticed about Princess, things are not always picture perfect, but the instant we complain they move heaven and earth to fix things. You can't ask for more than that.
Next year the family has voted to go back to the familiar summer days on the beach in Maui, but agreed that maybe we could do a cruise every 3 years. So fair notice Princess, we will be back, and by then we will probably have added a few more to our manifest.