Day 1. I dropped Frances off with luggage at 11:30, the parked across the street at City Park Garage. Don't forget to get the green card that will give you the cruiser discount of $12 a day, not the standard $25 daily. We got in line forming along building and in 1/2 hour we started into the terminal to check in and were issued our Sea Cards, fastest check-in ever. Sat in the priority seating area and after 15 minutes we were allowed to board the Sea Princess. Got to our stateroom at about 12;45 and dropped off our carry-ons. Went to Horizon Court and was greeted by over 15 wait staff serving the buffet. The ship was on "RED Level" status, so passengers were NOT allow to self serve, which lasted through out the whole cruise. A good variety of entrees, but the salad station was only okay with no Caesar Salads in the buffet through out the cruise.
After lunch I met the ship's Purser, Mr. Jules Duarte, to confirm the arrangement for a Meet & Greet on the first sea day and handed him invitations for the ship's staff to attend our meeting. Super nice guy and very accommodating.
Spent the next hour checking out the ship from forward to aft. Clean, but showing some signs of age and wear.
Assigned to the first seating in the Traviata dining room. Had a waiter that ignored us and took orders from tables that came 10 minutes after we were seated. I let him know we were not happy. Later, I spoke to the Maitre D and got my table changed to Riggoletto. Dinner experience became 1000 times better. During dinner and while sailing up the California coastline, the seas got choppy. I saw many people who looked queasy.
Day 2. Seas were still a little rough. Breakfast in the Horizon Court was awkward, I counted 4 areas that were taped off with yellow warning tape. The Hit Squad did a clean up job for passengers who had accidents. In the Riggoletto Dining room, a girl sitting at the table next to us could not hold down her dinner. The Hit Squad was called in. The area was sanitized and cleaned up in 5 minutes and then yellow taped.
Went to Razzmatazz Lounge for our Meet & Greet and put up signs. Since we boarded on Memorial Day, I arranged for those attending to get a lanyard supplied by our Military Recruiters to show the person's preference of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp. Some punched their Sea Cards and wore them around their necks along with their Cruise Critic Name Tags. Seventeen from our Roll Call attended, along with six Sea Princess Staffers, (Purser, Food & Beverage Manager, Ass't Purser, Cruise Director, Office Manager and the Maitre D). After Questions & Answers with ship's staff, we held our gift exchange. Our meeting worked out so well, another follow up Meet & Greet was scheduled for the last sea day.
Day 3. It was our second sea day. I attended the Veteran's Armed Forces Get-Together in the Razzmatazz Lounge at 3 pm. Remembering the Memorial Day boarding, I wanted to make light of those who served. I gave out either Lanyards from the four services or ball caps form the Navy, Army and Air Force. Forty eight veterans attended along with Mr. Marcos from the ship's entertainment staff. Each veterans did their self introductions and a brief service history. Then we discussed about Princess Special Military Program for on board credit. Seventy percent of them did not know about it. This was the first of three Veteran's Get-Together on this 10 days cruise.
Day 4. Juneau. We did the Harv & Marv Whale Watching excursion. Sea Princess arrived 1 hour late and tied up at the So. Franklin Street dock, then we took a 15 minutes shuttle ride oner to Auke Bay Harbor Facilities pier. Boarded the M/V Alaskan, 30' Custom Alaska Whale Watcher with twin 250 hp 4-stroke Yamaha. Captain Shaun did a 30 minutes high speed transit to where the whales were. You could feel the power of those twin 250s. Over 2 1/2 hour, we saw 11 whales. This adventure was worth every penny. Captain Shaun was an extraordinary character. Witty and very knowledgeable about whales. His 16 year old first mate Hunter seemed very seasoned too. This excursion was the hight light of this Alaskan Cruise. I rate it as 5 Star, an outstanding adventure.
Day 5. Skagway. Sea Princess was originally scheduled to berth at the Broadway Dock, only 1 1/2 blocks from downtown. When we arrived in Skagway, Disney Wonder was already berthed there. Carnival Spirit was berthed at Railroad Aft, so Sea Princess pulled into Railroad Fwd dock. It took 20-25 minutes to walk to town or take the $5 Smart Shuttle. Today was my free day to do as I wished. I walked the town and went to Skagway's City Hall to get one of their pin with the city logo and crest on it. Got my popcorn fix and t-shirts for my neighbor watching my house.
Day 6. Ketchikan. Today. we did our own excursion to the "Totem Bright State Park". Took a north bound Blue Bus across the street from the Berth 3/ Visitor's Center. Seniors cost $.50 one way (or $1.00 regular fare). It took 25 minutes to get there. The State Park is FREE, housing 14 totem poles and a Clan House. It was a 20 to 30 minutes walk to see the whole park. Just 50 feet away is the private "Potlatch Totem Park", also FREE. It had totem poles, Tribal House, Carving Center, Antique Cars and a Firearms museum, displaying a
Gatling Gun. This excursion gave you the Best Value for your money for a total cost of $1.00. The Blue Bus does a scheduled hourly round trip.
Day 8. At Sea. Today should be easy and relaxing, taking in a lecture on "Eagles, Seals and Bears", ice carving, ping pong tournament, ballroom dancing class, a Veteran's get-Together, movies like True Grit, Country Strong, Burlesque and 20 more activities. I attended the second Vet's Get-Together. Nine attended along with a Japanese student who wanted to hear the veterans speak about WWII. It was a very interesting hour.
Day 9. Victoria. A short 1/2 day port of call. I took the $7.50 round trip shuttle to downtown Victoria, only to find out that shops did not open until 10am and it was only 7:30 am. The next hour and a half I walked up to Chinatown, back on Government Street to the Empress and crossed over to Douglas Street and back up to City Hall for my City of Victoria logo pin. Store were opening and I browsed through three or four of them and headed back to the ship for lunch. I went to the Premier Cru Lounge for the third Veteran's Get-Together. Ship Staffer Kellie did the introductions and seven Veterans attending gave their brief service histories. I attended all three Veteran's Get-Together. Kudos to Princess CEO Alan Buckelew for giving veterans this format and the Special Military Program. Thanks also to those who served and we will not forget your sacrifices to this great country. I call this "The Princess Memorial Day Cruise" for those 64 veterans on board and they will remember it. Good show guys.
Day 10. Last Sea Day. The second Meet & Greet announcement was printed in the Princess Patter with a location change to the Wheelhouse Bar for 10 am. I got there a half hour early to post two M&G signs. To my surprise, Purser Mr. Duarte had arranged two tables with coffee, tea, water and two trays of pastries. What a class act and I thank. We had 29 Cruise Critic members attending with three from the ship's staff. Thanks to Darrell, the Princess Musical Director, Bar Manager and Kellie form the entertainment staff for coming to our Meet & Greet. It was great for me to put faces to those posting on our May 30th Thread and I came away making lots of new friends. See you all in future cruises.
Food. Horizon Court Buffet had the standard faire and quality was okay. Riggoletto Dining started off fair and did improved at the end with some great dishes. Cafe Corniche's pizza was very good, but sausage was missing from the menu. Hamburgers at the Riviera Grill was great. You could also order a Double Cheese Burger with crispy fries. I tried the Soft Serve at Sundaes and it was very smooth and creamy.
Staff. Purse Jules Duarte went out of his way to assist our Meet & Greet and seeing it was so successful, he then set up the second M&G and supplied refreshments. Much appreciated and my personal thanks. Head Waiter, Yalcin from Turkey in the Horizon Court/Breakfast was a person who went out of his way to make my breakfast enjoyable. He is everywhere and does everything. He buses tables, brings juice and goes into the kitchen to get you a banana or a bowl of Conjee. High energy, friendly, understands customer service and a great asset to Princess. Big THANKS, Yalcin.
Disembarkation. We signed up early for the Express Walk Off and given the Group #1 card for the 7:45am departure time. We assembled early in the Riggoletto Dining room. At 7:45, the announcement was made and off we went, with luggage in hand even those in Groups #2,3 and 4! We picked up our car at the garage across the street and was heading home by 8 am. Doesn't get better than that.
Overall, this Alaska Cruise rates a 4 Star. Would I do it again? You Bet, even though it's my fifth cruise to Alaska. Gimer