My wife and my 11 yo daughter had a great time on our recent cruise. Bumps in the road for sure, but overall we had a great experience.
We were told boarding was from 12 - 3pm in SF on the Embarcadero. All information said the ship would be at Pier 27 but when we arrived and saw a couple with suitcases I stopped and they had just disembarked and said the ship was at Pier 35. It was a Sunday and besides all the cruise people there was traffic from tourists going to Pier 39. The couple I talked to told me to ask for robes and slippers as they would only be provided if we asked for them.
Finally we made it to the curb by pier 35 and unloaded all our luggage. A porter helped us get it all together and while I went to park my wife and daughter stayed with the luggage. We tipped the porter $10. I parked in the parking structure across the street at 80 Francisco street. Get a discount ticket so you will only be charged $12.5 per day otherwise you will be charged double that. When we returned another family was paying at the machine and they didn't have the discount card and the machine charged them $25/day, $250 instead of the $120 we were charged.
After boarding early on a Sunday, 6/192011, we went to the buffet, Horizon Court, and had lunch. Then we enjoyed going topside and seeing San Francisco and all the activity and knowing we were safe and secure and in relaxation mode. Our luggage made it to outside our cabin piece by piece over the afternoon. Our case of water survived but the case of Pelligrino sparkling water was demolished. Two of the bottles were broken and we had 10 intact which was still perfect for one bottle per day. The stewards bring ice to the room and if you need more, room service will bring it at no charge and no tip required. Tips are charged to your account daily at $11.50 per person per day and you will see that on your final statement. There is quite a lot of stuff you can order from room service from continental breakfast and sandwiches and soups and coffee and tea. We were glad we brought the case of water from Costco because otherwise there was no water available except to purchase or from the tap.
The ship left SF at 4 pm and we enjoyed being on deck to watch going out the golden gate. It was very windy and cold so be prepared, but the views were magnificent. After we got all our luggage we unpacked it all and the empty suitcases fit under our beds. Two suitcases seemed too large to fit but when we returned from dinner our steward had placed them under the beds. Because there were 3 of us we needed a room with 2 twin beds and 2 bunk beds, My daughter loved having a bunk bed and our steward would make her bed daily with her dolls and doll pillows arranged like a party and a couple chocolates in the middle. Each afternoon she would exclaim,"Mommy, Daddy, look what Rey did. It made it so special for her.
Leaving SF the seas were as rough as we would experience the entire cruise. The first night we rocked around alot and the Captain recommended people use their anti sea sickness meds. We didn't and slept well, enjoying the motion.
Two days at sea heading toward Ketchican, Alaska. We enjoyed coffee and tea on our room balcony and made journeys to different parts of the ship to see what's what. Our evening meals were the highlight of the day. 5 star food and 6 star service and our table companions were delightful. They were slightly older than us and had a 9 yo grandson with them. He was withdrawn but our daughter Sierra, 11, was able to pull him out and they had a great time together. Other than dinner they went to ping pong and swimming together and playing cards in the cabin while grandparents slept.
I recommend you sign up for a fixed dinner meal. You will meet someone interesting and having a menu and a regular waiter will make it special. It was very special for us. Each night we had a new menu and the food was fabulous and so was the service. Our waiter, Salvador, and his assistant, Lester, were fantastic and helped make each evening special. They quickly learned what everyone liked and always had something special for the kids. I can't say enough about how great the service was at our dinners.
The pools are heated to about 85 degrees and the way they are designed if the seas are heavy the pool is much more fun. Above the pool is another containment so when the ship heaves or rocks the water sloshes beyond the pool and it makes for great fun for all. The water is clean and I saw the tester and asked if all was safe and he confirmed that it was. There is a towel dispensary near the pool, in the corner where the ping pong is played. Also if you want blankets you can check them out for the duration of the cruise. They do want them back though.
The evening shows at the Princess and Vista Lounges had some great entertainment. The Princess dancers and singers put on at least 3 different shows. Not only are they young and beautiful, they dance up a storm and it's amazing how tight they are and being in sync. We very much enjoyed their shows. I think they put on three separate shows. I liked the British Invasion show the best
We never visited the Casino, but why does Princess allow smoking? Everywhere we went we smelled smoking and it felt out of place. Smoking should be allowed only on the fantail.
I used the acupuncture service for 3 sessions to alleviate addiction issues as well as IBS and other stress issues. So far no positive benefit. But hey, Hannah, was very nice and I enjoyed my time with her.
We did get free ice cream for the ice cream vendor near the pool area. Also hamburgers and hotdogs and fries are free from the grill by the pool. Just walk up and ask and they will serve you what you want.
After a couple days the Captain started to make daily announcements that there was a problem onboard with infections of the Norovirus type and asking for everyone's assistance with the problem. After my last Alaska visit, Skagway, and then a wonderful dinner on board, I got extremely sick about 5 minutes after leaving the meal. A show girl was at the exit taking pictures and I smiled and put my arm around her and got my wife back for a picture. Her waist felt wonderful and her energy was enormous so I enjoyed those few seconds immensely.
Next morning I called Sickbay to let them know I had been sick in case it was food poisoning or something. I let them know I would stay in my cabin until I felt well and that I didn't need any medical attention. The told me I had to stay in my cabin for 48 hours after my last diarrhea and they sent me a special room service menu. The menu was for very bland foods such as boiled chicken and very weak soup. After 24 hours when I felt better and wanted some real food the room service refused to allow me to order from anything other than the bland menu. I called the medical office and they promised to release me from the menu the next morning by 8am. At 9am I tried to order something and the girl told me, "As I told you yesterday you can only order from the special menu." Also our room steward was not allowed to come into our room and a special cleaning crew came twice a day to disinfect our room. They cleaned well but all the little things our steward did went undone. I had to remind them we had 3 people instead of 2 so we needed 3 towels, etc. The beds went unmade and the tissues not replenished. The second day I spoke to their supervisor in the passageway and told him we did not want to supervise his workers and expected to have the same level of service we did before I was quarantined. He agreed but again after the crew finished he didn't inspect and the crew came to me to ask was everything ok. It wasn't and again I had to tell them we needed 3 towels, etc.
Most disappointing was that while I was quarantined the level of service and food dropped significantly. Instead they should have been heightened the service to make up for Princess getting me sick. Still they allow passengers to serve themselves in the buffet except after many people got sick then they had staff serve the food. Lucky for me I was sick after all the Alaska stops and only had to stay in my room during at-sea days. Still I was never contacted by Princess to apologize for getting me sick and for ruining 3 days of my 10 day cruise.
We enjoyed all three of the stops in Alaska. Each town was interesting and clean and we went on several excursions. We also enjoyed the stop in Victoria, though it was very short.
Overall we had a great time. The ship was well organized, the food and entertainment excellent. The port visits were very nice. The staff was mostly quite professional and service was excellent. Our room, with balcony, was very nice, and easy for the 3 of us to live in. It had a refrigerator and having our sparkling water on ice each evening was a treat. Also one of the things that made the cruise special were our table mates at dinner who made each evening a pleasure.