EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Both getting on and off the ship was a breeze; when we arrived around 12:30 we dropped our luggage and walked right on the ship. Getting off was a little longer as we had to wait our turn but it was pretty easy, we were off the ship before our assigned time.
NOROVIRUS: No incidence of Noro on our cruise (7/19-7/29), but I would still recommend bringing antibacterial wipes and wiping down your state room when you get onboard. Also, washing your hands several times a day is a good idea in general. Princess was making a tremendous effort as far as forcing the hand sanitizer at the buffet and before entering the dining room. This is the right thing to do, some people were idiots and tried not to use the sanitizer and the staff chanced them down and made them use the sanitizer. I guess they think their hands are clean but don't they know this is how germs spread!!
SHIP: I read many reviewers said the Sea Princess is very old and worn looking. To be honest, I don't think she looked that bad. Grant it, she is old but they did a refurbishment a couple years back I thought she looked fine, we have cruised over 8 times and the ships all varied in age but as long as they are clean, nice looking and have lots to do we are happy.
STATEROOM: We had an Outside cabin the room was fine and was very adequate. It had a nice flat screen TV and a small refrigerator. The bathroom was the same size as all other princess ships we have been on (small!), I have not seen a large bathroom yet. The room had a lot of closet and drawer space as well as plenty of room under the beds for our luggage which was nice! Our steward (Dixon) was awesome, he made sure we had everything we needed and kept everything clean.
FOOD: The main dining room food was good, to very good and there were many items to choose from. There were eight of us traveling together and I did not hear one complaint through the whole trip about the food in the dining room. The buffet is that a buffet; the quality of food is what you would fine at any buffet restaurant. The salads, fresh fruit, breads, soups were consistently good but some of the main dishes were hit and miss. The food tends to sit as it is meant to be there whenever someone wants to eat and I never have high expectations for these types of places so I didn't feel let down. We tried to eat in the main dining room for lunch and dinner most of the time. We also tried the pizza, burgers and hot dogs which were all good. Keep in mind these are NOT 4 or 5 star places to eat but the food over all was good. If you are looking for a 5 star ship then you should be cruising with Crystal or Regent but then you would be paying a lot more money.
STAFF: We found the staff on this ship to be very nice and friendly and didn't experience any issues with rude, surly or unaccomodating employees. We had different waiters in the main dining room, every day as we had anytime dining and we liked the variety. All of the dining service staff was very good, and really made our dining experience a pleasure each night.
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was as good as it gets on a cruise. We enjoyed one of the comedy acts the most. We found the dancers and singers on this ship to be one of the best we had seen on our eight cruises. The nature guy was great as well, we attended several of his lectures on Alaska, whales and other animals of the area. We stayed pretty busy with trivia games, gym, movies and just enjoying the views/out doors. We brought our own games and would find a place outside on deck 12 or 14; get something to eat, order a bucket of beers and just chill. This is the purpose of our trip was to relax and enjoy each others company and the views.
PORTS OF CALL:
In Juneau, we prebooked (on-line) our Whale watching tour with Harv&Marv tours, it costs just as much as the cruise ships tour but it was private with just the eight of us on the small boat; no fighting for a spot to see the whales or take pictures. Our guides were Russell and Wyatt who were great at finding whales; our first sighting was about 10-12 whales bubble feeding, it was an awesome sight. We watched them for about 20 minutes then moved to see other whales, we saw several mother and baby whales throughout our 3 hour tour. After our whale watching, the driver stopped by Mendenhall Glacier for 20 minutes for us to see it and take pictures. We got lucky and saw some bears and eagles. We were very lucky we booked with Harv&Marv tours as our ship was 2 hours late into Juneau and I was not sure what was going to happen as we were scheduled for a 1:30 pm tour but lucky for us Danielle (the person I booked it with) rescheduled us for 3:30 pm when she heard the ship was running late. It was nice to hear a voice mail on my phone letting me know not to worry but she took care of everything once she heard of the ship was late.
In Skagway, we prebooked (on-line) a 7 hour Yukan tour with Dave Dya tours; the price was cheaper then the crusie ship but was a lot longer tour and on a small bus (16 people). The entire tour which included many stops along the way up the Yukan to see Emerald Lake which was awesome as well as many others landmarks. Our tour guide was Debby and she was awesome, she was very informative and stopped anytime we wanted to take pictures. She also had her standard stops and they were great places to see as well. We got lucky and were able to see two bears along the trip and took lots of great pictures.
We also enjoyed the scenic cruising day in Glacier Bay but I have to say that I enjoyed Tracy Arm more. There are many beautiful waterfalls running into the fjord and we saw some seals and otters swimming in the water. We got the closest to the actual glacier that they have gotten this season, and it was really neat to see up close! Definitely bring warm clothes if you are planning on being outside on this day, we had brought lots of warm clothes and were still frozen through by the time we had finished the scenic cruising. This was by far the coldest day of the cruise.
In Sitka; We were there a short time so we did not book a tour, we walked to the Totem pole park on our way to the Rapor center. Both were great places to see, the Totem pole park/historical park was so green and lush, we took some great pictures and enjoyed the senery. The Rapor center had about 10 Eagles their plus many other birds of prey. It was awewome to see them up close, I didn't realize how big and beautiful they are. We then took a bus back to down town for $3 each person.
Victoria was good but were only there for 3.5 hours due to engine problems. We took a 1.5 hour bus tour to see the main sites then went on a made dash for some shopping. I would have like to have spent more time here as there are many sites to see but unfortunately because of the engine problems we lost a lot of time here.
We all had a great time and really enjoyed the cruise and the Alaskan beauty. Being able to see so many wild animals in their natural habitat was amazing. It's really up to the individual traveling on whether they are going to have a good time or a bad time. You make your vacation; you can enjoy it or complain about every little thing. I would definitely do this cruise again, and would recommend it to others as well.