Diamond Princess Cruise Review by rayliang: 8/20/2011 Alaksa Northbound
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8/20/2011 Alaksa Northbound
First and foremost, I enjoyed the trip. I do wish I'd taken the Southbound trip though, and here's why: Northbound trip goes to Glacier Bay and College Fjord, while Southbound trip goes to Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. My opinion: College Fjord is not worth going on a cruise ship. The scenery is sort of "similar" to Glacier Bay, and I now think Hubbard Glacier would have been a much better choice. In fact, College Fjord is so close to Whittier, it might be possible for you to take a morning trip out of Whittier to College Fjord before you board the Southbound trip.
Diamond Princess Ship: I don't know if its just the specific trip or if its all Princess Cruises,it seems like the tourists onboard is an older crowd then perhaps RCL. There's not many people go dancing in the clubs every night, while my parents said a lot of folks packs the clubs and lounges at night during their last Alaska trip on RCL. Overall the Ship is very comfortable and I enjoyed the ship a lot. More
Inside Cabin: The cabin is not big, but comfortable. I kind of wish the closet area is larger, but its manageable.
Food: very good in general. A bit salty for my liking. For East Asian travelers, I would recommend go to the "Pacific Moon" room for dinner, as they have a stir-fry noodle dish (not on menu) that is very good and does a good job relieving you of Chinese food cravings. I never tried the Grill by the pool, but the pizzeria is very good as well. For breakfast, there are rice porridge, for those Asian travelers that is not used to American breakfast.
Entertainment: the song and dance shows at the Princess Theater are terrible in general. The various musicians in the lounges are pretty good. The string quartet is not very good.
Childcare: my 3 year old love the little kids program onboard. He made new friends, and he couldn't wait to go to the Pelican Room everyday to go play with them. The childcare folks are kind, fun, helpful, and accommodating. Less
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Cabin review: IB406
Good location, not far from elevator, and its not noisy. Room is decent size, closet area a little small.
Port and Shore Excursions
We rented a minivan from Rent-A-Wreck. We got an old Dodge Grand Caravan. The car worked well.
We drove to the Mendenhall Glacier, but because of the rain, we only stood at the visitor's center and taken pictures. We also saw some bears near the glacier. However given the glaciers we saw latter in our cruise, I now think the visit to Mendenhall as a bit redundant. However that could just be because of the rain making our visit less then ideal.
We then visited the Salmon Hatchery. The place is worth a visit. The tour guide at the hatchery did a decent job with explaining the facility and salmon in general.
We then visited the Last Chance Mining Museum. The drive to the museum is a lot of fun, though the museum itself can be skipped. There's not much to see there except the electric generator. You don't get to visit any mine shafts. We did see people panning for gold in the stream in front of the museum.
We ate lunch at Tracy's King Crab Shack. Its located right next to the library. The food is excellent, though to have a decent meal, you should expect to spend about $25 / person on average. The crab legs are great, the crab bisque are great, the crab cake can be skipped. I'd recommend park at the library parking lot, go up to the parking lot to register your parking and spend some time there, then go eat at Tracy's.
We then visited the Alaska Legislature building. The tour there is very good and informative, and is worth a trip. Parking near the building might be a little problematic, as only street parking is available.
We didn't shop or walk around Juneau downtown, mostly because of the rain.
I hired Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tour and got David as our driver. He was very informative and helpful, giving us a lot of information about various points of interests on Ketchikan. He taken us to the Potlatch Park and we saw many totem poles and buildings. We learned a lot about the local people and enjoy the location very much. He also had umbrellas and binoculars for us to use.
David also taken us to a stream near the Ketchikan zipline tour are. We saw a lot of salmons, and we saw a yearling bear, a momma bear, and 2 cubs.
Too bad because of the rain, we didn't want to tour Ketchikan proper, so I never really got to see much of Creek Street.
Because of the rain and the fog, we didn't see much on our drive up toward Yukon. We didn't get out of the weather until we got pass Frasier. After taken the drive though, I'm more convinced then ever that the train ride is NOT worth the money. The scenery between Frasier and Carcross are beautiful and very much worth the drive. The drive is easy and relaxing.
We visited Carcross, which is a pretty quaint little town and worth walking around. We visited Emerald Lake. The place is beautiful. We then drove back toward Skageway and stopped at the Yukon Suspension Bridge. This little tourist trap is not bad at all, and the view of the canyon from the bridge is fun, though I kind of think its not worth the ticket price if you need to pay for it. Debbie had tickets so we got in and had fun. The suspension bridge has a lot of info about the Klondike gold strike and the gold seekers, which is very nice. We also drove to the Chilkook Trail entrance, and the drive to the trail entrance along is worth it, as the view are just beautiful and different then the drive up to Yukon.
Skagway proper is a fun little town to walk around. The Klondike Gold Rush National Reserve visitor center has a very nice exhibit and a lot of information about the Klondike gold rush and is worth the visit. Overall the town of Skagway is just a big tourist trap.