We started our Alaska adventure out of Baltimore to Fairbanks arriving 1 day earlier than the start of our tour. We were picked up by Princess reps and taken to Fairbanks lodge. The lodge is rustic but with a wonderful view. The first day was a free day and we took the lodge shuttle to the visitors center, then a bus to U. of A. museum. The museum was well worth the trip. In the evening we had "happy hour" on the deck and ate dinner next door at the Landing on the deck. Great food and scenery. We also were among the 30% to see Mt. McKinley...actually several times!
Next day we started our official tour with Princess. We did the Gold Mine trip and the Riverboat Discovery. All 6 of us enjoyed both. The weather during the entire land tour was beautiful...around 65-70 and sunny.
We left Fairbanks by train to Denali Lodge. The lodge is rustic and not as nice as Fairbanks but certainly adequate and clean. That night we went to the "Music of Denali" dinner and play. I would not recommend this only because it was way too expensive ($110 per couple)and the food was only ok and the show was like a high school play.
Next day we did the Tunda Wilderness Tour and had a wonderful guide -MaryJane(MJ). We saw grizzly bears-one with 2 cubs, moose, carabo, Dall sheep, fox and eagles. MJ said we hit a "grand slam" of wild life viewing. Also, we were able to see Mt McKinley again.
Next day we left by train to the ship. Although the train ride was long, all 6 of us enjoyed the ride and preferred the train to a bus. Each car has a narrator, bar with bartender, and dining below. Also, 3 bathrooms in each car. We were able to move around, go outside and take pictures, read or just nap -many more options than on a bus! We were in the last car and were able to go out to the observation deck to take pictures. We had a great breakfast on the train and it wasn't too expensive. The weather up to this time was wonderful...but then came the rain! But it didn't interfere with our pleasant train ride to Whittier.
We arrived in Whittier with cruise card in hand and got onboard the Island Princess around 6:00 pm. Our luggage was already there so we unpacked and then went to the obligatory lifeboat drill.
The ship is very nice for it's age although the carpet in some areas could be replaced. Our room had enough storage space but the shower curtain was a pain...too short and never stayed in place.
The day we sailed Hubbard Glacier was absolutely beautiful! We enjoyed the naturalist's information as we watched the calving from our "secret deck"..which is deck 10/Caribe extreme forward. Only a handful of people were there! Also, this was the day we had our CC Meet and Greet in the Crooners Lounge. It was nice to be able to put names with faces and finally meet people we had communicated with on our roll call.
Unfortunately, the day we sailed Glacier Bay was overcast and a little rainy. All in all, seeing the glaciers and the calving is memorable as mother nature still is awe inspiring!
We did the White Pass and Yukon RR thru Chilkoots and it was great. We had a fantastic guide. Would highly recommend. It rained on an off but did not affect our tour. One of our couples did the Mushing with the dogs as an extra and enjoyed it.
We went to Mendenhall Glacier and once again it rained. The visitor center is worth visiting as well as the glacier.
It was fairly nice in the morning. We walked around and enjoyed the town. It really is a neat little place. We went to the LumberJack Show and it started to rain. However, the seats are stadium seats with a cover. We all enjoyed the show. The second part of our excursion included the Totem Pole State Park. Thankfully, our driver had umbrellas for each of us because the it was pouring. We would have appreciated and enjoyed the park more if we weren't battling the pouring rain.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
All 6 of us thought the food in the MDR was great! I can honestly say, not one of us had a bad meal. We ate in the Bayou Cafe and Steakhouse one night and it was delicious. All that got the fillet thought it was one of the best steaks they ever had.
We love the shows onboard and went to all the production shows which were good. The comedian was funny and the ventriloquist amazing.
We went to the casino most nights and made our deposit...no one in our group won.
Since this trip was mostly seniors, there were very few people around after 11:00 pm! But one night there was a party in the atrium with the staff and we loved dancing to the great music and watching the staff relaxing and having fun.
Our room steward Isabelita was very good although she would stand at our door and wait for us to leave! We felt like were were affecting her "schedule". But, she did do a great job with our room.
Our MDR waiter and asst waiter were wonderful. Alejandro and Marco made a great team and always with a smile.
I bought 100 minutes for $55. Although the internet was a little slow, it was a great way to keep up with family while at sea. The internet manager could be a little abrasive...just my opinon.
We opted to stay one night in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific. The hotel is so convenient and is really upscale. The six of us wished we had booked another night or two! Vancouver is so pretty. We did the HOHO bus and got to see quite a bit of the city. We ate at The Water St Cafe which was fabulous.
No one does Alaska like Princess. Although this was only our 4th Princess cruise out of 17 (we actually prefer RCCL) Princess did a fantastic job. We loved that we did not have to worry about luggage once we arrived in Fairbanks. (except when going to next destination) We loved the train, and all the sights and beauty of Alaska. The lodges were rustic, fun and clean. The ship was in good shape for it's age and most of the staff was friendly and seemed happy. We met so many wonderful people from all over. Most passengers were so pleasant and polite. We feel so lucky that we were able to experience Alaska and Vancouver. The six of us ranging in age from 55-67 had a truly wonderful trip.