We took this cruise as a quick weekend getaway to, well, get away from the teenagers. We took the Amtrak Cascades train down to Seattle from Vancouver the evening before which I found to be a very enjoyable way to get down there. We left at 545 pm and arrived in Seattle right around 10 pm. We had a Doubletree hotel room booked through Priceline near the airport for a very good price so all in all it was going to be a fairly cheap trip.
We decided to be adventurous and we took the light rail out to the airport from the King St. station. The light rail station was just around the corner from the train station so it was quick and easy to get to. We then took the shuttle from the airport to the hotel with out any problems.
The next day we took the light rail back into the city then the transit bus out to Pier 91 for the cruise. It was certainly an interesting ride through the downtown core - a little too interesting - next time we'll take a cab. The walk from the bus stop to the pier was longer than I initially thought (as it's a long walk from the port entrance to the check-in) which wasn't helped by the luggage pull handle having just broken meaning the small but increasingly heavy suitcase had to be carried all the way.
We arrived at approximately 1pm for a 4pm sailing. Upon arrival we were directed to stand in a very long line-up - out the door and almost to the end of the drop-off zone. Once allowed through the doors you stayed in another long zig-zagging line to wait to get to the escalator. Once allowed up the escalator the process ran fairly smoothly through security and check in at the counter. Another line-up on the gangway to get on the ship and we finally made it. I asked one of the staff on land why the line up was so long (with no line up to speak of for the Holland America ship right next door) and he stated that with normal cruises people arrive in a staggered fashion but with one day cruises everyone tends to arrive all at once. All in all not a very pleasant process. I had expected that we would be able to drop off our bags and have them taken on board but it seems that we were expected to carry on our bags as I never saw any signs or areas where bags could be dropped nor was it ever mentioned to us.
After dropping our bags in our room (all cabins were available upon boarding) we headed up to the lido deck and the buffet for some lunch. Another disappointment in that I thought I had read that the anytime dining restaurants would be open for lunch but it turns out the buffet was the only dining option available.
Well you can imagine almost 2700 people arriving fairly close together with only one dining option. The lines were long, food ran out with people waiting in more lines for the stations to be refilled and the entire room stifling hot. Staff as can be expected were extremely busy and overrun but stayed affable and courteous.
Unfortunately the food was not nearly as good as we expected and we were very disappointed with it. It filled us up but we got no real satisfaction with the meal.
Shortly after the muster drill was held and was well organized and efficient. After the drill we set sail for Vancouver.
The crowd on board was definitely in the mood to party and overall everyone was friendly and having a good time. We managed to explore most of the ship and though decent I thought the layout felt a little crowded.
For dinner we attended the main dining room for what I thought was assigned seating. According the maitre d on one night cruises it is faster for them to seat on a first come first serve basis so the table number on our card meant nothing - though there was another line up to get into the dining room. I am not a dress slob but I did expect people who wanted to dine in the main dining room to at least wear a collar shirt - if not then more casual options were available. We were a little dismayed to see men in t-shirts and jeans and women in tank tops and sweats entering the room.
We were initially directed to a table with several women in sweats but the maitre d, perhaps sensing our apprehension sat us at a different table. We ended up sitting with two women from Vancouver and a man from L.A. who were very enjoyable table mates. The dinner was much better than lunch though my wife did not like the Lobster and shrimp (I think) pate - it was tasteless and had a horrible consistency. The rest of the food was very good - not excellent but very good.
After dinner we attended the show which we both liked.
The ship ended up going under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver shortly after midnight so we stood on the top deck, wondered how it would fit under the bridge along with several others, and smiled as the bridge passed seemingly mere feet above us. We watched as the captain maneuvered the ship into the Canada Place Pier on the East side. Now it doesn't look that small an area from the land but standing on deck as the ship was maneuvered into position and you get a very different perspective.
We docked shortly after 1 am so off to bed for us. We heard from another friend who happened to take the same cruise that her group ended up partying to 5 in the morning in the sky-view bar.
The cabin was fine, well laid out and everything where it should be. The cabin attendant was great - he called us by name every time after meeting us for the first time.
Disembarkation was held up by our Customs and Border Services Agency which is beyond the ships control but upon releasing our group we left the ship only to stand in another long line up. I think it would have been better to have the guests wait in the holding areas (normally the restaurants) a bit longer to avoid the long line ups - it certainly would have been more comfortable sitting and chatting than standing in the line up.
Overall a nice getaway marred slightly by the poor embarkation and lunch experience.
I had taken an RCC cruise some years ago and this cruise did not match my memory of our first cruise - perhaps I romanticize that one more as I did get engaged on it but I definitely remember the food being better. We have our next cruise booked on Celebrity so will have another line to compare to.
I think many people take a one nighter to see how they like cruising but I don't think it's very representative of the whole experience. If Princess wants to interest people in cruising more effort needs to be placed on these short cruises to encourage people to return.