23 Anchorage Senior Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise and it was a little disappointing. My expectations were sorely not met. The embarkation was very confusing. We were not given any direction upon boarding and were handed papers without any explanation. When we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was a little disappointing. My expectations were sorely not met. The embarkation was very confusing. We were not given any direction upon boarding and were handed papers without any explanation. When we asked what we were given the crew stared at us like we were crazy. We had to find our cabin on our own as the crew just pointed to the elevator and said "go up to 8". Our cabin was not turned from the previous guest. The room had hair that wasn't ours everywhere and dirt on the ground. Our steward tried their best but I don't think they understood what we were trying to convey. We were pleasantly surprised by the size. Overall the food wasn't what we were expecting. We were expecting interesting food that we couldn't get anywhere else. It was mediocre at best. There was a good selection of vegetarian options. The pizzeria was probably the best. It was also difficult to get drink orders outside of sitting at the bar. The International Cafe was the most consistently good service and food. The public spaces were nice and the themes were interesting. The entertainment was not what we were expecting. We were expecting multiple different types of entertainment but there wasn't any. There was one theater show and 2 comics the whole 7 days. Most of the activities were during the day while in port, and in the evening it was just sales pitches or musicians performing in the bars. A lot of the interesting things overlapped and you had to choose what was more important, movie under the stars or the comedian or eating dinner, you couldn't do it all. Lastly the crew... some that were nice and greeted us every time we walked by but there a lot of rude interactions. Multiple times the front desk where the interaction was aggressive and rude. I called to ask if the coupon book was delivered to our room and the crew member repeatedly told me the book was "redeemed "and that I "needed to look better". When I walked down there the extremely rude staff told me again that the book was redeemed and then proceeded to call and yell at our steward. The front desk forced our steward off his break and come talk to us which cause our interaction with him strained and uncomfortable the rest of the trip. The worst was the Medical staff. They made my mother feel as though she was being punished for being sick due to the food and would not explain anything. The only saving grace of this cruise was the fabulous weather and scenery. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was the trip of our dreams. We flew to Anchorage 4 days prior to our sailing and rented a car to go see Mt. McKinley and other places in the area. This allowed us to see the things we wanted to see and do the things we wanted to do. ... Read More
This was the trip of our dreams. We flew to Anchorage 4 days prior to our sailing and rented a car to go see Mt. McKinley and other places in the area. This allowed us to see the things we wanted to see and do the things we wanted to do. If you are in the McKinley area, 229 restaurant (mile 229 of the Parks Highway) is a must. Five-star dining at its finest and the prices are reasonable. We took our own transfer from Anchorage to Whittier. It stopped at the Wildlife Refuge Centre which was good to see. I was travelling with a mobility scooter and embarkation could not have been better or easier. From the moment we approached the ship till we disembarked seven days later the crew were wonderful. You can tell that they take great pride in working on such a wonderful ship. The new Medallion program that Princess has designed is fabulous. It identifies you when you approach your cabin door and unlocks. You can order food or drinks from anywhere on the ship and the staff will find you. You can even locate other members of your party through it. We chose Anytime Dining and never had to wait to be seated. The food was fabulous and plentiful. The ship is large enough that even with a full load of passengers, you do not feel crowded in any way. We mainly booked our own tours using the Alaska Tour Saver Book. It got us 2 for 1 tickets onto the train in Skagway and the Whale Watch in Juneau. Even though we did not use a lot of coupons, it more than payed for itself several times over. We had been savouring going to Alaska for a long time and this trip was the absolute dream come true. Thank you Princess and all the crew of the Royal Princess. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Had the time of my life. Great Ship and polite crew. Went Club Class. Food was great and the scenery in the Fjords was breath taking. One small not so minor thing was the "at sea internet". It only worked about 10 ... Read More
Had the time of my life. Great Ship and polite crew. Went Club Class. Food was great and the scenery in the Fjords was breath taking. One small not so minor thing was the "at sea internet". It only worked about 10 percent of the time with a connection speed of 25K. Dial up would have been faster. I brought this to the attention at the main desk and it was a wast of time. I had to wait until we got into port to roam on shore side cell connections and ended up running up a 1200.00 bill to get my business done. Now, the Trip up on the Island Princess was without fault. Everything was perfect. Customs waits were excessive. DO NOT bring more luggage than You need. You'll be sorry. The internet connections were lightning fast and reliable. We booked a back to back cruise with Princess and coordinating between the two cruises was a disaster. It was if there was two different cruise lines. Princess needs to work on that. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I just completed my second Alaska cruise and it was amazing but what will make this cruise stand out in my memory was the crew of the Royal Princess. For this trip, I joined five others so we had a group of six and two ended up in ... Read More
I just completed my second Alaska cruise and it was amazing but what will make this cruise stand out in my memory was the crew of the Royal Princess. For this trip, I joined five others so we had a group of six and two ended up in wheelchairs just before the cruise. That last fact (ended up in) was important because only one of them had a handicapped room. The cruiser with the wheelchair and non-handicap room could not even get his chair into the room on the first day. That was true until a crew member suggested a method that even allowed him to maneuver it without help. It was still tight in the room and I would suggest that anyone finding themselves in need of a last minute wheelchair try to get a better room and/or use a transit chair but what is important here is how helpful the crew of this ship was to mobility challenged cruisers. They were more amazing than the stunning Alaska scenery!! The trip was a complete success and it was due both to the quite unique sights and sounds of Alaska and to the competence and kindness of the crew of the Royal Princess. Over and over no matter what the location (dining room, theater, Piazza, store or even cabin hallway) the crew always stepped in to help clear the way or make it easier for the wheelchair bound to relax and enjoy the event. This ship is a pure joy to be on. The events and entertainments are all great fun, without exception! Because of Princess's partnership with the Discovery channel, this cruise had interesting lectures and guest speakers that enhanced our enjoyment of the unique Alaska sights. With six people, came six different ideas of what "fun" meant and yet each of us found exactly what we needed on this cruise. I will sail Princess from now on. They not only offer great locations but they back up their offerings with great service and that makes a great vacation for everyone! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The service, the cleanliness, the delicious food, the kindness of crew, the beauty of the ship , everything was so, so pleasant and satisfactory. We choose this cruise because we wanted to see the Hubbard Glacier and took the excursion ... Read More
The service, the cleanliness, the delicious food, the kindness of crew, the beauty of the ship , everything was so, so pleasant and satisfactory. We choose this cruise because we wanted to see the Hubbard Glacier and took the excursion which was wonderful. We had the opportunity to interact with other guests when eating at the Bordeaux restaurant that is very elegant. All the meals there were fabulous and the service pronto and great! The buffet restaurant was very clean and then food was very good with a great service. The amenities offered were numerous and the shows offer at the theater were spectacular, first clase, the actors were passionate and felt deeply what they were doing. There was a soprano with an incredible voice! Coral Princess and it’s crew deserve 5 Stars! We can really recommend this cruise to Alaska that is so beautiful. We really thank the crew that took care of us! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We wanted to take our family on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. My wife and I had taken this exact same itinerary 10 years ago and we knew from experience our family would enjoy it. Eleven of us did the land ... Read More
We wanted to take our family on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. My wife and I had taken this exact same itinerary 10 years ago and we knew from experience our family would enjoy it. Eleven of us did the land tour from Anchorage to Denali before the cruise, and then we were joined by 5 more at the ship for the cruise. We had a total of 16, 8 adults and 8 children. The land portion went great, Princess really handles the land portion well and we all enjoyed the McKinley and Denali lodges. Our rooms at both locations were very nice. We stayed in the newer A/B lodge at the top of the hill and our rooms were very modern and spacious. The train ride from Denali to Whittier was a highlight of the trip, especially since we got to see Denali mountain several times along the route. Lunch in the dining car was very good. They came around to see who wanted lunch and then came and got us as our time approached. Food was also very good--highly recommend the reindeer chili. Embarkation at the ship was handled well. Princess reps boarded out train at Wasilla and we completed the embarkation process prior to arriving at Whittier. Even so, by the time we got off the train and into the terminal the lines were long going through security and that took awhile to get onboard. We had set dining at 7:30 pm with two tables to accommodate our family. Although we wanted earlier dining, this worked better for us as we were getting back from excursions late on several days. Dining seemed to take longer than usual so we started ordering our desserts when we received our entrees to ensure we made the 9:30 entertainment in the Princess Theater. We took multiple excursions and everyone enjoyed them. My favorite was the Denali flight and glacier landing from Talkeetna. Hint, if the pilot starts talking about the right seat being open during his preflight spiel, quickly raise your hand for that co-pilot seat. I did and I had fantastic views of the mountain and scenery from the front of the airplane. Puppies came onboard at Skagway and the lines were very long but they moved well. It took about 30 minutes for us to get our turn and then our pup slept the entire time. Glacier viewing was superb on the south bound trip. Onboard naturalists and part rangers gave informative and interesting talks about flora, fauna, and natural sights. Angelito, our cabin attendant, was the best ever. He went beyond what is normal to ensure our cruise was the most enjoyable one we've had. Disembarkation went very smoothly and there were lots of taxis available to take us to our hotel. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
My husband and I traveled with another couple. We are all in our 60's. We have cruised many times, mostly with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean although with have been on Norwegian, Carnival and this was our 3rd cruise with Princess. ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with another couple. We are all in our 60's. We have cruised many times, mostly with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean although with have been on Norwegian, Carnival and this was our 3rd cruise with Princess. We took the land tour first. We arrived in Anchorage around 8:30pm a day early, since we wanted to spend a day there and get acclimated to the time change. (We're from Florida, so it was a 4 hour difference). My tip is DO NOT opt for the Princess transfers from the airport to the ship. We arrived a bit tired and hungry.We ended up having to wait 2 hours for all the flights to come in before we could board the bus to the hotel. Of course that means there were about 4 or 5 different hotels to drop people off at. At least ours the Captain Cook, was the first drop off point. The young bus driver was so chipper and happy to show off Alaska, but no one on the bus cared about her cheery comments and jokes. We all were very weary travelers and just wanted to get to our hotels. We could have easily grabbed a cab at our convenience and got to our hotel at least an hour and a half earlier if we had not opted for the transfers. The check in was smooth and we got to our room and crashed. We just ended up breaking into our stash of snacks we brought on the plane again because no one was in the mood to go to a restaurant or even grab any food. We slept in, and went to the Snow City Cafe for breakfast. It was just ok. We had been there 10 years ago and a lot has changed. They're still busy, but they've enlarged the restaurant. There was still a bit of a wait, so prepare for that if you go there. We went to the Anchorage Market on 3rd Avenue and E Street. It's an easy walk from the hotel and a fun way to spend some time if you're there on Saturday or Sunday. They play the Star Spangled Banner to kick off the day at 10am. It was a nice touch. We walked around Anchorage a bit more and had a lunch at Glacier Brewhouse good. We were seated quickly and the service and food was great. We realized we needed to make reservations for dinner because we wanted to go to Simon and Seafort's for dinner so I made an online reservation. We ended up sitting in the bar area near the windows, at Simon and Seafort's which was fine with us. They had an early bird menu (not available for holidays) but they have a nice selection of appetizers and lighter choices as well as their dinner menu. Two of us got appetizers and 2 of us got dinners. Everyone enjoyed their meal, the atmosphere and the drinks. The next day we started our land tour and were off to Princess Mt McKinley Lodge. Now on our previous Royal Caribbean Land tour, we had a tour guide for our tour. This time there was just the bus driver. She was very informative and all, but it still felt like something was missing. We had several questions about the tour in general, but there was no one to answer them. We made about a 45 minute stop were we could grab some food/snacks for our room and we took advantage of that. I had read some poor reviews about the lodge, so I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. We were in Bldg 18 at the end of the building on the 2nd floor--I think the room was 225. I would compare it to La Quinta. Our room was clean and the bed and pillows were comfortable. We walked around through the trails and then went to the lodge to play cards and grab some food. The food and drinks were just ok. We had a table with nice views of Mt McKinley. The bar staff was not great, but the front desk people were awesome. The next morning we ate breakfast at 20320 Alaskan Grill which was very good. Then we played cards at the lodge to kill time before we boarded the bus to Denali. We had a different bus driver this time, who again pointed things out along the way and was informative. At both lodges, you don't even need to check in--you just get off the bus and they ask your name and give you an envelope with the next day's instructions (meeting time, place), info about the lodge and your room keys. Very efficient and convenient. Our friends were only across the hall the first time but ended up on the other side of the building at Denali even though our room were only 1 number apart. This time we were in the Wolf Den, Building D room 225 again (I think). Again the room was fine. Clean and comfortable, but nothing spectacular. We grabbed lunch at the Grizzly Burger and the food was very good. Fast foodish, but tasty. We had booked the Tundra Wilderness Tour, which is the 7-8 hour tour of Denali National Park and Preserve for that afternoon. Our travel agent recommended we upgrade to the longer tour and we were (half) glad we did. We saw a mother bear and her cub at mile 61 of the 62 mile tour. We did see several caribou, Dall sheep, rabbits, Bald Eagles as well. The tour takes place on a school bus, so it's not a very comfortable ride for 7-8 hours. But the driver stopped as we spotted animals and zoomed in with a camera and displayed it on the screens on the bus so everyone could get a look even if you didn't use the binoculars or your own equipment. This was a long day. The next day we headed out for the Princess Alaska train to Whittier. We were assigned seats, but rarely sat in them. We went to breakfast which was very good, then sat in the next car that is the "lounge car" which has several booths. These seats might be assigned if the train is full, but ours was not, so we played cards and enjoyed the scenery. You may move from car to car or view the scenery from the trestle outside between cars if you want. It was a pleasant trip and we spotted a moose and Dall sheep along the way. Check in to the ship was again a breeze-- much easier than I thought it would be. Princess sure has all the check ins on the land tour down pat. Very smooth process. We did the Skagway train which everyone raves about. I was impressed with the story and some of the scenery, but really felt I could have skipped it. Maybe it was because I had been on the train for 8 hours the previous day. We went back to the ship after that as we had toured Skagway previously and didn't need to shop. In Juneau we did a Whale watching tour which was very good. It was a pretty brisk morning, and I thought we'd be cold on the boat, but it is completely enclosed (unless you want to be on the top deck). We stayed on the bottom deck and had great views. We were served donut holes and coffee or hot cocoa. It was a really nice, fun tour. We saw several whales, Bald Eagles, and sea lions. Again, we went back to the ship. In Ketchikan we went on the Wildlife Safari and Beach Bonfire tour. We saw a couple humpback whale blows, a few bald eagles and some sea lions but that was about it. The safari part was a bit disappointing to me. I was hoping to see more larger animals around the shores, but it really seemed like the tour was more about the bonfire. That turned out to be much better than I thought. We were met by members of the Metlakatla tribe and they shared their history, songs and stories. It was very interesting and the young people were fun to talk to--very proud of their culture and reviving it within their tribe. I enjoyed them a lot. We had a little tour where a guide pointed out some plants and trees. We had reindeer dogs and s'mores which we cooked ourselves at the bonfire. Chips and drinks were also served. It was a better tour than I was expecting. I think this may have been the day when we had Puppies in the PIazza. I love puppies but I think I would skip this next time and go straight to the bar for martinis! We got in line at 4:30pm and the "event" started at 5. Lots of people and no real organization to start, so no one really knew were to line up. A passenger (who I guess had done it before and knew what to expect) told us how it would go and we ended up to be in the first group. They brought out 4 puppies for 50+ people to pet. You got about 5 seconds--enough time for them to take a picture they could charge you for later. Crooners bar was great--see John. He's awesome and will hook you up with martinis that aren't even on the menu. Just ask. The food in the dining room was just OK. We only ate there 3 times. The pizza and burgers were always good at the pizza and grill areas. Ice cream cones, at the ice cream stations were great, too. One day they had fish tacos, but we didn't go up to the grill that day. The buffet was pretty good. We didn't take in any shows; they didn't interest us this time. We received a note in our cabin that there was a high rate of illness on this cruise so maybe it's a good thing we weren't in the public areas as much as usual. We did spend a lot of time in the card room and Crooners. The band was great but I forget the name. We could hear it in the card room a few nights. We had the transfers to the airport and I would definitely do this again. The process was a breeze. We had to have our bags out before we went to dinner the last night. Oh and if you do sign up for the transfers, when you get that disembarkation memo a few days into the cruise, don't ignore it like we did. Luckily, my husband happened to read it and we filled out the customs documentation and turned it in 10 minutes before the deadline. They have to have all that info well ahead of departure time. All in all it was a great trip. The main objective was to get away and see the beauty of Alaska and we did that. Cruising is not what it used to be, but it's still a very good value. 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Sail Date June 2019
We are a couple in our 60’s who decided to try our first cruisetour because we found a good deal. It was Princess’ “On Your Own CBX Tour” southbound (Fairbanks 2 nights and Denali 1 night). After our land tour, the tour group ... Read More
We are a couple in our 60’s who decided to try our first cruisetour because we found a good deal. It was Princess’ “On Your Own CBX Tour” southbound (Fairbanks 2 nights and Denali 1 night). After our land tour, the tour group boarded the Golden Princess for a Whittier to Vancouver cruise. We’ve been on Alaska cruises before, so we decided not to sign up for shore excursions for this cruise. We arrived in Fairbanks two days before the June 5th Princess cruisetour to relax and explore the town independently using a rental car. My dear Capt. Casual booked us at the Best Western Plus Pioneer Park Inn, a good choice for its quiet location and the typical Best Western breakfast buffet that’s included in the room rate. This hotel’s check-in time is 3:00pm, which is an hour earlier than some other hotels. Ice Museum in downtown Fairbanks: This starts at the top of the hour - we watched a film, then donned warm jackets that were provided and went into the ice sculpture area and looked around and took selfies (you get 20 minutes in this area). The man (Andy) took some photos for us, too. There is even a sculpted ice slide you can ride. Afterwards, Andy did an ice sculpting demonstration. University of Alaska’s Museum of the North: This was OK. Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we missed the films; but at least parking was free by that time. We drove out to see the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. There is a viewpoint not too far from Fairbanks. Afterwards we drove to the town of North Pole (about 13 miles from Fairbanks). Cards and letters mailed from there get the famous “North Pole” postmark. While we were in North Pole, we found the Antler Academy of Flying & Reindeer Games. We learned about the reindeer and fed them — they’re not shy about coming up to you when you have food! Riverboat Discovery sternwheeler: Their brochure says “Voted the Best Boat Tour in North America.” I was skeptical at first, but now they can count on my vote, too. This is an interesting, informative and professionally run excursion. Capt. Casual would want me to also mention the free coffee and donuts aboard the boat, and later, salmon spread on crackers. Tip: try to sit on the left side of the boat. Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center: It’s well set up, and is supposed to be your first stop in Fairbanks - exhibits, lots of tourist information, gift shop, cultural gift shop featuring handmade items, cultural show, etc. We attended the Cultural Connections Show ($10) featuring Native teens who perform cultural dances they’ve learned from their elders, and who talk about their traditional foods and culture. The young people do a Q&A session at the end of the show. It was nice to see/hear how much of their culture the elders are imparting to the next generation. On the day our Princess arrangements were to begin, we returned the rental car to the airport and headed to baggage claim to find the Princess representative. Their airport shuttle toted us and our luggage to our assigned hotel, Bear Lodge. FYI, the hotel was not assigned until about a month before the trip. Our room was not ready yet (it was only 1:45pm and check-in time is not until 4:00pm), so we waited in the lobby. Some others were able to get their rooms earlier. It would’ve been useful to receive Bear Lodge’s information about the shuttle, property and map during check-in, or even better, during the hours we were waiting for a room. It was hard to appreciate finding it slipped under our door later that evening! By then, it was pouring rain.... Sunrise/sunset/weather: In early June, sunset in Fairbanks isn’t until after midnight. Sunrise was at about 3:30am. Thank goodness for good blackout curtains! Fairbanks temperatures went up to about 76F. Air conditioning at Bear Lodge was rather noisy. Best to pack for dressing in layers. Luggage handling: I have to commend Princess on their luggage handling. They seem to have it down to a science. We were given bright green “join me tonight” tags for bags to be sent ahead to our hotel in Denali, and bright pink “join me onboard” tags for luggage we could send ahead to join us on the ship. Onward to Denali: A shuttle bus took us to the station for our train trip to Denali National Park. We boarded a dome-windowed train car. It was GoldStar Service class, which included lunch. Nice scenery along the way. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge: Shortly before we exited the highway to go to the hotel, there was a moose in the lake. You might want to keep an eye out for this lake on the left side, in case he hangs out there often. Tundra Wilderness Tour: Tip - Do what you can to avoid the infamous fold-your-legs-into-your-lap wheelwell seats! Not sure what happened, but even though I knew to avoid that row.... oh, nevermind, let’s not talk about it..... The bus does not have a restroom, so they take rest breaks about every 90 minutes. We saw caribou, a grizzly sow and its cub. Our driver Bruce pointed out a moose in the distance. It was hard for me to tell, though— but Bruce looked pretty honest, so I took his word for it. He also said it was rare for Denali that we saw a jaeger bird. Unfortunately, Mt. McKinley was hidden. The tour lasted from 2:00 to about 9:00pm. Saturday, June 8 - motorcoach drive to Whittier: We saw some wildlife (even a recognizable moose!) along the way. The itinerary had stated the lunch stop would be in Anchorage, but our bus and several others stopped in the little town of Talkeetna. We opted for a quick cheeseburger from Shirley’s Burger Barn, then a little shopping. Note: a shop two doors down from the Princess office had a sign in the window advertising a clean restroom. They do take optional donations towards maintaining restroom supplies. It’s worth it. Capt. Casual did not recommend the restroom on our bus. There is a narrow tunnel through the mountain on the road leading to the Whittier pier. They alternate letting traffic through the tunnel in one direction, and then the other. At about 6:00pm, we arrived at the ship. Embarkation: Check-in was the fastest and smoothest ever! I think we had a short line because we’d come from the landtour bus. They scanned our passports and handed us our keycards. The security line was long, but painless. Our ID photos were taken by the security officer who scanned our keycards as we boarded. Cabin location: We’d somewhat reluctantly booked a Balcony cabin next to the Aft elevators. (Remember, we got a good price.) We were pleasantly surprised and relieved that we did not have noise problems due to the elevators. We would consider booking this type of location again. I knew ahead of time from CruiseCritic that our balcony on Dolphin deck 9 was not covered. It is visible to balconies above. Horizon Court (buffet) seating tip: Sometimes food service is only open on one side of the ship. If you’re having trouble finding a table, you can still sit on the opposite (closed) side. The waiters were very helpful. Pizza: Yummy! International Court - open 24/7: Simple (free) food like sandwiches, pastries, desserts. I enjoyed the BBQ sandwich - they will warm it in a press, if you’d like. There is a charge for coffee drinks at Int’l Cafe. Gold Latitudes meeting: No refreshments, but the ship’s singers performed a couple of songs, sounded great. At the end of the program, we were given a voucher for a complimentary beverage (up to $12 USD). Maintenance: Much attention was given to explaining the toilet system and how your toilet affects a WHOLE ZONE. “Only paper, poop, and pee.” Thankfully, we didn’t see the water leakage problems noted in reviews earlier this year - except a fan in the hallway where we embarked. Comedian Carl Banks had everyone laughing all throughout his show. Ventriloquist Dan Horn was entertaining. Movies on TV: I wish they would show a few additional movies, not just repeating the same ones. Disembarkation: We used the ship’s Direct-to-Bus transfer to Vancouver airport. It was our first time using this service. It worked out well, and our luggage was waiting for us at the airport, to be checked in. I would consider using this disembarkation again. IMHO, it’s better to do the land tour BEFORE the cruise rather than afterwards. I’m so glad we did, as I got sick at the end of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had been to Alaska before but never done the land tour before. We selected the tour we wanted and the Golden Princess happened to be the ship for the cruise. The Golden is an older ship but in good condition, in my opinion. We ... Read More
We had been to Alaska before but never done the land tour before. We selected the tour we wanted and the Golden Princess happened to be the ship for the cruise. The Golden is an older ship but in good condition, in my opinion. We enjoyed the cabin and the staff did a great job. We were in a suite on the Sun deck which I was worried about at first but have to say I loved it. Great views and very quiet area. Plus our cabin steward was excellent. The food in the MDR was good each night but some of the guest we dined with did not get the best quality of food depending on what they ordered. Enjoyed the entertainers in, what used to be called Crooners but now, Promenade bar. The service there was on point and it filled up each night. I was disappointed in Vines on the Golden as there was hardly anyone there even staff most of the time. They have changed the wine list and increased the prices along with not have on site sushi chef. The ports were enjoyable along with shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We just returned from a wonderful cruise to Alaska. We did the land tour first followed by a cruise. Definitely my preferred order. My group loved the size of the Coral Princess. It could get into the bays and near the Glaciers the ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful cruise to Alaska. We did the land tour first followed by a cruise. Definitely my preferred order. My group loved the size of the Coral Princess. It could get into the bays and near the Glaciers the larger ships can't get near. The staff was wonderful, so friendly and helpful. Try the margaritas in the Crooners Lounge, they are the BEST! The beds are incredibly comfy! We slept so well. We choose anytime dining and ended up asking for Carlos each night because he was so wonderful. He spoiled us. He had wonderful suggestions and was so kind. (Breakfast in the dining room wasn't as great, so we just ate upstairs.) The friends we traveled with aren't cruisers and even they were impressed. I think we'll all cruise together again! *Apparently several people had respiratory flue issues on the cruise but we washed our hands a lot and were fine. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise hoping for spectacular scenery and we weren't disappointed! It was end of season and prices were discounted in every port because businesses wouldn't see cruise ship passengers until next spring. Weather ... Read More
We chose this cruise hoping for spectacular scenery and we weren't disappointed! It was end of season and prices were discounted in every port because businesses wouldn't see cruise ship passengers until next spring. Weather was outstanding, blue skies most of the time so snow-covered mountain ranges were visible. Excellent photography opportunities. Sailing into Glacier Bay was a special treat. Watching and hearing multiple glaciers calving is not to be missed. Ice-blue pieces of glacier floated by the ship. It's amazing that only 1/3 of the chunk is visible above the water line. Some were as big as houses, so it gives you an idea of how massive they are. Many had sea lions basking on top. Food and service were outstanding. Club Class cabin had separate anytime dining area with no waiting. Food was better than Celebrity which up until this cruise was our favorite. The only negative was food at Sabatini's which was lukewarm at best, and tomato sauce was runny and bland. Don't waste your money for a "premium" meal. . Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We absolutely recommend this cruise! This cruise was on our bucket list and now we want to repeat it! The scenery was breathtaking! Glaciers, mountain ranges, whales... Alaska is a wilderness to be preserved and enjoyed for ... Read More
We absolutely recommend this cruise! This cruise was on our bucket list and now we want to repeat it! The scenery was breathtaking! Glaciers, mountain ranges, whales... Alaska is a wilderness to be preserved and enjoyed for generations! It is a vast wonderland everyone should experience. The ship and its crew exceeded our expectations. We were pampered and treated with respect by everyone. The food was phenomenal and abundant. Formal dinners (2) if you desired, casual dinners, and of course, the ever popular buffet with panoramic views out the front of the ship. Food in all dining venues was top notch - including escargot (my first), lobster, king crab and salmon! Prepared by a superb chef! Even the pizza and deck grill were enjoyed! Not a detail was overlooked. Onboard activities were very organized and abundant, ranging from naturalist presentations, comedians, wildlife photographer, Photography lessons, behind the scenes tour of the Kitchen (very cool), movies under the stars, dancing lessons.... Something for everyone! Food, cabin, service and scenery was exceptional! Highly recommend! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose Princess Cruise to Alaska because of their reputation and presence in that area. We found our mini suite to be clean and comfortable with ample room for the two of us. The Bordeaux dining room was very pleasant, the service first ... Read More
We chose Princess Cruise to Alaska because of their reputation and presence in that area. We found our mini suite to be clean and comfortable with ample room for the two of us. The Bordeaux dining room was very pleasant, the service first rate and the food was excellent making dinner each evening a real treat. There was more than enough to do on board, we particularly enjoyed the evening entertainment in the Princess Theater. Our on shore excursions were well done and enjoyable. We took the narrow gauge railroad trip back into the mountains from Skagway, from Juneau we made a trip to the Mendenhall glacier and later went on a whale watching boat ride. There were quite a number of whales in the area. Our third trip was a trail hike on a temperate rain forest island. This cruise is ideal for people interested in nature and wildlife. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
WE chose this cruise because of this was a part of the United states we most wanted to explore, WE are in our 70's and are just strartingto do a lot of traveling and have chosen Princess because of the wounderful adventure they ... Read More
WE chose this cruise because of this was a part of the United states we most wanted to explore, WE are in our 70's and are just strartingto do a lot of traveling and have chosen Princess because of the wounderful adventure they offer. Our first cruise with with family and was great but the second cruise was just the two of us and this one also. We plan on many more with Orincess. The staff is wonderful, the ships are clen and beautiful. Navagation on getting around the ship is very easy. Going ashore has never been a problem weather by tether or docking and time limits ashore give plenty of time for excurshings. The food aboard is excellent wether it be the evening dining, buffet, or just a hamburger,pizza or an icecream come is great. Swimming is wonderful weather pemitting, the pools and hot tubs are always very clean. Deck chairs comfortable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Fully met all our expectations from boarding to disenbarkation. The staff were all friendly, helpful and patient, and made our voyage fun, relaxed and one to remember for a lifetime. Our room steward was so sweet and friendly and she ... Read More
Fully met all our expectations from boarding to disenbarkation. The staff were all friendly, helpful and patient, and made our voyage fun, relaxed and one to remember for a lifetime. Our room steward was so sweet and friendly and she worked hard to make our room clean and functional each day. Getting on the ship at the beginning and leaving on the last day ran as smooth as silk. No stress and felt well taken care of. The food was excellent and well prepared. We were served promptly and courteously in both the Horizon Court and the Bordeaux dining room. I had a special diet and Arthur, the head waiter made sure my dietary needs were met with friendliness and professionalism. Our waitresses served us like we were royalty. The meals were delicious. The nightly entertainment was enjoyable and varied , from a magic show to musicals. We looked forward each night to our date night. I would give this cruise a 10 and would definitely cruise again with Princess Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This is our 4th cruise with princess so I can compare our experience to the previous cruises. We started this cruise from Vancouver going to Alaska for 7 days. In general all the princess ships are the same design so it was easy for us ... Read More
This is our 4th cruise with princess so I can compare our experience to the previous cruises. We started this cruise from Vancouver going to Alaska for 7 days. In general all the princess ships are the same design so it was easy for us to get around the ship. We had a very nice cabin, very clean with a nice balcony. So as far as the cabin is concern I would rate it 4 stars. But no internet!! What we noticed is that the food got worse compare with the previous princess cruises. 1-The lunch and breakfast buffet are identical every day with not much variety. 2-Because it is colder outside and not too many people sit to eat on the outside deck there is not many places you can find to sit and enjoy your breakfast. In matter of fact some days we had a hard time finding a table. 3- There are red ropes limiting the entry and exit from the buffet to the tables and back only through but not between the food blocks (this is something new compare to other ships) this caused an increase of traffic in the entrance / exit to the buffet. 4- The international café that we enjoyed on the Coral Princess is no where to find on this ship with it’s great French cakes. When I asked I was told that they don’t have it on the Island Princess, just coffee that you can purchase, very sad as we enjoyed a nice music there and a good desert every afternoon but no more. 5- As for the any time dinner there was a long lineup every day average about half an hour, something I don’t remember was at any other ship on our previous cruises. So as far as food I would rate it 3.5 stars. At the end of the cruise we had a bus transfer to the Anchorage airport and the way they handled the luggage was very very bad. The guy in charge, Tony refused to allow us to take our luggage and made us wait beside to luggage storage room for 1.0 hour, many people were angry and it left a very bad taste at the end of the cruise. I have to say that the luggage in Vancouver was handled very well.We like the entertainment and the nature guide. We got an e-mail from Princess cruises to review the cruise but after few days when I tried to respond the web ling was not available and said it was timed out, very sad!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This is a very long review with a lot of detail. Summary: Golden Princess June 9, Inside Passage S/B Whittier AK to Vancouver BC Cabin B737 Aft Starboard Veranda Cabin This is our 4th Princess cruise - Ruby level Captains ... Read More
This is a very long review with a lot of detail. Summary: Golden Princess June 9, Inside Passage S/B Whittier AK to Vancouver BC Cabin B737 Aft Starboard Veranda Cabin This is our 4th Princess cruise - Ruby level Captains Circle. (Our last sailing was a 12 day New Zealand cruise in Feb of 2016) We took a pre-cruise FB4 land tour. Fairbanks River Lodge, Denali Wilderness Lodge, McKinley Princess Lodge, Train from Talkeetna to Whittier. The land portion will be reviewed separately. We chose this cruise because of other family members already booked on this cruise/tour. About Us: We are an active couple in our late 50’s and mid 60’s. My husband and I have sailed on quite a few cruises. Mostly mainstream cruise lines. Our most recent cruise prior to this may have tainted this review because it was on a more upscale cruise line and it was an extended voyage on a very small ship. We got pretty spoiled and our cruise bar has been permanently raised. Nevertheless we had realistic expectations on the Golden Princess. Our last Princess voyage was a 12 night New Zealand on the Diamond Princess - similar in size and passenger/crew ratio and only a slightly newer vessel, but built in Japan and designed with that market in mind. We had a good time on that cruise mainly due to the itinerary but with many similar complaints. It seems Princess is either not listening or they don’t care to improve. This cruise/tour was a first for us. We did an Alaskan land tour combined with a 7 night inside passage southbound cruise. We had never sailed in anything other than warm weather before nor ever taken such an organized tour via any cruise line. This is probably not the place to review the land portion, but I will say that Princess did an excellent job of providing communication, transportation between points, moving luggage and arranging large, but enjoyable land tours in Alaska. The cruise portion was enjoyable. Our intent is always try to make the most of any cruise, even when things go wrong. Bad shows, disappointing food, illness, missed ports .. this will happens to some extent on every cruise at every level. So my motto is: There is no such thing as a bad cruise. Being at sea, being lulled to sleep by the rocking and vibration of the ship, beautiful vistas everywhere, exotic ports of call and being waited by smiling faces. But taking all that into consideration the food and dining experience was painfully disappointing. From menu selections to food quality to presentation. Princess is sliding backwards and seem to be catering only to those who have nothing else to compare to... 1st time cruisers. Cabin: Our stateroom B737 (Baja deck #11) was comfortable and clean. We had an aft starboard balcony stateroom. We had a wonderfully attentive and friendly cabin steward from India named “Tony”. Itinerary: We thought the itinerary was wonderful. Whittier-Hubbard Glacier-Glacier Bay-Skagway-Juneau-Ketchikan-Sea day-Vancouver. No tendering. Ample time over 2 days to meander into Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay with lots of time to take it all in. There were park rangers on board to talk about the glaciers, the people, the local habitat and such and it was quite a new experience for us to be bundled up on deck with puffy coats and blue jeans and boots on drinking an Irish Coffee to warm up! We had the most amazing weather too. The captain and the crew kept saying how we brought the sunshine with us! Dining: The ship boasted several main dining rooms (MDR’s) and 2 specialty dining rooms. Neither of which we could get a reservation for. We waited until we were onboard to book a night or two in one of these “fine dining” upcharge restaurants because we had a large on board credit from our travel agency. When you book dining in advance you must pay for it without using your shipboard credit. But once onboard we found out that there were no reservations for ANY specialty dining restaurants for ANY night - ANY time. (The standard practice is to save some specialty dining table reservations to be booked on board) We had a private conversation with one of the head waiters of the Crown Grill and he was apologetic and stated that “corporate” had allowed too many reservations ahead of time from passengers booking online and from travel agents giving dining perks to their clients. He felt bad but all he could do was put us on a very long waiting list. Even one of our family members who is an Elite Captains Club Member could not secure a reservation for our small group of 4. So we were “stuck” in the MDR. Table #263 in the Canaletto dining room every night at 7:30. We could have gone to the Donatello “anytime” dining room, but we would have spent time standing in line waiting for a table. Our waitstaff “Jed” from the Philippines and “Sinisha” from Serbia were our team of waiter/assistant waiter. The first few days I felt like we were a chore for them, but as the week progressed, they both delighted us with more personality and time to bond and interact. This is one of the fundamental parts of a great cruise experience. The relationships between passengers and crew. Maybe not everyone feels that way, but we do. We respect them for their choices and are usually interested in their lives and hope to love them so much we want to take them home with us..... (Not really.. but hopefully you understand my meaning). Most people return from their cruises - remembering the people who they interacted with far more than the places they visited. But the food in the dining room was very disappointing. Service was rushed. There were no sommeliers on board. They would just drop the menu on your lap and come back with a quick suggestion for the menu that evening and start round the table taking orders. Most of the courses had decent presentation but were not well prepared. And let me add that my husband and I are adventurous eaters. The staples were not well prepared. In fact there were no staples like a NY steak or onion soup or a fresh piece of grilled fish. In 7 days we never had a steak dinner. We had some “Prince” crab legs. (To call them King would be an injustice). We had lobster tails that were a musty color and mushy texture and would have been sent back in any standalone restaurant. Our first night I ordered prime rib, medium rare. It tasted more like chuck roast and it was medium well with a lot of fat and gravy surrounding the meat. Among our group of extended family at table 263 was someone who worked in the food service industry for over 30 years, marketing dinnerware, linens, food prep equipment and food products, aiding restaurant owners and chef’s to create and design menus that satisfied customers and made profits for the restaurant owners. Her last Princess experience was quite a few years ago and she had expectations of Princess past. She and her companion also felt ... as we did that the quality of the food and the selection of menu had greatly dipped below par. On the final night we managed to get a last minute reservation for Sabatini’s Italian restaurant at 5:30 pm. We have sailed on many cruises offering “specialty dining” for upcharges ranging from $10 to $35. Usually it is worth the extra to have a slow meal with service and food far above the the main dining room experience. In the case of Sabtini’s ($25 cover charge per person) we were very disappointed to see the dining room styled after a Trattoria - without table linens and without a slow dining attitude. The shared appetizer was a wheat bread served in a funnel of parchment paper with prosciutto and a basket of rolls and breadsticks with sides of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The menu actually depicted in writing we were only able to order 1 item from each course and the wait staff also explained this to us at the table. No tableside Caesar salad. No Osso Bucco, No Veal or Chicken Picatta, no Saltimboca, no zuppa di minestrone. And worst of all .... no slow eating experience. It was a longer dining experience from the MDR but not at all what we should have received from the $50 upcharge. My Veal Scallopini .. more like Cordón Blue - cheesy - oily and heavily breaded. My soup was supposed to be a mushroom “fondue” but it was watery. My husbands “fritte” was merely tempura. Our waiter offered to bring me something but nothing appealed to me. While writing this review I wanted to look up the name of the chef. I found a YouTube video of this same restaurant from 2013 where it was set up like the brochure and they panned the menu and took video of the dinner. This is what we expected to pay for.. not a trattoria experience with truly unappetizing food. (I take photos of all my food -I will post what they will allow me to). To end this terrible evening after having them take my entree away we ordered dessert. The presentation of the sampler was beautiful with 4 mini glasses of different desserts. Our waiter took our order which included an espresso and a capuchino .. neither of which came to the table. Afterwards when my husband walked by the restaurant later that night, he stopped in to speak with the head waiter and politely explain our disenchantment - - he offered to remove the charge from our account, but instead of doing that - he billed us another $25. We had to make a trip to the Pursers desk to straighten that out. They should have removed both charges, not just one.. but 1/2 an effort was made. The Horizon Court Buffet was our option for breakfast most mornings. Friendly staff, but nothing really appetizing. Whole fruits were not always ripe. I asked for an omelette most days and special ordered it to be made with fresh eggs (vs the egg mixture they ladle into the omelette pans). I enjoyed those and I enjoyed my daily fix of Congee. An Asian/Indonesian porridge served with green onions, salsa and pickled kimchee. On the glacier days at sea they also offered steaming hot cups of either Miso broth or Chicken broth poolside with some garnishment veggies to help warm you up on deck. This was a very simple treat I thought was a nice touch. They also passed out warm plaid blankets to anyone roaming the decks on glacier days to help stay warm. The coffee in the MDR and especially the buffet was just terrible. Forcing you to go to the International Cafe on deck 5 to purchase an Americano or Capuchino at $4.95 per order. I probably should have pre-purchased a specialty coffee card. I think it is absolutely ludicrous that Princess and most mainstream cruise lines do not offer a decent cup of coffee or bottled water free of charge to their customers. $4.95 bought us a 1/2 gallon of water in our cabin. Since we were traveling to a cold climate for the first time we decided to not purchase a beverage package. Princess wanted $59.95 per person per day. Instead we enjoyed 5 bottles of wine ranging from $33-48 per bottle and cocktails most days ranging from $7.95 - $11.75 and found it made better sense on this trip to buy as-you-go. Entertainment: Here is where I can give the Golden Princess a thumbs up. This ships entertainment was the highlight of the cruise for me. The production singers and dancers were truly all talented dancers and equally wonderful singers. The choreography and sets were clever and anyone with an eye for quality performance could appreciate this. Bravo.!! The crowd however - never rose to their feet as they should have for any of their performances. Our sailing also had a comedian/musician who had bronchitis and was unable to do much of his regular show, but he was entertaining nonetheless. Another headliner did a cheesy Dolly Parton tribute which we didn’t like so we didn’t attend her second show. Skywalkers bar - a nice concept, but the people mover was out of order for several days leading up to it. The windows over the jetway leading to it were unbelievably dirty * (as were most of the windows on the ship - dining rooms - balconies - everywhere). The ship is in general disrepair. We didn’t notice the usual crews painting or lacquering the rails during the voyage. Wheelhouse Bar - was a nice classy little place for a cocktail and on some nights there was a bluesy band in there playing great dance music. Bravo again. Elsewhere on the ship there was a piano man who had a good crowd nightly. There was a duet of gals who played folk music. There was another duet of classical music and a pianist who played some beautiful tunes in the Atrium. There was plenty of music and fun to be had on this ship as well as trivia, moose racing, bingo, art auctions, casino tournaments, shopping events. We got together with other bridge players on one day for non-hosted social bridge. The cruise director John was - so typical of a mainstream cruise line. He was everywhere and always smiling and getting others to participate in different activities on board. We just get a little tired of hearing the same thing from them with the same tone of voice and choice of words. They also tend to work too hard to try and make us “appreciate” all the hard work being done for us on the ship by all the personnel. I can’t imagine anyone on board not seeing this for themselves. All I can say is that it will take a pretty unique itinerary for us to ever book another Princess cruise based on this last experience. We are only Ruby level Captains Club members.. it looks like that will never change. Food is too much of a highlight on a cruise where you are sequestered for all your meals. Good food is essential. We know you cannot have it all, but we have learned that a smaller more intimate ship albeit fewer activities but a higher level of customer service and a truely exquisite dining experience is more our style. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The Princess part of our journey was very smooth. On ship our inside cabin was plenty big with excellent storage. All staff gave excellent service but the sewer smell in certain areas was not pleasant. The buffet service area and seating ... Read More
The Princess part of our journey was very smooth. On ship our inside cabin was plenty big with excellent storage. All staff gave excellent service but the sewer smell in certain areas was not pleasant. The buffet service area and seating seemed disjointed but was not a problem. We wish the casino was non smoking, especially as you have to walk through it to get between certain areas. Also there were a couple areas you had to watch out for drips. Skywalk was being repaired & some restroom stalls were closed for maintenance. Wasn’t this ship just in dry dock? Those things are minor though compared to our total enjoyment of Alaska and the great service of all cruise staff we interacted with. We would not discount another Princess cruise although it probably isn’t our first choice. Itinerary trumps minor inconvenience and sometimes Princess hits the nail on the head. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The Princess cruise was our friend's suggestion, and the six of us were totally happy with it - we all had a wonderful, memorable time! I was happily surprised at the crew and staff's friendliness and helpfulness. The food, ... Read More
The Princess cruise was our friend's suggestion, and the six of us were totally happy with it - we all had a wonderful, memorable time! I was happily surprised at the crew and staff's friendliness and helpfulness. The food, sights, entertainment, and everything else were excellent. The only fault I noticed was a door latch that needed some attention on the top, outside deck. This is a commendation, considering the complexity of the ship and that everything else about it was in perfect... er... a... shipshape! We especially liked the close encounters with huge, ancient glaciers, which were complimented by an on-board naturalist expounding on what we were seeing over the ship's loudspeakers. The captain made it even better by turning the ship slowly, full circle to give everyone a full view. God helped by giving us mostly sunny days, especially at the glaciers. I totally recommend this cruise to anyone looking for a fantastic vacation you will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
A chance to see Alaska. Boarded in Whittier on May 26th. All seemed ok the first night. However as the week progressed, we were subjected to a sewage smell throughout the ship. The food was mediocre at best in any of the dining options. we ... Read More
A chance to see Alaska. Boarded in Whittier on May 26th. All seemed ok the first night. However as the week progressed, we were subjected to a sewage smell throughout the ship. The food was mediocre at best in any of the dining options. we never ate in the specialty restaurants. There were water drips on the top deck and the carpet in our stateroom was stained and wet by the balcony door. Entertainment was pretty boring. Getting off and on in ports was easy. Bedding was comfortable- in fact that was the best part! Bar staff and room steward were great. Some of the wait staff in the dining options were good but overall felt as if we were bothering them by being there. Disappointed that we were charged $13.50 a day in tips when they did not deserve it. Would prefer to tip based on service. Golden Princess needs a lot of work. Rarely saw any of the ships top managers. Would not cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
1.We enjoyed our meals in the Horizon Grill (buffet). Service was good and the view out of the large floor to ceiling windows was fantastic. Salad and fruits were very fresh – impressive considering that we were on the Alaska cruise. ... Read More
1.We enjoyed our meals in the Horizon Grill (buffet). Service was good and the view out of the large floor to ceiling windows was fantastic. Salad and fruits were very fresh – impressive considering that we were on the Alaska cruise. Fresh lettuce and fruit must be hard to get this far north. 2. Staff were uniformly helpful and very efficient, yet they were not obtrusive. William, our steward, did a good job, he introduced himself to us on the first day and we saw him a good bit in the hall and if we need something we could ask him. He also provided a pager # to reach him. One little thing stood out for me regarding the staff, I was in the Horizon grill and saw a staff member walk by with a plate of food – I assumed he was taking it to someone and I causally mentioned to him that they had run out of horseradish for the pork. I thought he would deliver the plate of food and then take care of the horseradish, much to my surprise he went off into the kitchen area to get the horseradish restocked, later I saw him eating. While I was impressed by this level of service I was embarrassed to have interrupted his meal 3. The room size (we had the mini-suite with balcony) was of a decent size considering that we spent a lot of time on the deck or on an excursion. The furniture was not particularly comfortable, the coach was one of those pull out bed things that was not deep enough to sit in and the cushions were not very thick, the best chairs in the room were the two deck chairs. I think the rooms are ready for an update. 4. Embarking and the excursions were well organized and we did not have any issue with that – actually very impressed by how efficient they were. 5. The programs offered on our trip were appropriate for Alaska, a couple on wildlife and the flora of the area, one on the sled dogs (including an hour with two sled dog puppies) a real hit! 6. Wonderful cruise in Glacier Bay National Park. We had three NP rangers and some staff come aboard the ship and provide commentary while we cruised the bay. Our Capt. Tuvo did a top notch job of getting us (safely) near the glaciers and we spent about an hour near the Margerie glacier – got to see some caving off the glacier. Capt. Tuvo seems genuinely enthused by this trip – he even announced at 10 pm or so that there was a display of the northern lights. 7. My suggestion to Princess cruises is that they add a TV channel that has continuous weather updates as well as “where we are” information. They could tie the location information into the waypoints, names of towns, prominent landmarks that are listed on the map they sell – that way people would want to purchase the map and book (which is an informative book in any case). It would be very useful to have better weather info when planning your day or shore excursions. 8. I realize that anyone involved in transportation needs to be very careful. Still I wonder if it would be possible for Princess to offer a tour of the bridge and engine room on their ships, do it when the ship is in port so there is no issue of interfering with the ship operation. I was disappointed that they did not offer a tour of those areas on this trip Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
I travelled with my husband & daughter (adult). We all had a very relaxing and good time during the cruise. The (Bordeaux) dining room food was good and the staff were very accommodating and would do anything to please you. The ... Read More
I travelled with my husband & daughter (adult). We all had a very relaxing and good time during the cruise. The (Bordeaux) dining room food was good and the staff were very accommodating and would do anything to please you. The Horizon buffet food was only 50% likeable for me although I was always open, so it's convenient. I do not care for spicy food such as the Indian food that were served. We enjoyed the piano bar entertainer "Jeri Ring",; "Boston comedian" was good but the entertainment production was not that good. Port excursions were a bit pricey but enjoyable; it was worry free that you'll get back to the ship on time. Embarkation in Whittier, Alaska was smooth except for a 30 minutes wait for the wheelchair service to arrive. Disembarkation was a complete disaster in Vancouver. We bought the Stanley Park and City Tour excursion with airport drop-off at the end of the tour. We waited on line standing-up for about an hour before getting on a bus. The land agents were not saying what the line was for. Finally, one of the agent said that there were just too many passengers and few busses. In short, they overbooked since several ship were at the port that day. Overall, I would do the same Alaska route again and will go on a newer Princess Ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We just got off a fabulous southbound cruise in Alaska -- but there were a few changes to the ship that I would have like to have known in advance...especially since I spent hundreds of hours researching the details beforehand only to find ... Read More
We just got off a fabulous southbound cruise in Alaska -- but there were a few changes to the ship that I would have like to have known in advance...especially since I spent hundreds of hours researching the details beforehand only to find out they were wrong. Read on for full review of the ship experience and excursions as well. Surprises: #1. Rita's Cantina is not available on the Alaskan cruises of Radiance of the Seas. They have changed it to Rita's Crabshack! While the offerings were similar to Tracy's Crabshack in Juneau, Rita's prices are lower, probably because legs are considerably smaller at Rita's. Example: one leg at Tracy's is $36. At Rita's it is $13.50. Tracy's offers a 3-4 leg bucket (3 lbs.) for $110. Rita offers a 3 leg bucket (1.5 lbs) for $33. Rita's is still a better deal if you are considering price alone. Also, we went to Tracy's in mid-afternoon and they were sold out of all sandwiches (e.g. crab roll) and crab claws. That left few options for us. (Tracy's bisque was tasty, but not OMG tasty. I wouldn't go back for it. I've had better for less expensive elsewhere--including at Whole Foods' seafood soup bar.) At Rita's I got the bisque/crab cake/crab leg combo for $19. It was just ok. The bisque was enjoyable, the cake was unmemorable, and crab wasn't especially sweet. The best thing about it was that it was cheaper than Tracy's. Neither bisque was better tasting than the other. #2. Adventure Dining for kids was available EVERY night of the cruise--not just on formal nights as I was led to believe. Dinner choices were severely limited to chicken fingers, hot dogs, and hamburger. I would have liked them to have more fresh options. Still, it was nice to have this option every night--but you MUST sign up in Adventure Ocean by noon on the day you want it. Counselors let me sign up late one afternoon as an accommodation, but were clear that it wouldn't be excused again. #3. Chops Grill does not allow you to have unlimited entrees. You can have unlimited appetizers and unlimited desserts, but only one entree unless you want to pay an extra $10/additional entree. #4. Kids 5 and under eat free at Chops Grill. They charged only $8 for each child 6 years and older even though a RCCL rep told me on the phone there were no discounts for children--even after she checked with her supervisor! #5 Birthday specials. They give you five free minutes of phone calls from Guest Services for your birthday. I found the card with the offer on the door to my room at the end of the day of my birthday. Since my birthday was at the end of the trip, it would have been nice to get this card from the beginning when I could more readily use it. Still, this was a nice unexpected surprise. Our room steward also made a towel "cake" on the bed. It was cute and appreciated. They also served me chocolate cake on my birthday (the same as regularly listed on the dessert menu) but it included a lit candle and a personal round of "Happy Birthday" sung by wait staff and the dining room manager. #6 The room mini-fridge isn't a fridge, but rather a drink cooler, unsuitable for keeping milk or meat. I wish I had know this in advance. We made several roast beef sandwiches the night before to take with us on an early-morning excursion the next day, only to find out they were inedible because the cooler wasn't cold enough to keep them food-safe. #7. You get served juice at every meal. I was under the impression our only choices were water, coffee, tea, and iced tea. The Windjammers offers lemonade for every meal. The Park Cafe in the Solarium also offers hot cocoa and a few juice options when open. Windjammer breakfast included oj, apple juice and milk. It was nice to have extra options. Dining Venues: I would recommend Chops Grill restaurant for a special occasion for the fine atmosphere and superb service. It's food was excellent, but only one or two levels above what was served in the main dining room Cascades (which was also wonderful in choices and quality) and not worth spending an extra $30/pp if for food alone. At Chops Grill, shrimp cocktail had 3 enormous shrimp (4-6/lb size) that were a little too firm for my preference, but served with a delicious vinegary cucumber and wakame salad. The scallop app was served with a bacon aioli that made you want to lick the plate. Mushroom soup in a mini tureen was savory, creamy, full of umami, and deserving of being emptied but I was saving room for the entree. 6 oz Petit filet was tender, tasty, cooked perfectly medium rare and definitely filling after the appetizers. A larger 9 oz was available for the lumberjack appetites in the room. Sides were a la carte and served family style. Cream of spinach was ordinary, as was the under-seasoned boiled asparagus--roasted or broiled would have been better there. Tater tots were more like delicious munchkin-sized potato croquettes, filled with mashed potato and gruyere, then covered with fine breadcrumbs and deep fried.They also offered to deliver the uneaten entrees and dessert to our room via room service (our kids were full after the appetizers and left dinner early to go to Adventure Ocean) . We ate at Cascades dining room most nights. I would have preferred a private table but instead we were permanently seated at a table with another lovely family and enjoyed sharing stories about our excursions each day. Our servers Alfonso (from Philippines) and Russell (from India) were charming, attentive, and informative. They took the time to learn our names and our preferences. Russell served me my preferred drink every night without me asking after I ordered it the first night. He also brought refills without me having to ask. I also liked that they cleaned the crumbs from the table before dessert--I hate sitting at a messy table. Great service! The Cascades dinner menu featured a different ingredient each night (saffron, pomodoro, pimiento, seafood, etc). Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail appetizers were offered every night, along with about 7 other choices. Alaskan ling cod (which was flaky, firm, light, moist and delicious--I wish I didn't wait until the last night to order it!), sliders, sirloin, and linguini in tomato sauce were offered as entrees every night, along with about 7 other entrees. There were more entrees for an additional up-charge, like lobster and filet mignon. Overall, entrees were varied and creative, served elegantly arranged. We enjoyed venison, leg of lamb, tandoori chicken, petit filet, salmon, crag legs, eggplant parm, french onion soup, chilled fruit soups, seafood bisque, roast chicken, and more. Desserts were creative, including some low sugar and low fat options, but nothing that had me grasping for more. The creme brulee that was a staple on the dessert menu had too thick a layer of sugar on top--it was a like a thick sheet of candy instead of a delightful thin crackle, and the creme underneath was a bit watery. I couldn't taste the "Bailey's" that was in its name either. The chocolate mousse cake on the menu is the one they serve you for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. It too looked beautiful but tasted ordinary. We were often too full for dessert anyway, and the kids sometimes preferred to get soft serve from Windjammers instead. At Windjammers, food was grouped by type, not by dish, so if you wanted bagels and lox, you had to go to the bread station to get a bagel, then go to the "bagel fixings" station to get lox, onions, capers, and cream cheese. If you wanted egg benedict, you had to pick up the english muffin from the bread station, get a poached egg from elsewhere, pour on the hollandaise sauce separately, and find the canadian bacon elsewhere (I never found it but you could put ham on from the carving station). This made for a very chaotic buffet. The Windjammer overall had a mix of expected staples (breads, whole and cut fruit, cheeses, pasta, cold salad bar), but several upscale unexpected selections (like the venison from the main dining room). Since we were out most days for lunch, and ate most dinners in the Cascades dining room, it's hard to recall what they had for lunch and dinner. A carving station served smoked ham or roast beef daily, there was a burger bar, and a mayo/deli salad bar. I don't remember there being mac and cheese or swedish meatballs--a mundane staple on other cruise ships--but then again, I wasn't looking too hard. There was a great cheese section for those who like cheese for dessert: manchego, blue, brie, baby swiss, meunster, and cheddar. There was an Indian section that served Indian favorites like Chicken Tikka, Masoor Dal, Saag Paneer and Veg Biryani (but lacked the curry leaf and chiles for authentic curry flavor and heat--perhaps the aromas would have been overpowering for the venue). They served plain or cumin papads (pappadoms), along with yogurt raita and tomato cucumber salad as sides. But no tamarind or coriander chutney. :'-( We ate breakfast via room service or Windjammers. Room service breakfast options were very basic: juice, coffee, milk, assorted pastry, cut fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash brown and tomato, plain yogurt, fruit yogurt (their choice), granola, and oatmeal. Cocoa and toast were options only via tv-based room service, not on the card you hang on the door. Windjammers offered Indian Upma for breakfast, a farina-based dish, but as mentioned above, it lacked the essential herbs that make it so enjoyable. Other Windjammer breakfast options included two kinds of sausage (traditional formed breakfast links and "bangers" in sausage casing). They offered grits and congee, but no cream of wheat. A meusli bar with several selections of dried fruits was a unique touch. There were lots of other breakfast options that are standard fare, I just listed the unique ones above. TIP: eat breakfast on Windjammer's aft outside deck by going through Izumi's or Rita's. There is nobody out there, so it is great for quiet contemplation or privacy--and seeing wildlife. We didn't eat at Izumi. Izumi had a bad stale smell in it like they need to change the carpets. We get great sushi where we live anyway so didn't want to pay for it onboard. For free sushi on board, wait until the Chocolate Buffet on night 6. The Chocolate Buffet included colored light displays beneath glacier ice sculptures. There were a few chocolate cake options and profiteroles, several fruity cake options, a few petit fours, but no chocolate fountain, no chocolate sculptures, and no chocolate truffles (unless they disappeared by the time we got there). Don't ask me why they included sushi on the Chocolate Buffet, but it was one of the best things there that night--but they ran out of the pickled ginger early on. Ship layout: VERY easy to get around, with the elevators on the port side, both fore and aft, which made orientation extremely easy. As a mid-size ship, I found it easy to get around as most frequently visited decks were deck 4 (Guest services; disembarkation, Cascades dining room), deck 11 (Windjammers, outdoor pool, poolside screen, and Solarium), and deck 12.Windjammers was on the same level as the on deck 11. One level up was the Kids Club (Adventure Ocean), outdoor basketball and slide pool. One level up again are the climbing wall and mini golf. Sales: Nice and classy. Although gold chain vendors were near the elevators several days, that was one of the few times I felt the upsell sales pressure. I like that we didn't have to pass through shops or photo galleries every day to get to the dining room or show theater like we did on Disney Wonder. On the contrary, I didn't even know where the shop or photo gallery were until the last night of the cruise--they were not "in your face" like on Disney or NCL. Casino: Not much fun there, but the room is decor was gorgeous, including the inlaid floors.The smoke-free section was relatively smoke-free. I caught a smoker in there and politely directed her to the smoking section. There is no divider between the two, so smoke will waft around, but it was definitely less smoky in the non-smoking section. As for payouts, most of the machines were older games and payout tables for video poker were some of the worst I've seen. Penny slots were also tight. Pools: The indoor pool in the Solarium was open to kids from 10-noon and 2-4, which meant we couldn't use it on most days because we were on excursions. On the last day at sea, lots of older folks were napping on the loungers in here. The water there was VERY cold. The water was warmer ironically at the outdoor pool even though the outdoor air temp was 60-65. I didn't go in but my kids loved it. Climbing Wall: Only open during certain hours--mostly when we were on excursions. Didn't use it until last hour of last day at sea when lots of other people gave it a go. A variety of difficulties to try, and helpful motivating staff. Mini-golf: 9 rounds with basic holes and few surprises. Nicely landscaped, but pretty low-key and tame. Mostly Par 2 holes. Enjoyable for one or two rounds, but not more. Adventure Ocean Kids Club: Very well run, enthusiastic staff, attractive facilities, a variety of fun activities, and exterior windows allow parents to gawk embarrassingly at the kids. They combined the different age groups a few times due to low attendance, but separated at other times. Staff were very accommodating and kind when 5 year old son had an accident getting to the potty on time. They changed his clothes (bagging up the soiled clothes), had him wash himself, and gave him a free pair of Adventure Ocean logo shorts to wear. Late night, you pay $7/hour/child from 10 pm - 2 am, (unlike Disney which includes all kids club activities until midnight for free). Late night activities are themed and posted ahead of time so you can schedule for the week. We only did this on the night before our day at sea (because we didn't have to get up early next morn for an excursion), and on the last night so we could pack up and get our luggage placed outside the door by 11. Entertainment: Overall, very enjoyable. We only went to one production show because we were exhausted from the excursions and had to get up early for the next day. The show was a debut production with moving sets, lots of costume changes, a variety of dance styles including an excellent pas de deux en pointe, and very talented singers. Sound production needed improvement on one singer--her mike kept cutting out--but since it was a first showing I'm sure they'll work out the bugs within the month. Production quality was about 1/3 as good as the Disney Wonder's productions (which were multimillion $$ over-the-top), but 5x better than Norwegian Sky. The theme was lovers in Atlantis (and around the world), but it was very short on story line. There was no dialogue--the story line was implied by a brief introduction at the beginning, and then carried through by the lyrical selections (love song hits from the 60s,70s, 80s, and 90s). Wildlife and Excursions (not noted in the separate Excursion section: On Day 2, sailing, we saw orcas in the morning as we sailed from Seward to Yakutat Bay (Hubbard Glacier). There were at least ten pairs of orcas going in the opposite direction of the ship, repeatedly rising to breathe and blow water, then descending again. We saw this behavior repeatedly. Closest pair was about 50 yards from ship. On Day 2 At Hubbard Glacier, we saw a triplet of sea lions resting on an ice floe. Then a tenderboat approached to gather glacier ice for the Chocolate Buffet later in the week, and scared them off. On Day 7, Inside Passage, we saw some fish break the water's surface, and lots of small seabirds. Humpback whales were reported by the Captain around the evening. We didn't see any at that time as we were headed to dinner. Land Tour Tips: Overall, we spent 12 days in Alaska/Canada (not including flight times to get there and back). We did a five-day pre-cruise land tour that we arranged ourselves using only public planes, trains, and buses, and it was well worth it. We saw lots of land-based animals, and scenic beauty beyond compare from Fairbanks down to Seward. We spent a few nights inside Denali Park in the Kantishna region and had some of our best experiences there. Spend the extra money on the Gold Star service if you take the Coastal Classic train between Anchorage and Seward--HOLY COW was it worth it for the spectacular views!! Adventure Class service between Denali and Fairbanks is sufficient--and a deal if you use a 2-for-1 coupon from the TourSaver books. Doing a land tour yourself is more physically demanding than a commercially-arranged tour with a group as we had to pack, haul, check, and retrieve our own luggage every one or two days when we moved from town to town. If you do a land tour on your own, do it before a southbound cruise so that the latter half of your trip, your body and mind can relax and recuperate with the luxurious service of the ship. Land touring on your own requires daily focus and concentration to make sure you coordinate everything just right to make the proper connections between destinations. Conclusion: This was a trip of a lifetime. I would definitely want to go back to Alaska and explore the towns of the SE islands more in depth--especially Hoonah and Ketchikan. Cruising just gives you little sample of the towns and not enough time to deeply explore the area--and Alaska is ALL about the excursions. RCCL was classy all the way, and gave us a truly luxurious experience. Staff were wonderful, food was excellent, and we will DEFINITELY sail with them again.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014

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