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30 Princess Island Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was out first cruise. We were a family of 4 with two balcony rooms side by side on the Aloha deck. This was great for us as we were just below the pool deck, teen club and Horizons food court. The cabins were in good condition and ... Read More
This was out first cruise. We were a family of 4 with two balcony rooms side by side on the Aloha deck. This was great for us as we were just below the pool deck, teen club and Horizons food court. The cabins were in good condition and we had an excellent cabin steward. We choose anytime dinning and had no problems getting seated. We would go early most nights but did go late a couple of times. Plan on spending at least 2-3 hours for dinner, service was a little slow. Sabitinis would be open for lunch some days serving pizza. I would recommend this. The shows that we went to were good. We went to 2 comedy shows and 2 shows featuring the ships performers. There was also a The Voice competition that was entertaining. There was things going on everyday on the boat, just pay attention to the planner they leave you everyday. We did get one moving in under the stars. During sea days we would spend it on the pool deck. I liked the splash deck at the front of the boat. Less people but a little more wind. The service at the pool / Lido deck is questionable. You would have to flag a waiter down to get something. I would just go up to the bar most times, much faster and the bartender also have better personalities. The children had a good time at the teen lounge. It was a great place for them to meet the other teens on the boat. We had a good time at the ports. We only did shore excursions in Limõn and Ocho Rios. In Limōn we did went to the canal and rain forest. Seen a bunch of wildlife. Great tour. Ocho Rios we did Mystic Mountain, the bobsled ride and Dunn River Falls. I think it would have been better if it wasn't so crowded. The Regal Princess was diverted to the island and was there the same day as us. In Aruba we went to Palm beach an relaxed. Took the city bus. In Columbia we got a taxi for the day. $100 for the day. The driver would get out and walk with us telling us about the city. Well worth it. He didn't speak good english, but the children speak Spanish and would translate for us. We just stayed on the boat in Panama. Going through the canal is a pretty cool deal. You receive a certificate for a partial Panama Canal transfer. Getting on and off the boat at all location was a breeze. Overall we had a great time. Not having been on another cruise we have nothing to compare it to, but can't complain. I would do another cruise on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba. The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull. Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided. A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each. Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced. Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler. Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking. A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems. There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing. At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships. The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore. At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed. Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful. Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it. My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us. We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our 1st cruise and overall it was very enjoyable. The voyage began in Fort Lauderdale, took us thru the Panama Canal and ended in Los Angeles. Our room was very comfortable with lots of storage. The food and the service were ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise and overall it was very enjoyable. The voyage began in Fort Lauderdale, took us thru the Panama Canal and ended in Los Angeles. Our room was very comfortable with lots of storage. The food and the service were very good. The shows were entertaining and things were very well organized when it came to getting us on and off the ship. Watching movies under the stars was fun. The staff were very professional and attentive. The aspects we least enjoyed: - the constant vibration in our room from the ship's engines (Deck 11, room B737) - the extras we had to pay (soda, bottled water, juice, classes in the gym, cover charge for specialty dining rooms). We felt "nickeled and dimed". - two nights of rough seas (very uncomfortable and unsettling) - the passengers were generally older than we are, so not too many onboard activities appealed to us (e.g. bingo, playing cards, art auctions) - the daily sales pitches (ship's newspaper and announcements) to buy their jewelry and art. - wait lines for "any time dining" - crowds at the bars for "happy hour", service was slow (drinks were excellent) - crowds at the theatre (had to line up early to get in, 30-40 minutes) - not being able to walk the skip's outdoor decks for exercise purposes. The addition of over 100 rooms in 2015 means common spaces have been reduced and the upper decks are chopped up so you can't walk uninterrupted from one end of the ship to the other. - broken equipment in the gym and no staff to report issues to. - small shower, stained shower curtains that stick to you as you turn around in the shower Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much ... Read More
The ports of call on this cruise were great. Our experience on the ship was just ok. This was the first cruise for my husband and me, so perhaps our expectations were too high, but we both thought some things could have been so much better. To begin with, whenever we passed a crew member on the ship, they completely ignored us, giving us not so much as a nod or greeting of any kind. Only the greeters at the buffet and our cabin steward were cheerful. The captain was not personable at all and bordered on rude. On the one formal evening where he was supposed to "meet and greet" the passengers, he hid near an elevator speaking only to his officers and studiously kept his back to all passengers. When one lady asked if she could have her picture taken with him, he rolled his eyes, stood there while his picture was taken, and then turned his back again to his guests. His welcome speech literally consisted of "Welcome to the Island Princess. I hope you have a nice voyage." and then he left the room. Needless to say, we did not feel very welcome. The Passenger Services desk was staffed only occasionally, and not at all when most passengers were on shore excursions, so if you had a question, you had to wait until it was open and then stand in a long line to get help. Sometimes you got a cheerful answer, sometimes not. We reported a problem of no hot water in our stateroom bathroom; they said it would be addressed, but it was not. Only once was I able to get a helpful answer from someone on the Shore Excursions desk (also only open a couple of hours a day, usually during dinnertime). We had booked a Princess excursion to Cinque Terre, but they cancelled it more than 24 hours in advance due to "high seas." The day it was supposed to take place dawned with calm waters, but the excursion remained cancelled. We tried to book a Princess excursion in Venice, but 5 out of about 8 were cancelled (including the one we wanted), so we went ashore on our own. (Most of our excursions were booked through another shore excursions company for the same tours at about half the price. They were very good, but required walking a little further to reach the van or bus.) The night before disembarkation, we had to have our luggage outside our door by 9pm. That early requirement made our last night on the ship very inconvenient, not having access to everything we would normally need for the night. A time requirement of 11pm or midnight would have been so much better and still given the staff an entire night to collect and sort luggage for our pickup at the port. We chose Anytime Dining. The food was reasonably good (although I would not recommend any of the beef dishes -- too tough), and often the food in the buffet was better, or at least as good as, the food in the dining room. The wait staff was excellent, meals were delivered correctly and hot, and only occasionally slow. We often were seated with other passengers and enjoyed talking with them over dinner. We would go on another cruise if it was the best way to get from port to port, as this cruise was. We would not, however, choose to cruise again if we just planned to stay on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. It was our first cruise so had nothing to compare it to and no idea what to expect from Princess. Overall, we were impressed and will definitely cruise again. Majority of the passengers were Brits ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. It was our first cruise so had nothing to compare it to and no idea what to expect from Princess. Overall, we were impressed and will definitely cruise again. Majority of the passengers were Brits and Americans but also lots of Australians and Canadians. Most we spoke to seemed to think Princess were one of the better cruise companies. The food and service were excellent. Great buffet choice @ breakfast / lunch although it felt a bit like one of those all you can eat diners you get in Orlando. We had the Anytime Dining in the evening and the food was generally superb. We didn't feel the need to pay extra to visit the speciality restaurants. The one big disappointment was the entertainment. I was expecting much better but what we got was a bit like Butlins. We didn't bother with any of the Princess excursions as the prices were ludicrously expensive. With a little bit of research it was easy to DIY and a huge amount cheaper. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Princess changed our port days and times, which in Istanbul, turkey on their highest holy day of the year. Naturally, this found business closed and limited available shore excursions. No explanations given to passengers on why this was ... Read More
Princess changed our port days and times, which in Istanbul, turkey on their highest holy day of the year. Naturally, this found business closed and limited available shore excursions. No explanations given to passengers on why this was done. We felt the shore excursion office was awful! Rude staff, misdirections given . In turkey on our shore excursion booked thru princess, I was one of several guest with mobility issues who were left behind on the pier! First time I have ever been discriminated for being handicapped! I told Olga (the assit manager over shore excursions) that I didn't travel half way around the world to be left on the pier. When booked we were to have dinner for two in a speciality resturant. No coupon waiting in our cabin. We went to customer service and Lawrence (assit manager) had no record of it. He made a copy of our booking that stated we were entitled to this. Several days later we received an invitation to eat there. Made our reservation . Got to the Itilian speciality place and we were told we only had been granted dinner for ONE! After showing our unhappiness, we were told we could BOTH eat there that night. This will be our last Princess cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We decided to do a cruise of the med for our 25th Wedding Anniversary and to be honest we were both not really looking forward to it as didn't know what to expect as used to relaxing on holiday and this was a port heavy cruise. We ... Read More
We decided to do a cruise of the med for our 25th Wedding Anniversary and to be honest we were both not really looking forward to it as didn't know what to expect as used to relaxing on holiday and this was a port heavy cruise. We stayed in Barcelona for 2 night before embarkation, with arranged taxi from the airport and the hotel and on disembarkation which was really efficient. The Hotel was upgraded as we wanted to be in the centre of Barcelona. On embarking we didn't get the wow factor we expected and the ships top deck looked tired and old. The outside cabin was on deck 5 and perfect as close to disembarking at ports, it met our needs, was clean and tidy and our steward was absolutely fantastic. We chose late traditional dinning which was something we were nervous about but it proved a great experience, a table of six with a couple and 2 female friends. Although a lot older than us we got on really well, they had lots of cruise experiences between them. The waiter was good and once I started to ask for recommendations my meals were really good, I made a few bad choices for steak. We ate in the buffet in the evening of formal nights as these were sea days which we wanted to relax and had really good food again. We had breakfast in our cabin most mornings as it was easier before trips and always arrived a minute before the time slot ordered. When used the pizza restaurant during one sea day which was a nice experience and it was empty at 12 midday, we liked the pizza on deck as well. The burgers on deck were not to our liking. Due to our dining time it was not easy to get to shows as they started at 10:15 to fit in with late dinning and we didn't always finish before then, if we wanted to go the show we told the waiter and he would make sure we were finished, but generally we didn't want to rush. We saw two different comedians and a magician all of which we enjoyed. I was expecting to see some shows but the one night we planned to go we couldn't get a seat. We did most of the quizzes which were mainly based around the discovery channel programs, but we enjoyed this and got to see similar faces each time. I also took part in the dance classes which were fun. We did the star gazing on top deck, but standing looking at the stars was not easy would have been better on sun loungers, also there was a lot of unnecessary information. There was less activities than expected but we put this down to the smaller size ship. The jewellery shop is a waste of space and the staff not pleasant, we had a gift we had to collect and we laughed at as when collect it was $200 off gold items. We were given champagne and chocolates as a present from my mother but these arrived as vouchers which we had to exchange, she was told they would be waiting in our cabin so not as special as she had expected. We planned trips at most ports with cruise excursions but planned to stay on board and relax when in Toulon and Kusadasi, where we felt we had the ship to ourselves. We booked trips as we thought this cruise would provide us with the opportunity to see a lot of places which we did and thoroughly enjoyed. The drinks were an issue as used to all inclusive holidays although had a soda package for myself, my husband didn't as due to heavy port stops wouldn't have been good value. We had cocktails which were good and made use of the happy hours. In summary we enjoyed our cruise but would have liked to have been with more people our own age 48 and 51 as most people were 70+ although young at heart. We came to like the ship due to its classic feel and size having gazed at others in port. Very efficient at ports and all staff were really friendly and helpful. Not decided on whether we would do another! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise and I have to say we are total converts. The ports on this cruise were all interesting and varied. The organisation from the cruise line to get the right passengers on the right excursions with the right guides ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I have to say we are total converts. The ports on this cruise were all interesting and varied. The organisation from the cruise line to get the right passengers on the right excursions with the right guides and done in such a light-hearted, non stressful way deserves recognition itself. The ship never felt cramped, the food was good and varied and the crew were unbelievably helpful and pleasant on each and every occasion that we needed them. How people can complain about the entertainment I have no idea, the "On The Bayou" show was as good as any West End musical that I have seen, yes they were only 30-40 minutes long but with bars on almost every deck and food available from dawn until midnight why tie people down to a theatre for longer than necessary? A wonderful, interesting and simply brilliant experience that I will be repeating asap. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We originally looked at taking a bus tour through Europe, but if you only have a short time and want to see a lot of places, a port intensive cruise is the way to do it! Get waited on hand and foot, go to bed in the same room every night, ... Read More
We originally looked at taking a bus tour through Europe, but if you only have a short time and want to see a lot of places, a port intensive cruise is the way to do it! Get waited on hand and foot, go to bed in the same room every night, no packing and unpacking, and wake each morning with somewhere new to explore! It really was the best choice. We had two sea days, and we needed those to sleep in and recharge, ready for the next adventure. Embarkation was easy, we were told between 1pm and 5pm, turned up at 4pm and were on board with no delay. We had Anytime Dining which worked well. We noted some people had to wait for a table if they asked for a table for two, but we were happy to share and were usually seated straight away. The only time we had to wait was on a formal night, then we were given a buzzer and were called back after only about 15 minutes. Service in the Bordeaux dining room was good, with a nice menu choice each night. The food was generally quite good. We also ate in the Horizon Buffet a couple of times. They had a good choice and were open until midnight. You could have a full meal or just a salad, or just fruit, or a selection of cheese and crackers/bread or just go for the desserts, it was very easy. There was also no rush, you could stay there as long as you wanted. One day we met a nice couple at breakfast and were still there for lunch! For some reason they have the best cup of tea in there too, maybe the water was just the right temperature, I don't know exactly why, but it was good! I saw the Bayou show in the Princess Theatre, but that's the only show I saw in the evening. The other nights there were singers or a comedian or a musician, and none of them sounded very appealing. I may have been missing out on a really good show, but it was my first cruise and I was expecting more production shows like the Bayou one, not just a singer. That could be my error. We went ashore on all port days, and every time it was well organised with no delays. I hadn't been on a cruise before and was imagining 2000 people lined up for ages all wanting to get off the ship at the same time, but thankfully it wasn't like this at all! It was all quite quick and well organised to get off and then on again at the end of the tour. It was also lovely to be welcomed back on a hot sticky day with a glass of cold water and a cold wet cloth, a nice touch. Disembarkation - we had heavy bags and didn't relish the thought of getting them up and over the bridges in Venice, so paid the $44 fee for the Princess transfer. It was great for our bags - they showed up at our hotel later on, but not so great for us. We had to sit and wait quite a while before our water taxi took us, I'm not sure why but I think someone was late and we were waiting for them. Our transfer was to the train station, but we were dropped off on the other side of the canal and we had to walk and go over a couple of bridges to get to the station. It would have been quicker and easier for us to send us luggage that way and then go and take the $1.50 people mover. That's a minor complaint though. Ports - Barcelona - we had three days there before the cruise, and I would encourage people to take four or five days. It is a beautiful city and there is so much to see, three days wasn't enough for us. Book ahead for attractions if you can or take advantage of the Skip the Line QR code signs where they have them. We used the HOHO bus while we were there, and also took an organised bus tour up to Montserrat, which was lovely. Toulon - we took the Princess excursion to Saint Tropez. The bus trip wasn't bad but our guide was a bit annoying. We had the choice once we got there of going off on our own or sticking with the guide for a bit of a tour, and we decided to go off on our own. There was a market and lots of shops, and the shore to look at. There were also thousands of other tourists and it was stinking hot. It was nice to see and I'm glad we went, but that's one box ticked - I don't need to go there again. Livorno - we took the Princess excursion to Florence with time on your own. This excursion was excellent, even though our bus broke down and we had to wait half an hour for another one! Our guide was excellent and knew her stuff. She guided us around the main attractions and told us lots of interesting information about each place, and then we had time on our own and met up with her later on to go back to the bus. Civitavecchia - we booked a private tour here, from Drivers Guide Services. Claudio picked us up at the port at the appointed time and we were in Rome in one hour (not much traffic because August is apparently when they take holidays over there). He took us straight to the Colosseum so we were there before the crowds got too bad, and spent the rest of the day giving us a wonderful tour of the city and history lesson combined. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend tours from DGS. Naples - we had another Princess excursion here - the Ultimate Bay of Naples - Pompeii, Positano, Sorrento. Again we had a very nice guide and driver in a small bus - maximum 16 on this excursion. Our guide was very informative and we had some time on our own in Positano (beautiful!), then more time on our own in Sorrento before we met up to go to a hotel for a nice five course lunch (included in the tour), then on to Pompeii. I was thinking it would have been better to go to Pompeii first before it got too hot, but later heard from other cruisers that Pompeii was much, much busier first thing in the morning, so I'm glad our tour went this way around. Pompeii was amazing, and also amazingly hot! Very hot and humid, you must take a hat and water with you on this tour, and the hand fans that the souvenir shops sell everywhere help too. Mykonos - wow, so beautiful here! We docked and Princess had buses outside waiting to drop us closer to town. There were probably other ways of doing it, but it wasn't too expensive and it was easy. From there we just walked around on our own and found our way over to the windmills and had a look around the town. It wasn't a long stop here, so we didn't bother about trying to go and visit anywhere else, we just stayed in the town. Istanbul - we had a private tour booked here too - through Ephesus Shuttle. Our guide met us and was very good, very informative. No payment until the end of the tour, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. Unfortunately we were there on a Friday so missed out on the Blue Mosque, but there's still plenty of other things to see. The tour operators can change their itinerary a little for you too, if you wish to see something different. For instance we went to Topkapi Palace and wanted to include the Harem section, which they did for us at a small extra cost to cover the tickets. The Grand Bazaar wasn't anywhere near as busy as I expected, and things were quite expensive. I didn't buy very much there at all. Kusadasi - we had another private tour booked here, again through Ephesus Shuttle. Ephesus is amazing, well worth going, and the drive out there is lovely too. Include the Terrace Houses if you go. Turkey is beautiful. Our guide was very informative again, and very nice. After the tour we stopped in Kusadasi and did a little bit of souvenir shopping. Expect the hard sell though. Athens - we did the Princess excursion Acropolis and Time on your Own in the Plaka. Whatever you do, don't miss out on going to the Acropolis if you haven't been before. It is not at all like I expected, there is so much more to see than just some ruins! Our guide was lovely and once again, very informative. Climbing to the top wasn't too hard because there are several stops on the way up where the guide explains what you are seeing. Once you get to the top, the view is well worth it. Make sure your shoes have good grip, it is a bit slippery in some places. After we left there, we had a bit of a bus tour around Athens which I was not expecting. We went past a number of interesting sites and buildings, and had a short stop at the site of the first modern olympics so we could take photos. Then it was on to the Plaka. There we had a look around at the shops (lots of souvenir shops) and had some lunch at the restaurant recommended by the guide (Hermion/Epmeion). The restaurant was quite nice, but the food was pretty average. Venice - we had an extra day in Venice so didn't do any organised tours here, we did our own thing which worked out fine. Princess had a $29 return water transfer to St Mark's Square, but we just took the people mover for $1.50 and walked from there, discovering things as we went. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My wife and I (both over 70) where very pleasantly surprised at the size of the balcony cabin on C deck; being first timers we were a little apprehensive after reading various reports. We found the cabin to be well planned, with plenty of ... Read More
My wife and I (both over 70) where very pleasantly surprised at the size of the balcony cabin on C deck; being first timers we were a little apprehensive after reading various reports. We found the cabin to be well planned, with plenty of room to unpack completely, and an out of sight storage area for our suitcases. The balcony was private and a secluded with two chairs and a small table. Ideal for sitting a watching the sea and trying to read. The bathroom on the whole was fine, but as I am over 6 ft tall I found the shower to be a little cramped. It was easier to wet down then put on soap before washing off – I was unable to shower in my normal way of avoiding the water whole soaping etc. This small detail would be my only negative comment. Check in at Venice went like a dream – shore going excursions and re boarding all went smoothly, which really impressed me the way so many people where handled so smoothly. The food in the restaurants was very good, as was the overall service. Horizon restaurant for lunch after time ashore was ideal, with a large choice of food, which was constantly refreshed. I liked the idea of compulsory hand sanitizing on entry to the buffet area, and the plastic barriers to stop anyone handling the food except via tongs. All the staff members that we came in contact with where friendly and helpful, it was difficult at the end of the cruise to single out those for special mention. We loved the Crooners Bar – quiet, yet very good for people watching; plus the picture windows over the sea kept me interested. We enjoyed the shows in the theater, even those on the top deck brought back memories of yesteryear. We are both 'sold' on cruising in the future Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our 1st cruise so did not really know what to expect. When we arrived in Barcelona we were met by our driver who drove us to the port. Embarking was well organised, staff friendly and helpful. Our cabin was large, clean and ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise so did not really know what to expect. When we arrived in Barcelona we were met by our driver who drove us to the port. Embarking was well organised, staff friendly and helpful. Our cabin was large, clean and comfortable. Horizon restaurant had lots of choices and the food very good, we also had 2 lovely meals in the Bordeaux where we enjoyed afternoon tea also. We chose not to book excursions with the ship instead we hired a driver at each port which worked out cheaper each driver was very friendly and took us to some lovely places of interest and to beautiful italian resturants for lunch Sorrento being one of our favorites. The service on board was exceptional there was always happy friendly staff to bring drinks whenever we wanted them. We spent a lot of evenings in "Crooners bar" all staff there made us very welcome especially Savio Fernandes, Sandeep Gaikwad & Jenalyn Salvador. Dan and Duke were great hosts and we enjoyed the british pub night. One criticism there are not enough smoking areas otherwise had a great time already looking to book another. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was a 17-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. It was also the last cruise before six weeks of extensive refitting, which explains some of the problems. This cruise attracted primarily Americans. There were ... Read More
This was a 17-day repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Venice. It was also the last cruise before six weeks of extensive refitting, which explains some of the problems. This cruise attracted primarily Americans. There were some Canadians, a few Brits, and a sprinkling of other nationalities, but we did miss the international contingent we found in cruises to South America and Australia/New Zealand. I suspect this will be true of most such repositioning cruises. We do our own shore excursions or join ones organized by Cruise Critic members. In Madeira we did a van tour with 6 other Cruise Critic members. In Barcelona, a Fat Tires bicycle tour (recommended). In Rome we took the bus to Tarquinia to visit the Etruscan necropolis and wander around. It’s a lovely town and connections by bus/train are easy. Just get to the train station (by foot or bus from the cruise terminal). If you’ve not been to Rome you’ll probably want to go there, but if you have been there Tarquinia is a fine option. In Naples, we were going to catch the ferry to Ischia but the weather was inclement so we settled for walking around the city. As several previous reviews noted, there was an annoying sewage odor at times. For us, it lasted for the first half of the cruise. Not overpowering — but also not pleasant. I presume that will be fixed in dry dock. Unfortunately, the renovation will add about 100 cabins, eliminate a major lounge, and cut off the back part of the promenade deck. Princess is apparently doing this because Venice is restricting larger cruise ships and the Island Princess is just under the limits. The added cabins will make the ship less pleasant, I think. The ship’s itinerary could have been better. It was a repositioning cruise. However, we got to Madeira and Barcelona at about noon, making for abbreviated visits in those lovely ports. Surely the ship could have steamed slightly faster to give more time in port. Our first trip as elite members (in possession of the much-desired benefit of free laundry) didn’t turn out so well. The ship lost a lot of our laundry. Never showed up. Apparently we’ll be reimbursed. Then there is the matter of sniffles. I think cruise ships are like kindergarten — remember when your kids began to go to school and were sick for a semester, passing the various minor infections on to you? Cruise ships seem to be the same. A large percentage of the passengers were sniffling and sneezing, myself included. Norovirus is relatively rare on ships, even if it does get a lot of publicity which it shows up. Colds are much more common, and can last a week or so. On both this and our previous cruise, we could hear the neighbor hacking away through the wall. There isn’t much cruise lines can do about this — but my advice is to pack every cold remedy you find helpful. You may need it. And the on-board store charged $3.49 for a SINGLE antihistamine tablet! Be prepared. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
It never ceases to amaze me what global complainers we've become. And some of the occasional flack I've seen aimed at the Island Princess makes me wonder whether I've been on the same ship. Cards on the table! My wife and ... Read More
It never ceases to amaze me what global complainers we've become. And some of the occasional flack I've seen aimed at the Island Princess makes me wonder whether I've been on the same ship. Cards on the table! My wife and myself have never cruised before and, indeed, she had reservations because she can be a poor traveller at times. But by the time we arrived at Fort Lauderdale she was an evangelistic convert. She loved it. We both did. And my own broad anti-social streak had even given way to an uncharacteristic tendency to actually speak to people ... even voluntarily start conversations over dinner ... and, holy moly, acknowledge people I'd come to know on first name terms as though I'd bumped into old friends in the village. Interesting people. First rate food. Excellent service. Quality showtime entertainment. Even 'Cruise Critic' warnings about the shortage of stateroom hanging space turned out, in reality, to give more rail room than we've experienced in most hotels. OK, we can all whinge about something. Not being able to bring alcohol on board from the stops on route ... the daily tipping charge (then having to tip again for bar drinks) which I eventually came round to understanding ... the very occasional shortcomings that you're bound to experience in any service sector of this kind. But come on. Get real. The standard of food was amazing - especially at this volume. We had planned to have two or three 'speciality restaurant' meals during the cruise - but why bother when the standard in our Bordeaux Room was so consistently high. The evening entertainment really was exceptional The staff really was first class. And, bear in mind, much of my work is in a service industry so, believe me, I'm not easily impressed. But neither do I see the point of picking fault just because you have the power and the opportunity! Personally I think it's a mistake to lose the Universe Lounge but, hey, I'll get over it. I had a gripe over one of the ship's excursions - but nothing that a few minutes deep breathing didn't cure. Island Princess - you gave us two one hell of a holiday. (Even the captain, who we never saw.) We were pretty sure we'd enjoy the trip but we never thought we'd enjoy it as much as we did. Thank you ... big style! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I was nervous about it all, having never cruised before, but within two hours we were completely comfortable and having a great time. Short excursions were messed up: scammed in Puerto Amador, foiled by demonstrations in Puntarenas, wholly ... Read More
I was nervous about it all, having never cruised before, but within two hours we were completely comfortable and having a great time. Short excursions were messed up: scammed in Puerto Amador, foiled by demonstrations in Puntarenas, wholly disappointed in Aruba, double-crossed in Cartagena. Princess' Puerto Chiapas excursion, on the other hand, was five-star. Lots of colds and coughing on this cruise, one person medevac'd at Cabo (with pneumonia according to scuttlebutt). Entertainment would have been a five, except for singer Sophie Selbie, who was shrill and whose material (Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Carpenters) was not to our tastes. Production shows were excellent, especially "Motor City". Had anytime dining which was okay after the first few nights (45 minute waits). Took Ultimate Ship's Tour which was amazing and totally worth the money. Loved the minisuite. We came home on Friday and by the following Monday, I'd booked our next Princess cruise. I guess that says it all! Ship highlights: Lotus Pool area, although hot tubs there were not especially hot. Sun and Sports Decks at night make for great exploring. Lots of time in the Explorers Lounge for trivia and karaoke. Liked that the Fitness Room had views. Splurged on the Thermal Suite one sea day and thought it was marvelous. Really liked the wraparound Promenade Deck, especially in the tropics when the wind was warm and you could go walk out there any time, day or night. Cruise highlights: Panama Canal, despite boring, droning commentary (and I'd read the McCullough book). Just being in the isthmus was a thrill for me. Beautiful robins-egg blue water. Loved the narrow sections in particular. Otherwise, it was all good. Yes, a cruise is a floating assisted-living facility, but what's wrong with that for two weeks? Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was my first cruise, I had no idea what to expect. Princess was recommended to me by several family members, was told I got a great deal, no if you ask me. From the start, the entire check-in process seemed so disorderly, a total ... Read More
This was my first cruise, I had no idea what to expect. Princess was recommended to me by several family members, was told I got a great deal, no if you ask me. From the start, the entire check-in process seemed so disorderly, a total hurry up and wait process. HUrry to get here, wait in line for a half hour or more.....finally got on board, our cabin was nice, smaller than a hotel room, but, just enough, nonetheless. Bed was so-so, wife needed extra pillows for her back, they were very obliging. One thing I will say, their customer service was awesome! Food was all rich gourmet foods in the main dining rooms. How many times can you eat filet, they aso had a cafeteria style eatery, it was okay, seemed like there wasn't much variety there either, there is a pizzaria onboard, fairly good, also an ice cream parlor, both of these close early though. Not being a gambler, or a big bar person, I found the cruise borderline boring. Checked out two comedians (I think they were), they were pretty bad. Not into broadway type shows, so did not ttend any of them. Good thing I had my Kindle loaded with books. The ship had some newer movies, a fw interested me, so I went to see them. They had in room streaming TV channels. Reruns of favorites, Big Bang Theory, etc, movies also streamed in rooms. I felt nickle and dimed to death. Was fed al these gourmet foods and charged $2.00 for a can fo soda?!!! REALLY? I know many cruiselines do this and I am not a big soda drinker anyway, but, that is not the point. They have drink packages for this and that, there is also a beer package for some subpar watery American beers, Bud, etc. Not worht the money. Drinks usually run around $10.00/mixed drink, I was told. I felt that the cruise could have been much mich better if there were no hidden charges, charges me a few more dollars for the cruise, do away with the soda package, serve some more normal fare rather than rich (indigestion brewing) gourmet fare that is only okay. The rooms are clean. Princess offered excursions when in port, I was very dissapointed to see that they tunred Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway in giant shopping toilets, with jewelry stores owned by the cruiselines. YOU WILL FIND NO DEALS HERE, hese stores are way overpriced, tax free or not!!! I will not be going on another cruise unless I go to a super upscale line with no hidden charges, including excursions. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
The Island Princess is an older, but well-maintained ship. The only problem with our mid-ship balcony stateroom (Baja deck) was the EXTREMELY uncomfortable bed--hard, looked almost like a camp cot--on a metal frame with one thin mattress! ... Read More
The Island Princess is an older, but well-maintained ship. The only problem with our mid-ship balcony stateroom (Baja deck) was the EXTREMELY uncomfortable bed--hard, looked almost like a camp cot--on a metal frame with one thin mattress! We did not complain, so we don't know if could have been switched or not. Surprising for a ship of this stature. Shower was tiny, very tiny. Anytime dining worked out ok, but you still needed a reservation to eat at your desired time window--nothing was ever available as a "walk-in" in the 6-7:30 range, so we generally had dinner at 9 following the shows, and sat for a table for 2( which at times was uncomfortable because other tables for 2 would be set up right next to you within just a couple of inches! It would then not be certain as to whether to engage those next to you in conversation or whether they would like to be alone, so uncomfortable to say the least. Food (Bordeaux room) was very good and beautifully presented with the exception of the shrimp cocktails--always tasted like defrosted frozen shrimp, small unappetizing. Everything was imaginative and delicious. The buffet food, although it was repetitive at times, was always nicely presented, colorful, for the most part very tasty, and plentiful. We liked the song/dance shows very much. The first night show was sort of a warm-up lesser show with comedy and some singing dancing. I was disappointed in getting a "reduced" performance just because it was the first night. Is this true of other cruise lines? I felt that for a highly rated cruise line, all performances should be top-notch. This was again true of the combination comedian/guitarist who changed up the lyrics and called it comedy. Really? Not at all a high quality performance. We did not bother to attend his second performance. Did not like being charged for sodas. We thought the price of the photos was excessive . The port shots should have been offered in the 8-10 dollar range; we would have bought all of them thus spending more total money. Also charged for hot chocolate which was ridiculous. We were standing outside on deck at Glacier Bay. It was freezing and raining. A waiter came by with hot chocolate which would have been wonderful to warm us up only to find out there was a charge for it! We didn't have our cruise cards with us to view the glaciers so were denied the hot chocolate! Some wanted liquor in theirs, and I can understand charging for that, but really, Princess??? Also felt as if they were ALWAYS trying to sell us something--seminars on shopping?The bar cocktails were varied, reasonably priced, and beautifully made,but they had little if any alcohol, so we only had 3 or 4 total for the entire cruise. Be sure to take the allowable wine/per person with you on board. All servers, waiters, staff, etc. were always polite, friendly, helpful, funny, and professional. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Since we had never cruised before, didn't know what to expect except what we had read. It was certainly better than expected! The staff of Princess Cruises love to help out the first time cruisers. Never felt so taken care of and ... Read More
Since we had never cruised before, didn't know what to expect except what we had read. It was certainly better than expected! The staff of Princess Cruises love to help out the first time cruisers. Never felt so taken care of and didn't want for anything. The cruise tour started off with freezing weather because the day before we got there it had gotten colder than it had been since 1928. It's Alaska, never know what to expect. Fairbanks riverboat and tour was wonderful even though it was freezing, there is coffee and donuts. In Denali had to switch rooms because of frozen pipes but Princess gave us each $25 vouchers for our trouble. Luggage was transported from spot to spot although a little late coming sometimes. Went on tour by Princess into park and saw a couple of Moose. Was beautiful and informative. In McKinley, the lodge and the mountain was beautiful. They say only 30% see it, it usually has a ring of clouds around it but not on the day we were there. For about an hour, it was clear.Took a bus to the train to get to the ship in Whittier, our float trip was cancelled because the river was frozen.Boarding ship was a breeze and so exciting for us. The weather turned out to be beautiful the whole trip. Cabin was great, steward friendly and helpful as were all of the staff. Danced until we couldn't dance anymore. Had great luncheon on deck when we went to glaciers. All Alaskan food! Ports we stopped in were interesting, but a lot of shopping. Our favorite was the the helicopter ride and a stop to walk on a glacier in Juneau or maybe it was the Whitepass railway in Skagway. Too many favorites to count!Disembarking in Vancouver went very smoothly because Princess was there to direct us all the way.Food was very good on the buffet but in the Anytime dining room, it was delicious. No problems eating at 6:00pm every evening, I even lost 5lbs eating fish every night while hubby gained 8lbs. We really enjoyed the wait staff and their great smiles.We would do this trip again in a flash. And we are planning our next cruise to the Panama Canal on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I have long since wanted to do an Alaskan Cruise and we finally did it for my birthday! We flew into Vancouver from Australia the day before the cruise started and stayed at the St Regis. I highly recommend this hotel - everything is ... Read More
I have long since wanted to do an Alaskan Cruise and we finally did it for my birthday! We flew into Vancouver from Australia the day before the cruise started and stayed at the St Regis. I highly recommend this hotel - everything is included, breakfast, WIFI and even phone calls back to Australia. On the day of the cruise we took a taxi to the port. Customs and check-in went fairly smooth, there were lots of people there as there were two ships leaving that day. But we didn't wait too long at customs and the cruise line check in was very fast. Stateroom: We had a mini-suite on the Caribe deck aft. The suite was beautiful and clean. Lots of room to move around. The bathroom was beautiful and large, no problem having two people in the bathroom at the same time. The balcony was 2/3 covered with four chairs, two of them half reclining and a small table. Service: The cabin steward did a brilliant job every day. I celebrated my birthday on the cruise and on the day, there was a sign on the door wishing me a happy birthday, 3 balloons and a card. I was also given another card to take to the dining room on my birthday to pass onto the head waiter. At dessert time, 3 waiters came with a gorgeous little birthday cake and sang happy birthday. What a way to celebrate. We had different dining room staff each day, but they all did a brilliant job. Dining: We had any-time dining which was a good choice as it allowed us to go to dinner when we wanted to. We ate most meals in the main dining room as the Horizon cafe did not appeal to us. The meals in the main dining room were superb! Entertainment: We went to all the shows and they were all very good. "On the Bayou" is recommended. We also saw two comedians with one of them being a bit funnier than the other one. We also attended a couple of lectures on Alaska and thoroughly enjoyed that. Disembarkation: We disembarked in Whittier. That went very smooth. The cruise-line gave us a set time which was predetermined on what our plans where regarding tours and transfers. We had booked our own transfer over the Internet and pick up was smooth. It rained the day we arrived, but there was lots of undercover area for everyone who had to wait for their tour bus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
ANCHORAGE: First, please be there a day early if you are just doing the cruise. The ship leaves at 8pm, but you have to land at the airport by 4pm to make it thru the (one way every 30 minutes) tunnel. My sister was supposed to land at ... Read More
ANCHORAGE: First, please be there a day early if you are just doing the cruise. The ship leaves at 8pm, but you have to land at the airport by 4pm to make it thru the (one way every 30 minutes) tunnel. My sister was supposed to land at 1 pm, got delayed and landed at 6pm. She missed the ship and had to meet us 3 days later in Skagway. Now, Princess was wonderful. Helped her every step of the way and refunded her ship days, but plane hopping and hotels were absolutely not in the budget. We had trip insurance, but it doesn't cover mechanical problems with the plane, and the airlines have a 6 hr window before they comp you a hotel. Since she was only 5 hrs late, she had to do everything out of pocket. We are still irked at United for not putting her on a different airline which would have had her in Anchorage in time. We were able to get there a day early. Stayed at the Captain Cook Hotel and had no complaints. In fact the beds were amazing! The black out shades were sufficient and we didn't need the sleep masks we brought. Dinner was at the Glacier Brewhouse. Highly recommend it! The food was perfect and I fell in love with the Denali Red microbrew. Drank it everyday of the land tour. All the Princess Lodges carry their beer. We also visited the Alaska Museum and enjoyed it very much. FOOD: not that impressed with the sit down dinner. In fact, our last night we sent the steak back... It was tough, overcooked and had no flavor. The salmon was always good. My favorite was the pizza. In fact I ate it every lunch. The buffet had a good selection, but it was no better than other buffets I've eaten at. Not that impressed with the drink of the day either. Gave up after the second day. I purchased the kids soda card. Best thing ever. Now, I had to drink out of fish themed cup, but it was a double walled tumbler and came in handy. All you can drink soda, all you can drink milkshakes and malts, and all you can drink virgin cocktails which I enjoyed :). My sister purchased a coffee card. Not worth it. You basically got 1 drink free, but you had to drink 2 coffees a day and being in the ports all day, she just didn't drink that. She had 3 coffees left so she actually lost money.ENTERTAINMENT: we enjoyed the shows. Not the best singers, but the dancing was very good. There was a presentation by Shelley Gill on Iditarod dogs, Denali and other stuff. She was hysterical and very informative. Rangers came on board for Glacier Bay, and again.... Very informative. ROOM: We were in B603. Covered balcony and great views. The beds were decent, but the comforters need to be replaced. We used the 3rd bed that pulls down from the ceiling. It was just as comfortable as the others. Getting up was no problem, getting down the ladder took a while, but by day 3, I had it perfected. Tons of closet space and hangers. The bathroom had 3 shelves so our toiletries fit just fine. The shower is small, and it's tricky keeping the curtain inside. We flooded the bathroom more than once. There is a small shelf that holds 1 body wash and the ships shampoo and conditioner. That's it. The best tip I found on these boards was to bring the shower caddies that suctions to the wall. We needed that! Shaving your legs is tricky, but doable if you turn off the water. We also brought the over the door shoe hanger. We put our gloves and misc. in there, but honestly.... We didn't need it. There were plenty of drawers and desk space. It's mid ship, so we didn't have traffic noise and it was very smooth. We took Dramimine the first day just in case, but didn't need it at all.DISEMBRKMENT: actually, very smooth. Make sure you check your luggage tags the day before. They had us in the wrong group, but it was fixed quickly. Princess people direct you the whole way. We left at 7:30 for an 11am flight and had plenty of time. Picking up your luggage at Vancouver Airport is mass chaos. People directed you every step of the way, but it's just so much luggage and only one way in and out of the room. For the whole cruise, there's no crowds or lines, then boom..... Back to reality. Also make sure you call your credit card company before you travel. Canada is on the list of blocked countries for my Credit Union and I couldn't use that card to pay for my checked bags or anything else at the airports! If you are connecting thru Toronto, you pick up your luggage on the 3rd floor area G. It's right next to customs, which was smooth, but going thru security again took forever. EXCURSIONS: My only complaint is you don't know your excursion is cancelled till you go to check in. We had a 10 am tour that was cancelled, so we didn't have enough time to do another before our 1 pm tour. The tour director was there where you meet and was very helpful in getting us situated. We were never charged for the tours that were cancelled or the ones we cancelled so we could do the main one we wanted. So, have a back up plan :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at ... Read More
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage which was very nice, great room with views of water and town (corner room), eating at a local pub called Humpy's which now in hindsight was THE highlight of our meals in AK over all, including the cruise ship fare. Second and third nights at the McKinley Princess Lodge was just an average, boring place, including the restaurants. The uninspiring decor could have been anywhere. I did not feel as if I was in Alaska. Boring, plain rooms. In fact, I can't even recall a single detail about them. Mt McKinley showed it's face for about 20 minutes. Rain, Rain, Rain. Our first very overpriced excursion was the horseback riding trip with very, very nice wranglers and horses that were kept in really awful quickly built cover, not worthy to be called a stable. Nice new trails, but I longed for a bit of cantering and galloping as I am an experienced rider. This is ALASKA! Where are all the animals????? Saw nothing other than the horses. Next days overpriced excursion was the Devil's Canyon Jet Boat trip. Rainy, but enjoyable, very nice staff, but saw 2 bald eagles and quickly, 2 young moose running away from the rivers edge. 130 miles and WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? Ate at the 20320 restaurant twice and the staff were clearly overwhelmed and clueless asking us twice on 2 different dining occasions if we wanted anything else before the check when we hadn't even received our meals yet. Went into Talkeetna and ate at a very nice Cafe (something Brewing Company) which was delicious!!! (better than Princess food) Next two days at Denali Princess again: rain, rain, rain... and overpriced food, especially at the King Salmon restaurant with a King Salmon entree for $46-$48 which was just so-so. Ongoing disappointment, thus far with Princess and their price gouging. The Lodge was much better than McKinley in terms of ambiance and projecting that you are actually in Alaska, the river views below were lovely, but I longed to get on the ship for my very first cruise! Our "included" Denali History Tour advertised for a 6+ hr tour was just about 4 hrs and was on a cold school bus. The guide was informative, friendly & funny. Again: WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? FINALLY...ONWARD TO THE SHIP! I was excited and the 9 hr train tour to Whittier was very nice and went by quickly thanks to a nice older couple from Florida and the very knowledgeable guide on board. Our first night on board was nice and the anytime dining option chosen was fine. We were eager to sit with others at a shared table as we are friendly. Our room steward Bonifacio was very attentive and helpful from the start. No problems with him at all, exceeded my expectations here @ Princess. The Horizon food court was average to below average and we tried not to eat here much unless hurried or if only for breakfast. Food was fine for breakfast, but "eehh" for other meals, in my opinion. Fruit and desserts were always good however here. Not crazy about the main courses. As far as the Bordeax anytime dining room, the staff were good and the food was anywhere from just okay to good. Never anything great or fantastic. The room itself is quite large and well appointed. Spa services: $19 for a nail polish change!!!!! I did it as my nails were a mess after the land excursions. At home in NYC metro area, one of the priciest places in the USA, same service for $6. I pre-booked a Swedish massage for the second to last day and was happy to change it for a lower priced "special" advertised the night before. Still, I can get a better price at home. As far as all of our land excursions off the ship in Scagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, again, while they were nice and the staff were excellent and friendly, Princess prices again were overly inflated for what we actually got. Just way too over the top price wise for the actual product. Suggestion: look into booking privately to save big bucks. As we are first time cruisers, we just took the whole Princess package as we didn't know better. We spent ~ $1200 on all of our excursions above and beyond our cruise costs. I do not feel that any of them were worth that kind of money NOW IN HINDSIGHT! Another issue: the Spa staff are heavily attempting to sell, sell, sell you overpriced products you don't need or can get at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. My spouse coined the phrase "Prince-sell" cruises. The FINAL insult was the 14 hr layover in the Vancouver, BC airport to fly back to NYC on the red-eye at 11:00pm. Thankfully, Cathay Pacific was wonderful and short and sweet. Our flight on Delta to Seattle before transferring to Alaska Airlines has sworn me off Delta for life. Overall, in hindsight, I would not do the land part before the cruise as there was little of value for me. In conclusion, I feel taken advantage of by Princess with price gouging of the optional excursions and Spa services. As a now "experienced cruiser", I would pack less, (people were very informal), I would make my own land tours with a independent company ashore and probably NOT use Princess again IF we cruise again. I can't stand all the waiting around and time wasted. We travel all over, but without formal tours; I do all the planning and work and our best travel has been this way. If you are considering a trip to Alaska, there are far more superior National Parks in the USA. Yellowstone is AMAZING as are the Grand Tetons. Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are all far superior to Alaska, IMO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Island Princess: Voyage of the Glaciers. Northbound. May 23-30, 2012. Pre-cruise: Our trip began with a cousin's reunion and two very rainy days in Vancouver. We stayed with my cousin who lives near Science World and Chinatown. ... Read More
Island Princess: Voyage of the Glaciers. Northbound. May 23-30, 2012. Pre-cruise: Our trip began with a cousin's reunion and two very rainy days in Vancouver. We stayed with my cousin who lives near Science World and Chinatown. From there we walked to Granville Island then returned by Sea Bus. The Japanese Udon bowl from the food court area on Granville was very welcome on such a wet day! The next day we explored the Anthropology Museum at the University of British Columbia, the nearby and exquisite Nitobe Memorial Garden, and the Van Dusen Gardens. Evening was dinner at Carderos in Coal Harbor followed by a drive along the Stanley Park sea wall. Cruise: On the advice of cousin we arrived at Canada Place for embarkation at 11:30 am. The luggage was quickly taken from us and we proceeded very efficiently through security, cruise card issuing, and onto the Island Princess (During this process water and orange juice were provided by Princess.) Our cabin was ready and after dumping hand baggage, calling the Dine Line for a 5:30 Anytime Dining table for two, we explored the ship. The smell of pizza on the lido deck quickly decided us that it was time for lunch. At the bar next to the pizza grill we purchased a coffee card and an insulated Princess mug. Massages were booked and we returned to our cabin for a snooze. Robert, our steward, welcomed us and made sure everything was to our liking. Sail-away was delayed by two hours due to a late flight with many Island Princess passengers. I thought this was highly considerate but it threw off our roll call plans of celebrating a 4:30 sail-away on the secret forward balcony on Baja deck. Some of us did meet and chatted until the drizzle forced us indoors. We arrived early at Muster Call, cruise cards were scanned, rules gone over, and life jackets were put on. Very smoothly done! The Dine Line reservation got us quickly into the Bordeaux dining room to an ocean view table and we had our first delicious meal of the cruise. Portions were just right for us to have an appetizer, main course, and dessert. The bread rolls were among the best I have ever had... Sail-away occurred while we were eating but we managed to get in some great shots of the sun on Vancouver while rain showers were all around. On returning to our cabin (D709) we felt lots of vibration from the engines and wondered if it would be like that throughout the trip so we took Bonine (just in case), put out the doorknob hanger order for room service breakfast and immediately went to sleep. The next morning the vibrations had calmed down and we spent a leisurely day exploring the ship, watching the coast, and reading. I even got to see a whale breach as I was scanning the sea with binocs. This was the first formal night. I did not pay much attention to who was specifically wearing what except that a comment from someone on CC popped into my head about the mode of dress being more "church or business than formal". I wore black Travellers pants and jacket with a sparkly top--DH had a black jacket, slacks, shirt and tie. DH would have been fine with just a shirt and tie. Ketchikan: I knew before we began that Ketchikan was the place that I would want to spend more time. We had a fabulous excursion with Lois Munch (Classic Tours) in her '55 powder blue and white Chevy. It was a glorious sunny day that allowed us to explore stair streets, totems, eagle nests, and plants. Lois directed us to Howling Wolf art gallery where we met a local artist who signed his prints for us. I learned so much with he and Lois about native culture and art. On the way back to the ship I had my first Alaska Amber beer--what a treat! Juneau: We awoke to pouring rain so out came the raincoats and we headed off to sign in with Orca whale watching before going to the Alaska State Museum in time for opening at 8:30 am. It was a Saturday so my plan of stopping for coffee did not work out as none of the coffee shops en-route opened until 9. The museum folks directed us to the grocery store behind the museum that had a great coffee bar and donut place. Orca picked us up at the museum at 10 and we went whale watching with Captain Larry. We saw several whales and finally one dove deep and showed his flukes? We continued on to Mendenhall in the Orca shuttle and went to some of the photo points--some of the group walked out to Nugget Falls but we were content investigating the visitor's center. As it was still raining Orca dropped us near Taku Smokeries store to pick up vacuum-packed salmon and jerky --delicious; Next-Door was the Twisted Fish restaurant where we had a small Twisted Fish pie pizza and another Alaskan Amber ale. Skagway: Train Day!!!! More drizzle than rain. We had arranged our day with Chilkoot Charters who picked us up after the security point on the dock for the short ride to the train. There were 9 of us in the front coach of the train. It was spectacular! The open-air parts at each end of the coach made for great photos. We were met in Fraser and went by small coach (seated about 24) to the Yukon. After stops for black bears, Dall Sheep, Mountain Goats, and Lake Bennett, lunch was at Caribou Crossing--very tender BBQ chicken, roast potato, coleslaw, rolls, and homemade donuts--yum... On the way back to town we stopped for lake views, a desert, waterfalls, and Ptarmigan (the Alaska state bird). Our guide was excellent and ensured we had a personalized memorable day. We chose to be dropped off near the center of Skagway and wandered through the town before heading back to the ship. Glacier Bay and College Fjord: The scenery was stunning! We spent most of our time watching from our balcony or the aft balcony in awe. We saw brown bears on the way into College Fjord as well as sea otters and sea lions. The only critter left on my must-see list was Moose! Whittier: Disembarkation was very smooth and efficient. You are assigned a group based on what you are doing post cruise. We were in the Red group that was going to Anchorage airport for early flights or car rental pick up. The rain was blowing sideways when we got off the ship but Princess had mostly covered walkways. Our driver gave us lots of info about the area as we drove into the city including the "hooligan" run that was occurring (it's a smelt like fish caught in hand nets) with the Bald Eagles lined up on the edge of the bay. Post Cruise: Rental car was picked up, ULU Factory visited, and the next phase of our adventure started. We chose to stay at the Alyeska Hotel that is between Anchorage and Whittier; it has a beautiful setting. On the way there we stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center and had fun seeing a training session with a Kodiak bear playing with antlers and Brown Bears eating fresh salmon. They had a large gift shop with good prices on t-shirts. Our big treat that evening was to eat at the Seven Glaciers restaurant at the top of the Tramway. The next day we went to Seward and visited the Sea Life Center--still rain showers. I had arranged for the Puffin Encounter where to we had a behind the scenes tour and went into the Avian exhibit to feed the sea birds--oh my! Sea lion "teenagers" were playing in the bay as we left and on our way back we saw my last critter in the wild--Moose in a meadow! The next morning we awoke to sparkling snow and brilliant sunshine and headed off to Palmer where we would meet my second cousin and her family. On the way we stopped along Turnagain Arm and at Elkutna to see the spirit houses. Glenn Highway was magnificent in the sunshine and the drive to our final overnight location at Sheep Mountain Lodge was amazing. Our last night was spent over a delicious meal of fresh halibut at the lodge restaurant celebrating with the Alaska cousins. After a full breakfast we slowly drove back to Anchorage stopping for a hike by the Matanuska Glacier and a tour of the Musk Ox farm. After an early meal at the Alaska Brew House we headed to the airport and the overnight flight home. It was a great trip! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first cruise and it was with Princess. After reading all the reviews and getting as prepared as we could, we went on this adventure with an open mind...just wanting to enjoy the experience. ... Read More
We celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first cruise and it was with Princess. After reading all the reviews and getting as prepared as we could, we went on this adventure with an open mind...just wanting to enjoy the experience. The Island Princess did not disappoint! It was the most relaxing, exciting and awesome experience we could have had. We thought everything was excellent! We discovered when we got there, that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite which was wonderful. Our room steward, Nestor was excellent...the waiters(Dajan and Rodney) were awesome, we chose anytime dining and made reservations when we wanted to dine, it was a great choice as we met and dined with wonderful new friends, Marc and Sue. The bar tenders (especially in the wheelhouse bar, Herman and Felix)were super...we took in a couple of Princess excursions and they were great. We did the ultimate ship tour, absolutely worth every penny!! We really enjoyed the tour. Of course the Panama Canal was wonderful and we were only a few doors down from the "secret" door on deck 10 so were there bright and early. All of the entertainment staff, assistant cruise directors and the cruise director...the wake show, the photographers, we could go on and on...all was just terrific. We found the food excellent, we were never disappointed, if there was something we didn't like, there was no problem changing it. We tried all kinds of different food. We also tried both specialty restaurants and enjoyed both but missed our regular waiters. The staff is what makes the cruise, all the amenities were wonderful and we took full advantage of them all, the ship was awesome but we were treated like royalty and that made the difference for us. We liked it so much we put a deposit on another cruise..... for all the newbies...don't worry, go have fun, enjoy and relax! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Our cruise on the Island Princess was very nice and we had fantastic sunny weather all the way until the last full day. Princess had a naturalist on board, who spotted animals and did mini lectures, which was nice. Our room was always ... Read More
Our cruise on the Island Princess was very nice and we had fantastic sunny weather all the way until the last full day. Princess had a naturalist on board, who spotted animals and did mini lectures, which was nice. Our room was always clean, new towels, cookies at night, candy on pillows. Some of the things we didn't like: the laundry rooms were in disrepair; SMOKING!!; commercialization of the ports was ridiculous and the onboard shopping thing was just nuts. We felt like Princess had it's hand in our pockets all the time! Let's face it, unless you have the bucks, this byline they go by 'escape completely' is unattainable. More ping pong tables would be an asset as all the teens tie them up all day long. We also felt like we were very uninformed about how things went. We eventually figured it out, but maybe a little flyer 'new cruiser tips' would be good. Food. Supper in the anytime dining 'Bordeaux' was great. We didn't want to go formal, so two nights we had to eat elsewhere. Sabatinis and the Bayou Cafe were not an option as $20 times 4 when you have two little kids who won't eat much is a waste. Forget dinner in the Horizon cafe. YUK. Pizza is excellent. Coffee is awful. We never got the complete scoop on the drink cards. My kids have never had soda, so that didn't seem like a good idea. Coffee card for that yukky coffee? no thanks. But then when I went to get one of those (free) midget ice cream cones, there were a lot of other items, not for free. !? no prices listed though. We did not book any port activities with Princess, but I did a lot of research and we did great things at lesser prices. All our port activities were SUPER! All in all, a great time, but I wouldn't be adverse to checking out another cruise line next time. Oh, and disembarkation. We had an 11:30 flight, so Princess had all of us early flights gather in the Bayou at 6:30 AM. They pick up your baggage the night before. All the people moving part went fabulously, but then we waited an hour at the airport for the truck to deliver the bags. Not so good at the baggage moving part. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Where to begin. After spending a year planning this trip, I have to say that knowledge, research, and planning pay off. It was great to know what we wanted to see, and to seek out the best ways to experience this beautiful state and ... Read More
Where to begin. After spending a year planning this trip, I have to say that knowledge, research, and planning pay off. It was great to know what we wanted to see, and to seek out the best ways to experience this beautiful state and coastline. Land tour: We had a guided land tour, spending a night in Anchorage, 2 at the McKinley Princess Lodge, and 2 at the Denali Princess Lodge. It was important to spend 2 nights there to be able to see more of the national park, without the limitations of travel on the second day. On arrival at the lodge, we had lunch in the informal restaurant. The food was very good, and the service was fine. We were fortunate to view the peak of Denali for about a half hour. I found it interesting how people come to work in Alaska from so many places, and stay (in-season) year after year. The rooms are adequate, and the grounds have a retreat-like atmosphere. This was great for resting after busy travel-time. My husband loves ATV's, so we did the four-wheeler adventure the first morning and had pure fun. The owners and guide were locals, and it was great to learn about the flora, fauna, and lifestyle. All of the gear and rain protection was provided, and if I can learn anyone can. We drove through a few streams, along rough paths, and the guide set a pace that was doable. It was a small group, and very manageable. We then took the shuttle into Talkeetna for lunch. It is a quaint town. We ate at the Roadhouse, sharing our table with some locals, and trying the waitress's recommendations for food and local brew. The peanut butter balls came highly recommended, and served as a carry-out dessert as we continued to enjoy the town. The Denali Arts Council has an open air art show on weekends. It was nice browsing through some of the artisans booths and choosing a couple items as gifts. We were disappointed that our flightseeing tour with glacier landing was cancelled due to weather, but glad that the air tour companies there are honest and safety-concious. We departed the next morning for the Denali Princess Lodge. We went to the Music of Denali dinner theater with friends and our tour group, and it was delightful. The food was picnic fare and served family style (all-you-can-eat). The performers had wonderful voices, and it reminded me of a very good high school musical. :) The pianist had played on Broadway, and set the tone during dinner with great, familiar tunes. The next day was busy, starting early with the Tundra Wilderness Tour. We saw a lot of wildlife, and the driver/guide did a great job with the videography for those who may not have the best view. She would stop if wildlife was spotted, and stay until everyone had their fill. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, and alone worth the trip. After supper, we went on the Husky Homestead tour, delighted that Jeff King picked us up in the van from the lodge. I highly recommend this experience for people of all ages. It is so much more than a "pet the puppy" experience, although you receive a puppy as you step off the van. You learn about the Iditarod from the master. It is great to learn how he trains for the race, prepares and cares for the dogs, and of his passion for the lifestyle, He still does many of the presentations himself. Highly recommended. He has written a book, artwork by his wife, and they have both signed them. I had them personalized for gifts, and had someone take our picture with Jeff to make it even more personal. Great guy, and an honor to meet him. The next morning we were off in the domed train to Whittier. It is a long, beautiful ride. Lunch on the train is reasonable, and they have you sign a wait list during busy seating times in the dining car. They also had some items they served in the domed area. Princess staff came aboard prior to arrival at Whittier, checked passports and boarding documents. Prior to arrival at Whittier, they give you everything you need for boarding, so you are on the ship straightaway on arrival. We had a wonderful balcony mini-suite on the end of the mid-ship bumpout. Our daughter had arranged for chocolate covered strawberries, and they were there on arrival. The balcony was smaller, but the view was exceptional! We spent a lot of time there, just admiring the scenery. After all, that is what we came for! The mini suite bathroom has a full tub, which is a great plus according to those who have just the shower stall. There was plenty of storage and closet space, room for the luggage under the bed, and a safe in the room. The steward service was very good, and we could count on the cabin being serviced twice daily. The Princess Patters arrived the evening before for the following day, so that is great for those of you who love to plan life aboard the ship. The webcam channel (42) played classical music, and the naturalist or staff would announce wildlife or other special sightings. It's a great reason to keep your balcony door open for the ambiance and information. My husband loved the buffet. (He is a buffet lover, so in his heaven). I had to make him dress up for formal night to celebrate our anniversary, and have a picture pouring at the champagne waterfall event. (I always wanted to do that). The photo came out so good, I bought it. We ate at the Anytime dining restaurant three times. Service and food was always good, and I tried caviar and escargot for the first time. I also had the pizza twice which was good. We had the champagne breakfast one morning and it was tasty, and too much food for 2 people. We lost a little bit of money in the casino, but we only brought what we could afford to lose. We pre-purchased an internet package and got extra minutes doing it that way. Very few problems with internet access although it was slower that what you probably have at home. But that was expected. The internet cafe manager was very helpful. The library area and card room have good areas to read a book or play a game, while viewing the scenery. The Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) were generally simulcast on TV for you movie lovers who don't want to brave the elements/cool air. You can always stop by and get some popcorn, and a couple blankets to take up to your room balcony.(we did) I have to say there were people in the pool/hot tub most of the time (not us). Being on the ship was our down time, so we didn't fill it with shows, activities, etc. We enjoyed the view. Speaking of views, there were great areas on baja deck (and others also) fore and aft for viewing. Brave it and go out those doors. Absolutely wonderful, and a great way to meet the few people who know about them. :) We did the Ultimate Ship Tour on the morning of the final sea day. It was wonderful to learn more about how the ship and it's crew work and live. It was an honor to meet the captain, see the bridge, the production area, the galley areas, the engine control area, the area where they dock the ship from. Everyone was friendly and informative. There were tasty treats and drinks presented along the way. Later in our room, we received plush bathrobes, chefs jackets, and photos of our tour group with various staff from areas we visited. Well worth the "excursion" price for the 3-hour tour. One word to describe Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier...AWESOME! Find yourself a front row seat and enjoy some of the most spectacular views you've ever witnessed. We were fortunate enough to see calving, seals floating on the icebergs, sea otters, gulls, whales in some of the entrance areas... I wouldn't have missed a moment of it. They pilot the ship so both sides can view the areas, and speak to wildlife that they note. While in Skagway, we really wanted to see Emerald Lake, so went with Chilkoot Tours to take a van ride up, eat a BBQ lunch at Carcross, do a fun little dogcart ride, and then ride the train back from Fraser. This could easily be done by driving yourself in a rental car, or with other vendors also. It was wonderful to see all the scenery, get good photo opportunities, and learn about the history of the town, gold rush, characters, and the trail. In Juneau we took the MGT bus out to Mendenhall Glacier. Absolutely beautiful, especially the icebergs floating in the water. There had been a recent historic event with some flooding near the glacier that we were able to learn more about through staff talks and photos. The visitors center is a great place to visit. We didn't have time to hike, as we then went with Harv and Marv's on a whale watch. Binoculars were provided, and the captain did a great job. The smaller boats with 6 or less passengers was appealing to us, but the whales will be there despite the size of the boat so it doesn't make a difference. All of the tour companies know where to go, and how to find the whales. We were fortunate enough to witness a group of humpbacks bubble netting. Quite a happening, and better than the best fireworks I've ever seen. In Ketchikan we wanted to go to Anan, and Dave with Family Air had permits for the day. He did a nice job piloting his floatplane through the misty areas to the entry area for Anan Wildlife Observatory. This was the highlight of our trip. We hiked along a 1/2 mile boardwalked path with many steps into the observation deck area. Get your camera ready. Honestly, you don't even need binoculars...the bear are that close. You may even meet them on the path on your way back and forth. The ranger briefs you on what to do should you encounter a bear. There is a second ranger at the deck. Bear would come within feet of the deck, including moms with cubs. We were fortunate to see both black and brown bear with cubs, countless eagles, and bear catching salmon in the stream...awesome, like I said before. We were able to be there for 3 hours before needing to make the hike back to the entry to meet Dave again for the trip back. So, our experience was fabulous and meant to be once in a lifetime, BUT I can think of many other things I'd like to do should we see Alaska again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Introduction: DH and I are 1st time cruisers; 67 & 56 respectively. 1st trip to Alaska, we wanted everything 'easy' and we couldn't have asked for any better service than what we got with Princess. We decided to ... Read More
Introduction: DH and I are 1st time cruisers; 67 & 56 respectively. 1st trip to Alaska, we wanted everything 'easy' and we couldn't have asked for any better service than what we got with Princess. We decided to 'go for it' and after much research on CC, we did the 12 day Crusietour (5 land/7 cruise). We booked an AA mini-suite, (C504) midship, Deck 10 (Caribe) on the Island Princess, SB from Whittier to Vancouver, June 8 to 15. Our land tour began June 3 in Fairbanks.We booked ourselves from upstate NY to Seattle, WA . We had 2 nights at the Mayflower Park Hotel located only 3 blocks from the Pikes Market, and adjoining the Westlake Mall and access to both the monorail to the Seattle Center (Space Needle) and the light-rail. We used the Shuttle Express to/from the airport for a web reserved discount of $54 r/t for the both of us and 4 pieces of luggage. Great location, rooms are smaller than newer hotels, but staff was helpful, friendly and accommodating. Loved the convenience of being able to walk anywhere. Also, business district city busses are free, so we saved on a Hop on/Hop off tour bus. Ate at the Market (Lowells the 1st night; The Pink Door for the 2nd - OUTSTANDING!) Picked up some fresh cooked prawns and fruit and picnicked for lunch.Booked through Princess for air travel between Seattle and Fairbanks. Arrived in Fairbanks and left our worries behind. Princess took care of EVERYTHING! At the airport, they gave us a welcome envelope that included our room keys, luggage tags ( "come with me tonight" and "meet me at the ship"), itinerary for the next day, time to leave luggage outside (6:00 am), time to get bus to Discovery Riverboat trip and bus # to Denali Princess Lodge. This same scenario repeated itself over the course of the next days travels. A Princess Rep would get on the bus and hand out our envelopes with all information required printed on the front. Travel by coach - comfortable, like a regular charter bus. Small storage bins above seats, room at feet; storage in belly of bus for larger items. Travel by train - 2 different types of trains. Our 1st experience was the McKinley Explorer, a double decker, dome car with front facing, wide cushioned seats. Ample room at feet for small bags & carry ons; storage available below prior to getting on train for larger items. Did see some 'airline' sized carryon bags that were stowed underneath. This was between the Denali Princess and the McKinley Princess lodges. The 2nd train (between McKinley Lodge and Whittier), was the McKinley Express. This is also a dome care, but one level, bench seat style facing each other over a table. NO SPACE AT ALL! We crammed our backpacks in at our feet - a VERY uncomfortable 5 hour trip! The lady seated opposite us (we were facing forward) said she'd get sick riding backwards, so my DH switched with her. They did offer storage as well in the club car, but I traveled with my computer and didn't want to risk it being bounced around and damaged. Dining car available on the 1st train; limited menu on the 2nd. Not supposed to bring on own food, but we didn't know that and we'd brought our own sandwiches with us! No one said anything.Lodging - Fairbanks Princess Lodge: 5 min. trip from airport. Located on river, nice rooms, spacious and clean. Small gift shop, ate in Pub for dinner first night; had buffet for breakfast the next morning. Very satisfied with both. Would have liked 2 nights in Fairbanks, some interesting tours near by we didn't have time for. Shuttle bus into Fairbanks available for $5 pp. We didn't take it, but saw several people lined up for it.Princess Denali Lodge: 3 hr trip from Fairbanks by coach. Had a great guide/driver, who pointed out many points of interest and interesting side stories along the way. Those on the 2nd coach to Denali had a more 'sedate' driver/guide who hardly spoke. Main lodge is near road; across the street from a 'strip' of shops and places to eat. Pizza place, Subway (24 hrs), Salmon Bake rest. Ate at the lodge's pub the 1st night (just chowder and appetizers). Had dinner at the Salmon Bake the following night and breakfast there the morning before leaving for the McKinley Lodge. Heard different comments regarding the dinner show (from 'cute' to 'hokey'). Rooms are spread out in different buildings, shuttle constantly running through, but hardly ever saw anyone using it. Several gift shops between the main lodge and the rooms. Newer buildings (#10/11) are up a slight hill. Our room was in a Bldg near the restaurant. Comfortable, flat screen TV, quiet - quite satisfied. Took the Tundra Wilderness Tour the following morning. DO NOT bother with the Natural History tour. Your first 15 miles are essentially the 'public' areas of the park - with the exception of a mother moose and her twin calves near the entrance of the park - there was virtually no wildlife that we saw - even the drive is limited in the views. We probably went in about 25 miles before we began to see anything. NOTE: the busses look like a school bus on the outside; the seats are NOT bench style - they are more like the coach/charter bus seat, a bit more narrow. Open shelving above for storage. Try to sit (either side) either right below one of the drop down video screens or one row back. They are spaced out about 1 every 4/5 rows. It made a difference a couple of times to see the wildlife up closer. NOTE: 'box lunch' includes: reindeer sausage (looks like kielbasa), bag of baby carrots, bag of granola, 1 oz pkg of cheese, 1 bottle of water, 1 sliced white roll.) Bathroom breaks were every 90-120 min. Nice, clean facilities - not what I expected. One stop even has a small gift shop!! Wildlife viewing is different every trip. Appreciate what you DO see! We saw everything but bears - bus behind us? Saw the bears! Oh well! The views are breathtaking!Some took shuttle back to Visitor's center - we didn't because DH wasn't feeling well, but others said it was great - do it if you can.HINT - taking the train from Denali to McKinley? Don't wait for the scheduled bus - crowded and mayhem at the main lodge. Hop on one of the free shuttles to the Visitors' Center, cross the street and you're at the train station! Princess has their clients wait in covered shelters to the left of the main station. Holland America has theirs wait in a more open area towards the center. A Princess rep will tell you which shelter to wait in based upon the name of the railcar you are assigned to.We had a great 'guide' on the train and had a great day of weather - as we rounded a bend, he pointed out that "the mountain is OUT!" Sure enough, Mt McKinley (Denali to the locals) was clear and bright! An incredible and impressive sight. We counted ourselves very fortunate to get to see it!!McKinley Princess Lodge - REMOTE! A good hour drive by coach after arriving by train in Talkeetna. Some chose to stay in town and catch the hourly shuttle back to the lodge later. NOTE: You are allowed one "FREE" roundtrip on the coach. If you stay in town upon arrival, you can catch the shuttle back at no cost. If you take the shuttle into Talkeetna and back the same day (like we did on our 'free' day), it is $10 roundtrip pp. The town is SMALL! Only about a dozen buildings. If you can, catch some of the lectures/presentations back at the lodge before exploring the town. We went to the one about "Bush Pilots" and then went into town. It really gave a lot of background info on some local legends. Visit the historical museum, and if you have time, walk over to the town cemetery. There are gravesites there that have plane propellers instead of headstones! Eat at the "Roadhouse" - it's family style seating, good food and the building is pretty interesting itself.Our room was located in one of the several lodge style buildings throughout the grounds. We were right near the 20,320 Restaurant. This is the only place we ate on property - breakfast and dinner. Prices were reasonable and service good. The main lodge had a good sized gift shop, a HUGE common area with large windows and a large deck area with plenty of seating to see the mountains. They have 4 or 5 computers available in the 'internet' lounge, but wireless was easily available on your own equipment. Not in the rooms, however. Again, Princess made everything easy. Bus to the train the next day was on time and our driver was a doll! Train to Whittier - only issue on entire trip. The McKinley Express is (as I described above) not as a comfortable mode of transportation. It did go past some beautiful scenery though. Arrival at Whittier - I should mention that we stopped shortly in Anchorage where Princess rep's boarded the train - one to each car. They went seat by seat and scanned everyone's passports. Answered questions and explained how embarkation would work. When we arrived in Whittier, and before leaving the railcar, we received our Cruise Cards! Simply walked off the train, followed the walkway to the security building (there were about 400 of us on the train, so that did take about 20 minutes or so to get through), continued to the ship where they scanned our card at the entryway and the 'machine' took our photo! Onboard at last! Barely walked in when our room steward, Robert, came by, introduced himself, pointed out that the egg crate and distilled water (for DH Cpap machine) were already in our cabin, confirmed our requests for robes, showed us how to request service, explained the breakfast room service card. Within 15 min. or so it was time to go to the muster drill. Crew and staff were posted everywhere to direct people, instructions were short and sweet and then everyone disbursed again.Got our bearings and headed to the buffet where it was a bit crowded and crazy to say the least. Buffet lines were slow moving (some seemed to be filling up a week's worth of food - perhaps they were afraid the ship would run out!). Eventually we got our 'light' supper and then did a quick cursory tour of the ship, unpacked and settled in for the night.1st day of cruise was spent getting a massage, attending the CC Meet and Greet (Thanks Jody!), having lunch in the Bordeaux . It was also the first formal night, but because we were also cruising to Hubbard Glacier, we made a decision to forgo the dinner to watch the glacier instead. HOWEVER, due to heavy ice floe and heavy fog setting in, the Captain decided for safety sake to stop eight miles away (still pretty impressive from what we could see) and turned around earlier. Problem solved - dressed for dinner. We preferred eating our meals in the dining room. Enjoyed the service, the quality of food and the ambiance. We had a lunch in Horizon Court once and on an early tour excursion in Juneau, we had room service (mostly breaks, fruits, cereals, juices and an 'egg mcmuffin' style sandwich. DH had room service bring coffee, juice and fruit each morning. Always on time or early. Always delivered with a smile and 'good morning'! Had pizza a couple of times as a snack. Actually pretty good! Had ice cream cones a couple of times as well. I'm a big diet soda drinker, so we sprung for a soda package ($36 for the length of the cruise, unlimited). Had no trouble getting it at the buffett, dining room or any of the bars open throughout the ship. I saw some people walking around with their 'coke' souvenir mug to have it filled up, but I just showed my cruise card with the sticker on it. NOTE: got my cruise card punched in the casino and the cashier put it on a lanyard for me. VERY handy!Glacier Bay was outstanding - weather was perfect, glaciers were calving, Rangers on board were great!Skagway - DH didn't want to do the train, so we opted for the bus trip over the summit and Liarsville. Beautiful scenery. Liarsville was cute. A B+ overall. Went back to the ship for lunch, then met up with our guide for the "Good Times Girls walking tour". Also a B+ (although DH would probably give it an A+!!). Juneau - booked our own tour with Harv & Marv's. OUTSTANDING! They book no more than 6 pax per ship, so imagine our surprise when we were the ONLY TWO on our tour! We had Captain Liz, who did a WONDERFUL job of getting us to the whales fast and pointing out great shots. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day! I HIGHLY recommend H&M! Ketchican - the first 'drizzly' day we had all week! Still, not wet enough to need much more than a good waterproof jacket and baseball cap. We took the self-guided tour through town (pick up right at the dock at the Visitor Center). The first thing we did, though, was head to the Post Office to mail packages of gifts we'd been buying all along. What I didn't know, until I read it in the Patter, is that you have to meet with a Custom's agent ON THE SHIP prior to taking any packages off to be mailed. About a dozen pax and crew waited for the agent to arrive in the Provence DR. She did a cursory check of the opened packages and then you sealed it and she put the customs inspection tape on it. I don't know if this is something that people bypass by not packing boxes and just carrying things off, but we didn't want to take any chances. Also, stopped by the Library/Museum. Nice museum and the library offers 30 minutes free wifi if you have your own laptop. They also have some PC's available, but I overhead the librarian tell a fellow pax that they would have to wait an hour to use it.Ultimate Ship Tour - yes, we sprung for the $150 pp and LOVED IT! Only one dozen permitted on the tour (we had ten total). Got to see the galley's, coolers, laundry, medical center, mooring, engineer room, walk the "M1" secret corridor on deck 3 from forward to aft, and finished up in the Bridge with the Captain. Not long after the 3.5 hr tour, we received 2 heavy terry cloth robes, 2 chef's coats, autographed photos taken at the different locations. A great experience!Vancouver - arrived in dock on time. Disembarkation was relatively quick. Our group was given the place (Universal Lounge) and time (8:20). We departed the ship about 8:30, went right through Canadian customs, found our luggage, got in a cab and by 9:00 we were at the West End Guest House B&B only about 4 blocks from Canada Place. Dropped off our luggage, picked up the Vancouver Trolley and toured the city. Caught a couple of comedian shows, but generally, we were pretty tired in the evenings and would spend a quiet night in our cabin.A wonderful experience and can't find a negative thing to say about Princess! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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