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30 Princess Island Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Mom, Dad and 18-year old disgruntled son dragged away from electronic devices for a vacation arrived in Vancouver a day before the cruise left, and spent the day sightseeing, shopping and dining. The bellman from our hotel carted our 6 ... Read More
Mom, Dad and 18-year old disgruntled son dragged away from electronic devices for a vacation arrived in Vancouver a day before the cruise left, and spent the day sightseeing, shopping and dining. The bellman from our hotel carted our 6 bags (yes, 6, we overpacked) all the way to the Canada Place luggage drop. He got a very nice tip, as did the disabled man handling the luggage on the pier. (We bypassed the unionized longshoremen.) Princess really has all its logistics under control. Very impressive, very well thought out. Hotel chains could learn some lessons from Princess. Our mini-suite on the Island Princess seemed very small at first, so I put our name on a list with the purser for an upgrade to a full suite if one became available. (I think she was humoring me, but politely, as the suites were taken.) After we unloaded our 6 bags, I realized that they could all fit under the bed, and voila, plenty of room. We were located mid-ship in the "bulge". This would seem to be the best location to avoid the ship's motion. The Island Princess is relatively narrow, and swayed side to side in the calm seas leaving Vancouver, probably due to a cross-wind on the tall superstructure. At certain speeds there was a slight two cycle per second shake to the ship, but since we are from California, it felt like a small earthquake which we could ignore easily. The bow had a lot of motion when we were in the open seas, so we avoided the theatre. The stern had noise and shook, so we avoided the lounge shows in the stern. Too bad, we missed bingo. We had the 6 pm seating, which turned out to be the right time for us. We sat with a very pleasant couple. We missed about half of our reserved dinners due to shore excursions, but the food at the 24-hour Horizon Court was just fine. My wife is a retired executive chef, and thought the food quality and food preparation on the ship, with a few exceptions, was very good. The service was uniformly excellent. We were impressed with the ability of the wait staff in Horizon Court to keep things moving and under control. A minor point was that the buffet lacked caesar salad dressing. But there was a caesar salad station where a cook would make your salad to order. Very nice, except the dressing at this station wasn't on ice and in fact was near hot food. We are non-smokers, and were gratified that our stateroom had no left over smoke from any prior occupants. There were only a few places on board where the alarming odor of cigarette smoke was noticeable: near the Churchill Lounge, in the Wheelhouse Bar, the Patisserie, and of course the casino. (Casino usually nearly empty, very tight slots.) Several areas on open deck were unobtrusively set aside for smokers, as signalled by the ashtrays provided. Best drinks were at the Crooners Bar. On days at sea, we played cards and board games in the card room one deck up, and the waiter would come up to provide service. It was like staying at a new luxury hotel. We went on shore excursions at every port. Probably pricier than doing it yourself, but again, the logistics went smoothly, and if the official Princess excursion is late returning, they will hold the ship. As it was, the ship left the dock a few minutes early at every port. Helped make the point that we had to be on board on time. Excursions: salmon fishing (slow day); flying to an island to fly-fish for Dolly Varden trout (highlight of the trip); panning for gold; eagle river jet boat trip; and on the way to Anchorage airport, Portage glacier and wildlife rescue visit. Everyone we talked to enjoyed their excursions. And we had no rain. None. Mostly cloudy and quite windy, but we had sunny afternoons everywhere, including College Fjord. We'd do this trip again. I'd leave today in fact, and do it all over again. Our only real gripe was with the aggressive salesmanship of poor quality jewelry and watches. To be fair, it was worse on shore: every port was thick with jewelry stores selling jewelry of uncertain ancestry. So they must be doing good business, and people on these cruises must buy this stuff. Beat's me why. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This was a family cruise - my husband and I (mid-40s) and 3 kids (20, 18 and 5). We selected a cruise because we thought there would be something for all ages. The travel agent selected the Island Princess, and she made a fantastic choice. ... Read More
This was a family cruise - my husband and I (mid-40s) and 3 kids (20, 18 and 5). We selected a cruise because we thought there would be something for all ages. The travel agent selected the Island Princess, and she made a fantastic choice. Overall, the Island Princess met or exceeded our expectations in almost every area. The land portion of the trip was not quite as great, which I will explain below. The cruise stopped in Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and then Whittier. The boat left on Monday; we flew to Vancouver and stayed at the Pan-Pacific the night before. I HIGHLY recommend staying at the Pan-Pacific. It's a great hotel, and you can't beat the location. Best of all, they will take your bags directly from your room to the ship - no shlepping bags! We got both a city view and a harbor view - the harbor view was not worth the extra money. The harbor view room was MUCH smaller than the city view, and not as nice. Embarkation was pretty smooth - a little bit of sit and wait around, but overall was pretty good. Most of our bags were in our rooms when we got them, except for one. Our son's bag wasn't there - finally after several hours we called and they said they had held it because he packed a knife on it (we were unaware he had done so). They held the knife, and delivered the bag. The ship is beautiful, and well maintained. My husband and I and our 5 year old had a mini-suite with balcony and the other 2 kids had their own inside cabin. The mini-suite was perfect for us - but there's no way we could have put the older kids in the room also. For one, the sleeper sofa was about the right size for a 5-10 year old, but there's no way the teenagers would have fit on it. Plus it was HORRIBLY uncomfortable if you were over about 70 pounds. But, the mini-suite worked great, and the room steward made towel animals for our daughter, so she was thrilled. Dining: The dining rooms were fantastic - the food was excellent. We had anytime dining, which worked great for us. There are lines if you go about 7pm, but before or after seemed to get right in. We ate one lunch in the Horizon Court buffet and it was not good. However, we ate most breakfasts there also, and breakfasts were great. Our advice - they have everything you need for breakfast (they will custom make eggs, plus french toast, waffles, etc). I would steer clear for lunch and dinner though. Kids club: The folks who ran it were VERY nice. The bad part is that the club is at the absolute end of the boat (the stern), so the vibration and the noise was a little tough. Our daughter wanted to go some days, and cried on the others so much that we didn't take her. They aren't open during meals, except for the two formal nights, when they serve the kids dinner. She had a blast on those nights. Overall, the program is really good though. Activities: My husband and I were pretty mellow, and mainly hung out in the Crooner's Bar and went to the magic show. The Crooner's bar is nice and relaxing. Overall the magic show was good - the magician was very good, but it was a little too over the top as far as showmanship. The kids spent every waking hour doing something - dancing, hot tubbing, going to shows. (they went to every show on board). They had a BLAST. Weather: overall, it was good weather - lows in the 40s to highs in the 60s. As many others have suggested, layer your clothes, and bring rain gear! overall, it was pretty nice, although Glacier Bay and College Fjord were COLD so be prepared (hats, mittens were helpful) Excursions: We did a few. In Ketchikan, my husband and son did the zipline excursion. They said it was fun, but you only actually zipline for something like 5 minutes of the 4 hour tour. (The rest was transportation, and waiting on the platforms for others to zipline). Juneau: We tried to do the helicopter/dog sled excursion, but it was cancelled due to weather (we tried to do it the next day in Skagway, and it was also cancelled). Instead we did the helicopter ride with glacier landing, and then later did the Evening Whale Quest. The helicopter/glacier landing was fun - the ride was beautiful, but you only get about 5-10 minutes to stand on the glacier. Still was very very cool, and the pilot was fun. The whale watch was good - dinner was great, and we saw both orcas and humpbacks, which apparently is unusual. In Skagway, when our dog sled glacier outing was cancelled, we ended up on the sled dog summer camp excursion with a bunch of people from the Carnival ship in dock. This was great fun - you go for a ride on a sled pulled by dogs, and then got to pet the puppies and dogs. All 3 kids LOVED this. Disembarkation was a breeze - we were first off due to going on the cruise tour and needing to get the train to McKinley. Cruise Tour: I would probably not recommend going through Princess. Rather, if you want to do this portion, rent a car and do it on your own. This was pretty much a big hassle and the Princess accommodations on land ranged from great to "you gotta be kidding me". Our biggest pet peeve was that events were poorly timed (luggage pick up was 7am, check out 11am but you didn't leave until 3pm for example). McKinley Princess Lodge: avoid it. Ok rooms, but there is NOTHING to do here. You do get a chance to look at McKinley, but we all felt it was a waste of time. Denali Princess Lodge: VERY nice - worth staying there on your own. I wish we would have skipped the McKinley lodge and spent another day here. We took the Explore Denali tour, which was the shortest. We didn't think the 5 year old would make a 6-8 hour bus ride. The tour was nice, you got out and walked around for a while and we got to see McKinley again. If we weren't travelling with such a young kid, we probably would have done one of the longer ones. Overall though, the tour was very nice. We also did the Sled Dog camp in Denali (free). You can pet the dogs and they talk about the dogs. Fairbanks Princess Lodge: ugh. Was a slightly nice Motel 6. We didn't do the Princess shuttle to the airport, as it would have required us to have our bags ready 12 hours before the flight left. The hotel has a free shuttle. Staff: overall, the Princess staff on board and in all the lodges was truly excellent. They were all helpful and accommodating and VERY customer focused. In summary, fantastic trip - would definitely do the cruise again, but would skip the land tour. If you do the land tour, I would agree with others on here that said do the land portion first, and then have the end of your vacation to just relax on the boat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Pre-trip: Our excellent journey actually began 2 days before our departure when we received an e-mail from Princess advising us that we had been upgraded to a full suite! We then departed from the east coast to Anchorage on June 17,2010 ... Read More
Pre-trip: Our excellent journey actually began 2 days before our departure when we received an e-mail from Princess advising us that we had been upgraded to a full suite! We then departed from the east coast to Anchorage on June 17,2010 for our 12 night cruisetour. We'd booked our own air travel on Alaska Airlines, taking advantage of the Alaska Airlines credit card $99 companion ticket to travel first class for 2 for just over the price we would have paid for 2 coach fares. It was well worth the extra money to fly first class on such a long trip. Alaska Airlines was an outstanding flight experience. Land Tour: We arrived in Anchorage and found our Princess transfer to our lodging at the Hotel Captain Cook. We found this hotel to be adequate with a smallish room in the original hotel tower. We found it odd that the common areas of the hotel had air conditioning, but our room did not (even inquired about it at the front desk and they confirmed no AC in guest rooms). It was a bit warm, but we made it work by opening the window. Even though the time difference made it a very long day for us, we decided to venture out to see some of Anchorage. We found ourselves at Glacier Brewhouse, enjoying some snacks and beer brewed on-site, which was all very enjoyable. The weather was warm, so we walked around the city a bit from there, marveling at all of the beautiful snow-topped mountains that seemed to surround the city. We browsed in the local shops and found a souvenir shop that seemed to have everything, Trader Jacks (I think), with some items made locally and some overseas. We were generally pleased with the prices. We then found another spot, Rumrunners, to have another local brew and watch a basketball game. We enjoyed our low key afternoon/evening in Anchorage. The next morning we arose early to have our bags out in order for them to be picked up for transit to the Princess MT. McKinley Lodge. We boarded a coach for a very short trip to the train station, where we boarded our Princess railcars to travel to the lodge. The railcars were very nice, with the seating on the second level in domed cars. Shortly after we set out, we saw a moose just off the tracks and then we were treated to an airshow by the fighter jets stationed at the airbase just outside of Anchorage. The train ride was pretty, taking us through wooded areas and over streams. The guide did a nice job narrating and pointing out items of interest as we went. We enjoyed a nice breakfast in the dining car below. We pulled in to the Talkeetna station shortly after noon. We decided to stay in Talkeetna and explore rather than immediately heading out to the lodge. Talkeetna is a tiny little town with essentially one main street. We explored some of the local shops, most of which appeared to have locally-made items. We also found another brewhouse, The Denali Brewing Company. We had lunch at one of the local cafes. We then caught one of the regularly-scheduled coaches heading back to the Lodge, which took approximately one hour travel time. We'd already received our keys, so went directly to our room in one of the small buildings that surround the main lodge. We found our room basic and clean, with 2 double beds. No cause for complaint, but certainly not a well-appointed room. The main lodge was spectacular, with a huge central stone fireplace and a big porch off the Mckinley-facing side that was lined with benches and adirondack chairs perfect for mountain viewing. When we arrived, part of the mountain was visible and we enjoyed just taking in the view and the wilderness. One of the walking paths below the lodge was closed in the evening due to the presence of a mother moose and her baby who were munching on leaves near the path. It was a neat sight through the binoculars. We had dinner one of the on-site restaurants and found the food to be good. The next morning we had a good breakfast in the lodge's main dining room and then explored the various walking paths on the property. All were a very easy walk. We chose not to do any optional excursions while at the McKinley lodge and elected to just sit on the porch enjoying the views. In the afternoon, we boarded a coach for the trip to Denali Princess lodge. Upon arrival, we were given our keys and found our room to be in one of the new buildings on property. Again, we found the room to be basic and clean, but nothing special. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to elect (and pay for) upgraded room accommodations. We explored the many souvenir shops that are across from the lodge, most of which seemed to be selling items made overseas rather than in Alaska, and all seemed to be of the "tourist trap" type. However we did buy a few decent t-shirts and other trinkets. We returned to the lodge and had a wonderful dinner at the main restaurant. The next morning we arose early and had breakfast at the buffet on-site. It took quite awhile to get served drinks and the buffet food was just fair. We then embarked on our Tundra Wilderness Tour into Denali. The buses are operated by Aramark and are school buses rather than nice coaches. Overall, they were fairly comfortable. We had a knowledgeable tour guide who had been doing tours in the park for several summer seasons. The ride in the park was beautiful, with so many different types of scenery, from dense woods to tundra grasslands to rocky mountains. We got to see quite a bit of wildlife once we got further into the park, including lots of caribou and Dahl sheep, a fox and her baby right near the bus, a golden eagle soaring near a mountain peak, a wolf sleeping near the entrance to its den and a mother bear and her 2 young cubs off on the side of slope. It was a terrific trip into the park and well worth the full day on a school bus. That evening we had pizza at the on-site pizza place, which was not great pizza. We then ventured off-property to the outlook, which is across the street and up a very steep incline from the lodge property (you can call for a pick-up). We enjoyed a beautiful view of the park while sipping some of the local Alaskan beers. The following morning we had our bags out early for pick-up and then boarded buses to the train station. We boarded the train for a very long ride to Whitier to meet the ship. We were paired up at our table with a very nice older couple from north of Chicago and really enjoyed talking with them throughout the trip. We had a gloriously sunny day for the trip and as the train wound down on its travels, there were a number of beautiful vantage points from which we could see Mt. McKinley (Denali as the locals call the mountain) in all its full, uncovered beauty. It was one of the most spectacular sights that either of us had ever seen and the train slowed a number of times for passengers to be able to take pictures. Even some of the guides and staff on the train were taking pictures and telling us it was one of the most clear shots they'd seen while working on the train. It was a long train ride, but manageable with the dining car for a nice lunch and the bar for some tasty drinks. Embarkation: All of the pre-boarding was actually done on the train when we picked up several princess employees in Anchorage who handled all of the pre-board paperwork, checked our passports and handed out our cruise cards. We pulled into Whitier, went through security and were on the ship within 15 or 20 minutes. Cruising: Suite: Upon entering the ship, we were directed to our suite, D701, the Seychelles Suite. It was absolutely beautiful and very spacious. It had a nice marble-tiled entryway which then entered into the living room, which had a roomy desk area across from the wet bar and refrigerator, which had been stocked with complimentary beverages. The living room had a TV, nice sized sofa and armchair and a cocktail table and side table that held a beautiful arrangement of flowers. The living room had a set of balcony doors leading out to our double balcony, set with a table and chairs as well as lounge chairs. Back in the suite the living room was separated from the bedroom by a set of heavy draperies that could be pulled at night to accommodate different sleeping patterns. The bedroom was roomy with a large queen-sized bed and two side tables, another TV, a big mirrored dressing table with a lighted make-up mirror and plenty of storage for all of our clothes and belongings. There was a huge walk-in closet for all of our hanging clothes as well. The bathroom was huge, actually separated into two sections, one for the sink and toilet, separated by a door from the area for the jetted jacuzzi tub and large glass-walled shower. The extra bathroom space was very nice. We met our cabin steward, Chet, who brought us a glass of champagne to celebrate our arrival. We watched from our balcony as the ship pulled off from the dock. Shortly after we did the obligatory muster drill, then began exploring the ship. We had a cocktail up on the lido deck at the pool area. The dining had been changed since it was the first night on board, so we decided to have a late dinner at the buffet rather than the main dining room. We did not find the buffet food to be very good. We're used to buffets in Vegas where there are many more selections and both the selection and quality were lacking in the buffet. We discovered Crooners martini bar and enjoyed a wonderful late-night cocktail. Our second day on board was a sea day and the first of our formal nights. We started the day by having breakfast at Sabatini's, a perk for Suite guests. We enjoyed this immensely. The food was excellent and the service, by our waiter Sebastian, was outstanding. We did breakfast at Sabatini's most days when we didn't have an early port excursion. We were surprised that there were not many others who took advantage of this wonderful experience. We spent the day exploring the ship and finding all of the main entertainment areas, dining areas, lounges and pool areas. We found the ship very easy to navigate and get around. We spent the day leisurely napping and also had a very good lunch in the main dining room. We dressed early for dinner and took part in the evening cocktail hour that is held for elite and suite guests. We were surprised to find that very few people attended this cocktail reception, which was surprising given that they put out some very nice hors d'oeuvres. We enjoyed the service from the Italian chef, Eduardo, who oversaw the event. We took part in this several evenings during the cruise. We decided to have formal portraits taken by the ships photography staff. That evening they were having a contest. If you had your picture taken at all of the photography stations, you could enter a drawing to win a $300 photo package. We had our picture taken at all of the stations and turned in our prize card and the next morning, when selecting some pictures, learned that we had been drawn for the prize. We received a CD of our selection of formal portraits and 5 8x10 prints. We were thrilled. We also attended the Captain's Champagne Reception that evening which was nicely done with a Champagne waterfall. We had a very nice dinner at the main dining room. We had elected the anytime dining room and had not problem getting a table at approximately 8:00, even requesting a table for two. After dinner we went over to the bar at the Bayou Cafe to listen to Jean Mac sing songs from the American Songbook. We danced and really enjoyed the music. Later we found the casino and found the gaming to be adequate, with roulette for me and video poker for my husband. The dealers were very nice, although throughout the cruise I didn't find that many other players at the roulette table. Over the course of the cruise, between the 2 of us, we actually walked away from the casino with an extra $500 or so over what we'd started with, which was nice. We also did check out the Wheelhouse Bar, which was nearly deserted most of our voyage. There was a band called Nova, and they were just okay. I don't think we ever saw more than one or two couples dancing. We ended our evening at Crooners with the terrific entertainment by Dan Oliver who was great on the piano and had a wonderful singing voice. We met our favorite cocktail waiter Enrique, who provided us excellent service throughout the cruise. The cosmos made by the Crooners bar staff were excellent. The next day was the trip into Glacier Bay. We had our morning breakfast at Sabatinis and then attended the Glacier Bay Park Ranger presentation in the Princess Theater. It was a very interesting presentation about the glaciers and history of glacier bay. The day was rainy, but we braved the elements and went up on the open deck. It was well worth the cold and rain. The captain was able to pull in quite close to the Margerie clagier and we were able to hear and see it calve off ice several times. We saw a seal pull out on a small iceberg. The glacier was simply awe-inspiring. The captain then spun the ship around, so we retreated to our cabin where we could continue to see the glacier from our covered balcony while enjoying a yummy hot tody. We were also visited by a gull who decided that he like the railing of our covered balcony as well. Glacier bay was a wonderful day. That night we enjoyed a good dinner in the main dining room as well as the entertainment and cocktails at crooners. Our next day was in the port of Skagway. We had an early breakfast at the buffet, which we found to be quite good, with made to order eggs and omelettes and a good selection of fresh pastries. The coffee however, was awful. We were scheduled to go on the very first helicopter glacier landing flight of the day. However, with significant fog, the first trip was cancelled. They were able to book us on an 11:00 flight with the hopes that he fog would lift. Until the flight, we walked around town a bit. Skagway is a fun little town, with one main street full of small shops. We then presented back for our excursion and luckily it was able to fly. We hopped aboard a helicopter and took a 20 to 25 minute flight out to the glacier. We landed on the glacier and did a 20 minute trek around the glacier looking at the different melt formations, the running water, which appears a beautiful blue and the rocks and other items that get picked up and dragged around by the moving glacier. It was a very cool experience. We then re-boarded the helicopters and flew back to the base. The helicopter flight in both directions covered some very beautiful scenery. We were transported back to town just in time for our next excursion out to a summer sled dog camp. We were met by our nice guide Tini (Christine) and took a bit of a drive up out of town to Dyea where the sled dog camp is located. We then broke up into groups and boarded small wheeled carts, holding about 6 people each. The musher gave the command and were were off, pulled by a pack of 18 dogs. The dogs were absolutely amazing. All slight in build and clearly very athletic. They just couldn't wait to run. There was one who would bark like mad and jump up and down in line while waiting, clearly ready to do his job. We learned that the dogs were owned by our musher on board who had run the iditarod race several times, placing well with some of the very same dogs pulling our cart. We then returned to the musher's center for a brief history of dog sledding. Then we got to spend time with a group of young husky pups. They were absolutely beautiful and so much fun. Then it was back to town. We really enjoyed both excursions in Skagway. We finished up our day in Skagway with a pizza and beer at the Red Onion, a former brothel turned bar that maintains its original brothel theme. The pizza was good and the atmosphere very fun and light. The it was back to the ship. We finished off our day on ship with a nice dinner, some casino play and drinks at Crooners. The next day was another early port day, this time in Juneau. We had pre-planned excursion called Whales, Bears & Glaciers. We took a short van ride to a small harbor on the outskirts of Juneau where we boarded a small boat. The Captain then headed out in search of whales and other sea life. As we were pulling out of the harbor, we passed a small pebbled beach on which there was what we were told was a "parliament" of eagles. There were approximately a dozen or more eagles all feeding on halibut. The were simply beautiful, some adults with full white-feathered heads, some juveniles who had not yet gotten their white heads. We then moved into the open water and very shortly spotted the plume from a whale's blow hole. We slowed down and were able to see 2 whales off a bit in the distance, with their humped backs occasionally cresting out of the water followed by their big tails. We continued on our way, seeing a few small seals poking their heads out of the water and then a group of sea lions who had pulled themselves out of the water on to a navigational buoy to enjoy the sun while others barked around in the water clamoring for a spot. We then continued on and saw a group of porpoises that came right up to the boat, jumping and playing along beside the boat as we moved through the water. They actually looked like small killer whales, with similar coloring and markings. Last, we saw a humpback whale calf who came very close to our boat and was having a great time just playing. He was rolling around and pulling his fins out of the water. His mother also came fairly close to us and he continued to play. It was a fabulous whale watch. We then landed on a island, which were later told was twice the size of Rhode Island, with a human population of 950 and a bear population of 3500. We then got on a 15 person van with a guide who was a local young man who had grown up on the island. He was very informative about life on the island, wildlife and growing up in Alaska and shared many great stories. We got out at a wooded path where we walked along a raised plank path through dense woods. Our guide showed us some signs indicating bear had been through recently including claw marks on trees and hair left from the bear rubbing its back against a tree as well as bear droppings on the path. He noted that it was not yet salmon season and that the bears were still in mating season, during which they are constantly on the move. As we came out into a clearing at the end of the path at the water, we saw a small deer and an eagle. We returned to the van and shortly after heading out, just ahead on the logging road, was a large brown bear. Our guide pulled up further on the road and stopped where the bear had crossed the road. There right beside us, on a small rise next to the road, was the bear. He was no more than 8 feet from us. He'd climbed the small rise and had turned sideways and was just staring at us. He was so beautiful. He looked at us for about a minute or so, then turned, walked off and disappeared into the woods. Our guide said that the bear looked to be fairly young, maybe 4 years old and that it is likely that the bear had never seen humans before, which is why he turned to look at us. It was such a cool experience. We then continued on our way for another half hour or so, then arrived at a small airfield. We boarded a small plane that took us up for a 25 minute flight over the Juneau icefields. We saw what looks, from the air, like rivers of ice, that surround Juneau. It was absolutely stunning. We landed back at the Juneau airport and boarded a bus that brought us back to the ship. Back on board the ship, we returned to our suite and prepared for our second formal night. We had a lovely dinner in the main dining room with three other couples at our table and then closed our day at our usual crooners. The next day we awoke to a steady rain in the port of Ketchikan. We had originally planned to do the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show, which we decided to forego due to the rain and wind. Our main goal in town was to finish up our gift shopping, which was easily achieved in Ketchican's many shops. There were many jewelers in town, similar to what one sees when visiting Caribbean ports. We steered clear of those and stayed with the local shops. We found some nice local-made gifts and souvenirs. As soon as we finised shopping, we re-boarded the ship. We dried off and warmed up, then hit the pizza counter by the pool for lunch. We grabbed drinks from the buffet, sat under the covered section near the pool and found the pizza to be very good. We napped and had a leisurely afternoon. We invited in some frineds that we'd met on the land tour into our suite for pre-dinner cocktails, which was very easy to do since we had such a large living room in our suite and also were able to order a tray of canapes every evening as part of the suite perks. For dinner we went to the Bayou Cafe, which we found to be quite good. I had a fabulous spicy grilled shrimp appetizer and we both had steaks as our entree. The food was well done and the service very good. In the eventing, we went to the early Comedy show in the Princess Theater. Kevin Hughes was the comedian and he was pretty funny. Overall we enjoyed the show. We went to the late showing of the International Crew Show in the Princess Theater, which was sort of hokey, but fun too. We finished the night at our usual crooners. The next day was our final full sea day We had our final breakfast at Sabatini's where we continued to experience great food and outstanding service. We took a long walk around the Promenade deck and spotted whales and porpoises off the ship. We ate lunch from the Grill counter on the pool deck and found the simple burgers and fries to be good. In the afternoon, we packed our bags in preparation for having them out in the hall that evening and shopped a bit in the on-board shops, picking up some Princess-themed souvenirs at sale prices. We had made reservations for dinner at Sabatini's that evening and arranged to be served by our favorite waiter, Sebastian. Sabatini's has a really neat way of doing dinner service, where you choose your entree and then they bring you platters of all of the salads and appetizers with small tastes for you to try. It was wonderful. We really enjoyed the food and the way it was served. That evening we found all of our special crew that we got to know and gave them special tips. It was nice to be able to let them know how special they had made our trip. We then visited the casino, again taking away some winnings and closed out our night at crooners. The following day we had an early breakfast in the main dining room and then proceeded with our hand-carried luggage to the wheelhouse bar, the designated area for suite guests, where they had good coffee and juice out for us. We heard our designated pick-up color and number and proceeded down the gangway and through the customs area. We then boarded our Princess transfer to the airport. I was glad that we did the Princess tansfers, as we never had to handle our bags until we got to the airport. The whole process was very smooth and quick. We had a wonderful trip overall and would not hesitate to do the Alaska cruisetour again with Princess. We did purchase future cruise credis and are working on planning our next Priness adventure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We took the Seattle package for our cruisetour. We rode a bus to Vancouver to start the cruise and at the end of the tour we flew from Alaska to Seattle, spent the night at the Doubletree before going home. The bus was held up at the ... Read More
We took the Seattle package for our cruisetour. We rode a bus to Vancouver to start the cruise and at the end of the tour we flew from Alaska to Seattle, spent the night at the Doubletree before going home. The bus was held up at the Seatac airport and didn't leave until 10:45am. The embarkation process was a bit over whelming but we were first timers so that could have been the problem. Once on the ship, I met our cabin steward and was told that the egg crate mattress cover and our robes were not available until tomorrow morning. He did empty our refrig and put on a top sheet for the bed. I asked for wine glasses and he told me he would call room service for me. I felt bad, I really didn't know I had to call room service. But other than that snag it was great. We ate at the buffet, the dining room, pizza, the grill and had room service once. All was good. The buffet had MANY choices. I ended up taking little bites of many things. There were at least a dozen desserts to chose from. And the service in the dining room was excellent. The dining room had several different things to select from and the portions were not overly large. So you could order an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert without feeling stuffed. I bought the Ultimate Drink Card and was pleased with my purchase. I had a smoothie every day for breakfast. There were always things to do, entertainment, lectures, etc. The crew tried to please you. We went on a land tour, very nice and organized. They gave you packets at each stop with your room keys so didn't have to check in - Nice. We saw Mt McKinley it its full glory for the day and a half we were there. We went to Denali and saw wildlife. The only hitch was at Denali, the men in our group did the Black Diamond ATV ride and were hugely disappointed. It was not worth the $$. The ride was short, they really just went up a hill and around a small trail. The rain/mud slickers they gave them to wear were dirty with mud splashes. We thought it would be in a part of Denali but it was just a piece of property down the road. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first time going on a cruise, and Princess did a great job. They had quite a bit of entertainment on the ship every single night...including movies, shows, and fun games. The tv inside the stateroom also had tons of shows and ... Read More
This was our first time going on a cruise, and Princess did a great job. They had quite a bit of entertainment on the ship every single night...including movies, shows, and fun games. The tv inside the stateroom also had tons of shows and movies on. If there wasn't any entertainment on the ship you were interested in, there was always something on tv. Plus, with a balcony stateroom, it's great to be able to stay in the room and choose when to go inside/outside; especially since it's freezing outside in Alaska! The main complaint I have is the food. The buffet was great for breakfast; the food was normal. They had french toast, waffles, eggs, hash browns, breads, cheeses, biscuits, fruit, etc. Lunch and dinner, however, were a different story. There was rarely anything that I would consider "normal." They always had salad, some sandwiches, and breads. Usually there were mashed potatoes and some type of meat. The other sides and such just seemed very fancy or oriental. It was very hard to get something plain, like a piece of grilled chicken or even just green beans. The food in the restaurant was very good, but it did take a while. Once again, nothing was plain...although I'm sure you could order it plain if you wanted. The restaurant is a good choice if you want a nice sit-down dinner and maybe want something to do for a while. We were usually in there about an hour and a half to two hours. Our waiters were always very attentive and made sure that our orders were correct and how we wanted. There were pizza and hamburger restaurants on the deck, which were very good. We usually did this or room service. Room service was also included in the anytime dining, and they had a couple more options than the other places. It was also very quick; the food usually arrived within 20 minutes. One other thing is that soda is not included in the price of the cruise. They have stickers to put on the room cards that allow you to get unlimited soda, but they cost about $4.50 a day. Our room steward was very nice. It seemed like he was watching the room! Practically every time we had left the room, we came back and it was clean or the sheets were turned down. Overall, this was a great cruise. Everything went according to plan in the ports as well. Once we got to Whittier, we took the train to Denali. The hotel here was very nice, but food was extremely expensive. I would highly recommend the Tundra Wilderness Tour that usually comes with the cruisetour...it's great for spotting wildlife. We also did a whitewater rafting tour. It was a lot of fun! We then took a bus to Fairbanks. This was where the first thing went wrong. We signed up for a North Pole tour the first night that was supposed to leave at 6:15. We were waiting outside the hotel at 6, but we saw no bus and were never called for the tour. Finally, about 6:30, I went inside to check on it. I was told by someone at the front desk that the bus had come and gone and they tried calling our room. I told them that we were told to be up front, and that when nobody answered the phone, I asked why they didn't call our name or the name of the tour outside. A lady at the Princess tour desk said that she and the tour director went outside looking for us. I told them we were on the opposite side of the walkway and she said "Well, we didn't look over there." Just flat-out admitted it...and there was no apology. The bus also didn't have a sign on it. I asked for a refund and was told it would be refunded in a couple weeks. I was mad, but at least they refunded it. The next day, when the tour bus came for the next group of people, I went up to the driver and told him that he needed to try harder when looking for his guests. He just kept saying he went around asking for us. How does that help to go around and ask people we don't know where we are? I don't know. But he wouldn't own up to not looking for us. Anyways, we went to Chena Hot Springs and had a great time. They have a cool ice museum and a nice restaurant (included in price). The riverboat tour was also very interesting. We then started our drive up to Prudhoe Bay. We stopped in Coldfoot and stayed in a work camp. There are no tv's, so I would suggest taking one of the tours they offer (in particular, Anaktuvuk Pass). The next day we went up to Prudhoe Bay. We stayed in a work camp here, also. It was a very relaxed night. Then, we went up to the Arctic Ocean. It was still frozen so everyone got to go walk on the ice. We also got a flight back to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines just for us! It was nice to be back somewhere that dinner didn't cost $20 per person. Here, we stayed in Hotel Captain Cook...extremely nice. Our final day, we were supposed to do the 26 glacier cruise. Our paper said to be downstairs at 10:30. Luckily, I checked with the front desk and it was 9:30. We were downstairs at 9:15. At 10, the bus still "hadn't come," so I checked with the front desk and we were supposedly left off the list from Princess. However, unlike Fairbanks, the people here were MUCH more helpful than those in Fairbanks. I put in for a refund and we were also picked up by another tour (Explore Anchorage?) for free! We drove around the city and went to Wildberry Products, where we received lunch. It was great to do this instead of sitting around all day. Aside from the two mistakes on the tours, everything was great! The main suggestion I have (if you do land tours) is to bring snacks! Because meals were so expensive, we sometimes just ate snacks for our meals. Snacks can get expensive too, so I would bring them from home. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
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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