4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We were a family of four adults traveling on the Southbound Alaskan cruise from Whittier to Vancouver July 15. My husband and I have taken 8 or so cruises. Most of these have been with Carnival, but this was our second with Princess. In ... Read More
We were a family of four adults traveling on the Southbound Alaskan cruise from Whittier to Vancouver July 15. My husband and I have taken 8 or so cruises. Most of these have been with Carnival, but this was our second with Princess. In fact, we took this exact same cruise 8 years ago and loved it so much we wanted to do it again. Maybe because we are more seasoned cruisers now, but I was disappointed in this vacation. The ship itself was fine. It is going into dry dock in January for a needed update. (We saw places being marked for repair even in July.) ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment was pretty good. I really enjoyed the comedian. The magician and ventriloquist were okay. I felt like I had seen their acts before. The pianists onboard were excellent. The singers and dancers were good. I really enjoyed the Bayou production. STAFF We made the Crooner's Bar our meeting point due to the seating by windows and it being a central point to our evening activities. Having a pianist who had been employed by Frank Sinatra was certainly a bonus. The excellent servers and bartenders became friends during our week. In fact, all of the men and women staff onboard were friendly and helpful. Edmundo was our cabin steward and was fantastic. Darwin and Ryan took care of us during dinner each night. My two dealings with the customer service desk went well. The Captain was more engaging (and understandable!) than other ship captains. I enjoyed Susan, the Cruise Director, and her staff. She made her role understated appearing when necessary and not trying to steal the show from the main entertainment. As a bonus, having been a past dancer, she led a Zumba class a couple of days which I really appreciated. Her staff were funny and made the trivia games and dance classes in the Explorer's Lounge fun. Mark, the Naturalist, held a few classes in the Princess theater, but we expected him to be on the lookout for wildlife and report findings all along our trip. It was in our Princess Patter newsletter that he would do so. Nothing. This was one of our main reasons for choosing Princess. On our first cruise, the naturalist was fantastic and kept us informed all along the way. I will blame the fog for limiting his sightings, but there were times when he could have seen things and reported. I saw whales and dolphins myself from the promenade deck. FOOD AND BEVERAGE One of my biggest complaints was the coffee! It seems like a small thing, but it was HORRIBLE. It had to have been a powdered instant, reconstituted and then pumped from the kitchen via spigots in the Horizon restaurant. The food selections in the Horizon were excellent and the quality overall was very good. Unfortunately, the desserts were tasteless. On vacation, I was ready to splurge, but....not worth it. The main dining room and the specialty restaurant, the Bayou Cafe, were just so so. The choices were limited and the quality was average. I enjoy Carnival food so much more. CABIN We had a balcony which was a good idea in theory, but wasn't used as much as we expected due to the fog and rain on our cruise. We were in B718 on the 11th deck. The bed had a distinctive lip to the mattress on my side of the bed, but perhaps it kept me from rolling out from the shimmy we felt from the engines. Truthfully, it really did not disturb my sleep though.The shower was smaller than what we were used to on Carnival, which is pretty small. One had to squat to recover anything dropped. There was a lot of storage area. The safe opened via a coded number you chose rather than the credit card system on Carnival. EXCURSIONS I booked our excursions myself and did not use Princess. As I have said, we had thick fog and it rained everyday at some point. We dressed accordingly. Do not let that stop you from exploring the different ports! We had phenomenal excursions and the weather was perfect for the majority of the time off of the ship. Alaska is a beautiful place and everyone should experience the majesty of the mountains, wildlife and glaciers. I would compare and consider all the different cruise ships sailing here...even other Princess ships. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We sailed on the Coral Princess 7/8/15 to 7/15/15 northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage. We were in cabin C721, deck 10, starboard side, aft (3rd cabin from the back of the ship), in a mini suite. We are a family of 4, kids ages are 9 ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess 7/8/15 to 7/15/15 northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage. We were in cabin C721, deck 10, starboard side, aft (3rd cabin from the back of the ship), in a mini suite. We are a family of 4, kids ages are 9 and 11. We had pre-pruchased our drink packages so our stickers were already on our key cards when we checked in at Canada place (handy to get a drink as soon as you board the ship). Our bags were taken at drop off, and delivered to our room, and you will go through customs before boarding the ship, buts it quick. I highly recommend purchasing a beverage package. They have several packages from just soda at $5.18/day to All inclusive alcohol, soda and coffee at $56.35/day. We got our kids the soda and more package $8.05/day which includes soda, milkshakes and mocktails and I'm pretty sure they lived on strawberry smoothies. My husband and I got the All-Inclusive package each and it was well worth it. Between a blended coffee in the morning, sodas during the day and a few drinks at night, plus bottled water its just worth it. Plan ahead, purchase ahead online and just include it as part of the cost of the trip. We prepaid our drinks and gratuities so at checkout our only cost was tours and additional gratuities we gave our waiters. The ship is smaller than some other grand class ship (or so we were told) but this being our second cruise, it’s the biggest ship we have been on. There were about 200 guests (or so we heard) that missed boarding due to the United Airlines computer glitch that grounded a lot of flights (plan to arrive a day ahead to be safe) but even once all passengers joined us it never felt crowded and there was always room to sit in any of the lounges, at the pool and in the buffet. The public areas are really big, even at events in the atrium it wasn't bad. There are three smoking areas on the ship, on deck 15 starboard forward (take the stairs up from Pizza), Deck 7 starboard aft (take the last doors out by the Universe lounge, turn left and its just on the left, and the Churchill Lounge on deck 7 in the atrium. If you don’t smoke, these areas are easy to avoid and since passengers are not allowed to smoke on their balconies I never smelled smoke from these areas or anywhere else on the ship. They give you a daily "patter" outside your room each day. This lists all the days activities, port times and glacier viewing times (when applicable). You can also get this for free on your smartphone by connecting to the wifi and going to coral.princess.com. From this app you can set up messaging to friends on the ship, look up times, check your balance etc. You can not access anything else without purchasing an internet package but its great to have this info with you around the ship. There are several bars and lounges on the ship. These is one off the atrium on decks 5, 6 and 7 open from different times, La Patisserie on deck 5 is open early so soda or an early cocktail, Calypso on deck 6 (which features an amazing piano player), Wheelhouse on deck 7 (my favorite, especially when Jacob DeCasper was playing - seriously he is AWESOME). There is the Explorers lounge also on deck 7 (bar opens after dinner) and then there are several outdoor bars on decks 14 and 15 outside. We had anytime dining in the Bourdaeu and we rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table. They will ask you if you want to dine alone or with others. We did both and met some really awesome people. The later you go the longer it seems to take for food to come out, but the food is always good, and remember that you can order an appetizer portion of any main course if you just want to try it. They do offer a pub style lunch in the Bayou Café a couple times and its delish. We put out our card for breakfast every night and received coffee, danish and cereal every morning. If you need butter, creamer etc make sure you note it or they will not bring it! We also ate breakfast in the buffet which was great and in the provance dining room and both are great. Honestly for breakfast I prefer the variety of the buffet to the dining room. The shows are all cruise ship quality, we weren't huge fans of the comedian but he was fine, but we loved the magician and the ventriloquist. The "On the Bayou" show in the Universe Lounge is a cant miss, and the other musical productions are fun too. Although we signed our kids up for he kids club, there seemed to never be other kids in there of heir same age so they mostly stuck together and played on the sports decks. We participated in arts and crafts and game shows / trivial and had a blast. The naturalist Mark and rangers were great info during the glacier days and you don't need to run around the ship to get pics, if you have a balcony just hang out and wait till they turn the ship to your side. If you turn the TV to channel 41 you can hear the naturalist give info as you cruise by. Plan to be in your room (or a good spot outside) for Margerie Glacier as its not to be missed. Also if you are fortunate enough to have a visit from Libby Riddles (first femals to win the Iditarod) plan to be back on ship for it, well worth the time! In Ketchikan we took a cab to Potlatch / Titembite and took the bus back to town. If you time it right you can take the bus both ways for $1 per person. You can book a tour for this but I prefer to go alone to get better pics without all the crowds. In Junaeu we booked a helicopter Ice tour (through Panhandle Excursions) on Costal Helicopters and landed on Herbert Glacier, really amazing and In Skagway we went ziplining on a trou booked through princess. All are great little cities. When you arrive in Whittier you will need to book a transfer to get to Anchorage, we met a lot of people going to trail to Denali for another week, which sounded fun. Ok last but not least, things to bring: Power Strip if you need to charge more than 2 things at a time, dim night light (it stays light till after 11pm but still helpful), hair conditioner, first aid kit (just in case), lanyards (they will punch holes in your key card for you to wear on a lanyard, great for kids). It was really a great time. If you are planning to visit Alaska I can't stress enough to choose a cruise that includes both glacier bay and college fjord, these are both amazing places. This cruise is very diverse from families to couples, large groups and seniors. We mat a lot of awesome people and had a blast! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Alaska was incredible beyond words and pictures. We traveled with my brother and his two teenage children (their first cruise). They were in adjoining mini suite D715. Our room steward opened the balcony between us and gave us freedom ... Read More
Alaska was incredible beyond words and pictures. We traveled with my brother and his two teenage children (their first cruise). They were in adjoining mini suite D715. Our room steward opened the balcony between us and gave us freedom to visit each other. It was great. Taking photos on the balcony especially through Glacier Bay. Our cruise for the most part was fantastic. The ship was in great need of a face lift but the service was absolutely fabulous. This was our 5th Princess Cruise and the entertainment leaves something to be desired. Princess definitely needs to up their game in that department. It has become predictable and boring. The food seems to be mediocre at best. Bland and in need of spicing up. We seem to end up picking Princess for their itineraries. They have proven so far to have that nailed and at this point we are cruising for the destination. For food and entertainment we prefer Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
We explored the Alaskan Cruise prior to selecting Princess Cruises. We determined that we wanted to do Land and Sea and the Princess package gave us everthing from the start to the Finish! A Princess Guide met us in Fairbanks and we must ... Read More
We explored the Alaskan Cruise prior to selecting Princess Cruises. We determined that we wanted to do Land and Sea and the Princess package gave us everthing from the start to the Finish! A Princess Guide met us in Fairbanks and we must say an exceptional young lady who went out of her way to show us a good time! Princess had everything with lodges to ship which was outstanding customer service! We had experience with ship dinning however the dinning while at the Princess Lodges was as nice with the same attention of the wait staff and the food quality was first class! The ship met all our previous expectations and more! The cabin steward goes out of his way to make our stay comfortable and all the staff are very friendly and go out of their way to assist. We travel with 4 other family members and enjoy interacting with the waiters and their assistance. We are always treated professionally however we feel they are part of our family when we leave! We consider Princess Cruises as our only choice when booking our next trip! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Staff was pitiful. Food not even average. Charge for everything. Could not escape rude Children because sanctuary was closed because no one wanted to pay $40 for a lounge chair for a half day. Entertainment was hokey. Our mini suite ... Read More
Staff was pitiful. Food not even average. Charge for everything. Could not escape rude Children because sanctuary was closed because no one wanted to pay $40 for a lounge chair for a half day. Entertainment was hokey. Our mini suite vibrated day and night. Millions of jewelry stores in ports. Excursions average. Generally nothing special. Probably could have done luxury cruise for same $$$. Very disappointing Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
We missed first shuttle from Seattle to Vancouver and thought we might miss boat, but we and many more were shown right through and everything went smoothly. Heard from the bus driver that the morning group was very large with lots of ... Read More
We missed first shuttle from Seattle to Vancouver and thought we might miss boat, but we and many more were shown right through and everything went smoothly. Heard from the bus driver that the morning group was very large with lots of ships in port and long lines. Did not mean to be that late (3:30) but worked out great for us. Luggage came promptly. Traveled with grandsons (14 & 16). Horizon buffet had a good assortment at breakfast; only ate lunch there one time with all seafood and it was not so good. Also ate the Crab Shack special one night - really good and more than you could eat. Dining room (Bordeaux-anytime) had very good food and service as did Sabatini's and Bayou Steakhouse. I think the specialty restaurants are worth the extra. Also did the Chef's Table which was fabulous. Got to see the kitchen with champagne and appetizers, lovely table for 12 in dining room with excellent food and wine paired with courses. Received the 50th Anniversary Princess Cookbook and our pictures with the chef and maître de. Really worth the extra money. Boys ate with us at dinner every night except the Chef's Table and also liked the food. They also liked the free pizza by the pool they could get anytime. Ate in the dining room for lunch one time, but nothing special there. Sabatini's has free pizza for lunch and that was good. Had the pub lunch one day with fish and chips and that was good - even brought the boys an extra helping. Only saw part of the theater entertainment once, and it was OK. Never saw the comedian or magician - not my preference. Piano bar guy was very good but layout of room was long and narrow. Had to sit very close-too loud, or back and could not hear well. They always put these places around the atrium which is always noisy. The trio that was supposed to be for dancing did not play our kind of dance music. Never went to late-night clubs - too late for us with excursions the next day. I frankly do not know who goes to the late-night disco type clubs because most of the younger people had young children (to put to bed), and the older ones (55+) are not starting at 11 and staying up til 2. The ship's idea of country western two stepping music is line dancing - not real dancing. No oldie R&R. Very disappointed in the music choices and dance times. I would prefer good danceable music from 7:30-9:30 for my age group, but acts are either during dinner time or much later. The ship is really nice looking with a lovely 4 floor atrium that the shops are around. I appreciated that they did not crowd the floors with extra things for sale and had sales in a separate room other than the atrium. Can't imagine who buys all that jewelry and watches on all cruise ships, but they all have it. Only problem was getting to Horizon buffet without having to go outside around outside pool, but could walk to front elevators or middle elevators (we were at back) and only go through the covered pool area. Seems stupid to have the buffet on the same deck as pools and no area to eat outside if you wanted to. However, we were in Alaska and not conducive to eating outdoors at any time. Staff was trained to be friendly and smiled all the time. Room steward was excellent and wait staff was efficient and courteous. Really pleased with all. Only went on one excursion through ship because company would not book cruise passengers except through ship, but was only $10 higher than regular rate. Jet boat tour was great. Saw lots of animals, eagles, and waterfalls combined with fast boating and fast turns in boat. Boys loved it. Booked other excursions online before going - Seawind Aviation bear tour in sea plane, Northstar Ice Treking on Taku Glacier with helicopter, Chilkoot shuttle up then train ride down, Anchorage Transfer Whittier to Anchorage with animal preserve stop - all excellent!. Wish we had had time for whale watching because everyone said it was great too. Lots to see and do in Alaska, but with only 3 ports and one day really short (Ketchikan) cannot do it all. Grandsons met lots of friends in teen club and always had something to do when we were not on excursions. Great time for them. Disembarkation was very fast and smooth. Filled out our cards ahead of time for the time we needed. Gave us the color coded luggage strips and we left right on time. Since our transfer to Anchorage was not with the ship, I thought we might have to wait until those groups unloaded. We really enjoyed this trip and the ship. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
I would like to provide an unbiased review of certain aspects of this company and cruise ship. Alaska is unbelievable in its beauty and I now believe any of the other lines can provide an equal or better experience to the one my family ... Read More
I would like to provide an unbiased review of certain aspects of this company and cruise ship. Alaska is unbelievable in its beauty and I now believe any of the other lines can provide an equal or better experience to the one my family and I experienced. This was our first time on Princess and I had a business acquaintance pushing me for years to take princess. We wanted to have a great experience and splurged for a suite D704 on Caribe deck. The ship is in good order and I believe, very attractive. Certainly a positive. We booked the suite as well as an inside for my son and grandson.we figured they'd hang in our room mostly. The suite was of nice design and well appointed. The balcony was very large, hag wooden furniture and was situated towards the aft, about 10 rooms forward. We have recently decided to spend the up charge in order to receive some of the perks. I just don't want to worry about everything. The cabin turned out to have an ac thud in the ceiling that blew through earplugs or headphones. The floor supervisor was helpful after two days of no sleep. Jimmy the steward didn't have time to worry.i was given a small credit for the two days after asking on the fifth day. I should have fought for more, as it was annoying and we paid plenty. Food on this ship was the most disappointing. Il comparing it my normal life food, other cruises that range in the average price. I personally would not cruise on princess again for this fact.now breakfast at sabbatinis and one other dinner, but that's it. As far as service, my family got the impression that I high percentage of crew were done emotionally, or as they say, nearing their contract end.only one outstanding waitress in Bordeaux/ anytime was great. She was from Macedonia.Tours were well run throughout and the weather was almost perfect. A little rain in Ketchikan and some during glacier national park, that's all' we did take the tour after the cruise and should alert all that it is a 10 hour train ride set up on a "kitchen" table with four chairs, two and two.if there's two of you, you'll make new friends. What I had problems with Is they tend to get uncomfortable and I believe strictly designed so you will spend about $100per family. Recliners that were comfy with room downstairs for dining would have been better for us aging ones. Try to do the deeper tundra tour in Delano. We saw bears, wolves a caribou in the street, Eagles. Phenomenal. Whale watch and glacier was great. Lumberjack for kids. Movies under the stars is a nice feature, and if they clean up there food, maybe again' Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
My first cruise with Coral Princess, indeed my first cruise ever! A sole traveller I read all the reviews of the Alaskan Cruise both ways and even up to Embarkation the Jury was still out! Embarkation, in view of the logistics, was ... Read More
My first cruise with Coral Princess, indeed my first cruise ever! A sole traveller I read all the reviews of the Alaskan Cruise both ways and even up to Embarkation the Jury was still out! Embarkation, in view of the logistics, was quite seamless, if not a little daunting for those first timers. There were long queues but they moved quickly and there were lots of helpers when you accidentally diverted into the wrong line! The cruise itinerary stated boarding at noon. I arrived at around 11.15 and it was starting to get busy. After Customs Control and security checks I found myself in a huge hall with all my would-be passengers awaiting the final stage of the boarding process. I estimate that I was in my cabin by 12.30. I only had one medium sized case (larger than airport carry on) and my first tip is, if you are able, keep your case with you then you don't have to wait for it to be delivered to the cabin (having said that I am not sure of wait times, but there were lots of cases!). So I found myself in my cabin and able to unpack and get sorted very quickly. Although not the largest cruise ship, again navigation quite daunting for the first-time passenger though on embarkation you did get a Map of the ship along with your Boarding Card - neverthess seven nights down and I still mistook my Port from my Starboard! Emergency procedures were carried out in an efficient and good-natured way with Muster Stations clearly marked. At 4.00 we sailed out of Vancouver and my adventure began. I chose Traditional Dining at Provence - 7.30 pm. I did initially ask for a table for 2 but when I first arrived was shown to a table for 8, within 5 mins I knew this was the right decision as I met 7 of the most delightful people all from different parts of USA and Canada who were very intrigued by my 'English' tales. All of the others on my table were experienced cruise vacationers so were able to give plenty of hints and tips. In fairness the quality of dining in the Provence ranged from medium to good but never excellent. I think my main gripe was the temperature of the meals which usually ranged from tepid to luke warm. Perhaps again this is down to the logistics of serving so many people. I never experienced a 'hot meal' however the waiters were very efficient and friendly. I thought the choice on the menu was good and some of the desserts were gorgeous. Elsewhere on the Ship I found the Horizon Court a bit too daunting and busy for the sole traveller, although there was lots of choice from breakfast to dinner. The position of the restuarant on the upper levels of the ship together with the Pizzeria and Grill, meant that on bad days you had to 'brave the elements' to get there. I did have breakfast on the penultimate morning in the Horizon Court with my new found friends and was amazed at the lovely views from that part of the deck which I would not have experienced if I had not tried the restaurant at least once. Burgers from The Grill were of good quality and pizzas good. My favourite place each morning was the International Cafe who served a 'mean' cafe latte with a selection of croissants and pastries. To me it was a nice quiet start to the day and the waiters were lovely. (They also did a limited selection of sandwiches for lunch but on busy days the choice would get depleted). I did not try any of the Specialist Evening Restaurants though I did have lunch in Sabatinis and enjoyed a lovely complimentary pizza. There were 'many' passengers on the ship, from all over the world, but once on board you never got the feeling of 'crowds'. There were children on board but in my opinion it was never noisy and I hardly noticed the many families. I enjoyed all the shopping areas, there were sales and discounted sessions in all shops and I thought the choices good for a cruise ship. I was a little mad at myself for being 'cagouled' into a photo package the first night on board and although it included a USB drive I thought it was expensive and with every photo you wanted adding (there were photographers snapping you at Embarkation and at ports) it was extra so it turned out not to be a package at all! Entertainment - there was something for everyone on board with 'order of the day' delivered to your cabin every morning. I admit to being 'worn out' each night but did attend one of the dancing shows which was excellent! If you had the energy you could certainly be entertained and well 'watered' for most of the night! From reviews I have read, there are mixed opinions on the Beverage Package and value for money. I did pre purchase this and for me it worked well as I enjoyed my speciality coffees, afternoon cocktails and evening wine, though in essence I have not yet had the opportunity to work out my drinks expenditure as opposed to the cost if the package. Excursions - at Ketchikan I chose The Rainforest Sanctuary - Juneau I chose Mendenhall Glacier and Gardens - Skagway I chose the White Pass round trip railway journey - these were all pre booked with Princess Cruises. I thoroughly enjoyed them all - no problems and no complaints. There were lots of excursions to choose from with various prices, all the passengers I spoke to had good experiences, perhaps I should have been a little more adventurous as there were many tales at dinner of whale watching and bear sightings! The two sailing days at Glacier Bay and College Fjord were marvellous although on our visit to Glacier Bay the on board Naturalist Mark described the weather as 'brutal' which in a way it was and maybe it was not weather for sunning on the balcony, but the scenery was beautiful. In contrast the next afternoon's cruising up College Fjord could only be described as awesome with sunshine and blue skies - scenery I shall never forget. Back to Mark, I enjoyed his commentary at tannoy points throughout the ship and also on Channel 41 of the ship's TV. Unfortunately most of the resident wildlife eluded us but there were sightings of a couple of Minky Whales and some Porpoises. As usual I 'blinked' and missed the moment! So, all in all, my first cruise was a fantastic life-changing experience. It has been said in some of the reviews that the ship's decor was a bit tired and ready for a refit - I thought the ship looked spick and span and every day you saw members of the crew painting and mending this and that! Sadly Disembarkation Day came all too soon. I had prebooked a private transfer to Anchorage from Whittier so I was a little concerned I could get a late 'slot' and miss the coach. I need not have worried, two days prior we were given an information sheet and were given the choice of disembarkation times (though this was not guaranteed). Again for me, the organisation was seamless, we were given coloured tickets and meeting areas and everything went to plan. My case remained with me throughout so I did not have to seek it out in the terminal area of Whittier, though there seemed to be no problems with the other passengers I saw. So thank you Coral Princess I hope one day to be back! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We started off our Land/Cruise tour on the 3rd September. We were met at the airport by Princess as promised and received a pack with room keys, luggage tags and itinerary etc. The whole land tour was carried out very efficiently by ... Read More
We started off our Land/Cruise tour on the 3rd September. We were met at the airport by Princess as promised and received a pack with room keys, luggage tags and itinerary etc. The whole land tour was carried out very efficiently by Princess, top marks for this portion of our tour. Then we got to the ship. Right away the ambiance seemed off. The female staff were great but a lot of the male servers were surly and seemed unhappy. One actually cried on our shoulders about how unhappy they were and felt they had no one to go to with their problems at home or they would lose their job. We never saw the Captain or uniformed crew, whereas on other cruises with other lines they were always visible. So this may well have been just a problem with this ship. This was our first cruise with Princess but our 7th using other lines. We are already booked for a cruise on the Crown Princess in January so it will be interesting to compare. The food in the dining room was very good, certainly no complaints there, but the buffet was not wonderful although I always found something to eat. I have actually never seen such watery mashed potatoes. The entertainment was also excellent, apart from 1 comedian. The entertainment group who carried out quizzes etc, Mark and Max among them were absolutely great. Try the acupuncturist if you have a health problem, a little pricey but got me back walking so I could enjoy my cruise. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our land and sea cruise but this ship needs looking at re the bad atmosphere amongst the servers - look to the top. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We flew to Fairbanks on Sept. 6th with the hopes of viewing the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. We had contacted Ben Boyd, Northern Lights touring company, in order to arrange for a pickup at our hotel at 10:30 p.m. Upon arriving at ... Read More
We flew to Fairbanks on Sept. 6th with the hopes of viewing the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. We had contacted Ben Boyd, Northern Lights touring company, in order to arrange for a pickup at our hotel at 10:30 p.m. Upon arriving at the hotel (Best Western Chena River Lodge-excellent choice) we encountered a young woman who said that just the night before, she had been given a wake-up call from the front desk at midnight to view the Aurora. Even with the lights from a shopping center across the street, the brilliant blue and greens could be seen clearly in the sky above the hotel. Ben true to his word, picked us up in his van. On the way out to Chandalay Ranch, a prime viewing chalet about 20 miles away from the Fairbank city lights, we could actually see the formation of the Aurora from the van window. But could not witness their colors as it was not yet dark enough. By the time we got to the ranch, clouds had moved in and we never got to see the Aurora again. But Ben himself is quite a character, and performed an Indian (He's part Navaho) hoop dance to our delight. So the evening was a bit of a disappointment, but not a total loss. Sept. 7th, we opted for the Riverboat Discovery ride down the Chena River. This was a great tour and very informative. We pulled near the bank, but didn't disembark, when we reached the home site and kennels of Susan Buchart, the only woman to win the 1,000 mile Iditarod sled race 3 times. Susan died from cancer several years ago, and now her husband runs the kennels. He was hooked up by both mic & camera to our riverboat, and explained the raising of these remarkable pups. Not Huskys like one would expect, but a mix breed for stamina. He hooked up a team and demonstrated how they pull by running them in front of a wheeled tractor. They then brought the pups down to the river to the enjoyment of all. We also visited a re-created Athabascan indian village where we did disembark and enjoyed several demonstrations. Sept. 8th, we went to the Great Alaskan Salmon Bake, where the food ranged from excellent to very ordinary! The Salmon was grilled over an open fire and was very good, the prime rib was less so, at least the piece that I had. The battered deep fried cod was good also and the salad bar was adequate. You had to go to a separate cabin for coffee and cake, and had to carry both back to your table in the dining hall. A thing that needs to be changed. After dinner we walked across Pioneer Park (which was closed for the season) to a little theater where we thoroughly enjoyed the production of The Golden Heart Review. This was GREAT! With a cast of only 4 people, they kept us in stitches. Our hotel had a $10 pp coupon for the combo dinner and show, so all in all a great evening. Dinner and show for $44. you can't beat that! Sept. 6th. Now for the cruise itself. We flew to Anchorage where Princess picked us up from their booth at the airport to transport us down to the port of Whittier (a little over an hour drive and very scenic) where we literally flew through a short line, received our cruise card and was on the ship in less than 10 min. I must admit that Princess has this down to a science. The entertainment is top notch. We enjoyed the Broadway styled productions and both comedians as well as a magician. Libby Riddles (1st woman to win the Iditarod) was onboard one day to tell about her experience while driving her dogs through a blizzard. Service, including dining room staff and room stewards was great! The food itself ran the gambit from very good to mediocre. Lobster night was everyone's favorite and we were given a healthy portion. Their menu on the left side offered their version of "comfort" foods that you could order if you found nothing you liked from the ever-changing nightly offerings. Even the soups up on the Lido deck left something to be desired. Breakfast was always great and varied. Lunch was just so-so. Sometimes we just opted for salad and a slice of pizza. I've cruised Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, and in my estimation, Carnival has the best food by far. Their comfort food menu always offers, meat loaf, fried (yes fried) chicken and steak. But then I'm a meat & taters kind of girl. Princess' pre-made sandwiches up on Lido are on hard crusty bread while Carnival's Deli makes them to order on any bread desired and stacks the meat to the max. There was no sail-away party, no dancing waiters etc. I guess they're more refined. The waiters did a walk through sing along where we waved napkins on the final night. No towel animals on our beds. I guess I've come to expect too much. (or maybe too little, lol) Shore excursions: Skagway we took the ship's offering of the "Ghost and Goodtime girls" walking tour. This was one of our absolute favorite's! Our college student "woman of the night" was a hoot, but also extremely informative about the lives and times of these unfortunate woman, and just what drove them to this profession. We then toured the upstairs "bordello" cribs at the Red Onion and were offered a drink at the end of the tour. In Juneau we took another Ship's excursion to go through an actual closed gold mine. Also very informative and enjoyable. After the excursion into the mine with some actual demonstrations of the machinery used during the 40's, we were allowed to "pan" for gold from a sand and water filled trough. I collected a few flakes which were put into a tiny vial for me to take home. In Ketchikan, we rode the Ducks! Newer versions of the old WWII amphibean crafts. these much improved new versions were retro-fitted to accomodate the ever changing Alaskan temps. We drove through the town learning about the early life of these brave settlers and then finished by taking a dunk into the harbor and touring from the water. It was quite enjoyable. The day we were to view Hubbard glacier was rainy and very windy. We could not get very close to the glacier due to the high winds. We spent the morning running in and out of our cabins to see if we could view it from the balcony, but to no avail. The next day found about 75% of the passengers coughing and sneezing. Nobody I spoke with felt sick, just a horrible head cold. The day that we cruised through Glacier Bay was absolutely beautiful, and I don't care which cruise line you prefer, this particular cruise should be on everyone's "Bucket" list! Alaska has some of the most gorgeos scenery on earth! The ship came to a halt in front of Margeurie glacier (I'm sure I spelled that wrong) It's the 2nd tallest next to Hubbard glacier, towering 260 feet above the water line. All was extremely quiet and you could hear the almost constant cracking of the glacial ice. We saw sort of a mini calving of the glacier, and heard the thunderous roar as it crashed into the sea. We were followed by white dolphins and even had whale sightings as we sailed onward. Upon arrival in Vancouver, our final stop, we disembarked in about 10 minutes using the self-assist method by rolling our own suitcases off the ship. I'm 73 and my sister is 81, and if we can do it, anyone can! It beats looking for your luggage in an auditorium full of luggage. At least I think it does, lol. In Vancouver we could not get a flight to St. Louis which would get us in at a decent time, so opted to stay at the Days Inn Vancouver airport. Land and Seas Tour company picked us up right at the entrance to the pier and took us on a 4 hour tour of Vancouver, which we really enjoyed. With various stops for photo ops, and a 45 min. stop at Granville Island where you could shop the Market place or just sit and listen to street musicians while sipping a coke. The Days Inn at the airport was clean and comfortable but it's in more of an industrial area. It was right next to the Hampton Inn, which I think might have been a better choice. But the price was right and it was o.k. We ate across the street at the Burger King and I enjoyed a combo dinner listed for $5.49 but actually cost about $4.89 which was the final charge to my credit card. The US dollar has a great exchange rate right now. Flew out of Vancouver at 8:50 a.m. and got back home by 5:40 In summary: IF YOU GET A CHANCE TO SEE ALASKA, PLEASE DO! IT'S BEAUTY IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER! Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
I had a wonderful two week vacation in Alaska. Reading some of the reviews, I did feel some trepidation, but it was unfounded. I think some people aren’t happy if they don’t have something to complain about. It's a vacation! ... Read More
I had a wonderful two week vacation in Alaska. Reading some of the reviews, I did feel some trepidation, but it was unfounded. I think some people aren’t happy if they don’t have something to complain about. It's a vacation! Why spend it looking for things you can be upset about? Is that fun? This trip had been planned for over a year, so I had done plenty of research, including Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic. I also read all the information sent by Princess, so I wasn’t caught off guard because of the crowdedness of the Vancouver Airport, because my suitcase was delivered later at some lodges than at others, or that I had to put my luggage out early. I was supposed to travel with a friend who had to cancel at the last minute. I was nervous about not knowing anyone (the CC roll call was not overly friendly), but determined to make the best of it. I flew non-stop to Anchorage two days before the cruisetour began. I arrived in Anchorage about 8:30 pm (3 hour time change) and checked into the Embassy Suites which is a nice hotel. By the time I got the luggage, got the rental car, went back to the rental car counter to report damage to the car, and drove to the hotel it was 10:30 pm. I was hungry and tired and had been up for 21 hours. Fortunately the hotel restaurant was still open and I was able to get a quick dinner before falling asleep on top of the bed, not even unpacking. There are several restaurants very close to the hotel, including a Denny’s, a Village Inn, and Moosetooth Pizza, but since I was so tired, it was nice to just be able to eat there instead of having to go out again. The next day, I drove around Anchorage sightseeing and then did a Sunset Photo Tour with Through The Lens Alaska Photo Treks. It was a great tour. I saw moose and even beluga whales at Beluga Point on Turnagain Arm. The scenery south of Anchorage through Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm is spectacular. The following morning, I drove down to Girdwood and did a Behind the Scenes tour at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. I was the only person on the tour and it was very interesting. Got some great photos, and got to feed peanuts to a porcupine and pet a baby musk ox. 2015 was the culmination of a 20 year project for them to reintroduce wood bison into their native Alaska range, after being gone for over 100 years. It’s a very interesting story and I like the work they do. In the afternoon, I drove back to the airport, turned in the rental car, and took my luggage up to the baggage claim area to find the Princess representative. I did have to wait quite awhile to get a bus to the Captain Cook Hotel as there weren’t enough people to fill the bus until a couple of flights came in, but at least they were up-front about that; taking my luggage and advising me how long I had to wait. Right from the start, the cruise tour was very organized. Everything was like clockwork. At each hotel/lodge, you were given your room keys as you left the bus, so there was no need to stand in a line to check in. Along with the room key came tickets for any excursions purchased and details on when you had to put out luggage and be ready to depart for the next destination, including the motor coach number right down to the train car # and your seat # on the train. On this cruisetour, I stayed at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, and the Princess lodges at McKinley, Denali, and Copper River. Of the 4, there was only once when it took more than an hour for my luggage to arrive. I was very impressed with Princess and their employees throughout the trip. I never encountered anyone, during the land portion or onboard the ship that was anything other than pleasant, well-informed, helpful, and positive. This was a late in the season cruisetour and southbound cruise on the Coral, but nobody seemed burned out or anxious for it to be over. Kudos to Princess for all their staff, both onboard and on land. Once I got my room key, I went out to walk around downtown Anchorage and buy a couple of things I needed . Later, I walked over to Simon & Seafort’s for a nice Alaskan seafood dinner. My luggage had to be tagged for one bag to “join me onboard” and one to “join me tonight.” It did have to be put out early, but I’m an early riser anyway and with the 3 hour time change, I didn’t have any problems waking in time to do that. The bus to the train station left about 8:15. The train went from Anchorage to Talkeetna and then a motor coach took us on the hour drive from Talkeetna to the McKinley Princess Lodge. The train ride was about 3 hours. Our seats on the train were pre-assigned, so no worries about trying to get a good seat or a window seat. They're all good seats and all have panoramic views. The train cars are two level, your main seating is on the top level with big windows. If you want to eat on the train (or use the restroom), you descend via a very narrow spiral staircase to the lower level. There is also an open air viewing platform. The steward on our train car was Ben, very young and enthusiastic, and full of silly jokes which we all rolled our eyes at. The bar tender was Charles King, also very enthusiastic, and a good singer. He sang several songs, (acapella) including a really nice “What a Wonderful World” at the end. It had been raining in Anchorage the previous day and the rain continued at the McKinley Lodge. There was no view of the mountain whatsoever, it was totally socked in by fog and low clouds. The lodge was nice, my room was fine and the food was fine. We arrived around 1:00 pm. They were making announcements about cancelled excursions on the bus. Due to weather, it sounded like most of the flight-seeing excursions were cancelled. I had booked a walk around Byers Lake in Denali State Park, and there was no problem with that. When I got to my room, my suitcase was already there. The rain had stopped for awhile and it was an interesting tour. I learned a lot about plant life in the Denali area and the tour guide had a real passion for her subject. There were only 3 people on the tour. I only had 1 night at McKinley Lodge and so the next morning it was off to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, about 2 hours by motor coach. Denali Princess is much bigger than McKinley, with more dining options and quite a few stores on site selling Alaskan artwork and souvenirs. There is also a “strip mall” across the highway, an easy walk, with more souvenir stores, a Subway sandwich shop, a Salmon Bake restaurant, and tour vendors. I was in Building G, which is one of the older buildings. The bathroom was really tiny and the rooms opened onto an outside corridor. This was the least pleasant room that I had, but it was clean and comfortable. I would have preferred to be in one of the newer buildings that would have a window that wasn’t on a corridor, so I could have opened the window at night. I really liked the lodge and the campus though. I enjoyed eating at the pizza restaurant, the breakfast buffet, the grill, as well as browsing in the shops. Also the scenery around the lodge is gorgeous. It is right on a river and the fall colors were out in abundance. I knew that the luggage might not always come as quickly as it did at McKinley, and I had a white water rafting excursion that first afternoon, so I packed clothes and gloves for that in my tote bag. I’m glad I did, as my suitcase didn’t arrive until the evening. The whitewater raft excursion was a lot of fun. I had never been rafting before, and after the “safety talk”, neither I nor some of the other newbies wanted to go anymore! But it was fine and being so late in the season, the water was not high at all. The scenery was great. After the rafting, I went on the evening Husky Homestead excursion, which was a lot of fun too. Jeff King has won the Iditarod 4 times and this is a visit to his place where he raises and trains his dogs. You start out by getting to cuddle puppies and then have a couple of really informative talks about sled dogs and about sled dog racing. Up early the next morning (fortunately the buffet opens at 5:30 am) as I was on the Tundra Wilderness tour with a 7:00 am departure. It was a beautiful fall day, blue sky, no clouds. The “mountain” was out in all its glory for the entire tour, more than making up for missing it at McKinley Lodge. The tour driver, Scott Johnson, was really good. It is a long day on a bus, but the scenery is breathtaking and we had a very good day for animal sightings. Saw moose, caribou, Dall sheep (lots), and grizzly bears – 4-5 of them. He also drove a bit past the normal turn-around point to an overlook where we were only about 35 miles from Mount Denali/McKinley and got great photos. I am very glad that I changed to the Tundra Wilderness Tour instead of the Natural History Tour. I have heard a lot of comments about school buses being used. Yes, they are school buses, but they have plush seats. It was pretty comfortable. There isn’t a restroom on the school bus, but there are frequent rest stops, so that was not a problem. That evening I had a massage at the lodge – unlike on the ship, the price was comparable to what I would pay at home and it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. The next day we left for the Copper River Princess lodge. Again, it was a long day on a motor coach, but beautiful scenery and we made several stops. It takes nearly a full day as a large part of the drive is on dirt/gravel road (Denali Hwy) and the coach can’t go very fast. The driver, Brent, was very personable and did everything he could to keep us entertained and informed. Lunch stop was at a restaurant outside of Paxson called MacLaren’s which has one of the smallest menus you’ll ever see (choice was tuna sandwich, ham sandwich, turkey sandwich, or soup) but they did have good homemade ice cream (coffee or honey peach on this day) and homemade fruit pies. They are about 200 miles from a grocery store. The Copper River lodge overlooks Wrangell St. Elias National Park, which is the largest national park in the US. Fall colors continued to be at their peak. The first evening there I did some laundry, which saved me from having to do any onboard the ship. I think it was $2 for wash and $1.50 for dry, but I only had one load. One dry cycle was more than enough. The next day I didn’t have any excursions, but spent the entire day hiking the various trails around the lodge – I think I hiked 5 of the 6. In the afternoon, went to the National Park and did more hiking there. There is a shuttle that costs $5 and will take you to the town of Copper Center (about 45 year round residents) or to the National Park. The Copper River Lodge is smaller than the others, but it’s very special. The manager came onto the bus before we unloaded to welcome us and to especially welcome any veterans. There is a special flag ceremony for veterans each evening. The room was very nice and everyone working there had a great welcoming attitude. The scenery is stunning. The next morning we left for the ship. It is about a 3 hour motor coach ride to Valdez and then a 4 hour catamaran ride across Prince William Sound to Whittier. We got to Valdez about 11:00 am and Brent drove us around the town pointing out the various choices for lunch. He dropped people off for lunch and then picked them up after. The catamaran left about 12:30. By then the clouds had turned into rain and wind, so the boat ride was not as fun as I had expected. Nobody wanted to be up on the outside decks in the rain and wind, so it was crowded in the inside cabin and with all the bodies, the windows kept steaming up, so you couldn’t really enjoy any scenery. It was a long 4 hours. When we arrived in Whittier, it was very windy and raining hard. Princess had put up canopies to cover us from the coach to the terminal, but the rain was blowing in the sides. Embarkation only took 10 or 15 minutes and my luggage arrived within a few minutes of me getting to my cabin. I had an aft mini-suite on Dolphin deck. Jimmy was my cabin steward. I have seen his name mentioned in other reviews and I agree that he was a delight. Always smiling, remembered my name from the start, always had a greeting when he saw me and was very prompt in tidying the room. I had no problems with Coral Princess. I never had an issue with the toilets not flushing correctly or with any smells. The cabin had plenty of storage room, I was able to put my luggage in the closet and there was plenty of shelf space. The bathroom was fine. Having a bathtub was nice. The water did drain a little slowly from the tub, but not anything that caused me a problem. The balcony had 3 chairs and a small table. I liked the cabin and the ship a great deal. Some people mentioned that it was an older ship in need of an update, but I thought it was very attractive. Every day I saw workers painting and cleaning. The cruise was fully booked, but the ship very rarely seemed crowded. The decks were crowded on the Glacier Bay day, of course, and a couple of times the Horizon Court was so busy that it was hard to find a table, (embarkation night in particular) but in general, you would not know there were close to 2000 people on board. I walked the stairs the entire cruise, so I don’t know how it was waiting for elevators, but I rarely noticed groups of people waiting. I usually ate dinner between 7:15 and 7:45 pm and never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table, however, I was always willing to share a table. I think that makes it faster than if you specifically want a table for 2, for 4, etc. The food was fine. It wasn’t the best food I’ve ever eaten, but it was quite good and I enjoyed it. I particularly liked the pizzeria. The soft ice cream was nice. I bought a beverage card so had milk shakes at no charge there as well. I ate in the Horizon Court for dinner 2 nights and in the Bordeaux dining room (anytime dining) the other 5. I particularly enjoyed the night when they had lobster and prawns. The steak medallions (available every night) were also delicious. I did room service breakfast several days and it was promptly delivered. It was convenient on mornings when I had an early excursion. The burger grill was good. I did the ploughman’s lunch on one sea day and enjoyed that. I didn’t eat at any of the specialty restaurants. I enjoyed the selections in the Horizon Court. At lunch and dinner, it was different every day. They had some things the same but there was always a variety. I was a little disappointed in the Horizon Court desserts. Several times they had very nice looking desserts in a glass display that could only be reached by an attendant. Other desserts would be available for self-service, but frequently there wouldn’t be an attendant handy and so no way to get the desserts in the display case. I had excursions on all the port days. I’m surprised how much I didn’t do on the ship, but after the land tour and full port days, I spent a lot of time just relaxing, sitting by the pool or on the balcony. I was also fighting a cold the entire cruise, so that contributed to not being as active as I would have liked. I didn’t go to any production shows or movies and only one comedian, who was OK. I did buy the week long pass to the Thermal Suite and really enjoyed it. The steam rooms were enjoyable and I loved the heated stone loungers. A heated stone lounger doesn’t sound comfortable, but believe me, it was. I also walked several miles a day on the Promenade Deck. The gym was always crowded in the morning, but wide open the rest of the time. I didn’t buy anything in the stores, but enjoyed browsing the daily sales. I didn’t feel the sale pitches were excessive, other than there being lots of paper advertisements in the cabin every day. However, I didn’t go to any of the schedules “activities” that are really sales pitches in disguise. In Skagway, I did a van tour up to the Klondike/Yukon. It was my least favorite excursion. The weather didn’t help at all as it was very windy and raining. The various stops for photos weren’t much fun because of that. However, the tour guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the Gold Rush and I learned a lot. In the afternoon I took the tour to Kroschel’s Wildlife Center. Other than the rudeness of some of the fellow passengers, I loved the tour. Very interesting and loved seeing the animals. However, some of the passengers were very rude about trying to get their photographs. Obviously everyone wants to get a good photograph, but I had people pushing in front of me and elbowing me aside as they zoomed in with their $5,000 lens, which in theory, would have enabled them to get the shot from a quarter of a mile away. The drive along the Chilkoot River in Haines to the center was absolutely beautiful. The fall colors in Skagway, Haines, and Juneau were spectacular. In Juneau, I went on the photo tour that included a whale watch and the Mendenhall Glacier. This is offered by Gastineau Guiding Company, although I purchased it through Princess. It was an excellent tour with only 13 people. The guide, (Brian, I think) gave a wonderful lecture on photography (i.e., taking your camera off the auto setting) with powerpoint presentation while we were enroute to the whale watching boat. That was followed with a DVD at the end which included the same information for home reference. The whale watching boat had windows that swung up and out so that your picture taking wasn’t impeded by the windows. We saw a lot of whales, but at a distance. I was having a lot of problems with my camera, so I didn’t get very good whale pictures, but others did. We also saw porpoises and Stellar sea lions. I had been more excited about the whale watch than about the Mendenhall Glacier, but I underestimated the glacier. It was very enjoyable and I wish we had more time there than the allotted 75 minutes. We walked the “Trail of Time” to the glacier. It is a beautiful walk. There was a rainbow over the glacier and while we were taking pictures of that, a black bear walked out of the woods. After the tour, I ate at Tracy’s King Crab Shack – yum. Then just wandered around the souvenir stores. Lots of good deals on T-shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts. Ketchikan was the big splurge day- two flight seeing trips. We were lucky enough to have a rare sunny day in Ketchikan. The morning trip was to Neets Bay to see black bears. I had never been in a float plane before. I loved it. When we arrived at Neets Bay, we were greeted by a salmon hatchery employee who showed us the hatchery and explained how it works, as she led us out to the stream where the bears are. When we got there, there was nothing but seagulls and eagles. You are very close to the stream and there aren’t any fences or walls to keep the bears and people apart. After about 10 minutes a bear appeared, waded into the stream, and immediately caught a salmon. Altogether there were 3 bears, which isn’t a lot, but it was incredible to be so close to them and to watch them. I got fantastic pictures. On the trail back to the float plane, we saw a bear den, a tree with bear claw marks, as well as fresh scat and gnawed up salmon carcasses, so you really do have bears all around you. The afternoon trip was flight seeing the Misty Fjords. It was also a great trip. This one was Taquan Air, where the Neets Bay was ProMech. Both flights were very smooth and the pilots both skilled and personable. On the Misty Fjords flight, the plane lands in a fjord and you have the opportunity to scramble out and stand on the pontoon, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately there were a lot of sick people throughout the cruise tour. We didn’t have Norovirus or any other type of stomach virus, but a lot of people arrived on the cruise tour with colds, which was frustrating. I spent a lot of time fighting off a cold after being around people on buses and trains that were sneezing and coughing. Once I got home, I did get sick. On the ship, Princess did what they could; they had hand sanitizers everywhere and enforced their use in the buffet and dining rooms. I overheard talk that some passengers with fevers had been quarantined. We had to answer a questionnaire before boarding about our health; obviously some people were fibbing. I know that you don’t want to cancel a big trip because you have a cold, but it’s certainly annoying for other people that don’t want to become ill and are basically trapped in close quarters, such as an all day motor coach ride, where you can’t get away from all the viruses being spread by the non-stop sneezing and coughing. We disembarked in Vancouver. I had been told not to make a flight reservation that was earlier than 3.5 hours after disembarkation and I quickly saw why. Vancouver doesn’t have freeways, so the coach ride from the pier to the airport, in morning rush hour traffic, took about 45 minutes. There was a long wait to get your luggage as Princess unloaded it, but in their usual fashion, it was very organized. You were queued up a long time as they allowed each disembarkment group (you’re grouped by color codes) to go in their turn, but that did mean that once it was your turn to find your luggage, you were only looking through a few dozen bags instead of hundreds. I was able to clear Canadian customs while on the ship, but getting through check in (even with a pre-printed boarding pass) and then security and then US customs, was probably over an hour. For Vancouver flights into the US, you don’t drop your bags with the airline. You have to have the airline staff look at your boarding pass and ID, then you have to go past the airline counter, with your bags and take them to security. Once through security, you put your bags into a big scanning machine to be checked and then you head to US customs. Altogether it took about 3.5 hours from walking off ship to arriving at the airplane gate. It was annoyingly slow, but people should realize that when there are multiple cruise ships disembarking 2000+ passengers at the same time, that it is going to clog up the airport. Same thing with the luggage. No matter when you put your luggage out that final night, they still can’t begin offloading it until they arrive in Vancouver (which was about 7:00 am), so your bags aren’t going to be available the minute you get off the ship. Overall, it was the trip of a lifetime. Princess was extremely organized throughout. I had no problems with them. All the tour guides were very good and provided lots of information. I enjoyed all the tours, all the lodges, and the ship. I am glad that I chose to do the land tour first and then the cruise. While the scenery gets better as you cruise north, I felt that was outweighed by getting on the ship after a busy week on land. It would have felt more disruptive to me to have to start packing bags, putting bags outside, and moving from lodge to lodge after the week of cruising. It was also great to have the two sea days to start the cruise and have a chance to unwind after all the activities I did on the land tour. I won’t hesitate to cruise on Princess again. I’m already thinking of doing Alaska again next year. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Wife and I were traveling with our friends and both couples have cruised many times. We flew or waited to fly all day from Boston to MSP and then to Fairbanks. No problems just a very long day, perhaps I would spend a day in between next ... Read More
Wife and I were traveling with our friends and both couples have cruised many times. We flew or waited to fly all day from Boston to MSP and then to Fairbanks. No problems just a very long day, perhaps I would spend a day in between next time. From the get go all hotel accommodations were really nice, much better than anticipated. One thing I did notice in each place and port was the knowledge that things were closing up next week. This gave us the impression they were done with this for the season but we also found some good deals in the shops. Ship was clean and operating well. First real displeasure was for the first night they knew to place our traveling companions across the hall from us. From that point on they were a five minute walk from us. On board we were 603 (starboard side) and they were 602 (port side). This was also a walk to meet up with them. Originally they were not seated with us for dinner but was corrected easily. Our shore excursions were good. We did a photographic class excursion, which with better weather would have been excellent. Reminder to all going to Alaska, They do have RAIN in certain areas. Our trip rain was only a factor for one whole day, a few others had periodic showers. The trip to Whittier was fun. Train ride and bus ride the next day. The tunnel was a hoot. On the hour south bound traffic thru the tunnel and on the half hour it was north bound and if the train needed it all vehicle traffic ceased. The port, well it was a clean terminal. Let's face it Whittier is a good place to jump on the cruise ship, but I wouldn't want to visit it for very long. Guess that's why they do it this way. Also got to give them credit, I saw no long lines while going aboard. What kind of a review can you give a cabin on a cruise ship! Unless you save up and get an owners cabin, well they are pretty much the same. Very clean, Jesse made sure of that, and have all the needed functions. We did have a laundry 8 to 10 doors aft from us and we did make use of it. If you do shore excursions and are active and enjoy them you might get a little dirty in Alaska. Our food was great for the entire trip. Dining room or what I like to call the cattle call. But even this was not as bad this time. Very clean and don't take your eyes off that almost done plate as they whisk it away and clean the area. Finding a seat for four of us at times took a minute. The shows and comedians were typical for cruise lines. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed them and laughed my butt off. Our Naturalist was on stage almost every day with something interesting about our port of call or narrating what was outside the ship while we were going by. I have never gotten off a ship so easy as one we hit Vancouver. We walked from our room, met our friends, just found a seat in the lounge. They called our number and off we went. This was a very easy procedure. We were off the ship and in front of our hotel Ramada by 9:20 am. We spent Wednesday and Thursday there looking at the sites, and there was plenty. Stanley Park was still very much in bloom and the city was clean and friendly. Yaletown offered many good Restaurants and to mention one we went to Cactus for our anniversary. It is over a six block area so walk them and look at the menus before deciding. Our Alaska cruise/tour was a big hit. After editing the poor photos I ended up taking 1200. My wife was also shooting with her Nikon and must have the same. I would visit Alaska again but this time spending time in a few spots to see the excursions we didn't get to take. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Stayed the night in Pan Pacific Vancouver & they took care of our luggage the morning of embarkation, so bypassed the luggage cue. No need to pass through U.S.A immigration check until we arrived in Seattle which was another unexpected ... Read More
Stayed the night in Pan Pacific Vancouver & they took care of our luggage the morning of embarkation, so bypassed the luggage cue. No need to pass through U.S.A immigration check until we arrived in Seattle which was another unexpected bonus & were onboard Coral princess by 12.15pm.Prior to leaving New Zealand we pre-purchased shore excursions,unlimited soda & more package & pre-paid gratuities to help save time once onboard.Upon check in we had our drink package sticker on our room card & all our shore excursion vouchers were promptly delivered to our stateroom. Our first port of call was Victoria where we done the Craigdarroch castle etc excursion and the tour guide was excellent with plenty of history & local knowledge.Seattle was o.k but unfortunately we were late arriving for the Boeing factory tour & it got cancelled.Personally I was more disappointed with the folks off the ship as they were more interested in returning than finding a solution to the problem.Not everyone but 80%.The problem arose due to a immigration delay at port.Princess were fantastic at refunding & apologizing for the inconvenience.Leaving Seattle the stern of deck 10 was a excellent vantage point.Astoria Oregon was a beautiful place along with it's interesting history & antique shops.San Francisco was one of my personal highlights with a memorable trip to Alcatraz,be sure to book early in advance or you'll miss out.Made our own way to the Golden Gate bridge by local bus & enjoyed every minute.Took in some local suburbs on the way back & were intrigued at the authenticity of China town.Los Angeles is a big place so be sure to book a excursion if you want to see the highlights.The USS IOWA is tied up at port which was impressive on it's own.Cabo san lucas Mexico was interesting,we got a water taxi around to the beach & made our way back to the ship,highlights being got hands on with some Macau parrots & Iguana reptiles.Nigcaragua was o.k whilst waiting for our excursion we got a $5 taxi ride around the seaside town that was worth every penny & enjoyed our excursion out to a farm with views of volcanoes & enjoyed the entertainment along with refreshments all included by the lake.Very beautiful place.Costa Rica was a wow factor,be sure to take your binoculars & a good camera.On the excursion to the Macaw sanctuary we had a boat tour where we were lucky to spot three crocodiles in the wild,two of them being huge man eaters.Be sure to check out the Macaw sanctuary the folks there are doing an outstanding job.Be sure to take insect repellant though.Of course the biggest highlight is the Panama canal being a huge engineering feet 100 hundred years old,costing over 5000 lives many due to yellow fever.A great vantage point is the bow & stern of deck 10 where we spent all day from 6am till 5pm taking photos with a lunch break in between.The old city tour in Colombia was pretty good & wasn't as third world as people make out.The fortress was cool along with the museum of the Spanish inquisition.The emerald museum was just a jewerlly shop.You can get some bargains on souvenirs so don't jump on the first guy you see.I'd never heard of Aruba before but see it's a blip on the map off the coast of Venezuela.Was beautiful sailing into port noticing the enticing seaside resorts.We got a taxi to the beach & enjoyed swimming in the clear aqua waters,fantastic.Two days later we were in Fort Lauderdale & our holiday was just about complete.We're happy we took 22nights from Vancouver,or there's 17nights from San Francisco or 15nights from Los Angeles.The food & service onboard was faultless & very professional.Dinner times we ate mostly in the Bordeaux dinning room,where you can order as much or less as you prefer,so if you're a big eater don't be shy.Horizon court was the buffet self service which was also very nice with different selection daily & professional prompt service.If time was on myside though I preferred the silver service where you were made to feel special.Theirs no pleasing everyone though as one lady commented on the chicken broth that it tasted like yesterdays chicken,how she could tell was beyond me.The entertainment onboard was also great.I felt the Princess dancers could have preformed longer shows but the comedians & magicians were outstanding.Being down the front of the theatre at show time was a great place to be for detail.Overall I felt this holiday was great value for money,now I'm home I enjoy browsing for future cruises & are sure to enjoy Scandinavia & Russia in 5 months time onboard the glamorous Regal Princess ;-) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our second such Pacific Coastal cruise with Princess and I have to say I think Princess is slipping. The Coral Princess is getting on in years and it is showing badly. Our cabin steward was not the most ambitious steward we ... Read More
This was our second such Pacific Coastal cruise with Princess and I have to say I think Princess is slipping. The Coral Princess is getting on in years and it is showing badly. Our cabin steward was not the most ambitious steward we ever had and that is being generous. Overall the cruise itself was enjoyable, as are all cruises if you like cruising. This cruise was enjoyable IN SPITE of Princess, it's old deteriorating ship and disaffected staff. Our room was not clean when we embarked. Food remnants on counters and the carpet had not been vacuumed. The sad part is that the carpet was never vacuumed the entire week until we left the steward a note asking him to vacuum it. I thought that was part of Cabin Cleaning 101. Pieces of the bathroom fixtures kept falling off and the threshold to the bathroom was loose. The fridge door squealed so loud you didn't want to open it if your partner was sleeping. Last but not least, the doorwall to the balcony had salt deposits built up on the carpet from the leaking that occured under the doorwall. The carpet was wet and then when it dried it would add more to this rather large deposit of salt on the floor. Princess. Get a clue. None of this in unknown to you, you're just not fixing it. Guess we are not worth it to you. We are Ruby Level members, but will not be sailing Princess for the foreseeable future. Our next cruise is already booked on Celebrity. One other disappointment was the Alcatraz/Sausalito excursion. The bus driver missed the exit to Vista Point denying all aboard a breath-taking photo op of the Golden Gate bridge. And since the Alcatraz Cruise leaves from a dock within easy walking distance from the ship, what you are in effect paying for is a very expensive bus ride to Sausalito where you have all of 45 minutes to find something to eat. Do not take this excursion. Just walk down to the Alcatraz boats and buy a ticket yourself. This bus also had issues. One of the seats was broken and the door to the filthy bathroom with the non-flushing toilet kept flying open during the trip. Having said all that. We still enjoyed our cruise in spite of Princess and their apparent new attitude of "We are so big now as part of Carnival we don't have to treat customers well any more." Guess again Princess. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We were treated so wonderfully by everyone. The men at the International Cafe, where I would go at 3:00 AM were always so thoughtful. The staff at the Horizon Court were cheerful and acted like we were doing them a favor letting them get ... Read More
We were treated so wonderfully by everyone. The men at the International Cafe, where I would go at 3:00 AM were always so thoughtful. The staff at the Horizon Court were cheerful and acted like we were doing them a favor letting them get us things. Our waiter at dinner gave me helpful hints on ways to make our trip more enjoyable, like going to the Sanctuary. We made friends and enjoyed meeting them at the Wheelhouse for Happy Hour. Afterwards we played trivia with them. We had a booked schedule since I had rebooked excursions at every port. We learned so much on all of them. We did go with a private tour in Cartagena and there was a noticeable lack of quality. People who say they get the same tour from private vans don't know the difference. We also had to pay to get into the nunnery, and other places, no lunch was included. I was hesitant to go someplace that had not been checked out already. It verified what I had heard that Princess screens the venders they use for excursions. Many people praised Sabatini's so we went there and it was well worth the surcharge. The enrichment lectures were useful. There was even one on the Camino de Santiago. It was so difficult to leave the ship. I booked two more cruises as soon as I got home, Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We just got back from our first Princess cruise and I have to say the staff are amazing and we loved the size of coral but the age was not really suited to us at 40 years old but we enjoyed it all the same,. The itinerary was fantastic and ... Read More
We just got back from our first Princess cruise and I have to say the staff are amazing and we loved the size of coral but the age was not really suited to us at 40 years old but we enjoyed it all the same,. The itinerary was fantastic and my favorite port was Nicaragua. I didn't think the food in the buffet was as good as Celebrity but the dining room was better. We had a mini suite on deck 10 forward and we loved it, it will be hard going back to an ordinary balcony room on our next 2 bookings that's for sure, the bath was a bonus and the spacious room with the closet. I am still undecided on who does the best pizza between celebrity and princess but they are both fantastic. We loved movies under the stars too. Unfortunately the entertainment was limited for a younger crowd but we enjoyed the music by Jonathan Lewis as he had a variety of music for all ages. We were a bit shocked at the rudeness of some people on board and it was mainly from the very elderly that were very self entitled, we though being an older crowd the people would be more friendly and less rude, not so. We caught a taxi from downtown LA to San Pedro and it cost $70 incl 18% tip which we thought was ok and very quick no hassle. We arrived early and it was a breeze going through the steps and we didn't have to wait long to board, we were on by 1 pm. We got a unlimited alcohol pack and we did get our moneys worth with water, specialty coffees and wine with dinner, a few cocktails and drinks in the afternoon and evening. Cabo- We did a Luxury Sail boat tour through Princess which was great but the swell was bad on that day and half the people on 2 boat myself included, had to be evacuated via speedboat back to shore as it was very rough and people were vomiting everywhere, if I wasn't feeling so sick I would of loved to take pics of the evacuation as it was pretty intense, felt much better once on speedboat, so was a bit of a waste of $400 since we only were on board 45 mins, certainly no ones fault it's just the way it was, they said it was the first time in 2 years that they had to bring in the speed boat. I still enjoyed Cabo but not my favorite port. We got big swells that afternoon too and they had to drain the pool and there was fear we may miss Nicagragua but luckily that didn't happen, good call by the Captain to charge through the storm. Nicaragua- We organized a private tour for myself and my husband with Macua Tours and it was hands down our favorite Tour on this trip or ever. We got Edwin who is one of the founders and he was fantastic and so very knowledgeable. We had a great day and covered so much including a hike up to see the Jesus Christ statue on top of the mountain with amazing views, apparently we were the only visitors that day from our ship. We visited Granada, which was very cool and Lake Nicaragua and did a little boat tour around the islands and seen monkeys too. Lunch was supplied and very nice too. Then Masaya Volcano then markets and also a stop to Catalina with more markets then because we decided not to shop we had 30 mins spare to see the statue of Jesus Christ, while the very steep 50 steps or so was tough it was so very worth it. I got some amazing pics and we had a great day with Edwin and the driver. We were picked up at 8am and were back on board by 3.45. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Macua Tours, I found them on trip advisor and their reviews were exceptional. Puntarenus- We did another private tour found from Trip Advisor with Rick Ricardo and it was just the 4 of us. We were picked up at 7.30 and returned about 4.30. We covered a lot with Rickys tour also, we went to a house and learnt about natural medicines from fruits and leaves etc, very interesting,then saw some monkeys on the side of the road then went to do a boat tour of the mangrove and see crocodiles and birds etc then for a beautiful lunch before catching a cable car thing down into the rainforest and we could of did a city tour but the weather turned bad and we wanted to get back to the boat before the rain started.Ricky was a lovely guy and also very informative, he has great reviews on tripadvisor too. Panama Canal crossing was so good, but so very hot, we got out the front of the boat by 6am on deck 10 and it was half full already, it filled up fast and it was a long few hours going through miraflores Locks but fascinating. We went to the back of the boat for the last lock and took some great pics then up to pool deck for a while before the next Locks. What a great experience. You need sunscreen and a hat and lots of water, it was very hot. Cartegena- We did the walking tour through Princess and whilst it was a large group tour , which we usually avoid but it was interesting all the same and Cartegena is a beautiful colorful city, we had a great time in the Old city. Aruba- We had another private tour with Cyrillo Croes found on trip advisor and packed a fair bit in for our short stop in Aruba. We saw the beaches, the lighthouse, the tourist areas and the rich homes and a few other stops. We went to Iguana Joes for a quick snack and a few drinks before tour and that was great, I wish we had more time to hang out there and shop in the markets across the road but it was kind of rushed, there is always next time, right! We did not eat at any specialty restaurants. We did notice that the toilets were often out of order in a few different bathrooms, just 1 in a few bathrooms which caused a wait at peak times before and after shows etc. We didn't have much to do with the cruise director but we did talk to Matt many times and we found him to be a great guy, lots of fun and I would love to see him as Cruise Director in the future. We also were lucky enough to do the Ultimate Ship Tour and it was so worth the money, max of 14 people and it was fantastic, we all got a bath robe, an apron, a personilised note pad, 5 photos including 1 with the captain and frames too. We covered the Bridge, galley, engine room, laundry and more, you must wear closed in shoes and pants. Overall we had an amazing Cruise with Princess and would be more than happy to cruise with them again. We have decided to do Panama again in 10 years on a bigger ship. The staff made our experience so much better on this trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
This was a cruise that nearly pleased on many counts and respects, but eventually left us feeling slightly disappointed. The embarkation process was reasonably efficient, although it took two hours from arrival to actually getting ... Read More
This was a cruise that nearly pleased on many counts and respects, but eventually left us feeling slightly disappointed. The embarkation process was reasonably efficient, although it took two hours from arrival to actually getting onboard. Luggage was delivered in timely fashion. Our stateroom attendant Jenner was on hand to greet us and provided a pleasant and efficient service thoughout. We ate mainly in the Main Dining Room when we could, including breakfast and lunch, and without exception the offerings were all well cooked and presented. The International Cafe was also good, although as it was quite small the choice was somewhat limited. Our couple of visits to Horizon Court left us a little under impressed, the food appeared to be of a lower quality and suited to the "pile it high" diners who were more interested in quantity than quality. Entertainment was very mixed in standard, the singers & dancers along with Lovena Fox (singer) were very good but the remainder was a little weak. My wife described it as like a holiday camp offering - not our cup of tea. The sea days had lots of alternatives but mostly aimed towards the American market (most of passengers). The crew mainly gave you the obligatory as you passed them, but on many occasions it was obviously forced, and I would rather them not acknowledge than the "forced" effort. We took one Princess excursion, the ferry trip along the Panama Canal, which I had read occasionally was subject to delays however this did not prepare us for the experience of an 11 hour day. In our view it is not worth the money and time and a much better perspective would be gained from passing back through Gatun locks on your vessel. Disembarkation was without doubt the smoothest and quickest we have experienced. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
This was my first cruise on Princess and from all the good things I have heard about them, I was very disappointed. The ship is older and needs to be updated. Hallways, twist and turn making it difficult for people with walkers or ... Read More
This was my first cruise on Princess and from all the good things I have heard about them, I was very disappointed. The ship is older and needs to be updated. Hallways, twist and turn making it difficult for people with walkers or scooters. We had a mini-suite which was quite nice and ample for 3 of us. Ship was easy to negotiate, making it easy to get around and know where everything was very quickly. Cabin steward was very accommodating. Activities were lame, not many choices. Catered to much older and European crowd. Not a lot to do on sea days or no alternative plans on days at sea when it rained. My 20+ year old was quite bored on those days. Guest service staff was very helpful. Excursion desk was hardly ever open, so if you had an issue no one was ever there. Excursions were good, had one extremely bad tour guide on the ferry ride through the canal. Ferry was not handicap accessible, as we were travelling with someone that had mobility issues. It took 2 days of complaining and trying to talk to shore excursions to get something done, Princess did finally do something. Dining room for breakfast was a nightmare, the wait staff never got any orders right and were down right rude. My husband ordered an omelet and a it was wrong, instead of just getting the right food, the waiter said next time order it right. Dinner in the dining room was so much better, wait staff was attentive and food and choices were more than adequate. Sabatini's was wonderful. Entertainment was passable. Same entertainers more than once. No variety. Cruise director was boring. Been on many other cruises and cruise director and staff were so motivating and fun. At least her staff was fun. Photo prices were way out of line. I am a scrapbooker, they had no kits for sale, telling me that they were not delivered. Why should I suffer. Biggest pet peeve, coffee is readily available anywhere and at anytime. Went to International Café. I truly understand paying for specialty coffee's but they charged $1.25 for cup of coffee (regular or decaf) plus tax and tip. But everything food wise was at no charge. Having spent a lot of money for this trip, I felt that this was absolutely absurd. Spoke to a customer service rep at princess who couldn't care less. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Let's start with the good: relaxed liquor policy and good value for the liquor package as unlike Celebrity, they don't increase the price of their good drinks to encourage you to upgrade your package. Rooms are clean and room ... Read More
Let's start with the good: relaxed liquor policy and good value for the liquor package as unlike Celebrity, they don't increase the price of their good drinks to encourage you to upgrade your package. Rooms are clean and room and dining room staff are pleasant. Now the bad: The ship is a rust bucket, due for dry dock in January, 2016. When it rained the hallway roofs leaked. The balcony door in our room leaked. Our friends were twice woken up at 6 am by staff outside their door vacuuming up the water leaking into the corridor and talking in loud voices. At one point 1/2 of the passageway on the 9th floor had ceiling tiles out to repair the roof/find the leaks. The customer service staff rarely answered the phone and if they did, did not get back to you as promised or at all. One day our phone rang with an automated call to tell us the alarm had sounded and proceed at once to the muster station. We hung up to leave and it rang again with the same doomsday announcement. We went to the muster station, no one was there especially to say what was going on. We later found out from a cabin attendant that it was a false alarm caused by the water leaking into the ceiling and shorting out the fire alarm. Again, no one in the ship informed the passengers about this over the intercom of otherwise. This was symptomatic of the senior level staff's attitude towards their passengers. This inattentive attitude goes right to the top. The Cruise Director was rarely seen around the ship except at her Zumba class (she is an ex-dancer) and at the nightly show. The shows were generally average entertainment in some cases with low grade talent but some of the entertainers were good and popular. She kept on switching the times of the nightly shows making it difficult to make to shows and our fixed dinner times. In one case she switched a popular show out of the theatre to the lounge where there was inadequate seating to accommodate the attendees. Whoever wrote the daily navigational guide always made sure he had at least 2 awkward English language errors (it became a daily joke to see what he would say next) and the daily Captain's announcement was pretty well unintelligible due to his poor English language skills. Notwithstanding this, we paid top non-discounted dollar for this cruise which turned out to be the worst we have ever been on. Princess has been resting on their laurels since the Love Boat series and needs a serious shakeup at the senior management level, especially on this ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The Good: The food and the entertainment were all excellent. A nice variety of meals and every venue we dined at was equally good. Even the buffet was excellent. The entertainment was varied and top-notch, including two comedians and ... Read More
The Good: The food and the entertainment were all excellent. A nice variety of meals and every venue we dined at was equally good. Even the buffet was excellent. The entertainment was varied and top-notch, including two comedians and two different singers (these were the headliners). The cruise staff also gave two very good performances. The cruise director is to be commended for the good choice of entertainment. The Bad: The embarkation could be handled much better. After standing in line to check in, we had to stand in line again to have our pictures taken for the ship's passenger pass. On other cruises, the ship's pass is given when you check in. Debarkation was okay. The ship definitely needs to be refurbished. We noticed wear in the carpeting in several areas, but the worst thing was leakage in the two hallways, far aft on Emerald Deck. There was "water" leakage from the ceiling in both of these areas. We were told it was the cooling system but it smelled suspiciously like urine. We only took one ship's excursion in Panama (we made private arrangements in other ports) and we disappointed. The excursion was to see both the working and new locks. The tour started out great, spending about 1 hour watching ships traverse the canal (including the Coral Princess). Then we went to visit the new locks. We spent nearly two hours here (at least one hour too long) - I suspect because they wanted to "waste time" until the Coral Princess was docked in Colon. The UGLY: Our waiter (in the Bordeaux Dining Room) attempted to sell us a "complimentary" Princess 50th anniversary glass in a very deceptive way - telling us it was free and then saying it would cost only $5 with a shot of something in it. Very distasteful! The other embarrassing situation occurred when a lounge waiter occurred asked us to take our card game to the card room. This occurred in the Martini Bar, where there were several other tables available and we were not disrupting anything. We felt like school children being scolded in front of other passengers! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
The plus side of the cruise was the itinerary, food, service and production shows. Although we have seen all production shows in the past. The entertainment in general was poor with the cruise director NOT connecting with the passengers. ... Read More
The plus side of the cruise was the itinerary, food, service and production shows. Although we have seen all production shows in the past. The entertainment in general was poor with the cruise director NOT connecting with the passengers. Some of the activities listed in the Princess Patter did not take place at the times specified. Supposedly they were announced over the PA but it was not heard or could understand by a lot of people. For mainly an American audience the acts brought on by the cruise director were mainly Australian. Not appreciated by many, even the Australians. The movie and trivia were good. Especially good was the cruise long trivia. The lecturers obviously not been vetted by Princess. Overall we had a good time since we made it a point to have one. But the cruise could have been better if the entertainment were better. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
I have only taken three cruises in the past though I've traveled extensively by air and auto. I went on this cruise alone (for privacy and paid the premium), and had a single inside stateroom, as part of a group of 30-40 people ... Read More
I have only taken three cruises in the past though I've traveled extensively by air and auto. I went on this cruise alone (for privacy and paid the premium), and had a single inside stateroom, as part of a group of 30-40 people particpating in a conference. The most noticeable feature of this cruise is that its like being in an assisted living home. The average age was well over 65 and you encounter people in wheelchairs, walkers and with oxygen tanks around every corner. Very few children and hardly any 20-40 year olds. That said, it was quiet by 9pm, not crowded, and I met some very interesting people with a wealth of life experience. Here's a recap. 1. Flew from home to Ft Lauderdale and stayed the night before at the Comfort Inn & suites near the port. Perfect choice, CVS Pharmacy next door was handy for last minute shampoo, bug spray and suntan lotion. 2. Used Princess transport to/from airport. This was very convenient as they shepharded me through embarkation and disembarkation and it was very smooth and efficient. I had to take the hotel shuttle to the airport to meet them since I'd stayed the night before at the hotel. 3. Ship is in very good shape, AC was always comfortable and working on board, food was beautifully presented and appropriately sized servings for lunch and dinner in the dining rooms. I took a small plate for breakfast or buffets. There's no need to overeat. 4. The excursions I could have skipped except for the Panama Canal ferry through to the Pacific, which was worth every penny ($179), because I had the conference to go to that took up all my time when we were at sea. I would have liked to skip the smaller excursions and just enjoy relaxing around the ship. The excursions were well run with excellent knowledgable guides. 5. Panama Canal - This was one of my main reasons for going and it exceeded my expectations. I wa up at 4:45 am at the front of the ship on deck 11 where the guide was broadcasting all day. I had an unobstructed view of the approach and all the way through the locks to Gatun Lake. We transferred to a ferry to complete the transit through to the Pacific and then took a motorcoach bus back to the ship by land. Loud mouth group complained about everything, otherwise everyone seemed to enjoy it, though it was very warm and humid. We got back about 6:00 pm. 6. Our group was the 2nd reason I went on the cruise and the comraderie of being with like-minded individuals and sharing interests made the trip about something other than stuffing your face all day or getting tipsy. I would look for a group experience on any future cruise. 7. I didn't attend the entertainment and I wasn't with folks that talked much about it - it seemed that a lot of the older crowd went to bed after dinner. 8. The internet was way over priced and not worth it and I didn't use it though several in our group did and complained loud and long. I'd bought the Verizon international phone package ($40, 100 minutes, 100 texts, 100 MB data) and barely used it except while in port. Divorce yourself from being connected or use wi-fi in ports at easily accessible restaurants and cafes. The Princess on board was a closed wi-fi that had to be ON and manually checked to see if you had any messages. If it pushed messages to your native message app it would be useful for reaching others on board. I'ts going to be very different as all the baby boomers age and swell the ranks of all travel destinations. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
I have been on this ship 4 times & will go again in the Fall..This was my 102d cruise overall, and this cruise in October 2015 , was as enjoyable as all previous ones.. I find the service on this ship as well as all Princess ships to ... Read More
I have been on this ship 4 times & will go again in the Fall..This was my 102d cruise overall, and this cruise in October 2015 , was as enjoyable as all previous ones.. I find the service on this ship as well as all Princess ships to be excellent.. I go about 4 times a year, mostly with 3 companies, Princess, Celebrity & Royal Caribbean , which I find to be the best . The service was great, the balcony cabin was well maintained..The shows were OK, although as often as I go , they are mostly repeat shows...The comedians are the best part of the shows. I generally stay aboard the ship in ports, as I have been on all Caribbean islands many times. .I do sometimes get off to do shopping for the grandkids... The food on this ship was very good...I asked for low sodium meals and they had them for me every night..Nightly I find myself in the Casino when I'm not at the shows...unfortunately they cut the Casino in half when they updated the ship, so it is very small. Disembarkation was a breeze, as I used the Valet Service which took my luggage From my cabin directly to my home Air Port Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2015
This was our 10th cruise with Princess, our 2nd on this ship. My wife and I were not part of a group so we had a good chance to interact with the staff and the other guests. Most of the guests were older but there were a couple of families ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise with Princess, our 2nd on this ship. My wife and I were not part of a group so we had a good chance to interact with the staff and the other guests. Most of the guests were older but there were a couple of families on board. Maybe the combination of kids being at school and the length of the cruise (15 days) was the cause for the generational mix. There was one lucky little girl. My comment was that she had a thousand grand parents on board. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the day before departure and stayed at the Mariott on Hollywood Beach. It is more expensive than the other options in the area but I was looking for a sure thing. Mariott delivered so no complaints there. Embarkation was very smooth. The drive to the cruise terminal was not too bad although traffic was backed up a bit on the way. Once in the terminal, there was practically no wait. We got through the embarkation process in less than 5 minutes. I think the secret here is to arrive at the time Princess suggests, in our case about 1:30. We ate at both of the specialty restaurants, Bayou Café and Sabitini's At the Bayou Café, we both had a filet steak. It was prepared exactly the way we liked. An interesting wrinkle is the 3 types of salt we were provided. I enjoyed the different tastes but for the life of me I cannot recall their names. I do remember one of them was black. Give it a try if salt is not a problem for you. Our waiter, Witold, was very interesting. It turned out he comes from the same area of Poland from which my family originated. Small world. Our dinner at Sabitini"s was also very good. We both selected the lobster 3 ways and were very pleased. The buffet was smaller than on some of the larger ships but I always found plenty of dishes that I enjoyed. Often, depending on the time of day, many of the tables already had diners. However, there were usually open chairs and folks were very ready to share and strike up conversations. What a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. We signed up for anytime dining. The Bordeaux restaurant is reserved for this choice. If one insists on a table for 2 or 4, there is a good chance there will be a wait during peak dinner hours. My suggestion is to make clear that you want to share a table and meet new people. We hardly waited, had some marvelous dinners and made new friends to boot. We usually checked out the entertainment in the Princess theater in the evening. The nights that featured the ship dancers were a bit hit and miss. We enjoyed the first show, called Dance a great deal but felt the others fell a bit flat, at least for us. We got great laughs from the comedians and particularly enjoyed Karen Grainger, a vocal impersonator, although I liked her natural voice best. In addition to the main attraction, the Panama Canal, the itinerary included 5 port days. We did excursions arranged through Princess at all 5. These are all hot and humid locations. Be sure to bring and drink plenty of water. The first stop was Aruba. We took the California Lighthouse and Moomba Beach tour. We did not have a lot of time here so that colored our decision to take this tour but for my money skip the lighthouse and go straight to the beach. It is right next to the Holiday Inn so a taxi or a bus for the adventurous should be an easy alternative. The 2nd port of call was Cartagena. We took the mangrove swamp and old city tour. Our guide, Sergio, was very informative and a lot of fun. We were there on November 11, a day a big parade was occurring. We had to make a small change in the order that we saw things so that the bus would not get stuck in traffic. We stopped outside the old fortress but did not have time to go inside. To be honest, the fortress is so large that it would be worth a tour all by itself. The mangrove swamp was a little way out of town so it gave us a chance to see the more modest part of the country. The wooden canoes were handled by experienced boatmen that grew up in the area. We also saw the way a local fisherman casts his net then hauls it back. He is not in a boat by the way, just standing in water where there were no mangroves. After this, we returned to the old part of the city and got to see some of the parade. It was very colorful. We did see a lot of police and military in town, probably due to the parade. I hasten to add that I felt very safe and that everyone was very friendly. The 3rd stop was Puntarenos in Costa Rica. We took the garden and crocodile tour. We were supposed to have a sky walk component of the tour but Princess changed things and we did not notice in time to raise an issue. There were 3 main portions. There was a chance to see crocodiles from a bridge, a walk through a rain forest, and lunch and a walk in a garden up in the mountains. On this tour, there were 2 guides. Both were familiar with the plant and animal life we saw and also provided a good description of the history of their country and its culture. On this tour there were also a couple of chances to do some shopping. There is not much shopping at the end of the pier so these tours are a better bet if shopping is important. Right at the end of the pier across the street, I checked out the local beer at a bar. I can recommend it. It is very safe and also has free WIFI. The 4th stop was San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. This is a tender stop so there is not any support for guests with mobility issues. Tendering started an hour late so that threw schedules to the winds. We took the tour to Marsaya, the active volcano. Our guide was informative, the bus comfortable, the scenery on our route providing a glimpse of local color. Along the way, we stopped long enough at Lake Nicaragua for some photos. We drove through but did not stop in Grenada. Folks we ran into at dinner, who took the Grenada tour, complained that they felt rushed. A festival was being set up so the operator likely suffered from the late start more that our group. Lunch was at a very nice establishment and the volcano very interesting. There is a wall right along the rim so you get a chance to look into the caldera. Sulfur fumes are constantly released but on this day, luck was with us as the wind blew the smell away from us. The tour concluded with a stop by a crater lake. There was plenty of shopping here and the view of the lake breathtaking. There were a lot of families out for the day so it was very festive and safe. There is not much shopping were the tenders land but a market is under construction so buy stuff while on your tour. There seemed to be more shops further up the beach but we did not have time to investigate. We did talk to a couple who was on the tour to Nicaragua's capital city. They complained that the police boarded the bus and checked everyone's ID. The process took half an hour or so they said. One look and the authorities should have realized the bus contained nothing but aging tourists. Oh well, it is their country. The last stop was Cabo. This is also a tender stop. We took the El Arco tour with lunch by a beach. Big mistake. The tour itself left late and was comprised of a ship crew that seemed more interested in collecting a tip. There was a very dated recorded narrative by Michel Cousteau but it just did not work for me. At least the guide that joined us for the bus and beach portion of the tour was better. I have no complaint with him. You can get great pictures of El Arco from the ship and it is easy to take a water taxi to several beaches. There are also many good restaurants so get out and explore. It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this but Cabo is a heck of a party town. Oh yeah, we also went through the Panama Canal. What an engineering marvel. Be sure to be up early so that you can get the best viewing spot. Forward views on decks 14 and 15 fill up fast. Aft is less congested and also provides an interesting view. There is blue glass that is intended to shelter guests from the wind but it messes up photos. The best photo spots are at the top of the stairs leading from deck 14 to 15. Decks 10 and 11 forward also offer larger common area verandas that allow better photos than higher decks. Bill, the destination expert, gave a series of great lectures about all the stops but especially about the history of the canal. Bet sure to attend these. So, if this was the best cruise ever, why only 4 stars? Well, the fact of the matter is this ship really needs a visit to dry dock. Our cabin was on the Dolphin deck (9), port side. Several times during the cruise a leak developed somewhere on a higher deck resulting in a shower of leaks out in the hall. There was one time a light fixture was filling with water. The good news was that the water seemed clear if you get my drift. The crew worked hard at fixing the problem. Water was vacuumed and fans set out to dry the carpet. It was clear however that a more complete solution is needed. Our cabin steward, Conrado, did a wonderful job working around the chaos in the hallway. I am happy to report that no water got into our stateroom. In spite of the leaks in the hall, I really like this ship. It seems to be the right size. Sure the buffet and casino are smaller than other ships but it just feels right. This ship also has a large enclosed area aft of the pool (deck 14) that makes it perfect for Alaska cruises or on days when the weather is poor. I suggest a stateroom on deck 9. If you can swing it, get a mini suite. The extra room is nice on a long cruise and the balcony very roomy, easily large enough for 3 or 4 people. Deck 9 is quiet but close enough to the main activity areas so that it is not always necessary to take the elevator, at least if there are no mobility issues involved. I also totally enjoyed the itinerary because there were so many sea days. If I wanted to read, great. If I wanted to do something, I checked the daily Patter and found something to my liking. My wife, who reads books at a lightning pace, was able to find plenty of selections that suited her in the library. The library is not huge for sure but adequate for a cruise ship. Watch the Patter for the Buy One Get One (BOGO) special. It happens twice a day. Disembarkation was very smooth. We found our luggage quickly, went through customs and immigration with no hassle, and were whisked to the airport. All very efficient. So yeah, as far as I am concerned, this is our best cruise ever in spite of the blemishes. I would definitely do it again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
I wish there was a rating between poor and average. I agree with some of the other reviews I read on this site. The ship definitely needs a facelift, which I understand it soon to take place. Too late for me though. The shower was the ... Read More
I wish there was a rating between poor and average. I agree with some of the other reviews I read on this site. The ship definitely needs a facelift, which I understand it soon to take place. Too late for me though. The shower was the bane of my existence. When in the tropics we tend to take at least 2 showers a day. The shower was small to say the least! Then again, so am I! I don't know how really very heavy people managed. There was a cloth shower curtain that seemed none too clean and the shower head was not adjustable. It was impossible to keep the bathroom floor from getting wet. The food was good, even in the buffet. We ate dinner in the buffet one night because the entertainment was so badly managed that we knew we would miss it if we didn't hurry up and eat. The entertainment manager was definitely not up to even average. There were so many timing conflicts I can't even remember them all. There were even events that were listed in the daily paper that didn't happen, and there were not even that many options during the day anyway! We ate in the Bayou restaurant one night, my husband liked the huge steak, but I was not thrilled with the other dishes. It was a waste of $50 in my opinion. The merchandise on sale was shoddy and was clearly just there to be dumped! Why else would they be selling Alaska Cruise stuff on a Panama Canal Cruise? This was my first Princess Cruise and probably my last. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Read Less
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

Find a Coral Princess Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise