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1,183 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

Our cruisetour began on September 9, 2008 with our flights to Anchorage, Alaska from Charlotte, NC by way of Dallas/Fort Worth Airlines. Upon arrival in Anchorage we were met at baggage claim by a Princess representative for our transfer ... Read More
Our cruisetour began on September 9, 2008 with our flights to Anchorage, Alaska from Charlotte, NC by way of Dallas/Fort Worth Airlines. Upon arrival in Anchorage we were met at baggage claim by a Princess representative for our transfer to the Captain Cook Hotel. This hotel was fine for the one night we were in Anchorage. Princess had all transfers to hotels and lodges well planned. While still on the bus or train we were given our room keys and never had to wait in line to get a key with all the other guests. This was very well done. On the land portion of the tour we stayed at McKinley Princess, Denali Princess and Copper River Princess Lodges. All the lodges were clean with comfortable and good food. Of particular interest to me was the ease of getting around the resorts as I have trouble walking and use a scooter for distance. The two best lodges for handicapped access were McKinley which had accessible shuttles and Copper River which is small and all rooms are in one building. The Denali Lodge is quite large but the shuttles are not accessible which would have been a problem if I had not been able to walk at all. Also the seating at the dinner theater at Denali was less than adequate being at picnic tables with very low benches. We had a catamaran transfer from Valdez to Whittier at the end of the land portion of the tour. This transfer is correctly marked as being inappropriate for those with mobility problems. If you cannot walk you cannot board this catamaran and this should be figured in your choice of cruise tour. All bathrooms in the lodges were accessible with orthopedic height toilets.Our embarkation was handled smoothly and we were quickly in our cabin Caribe 633, an accessible cabin. Our daughter and grandchildren were across the hall in cabin C635. Of interest to us, the cabin, bathroom and ramped balcony door in C633 were 33 inches wide. Our daughter's entry door was 22 inches, the bathroom door was 21 inches and the step into their bath was 4 inches high. Our bath did not have a step and the 4 inch step to the balcony was ramped. I have a TravelScoot scooter and it is 24 inches between the wheels. I would not have been able to use the scooter in their room. Our cruise itinerary included College Fjord, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and a sea day before debarking in Vancouver. The ship itself was clean and easy to navigate. We found the food to be very good. We had anytime dining in the Bordeaux Room where we never had to wait for a seat. We did find the horizon court to be somewhat chaotic the three times we ate there. This is especially noticeable when in a scooter as I do not like being bumped. We found it to our benefit to use the dining room. We traveled with our grandchildren. There were very few children on this cruise and they were the only children using the Fun Zone. They had a great time and became Junior Rangers during our time at Glacier Bay. Even though there were only two of them a ranger still came to the Fun Zone and did a presentation. Both College Fjord and Glacier Bay were outstanding experiences. The captain spins the boat and both sides get to see the glaciers. For the full effect however it is best to be on the open decks no matter how cold it feels as the ability to move from side to side makes the experience much better. We did no excursions at McKinley Lodge. At Denali Lodge we took the Tundra Wilderness Tour which was very enjoyable. We saw a bear, porcupine, moose, and several Willow Ptarmigans. We also attended the sled dog demonstration at the national park. It was excellent and FREE. At Copper River we took the Natural History tour sponsored by WISE (Wrangel Institute for Science and Ecology)where we saw the pipeline and took a short hike (not me) finding animal tracks and skat. In Skagway we did two tours. We took the White Pass and Yukon Railroad to the summit. This was in an accessible train car. This worked well for the seated person but if you accompany your partner you need to watch your head on exiting the lift. The scenery on this tour is fabulous. We also did the Evening Wildlife Excursion. I was told by the tour desk that this was a poor choice as I would have to walk about 1/2 mile to the viewing deck to see the bears. This was totally wrong as the viewing was done from inside the bus. We saw 4 bears, lots of harbor seals, and innumerable bald eagles. The excursion was in Haines so we took a boat from Skagway there before the tour began. In Haines I was met by a golf cart and taken up the ramp from the boat to the bus. In Skagway I had to walk down the long pier from the ship and then down two steep ramps to the transfer boat. Princess should consider providing a golf cart for this. This tour would be excellent if their were transfer assistance in Skagway. It could be marketed for the handicapped if their was accessible transport in Haines. The school bus used had the typical steep steps. In Juneau we went on a whale watch cruise and saw about 15 humpback whales. This cruise is marketed as appropriate for handicapped individuals (not through the cruise line)and is just so. We were picked up by a van with lift and then transferred to the boat by wheelchair. In Ketchikan we took a ship's tour "Lighthouses, Eagles, and Totems". I was also told this was not an appropriate selection. Again the tour desk was wrong. This tour is OK for a slow walker if you can do the steep step into the transfer bus. After that wheelchair assistance is supplied. We saw many eagles, Stellar Sea Lions and one lighthouse and several totems. It was an enjoyable tour. We had a problem with debarkation. We arrived at the appointed handicapped lounge at the time for our color luggage tags. We were supposed to be at the casino no later than 8:30 AM. There was insufficient staff to push the wheelchairs and also too few wheelchairs. Some individuals claimed wheelchairs by sitting in or filling them with luggage. Even after you were supposed to leave you could either not have a wheelchair or there was no one to push it. We left at 9:15 with me using my rollator so we could meet our scheduled "Quick Shuttle" at 9:45. This was very difficult but we made it just in time. I would suggest that Princess rethink their debarkation procedures. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We drove from our home in Sherman Oaks, CA on 9/25, 1PM and were in our cabin in less then 1/2 hour! Terrific check in (fast & courteous). Even our bags arrived in a timely manner. We were in cabin B326 (Baja Deck 11 - Veranda Cabin). ... Read More
We drove from our home in Sherman Oaks, CA on 9/25, 1PM and were in our cabin in less then 1/2 hour! Terrific check in (fast & courteous). Even our bags arrived in a timely manner. We were in cabin B326 (Baja Deck 11 - Veranda Cabin). The cabin was small but well equipped with more then enough storage space - clean and well maintained with a terrific steward by the name of CHAI. The bed and bedding was exceptionally comfortable. Only compliant was the "tiny" shower. If one weighs more then 89 pounds he/she would "meet yourself coming and going". The staff in all areas of the ship were extremely helpful, courteous and bent over backwards to make sure we and all guests were happy and well taken care of. One of the best crews we have sailed with in a long time. Princess has come a long way in this area if all of their other ships treat the passengers as we were treated on the Island Princess. Regarding Dining - we chose "anytime dining" - as far as we were concerned the name means nothing since after the first evening if one did not have a "standing" reservation/time it was difficult to just arrive for dinner and get a table. The service, on the other hand was outstanding and, even though the food was just ok, the food presentation was very creative and well displayed when served - just that the quality was not there. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court Buffet and the selections were numerous - and service very good - just, once again the quality of the food, especially the tough meat dishes was poor. The Grill on Deck 15 made very good hamburgers, chicken burgers, pizza etc. There was plenty of entertainment in the evenings to choose from - nothing exceptional but enough of a variety from musicians, musicals, singers and dancers etc....to please most of the people. They all worked hard to make their shows good and that was appreciated. The comedians were very funny and were some of the best shows. We have been on many shore excursions so we only got off of the ship at each port to walk around. We did take a tour of some of the sites and homes in Acapulco and that was very good as well as the city tour in Cabo San Lucus. We could not get off the ship for any of the two Panama City night tours - they were cancelled. We had to by pass Puerto Vallarta because the captain wanted to "go around" Hurricane Norbert. We did miss the Hurricane but for two days the seas were pretty rough. We had other excitement such as a large row boat with outboard motors in distress in the middle of the sea - but the captain turned the ship around and checked to see that the two sailors were just out of gas and notified the coast guard to come and help them out. We also had a medical emergency which also was handled very well by us having the sick passenger taken off the ship outside of Puerto Vallarta by another small boat. The internet service was very "spotty" and the connection came and went. I have been on this ship before and the internet and the cable TV comes and goes........ The disembarkation was the only really "pain"- it took us over a hour in a half to be called to disembark. Not very well planned and a lot of complaints from the passengers who said it was not a very good ending to a very nice cruise. Princess has to work on this. Over all we were extremely happy with the trip and would cruise with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Embarkation: My sister and I took a wonderful landtour (saw Denali!!) before the cruise and thus arrived at whittier on the McKinley Express after a 5 hour ride from Talkeetna with a wonderful tour guide in our car. Check-in was on board ... Read More
Embarkation: My sister and I took a wonderful landtour (saw Denali!!) before the cruise and thus arrived at whittier on the McKinley Express after a 5 hour ride from Talkeetna with a wonderful tour guide in our car. Check-in was on board and there were no delays or problems with embarkation. However, since we arrived at approximately 7 PM, there was no time to explore the ship that day. Stateroom; Our stateroom was very comfortable and spacious (obviously, excluding the bathroom) and loved having a balcony (our first). We worried about the location (next to children's Kid Zone) but did not really notice any noise until the last couple of days when there was a lot of running down the hall during the day. Our room steward (Nikki) was great. Ship: The public areas of the ship are very inviting - lots of places to sit and we never felt crowded. The library has a great selection of books and very comfortable chairs. The card room was also comfortable but people had a tendency to take the board games to their rooms instead of leaving them where others could enjoy them. We did not use the pool or hot tubs but had wonderful massages, facials, manicures and pedicures at the Lotus Spa. Entertainment: In general, we thought this was the area most lacking in quality and organization. We loved Vinnie Knight and the Jazz Riders! The show by Adrian Zmed was very good. The timing of the evening events was not geared for late dinners with many nights . On other cruiselines we were always able to see a show before dinner and either a different show or a movie after dinner (late seating). Activities: Lackluster for the most part with the exception of talks by the Park Rangers and naturalists. Dining: We are not gourmands by any means but overall, presentation was excellent and the food was generally good - some very dishes and some just so-so - but we have no complaints in that department. We had breakfast in the dining room every days except on the morning of disembarkation, mostly because we like sharing a table and meeting new people (people are less inclined to socialize at the buffet). We had lunch in the dining room most days; skipped lunch one day (!!!) and opted for a quick pizza on the Lido deck once due to time constraints. We were very surprised and ended up eating 2 slices each. Afternoon tea was always wonderful and presented another opportunity to socialize with a new group of fellow passengers. We opted for traditional late-seating dinner every night. Somehow we ended up with a table by the window (probably because it appears that most people choose anytime dining, including on formal nights). Our tablemates were great and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with them every night. The regular coffee is definitely very bad, so we each purchased the coffee cards ($25 + 15% gratuity) which allow for 15 expresso-based drinks. We only used 9 each, but were informed that the cards were valid for the next cruise. The expresso-based drinks were definitely better tasting! Service: Excellent service everywhere. Our head waitress(Ana) and her assistant Darko were wonderful. Ana's nightly recommendations were always especially helpful. Ports: Since we had done many of the major excursions on our first Alaskan cruise years ago, the only shore excursion we booked was for a helicopter ride/walk on Mendenhall glacier. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to weather conditions. We still enjoyed exploring the ports on our own. It was cool and either very cloudy and/or raining most days, but the beauty and splendor of Alaska was still evident. We will definitely return to Alaska and will definitely consider Princess again. Disembarkation: We opted for the Onboard Check-in and were very happy we did so. For an additional $16 per person, we received our airline boarding passes, our luggage was checked though to out final destination, and we were quickly processed through Customs/Immigration (Canadian/US) and security at our arrival at the airport. We met in our assigned location on the ship at 7:15 AM and were at the airport and checked in by 9:45 AM. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My partner and I cruised from Whittier to Vancouver in July 2008. This was our first cruise but we were a little disappointed with several aspects. First impressions were that the Island Princess cabin looked a 'little tired', ... Read More
My partner and I cruised from Whittier to Vancouver in July 2008. This was our first cruise but we were a little disappointed with several aspects. First impressions were that the Island Princess cabin looked a 'little tired', the carpet in our mini suite looked as though it needed a good clean, the bed valance had a tear in it and the outdoor deck chairs were splattered with paint! On a positive note the bed was very comfortable and our steward meticulously maintained the cabin although we saw him only twice during the trip. We chose anytime dining and found the food and service in the dining room excellent, special requests or variations to orders were no trouble at all. Food in the buffet was quite good but there were some occasions when it appeared that it had been left in the warming dish a little too long. Service in the buffet was very enthusiastic at the beginning of the cruise but waivered towards the end. It was disappointed we didn't have a coffee machine in our cabin, it's a bit annoying having to call room service and wait 20 minutes or more for coffee or alternatively make one's way to the buffet. I do think the ships could provide more inclusive additions in their costs, why can't they allow passengers at least one cappucino or coffee of their choice and perhaps one ice cream a day as part of their fares, also fruit juice, seems a bit ridiculous that you can order it free for breakfast but have to pay for it at any other time. Pottery classes and computer classes were around $25-35 each, massages etc very expensive, it just seemed that we had to pay for almost everything we chose to do in addition to the standard activities. The entertainment seemed very out dated and reminiscent of what one may have experience in cruise ships 20 years previously. Daytime entertainment was bingo, trivia, pottery, computers etc - what about some debates, book readings, daytime movies, guest speakers - after all we were cruising Alaska and there is lots of wonderful history to share. We did have a lady who won the Iditarod on board for a presentation and she was excellent. We attended a musical performance, hypnotist show, an Elvis hour which was a farce - the DJ played Elvis music for 20 mintues then simply replayed the same music over and over! The chocolate buffet was held one night about 10 or 11pm but the queue was round the deck so we didn't bother to wait around. Perhaps they should consider offering this at several locations throughout the deck, the champagne fountain was at 11.15pm, some people are asleep at that hour!The bar staff were excellent and the range of cocktails very good but also quite expensive. We enjoyed the ranger's talks but were disappointed that the Captain did not update us as to where we were travelling throughout the day. We received Princess Patter every evening which told us where we would be going but on the day we had no idea where we were. Bridgecam which transmitted through the TV simply showed the boat travelling but no indication of where we were. A friend recently took a cruise ship through the European rivers and said their captain kept them regularly updated as to their whereabouts throughout the cruise. We paid a lot of money for this cruise and while we are pleased we had the opportunity to see Glacier Bay and we did relax on the trip we both felt it was overrated and overpriced for what we got. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
My husband and I of 39 years sailed the beautiful Island Princess on July 21. This was his choice as a celebration retirement cruise. We have previously sailed with Celebrity, Azamara, Carnival, RCCL, and NCLA. We were anxious to try ... Read More
My husband and I of 39 years sailed the beautiful Island Princess on July 21. This was his choice as a celebration retirement cruise. We have previously sailed with Celebrity, Azamara, Carnival, RCCL, and NCLA. We were anxious to try Princess and were not disappointed in the least. We booked a guarantee cabin for the 1st time, and I must admit it was a bit nerve-racking for me not to know where on the ship we would be. We eventually found out our assignment 3 days before sailing. It was a 1 category upgrade from AD to AC mini-suite. We enjoyed the cabin and our room steward, Jessy. The food was good in the restaurants (anytime dining). There were always choices that were available on the left side of the menu....ex. shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, fett. Alfredo, etc. in addition to the always available entrees...steak, salmon, chicken, etc. One of our favorite meals was the crab legs. They were split and very easy to eat. Our waiter said he would bring a double order if we wanted. I couldn't even finish my first portion. The desserts, in my opinion, were lacking in variety and flavor. We are from NY so I was a bit disappointed in the texture of the cheesecake. The mousse was quite heavy, also. We did eat at Sabitini's. I thought the food was very good. Just taste a bit of each dish that is brought to you and you will be fine. I could be more specific if anyone would like, please email me. We did attend some of the entertainment on board. The Piano Man show was quite good. Also, Glen Smith on the piano was very good. The CD kept talking about the show with Adrian Zmed (he used to star on TJ Hooker). The show, in my opinion was awful. Some people left in the middle. To sum it up, it went something like this....Look at these clips of me I used to be really famous, REALLY, and you should remember me....and then he would sing...pretty sad. I must make a comment here about the CD. I think she was the weakest CD I have ever encountered. Her asst. had more personality and charisma than she could ever have. Service on the whole ship was fantastic. No problems at all. Now on to Alaska itself. We did a 5 day land tour before the cruise. We flew from JFK to MSP and then to ANC for an overnight at the Capt. Cook Hotel. It rained when we arrived in Anchorage. That should have been an omen of things to come. The hotel is very nice. It is centrally located and it is easy to walk to many places, IF it's not pouring. I had made reservations at Simon and Seafort's on line before leaving NY so we were really looking forward to their early special that was advertised on their website. We went to the ULU factory first and then took the trolley back and had to walk again in the rain to the restaurant. No problem... we were in Alaska and that happens, right? The restaurant is not in a separate building so it took some searching but finally we found it. Wet and hungry, we were excited to be having our first true Alaskan meal. When we were given the menu, I told the waitress that we were interested in the early special, but I didn't see the choices on the menu...you can see where this is going. She said that they didn't offer that special in the summer. Really? How would I have seen it on the website? Oh that must be a mistake. So we stay and have a great meal, but that is a bit of foreshadowing of the remainder of our trip. Next morning got the train to Talkeetna. The train ride was good, but saw no wild life. I really liked this little town. My husband did a jet boat safari and enjoyed it, but again no wildlife. I shopped a bit in the rain again. Also, no one told me that mosquitos could be biting in the rain! Live and learn. Took shuttle to McKinley Lodge. Mt. was not visible at all. We could barely see the lodge let alone the Mt. There were bugs in the bed that bit me so we had to change rooms. I kept trying to enjoy myself still. Next day Train to Denali. Scenery is great even though it's still raining. BTW Food on train is good and reasonable. Bus ride to Denali Lodge is short (10 min.) as compared to McKinley Lodge. Upon arrival we went to Outfitter's desk and got tickets to Music of Denali show and Whitewater rafting for next morning. Show was cute and food was ok. My husband enjoyed the rafting. Since I was so bitten by bugs I wasn't able to do much outside; couldn't even walk without being attacked...still trying to have a good time. The rooms at Denali are "interesting". As an example, the bathroom sink is in the bedroom. This didn't bother us but some people were very upset. I understand that the new rooms are different. We were supposed to go on the NHT but opted not to do it. Princess did not offer a refund although we asked. After my husband returned from the rafting and we had lunch at LYNX pizza (OK) we boarded a bus for Fairbanks. I was amazed that there were just 6 of us on a full size bus. It was a very pleasant 4 hour ride. We enjoyed the scenery and looked forward to spending 2 nights in 1 place. When we got in our room there was an awful smell as if someone had been smoking and they tried to cover it up with an air freshener. Both of us had difficulty breathing. It almost sounds comical now, but they said to open the window and they brought in a fan of about 4 inches in diameter. We just laughed and and said to find us another room...hopefully, on a ship. LOL Of course, the first response was that there was no room in the inn, but I told them that we were going to the salmon bake and when we returned we expected to be given a room change. It was a "miracle". When we returned there was a room available. BTW the salmon bake was good, but "buggy" again...at least no rain. Could our luck be changing? Next morning nope rain again... We went to the El Dorado Mine, stopped to see the pipeline, then back to the lodge for lunch and then a riverboat on the Chena River. A very full but fun day....except for the bugs and the rain. It seems like a theme here. We walked to Pike's Landing for dinner. It is right next door to the Riverside Lodge. The food was very good and the prices were what we expected to pay in NY. I know it seems like I'm complaining alot. All I did was try to have a good time. Trying is not what I want to do on a vacation. Even my husband who is the most positive person I know started to get discouraged. This really bothered me since the trip was one he wanted to do so badly. So the next day we flew to Anchorage from Fairbanks. Then a 2 hour bus ride to Whittier. I was never so happy to see a ship in my whole life. Embarkation was smooth but we got soaked as it was pouring and there was not complete cover. No problem we were on the ship and all would be well...at least for 1 day. We had a great dinner in the buffet that night, went to the casino, and to sleep. The next morning my husband woke up with bronchitis, went to the Dr., then I got the same thing, it rained every day, my favorite shore excursion was cancelled, etc. I know we can't blame our lack of a good time on the weather or getting sick, but I must admit I was disappointed in Alaska in general. As I stated we are from NY. The scenery here is also spectacular. Some would say how can you compare that to Alaska? We can compare it to the Alaska we experienced. I was almost afraid to write this review because there have been so many positive ones about Alaska that I'm sure I'll get some hate letters. Just remember different strokes. I have to mention again how much I enjoyed Princess. Their cruise/tour package was great. They really have their act together. I would definitely cruise on one of their ships again...just never to Alaska. In case anyone is interested I will email you a picture of myself with a yellow poncho on at the Mendenhall Glacier. My husband says it is priceless. I was not going to let the rain stop me from seeing that glacier. It was spectacular! Lorraine and Terry D tjld123@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Due to a fire at the port of Vancouver, we could not board the ship. We were given three options: stay at airport, go on bus tour without exiting the bus (we had already gone thru customs) or go on bus tour and get out of the bus and then ... Read More
Due to a fire at the port of Vancouver, we could not board the ship. We were given three options: stay at airport, go on bus tour without exiting the bus (we had already gone thru customs) or go on bus tour and get out of the bus and then go thru customs again. We chose to go on a bus tour and get off the bus for lunch. Our bus driver gave us a few options and we agreed to go to Granville Island. Other people went to Stanley Park. We had a nice two hours at Granville Island and tour of the City. Phil, our driver was fantastic!!! He periodically called Princess to see when we might head on down to the ship. Once we entered the customs area, there were plenty of chairs, sandwiches and water for us. There were plenty of Princess people around helping out also. Considering they were working on limited power, we went thru security fairly quickly and all of the customs lane were open so we got all checked in, x-rayed and thru customs in 45 mins. Luckily we were the only ship in port. Due to the problem the ship left about 2 hours late. No big deal. Princess did a great job under the circumstances!!! I am sure others will complain but the fire was out of Princess' control and they handled it perfectly. We had OK weather - rain in Skagway and Glacier Bay. Cloudy the rest of the time. Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway are all cute towns. Our favorite shore excursions were: Ketchican - Kayaking in the Tatoosh Islands. We kayaked for about 1 1/2 hours and saw tons of bald eagles. The little boat ride over to the beach to get the kayaks was neat too. In Juneau we did the Rainforest zipline. It was soooo fun. We did nine ziplines and two suspension bridges. The staff were great and we felt very safe in their hands. The longest zip was 785 feet and we could go 35 miles an hour. I highly suggest that shore ex. Also the people that did the whale watching in Juneau got a wonderful treat. Bubbling which is when several whales corral fish and then they each take turns eating. In Skagway we did a 2 mile hike and float down a river. It was just OK. After that we did the White Pass train. We had to book that directly with the train people because Princess would not let us do it, due to limited time between our morning shore ex and the departure for the train. It is only $4 more to book it with the train directly and you could cancel for any reason and only lose 10% of the fare. Things to bring - power strip - to plug in phones, camera batteries, iPod speakers, etc. We brought extra coat hangers. For most shore excursions, you get a nice commentary while getting to your destinations. Don't forget to bring small change to tip the driver or guide. We brought our own binoculars and were so happy we did. We saw lots of wildlife from the ship (bears, whales). We brought gloves, hats, long undies, rain pants and jacket. It was raining in Glacier Bay and we stood outside for hours and hours but were perfectly comfortable. Food was good considering how many people they feed a day. We did the buffet a lot and sat in the dining room at our appointed time three times. Service was good except we had wine vouchers (gifts from family) and we could only redeem them in the dining room, which was lame. We did not eat in the dining room every night. Finally we told our story to a supervisor in the buffet room and he got our remaining wine/champagne for us. Our room steward was good but understanding him was difficult. I miss the days when all the crew were one nationality!!! Overall, I rate this cruise a 9 out of 10. Alaska is the most beautiful place I have ever been and I have traveled a lot. For nature lovers it is a 10 out of 10. We saw bears. eagles, humpback and orca whales, seals, sea lions, mountain goats. Everyone should do this trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We took the Island Princess out of Vancouver July, 2008. This was our 8th cruise (we've also been on Disney - our out-and-out favorite, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and Celebrity) and probably our view of this cruise is ... Read More
We took the Island Princess out of Vancouver July, 2008. This was our 8th cruise (we've also been on Disney - our out-and-out favorite, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and Celebrity) and probably our view of this cruise is colored by our experiences and expectations from others. We're a family of 4 - 2 adults, and an 18 and 15 y.o. Embarkation was a little chaotic because of a loss of power in Vancouver. Not the line's fault but they were really unprepared. Coming on board, there was none of the usual festivities, welcomes, etc. To the line's credit, they didn't harass you with pictures every 5 minutes. Our negative feelings about the cruise centered on several aspects. The cabin for 4 people was totally unacceptable. They had two beds on the ground and two that swung down from the ceiling with the top bunks immediately over the lower ones. So, in order to get into the lower bunk, you had to climb in between the two. Be careful not to bang your head getting in (or out) and, if you have any kind of back problem, it won't work. Also, after a long or tiring excursion during the day, only two people can relax in the room because the other two beds are back up in the ceiling. On other lines, the hanging down beds were in a different part of the cabin so everyone can get in and out easily. If you're more than two people, think about a second room or larger suite. This extra expense, though, isn't necessary on other lines. The bathrooms were very small - the shower was literally the size of an MRI scanner (or smaller). You could hardly move in there. The food had a lot of variety and plentiful but we found it generally tasteless. The duck tasted like chicken, the seafood overcooked. There was not a single memorable dish or one where we said, "Wow, how'd they do that!". This was a very different experience from other lines. My kids objected to the absence of punch or lemonade (there was only soda, tea, coffee, milk or ice tea) and particularly to the absence of free ice cream during the day. (They had gelato for purchase.) The entertainment was fair but, again, not up to the par we've experienced on other lines. The service was very good. Our room steward kept everything neat, even several times daily. In the main dining room, the waiters were generally friendly and ready to help. In the buffets, waiters were always passing by asking if you'd like coffee, ice tea... There were very few teens on the boat and really no teen programs to speak of. That may be because Alaska doesn't attract them but the kids were disappointed. The land portion of the tour was a different story. We booked it through Costco Travel and went into Denali. Very organized and well run and far superior accommodations at the Princess lodges in Denali and Mt. McKinley. Everything was spelled out in information packets we received - we didn't even have to register at the front desk - our room keys were in the packet.The meal voucher we received worked even in their upscale venue - appetizer, soup, entrEe and dessert was included even though the bill came close to $300! We stayed at the Hilton in Anchorage. Initially, Princess booked this family of 4 for a single room with 2 double beds. We spoke to the Princess manager and they arranged a second room. That really made this leg of the trip wonderful. We don't think we would do the train from Whittier into Denali again. It's 9 hours long and although we were hoping to see lots of wildlife, in fact we saw next to none. The train was moving so fast, by the time it registered that maybe that brown thing out there might have been something, it was gone. By the way, if you go into Juneau, take Harv and Marv's Whale Watching tour rather than booking through the ship. It's only 6 people on a boat captained by one of two people who live, photograph and love the area and what they do. As a side trip, they also took us to the Mendenhall glacier for quick pictures and then the salmon hatchery - that would have been three tours through the ship. Gracious, efficient, very knowledgeable and fascinating people. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
PART ONE - LAND PORTION This adventure to Alaska started in May, 2007. We had recently moved to an active adult community in Bridgeville DE. Our community started a travel club and this was the first "big" trip planned. We used ... Read More
PART ONE - LAND PORTION This adventure to Alaska started in May, 2007. We had recently moved to an active adult community in Bridgeville DE. Our community started a travel club and this was the first "big" trip planned. We used a local travel agency. After much discussion, we voted on a southbound trip on a smaller vessel. Also, we were looking for a good pre-cruise package and liked Princess' Heart of Alaska 12 day cruise/tour. The tour portion of the cruise included 2 days in Fairbanks, 2 in Denali and 1 day in Talkeetna. The cruise portion was 7 nights. Approximately 30 people joined our group, all over 55 years old.. We departed home early June 4th for our flight out of Philadelphia. We were booked on Northwest Airlines with a connecting flight in Minneapolis into Fairbanks. Our flight out of Philadelphia was delayed about 2 hours. We were concerned about connecting with our Minneapolis flight. I was assured ny NWA ground personnel that they would hold that flight since Princess had 70+ passengers connecting and they would not leave without them. NWA was true to their word. We made it to Minneapolis with minutes to spare and we literally ran to make the connection. Both flights were jammed. We arrived in Fairbanks tired at 8:30 p.m. local time. Sun was still shining!!! Princess had several buses waiting, but none for us. There was much confusion with ground help saying we had to wait for another bus. When we finally got on the bus, we were given an envelope with our hotel name (Bear Lodge) room key and next day's schedule and luggage tags. Check-in was a breeze. Very nice. NOTE: take bug spray. The mosquitos are HUGE. June 5. NOTE: weather cloudy and in the low 50's. Sunrise 3:23, Sunset 12:13 a.m. VERY hard to get use to this much daylight. We had 2 Princess tours this day - El Dorado Gold Mine and The Riverboat Discovery Tour. The latter is a Binkley family-run business. Some of the highlights of the 4.5 hour tour was: demo of float plane taking off and landing on river; Iditarod champion Susan Butcher's (she is deceased, but her husband and two daughters raise the dogs) sled dog demo; a stop over in the Chena Indian village for various demos/talks about life in Alaska during the gold rush. Here there is a spot where you can photograph caribou as well as beading done by Athabascan Dixie Alexander. Her work is beautiful and she was teaching a young girl her skills, passed down from generation to generation. We returned to the hotel between tours for a bite to eat. No time to rest!! We only had an hour before the bus returned for us to take us to El Dorado Gold Mine where you board a miniature train to go through the area. The ride lasts about 20 mins. All along the way there are various demonstrations about mining gold. This part was interesting with different speakers in the various areas. When the train pulls in to the station, you are escorted to a theater type area where you can watch employees panning for gold. They show you how to do this. Then they lead you off to a covered area and give you a sack of dirt and let you pan for your gold. Anything you find you can keep. Fortunately, the water was warmed, which made it tolerable. The art of panning is definitely an acquired skill. I needed help as did most of the people around me. The you take your tour into the shop to convert it. At the end, I ended up with a whopping $14 worth of gold. Now mind you, they did not offer to give me the money in exchange - only the opportunity to put this gold into a fine necklace or earrings!!! Big sales pitch here. Took all the fun out of the tour. I did find a lot of souvenirs here and the hot chocolate and warm cookies hit the spot before heading back to the lodge. On the way back, we stopped at a point on the Alaskan Pipeline. My DH found this very informative. BTW, on one of the Trivial Pursuit days, the question was asked "how long is the pipeline". June 6 - NOTE: weather cloudy, but no rain in forecast. Morning temps hovered around 47. Morning train from Fairbanks to Denali. Sun broke through on part of the ride. After an early breakfast, we departed the lodge at 7:30 for the train depot. You are told to only take one carry on. This isn't true. Many people had other bags; you just need to be able to stow them under your seat. You sit 4 to a table - two facing forward and the other twosome backwards. The scenery in the beginning of the 4-hour trip was boring - all trees, no mountains. But the closer we got to Denali, the more you saw snow-capped mountains. Riding in the top of a double decker train can be hot. We were in the last car and it wobbled a lot - so if you are prone to motion sickness, I would take a Dramamine. We were told to eat in the hotel before getting on the train. But others were late and had breakfast on the train - they said it was a fantastic meal and the same price as the buffet in the hotel - $10. We arrived in the Denali Princess hotel around 12:30. Once again, Princess outdid themselves with the hotel info. On the train we received an envelope with our room number, tour info, and a Princess Patter for the Lodge. Nice touch. As soon as we got to the hotel, off we went to freshen up and get ready for the Tundra Wilderness Tour. Our suitcases were to arrive while on tour. We went to The Salmon Bake across the street from the hotel in Glitter Gulch. This was recommended to us by one of the train's hostesses - they say they lived for the time off in Denali. We had fish and chips made from halibut. Very good. We were picked up for the TWT by our driver, Tom Richards. He has been in Denali for over 20 years and his love of the area showed. When we boarded we were given a box lunch consisting of salami, cheese, croissant, bottle of water and a granola bar. Not much for a 10-hour trip. There are plenty of extra bottles of water on board, but no other food. So if you think you need more, buy it before boarding the bus. We saw in no particular order: rabbits, caribou, Dall's sheep, 3 different sightings of grizzlies, eagles, a den of playful fox and owls with their babies high in a tree roadside. Due to the weather, we did not see the mountain. The bus ride was more comfortable than I anticipated. The seats are not very wide and the bus was full, so no chance of changing seats. There were 4 stops to stretch your legs, take a bathroom break and of course, for photo opts. I think the mountains were the most beautiful around the Polychrome Pass stop. June 7 - Free Day. Boy, did we need this after the long day and the TWT until 11 p.m. Sunrise: 3:58, sunset 12:10. Really hard to get any sleep. After the TWT several of us decided to close down the Lynx Creek Tavern! When we left, it was still daylight at 12:45 a.m. After awaking at 8:30 on the 7th, we headed to The King Salmon restaurant for breakfast. DON'T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY. This was Belmont Day, so the afternoon we met up with several friends and headed back to the Lynx Creek Tavern to watch the horse race. For dinner we decided to take in THE MUSIC OF DENALI. Cost: $55pp. The food (ribs and salmon) was just ok. It is served by the singers and dancers. The show itself was pretty good. But all in all, I felt rushed (another show started at 8:30). I don't think it is worth the money. June 8 - travel day from Denali to Talkeetna and the Mt. McKinley Lodge. NOTE: Weather, overcast (what else is new?). Temp in the a.m. 46. Sunrise: 3:55a.m.., sunset: 12:14 p.m. Luggage out by 8:00. Today we traveled by Princess Rail from Denali to Talkeetna. Another 4.5 hour train ride. First another breakfast in the King Salmon restaurant. They call it a hearty meal. You need to check out the stack of 3 blueberry pancakes. Also, before leaving, look for the Salmon chandelier. Pretty big and very nice. We transferred to the train depot by buses. This was the only transfer by Princess that was unorganized. No one seemed to know where to go, what bus to get on, etc. I finally found someone who said - go get in line, the buses will come and when one fills up, another will come!! They did not load us by train car like the other time. Oh well, they can't be perfect. This portion of the trip was beautiful The scenery was amazing. We had bear sightings and a trestle bridge to cross. It seemed most of the nice scenery was on the left side of the train. We sat in the same configuration as before and this time, lunch was offered on the trip down to Talkeetna. We arrived in Talkeetna and once again, boarded a bus for a 1 hour drive to the McKinley Princess Lodge. Some chose to stay in Talkeetna. But as best I could tell, the town is pretty small and not much to do here unless you pre-book an excursion. The McKinley Lodge is new and simply breathtaking. The great room overlooking Denali is wonderful, as is the deck. If only Denali had cooperated and come out from under the clouds. But it was not meant to be. There was a low ceiling all day, but still no rain. Am I jinxing myself?? We decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner in the Mountain View Restaurant. I am totally convinced the halibut encrusted with asagio was the best meal I ate throughout the course of the cruise/tour. Cost: $30. PART TWO - CRUISE DAYS 1 - 4 6/9 Transfer from Mt. McKinley Lodge to Whittier to board ship. NOTE: cloudy, overcast. Still no sighting of Denali. We stayed out on the deck watching, waiting and hoping. We were scheduled to leave the lodge at 11:30 for the bus ride back in to Talkeetna to board the train at 12:30. Temp: 49. The train ride from the mountains down to sea level and Whittier could have been Anywhere USA. There was a 2 mile tunnel that was a one-way tunnel used by both passenger cars and trains. Ouch - wonder who was controlling that traffic signal? BOARDING: Once again, Princess managed a fantastic turnover. Just short of the port, they boarded several Princess ground crew for each car to process the passengers. They checked our passports, on-line credit form, handed out cruise cards. All we had to do when we arrived was go through security and get our picture taken on the ship as we boarded. Nice work, well coordinated. Of course, we arrived on the ship at 8:15 p.m., just 15 short of making the lifeboat drill. So no time for dinner until after the drill. We were in Cabin A408 Portside. Regular size cabin, but it did have a partial obstruction. There was a metal cage (I was told it was for the window washers) hanging from deck 14. It appeared to be in front of Cabin A400. It blocks any pictures you try to take looking forward. Also, you can hear the runners above you!! I would not book this cabin or any on Aloha deck because of the noise. We chose Anytime Dining. More on that later. 6/10 - College Fjord. NOTE: Temp, cold, overcast and 55. This is the first formal night. We overslept. By the time I awoke at 7;30 we were already in College Fjord. The Patter said we would be there from 6:30 to 8:30. So we missed all the talk from the bridge. I found the Fjords mysterious. The low ceiling - maybe 600 feet, contributed to this. No wildlife sightings. Since this was formal night, we planned to eat at Sabatini's. Nice food, long slow meal. Plan to be there 2.5 hours. Just too much food. Cost: $20pp. Misc. Note: Laundry was $1 per load for either the washer or dryer. Soap, bleach and fabric softener available for purchase. Same price. 6/11 - Glacier Bay cruising from 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. NOTE: Cold 45 but wind chill on deck must have been around 39. The park ranger boarded early in the a.m. and he had an on again, off again commentary. However, when we were near Marjorie Glacier he stopped said to just listen to hear the cracking. While on our way in we saw both humpback and Minke whales. Also a bald eagle sitting on ice berg. We stayed at the glacier portside in our cabin in order to hear the cracking prior to calving. Smaller calving may precede a larger one. I had the camera ready and caught a big calving. (caught on a Canon with a 75-300 zoom set on sport mode.) The captain rotated the ship so that the starboard side could have the good view. GREAT MEMORABLE DAY. 6/12 - Skagway. NOTE: Cold 45. Started out overcast but cleared on our way up the mountain. Still no rain!! I had booked privately the White Pass-Yukon 9 hour rail trip directly through Chilkoot Charters. Our guide, Shawn, was a little late, but Capt. Larry met us at the appointed spot and hour. Shawn gave us a ride and our marching orders for the day. We would be on the train in our own car with the other 9 members of Chilkoot Charters. I thought this was better than the 2 train rides we had on Princess. It was actually more comfortable since we could spread out. We went to Frazier, then on to Bennett in Canada where we had lumberjack stew. This was so-so,probably because it was luke-warm. Cole slaw and apple pie finished off the lunch. Then we had about 1 hr. to browse around. Not much to see here - Bennett is an old dead mining town. We left around noon after the southbound train passed us while we sat on the side track. Then off to Carcross in the Yukon. At this point we reboarded our bus with Shawn and set off to Emerald Lake. Beautiful deep color. Nice photo opt here and the sun was shining. NOTE: You will need bug spray on this trip around Emerald Lake. On our way back to Skagway, a mother black bear with 2 cubs was on the side of the road. We stayed there for about 10 minutes watching and shooting photos. Great day. Weather on the train portion turned out beautiful with a high around 60 and sunny!!! When we made it back to Skagway we had about 90 minutes left before we had to board. But we were tired, so returned to the ship without walking the town. I HIGHLY recommend Chilkoot Charters. Small group and personal attention. Cost: $229 pp PART THREE - CRUISE DAYS 5 - 7 6/13 Juneau - Formal Night. Arrived in port at 6:30. We had a 7:30 whale watching excursion with Harv & Marv that I booked directly. Cost: $136.50 pp. NOTE: weather cold (what else is new?) about 45. On the water, it was really cold while underway. My hands were cold when I was on deck. So dress in layers. We got great photos up close and personal with humpback whales. Our captain, Jay, said he can never head directly toward the whales and he always stayed a safe distance away from them so that we did not disturb them. We did not see a whale breach. After reading so many entries on CC, I decided not to set myself up for failure. However, our group that went out after us with Jay did see a whale breach. Lucky them. We saw many bald eagles as well as an eagles nest. And on one buoy, there was a bald eagle on the top and sea lions around the base!! Great picture. One of the sea lions decided to check us out and swam over to the boat. He came up, stopped and looked at us. He was no more than 4 feet away. NOTE: H & M run a 30 foot boat driven by 2 115 H.P. engines. Once again I HIGHLY recommend Harv & Marv. In looking back on the excursions, this was my highlight based on my likes. Our second tour of the day was with Coastal Helicopters with a glacier landing on Herbert glacier. The ceiling was low, but we went off anyway with our pilot, Steve. However, all of the Princess tours cancelled their flights. Once we were "outfitted" in rain gear and spiked boots, we were off to our helicopter for a 15 tour taking us over Mendenhall glacier. After we landed on Herbert, we had about 10 mins on the glacier to take pictures. The landing was so smooth you hardly knew you were down. This was so much fun. Look for the pools of blue water. This is where the ice is so dense it turns blue. We ended our day in Juneau at the Red Dog Saloon. What a fantastic day. NOTE: I wish Princess would schedule more time in Juneau. We opted out of Formal Night, again. This time in favor of Bayou Café. This restaurant had a $15 pp surcharge. Food was good and worth the cover charge. June 14 - Ketchikan. NOTE: Weather: overcast and 47. It was cold on the balcony. I was under 2 blankets drinking my morning java. In port from 10:00 - 6:00 p.m. We disembarked around 10:30 to walk Creek St. Nice, quaint area. We did not see the salmon running in the creek. A lot of souvenir shops up here. We had lunch downtown before our pick up by Island Wings for a 2 p.m. float plane flight to Misty Fjords. Once again, I found Michelle and Island Wings after reading about her on Cruise Critic. She came highly recommended by many and I will add my 2 cents. We were only 4 in her 6-passenger plane. We could look out both windows without an obstructed view. Michelle is a one person operation. She owns her own de Havilland Beaver. She does not hire part time summer pilots like many of the cruise ship vendors do. She has flown over 16,000 hours. The flight into the fjords is nothing less than breathtaking. At times we flew at 3200 feet. She gave us a choice of 3 different landings. We ended up choosing a small lake where we could get off on an island to stretch our legs and take pictures instead of the standard of standing on the plane's pontoon. Michelle said she is one of the independent pilots that pay the fee to the park service to actually allow passengers to get off on land. This was my second most favorite excursion. June 15 - day at sea. This was a much needed rest day. Stayed on our balcony a good part of the day just soaking in the beauty. It was warmer. Also, we had to pack and have our suitcases out by 6 p.m. DISEMBARKATION - June 16. The Island Princess was the only ship in port on June 16. We chose to pay the additional money to transfer our luggage directly to the airline. It was worth it to us. We never handled a suitcase from 8:00 p.m. 6/15 until we arrived in Philadelphia at 11:00 p.m. 6/16. At 8:30 a.m. we disembarked with the other passengers on EZ check-in. There were 4 groups and we were the first off the ship. Each group was escorted to a bus, the bus was sealed and off we went to the airport. We stopped in a lot where we were boarded by Canadian authorities. Passports, declaration forms, tickets and hand luggage (for bottles over 3 oz.) was checked The luggage check was on the honor system. Once the bus was cleared we were driven to the tarmac and a secure entry to the airport. Here we went through U.S. customs as well as a regular TSA security check point. I asked the officer if this was saving me time. He replied that when a lot of ships were in port, it could save you 2 to 3 hours. GLITCHES: our luggage was tagged to Detroit only. On the dock it was suppose to be retagged with our final destination. Two of our three suitcases made it to Philadelphia. The other was left in Detroit and came in the following day. My husband requested a wheel chair to be available in the Princess theater. It never came. He had to walk the whole way, making it a slower disembarkation. We did not receive our boarding passes and luggage tags until around 7 p.m. on 6/15. Apparently it takes Princess a long time to get this processed by the airlines. We had to rush back to our cabin after dinner in order to get our suitcases out. DINING - We chose Anytime dining. I think this is a misnomer You can eat from 5:30 - 5:45 and from 7:30 to 7:45. Any other time you are at the mercy of availability. We did talk with the Maitre'd and requested a table for 4 at the window. We reserved it for every evening except the 2 formal nights. They did hold it for us. However, I found the wait staff to be downright unfriendly in our section. None of the camaraderie of the same waiter every night. This was a first attempt at Anytime Dining and my last. I thought Bayou Café was better than Sabatini's. ENTERTAINMENT - I missed both production shows. I saw Piano Man on a prior cruise. Some in my group did not think it was great. Comedy Magician, Garry Carson - very good and worth it. The comedian, Hal Spear, also very good. Comedian Scott Wyler was excellent. We did not have any experience with the children's programs. However, there were a lot of children on board, so I am sure it is very active. CABIN - A 408. Regular portside balcony cabin. The showers are nothing but SMALL. Even the comedian made a joke about sticking to his shower curtain. Plenty of storage space. The bed was comfortable. Our cabin steward, Nemia, was very nice, but did not go above and beyond with extras. I would not book this deck again because of the proximity to deck 14 and all the noise. WEATHER - Seas were calm all week. Temps and other conditions are noted above. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We started our trip in Vancouver. We went over a day early on our own. In the morning, we decided to go over to the ship to drop our luggage off and to check in. When we got there we could not check in because there was no power at the ... Read More
We started our trip in Vancouver. We went over a day early on our own. In the morning, we decided to go over to the ship to drop our luggage off and to check in. When we got there we could not check in because there was no power at the terminal! Long story short, this went on ALL DAY! When we were finally let through, the process was slow. However, they were very well organized. The provided chairs to sit in and sandwiches and drinks. They also kept us up to date on the situation. Everything went smoothly, and really all things considered it wasn't that bad of a wait. We started off with the late seating, but decided that it was just too late. We tried to call to change several times, and went to the dinning room as well, but could never find the person we needed to speak too. On the second day we just went to the 1st seating and asked if there was space, which there was. However, we were not with any other people so it was just the four of us that were traveling together. One night we wanted to eat later, so we went for the "Anytime dinning". I was able to make a reservation without any problem. The last night however, our seating time was at the same time we were going to be going through the College Fords, so we wanted to switch. I called and was told that we could not, because we were already scheduled for a set time. When I went to make the reservation in person, they said that my time, 7:30 pm, already had a lot of reservations and I would be better off to come back. When we did go back, we had trouble again getting in because we already had the "set seating". Apparently, "anytime dinning" is only for those that had already chosen that! We were given a pager however, and were seated in only about 20 minutes. Overall the food was fine. Although nothing really stood out to us. The desserts were just okay in the dinning rooms. The afternoon tea was lovely. However, on the last day, I saw someone walk in with huge chocolate chip cookies. I asked someone about it, and it ends up that from 3:30-4:30 pm at the buffet every day that have WARM chocolate chip cookies! They also have all the things from the afternoon tea as well! It is nice to sit at the tea for at least once, but warm chocolate chip cookies would have kept me away the other days! Although, it is probably just as well I didn't, because then I would have gained more than my six pounds!! =) I was disappointed that the cabin stewards did not make the animals out of towels on this ship. However, my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary and we did get balloons outside of our room. I was not impressed by the Art Auctions - I like to go to these, not to buy anything, but because I find them interesting, and on all of the ships I have been on, they give the free 8x10 print. I like these and I take them home and put them in a nice frame. The art director introduced himself the first day and said he was nervous, because he had just found out that his first child was born a few weeks early. I later went to congratulate him, and he said, "Oh, I just made that up so people would remember me!" So, my thought was, "I am suppose to trust someone that lies??" This ship did NOT give out free art, except those that you could "win" (which that was of course $20 to ship). I asked the person that was helping about the free prints and she said she had never heard of that, and when I said I had gotten it 6 years ago on a Princess Cruise; she only replied, "A lot can change in 6 years." During one auction they showed a video about a young artist, then tried to sell a piece for $46,000! I showed up late for one, and they were taking a break when I got there, then they came back, showed two more pieces and were finished. It seemed silly to me to have taken a break! I took part in the Pottery at Sea. It was fun, but for the $35 at the wheel, I think it should have included at least one piece to keep, then pay for the extras. They did have some ceramics already made that you could paint and they would fire for you. I didn't realize that at the time, if I had, I think I would have skipped the pottery wheel and just done that. Overall the cruise was nice - although the weather was stinky! I did have to make a visit to the medical deck for a UTI. They came out with all sorts of medications, two of which I had never heard of before and I am a nurse! I decided just to take the anti-biotic! The rates were fair for a walk in clinic, and I should be able to get reimbursed from my insurance company. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Princess strands and abandons customers I was extremely disappointed by the recent performance of Princess on their "Heart of Alaska" cruise package on the Island Princess in June 16th to 23rd, 2008. The cruise itself met my ... Read More
Princess strands and abandons customers I was extremely disappointed by the recent performance of Princess on their "Heart of Alaska" cruise package on the Island Princess in June 16th to 23rd, 2008. The cruise itself met my family's expectations, but Princess's response to some travel difficulties was grossly irresponsible. A company's character is revealed by what it does when things go wrong, not when things go as planned. My mother and sister unfortunately had a connecting flight cancelled, which was beyond their control or Princess's. However, Princess's customer service was of zero support to them. They refused to help them arrange hotels, change flights or provide useful information. And, it was impossible to get an actual person on the telephone - they were given the run-around by many people, sat on hold for long periods of time, and were finally told to contact one woman who was never in the office and had no voice mail. All of a sudden the Princess that managed to bombard us weekly with special spa and land excursion offers stopped being communicative. They could have at least made some recommendations for lodging in Ketchikan, but instead pretty much abandoned guests who were already stressed with a rough day of travel and the disappointment of missing two nights on the boat. I also unfortunately became a victim of Princess's inability to support a guest. We were to go by train from Princess McKinley lodge to Anchorage. The train was delayed numerous times, and we could not get a straight story on what was going on. At this point several of the customers with flights that evening expressed concern and asked what Princess could do to get them to Anchorage. The woman who was supposed to be in charge was totally incompetent - when the train became delayed, she let everyone split up and did not communicate to the group as a whole. Some went into town and were not aware of the problem, others were told conflicting facts - each of the 8 or so different bus drivers seemed to have a different view of what was happening. Passengers were obviously upset and asking for information. Rather than addressing their concerns, this "supervisor" was literally hiding behind the busses and avoiding people! Also, she was either being dishonest or had no clue what was going on - at first we were told the hotel transportation manager was working on a solution. However, when several people became so frustrated with a lack of action that they asked for the hotel manager's phone number, we were told the managers had gone home for the day and that they were not available. The supervisor was completely unsympathetic to our plight, and impatient with our questions. We were also told that none of the eight empty buses could be used to take us to Anchorage since they were reserved for incoming passengers. Princess also refused to use a 12-passenger mini van which the staff road in to take those with flights to Anchorage, again sighting the need to greet the arriving guests. It was obvious that Princess's greater commitment was to its arriving passengers than those departing. We were then told the train would not arrive until 8:15 in Talkeetna - too late to get us to the airport in time. The woman who was supposed to be helping the travelers mentioned that there was a private taxi service in town that might be an option - that was Princess's solution after nearly two hours of inaction! I and another passenger asked the supervisor if she could at least call the taxi for us, as our cell phones did not have local reception. Incredibly, she refused to do us even this simple courtesy, instead suggesting that we walk to a local restaurant with a pay phone - when she was holding a working mobile phone in her hand! A group of people including myself was able to get a taxi, completely of our own doing - which showed up in less than five minutes - after Princess left us with no information or action for nearly two stressful hours. The hardships of that day erased a lot of the relaxation and enjoyment my family had on the rest of the trip. The cruise itself was fine, but if anything goes wrong on your trip at all - even if you are stranded by Princess's own doing, do not be surprised if you are abandoned. You should consider this carefully when picking your next cruise line; I personally do not trust Princess for my travels because of their irresponsibility for helping our family when we needed them most. Food in the sit down dining room was nice, but the quality of the food and service at the buffet was distinctly less. Long longs and not enough tables forced us to eat in the buffet late or early. The sit down restaurant food and staff were excellent. Also the alternative Bayou cafe, although we did not appreciate being nickle and dimed with a $15 per person cover charge for the meal. An adults only pool would have been nice, hot tubs and swimming pools were packed with loud groups of children the entire trip. Room itself comfortable and nice, our Steward was very attentive. Would like to see more parts of the boat made non-smoking, had a nice balcony off the back of the boat, but it was constantly filled with annoying smokers and hard to enjoy. Also talked to a guest who said they paid extra for a balcony in their suite they could not enjoy because the neighbors were constantly smoking the Princess said they could not do anything about it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We did the three night Vancouver/Victoria pre-cruise tour. We stayed at the Four Seasons for two nights. We arrived about an hour before the official check in time so our room wasn't quite ready. They sent us to the bar for a ... Read More
We did the three night Vancouver/Victoria pre-cruise tour. We stayed at the Four Seasons for two nights. We arrived about an hour before the official check in time so our room wasn't quite ready. They sent us to the bar for a complimentary drink while we waited. The room was beautiful - a corner room on the 14th floor. The view was great! We had one day to explore Vancouver on our own, and then boarded a motorcoach (then ferry) to Victoria. Timing is everything. We happened to be in Victoria for Victoria Day, so everything was packed with people. They even had a marching band competition going on across the street from the Empress hotel. Our tour guide, Billy Raegh, was fantastic. Very entertaining, very friendly, very accommodating. In Victoria, we spent a few hours at Buchart Gardens. I don't think there is ever a bad time of the year to visit the gardens! Some of our party was anxious to get to the Empress in time for High Tea. Instead of doing the city tour immediately following the Gardens as planned, Billy took us to the hotel. For those of us that skipped the tea, we had some time to rest and have dinner before regrouping at 7pm for an evening tour of Victoria. This was a terrific idea - the tour was so much more leisurely and enjoyable without the crowds. My only critique of this pre-cruise tour was that the Empress is on the shabby side. We had furniture in our room that was scratched, torn, or broken. It wasn't just that we got a bad room either. One of our cruisemates had a toilet on the blink. Another had a mini-fridge that made horrible noises. We had been warned about wet weather in May, but the drive to the ship was the only time that we were rained on all trip! Embarkation was very smooth. Maybe just 15 minutes from the time we left the motorcoach until we were boarding the ship. This was our first time cruising in a full suite. It will be very hard for us to do anything less in the future! Having all that extra space, including the extra large balcony, was worth it. The other perks were appreciated as well. One of our favorites was the complimentary laundry service - going home with clean clothes was a real treat! We did Anytime Dining, and never had to wait more than a couple minutes. We typically asked for a table for two, but those tables are very close to another table for two. It's more like a table for four. We didn't mind though. We enjoyed everyone that we met on board. There was a nice variety of options on the menu, but food tended to be a little on the bland side in the dining room though. We tried the Bayou Cafe - this was definitely our best meal and well worth the cover charge. We ate at the Horizon Court once for lunch. No complaints. We did pizza once too. Also good. We decided to renew our vows and opted for the Deluxe Package. Irving coordinated all the details for us, and it was really special. The ceremony was in the chapel. We had stuck our head in the chapel earlier in the day when it was set up for computer classes. We were a little worried about how it would look for the ceremony, but there was no need. It was very nice. The flowers were beautiful, and very long lived. We had the bouquet in our stateroom all week, and it never faded. As part of our package, we were able to do a Bridge Tour. Very fun. There was a group of about twelve of us. Lots of interesting tidbits to learn on that tour. Also, the package included a massage or facial for each of us. We decided to upgrade to a couple's massage. We were on tables, side by side, getting a massage at the same time. We did the Misty Fjords Explorer in Ketchikan, Whales and Trails in Juneau, and Explore the Yukon in Skagway. We really gave the digital camera a workout in all three places! This was a great sampling - we saw glaciers, wildlife (whales, sea lions, bald eagles, otters, a black bear, and sled dogs), the rainforest, waterfalls, and gorgeous lakes. Another highlight for us was meeting Libby Riddles (and her dogs). She autographed books, and gave a nice talk about her experiences in the Iditarod. Cruising through Glacier Bay and College Fjord were both incredible too. You felt like you were so close to the glacier, but when it calved and the sound took so long to get to you, you realized how far away you really were. Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation. Overall, this was a fantastic cruise. The ship was beautiful, the service was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Exotic Panama Canal is a 15 day cruise on Island Princess. This was our fifth cruise on Princess (out of a total of 11 cruises) but our first with them since July 2005. Another Member has already submitted a review of this cruise so I will ... Read More
Exotic Panama Canal is a 15 day cruise on Island Princess. This was our fifth cruise on Princess (out of a total of 11 cruises) but our first with them since July 2005. Another Member has already submitted a review of this cruise so I will try not to duplicate her assessment where we agree. We flew in a day early and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Airport and CruisePort hotel. An excellent choice because it offers shuttles from the airport and to the cruiseport. We had an excellent dinner at a fish restaurant close by. The hotel shuttle had us at the terminal by 11:20 and we were in our cabin by 11:40 - the earliest ever.To our complete amazement our bags were waiting for us when we returned from lunch at around 1:15 pm. We had a mini-suite on Caribe deck. It featured a fairly large bathroom with immense tub and a large living room area. Balcony seemed to be regular size. We found it very comfortable and the only complaints would be the sofa, which was stained and very tired looking and our bed, which was not really a queen bed, but rather two twins pushed together with an uncomfortable ridge in the middle which made "snuggling" all but impossible. Our stateroom Steward,"Alvin" was very responsive to requests and kept the room in great condition. However, he seemed to grow disheartened as the cruise wore on (perhaps he was ill). We ate exclusively in the Bordeaux Dining Room, with the exception of our Anniversary evening meal on Valentines Day, when we tried the Bayou Cafe. The food was excellent, especially if we listened to the recommendations of our fabulous waiter at dinner, Ryan. We avoided the Buffet on Lido deck completely, as we have on the two previous cruises, and came home with no cold or cough, again for the third consecutive time. I am convinced staying away from the buffet has several benefits, including less weight gain and staying healthy throughout the cruise. We always used the hand sanitizers provided. A note on "Anytime Dining" - we chose it but as in the past found it to be a bit of a farce. It really is not "anytime" unless you are prepared to come and wait each evening for a table. We like to eat later than the 1st seating for traditional fixed time dining, but earlier than 2nd seating, but in reality you have to accept a time on "Anytime Dining" that is the same as Fixed (5:45 pm) if you want the same table and waiter every evening, which we did. The first evening in the Dining Room was total chaos and included some very bad tempered head waiters and Maitre D as all this was sorted out, but by the second evening everything was fine. The entertainment was very good overall, especially the Production shows and the best one of those was the newest show on the ship "Do You Wanna Dance". A couple of the other entertainers I could have done without (banjo player and harmonica player) but many did enjoy them thoroughly. I thought the cruise staff was about the weakest I have ever witnessed and the Cruise Director was largely invisible during the latter part of the cruise. I noticed at least two of the Cruise staff leaving the ship on disembarkation day, so maybe there was a lot of training going on. The passage through the Panama Canal was the highlight of the cruise and was a very enjoyable day. We ordered the Champagne Breakfast for our balcony and enjoyed it immensely as the scenery passed by. They had someone commenting on the highlights as we sailed through the Canal, but unfortunately to hear him, you had to be in your room or on the open decks. Why they would not broadcast this on the speaker on our balcony is beyond me. Most of the other shore excursions we chose were just so-so, but we really liked the 4x4 expedition in Aruba. We cancelled the shorex in Nicaragua because of a warning that was printed on our tickets about bumpy roads, but it was a mistake to have done so, as other travellers told us it was wonderful. The Shorex Manager, Dave, did an incredible job of explaining the ports and the various excursions - by far the best I have ever heard on a cruise ship. The weather was fabulous throughout the cruise - no rain at all, and temps in the 80's most of the time, until the last three days as we headed towards LA when it cooled down dramatically, reaching the low 50's on disembarkation day. After disembarkation we stayed in LA at the Airport Marriott for two days and toured the area. All in all, a wonderful way to spend our 5th Anniversary, and brought back memories of our Honeymoon on sister ship Coral Princess in 2003. I would not hesitate to sail on Princess again if the itinerary was right. However, we have a slight preference for Holland America and will be sailing in South America with them next February. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Left home on the afternoon of Feb 19th to stay at Hotel. Dined in the bar then took part in the quiz night. We were miles ahead until the last round which was modern music so we came a cropper there! Ended up third and won some peanuts!! ... Read More
Left home on the afternoon of Feb 19th to stay at Hotel. Dined in the bar then took part in the quiz night. We were miles ahead until the last round which was modern music so we came a cropper there! Ended up third and won some peanuts!! Feb 20th. Left the car at the hotel and we were shuttled to Glasgow Airport. Caught the 6.00am flight to Heathrow. We were late in leaving as there was fog at Heathrow and we had to circle for a while before landing. Many internal fights were delayed or cancelled. Our flight to LA was 11.55 but was delayed an hour. This was made up on the journey and we arrived in LA about 3.00pm. There was the usual slow progress through immigration then we went to look for our luggage. We met a couple who live over the hill from us who were looking for theirs too. At last the cases arrived - we breathed a great sigh of relief. WE were then taken to the Holiday Inn near the airport where we were spending the night. AS we weren't really hungry we just had a Mexican snack at a place nearby. Later we had a call from folks on our roll call to say they would come and meet us for a drink. We spent a couple of hours with them then turned in as it had been a long day. Feb21st. Decided just to breakfast in the hotel. There was a small queue and we got chatting to the English couple in front of us who turned out to be from the roll call too. We shared a table with them. After breakfast we walked along to the Hilton to see if we could see our friends. They were at breakfast but we waited and had a chat when they were finished. They had different flights to us. We walked back to our hotel and sat around until the transfer buses arrived. The journey to the ship was slow as the traffic was horrendous. There had been an accident which didn't help matters. Embarkation was simple and we were soon aboard. Our stewardess was Ana who was lovely. She promised to get us an egg crate mattress pad for our bed. We were waitlisted for first sitting in the dining room but were given anytime so went to see the maitre d'. He told us we were still 124th on the list but would see what he could do. Grabbed a bite of lunch then it was time for the muster drill. Ship was an hour late in sailing as people had been delayed in the traffic. It later turned out some missed the ship but their luggage did and some made the ship but had no luggage. I will say that Princess ships have much more you could buy to wear than we found on RCCI if you are luggageless. We had dinner in Anytime and went to the show. Feb 22nd, 23rd, 24th Sea days. The first day was cool and we sat in the solarium as it was too cold on deck. After that the weather was great. Swam, read, ate and went to the shows. Had a meeting with the CC folks from the roll call. It went well and it was good to see everyone and try to match them with their photos ( one girl had made a collage of photos we emailed her. ) Clocks keep changing so I have no idea what time it is now in the UK. We had a letter from the maitre d' saying we had a table for 1st sitting. Our tablemates are from Canada and the US. They are very nice and we get along fine. The 23rd was a formal night and Captain's Cocktail Party. Feb 25th Arrived in Huatulco, Mexico at 7.00am. Early breakfast as we had a tour arranged with a local company. 9 of us from the roll call were travelling together. The tour was a customs and traditions one and we went up above the town for a good view of the ship and harbor. Next we went to see cloth being woven then the local drink being made. After that we visited the church with the largest picture of the Madonna in the world painted on the ceiling. We had some free time to wander then we were taken back to the port. A good trip. Ship sailed at 1.00pm. Had a relaxing afternoon. Feb 26th Arrived in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala at 7.00am. Another early breakfast then 19 of our group took the shuttle to the little village outside the dock. Our guide, Mirko, was there waiting for us. We were going to Antigua, the former capital, which was about 90mins drive. Mirko pointed out all the scenery and volcanoes as were drove. Our first stop was at a craft place where they wove wall hangings and other things. Shortly after that we arrived in the town and did a walking tour of churches and monasteries. There was a tour of the Jade museum - some gorgeous jewelry there. We also saw the open air laundry - like something from the 18th century. Some people went for lunch but others along with us went to a craft market. I got some nice jade earrings there. We crossed the street to a local bar where DH got a beer and I got some juice and we chatted to a guy who worked as a guide. It was beside the local bus park. The buses are brightly colored and called chicken buses as they carry everything including chickens. We were then picked up by the bus and journeyed back to the ship. We had a wander round the little village before going back to the ship. Another good trip. The ship left at 5.00pm. Feb 27th Arrived in Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua at 7.00am. We had nothing arranged for here and there were only 2 trips organized by the ship and both involved a long drive. After breakfast we went ashore. It was really hot. There were lots of stalls set up outside the port gate. However it is a very poor town. We wandered up the street and round the stalls but as there wasn't much to do we soon returned to the ship. There were lads with the bikes where you could sit and they would ferry you round. One couple too a ride and he only wanted 1$ for a half hour ride. The ship sailed at 4.00pm. I would rather have had longer in Huatulco than here as there was so little to do. Spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing. In the evenings we go to the shows and sometimes the piano bar. Feb 28th Arrived in Puntarenas, Costa Rica at 8.00am. We had booked a half day tour with Charlie Soto. He was waiting for us and we discovered another couple from our roll call were travelling too though they were doing a slightly different tour to us. At first we were in a nice AC van but then Charlie moved the 4 of us to a smaller van which had poorer AC. We were given a young lad who was a student as our guide. The first stop was in the forest where we saw a coatamundi in the trees. Then we went to feed the capuchin monkeys. That was fun. Next stop was a fruit stall where we had some delicious fruit then on to the Mangroves where we were doing the boat ride while the other 2 walked the bridges. It was strange to see Charlie in the other van doing what we were doing as there was plenty of room for the 4 of us in it. The boat trip was super. There were loads of birds to see and iguanas. The highlight was the crocodiles. The guy I the boat jumped onto the mud and offered a huge on a chicken leg. I don't know why it didn't go for him. You wouldn't see me doing that. After the boat rip Charlie said we would be going for lunch. We told him we hadn't booked for that but he said he would cover it. That was when things really deteriorated. We sat for 90mins in the sun waiting to be served and while the food was OK it wasn't wonderful. Then we were to go to the hilltop for a view. Lastly we stopped to buy some coffee. In the end we were 7h30mins instead of 4h30m. We hadn't wanted this long as DH's leg gets sore. Our van was back first and we told the boy we were only paying what we had been quoted. I left him with a copy of my email from Charlie in case Charlie argued. The boy and driver got a tip but we would not recommend Charlie if this is how he works. We didn't have time to see the town as it was almost time to get changed for dinner. The ship sailed at 7.00pm. Feb 29th Sea Day. Time to relax after being on the go for the last few days. This was another formal night. Met some friends for a drink. 1st March. Panama Canal. What everyone has been waiting for! An early rise as we didn't want to miss anything. We were on deck by 7.00. Our cabin was on Baja deck near the front so we made use of the little deck at the very front where you had a terrific view of everything. There was a running commentary as to what was happening which was great as it was very informative. Soon we passed under the Bridge of the Americas and Centennial Bridge and headed for the Mira Flores Locks. We were behind a large container ship and alongside another. How amazing it was to see the 2 men in a little row boat row over to attach the ropes on one side. The ropes were attached to engines Called Mules which help guide us through the locks. It took about 20 mins to go through the first lock. Then we went through the Pedro Miguel Locks before sailing along the Culebra cut and out into the Gatun Lake. Ahead we could see the Coral Princess who was doing a partial transit. We crossed the lake and went through the 3 locks at Gatun before reaching the Atlantic. Most of the day was spent watching the transit with a short break while crossing the lake. It was really spectacular and really worth doing. 2nd March Arrived in Cartagena, Colombia at 8.30am. We had booked a walking tour of the city with Cristian Martinez along with another couple. We were to meet him at the clock tower in the city so we took a taxi there. After waiting for a while and there being no sign of him we hired another guide, Toni. ( I later had an email from Cristian apologizing as he had knee problems ) Toni took us around the city showing us various areas, We saw the cathedral and gold museum and he took us to buy coffee. He also took us into some hotels to let us see what they were like. There was also a visit to buy some emeralds. I got a coffee bean pendant with a little emerald chip. It was a good tour and he even negotiated a cheap taxi back for us. We had a look round the shops at the port then went back to the ship which left at 2.00. 3rd March Arrived in Aruba at 12.00. We had a relaxing morning before going ashore with another lady to do an island tour. The roads are really bumpy but we saw an old fort, the natural bridge which has collapsed, baby natural bridge, the lighthouse and hotel zone. The seas on the far side of the island are really rough with some huge waves. Back at the port we wandered round the town and craft stalls. There are lots of brightly colored buildings. It has a nice feel to it. The ship sailed at 7.00. 4th March at Sea. The last formal night and Captain's Farewell Party and Champagne Waterfall. I caught up with some reading and laundry. It was like a party in the laundry as folk waited for a machine or dryer. One man was celebrating his golden wedding. 5th March Arrived in Ocho Rios at 8.00am. We had arranged a private tour along with another couple. Our driver, Wentworth Pearson, was waiting for us. First saw a view point and sampled some sugar cane then we went to the Wassi Pottery factory then through Fern Gully to where there were some stalls. They were reasonable so bought some earrings and a necklace. Next was Coyaba River Gardens. We had a Rastafarian guide who was really knowledgeable about all the plants and flowers. Then we saw Mayhoe Falls before returning to the town. We got dropped off and walked round the shopping village before returning to the ship. We had been a bit apprehensive about Jamaica as we had not liked Montego Bay but it was much nicer here. The ship sailed at 4.00. 6th March At Sea. Time to relax and enjoy our last day at sea. We had a final group meeting and took photos. Bought the photo of the group at our table in the dining room. It's got views of the ship round it. Said farewell to our waiter, Anthony and busboy, Nolan. They have been excellent. Packed before dinner. We went to the final show then the piano bar. Turned in early as we have a long day ahead tomorrow. 7th March Arrived in Fort Lauderdale 7.00am. An early start as we were up at 6.00. Disembarked at 9.00. Had a minor panic as one case was missing but the tag had come off as had our luggage strap but it was beside a couple of other cases without tags. Then we were taken to Intercontinental Hotel in Miami for lunch. After lunch we went to the International Mall to shop before going to the airport in Miami. Flight left at 5.05pm and it was the bumpiest ride ever. Arrived at Heathrow at 6.10am. Saturday 8th. Caught flight to Glasgow at 10.05am. We collected our luggage and phoned the shuttle to collect us. Got our car and were home by 1.15pm. While some people didn't like the entertainment we were happy with it. Shows were good and pianist excellent. Some people had a problem finding space around the pool deck but we were always able to get a chair. While we were set dining the people on Anytime seemed to be able to book a table whenever they liked - unlike last year when you couldn't book between 6.00 and 8.00. Also our tablemates went to Anytime one evening and were still able to return to Set which is not what I thought you could do. There appeared to be a virus outbreak on board as we were bombarded by leaflets telling us to wash our hands. Luckily we were not affected. The staff were all very pleasant and helpful. Our disembarkation was much improved on last year when it was a fiasco flying out of Ft L. All in all a very enjoyable cruise much to be recommended. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We chose this cruise to celebrate our renewal of vows for our 25th anniversary. We arrived at the Embassy Suites 3 days prior to embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. We had never been to Ft. Lauderdale. The hotel food was expensive and terrible. ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate our renewal of vows for our 25th anniversary. We arrived at the Embassy Suites 3 days prior to embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. We had never been to Ft. Lauderdale. The hotel food was expensive and terrible. Will stay at a hotel on the beach next time. There are many restaurants within walking distance from those hotels and found a great one with great food and Mojitos! The Duck Tour is a must. So FUN! Embarkation: a bus arrived to pick us up at 2:00 P.M. It took a while to get everyone on the bus and the suitcases. We were with the group of "over packed". Us included. So, that took a long to time to get going. Once at the port, getting on the ship was a breeze. Very organized, wonderful, easy process. Getting our luggage was not good. We got it very late. So we had to have dinner in the buffet that night. Very surprised the food was really good. Cabin: Our cabin was beautiful and wonderful. It was toward the back of the ship (aft)and you could feel some motion. However, it did not bother us. It has a double balcony which was wonderful. Our friends joined us to see the Panama Canal and we also got to see sea turtles, dolphins and grey whales. The bathroom has marble floors, jacuzzi tub, glass enclosed shower for 1. There is lots of storage, it was great. The best thing of all, I did not have to do or pay for laundry. We also got Lotus Spa shampoo, conditioner, soap, bath gel, facial mist, tons of stuff. One complementary mini-bar set-up. What a great perks! The best cabin stewart: Leo. Dinning: The food was great. We usually choose an alternative dinning schedule, but this time we changed to traditional 2nd seating to meet with friends. The service was "EXCELLENTE" as our head waiter Florian and waiter George would say. They were fantastic. The food was very good. I had read that it was mediocre. I guess they read the reviews, because all of the food on board was fantastic. The alternative dinning experience was equally as great. The service was impeccable. Even the buffet which usually has less than appealing food on other ships we have been on was great. And the service excellent. Entertainment: We found the casino to be fun. The slots were not too tight as we had heard. Actually, there were a couple of big winners. My husband actually won and we did break even. The shows were good, the cruise director and staff were funny, fun, and always had activities going on. The Wheelhouse Bar had great music, the Explorer's Lounge had fun Karaoke, Crooner's Martini Bar had great drinks. The SPA was a wonderful experience. Auro the Spa manager was wonderful as well as the staff. Dani in the salon cut and fixed my hair to perfection and my husband loved the facial and shave. We even talked our friends into trying out some of the services. We all agree they were great. The excursions were good for the most part. Just wish that there was more time as in some ports we really felt rushed. However, we saw the reviews of each port on TV on the ship's channel and pretty much knew what to expect. The Tour manager did a great job explaining the excursions and was very candid. I am glad I had booked them prior to going on the trip. We did not dock in Huatulco due to weather conditions so we missed that port. Better safe than sorry. Photos: I love the photo shop. The staff is very friendly and they do a great job. Not miracles, but a great job. The only 2 things we did not enjoy were some very rude people(passengers). We were really impressed with the staff on how patient and kind they always were under these very trying situations. You just cannot please some ignorant people. The other, our luggage was late on the first day so we missed seating with our friends for dinner. All in all I would do this cruise again and again. What a wonderful experience. So, "Escape Completely" and take this cruise. The Island Princess staff will do their very best to make your holiday a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My husband and I are in our mid-50s and this was our second Princess Cruise. We made our cruise reservations and booked all our tours through Princess. We handled our air transportation and hotel reservation in Acapulco (for one night) ... Read More
My husband and I are in our mid-50s and this was our second Princess Cruise. We made our cruise reservations and booked all our tours through Princess. We handled our air transportation and hotel reservation in Acapulco (for one night) ourselves. Pre-cruise: Having read horror stories about the Mexico City airport (and hearing many more once we began the cruise), we flew Washington/Dulles to Dallas/FortWorth to Acapulco on American Airlines. Flights were on-time and we were the only plane in Acapulco so we were through immigration and customs within minutes. Even through we weren't using a Princess transfer to the hotel, I asked the Princess rep meeting other passengers how much a taxi should cost. He replied $30 and said to make sure we got an official taxi. We did - and you pay for the ride up front at the airport and then just tip the driver. We stayed at the Acapulco Hyatt for $159 - one of the hotels Princess uses but for a fraction of the cost booking it through Princess. In its prime it must have been something but now it is rather tired (moldy smell in halls and bathrooms common in the tropics), and incredibly crowded when a cruise is ending/beginning. There aren't enough elevators for a hotel that size so leaving/returning to your room was time-consuming. There was one bright spot - the hotel's outdoor restaurant on the beach (I think it is called Pescador), had a very nice buffet and cheap margaritas. We took a taxi to the dock at 1 pm for $13 including tip. In Acapulco and at all our other stops, everyone took dollars. Embarkation: Even though our paperwork suggested arriving after 2 pm to avoid the crowds, we walked right up to the check in! Apparently, all the Princess transfers from the hotels had already been processed. We were on board within 10 minutes - spending about 5 minutes in line for the embarkation picture and another 5 minutes for the security picture. Ship and Staff: We knew our way around the Island since our cruise last summer was on the Coral from Vancouver to Alaska. On that trip we were in mini-suite D-712; on this trip we were in mini-suite C-708. The only difference was that the balcony on D-712 was totally covered - a good thing for potentially rainy Alaska - while the balcony on C-708 was 2/3 covered and 1/3 not - a nice compromise for someone who doesn't want to sit in the sun all the time. We like the location because it is quiet and while some nights there was some swaying, it never bothered us. The ship is lovely with workmen constantly working on her. All the crew - from those workmen to room stewards to activities staff up to officers - were cordial and greeted you when you walked by. Passengers: Ages ranged from twenties to eighties, and from family groups to singles; the average age was probably in the 60s. There were very few children on board and the one time we noticed a group of 4 boys in the Lotus Pool area (prominently marked 'for adults only') they never made it into the pool. I don't know if passengers or staff stopped them, but they left and went to the other pool. Dining: We had traditional dining, second seating, at table 189 in the Provence Dining Room. I'm including the table number only because you want to avoid it - it was secluded (at the back of the dining room on the left side), and had a lovely waitress but the air conditioning didn't work/was non-existent in that corner (it shares a wall with the kitchen) and by the end of the meal you had to leave just to cool down. That was the downside; the upside was that we had wonderful dinner companions (just one other couple at a table for 6). I would rate the food as good to very good. The first night the Maitre D' made dinner reservations for us at Sabatini's and the Bayou Cafe - both of which we had enjoyed on our Alaska cruise. We had a less than stellar dinner in Sabatini's early in the cruise - while the appetizers were wonderful, out of the 3 pastas served one was cold (and shouldn't have been) and one was way over-salted plus some of the fish in our main courses were overcooked. When our waitress and the Maitre D' asked about it they said they would pass our comments on. In fact a couple of nights later our waitress told us that Princess had received a letter of complaint that had been shared with the staff that echoes some of our comments and that orders were made to straighten things out. She also insisted on giving my husband a side dish of the pasta on the menu every night - and they were all very good (that coming from a first generation Italian-American who lived in Italy for 5 years). We enjoyed our dinner in the Bayou Cafe and the entertainment - a jazz trio. Entertainment: Before the ship even sailed from Acapulco, there was a Mexican music and dance review - wonderful musicians, dancers and costumes. We enjoyed the production shows and took the 'backstage tour' given by members of the dance group and the technical staff on the last sea day. If you're interested in the theater I highly recommend it. On that last sea day we also attended the 'cooking show and galley tour' offered by the Chef and Maitre D' - they produced a four course meal while keeping everyone laughing with their own comedy routine and then we all trooped through the kitchen. This is also a very worthwhile offering. Having had a wonderful experience last year on the Coral with the naturalist, we expected the guest lecturer on this trip to also be first rate. We attended only the first lecture by the husband and wife team - it was so excruciating we didn't go to any others. My husband (a professor in a former life) characterized it as listening to your neighbors go through their vacation slides/photos. I (an editor in a former life), wanted to scream every time (and it was many times) one of them would repeat the exact same sentence the other had said less than 5 minutes earlier. Spa: I had a massage on the Coral which was almost ruined by the hard sell by the masseuse to buy expensive products. I booked another one on the Island and as soon as the masseuse started to talk about oils or gels, I politely told her not to waste her time. So she didn't! As a caution: I had booked the massage on line and had a quoted price - and luckily I brought that piece of paper with me - but the price they charged me was $10 more. I realized that a couple of days later when filing away the receipt. I went back up to the Spa and the receptionist said that I was charged the 'right' price. I showed her the on-line booking and she took down a message for the manager. My $10 was returned the next day. Ports of Call: As I said, we booked through Princess so all I can comment on is those particular tours. We also aren't big shoppers so I don't have much to say about the markets. Huatulco - we went on the Huatulco River Float. There is more rafting than floating involved but the nine rapids are small (the guide said class 1.5 to 2 but that must be in the rainy season). It was great fun and we saw lots of birds (which the guide described), locals on the banks fishing and doing laundry, etc. It ended when we reached the Pacific Ocean and beached the zodiacs. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - we went on the Best of Colonial Antigua with Lunch tour. It included a lovely drive through the countryside - we even saw smoke issuing from one of the active volcanoes. We wish more time was spent on the historical buildings in Antigua. Instead the bus would take us just a few blocks from one location to the next which was time-consuming and left little time for exploring. The highlight of the tour (and one of the highlights of the trip) was lunch at Casa Santa Domingo - a sightseeing stop in its own right since it is a convent founded in 1642 with beautiful ruins, gardens, a museum, etc. A 'typical', tasty (best guacamole ever tasted by anyone at our table), and elegant lunch buffet was held in one of the gardens. The last stop was at a jade factory and shop. The ship's departure was delayed because some Princess tours were late returning - they hold the ship in those cases. Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - there were only a couple of tours offered so we decided to treat this as a sea day. The ship docks at an industrial port - and something was being spewed into the air all day. Our balcony (which overlooked the dock) was covered in a fine particulate. It was good to see the crew the next morning cleaning all the balconies. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - we went on the Costa Rica's Favorites with Lunch tour that included an aerial tram (think ski lift with open gondola that has a floor and roof), short hike (saw an anteater in a tree), lunch (good but not great like in Guatemala), then a 2 hour boat ride where we saw crocodiles and over 16 species of birds. The guides were top notch - all botany, environmental science graduates/grad students. Panama Canal Transit - this isn't a tour (you don't get off the ship) but it is the highlight of the cruise. If you're interested in history and/or engineering, read David McCullough's The Path Between the Seas before you get to the canal. Get up early - we went under the Bridge of the Americas around 7 am. As others have stated on the Princess Board, and in fact crew members announced on the Island, go through the 'crew only' doors at the bow of the Baja and Caribe decks for a great viewing position. It is a fascinating transit. We ordered the Panama Champagne Breakfast and Brunch for Two ($28 for half bottle of good champagne, basket of pastries, smoked salmon, fresh fruit, and Alaskan King Crab Quiche) for delivery between noon and 12:30 which worked out well - we were through the first two sets of locks and almost through the Gaillard Cut. We then returned to the bow of the Caribe deck for the transit through the Gatun Locks. Don't forget to go the aft of the ship when going through at least one set of locks to watch what happens to the ship behind you. Cartagena, Colombia - we went on the Best of Cartagena and Fortress tour. Get off the ship here - it is a lovely city. The Old City, which we walked through, is full of picturesque narrow streets with old (renovated), brightly painted 2 and 3 story houses with beautiful balconies and flowers. You also get a beautiful view of then entire city from the two other stops: a fortress and a convent. Aruba - we went on the See and Sea tour. The first half was a sightseeing tour of the island with a couple of stops, all interesting. The highlight was the second half of the tour. We took a boat from the main beach (where all the hotels are) to a 'semi-submarine' waiting for us near the site of a shipwreck. We sat 5 feet below the waterline as we went over and around the 440 long wreck of a German WWII freighter. Lots of fish plus the wreck itself were fascinating. One of our dinner companions did a dive tour of two sites, including this one, and raved about it too. Disembarkation: 50 minutes from leaving the Universe Lounge to sitting at the gate at the airport! We had a Princess transfer to the airport and chose to pay the $15 each to have our luggage checked all the way through and receive our boarding pass in advance. We were told to report to the Universe Lounge at 9:20 - we arrived about 10 minutes early and took a seat (there were seats for everyone in the two groups meeting there). We were called promptly at 9:20, walked off the ship; waited for 2 couples ahead of us to go through immigration; claimed our luggage - nicely separated by luggage tags; waited for a couple of folks ahead of us to go through customs; placed our baggage in the United express luggage line; got on the bus and was en route to the airport by 9:40. We were at the airport by 10 am: asked at information where our gate was (the flight didn't depart until 1:45 pm so it wasn't posted yet); and then walked right up to and through security. It couldn't have been easier or less stressful! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
This was our second Princess cruise and fifth overall but our first thru the Panama Canal. We flew in a day early on our own arrangements and stayed in Old San Juan at the Sheraton. It was a little pricey but the location was great and ... Read More
This was our second Princess cruise and fifth overall but our first thru the Panama Canal. We flew in a day early on our own arrangements and stayed in Old San Juan at the Sheraton. It was a little pricey but the location was great and you could sit at the restaurant and watch the other ships come in and out. The Island Princess was at the the Pan American docks which require a cab ride but that was no big deal and a flat rate of $15. We left the hotel around 11:30am, arrived at the pier right before noon and they started processing right after we arrived. We were on the ship and in our room before 12:30! We then had lunch on the lido deck which was very relaxed because most people were not on board yet. The rest of the day we just took our time exploring the ship. The ship appeared to be in good shape and we had no issues with our room or anything else that we saw. Our luggage didn't show up to our room until around 8pm. Many people were complaining about how long it took to get their luggage. There weren't many activities that evening as sail away wasn't until 11pm, we waited for the 11:30pm sail away party but gave up at 11:20pm since nobody including the cruise staff showed up. We never did hear if it happened or not. The first day was sea day and very relaxing ending with the first formal night and the Captain's welcome party. The second day was Curacao and we went diving independently with "The Dive Bus". Mark and Suzy were great and I would highly recommend them to anyone. The third day we took the ship's dive excursion on Aruba since the time in port was very short. The fourth day we took the old city walking tour of Cartagena and enjoyed seeing the very picturesque town but did not enjoy all the vendors harassing you to buy something. There is nothing at the pier to see, you had to take a five minute ride to the terminal before you got close to anything and even then there wasn't much. It's not a stop to get walk around the town in. The fifth day was the Canal and if you have not seen it before it is a real interesting adventure. There was a guide who got on board in the morning and talked up thru all the interesting tidbits about the canal. The information was good but his delivery left most people bored. The sixth day was another sea day and our last formal night. We found various things to do including spending money at bingo we would never see again. The seventh day was Puntarena, Costa Rico and we went to the Red Macaw Sanctuary. This was about a 45 min bus ride over at times rough road but the Sanctuary was worth seeing especially when the free Macaws would take flight. There were some shops within walking distance of the pier if you wanted and a small beach. The eight day was San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and we took the volcano tour that went to the active Masaya Volcana, provided lunch and also drove you thru colonial Grenada. This entailed 1.5 - 2 hours each way in the bus on sometimes not so good roads and while I was glad to see those things, I probably would not do it again. This was also a tender port but there were shopping tents set up at the tender pier and town was within walking distance. The ninth day was Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala and we went to animal park where there keep the animals is open areas so you must drive thru in a bus for your own safety. One of the exhibits had a 20 day old giraffe which was very cool to see running around in the open. The roads in Guatemala were very good but it was still and hour bus ride to get to the park. Some excursions had two hour rides depending on where they were going. Outside the pier there really wasn't anything close by but they provided free shuttles if you wanted to go to the shopping area. The tenth day was Huatulco, Mexico a planned resort area and we went to the La Brisas resort to use their facilities and beach. There was also a good shopping area at the end of the pier and a beach as well. If we had known that, I don't know if we would have gone to La Brisas although the facilities there were very nice and only about 10 minutes from the ship. On day 11, we unfortunately can to the end of our cruise in Acapulco. We had a flight after 3:00pm so we took the city highlights and cliff divers tour which finished by dropping us at the airport. The cliff divers were good but somehow after hearing about them all my life, I expected more. This was a special show for the cruise ship passengers so maybe their regular shows are different. We had heard that the Acapulco airport was very chaotic. Well, words do not describe the unorganized chaos that awaited us. The cruise line had brought the luggage to the airport but it was sitting all outside and the tags that Princess used (looped thru a hole in one end of the tag) did not stay on all our bags so finding our missing bags was an adventure but it worked out. Once inside the airport, there were hundreds of people all trying to check in and long lines everywhere. They are very strict about when you can check in before your flight so there is no way to space this out. I think this is because the airport is so small and there is not enough room for people to be there too far ahead of their flights. All baggage was hand checked before you could check in and this took a long time. From start to finish it took us over an hour from getting our bags to getting to the gate but others told us it took them over two hours. the boarding process is also chaotic if your plane needs to be unloaded and unloaded from the tarmac with buses. All in all we felt lucky to escape from there. A slightly bad ending to a good trip but overall a very highly enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We are a couple with 4 older kids (17 - 25)and this was our 3rd family cruise, 8th cruise overall for us. This was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Flights We were extremely disappointed with Princess air having 1 tight connection flying to ... Read More
We are a couple with 4 older kids (17 - 25)and this was our 3rd family cruise, 8th cruise overall for us. This was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Flights We were extremely disappointed with Princess air having 1 tight connection flying to San Juan from Toronto and arriving without some luggage. Our flights home involved 2 connections and 17 hours of travel time. Ridiculous! We will never fly Princess air again. The Ship The Island Princess is a beautiful ship and well kept. Our Balcony cabin was smaller than some other lines but quite adequate. Our children shared 2 interior cabins across the hall. Cabin attendants were good. Food We found the food in the Horizon Buffet to be very mediocre. Hence we made every attempt to eat in the main dining rooms. The service and food here was very good. Shore Excursions Aruba - We walked ashore and found many offering tours as you left the port. We arranged for a 4 hour tour in a small minibus for all 6 or us for $20 each that was excellent. Cartagena, Columbia - We went on a City tour with Princess that was very good. Our initial concerns with regards to safety were in my opinion ill-founded. The Old City is beautiful. I wouldn't recommend going with the Princess tour though - too slow; too many people; poor value. Find a tour company online; Puntarenas, Costa Rica - I arranged for a tour with okeydokeytours. It was a fabulous day. We went to see monkeys, zip-lining, to see Crocodile Man and shopping. The tour guide was excellent and we all loved it. It was $89 each but included the admission prices. The zip lining company offered a 'beginners' experience and it was a little slow for me. Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - We took a Princess tour of Granada and the Islets boat cruise. The poverty was an eye-opening experience for all of us and a great opportunity to discuss politics and economics with the children. Granada is nothing special. Guatemala - We unfortunately had to miss this port because of hurricane force winds and flooding. We had pre-booked with Turansa tours who insisted on charging us for the missed tour in spite of flooding conditions and downed electrical wires that would have made any tour unsafe. A lesson to us and a warning to you! Huatulco, Mexico - A beautiful port. We walked ashore and rented seadoo's on the beach right beside the port. Then in the afternoon we had arranged for a catamaran tour with Princess. It was a great day. Panama Canal - It was very interesting however after the first lock it became a bit boring. We kept coming back to it all day long but it was impossible to spend hour after hour watching the progress. Acapulco - We left the ship and found a tour guide at the pier to took all 6 of us on a 5 hour tour and to the airport for $30 each. The tour was great. The guide spoke perfect English; we went at our own pace, spending extra time in some spots but going quickly through others. Excellent! A couple of things really bugged me about this cruise. The attendants pushing the drinks were very much in your face. Many times your conversation would be interrupted as they ask you if you would like something. The explanation regarding the decision to bypass Guatemala was inadequate. The ship was in the port almost at the pier when it just took off. The captains explanation minutes later was difficult to understand and had many onboard very upset. All in all far from my favorite cruise but good in many respects. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Eleven days on The Island Princess, from San Juan to Acapulco, via the Panama Canal. It was a lovely cruise, with many interesting ports, as other reviewers will no doubt tell you. The Canal more than lived up to our expectations: it was ... Read More
Eleven days on The Island Princess, from San Juan to Acapulco, via the Panama Canal. It was a lovely cruise, with many interesting ports, as other reviewers will no doubt tell you. The Canal more than lived up to our expectations: it was an amazing highlight! Our obstructed-view cabin was comfortable, the food was good quality and well-prepared (if a little "dumbed down" flavour-wise), and the onboard service - all of it, without exception - was wonderful. The only flaw in Princess service was Princess Air's arrangements at Acapulco. We stood - yes, STOOD with our suitcases - in line waiting for Delta check in for three and a half hours. The very pleasant Delta rep informed us that the scheduled flight had to go first, and we were "only" a charter (yes, that was his word). It was hot. I felt even sorrier for the elderly people in line than I did for myself, with my two recently-replaced knees. Delta was checking three flights in that day with only four agents, and all checked luggage was being hand searched. Did someone say "zoo"? I place the blame squarely on Princess for contracting to a charter carrier that could not do the job. Princess would not accept bad food from a supplier, but somehow this treatment of Princess guests was acceptable. It must have been OK with Princess, because the word from people in the know at the airport (and we had plenty of time to chat 'em up) was that this is a common occurrence. A word of advice: do not cruise in and fly out of Acapulco. Flying in may be better, but this was by far the worst airline check in I have ever experienced in my many years of worldwide travel. And I blame Princess. A Cruise within a Cruise The rest of my review will be about what I am calling our "Cruise within a Cruise". On the second evening, both my husband and I suddenly came down with a gastrointestinal problem - most likely norovirus. According to CDC, incubation for norovirus is 24 to 48 hours, but can be as short as 12. So we may have got it on the ship, or we may have carried it on as a stowaway. It doesn't really matter, we had it. Put it this way: thank goodness the bathrooms on Island Princess are teensy - we could use the toilet and the sink at the same time. You don't want more details than that, trust me. A welcome letter asked us to report any such ailment immediately, and we complied. We were visited by staff nurse Kenny within minutes. He was supportive, kind and good humored, but also very firm. If we were seen out of our cabin, we'd be put off the ship. Not that we wanted to go anywhere, although at one point "overboard" sounded good to me! (What's that old saw? "For the first hour you're afraid you're going to die. After that, you're afraid you're not going to die.") Thank goodness nurse Kenny did his angel-of-mercy thing and drugged us with generous amounts of medications that stopped the symptoms, and also put us to sleep for almost 24 hours. There was no charge for any of this. Service during our quarantine was nothing short of amazing. I cannot say enough good things about the kindness and the efficiency of the staff assigned to us. The mess, and it was a dreadful mess, was cleaned up and sanitized by specially-trained cabin attendants in masks and full hazmat suits. OK, there is something funny about that, but we weren't in a mood to be amused. They came several times a day and wiped and sanitized and sprayed and cleaned and changed linens while we lay semi-conscious in our beds. And at the end of the day they left us with … yes, chocolates. Wouldn't have to do without those, would we? And the large amounts of hold-your-nose laundry? All taken away in special bags to a special laundry and returned clean and pressed. No charge for this either. The room service menu we received was specially designed for gastric victims such as the likes of us. I think it was called "Light and Healthy", but "Bland and Boring" would be a better moniker. But it was very suitable for the situation: broths, jello, poached fish and chicken, boiled vegetables, rice, crackers, tea. In this case, bland and boring was just what the doctor ordered. And the most amazing part of all was that it was delivered almost before I put the phone down. In a flash! I guess they don't want desperate sick people wandering off to the Horizon Court in search of saltines. By the end of the second day, we were feeling much better and we asked the medic whether it would be OK to walk on the wild side and order something off the regular room service menu. When I did, the person taking my order put up a bit of resistance until I assured him that the nurse had said we could give it a try. Still, pretty good that he was double-checking. It was not fun. Our "Cruise Within a Cruise" was a big disappointment because we missed two ports (and a good friend on one of the islands) that we had really wanted to visit. On the other hand, we were back in circulation and in fine form for Canal day, which had been the point of the trip in the first place. After we were sprung from quarantine, we were asked not to go to the buffet for a day or so. Banned from Horizon Court? No problem. The dining room service was so calm and lovely, we chose to eat there most of the time. When we did return, we noticed that the hand sanitizer squirt squad had been reinforced. One note to self: throughout the "adventure" we were wishing, oh how we were wishing, that we had coughed the cash up for a balcony. That would have made our time in jail much more pleasant. Our unfortunate experience showed Princess at its very caring and its very organized best. Too bad the same could not be said of the contractor they chose for us at Acapulco airport. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was our first cruise with Princess. Our last cruise was was on a "high end" luxury cruise line so we were concerned that this cruise might be a disappointment. Happily, that did not turn out to be the case. With one ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess. Our last cruise was was on a "high end" luxury cruise line so we were concerned that this cruise might be a disappointment. Happily, that did not turn out to be the case. With one exception, discussed below, this cruise was a delight. Dining - I will start with a dining evaluation because my wife and I really enjoy dinning. We thought the food on Island Princess was great. We used both the buffet and the formal dinning room with most meals being taken in the formal dinning room. We thought the meals generally reflected the skills of the ships award winning Italian chef. When taken in context of the attractive overall price of the cruise, the food on the ship was an outstanding value. Food service was excellent from headwaiter to assistant. I think the dinning room service was actually better than I have experience on some "higher end" cruise lines. Public rooms - The Island Princess public rooms were nice in the modern flashy sense of the word. The passengers seemed to spend a lot of time in the public rooms so they must have been answering a need. The paintings throughout the ship were nice. Cabin - We deliberately booked one of the smallest cabins on the ship. It was more than adequate. The interior decor was well done and made the cabin seem larger than it actually was. The only complaint would be the extremely small shower - a comment I heard from several passengers. A big plus was the excellent cabin service that greatly enhanced the enjoyment of the cruise. Fitness and Recreation - I made frequent trips to the gym. I thought it was plenty large and well equipped. The views from the gym were nice. I never found it to be crowded on any visit. Shore Excursions - At most ports there were a wide range of excursions ranging from very active to simple shopping trips. For the most part, these excursions were reasonable well done. The tours in Nicaragua and Guatemala disappointed some of the passengers because both countries have developing economies. I enjoyed both countries - particularly the coffee plantation visit in Guatemala. On the first day, getting the crowds off the ship to the proper excursion was a bit of a problem. After the first day, things we better. Enrichment - Princess deserves an A plus for having a decent enrichment program. On board lecturers made several presentations that greatly enhanced the enjoyment of the cruise, particularly the trip through the Panama canal. The lecture program was not as good as on the late and much lamented Swan Hellenic line, but they were decent. Entertainment - This was a high point on Island Princess. The broadway musical style production shows were well done and very well attended by the passengers. It was really nice that, in addition to the big shows, the other entertainment was really good. The ship piano players were exceptionally good and we particularly enjoyed Brendan Jones who played in the Crooners Bar at night. Service - As previously stated the service was outstanding in both the dinning room and the cabin. Our cabin steward was great. I will add the bar service to the list of great service. From warm brandy sniffers to champagne opened with style, these guys did their job well. Embarkation - Getting on the ship was great. We went down a day early and stayed at the Fairmont Princess (a very nice experience). The Princess staff set up a pre-boarding procedure at the hotel the night before the cruise. It worked great. All we had to do the next day was ride the bus to the ship, pick up a few papers, and walk on board (in time for a great lunch). Disembarking was the one real problem with the cruise. It was a disaster. Communication from the staff on disembarkation procedures had been minimal. What was communicated showed an unexcutable process. In the end, crowds of people stood around for hours and became angry. This was an unfortunate ending for an otherwise great cruise. Princess needs to fix this problem. Unfortunately, I heard many passengers say that the experience getting off the ship had permanently soured them on Princess. Overall Value - Setting the disembarkation problem aside, I thought this was a great cruise - overall and in terms of value for the money. We would do Princess again. However, it would help to learn that they had fixed the problem with getting people off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We booked our second "Member's Appreciation Cruise" Booking included: Precruise- Coach from Toledo to Detroit, Air to Acapulco, Overnight in Acapulco (Fairmont Princess), Tour of Acapulco the next day, Transfer to ship ... Read More
We booked our second "Member's Appreciation Cruise" Booking included: Precruise- Coach from Toledo to Detroit, Air to Acapulco, Overnight in Acapulco (Fairmont Princess), Tour of Acapulco the next day, Transfer to ship Cruise- 10 Day Panama Canal Explorer from Acapulco to San Juan Post Cruise- Transfer to San Juan Airport, Air to Detroit, and Coach to Toledo. Pre Cruise Hotel: Acapulco Fairmont Princess- What a wonderful beginning to our adventure. After a full day of bus and air transportation, along with clearing immigration and customs in the Mexico City Airport (A curse I am reserving for only the most deserving of evildoers). The Fairmont was clean & well maintained, with a courteous, attentive staff. There was some confusion in that Princess had started a pre-registration program for the night before to make pier to ship transfer smoother. Ship Info: * Activities- DW and I don't do lots of planned activities, but prefer to watch the ocean slide by from our balcony or other places on the ship. * Service- The service was exemplary. Unobtrusive, yet all of our needs were met. All of the staff and crew are friendly, and appear to be driven to provide the best experience possible for guests. As with any group of 3000 (2050 passengers and 950 crew), there are those who prefer to enjoy life, and those who choose otherwise. * Shore Excursions- Huatulco, Mexico; We used the Princess "Sail and Swim" excursion. This was a small group (20), all that would fit on the sailboat. It filled about 30 minutes after excursions were posted on the web. Guatemala; We participated in the ship's "Filadelfia Coffee Estate" tour. What a pleasurable day in the mountains of this Central American country. Puntarenas, Costa Rica; We went on a "Mangrove and Macaw Preserve" tour organized by Princess. This was like the Jungle River cruise at Disney, but with REAL crocs and animals, How cooooool! Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua; We went out on our own. This is not a well developed port yet, but has serious potential for some eco-tourism s the country stabilizes. Cartagena, Colombia; We went to the end of the pier and hired a cab and tour guide for the day. We had a wonderful time and missed all of the busses. Don't miss the Monastery at the top of the mountain. We spent $60 plus tips for all three of us. Aruba; We went and wandered about on our own. The visit was on Sunday afternoon, so not a lot was open. * Summary: We enjoyed our first Princess experience enough that we booked future cruise credits. * Stateroom: We were in a mini (B216). The room was not any bigger that a balcony on the Carnival Liberty. Our steward (Benedict) was friendly & helpful. * Dining: The service was spectacular (Magda and Alla at second seating), the maitre-de (Ignazo), provided a wonderful mealtime environment. The food was good, but not as good as last year on the Liberty. It would NOT keep me from sailing Princess again. * Disembarkation: Truly a nightmare. I don't know if ICE or Princess is to blame, but I'm going to be grumpy on the last day of a cruise anyway. I can't wait to cruise with Princess again Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
My wife and I just completed our sixth cruise, three with Princess and three with Royal Caribbean. I booked travel on-line, with non-stop air travel from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale set up independently through American Airlines. A ... Read More
My wife and I just completed our sixth cruise, three with Princess and three with Royal Caribbean. I booked travel on-line, with non-stop air travel from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale set up independently through American Airlines. A couple we met on the cruise left the same night from L.A. on a flight booked through Princess, which had a 2AM plane change, for three times the price. Because their second flight had to make an emergency landing and delayed their arrival, the ship waited just under one hour for them and some other people (because they booked travel through Princess). I took an offer by a booking agent of a mini-suite without balcony at a competitive price. The room turned out to be rather odd. A 350 to 400 SF (pretty large), plain, claustrophobic box. It had minimal furniture and two side-by-side TV's! It was extremely quiet. My wife tried to cheer me up and lied to me about how great the room was. I knew I was taking a gamble on this room so it was nobody's fault but mine. But the real reason we took this particular cruise was the itinerary--stops in Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico. We booked tours in each of the countries except Mexico. Every stop was interesting and gave an opportunity to learn a little about a country the easy way. The tour guides, especially in Nicaragua, were all informative and fun. Highlights included the canal, Panama City at night (including the US bombed-out Old Town, a mangrove river cruise in Costa Rica with numerous animal sightings, and an elaborate lunch at a coffee plantation in Guatemala. Aboard the ship, we really enjoyed the buffet! The staff were constantly bringing out fresh platters of a variety of delicious dishes, including pastas and seafood. They even had an Oktoberfest dinner in the buffet with a wide variety of German delicacies. We found the food to be superior to that in the formal dining room, which we visited once. This was probably because you get to see what you get beforehand. Also, the Bayou Cafe was great and had a fun jazz trio. Overall, the service on the Island Princess was very good. The crew were very fun, polite and patient (particularly with passengers eager to disembark and cut across lines). We had a great time and would recommend this cruise on the Island Princess. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
3 Day Repositioning Cruise Island Princess Sept 17 to 20th Vancouver to Los Angeles My husband and I traveled on the Island on a short three day cruise to see how the short cruise compares to longer ones we have taken. We've ... Read More
3 Day Repositioning Cruise Island Princess Sept 17 to 20th Vancouver to Los Angeles My husband and I traveled on the Island on a short three day cruise to see how the short cruise compares to longer ones we have taken. We've traveled on 9 cruises mainly on the Princess line. The best part of this trip was leaving from our hometown, so we took the bus to the pier (Canada Place). We arrived at 12:45 and we were on board at 1:00 pm. The check in was very efficient and the staff were all very helpful. We booked an outside Mini Suite Category AF and we got cabin C202 first forward cabin. The room was huge, where the balcony would have been was part of our cabin. We had a couch, coffee table, two end tables/shelves. A center counsel between the bed and sitting area that had two t.v. (one facing the bed, the other the couch), below was a fridge and shelves. The fridge was stocked with some pops and a bottle of water, note you will be charged if you consume any of these items, unless you are Elite Status and you get a stocked mini bar for free. The bed was made up into a King, very noticeable crack. Bed was hard, but we didn't experience too many problems. The bathroom was a nice size, and a treat after experiencing so many smaller bathrooms. I did take a bath one day. The counter space was ample and there was tons of storage for all necessary toiletries. Closet space was just outside the washroom with lots of space for all our needs. I don't like the location of the closet as it was hard for one person to use the washroom white the other tried to access things in the closet and/or safe. Our room steward introduced herself and she did an outstanding job and accommodated us with everything we requested. She showed up with an entire bottle of champagne, I thought we were only going to get a glass but we got the entire bottle. Now the entire reason for writing this review is to compare it to seven day or more cruises. So here I go. I found the ship was in great shape and nowhere did I notice any more than normal refurbishments happening. I say this because I read somewhere that the cruiseline uses these repositioning cruises to make tons of repairs. The ship was in good shape, sure there were signs of wear and tear but nothing serious. One of the couples we were traveling with had their shower back up after 30 seconds of showering causing a flood the first night. Someone was called and they said they would fix it while they were at dinner. But the next day it did it again, obviously no one had fixed it, so another call was made and they made sure it was repaired. Luckily nothing important got wet. Dinning Room/Food Service: We ate dinner in the dining room, on anytime dining. We did notice that it seemed that they were short staffed as many sections were not occupied or closed and our waiters were often very busy and we therefore did not get the same attentive service we normally experience. The Horizon Court buffet was great with a large variety of foods, overall it seemed to be the same as other cruises. The food was good but not great as we have experienced in the past. But we certainly didn't starve. Activities: We definitely noticed fewer activities on this three day cruise compared to 7 or longer cruises. But we managed to keep busy. They did put on an evening show every night; however I never attended the big shows. But did enjoy the Dan Bennett juggling/comedy show as well as a comedian the next night. There was no questionnaire/survey to fill out at the end of the trip, which I would of like to have seen as there were many staff that deserved to commended as well as few things I would of liked to have commented on. We are Canadian and when we received our final bill it stated at the bottom that the bill had been converted to the currency of the card (ours being Canadian) plus a 3% administrative charge. Now I was not aware that this would happened as I would of ensured that this did not happen. I later found out that you can tick off a box when you check in and present your credit card to ensure this does not happen. Also to confirm with the pursers desk upon sailing that in fact they will not do this. This is a bit of a beef with me as I don't agree with negative billing. I don't think you should be charged for something unless you say you don't want it. I know I know you are going to say this happens in a lot of places; however that doesn't make it right and I will be sure to let Princess know this is not something I like. Disembarkation: Since we were traveling with three other couples and we were scattered throughout the ship we all got different color coded tags. I went to the purser's desk and asked that I get tags for everyone that were the same and showed my shuttle van reservation for 9:30 and they were happy to accommodate me. We were off the ship by 9 am and Los Angeles port was very efficient. Because we cleared US immigration in Vancouver before sailing and we did not stop in any ports we did not have to clear customs or immigration in LA which is a nice change. We had prearranged a shuttle van to accommodate all of us. The price was $87 from the pier to the airport. We were at the airport very early but we were able to check in our bags early and we went exploring. Overall I would recommend this short repositioning cruise to anyone who wants a short getaway where you are not distracted by phones/t.v./internet. However if you are a first time cruises or have never sailed Princess please note that the experience is different and in my opinion better on longer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
This unique 19 day itinerary from LA to the Panama Canal and back was our best cruise so far with Princess. Thanks to the skill of Captain Andrea Poggi, it was the smoothest ride as he steered around the worst of the weather. There were ... Read More
This unique 19 day itinerary from LA to the Panama Canal and back was our best cruise so far with Princess. Thanks to the skill of Captain Andrea Poggi, it was the smoothest ride as he steered around the worst of the weather. There were several tropical storms in the area, but they did not impact our trip. Course changes were done by small amounts and we were not aware of directional changes at all. We flew into Long Beach, preferring the simplicity of this smaller airport over LAX. Our transfer to San Pedro was quick, and we were through the boarding process and in our cabin by noon. We had a lot to see the first day out as there were large groups of whales and dolphins around the ship. We had a good view of Los Arcos as we arrived in Cabo San Lucas, but took a boat ride for a closer view of the beaches and sea lions followed by a driving tour of the city to an overlook with a beautiful view of the bay. In Acapulco we chose to walk around the port rather than take an organized tour. Many who bought a cliff diver tour realized they were being shown the cliff, but the divers only performed at certain times. The pretty port of Huatulco was next, and there were dolphins and rays swimming around the ship in port. The nine bays were picturesque and we hope this port will remain unspoiled. We took a nature walk to a preserve, enjoying sights of many birds. Another day brought us to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We toured the macaw sanctuary, enjoying flocks of free-flying birds and then a boat tour down the river to the ship. There was a large craft sale area along the black sand beach. Next was the Panama Canal, and we went through the locks all day enjoying the sights and the wildlife. Spending the night near the Pacific end of the canal, we moved to Fuerte Amador the next day and did some shopping. Most bought Panama hats (from Ecuador) as souvenirs. Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua was skipped, and the speculation was common as to why we did. We motored on to Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala, docking at a freight terminal with free shuttle buses to the created shopping area nearby. The stalls were filled with colorful weavings and handcrafts. Silver, jade jewelry, weavings and clothing were popular. Zihuatanejo was skipped by many due to a foul up by Princess. The short port call (10-3) with tenders was badly handled and delayed our departure until 4:30. This left a bad feeling with many, and may have led to the rare chocolate buffet at 10 PM the next night! Puerto Vallarta was my husband's chance to take a zip line tour, and he said it was wonderful fun and professionally handled. My city tour was not the shopping venue I wished for. Back in San Pedro we had a quick departure. During the cruise, our room steward became forgetful and did not replace dirty towels and glassware as she was heading home after this cruise. This was the first animal towel cruise. Swans made of Princess blue striped towels made a nice heart shape but would have been better in white towels. The other animals were just a nuisance that we had to deal with. Maybe the few kids on board liked them, but the average ship's age was over 65 with many in their 80s. Wheelchairs, scooters and walkers were plentiful. Island Princess has all balconies stepped out the same amount, with each one covered by the one above. Corridors jogged in and out to accommodate the different sizes of cabins, making for quieter cabin areas. Food was mediocre like other cruises. We ate all meals in Horizon Buffet preferring to choose our own portions and dine by a window. The carvery (beef, ham, turkey, pork, filet mignon, etc.) was great, but the go withs like gravy were hard to find. Odd spices were put into the potatoes, and the chicken kiev was cut in half, releasing the butter nugget into the pan. Something is lost in translation from French chef to Italian cook to Indonesian servers. To celebrate my husband's birthday we dined in Sabatini's, paying $20 per person gratuity. The entrees were good, but the appetizers were not what we would have liked, and the menu was fixed. However, my husband felt special with all the attention, and it made his day nicer. We give a 10 to the captain for this trip, a 3 to hotel for the mixed service, and a 0 to Cruise Director staff for openly making rude comments about passengers. Why they pay people to force the macarena and conga on passengers is beyond me. They want people to do stupid things for the video of the cruise that they sell. Again, the itinerary drew us, the safety and skill of the captain impressed us, but the hotel let us down so we give it a 4. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Our vacation began on 9/1/07, we flew from San Diego to Vancouver on U.S. Air. We arrived at 2:00 p.m. and took a Limo from the airport to Downtown Vancouver ($65) where we checked into the Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson Street. Beautiful ... Read More
Our vacation began on 9/1/07, we flew from San Diego to Vancouver on U.S. Air. We arrived at 2:00 p.m. and took a Limo from the airport to Downtown Vancouver ($65) where we checked into the Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson Street. Beautiful hotel, best beds I have ever slept in and every room have a corner balcony. I would suggest paying the few extra dollars to get on one of the top 10 floors. We adventured out on Robson Street where there is endless amount of stores and a Starbucks on just about ever corner, yeah! We had dinner at Ciao Bella, Italian Restaurant and it was fantastic, small but food was excellent and affordable. On 9/2, woke up to cloudy skies and sprinkles and we purchased a ticket ($34) for the Hop & Go Shuttle or Dbl Decker bus, which was right outside our hotel. This is the most economical way to see Vancouver and have the freedom to see as much as you want. We headed for Stanley Park where we jumped off and bought another ticket ($18) for the Stanley Park Shuttle. This is another great way to see Stanley Park. We toured every section in Stanley Park and especially enjoyed the Aquarium. Plan on spending at least 6 hrs. in Stanley Park. After spending about 7 hrs. in Stanley Park we jumped back on the Hop & Go and visited more sections of Vancouver. Arrived back to our hotel around 5:00 p.m., changed clothes and grabbed a cab and went to The Fish House by Stanley Park for dinner (came highly recommended by Locals and Frommer's Alaska book.). The food was good but the service was not what I would of expected for the pricey food. Glad we went but probably would not go there again. My only regret is I wish we would of allowed more time in Vancouver. We woke up on 9/3, excited about boarding the Island that day. We arrived at Canada Place about 12:00 p.m. I was extremely impressed with the ease and speed of getting onto the ship. We were in our cabin by 12:30 p.m., way to go Princess! Our cabin was nice and a balcony is a must for the Alaska Cruise. I had heard the beds were poor but we had a egg crate placed on our bed and it was just fine, pillows could of been better. The Island set sail promptly at 4:15 p.m. and of course, the rain started as we were leaving. I had planned on meeting a few of the CC members that were on my Roll Call and we met up on the Sports Deck at sail away. It was great putting a face to the people I had been communicating with for months. We had late seating in the Provence Dining Room. The food in the dining room was good but the selection could of been better compared to our other cruises. We ate at the Horizon Court breakfast and a few lunches and it was O.K. but it seemed they repeated the selection of food too often. Overall, I would say I have had better food selection on other cruise lines. The waiter staff however, was excellent as well as, the other staff members. We went to a few shows but we were so tired after our 8:00 p.m. dinner that the entertainment was not worth trying to stay awake for. Played in the casino a few times, very little activity and I actually won the slot tournament on the last day, yeah! The nice thing was there was no pressure to buy anything and someone wasn't trying to take your picture every 5 minutes. The Island is a beautiful ship but definitely, an older crowd and I think my young adult kids would of been bored. The shows were O.K., I have definitely seen better on Carnival. We didn't mind too much because this cruise was to see Alaska and the scenery not what the ship had to offer in activities. Our first port was Ketchikan and we booked the Neets Bay Bear Excursion, in hopes to see some bears (I am afraid of flying, so float plane was out). Unfortunately, we did not see any bears, just a few seals & a couple of bald Eagles. The scenery was beautiful but for the price ($199/person) I would not recommend it. If you want to see Bears, you need to take a float plane. We were only in port for about 6 hrs. so we didn't have much time to look around after excursion. Second port was Juneau and we booked Harv & Marv Whale Watching. This was the best excursion we went on, by far. It was worth every penny ($125/person) and I hired Jayleen, $50 (Jay's daughter) to take pictures so I could enjoy the whale watching. We saw so many whales and seals and the pics were incredible. Before we went on the whale watching my DH went on the Mt. Roberts Tram ride, which he said was amazing and a must. After the whale watching, Harv & Marv took us over to Mendenhall Glacier Park and we spent about a half an hour. Wow, it is a sight to see, we were hoping to see Bears there since we had heard they had been several sightings there but no such luck for us. Mendenhall Glacier is a must see along with the waterfall. We returned to downtown Juneau and ate at the Twisted Fish Restaurant, Alaskan King Crab, amazing and highly recommend. Did a little shopping and returned to the ship, tired. Third port was Skagway where we had booked Yukon & White Pass Railway. We road the train the Canada Border and then switched to a bus which took us up to Carcross. It was very rainy and foggy so we saw very little from the train. We were able to convince the driver to take us to Emerald Lake before he dropped us off at Carcross for a BBQ Chicken Lunch. Emerald Lake is a sight to see and no words can explain the beauty of this lake. We rode on the bus from Carcross back to Skagway and made only a couple of stops for pictures. Considering the price of this excursion ($249/person), I would recommend renting a car and traveling up to Carcross yourself. There was too many spots I would of loved to of stopped at for pictures and the bus does not allow this but a couple of times. Downtown Skagway is extremely small so you will want to either book an excursion or rent a car to really see Skagway and the beauty around it. Next 2 days were visiting Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Make sure you have your binoculars, a good camera & water proof clothes. It was raining and foggy the whole time but it was still spectacular. We disembark in Whittier, quickly and painless and booked the Princess Transfer back to Anchorage. I wish I would of planned on spending at least 2 days in Anchorage, it is beautiful. The Anchorage airport is very unorganized and the worst part of the trip (they forgot to order a pilot for our plane and it took about 20 mins. per person to get through security). Overall, this was my best cruise ever. I took over 1200 pictures so that will give you an idea of the scenery you will want to capture. Princess Island was a nice ship, great staff but just O.K. in the food & entertainment department. This ship was a very mellow and quiet ship so if your looking for a party atmosphere this is not the ship for you. We are planning on returning to Alaska in summer of 2009 and can't wait. If your plan on going in September, bring lots of warm and waterfproof clothing. It was raining everyday and very very cold. It was very smooth sailing except for the area between Skagway and Glacier Bay, the ship was a rockin. Alaska is amazing and I don;t think you could ever go there too many times, so much to see and experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
There were a total of six of us traveling--four of us (me, husband, daughter 13, and son 9)in one room, and my parents in another. PrincessAir provided the travel to/from the cruise. We flew in on NWA the day of the cruise (I don't ... Read More
There were a total of six of us traveling--four of us (me, husband, daughter 13, and son 9)in one room, and my parents in another. PrincessAir provided the travel to/from the cruise. We flew in on NWA the day of the cruise (I don't recommend this!) Our first flight was cancelled, so NWA bumped us to First Class (I do recommend this!) We arrived in Anchorage around 3:00 to find one of our suitcases missing due to NWA using someone else's luggage tag on our garment bag (with all our formals, of course!). The Princess agent at the ANC airport was very helpful and explained we'd get the suitcase in Skagway, which we did. The transfer to Whittier was long--the tunnel really slows down the trip. Our busdriver was cheerful and gave good info about the area during the drive. She also drove us through a wildlife preserve along the way to pass the time til we could get through the tunnel. Embarkation was relatively painless--a long line, but moved along fine, and in about 15 minutes we had our stateroom keys and were on board by about 6 p.m.! Our room was a balcony stateroom on Baja, portside. There were four of us. I definitely don't recommend squeezing four into a regular stateroom. When the beds were down, the room felt tight. Kids enjoyed their bunks, though, and I found the beds to be quite comfortable. We each had two pillows and there was no need for the eggcrate toppers. The duvet was heavenly. We used our balcony a lot--especially in the mornings while sipping room service coffee and taking in the scenery. BTW, my husband and I enjoyed the coffee very much--but we did doctor it up with cream and sweetner. We thought the Princess service to be overall fantastic. Our dining staff (Mario and Javier) were personable, friendly, and attentive to our every need. Very professional, yet warm. Passenger Services was great--Ana provided a tux and a dress shirt for my husband and me free of charge when we told her our suitcase with our formals had been delayed. Our cabin steward Mark was efficient and hardworking--and he provided a couple of towel animals for the kids upon request! Overall, we enjoyed the food. Some dishes were just okay (sorry, I really can't think of any off hand), and others were amazing (scallops, tiramisu, crab legs, seafood and sushi buffet, chilled pear soup, chocolate buffet, afternoon tea...) There probably wasn't anything I'd rate 5 star, but I'm very happy with any meal that I don't have to prep, cook, or clean up after! We didn't use the soda cards--and it seemed that some wait staff weren't overly concerned as we weren't always charged for the sodas we did order. We enjoyed the entertainment venues we visited, which included the juggler, the stand-up comedian (very funny), Duncan Tuck (great guitarist!), and the lounge singers in the Wheelhouse bar. A rough idea of our itinerary: July 30--Sailaway. We checked out the kids' centers--staff were friendly and helpful. My kids spent a lot of time in Shockwaves and Remix. They made friends and had a lot of fun. July 31--College Fjord. Got up early (thank goodness for room service coffee!) to enjoy the scenery. Enjoyed the views from our balcony. This was our first formal night--and although Princess loaned us formalwear as our luggage had been delayed, it didn't fit my tall husband. We weren't sure whether we should go to dinner wearing just our smart casual outfits, so we talked to the head waiter who was most accommodating--he invited us into the dining room and told us to enjoy ourselves. Aug. 1--Glacier Bay. Amazing. The day started off cold and blustery (spent some time on the front deck off the Baja hallway--brrr!) but ended up warm and sunny. My son was able to swim in the outdoor pool while icebergs and glaciers surrounded us. We had a table on the Lido deck and enjoyed beers and the seafood buffet while watching the beauty of nature pass us by. We also spent a good deal of time on our balcony. I was able to spot (with my binoculars) two bears on the shoreline this day. Aug. 2--Skagway. We did the Sled Dog/Musher's camp in the morning. Toby was our driver/guide--he was delightful. We enjoyed the quick but thrilling ride on the dog "sled", and the puppies were adorable! Best of all, we were able to get up close (okay, about 100 feet away) with a grizzly bear cub. And another black bear crossed our path on the bus. Later that day we took the Evening Wildlife Expedition, where we saw bald eagles and went on a nature hike in a lovely state park. We also had time to do some shopping and wandering around this interesting little town. Aug. 3--Juneau. We did the Mendenhall Glacier/Salmon Hatchery/Salmon Bake tour. Mendenhall is not to be missed. The salmon hatchery was interesting, but some might be disturbed by the sight of near-dead salmon being clubbed. And then to follow that up with a salmon bake is a bit disconcerting! This was our second formal night--had some wonderful pictures taken. All those expensive photos really shot up our cruise charge! Aug. 4--Ketchikan. We enjoyed the Lumberjack show--got tickets ourselves instead of through Princess (we used Princess for all other excursions.) Ketchikan was my favorite town--quaint, great shopping--just seems like a fun place. Aug. 5--At sea. Overall, the sailing was very smooth--but we felt a little bit of choppiness after we left Ketchikan. I was looking forward to this last day of nothing--but really, there's so much to do onboard that I sometimes felt it hard to relax. Aug. 6--Disembarkation. No big deal--we had booked a tour of Vancouver for the morning, so we were off the ship by 8:45 after our last breakfast in the dining room. The bus tour was informative--I'd like to go back to Vancouver to really explore the city. The tour ended at the airport, where we boarded our plane around 3:30. Overall, Princess impressed me with their service and attention to detail. Most Princess employees seemed to enjoy their jobs and more importantly, seemed to enjoy doing their job well. Alaska is a beautiful, wild and remote state. The cruise was a great way to see these towns that are otherwise not connected (by road, anyway) to the rest of the state. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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