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191 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

Background Information: I was travelling with my husband and his parents. My husband and I have been on 5 cruises in the last 5 years - RCCL (1), Carnival (1), and Princess (3). Inlaws were with us on our last Princess and one other ... Read More
Background Information: I was travelling with my husband and his parents. My husband and I have been on 5 cruises in the last 5 years - RCCL (1), Carnival (1), and Princess (3). Inlaws were with us on our last Princess and one other previous Celebrity cruise. DH and I are in our late 30's, inlaws are in their late 60's. Ship Info: At first we really liked the smallness of IP. We had been on Golden and Grand Princess prior. As the days went on there were several things we did not like about this ship. We wished that there had been laundry aft/bow on alternating floors. it was really quite a walk from the very front of the ship to the very back of the ship with 4 people's laundry. Activities: We spent most of our time in the spa or pools! I don't recall every going on a tour of the spa area on the first day - so that was a new experience for me. We purchased a couples (for me and mil) pass for the thermal suite which was AMAZING. I snuck my hubby in one night to figure out how to make me a heated ceramic recliner!! We also thoroughly enjoyed working out with David and had a great experience with him. I hope the products we bought from him weren't a scam :) I really really enjoyed the pools and jacuzzis. we liked to go up when nobody else was around - and we could always find somewhere that a billion other people weren't there. Service: This is one area where this cruise really lacked compared to cruises in the past for us. The passenger services desk was horrible. They could never help you. Our safe somehow stopped excepting our code part way through the trip - and I had to call 2 times to get someone to finally come. I called to report it. And they said that someone would come. So we waited (changed our dinner plans). waited and waited. 45 minutes later I called again. THey said - oh are you in the cabin now? I said - yes - I am waiting. They finally came 30 minutes later. Meanwhile my husband is convinced everything was stolen out of our safe :) This is petty - but when I would call the services desk - I would sometimes give my inlaws cabin number when they would ask...what is your cabin number. So I would say; E202 (their number) and the dude would say - you mean E204. WELL IF YOU KNOW WHAT CABIN I AM IN WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME? Our other service issue: My hubby made a purchase at a ship recommended store and part of the purchase was left out of the box. so we went to the shopping desk - during their hours (after I was told I couldn't leave him a voicemail?) we waited 30 minutes. I went to the desk (right next to his desk) and said - do you know when he is expected? His hours were to start at 7:30 (it is now 8). The girl - who had already verified his hours with me....verified them again. she said well he is supposed to be here. so she tried calling him and paging him. We waited some more...nothing. Finally she said she would get him a message to call me. We waited a day - nothing. So I went again - and happened to get the same girl. I said that we had never heard from him, she said "like i told you he is sick" I said you never told me that....you said you were trying to reach him and that you would have him call me. I am sorry the man was sick - but I am sure there was a way that he could have let someone know before his set hours that he wouldn't be there. The issue is supposed to be resolved with our purchase - though it hasn't been as of yet. Shore Excursions: we only had one organized excursion and i was in Jamaica. DH and I had been to Jamaica a few times before - and had no desire to be there again. INlaws had never been so they booked a "best of" type tour for all of us. We very much enjoyed it! Cartegena: We actually enjoyed this port - and wished we had done some type of tour/excursion after watching them on the tv. We basically bought coffee and chocolate here :) Costa rica: We did not feel safe here. Again - had we participated in an excursion I am sure it would have been better... alas. We did buy some coffee here. But we went to the market recommended by the ship - and did not see a single other passenger....so we left. Aruba: I wish we had been here longer and not on a Sunday :) That is all. Panama Canal: We really enjoyed this whole experience. We did not have an excursion booked..so we stayed on the ship and went through the locks a second time. We ended up being in the dining room while we were lowered into a lock - and that was quite eerie! Cristobal: Thoroughly enjoyed this!! We bought lots of goodies here! Stateroom: Category C Oceanview. We typically have inside cabins (other than one time with a balcony). The window was a nice treat. My only complaint in the rooms - is the damn shower :) YOu had to stand cattywompous to not bang yourself on the handicapped bar. and the shower curtain is VERY friendly :) Once my hubby figured out how to get the water hot - it was must more enjoyable!. The bed was not the best. We had a really bad night the first night - so i requested an eggcrate. it got a bit better. Dining: This was another one of our unhappy areas. We had selected anytime dining. The first night our cards were checked to see if we were in the right place. The second night I believe they were too. After that they weren't checked. I did read another review of our exact cruise - and they mentioned not have sanitizer available in the dinging rooms. We had an entirely different experience Joanna (whom we actually called sanitizer girl) was there everytime we went in the dining room and squirted us...the same was true up in the buffet. Anyway - for some reason I never got the info that we should request the same dinging service crews - I wish we had. We had great service and HORRIBLE service. Unfortunately we had more of the latter. We basically dined at the same time every night...some nights we had no trouble getting in. Others we were asked to go upstairs to the fixed dining room. THe first time this happened - we were like - whatever - should be the same. WELL IT was awful. By the time we would be seated upstairs in whichever section - the other tables would be well into their courses. So we would sit and sit and sit. Waiting 20+minutes even for WAter! We happened to be up there for lobster night - and it was awful. The tables all around us were well into their courses and we were ordering. My husband politely asked for 2 lobster tails. You would think he had asked for the waiter to give birth to the entire state of TEXAS. Maybe we have just been lucky- but nobody has ever batted an eye if we asked for seconds of anything - especially LOBSTER! On our first cruise (RCCL) our waiter brought both of us 2 lobster tails and even had 2 more ready for my hubby - as we had told him it was his favorite. We are used to 2+ pounds lobsters from Maine....not a tiny tail. ANYWAY. My other issue - was in all of our past cruises every meal - we have had a hard time picking just one thing to order - it seemed on this cruise - we had a hard time picking one thing that we wanted to order. ODD. We did eat in Bayou one night - we enjoyed it. it was worth the extra fee. The sausage was YUMMY, filets were good, I remember not liking the corn muffins. Pickled turnip was interesting! We didn't like the alligator either. The buffet got really old. It really seemed to be the same stuff day in and out. We enjoyed the pizza, and hot dog/hamburger bars. FIL and DH used the ice cream bar at least once...i took advantage of the ice cream on the buffet a few too many times! we really enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Entertainment: We didn't go to any of the shows :) We didn't use the Casino (our wallets thank us - Princess I am sure wishes that I had given into my addiction to Black Jack!) We did watch a lot of the movies in our cabins that played back to back all day long :) Disembarkation: This was a big part of our bad experience on this cruise. MIL purchased 4 ship transfers in which she stated our flight departed at 11:15 AM. We received 2 tickets and they received two tickets...our cabins were right next to each other. The night before we were to disembark - inlaws got the right tags - Red 3...and we got the wrong tags - Gold 5 or something. Allowing us to be off the ship between 10 and noon - well that won't work. We look at the breakdown on the sheet and it shows that Red 3 is for people with flights departing after 11 am...and before some other time. Gold 5 was for the entire Emerald deck with no special flight constraints. We call down and the Passenger Services deck (yet again) proved to be less than helpful and not knowledgeable. We finally went down in person with our transfer tickets....and flight info - and the service person said that it couldn't be changed. MIL said we could just use her tags (red 3) and we winged it. Thankfully it worked. But it might not have - and we got lucky! The transfer we paid for was a RIP OFF. We had to be smushed into a big bus with a million people for $15/person and then were dropped off at an inconvenient location where we (my fil has congestive heart failure) had to walk forever with our luggage to get to Jetblue. RIPOFF. And to think we were disappointed that we didn't get a transfer to the ship! Overall we enjoyed the itinerary. We will not be doing another Princess cruise before we go back to another line. I hope we can do Royal again. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
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
Our family went on the December 20-27, 2006 Mexican Riviera cruise on the Island Princess. We had been impressed with our Sun Princess cruise (Alaska - 2006) and had high expectations for this cruise, but were somewhat disappointed with ... Read More
Our family went on the December 20-27, 2006 Mexican Riviera cruise on the Island Princess. We had been impressed with our Sun Princess cruise (Alaska - 2006) and had high expectations for this cruise, but were somewhat disappointed with the experience overall. Having said this, there were some great times we will always remember. Here are some details, good and bad: We drove from San Diego and parked our minivan in long term parking at the San Pedro port facility. No problems. Our embarkation went very smoothly and we were very pleased with our rooms, 2 adjoining balcony rooms with doors connecting the rooms (A708 and A710). Very convenient for families with older children. Two twin beds in one room, 1 queen in the other room. The beds were comfortable, but let me tell you the pillows were either (a) as flat as pita bread or (b) they were, like, totally half-empty, like they had lost most of their stuffing. Either or both combined will cause neck cramps the next day - trust me. We requested some pillow assistance and got this orthopedic u-shaped pillow that felt like two stale jellyroll cakes with a valley in between. When you're on a relaxation cruise, a small detail like this can make a difference. My mother-in-law requested down pillows and got them. Memo to me! Okay, next. The bathroom was pretty small, but the shower was dreadful due to a 8 or 9 inch metal handrail on the right-hand side of the shower stall that hits you in the side if you take your shower, as I do, facing away from the shower head. Water pressure was fine, though. If you'll be taking more than one shower a day, say, before your shore excursion and then again before dinner, ask your room steward at the beginning of the trip for 4 towels per person, each day. After checking into our room, we went to the Horizon Buffet for lunch. The Turkey and Gravy were quite good. My son had Chicken Adobo and Pasta Bolognese, which he liked. The beef on the Beef Kabobs was so tough it was impossible to cut with the butter knife. The salad bar was comprehensive and will please the health conscious. But overall, the food was fair, cafeteria-style, like Las Vegas buffet fare, but more like Circus Circus than the Bellagio. Some of the selections were downright gross (like hardboiled eggs, cut in half, placed down on a pan and covered with Thousand Island dressing). Most were ordinary (French Fries, Fried Shrimp, Beef Goulash). Some were pretty good (Seafood Skewers, Pasta with Sausage Sauce, Chicken Kiev). Breakfast foods were the usual: different sausages, ham, pancakes, oatmeal, cereal, an omelette bar, fruit. The fresh breads and rolls were consistently delicious. You could make a fine lunch with the bread, cheeses, salami, and fruit. Desserts? Mostly of the Cool-Whip Mousse or Jello variety. Don't even try the mealy brownie. My daughter enjoyed the chocolate chip cookies, however. Peanut Butter cookies not bad, either. We chose the Anytime Dining option. On the first night, we were slow to be seated, and the food was slow to arrive, maybe because it was the first night and there was some chaos. Food was okay, but my son was served the smallest shrunken chicken breast in the universe, 3 bites tops to eat it! Can't remember what I was served (how unmemorable!), except that the apple strudel I had for dessert was gluey. Refills of iced tea were hard to come by, and here again is a little detail that you shouldn't have to worry about on a Princess cruise. Now, if the Dining Room or the Horizon Buffet prove for you to be less than enticing, we highly recommend Sabatini's Restaurant, which offers a long, multi-course Italian dinner with fantastic, friendly service and lots of interesting culinary specimens. There is a cost per person of $20.00. Air-cured beef, spaghetti with seafood, caviar, lobster, rosemary chicken, lots of exotic stuff, served course by course over a long period of time. Probably not for young kids. Coffee was about what you'd get at your basic gas station, so please order tea with your dessert! Even better than Sabatini's was The Bayou Grille. This restaurant charges $15.00 per person, and an extra $5.00 if you order the lobster tail. My wonderful father-in-law said this was the best meal he'd had on this cruise (we dined here our last night), and everyone at the table, young and older alike, enjoyed this spicy, tasty dinner. The Gumbo had quite a bite and was filled with seafood and fresh okra. The filet mignon was outstanding with a capital O; the Jambalaya was thoroughly enjoyed by my somewhat finicky 14 year old daughter. She also loved her steak as well as the sauce it was served with. My son and husband gave the grade of A+ to their lobster tail dinner. Of the desserts, the chocolate one got the highest rating. Our server Carolina, from Poland, was delightful. Funny, helpful, patient, perfect! Here the coffee served with dessert was just right! We saw the ship's captain dining here with his crew a good sign! A great place for families, or for honeymooners. Don't miss this experience. The youth activities on this ship were not as good as those on the Sun Princess (Alaska, 2006). For one, there is no arcade on this ship, which really disappointed my 11 year old son. Second, there were few outdoor activities for the 11-13 group, such as basketball, mini-golf, etc. On the Sun Princess, there were organized, outdoor group activities supervised by the ship's youth activity staff. But on this ship it was indoor stuff, like T-Shirt Graffiti, Foosball Play, Night at the Movies, Casino Night, and Talent Show. The Ping-Pong Tourney was outside, but that's it. What helped my son and his overly-anxious mother was the use of walkie-talkies we purchased before the trip (Motorola Talkabouts, about $40.00). The walkie-talkies allowed my son to go with some buddies to the pool or to the basketball court and let me know when he was leaving to return to the youth center. The walkie-talkies worked about 85% of the time, and if you like to be able to check up on your kids while you are at dinner, or relaxing in your stateroom, I HIGHLY recommend getting a set of walkie-talkies before you leave. I believe the ship rents them out as well, so you may want to look at the ones the ship provides. I got the feeling the teen center activities weren't that fabulous, since many times I saw teenagers sitting on the stairs near our stateroom listening to their Ipods, or just vegging around in different parts of the ship. My daughter, however, disagrees with me. She enjoyed Casino Night, hanging out with other teens and the staff in the teen center. Being a teenager, she will not give me more information than that. When we got to our first stop, Cabo San Lucas, we signed up for the Cabo San Lucas Coastal Cruise. This was supposed to be a catamaran ride up the coast of Cabo, checking out the mansions and the beautiful scenery. I don't know about you, but when I think of a catamaran ride, I think of that cool, careening, ocean going vessel with a sail, close to the water, ocean spray splashing in your face and at your feet. The ocean going vessel we ended up going on was twin-hulled all right, but it was more like a giant 100 foot party boat on gargantuan hulls. If you wanted to be out in the fresh ocean air, you had to sit on top of the boats front in 70's style modular furniture, or wherever you could find a place on the ground to park your butt. Inside the boat, it was dark, big, empty, loud. The experience was boring to the max the entire time. Many others who went on this cruise expressed their disappointment that this was not the type of catamaran they had expected, either. We knew this by their comments and the fact that most of us wore bathing suits, expecting to make some type of contact with ocean water. We never did. Not only that, but the brochure said, Refreshments provided. We took that to mean a Coke or bottled water. But what that really meant was generously flowing pitchers of margaritas, or beer on tap, name your poison. Drinking was absolutely the main idea of this shore excursion, and had the brochure indicated that, non-drinkers with kids such as my husband and myself would have chosen something a little bit different. If you should dare to complain about a misrepresented shore excursion such as this one, you can expect to meet with an impatient, suspicious shore excursion desk manager. Buyer beware. Our next stop was Mazatlan. We signed up for the Shopping, Beach, Lunch, & Show excursion. We recommend this excursion to adventurous families. First, we took a hair-raising ride (we like hair-raising rides, we gave our driver a big tip!) in an open dune buggy-type taxi to see the Mexican Dancer and Pampantla Flyer Show. Very touristy, but fun for the kids. Refreshments provided, but not free-flowing. Then we walked to the resort, shopping for souvenirs along the way. Good deals on silver jewelry and t-shirts. Make sure you do a little negotiating. The resort (Playa Mazatlan, or something like that) was very nice. There are big umbrellas and plastic tables/chairs in the sand, perfect for friends and family to sit around, while running down to the gorgeous and perfect ocean for a little dip in the waves. Bring your camera to take paradise pictures at this resort. But be careful to put your camera away in its case, for if sand gets into your camera it will be a nightmare. We had a wonderful catered feast at this resort. Tortilla chips, guacamole, veggies, hot frijoles (beans), Mexican rice, pineapple tamales, barbequed chicken (my son's favorite), chicken enchiladas suizas (watch out for bones). We were so full after eating the lunch, we had no room for dessert (flan, rice pudding). Here you could get alcoholic drinks, sodas, or bottled water. You could swim in the ocean or in the resort's lovely pool (water kinda cold). It was the best kind of afternoon, great food, great photos, family memories big time. Our final destination was Puerto Vallarta. BOOK IN ADVANCE the Royal Dolphin Swim shore excursion for your whole family! We, of course, did not book in advance, but lucked out when the ship added one more of these excursions onto its schedule. If we had missed this, it would have been a huge loss! This excursion is very expensive, but worth every penny! Wear a one piece swimsuit, girls. Trust me. And guys, wear a suit that will not fall to your knees if you dive in the water. Actually, you will not do any diving, but you will be propelled out of the pool through the air by the combined strength of 2 powerful adult bottlenose dolphins! I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that you will never (in the U.S.) have the opportunity to spend so much Q-time in the water with healthy, friendly, fun, and well-trained dolphins. After your extremely mind-blowing visit with the dolphins, you can either tube down the park's undulating water slides, go see dolphin and/or sea lion shows, or lounge around at plastic tables watching the kids have fun. Lunch is provided and includes a strangely-textured hot dog, adequate burger, or pizza (big question mark). Fries were good, a little on the crunchy side. Condiments come in plastic packets. As long as you're going to spend upwards of $170.00 per person on this shore excursion, you might as well spend a hundred bucks more and buy some photos and the DVD ($50.00) the park will make of your experience. It's a very professional and individualized video account of the excitement, and you will have a great time showing it to your friends and family back home. The photos taken by the staff are also outstanding but expensive ($12.00 or $15.00 each). You only live once. Do it! Well, my seafaring, former deckhand husband and my beautiful and well-traveled mother-in-law both warned that as soon as we left Puerto Vallarta, the trip home would be bumpy, and they were right. The winds picked up, the ship rolled, the stabilizers had some work to do, but we survived without getting seasick. My mother-in-law takes ginger pills which you can buy in the ship's gift shop. The seas never got bumpier than Moderate and the wind never more energetic than 30 knots. Still, you may want to pack your ginger or motion sickness medicine in advance. Also, we were on Deck 12, Aloha deck, and we were told that the higher up you go in the ship, the more you feel the motion. We were on our way home. We didn't really go to the shows, since we had seen Tribute and Piano Man on our Alaska cruise. Both were pretty good. We didn't much like Scotty McLean (Scotland's Top Comic Magician), because his show wasn't that funny and consisted of merely 3 extended and elementary magic tricks. A few people got up and left during his show, and when the emcee asked the audience, at the end of the show, Did you like the show? a few people shouted, No! Sorry, laddie. Not so funny. The casino was a big dud, according to my father-in-law, a true casino connoisseur who couldn't catch a break on this cruise. My husband hit an early run of bad luck at the Blackjack Tournament, but then the tourney was cancelled due to lack of participation and he was given his $20.00 entry fee back! How lucky is that! Me quite a winning streak on the video blackjack machine. High roller that I am, I started out with $20.00, went up to $36.50 with a few straights and a four of a kind, and then unsurprisingly went down to $0.00, at which time I went to see if the Internet service was up and running (see next paragraph). One enormous problem we had throughout the cruise was that there was NO Internet access! People would sit there at a terminal, paying .50 per minute, and have to wait the most outrageously long time, only to be informed there was no Internet connection! Why was this? Something about a satellite problem. If you're planning on doing any communication with the outside world, don't take this particular cruise. No online banking, no email, no checking your Ebay bids, no surfing for the day's news, nada! And for a time, no phone calls (normally $4.95 per minute) could be made from the ship, either, due to the satellite problem. The Internet Cafe is not exactly in the most convenient spot on the ship, so if you want to check to see if the system is up throughout the day or evening, get ready to do a lot of walking. Really, this is a major weak point. I'm sure there are some passengers who lost business deals, and others like me whose families were worried about not being able to hear from loved ones. We were totally cut off from the rest of the world for days. This isolation may be a perk for some people, but it was an extreme inconvenience for us. So, it was the last night of the cruise. A little bumpy, but not too bad. We left the door of our balcony open and a giant rain squall woke my husband in the middle of the night, rain flying vertically into our room. Once we shut the door, we were fine. Arriving in Los Angeles early in the morning was lovely, the lights of the port twinkling, a mysterious film noir vibe as the ship came to a stop. Disembarkation was completely disorganized and chaotic, with huge lines of people waiting to clear Immigration and go through a long rigamarole to get off the ship. Make sure your family eats breakfast before starting the disembarkation process, make sure you have a hot cup of coffee before you get onto the winding line. Still, everyone at this point seemed in good spirits. A few crabby people, but not that many. We were once again on terra firma, glad to be (almost) home. The Island Princess was to leave that same day for Hawaii, with many of its passengers remaining on the ship for this new destination. One final note: When you are outside, pulling your luggage over to the curb to wait for your taxi or limo, watch out for dog poop. My son stepped in some, and other people were rolling their luggage through it, criss-crossing the pavement with it and leaving little blobs of dog poop everywhere. Just letting you know. Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
My husband and I travel a lot using Princess cruises for our destinations. We are in our 40s. This was our 8th cruise-5th on the Princess. Travel to Port of Embarkation: Make sure you do the longest part of your travel in the ... Read More
My husband and I travel a lot using Princess cruises for our destinations. We are in our 40s. This was our 8th cruise-5th on the Princess. Travel to Port of Embarkation: Make sure you do the longest part of your travel in the beginning--not the end. You'll handle it better. Embarkation: They do the best they can under the circumstances. If you go into this not expecting perfection you'll be fine. I have no complaints here. 1. Disembarkation: Best advice! When your cruise gets closer to the end you'll get a note about how the airlines are now offering an Onboard Airline Check-In service for $15 per person. It is the best $30 you will ever spend especially if you have cruised before and experienced the long waits to hear your color called for you to begin the check-out process. You have your baggage out before midnight and you do not see it again until you are at your home base airport. It was great. 2. Land tours. 4 days on land before cruise. This is a warning! First, find ways to bring snacks to save money. The food at the Denali Lodge was expensive and not all that great for the expense. Also, the train ride to Whittier was a 9 long hours and we happened to be very lucky to have sun the entire time. BUT, we were in a dome car. You've got to make sure you have water, sunscreen and a cap. I was sunburned and my husband ended up with heat stroke by the time we reached our suite on the cruise. City of Gold and Riverboat tours in Fairbanks very relaxing and informative. In Denali we were on the bus trip to the national park. It was absolutely fantastic, yes a bus trip and I was scared about that, but it was very nice, plenty of room and our driver was great. Even the box lunch was good. Denali also had a theatre/dinner and that was fun, ok--just don't expect a lot and you'll be fine to just be able to relax. 3. Cruising only days of College Fjord and Glacier Bay. Make sure you have an extra memory card for the camera. Absolutely beautiful. This is where spending xtra for the patio deck is definitely worth it. 4. Skagway. I'm sitting here trying to remember what we did. We cancelled the famous train ride after being on a train for 9 hours I didn't care to hop on another train, even though it was just 3 hours long. We walked about the city--that was it. 5. Juneau, Do all your shopping here. Juneau will be the best place to buy totem poles and everything else is priced fairly as well. We regret that we didn't buy the 4 foot tall totem pole we saw for $1700. Best fudge store, great restaurants and bars. They want you there and you feel welcomed. 6. Ketchikan. The Promech Air seaplane tour was the only good part about this port. The Promech Air staff were helpful and very nice! Our pilot Ryan was GREAT, cute and we should have brought our 23 year old single daughter to meet him, haha. BUT, everything else about this town was a complete waste of time. The other townspeople and sales clerks were RUDE. Same totem pole we saw in Juneau was now selling for $3750! T-shirts, sweatshirts all way over priced. We should have just gone back to the ship after the seaplane tour. 7. Best prices for Diamonds in Alaska? Are you kidding me? Don't do it! Now about the Island Princess Ship. The appearance of the ship always looks beautiful and the restrooms are kept very clean. When I see the staff in the restrooms cleaning up, I take a minute and thank them for their efforts. I used the Lotus Spa for the first time--2 visits. My Advice is don't prebook anything. They offer daily spa specials for a third of the price. I had the facial and mini massage and the aromatherapy massage. Definitely worth it. Service: Ever since the cruise changed how we pay tips to our room steward and wait staff the attitude and service has plummeted. BUT, room service is still the greatest part of the ship. NOTE: Anything on the dining list can be brought to your room. They're quick, everything is made fresh, we've started tipping them extra CASH for their pockets just because they offer such great service that is disappearing everywhere else. The beds were awful. But our last night all of a sudden I had a comfortable bed. They clearly flipped over the mattress--maybe this was just timing of flipping the mattress. Anytime dining is continuing to receive less and less quality service. You don't get the baked alaska on the last night. Sure I understand the preparation timing of things, but next cruise we'll be back on assigned dining. A few things about travelers. You're still not washing your hands when you come out of the bathroom stall! I can't believe this, it takes 30 seconds to wash your hands and prevent the rest of us from being exposed to your dirty habits. Another reason to stay away from the buffets! I don't mean to be disrespectful to our older community BUT I can't tell you how many times I saw older citizens moving slowly, getting crabby if they felt they were being pressured to move faster BUT as soon as there was a food line for them to be in, or a FREE something being given away, ALL OF a SUDDEN--they became fast moving teenagers!?!? Entertainment: I'd like to know what happened to the good entertainment we use to see about 5 years ago? Overall, Alaska is a must see. Do the cruise only. I would pass on the land tour just wasn't worth the time and money spent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
HISTORY: We are in our late 40's. We have cruised with Princess twice before; once to the Western Caribbean (10/03) on the Grand Princess which we rated as "very good". The second time to the Mexican Riviera (10/04) on the ... Read More
HISTORY: We are in our late 40's. We have cruised with Princess twice before; once to the Western Caribbean (10/03) on the Grand Princess which we rated as "very good". The second time to the Mexican Riviera (10/04) on the Diamond Princess which we rated as "above average". We had a terrible time disembarking and missed our flight home. Princess would not help cover any of our additional costs and blamed the travel agency, but we and others felt it was clearly a Princess error. TRIP: We wanted a different ship for the cruise to Alaska, but we found that the "ISLAND PRINCESS" had the north bound trip with recommended ports we wanted and most important to us had the "anytime" dining that we most enjoyed. So we booked the "Island Princess" out of Vancouver BC (5/29/06) to Whittier Alaska (6/5/06) for a 7 day cruise with an extra day (pre-cruise 5/28/06) in Vancouver @ the Fairmont hotel and (post cruise 6/6/06) Captain Cook hotel in Anchorage Alaska. SHIP: The ship is in excellent condition, clean, well maintained and just a beautiful ship. The Universe lounge is poorly designed and many of the seats have no visibility to the stage and the upper deck with railing and glass make it impossible to see a show. The ship was caterer to senior citizens age 65 and above. The ship interior temperatures were on the warm side. WEATHER: The inside passage is very calm 0-1ft seas and ocean waters were also calm 1-4 ft seas. The outside day temperatures on the ship were approx. 54-60 degrees with evenings just below 50 degrees with very little wind. Day time port excursions temperatures were approx. 65 degrees and mostly sunny except Ketchikan that was 57 degrees with light rain. Glacier Bay had fog and a colder temperature of 50 degrees. College Fjord was just beautiful, sunny and very warm. Anchorage was almost 70 degrees. EMBARKING: The Ship is located directly in front of the Fairmont Hotel. We arrive early (12:00) and we were in our room within 30 minutes. WOW, the best ever! Fairmont took care of suitcases which arrived in our room approx. 7pm. CABIN: We booked a mini-suite which has a larger bathroom, sitting area and deck. The room B209 is up at the front of the ship but due to calm waters was an extreme blessing that we upgraded. We would never recommend anything else but a balcony. I got an intestinal virus and spent time in the medical center and then restricted to my cabin for the next few days sick. So the extra large room and larger bath was well worth the cost. DINING: We prefer the "ANYTIME" dining which allows us to enjoy the day with out rushing to meet a specific dining time. If you know a time, reservation can be made and you will not wait more than a few minutes. Without reservation, you may have a 5-15 minute wait at the most. FOOD: The food was fair at best! Soups were cold and looked liked water and had no taste. Containers of orange juice were almost always empty and hard to use. Drink selection was minimal. Much of the food was not temperature controlled. Selections were limited, many items had no taste. The buffet seemed to have the same items 24 hours a day. We decided to try Sabintis Restaurant, they bring a little of every thing they make a piece at a time. Dinner took approx. 2-1/2 hours and was very boring. Food was OK but not worth the extra $40 charge. ENTERTAINMENT: Never been so bored in my life! This was just terrible. All we could hear was music from the 40's. The activities were extremely poor -martini demo, shopping show, movie, tea and art auctions? BINGO was poor; the announcer had little personality and did NOT bring life to the game with jokes, comments and props, etc. The ship usually make a person do the "chicken dance" when they make a mistake and call bingo and do not have it. The announcer asked the DJ to play the chicken dance and he did not have it? WHAT? YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING! Princess theater main Broadway show "PIANO MAN" was already seen on the other princess ship two years ago. Why cruise again if nothing is going to change. Where's THE HORSE RACING! This was a fun time on other cruises. No gamers or fun activities anywhere to be found. The cruise director was hardly ever seen on ship and the TV morning show was an insult!!! So disappointing-spent so much time in room watching TV. SERVICE: The staff works extremely hard. Our rooms are cleaned and always properly prepared. A bartender got a little snippy when we asked for a coffee. PORTS: "KETCHICAN" The totem pole and lumberjack show tour was OK. We had to be back on ship by 1:30pm and had to leave before the lumberjack show ended so we did not miss the ship. There was no time to shop, and this was not planned well by Princess. "JUNEAU" The "Best of Juneau" tour was excellent which included a sightseeing bus Tour, Whale watching and wild life trip, then a glacier and a Salmon Bake. The best Salmon on the trip. "SKAGWAY" My girlfriend went horseback riding while I was confined to my cabin due to illness. "GLACIER BAY" TV station provided to allow people stay in their rooms and use their private balconies. The ship goes up and down the bay and spends 1 hour turning the ship 360 degrees around allowing all side of the ship see the glaciers. This was very nice. "COLLEGE FJORD" This is just beautiful; it was sunny and brought out the colors of the glaciers, lots of seals, birds, etc. DISEMBARKATION: The ship arrived in Whittier @ midnight so they had time to prepare. We were scheduled to leave at 6:15am and we were off the ship and in the scenic train en route to Anchorage by 7am. This was excellent! The train rocked a lot and if you're overweight, you may not fit in these seats. The trip took 2 hours and we saw moose, mountain goats, eagles, etc. Then we transferred to a bus to move to a hospitality location in town. Our luggage was transferred later to the hotel and check in is after 3:15pm. We had the day 9am to 3pm to sightsee prior to checking in. This was frustrating but Princess did their best to accommodate everyone. SUMMARY: We will not likely cruise with Princess again and try some other ships with more fun type activities and better food. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
My new wife and I, who decided to take this cruise together, and get married on board the ship, wanted to write a small review about our experience. ... Island Princess... (No princess treatment, a few missed promisees) . Day 1... Port ... Read More
My new wife and I, who decided to take this cruise together, and get married on board the ship, wanted to write a small review about our experience. ... Island Princess... (No princess treatment, a few missed promisees) . Day 1... Port of LA, Non English speaking citizen? working for port security, decided to cram and stuff, wife's 2000.00 wedding dress thru the x-ray machine. (which it was in a clear plastic bag, he could have looked in it, or had her carry it thru . (1st missed promise..) Someone from the ship.. from Weddings at Sea. from Princess was to meet us at dock take dress on ahead of time, safely, so we didn't have to wait an hour , and then get it almost torn up, by security. ... Day 2 the wedding.... had to reschedule based on the captain was too busy.... (also we did pay 1800.00 extra on top of 5k cabin to have this wedding at sea) so all friends we emailed time and web cam site to now were going to log on 1 hr early and think they missed it. .. Then those that did log on couldn't see anything because the camera was way too dark, and it looked nothing like promised. .. later after the ceremony, at the reception, we had our cake and champagne toast, we were given Waterford lead crystal stemware from my wife's sep sisters, as a gift which we brought on board. We used these for our toast , then the server picked them up, to clear them we thought, when we asked for them back, they rudely said, "no you did not pay for those," I had tried to tell them 3 times we brought those with, and they would not hand them back. I had to get all upset and argue with them till they finally called their superior to verify, but nothing like calling your customer a liar to their face, then when they saw they were wrong, they just came over and rudely handed them to my wife with no apology at all.... Days 3-14 went smooth, except for the slowness of getting off the ship at each port. They should give a lesson in how to line up properly when they do the safety drill the first day, I guess once you pass the age of 65 you forget what a line is, and how to be polite. The best service came from the bar staff, since we were among the 15 people under 65 on the ship, that stayed up past 10:00 they all got to know us well. The food was great ,,,, I would wish though they would look to make this a 20 day cruise that way you could spend 1.5 days or 2 days in each port and really enjoy it.... it goes by too fast , one excursion, a little shopping and time to leave. One lesson we did learn is that there are a lot of better deals to be found if you get off the ship and then look around to do a tour or excursion, the prices are way better. The best example was on Hilo , we planned nothing thru the ship, they offered a vehicle with driver for the day for 450.00 !!!!!!!! Now hilo you can't get lost if you tried, it is too small, so we walked up to a rental agent after we got off the ship, and rented a 4 pass suv, for 75.00 for the day, and spent 6.75 in gas driving around all day, o and a free map too.... So keep this in mind and save some $$$$$ ... Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
We looked forward to this cruise for a year. We booked mini-suites, starboard side, and having sailed on Princess many times, and the Island's twin sister, the Coral, the year before, we expected a wonderful cruise. Unfortunately, we ... Read More
We looked forward to this cruise for a year. We booked mini-suites, starboard side, and having sailed on Princess many times, and the Island's twin sister, the Coral, the year before, we expected a wonderful cruise. Unfortunately, we did not have a very good time. First, let me say, the ship is beautiful, the crew is pleasant, helpful, and eager to please. We found the food excellent; as close to gourmet as you can expect when they are serving thousands from one kitchen. And the waiters were terrific...attentive and courteous. Our unhappiness was the fact that Princess Cruises knew something we didn't know: YOU DON'T SAIL THE PACIFIC...AND YOU DON'T VISIT HAWAII DURING THE WINTER MONTHS !!! My point is this: Princess is aware that rough seas are NORMAL on this itinerary. They are aware that Hawaii during the winter months is chilly, windy, and frequently, overcast. Hawaiians told us this weather is not unusual, but normal. However, we had no idea of this, nor did the majority of the passengers on our cruise. It's one thing if the weather turns bad suddenly; that's not the cruise line's fault; but selling an itinerary that they KNOW is going to provide rocky seas and lousy weather, is just uncaring and greedy. Here on the East Coast most people think a cruise sailing out of Los Angeles will be leisurely and sunny and warm. They also assume that Hawaii will be tropical. NOT SO !! On a very positive note, when it comes to quietly elegant, the Island, like the Coral, is hard to beat! The atrium has the only neon, and this is a beautiful use of neon, snaking elegantly up four stories to the multi-light ceiling. There are plenty of quiet corners, and the furniture is the kind you just sink into. Our cabin attendant, Francisca, was terrific...just wonderful. She was so hard working; it seemed she was always in the hallways doing something for someone. And she was constantly smiling and pleasant. We made sure we gave her an EXTRA good tip. If you are a drinker, you will surely come into contact with Cisco. Always smiling, he remembers everyone's name and greets you whenever he sees you... which is often,no matter where you are on the ship. The passenger age, it should be noted, is definitely senior; easily 90%. Any cruise that goes 10 days or longer is usually a senior cruise, and this one was no exception. It didn't bother us, but you should be aware of this is you are under 50. If there was one glaring problem that should be addressed by Princess regarding the ship itself, is the mattress situation. The beds were like stone. I actually brought a 29" suitcase with a queen sized foam topper (with a durafill cover) stuffed inside! And I STILL had to request an egg crate topper in addition. Our friends in the adjoining cabins had laughed when I pulled that foam topper out of the suitcase, but they ended up moaning, because, even though they had egg crate toppers added to their beds, too, they were still miserable. We certainly never had this experience on other Princess ships. Fifteen nights on those beds, rocky seas, unusable balconies due to the cold and wind, had us longing to just get off and go home! So...would we sail to Hawaii again? No thank you. Curiously, once the weather gets better, Princess changes the Island Princess to the Alaska route. I think they know the Hawaii route is not really good, but they have no where else to send her during that time, so out to Hawaii she goes. When I was in the Casino, one of the employees said that during the Christmas cruise, the waves were pounding on the windows. The casino is on the sixth floor! Do yourself a favor: if you want to sail during the winter months, stick to the Caribbean. We've never had a bad Caribbean cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Cruise number 11 -Embarkation was easy, arrived at 3 PM, very few people around. It was very fast. First time with a mini-suite, tub was nice but drain plug never worked and it was never fixed. It is a long 5 days of cruising before you ... Read More
Cruise number 11 -Embarkation was easy, arrived at 3 PM, very few people around. It was very fast. First time with a mini-suite, tub was nice but drain plug never worked and it was never fixed. It is a long 5 days of cruising before you catch up to Hawaii and if the weather is mixed. We had first seating and our dinner companions made the cruise. Gone are the waiters who learn your names and hustle to make things perfect. Also gone are the wine stewards. Food was fine. My wife is a vegetarian and her best choice so far is Celebrity for menu selection. Princess was average. Entertainment was ok. The ship's singers and dancers were very good. The comedians were just ok. Other than the ship's singers and dancers, the rest of the entertainment was not quite as good as we have had before. On our previous 7 day cruise on the Grand Princess, they packed more into 7 days than the Island was able to pull off in 15 days. CD was good, he gives a talk on the history of cruising and I missed it only later to be told by many that it was a very interesting talk. So don't miss it if you have the chance. The ACD (Leah) was not that good. We took one excursion on Maui, it was a snorkeling trip and we enjoyed it. The excursion write up was misleading as it did not mention a 45 minute bus ride before you get on your boat ride. The boat ride and snorkeling however was excellent. Pizza on the ship was awesome, the burgers were good, cooked while you waited. The Ensenada stop is a waste of time to just comply with the Jones ACT. We went there as per the itinerary but once we arrived, we were able to stop. First we were told that we would be stopping later due to RCCL ship already being in port and that would delay us....and then later we were told that we were not able to dock. I really believe Princess had no plans to dock there and was only complying with the need to stop at a foreign port. Time to change that rule please. I am waiting for my compensation for not stopping there...ha! I missed the Captain making the noon hour announcement from the bridge every day.....that has now been delegated to someone else. Expedited disembarkation is the new attempt to get people off the ship quicker. It is very clever as they have found a way to get you to want to carry your own luggage off the ship. As my wife and I only packed one suitcase each (the rule is you must carry your own luggage off)we went for the new expedited embarkation. We were off the ship by 8:00 am and in a cab headed to LAX. It worked for us and probably helped the other passengers get off the ship quicker as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
About Me. This was my 14th cruise, but the first on Princess. I have cruised RCI, Holland America, Costa, Crystal., Celebrity and a freighter. I'm not horribly demanding nor do I expect absolute perfection when trying to deal with ... Read More
About Me. This was my 14th cruise, but the first on Princess. I have cruised RCI, Holland America, Costa, Crystal., Celebrity and a freighter. I'm not horribly demanding nor do I expect absolute perfection when trying to deal with nearly 2000 people. I also don't expect the same standards from a mass market line as I would Crystal anymore than I would expect rock climbing walls on a freighter. But I do expect true value for the price paid and minimal irritants. After all, it is a vacation. About the ship. The Island Princess is a spacious and well designed ship that can accommodate the large number of passengers without feeling crowded. It appeared in good repair and well maintained. The cabin, however, was the smallest balcony cabin I have ever had. The balcony itself had no room for a lounge chair. The shower was extremely small with barely space to turn around. The room itself was well appointed and clean, just small. About the food. Overall, pretty good. The Horizon Court hosts one of the the best ship buffets I've had. A variety of selections, most well prepared. The dining room food was just okay. We were forced into personal choice dining since there was a long wait list for first seating in the main dining room. This is not a true choice when you're forced---is it?. Anyway, we ate at the Bordeaux ( alternative DR) most nights. Many of their entrees were rather uninspiring. Not bad, just not real good. The grill served a good burger, hot dog, chicken sandwich and fries. And the pizza is the best I've had on a cruise ship. Room service offers a reasonable selection, except offers only a cold breakfast . I don't eat cereal or sweet rolls or yogurt for breakfast so I was pretty much limited to coffee and a tough roll if I wanted breakfast on my balcony ( which I do enjoy). I think this is a real disadvantage and can't understand this policy as room service breakfast is a treat for most vacationers. About the service. It was consistently good in all areas except the Bordeaux dining room. Unfortunately there, the service was often painfully slow and more than once, orders were either forgotten or mixed up. Sometimes we sat at the table forever before even getting a menu. Very disorganized..Perhaps serving different people every night does not allow for the smooth, seamless service I'm accustomed to. Along this line, dining with different people every night had it's advantages and disadvantages. We chose to plug into a large table to avoid a wait. Meeting different people nightly was interesting and the time flexibility was convenient but it became somewhat tedious to recite the same personal history every night. In a nutshell, I'm not sure I'm yet a PC fan. About the entertainment Definitely above average for a cruise ship. They offered a variety of performers without repetition. I'm not a huge fan of production shows but these seemed a bit more tolerable than most. In Conclusion -- I could nit pick here and there but that's all it would be. Sure some things could have been done/handled better but overall it was a fine cruise and worth the value paid. Princess is not my favorite line but I wouldn't hesitate to cruise with them again if the itinerary and price were right. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
This was our first cruise with Princess line but we were very disappointed with the experience. Starting out we were left at the L.A. airport for 3 hours waiting for the Princess bus to pick us up to be transported to the pier. We stood ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess line but we were very disappointed with the experience. Starting out we were left at the L.A. airport for 3 hours waiting for the Princess bus to pick us up to be transported to the pier. We stood outside on the curb waiting while Carnival and Royal Caribbean buses drove by with their passengers. The Princess rep did not seem to know what the problem was and when the bus finally arrived she seemed to be trying to pick and choose who (among the large crowd) was to have a seat. Very unprofessional. Long line at the pier which was hard on the large group of older folks that made up the majority of passengers. Which brings me to another point, in the Princess Theater someone should have be helping these elderly down the considerably long aisle to a seat at the nightly entertainment. The wait staff did en excellent job in the Horizon buffet during breakfast and lunch in helping by carrying trays for elderly ones. Which brings me to the coffee - horrible! 3 out of the 4 in our group were coffee drinkers and we all agreed that it was almost undrinkable! It was a bit better in the dining room but it was not hot when served. We did like the convenience of having a launderette on our floor. With a 2 week cruise, this was great. But when we went at 8 a.m. (open from 8 to 8) the machine dispensing change was empty as well as detergent. Had to call and wait for someone to come to replenish. This should be done while it was closed. Internet Cafe was good but reception was down for some time on the way home so when cell phones didn't work and we relied on email we couldn't use it. Room service was prompt and had no problem with the room steward. One thing I can give an excellent report on is the entertainment. The dance troupe was excellent. Probably the best we have seen on cruises. Also set design and lighting was wonderful. All the entertainment was good with the exception of one. We have cruised with 3 different cruise lines and now would have to rate Princess cruise number 3 in our estimation. We probably would cruise Princess again but it would have to be an exceptional value. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
My husband and I were extremely disappointed with the service, food, amenities and entertainment on the October 23rd sailing of the Island Princess to Hawaii. This was my 20th cruise, but my first with Princess and I have to say it will be ... Read More
My husband and I were extremely disappointed with the service, food, amenities and entertainment on the October 23rd sailing of the Island Princess to Hawaii. This was my 20th cruise, but my first with Princess and I have to say it will be out last. We love Celebrity and I guess we've become spoiled by their incredible service, amazing food and unparalleled entertainment. We tried our best not to compare the two lines and just enjoy the Island Princess and destination, but it was the staff's attitude that really got us down. Since we chose anytime dining, we did not have an assigned dining time or table in the main dining room. This sounded perfect for us initially, however since we had a different waiter each time and they knew there was no guaranteed tip at the end of the cruise, their service was barely adequate. Sacrificing the charm of an enthusiastic and charismatic team of bus boy/waiter for the flexibility of dining whenever we wished wasn't worth it in our opinion. We were really made to feel like an unwelcomed burden. I do have to give kudo's to the only staff worth mentioning; the terrific spa staff, buffet manager, casino staff and staff of both speciality restaurants - Sabatini's and the Bayou. Our cabin steward was another sore spot for us. Princess only provided flat feather pillows to sleep on which were really uncomfortable if you're used to some support under your head. I had grown accustomed to using the extra pillow in the closet what was a bit more firm. 6 day's in, the pillow disappeared and I must have paged our steward, Albert, a half dozen times with absolutely no response. Finally about 10 day's in, I found him in our hallway and asked him about it. I couldn't believe my ears when he told me there were no more pillows! In addition to this, we had to ask several time for the waffle weave bathrobes that were supposed to come with our mini-suite and when he finally left them for us, one of them had dried blood on the left collar, cuff, belt and bottom hem. When we called to complain, this time calling passenger services as we were fed up paging Albert, they told us that all robes were brand new and none were re-used. Not true! Makes you wonder if they really wash the sheets! The cabin itself was nice though we were disappointed with the lack of amenities we were used to on Celebrity. When you get a mini-suite category on the Infinity or Millennium, you get a private butler, canapes & tea every afternoon, Q-Tip's, cotton balls, fluffy cotton robes (new in the package), customized stationary, complimentary bottle of wine, complimentary signature bag, binoculars and fruit bowl replenished daily. An awful lot of extra's we really missed on Princess. In addition, the Celebrity room service menu was 100% complete - everything you could ever want including the dining room menu. Breakfast wasn't just continental, if I wanted hard boiled eggs or egg whites, all I had to do was ask. All I got on Princess was no, followed by no, and more nos. I thought I was in a Capital One commercial. The food, was just ok, but only on some days. It was best in the buffet but there were some really crazy jellied liver creations that made palatable choices few and far between. Although Sabatini's and Bayou were nice, you really could only eat there once - the food was incredibly rich and greasy and there really weren't many could choices unless you enjoy and endless supply of crawfish and tough lobster. The Gnocchi at Sabatini's was outstanding, but that's about it. Since the majority of passenger were quite elderly, the entertainment was for the most part bland in content and quality. I heard from a few spa staff that comedians in previous weeks had been told to tone their material down after having received several complaints from elderly passengers with regards to racy content. The Island Princess dancers were pretty good, average for cruise entertainment, but the singers needed a bit of additional rehearsal time - several off keys sent us packing on one particularly sour night. The gym was nice, ample space, plenty of machines, though no real jogging track which was a bummer. You had to share the outside promenade deck area with several walkers and loungers if you wanted to get in an outdoor run which was tricky. Both indoor and outdoor pool areas were nice, though we were disappointed not to find a few other Celebrity amenities we hoped Princess had caught on to. I won't name anymore as I'm sure to get a few hateful responses to my review, telling me I should have to stuff to Celebrity. We would have, though all their fall sailing we wanted were sold out months in advance. There were so many other frustrating issues with the Island Princess, but it's becoming too much to write. I will close with the worst part of the entire trip - debarkation. Customers officered decided not to let anyone off the ship until ever last passenger was cleared through customs. This apparently was the first day of a brand new law according to some Princess staffers, which was a bunch of baloney of course. Customs officers informed Princess of this supposed change as soon as they boarded the ship after docking, but NO ONE bothered to notify passengers on board. Hundreds of people had to reschedule their flights as people weren't even allowed off until 11am. Rather than keep passengers abreast of what was happening, they kept us waiting, may of us standing for up to 3 hours to disembark. Passengers were quite upset, some yelling in frustration and staff were just plain rude in response - stating over and over that this wasn't their problem, it was a customs issue. Captain Poggi didn't even both to make any apologies or provide any explanation. We heard from absolutely NO ONE! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This is VERY LONG. I apologize if your eyes explode. Embarkation: We had arrived in Anchorage very late the night before, so no worries about making it to the ship on time for a 9 pm departure. We left our bags at the hotel (Ramada on ... Read More
This is VERY LONG. I apologize if your eyes explode. Embarkation: We had arrived in Anchorage very late the night before, so no worries about making it to the ship on time for a 9 pm departure. We left our bags at the hotel (Ramada on 3rd - very nice and affordable, GREAT breakfast buffet) after checking out, and wandered around downtown for a while seeing the sights, including the Saturday market and statues of Balto and Cook. If you go to the statue of Balto, don't do anything embarrassing - there's a 24 hour web cam trained on the statue. We called our family back home and they could see us "live"! We noticed a Princess bus in front of the Captain Cook Hotel, so we asked about times for our own bus transfer from the Egan Center, as we'd been told by Princess 800 number reps that the buses would start at 1 pm and run until 5:30 p.m. Turns out the Egan had been switched to the Marriott, and the Princess representatives said that we had to check in by noon. It was already past 11, so we hightailed it to the Marriott and spoke to another rep outside who said the first bus left at 1:30, but that we should have our luggage there by noon. A rep inside gave us conflicting information - as long as the bus wasn't full, we could check in up until the time it left without having to rush to get our luggage, however, if there weren't enough people for another bus, then that would be it for the day. (By the way, the reason we left our luggage at the hotel in the first place was because a customer service person at the Princess 800 number told us we WOULD NOT be able to check it in and had to accompany our luggage to the pier. So that wasn't true.) We decided not to take any chances, and made our way back to the hotel, stopping at the Oomingmak Qiviut (musk ox hair) shop, near the bus station. The Ramada graciously gave us a lift to the Marriott, and after handing over our bags and checking in, we were given a pass for the second and last bus of the day from downtown, the 2 p.m. bus. We went to a nearby restaurant for lunch, The Teriyaki Box (I have a feeling that the food from this place is what made both of us sick later that night). After lunch, we waited inside the Marriott. The bus was ¾ full and left promptly at 2 in order to make the 3:30 opening of the Whittier tunnel. Hint: Sit on the right-hand side of the bus in order to see the best scenery and possibly belugas along Turnagain Arm. When my parents took the Sun Princess northbound last year, their bus stopped along the way at a zoo of sorts. Ours stopped at a pulloff past the Portage Glacier Visitors Center area, where we could see a hanging glacier and stretch our legs a little. We found out later that other buses did stop at that zoo, so we felt a little disappointed that we'd missed out, and wondered why only some buses made the stop. However, our driver did time our ride perfectly so that we hardly waited at the entrance to the tunnel. Driving through the Whittier tunnel is a surreal experience - the walls are nerve-wrackingly close on each side, and no natural light is visible - just the taillights of the vehicle in front of you and the orange glow of widely spaced lights along the walls. The driver told us that back when the buses had to be loaded onto trains to make it through the then-skinnier tunnel, there weren't even the orange lights, and you'd be plunged into total darkness for the whole ride. Luckily, the ride through the tunnel is over in less than 10 minutes, and you emerge safe and sound on the other side in the tiny town of Whittier. The pier is before the town, so we didn't even walk around, just hopped off the bus and into the building. Before we got in line, though, I looked for the coupon books my mother had told me about. We spotted a girl standing near the bathroom entrance with a display of books and asked her if they were the coupon books. Yes, they were, and she was happy to be getting rid of two of them. Few people had stopped to grab any, as the kiosk was out of the way of the line, and the girl wasn't allowed to just hand them out. (By the way, on the way out of Canada Place in Vancouver we saw at least 3 of these displays so they're a little harder to miss coming northbound.) Checking in process was PERFECT, best yet - just in the time it took for us to grab our books and use the restroom, the line was gone and we walked right up to the counter. When my husband was issued a blue card, though, while I got a gold cruise card, I was told that this was because Princess apparently didn't know he'd cruised before. "Just go to the Purser's desk inside to get it changed," the man told us helpfully, and we were on our way. After the obligatory photo (by the way, Princess, how about a better backdrop than the next people in line??) we were onboard and finding our way to our room. Four of our five bags were at our doorway when we arrived at our cabin, and we shoved them all inside and took stock of our digs for the week. Usually when we first get onboard, we make it a point to explore the ship. We were hungry, though, and still not adjusted to the time change, so exhausted this time, too. We also scrapped our original plan to hike the Portage Pass Trail (the trailhead is near the Whittier-side tunnel entrance) and instead just headed to the buffet for a snack (even though we had personal choice dining, for the first night we were assigned the 5:45 pm dinner seating, so we didn't want to have a full meal). We first went to fix hubby's blue card, but the passenger services desk person told us to come back the next day and see Bernadette, the Captain's Circle rep, at her desk around the corner. After a quick bite at the Horizon Court, we made our way aft, where we ended up in the spa, so we took the tour they were offering. Afterward we went back down to our cabin, where we met our steward, Florencio. This initial introduction was the longest conversation we would have with him, and if he used our names at that time, it was the last time we'd be addressed by name. We rested a bit, and made an inquiry as to the whereabouts of our fifth bag. Still sorting, they said. So we went on to dinner in the Provence dining room, since the rest of our personal choice meals would be in Bordeaux (the dining rooms are pretty much identical, we discovered). Service and food at dinner was good enough - quite honestly I don't remember what I ate, so not memorable. We met a single older gentleman who'd already gone northbound and was starting the leg back, a couple of ladies traveling together, and a friendly couple who we ran into many more times over the course of the cruise. Soon after dinner was the muster drill, at 8 p.m. Our muster station was the Bayou restaurant - we'd decided not to pay extra for the specialty restaurants, so this was our only time inside the Bayou, nice enough, but not as New Orleansy as I'd expected. After muster, we called again about our lost bag. Still sorting, they said, so we fell into bed and slept through the sailaway. Sea Day #1/College Fjord This day was honestly a bit of a blur, as I spent most of the night up sick and was just exhausted. Not sure if it was the aforementioned Teriyaki Box in Anchorage or something I ate from the buffet (although I ate there again many times and was fine) but first time in my four months of pregnancy and in five cruises that I ever had to worship the porcelain (well, probably fiberglass) god. Hubby was also not feeling up to snuff, just not as bad. We were a little afraid we might have picked up a Norovirus - but we were also afraid of being quarantined in our cabin, so we went crazy using the Purell (our own and the ship's, both before and after going through the buffet line) and figured if we still didn't feel well by later in the day, we'd go to the ship's doctor. As it turned out, we both felt much better by lunch and all through the rest of the cruise we were absolutely fine. Still not adjusted to Alaska time, so we were both awake early enough to enjoy College Fjord. It was a very overcast day, and colder than we'd thought - good thing I had my gloves and hubby had his earmuffs. We breakfasted in the Horizon Court buffet, which due to its far forward location has great wraparound, protected views of the scenery. We could hear the naturalist talking about the glaciers - quite honestly, we'd expected them to be a little more spectacular. We couldn't get as close as everyone would have liked due to ice, so we snapped a few pictures and left a little early. The naturalist noted that overcast days are best for seeing the blue in glaciers - still, we hoped it would clear off later on. We left College Fjord at around 9 am, normally on vacation we'd be getting up at that time! We had left a note for Florencio about our missing bag, as well as getting an eggcrate mattress pad and feather pillows to counteract the rock-hard beds. The eggcrate was on the bed, but no bag or pillows (and our little plate of cookies that we hadn't eaten the night before was gone too). We decided to see what passengers services knew about the missing luggage situation, so we headed to the Atrium. After getting one of the staff members' attention (they seem to be more interested in talking to each other than the guests), she pointed to the opposite wall. "Is it one of those three over there?" Why, yes, it was. "Well, we have a lot of guests with your last name," she explained. "Are they all in our stateroom?" I asked, showing her the Princess-issued tag with our stateroom clearly marked on it, as it had been on the tags for our other bags. She apologized (somewhat insincerely, I felt). We headed to our room with the missing bag. Upon inspection, we found that my makeup cover had been cracked and broken, and all the powder spilled out. Hubby took the broken item back to the passenger services desk while I unpacked the rest of the bag and checked for more breakage. Soon hubby returned, noting that the girl could only promise to speak to her supervisor about the inconvenience and damage we'd experienced. She'd kept the makeup case. So, we'd wait and see what they might do. At 11 am we went to Crooner's for our pre-arranged Cruise Critic meeting. We met up with John and Suzanne and all the rest of the CCers and spent a good hour chatting and enjoying each others' company. When they started the martini demonstration, hubby and I slipped out, but not before we'd all arranged to meet again on Friday to compare notes on our cruise. We headed to lunch in the dining room, where, when we're not pressed for time, we really prefer to eat if possible. Again, good, but not memorable. Then, really exhausted, we went back to the room and slept most of the afternoon. Not the usual way we spend a cruise, but this was our first in a different time zone. We slept right through bingo! After our long nap, we decided to check on the broken makeup/missing bag situation, since no one had gotten back to us on it. The assistant purser thought that the situation had been taken care of, but upon investigation, he discovered that the note and "fixed" (ie scotch-taped) case was still in the back. He apologized (sort of getting sick of apologies, just make it right!) and gave us onboard credit, as well as allowing me to purchase a replacement from the onboard boutique. I chose the least expensive one (actually contained the most product) and they credited our account back for the cost. So, at least that was taken care of. Next, to Bernadette at the Captain's Circle desk. An assistant of sorts was handing out forms, as B. was busy talking to other guests. Apparently being issued the wrong color card was a common problem. "Just fill in your name, address, and telephone and we'll take care of it," she promised. We had no problems getting a seat for the first formal night dinner, since we were happy to share a table. We were seated across from the same couple as the night before! Our server was a bit strange - polite enough, yet somehow arrogant, I guess I'd say. One of our new friends had mentioned she'd wanted to tour the galley - when I asked if she knew when it was, he jumped right in to say that HE knew because HE was the one who did scheduling. Then, he went on to tell us how much food is wasted - even before it hits the table. For example, almost double the number of desserts ordered are made up and then have to be dumped into the sea, according to him. Now, everyone on board is aware that cruises are known for being gastronomical adventures, and waste is a given, but I didn't feel it was necessary to make us feel guilty about our vacation choice. After dinner, we headed to the Princess Theater for the first production show, Curtain Up, basically a collection of Broadway hits. I was impressed by the fact that they had printed programs for each show. However, unfortunately, I was very unimpressed by the actual shows. Quite honestly, I've seen better high school and college performances. The set design was uninspired (basic risers, not even set with rope lights), costume changes were performed onstage (with no dressers to help, one girl was still getting into costume halfway through each song), and the choreographer didn't take advantage of the fact that these people are professional DANCERS. Most of the time, they just stood or sat on the risers. Understandable, maybe, in rough seas, but we barely felt that we were moving. We'd really expected better, as on our last Princess cruise, we thought the dancers were first-class, and even made a go of a show one night when we were rocking pretty good (they decided to stop the show when it was really TOO rocky). The Princess Theater itself doesn't inspire much of a Broadway-show atmosphere - very nondescript, more like a movie theater, plain walls, only one level (ie no balconies) of seating. After the show, which lasted less than an hour, we went back to the room and tried to stay awake as long as possible to get adjusted. It was still light out when we went to bed, though. At least we had some time to sleep in before Glacier Bay tomorrow. Sea Day #2/Glacier Bay National Park We just missed the whales when we came up to the Horizon Court for breakfast. Too bad Princess doesn't make any hallway announcements about this kind of thing - we would have skipped the toothbrushing if we'd known. Afterward, the naturalist aboard said that the area was well-known for whale watching, and mentioned it several times later. Should have been printed in the Patter, since I'd say that wildlife and whale-watching are pretty much why people come to Alaska. This would be more useful, than, say, an essay on sextants, which took up a good part of the right hand column on the front of the Patter for that day. We were on deck, however, to watch the Park Rangers board, hear their Glacier Bay Talk in the Princess Theatre, and then to listen to their commentary throughout the day. Far superior to the naturalist's. We enjoyed the scenery from the Promenade deck, staying on the port side and bundling up in deck blankets (had to be signed out on the Lido Deck) on the deck lounges (which were quite dirty - I flipped my chair pad over to lay on). Bar staff came by selling hot drinks - $1.50 for cocoa. We asked if there was anywhere we could go to get free cocoa ourselves, but they said, No. This was the first of feeling a bit "taken" by Princess - cocoa had always been free at the buffets on our other cruises. (We did find, however, that hot chocolate is complimentary if ordered at breakfast in the full-service dining room. Comes in a metal pot - don't know if you could take it with you. Wasn't available at other meals.) The scenery in Glacier Bay is truly breathtaking - the mountains on each side were still snow-covered (don't know if they are later in the summer). We worked our way up to Margerie Glacier, where we spent considerable time just doing 360s in the water so everyone could have a nice view. No calving that we witnessed, but there were some harbor seals lying on ice floes closer to the Grand Pacific Glacier who seemed to be used to seeing large cruise ships already. They only were scared off when the captain started the engines to leave. On the way out, as we were having an afternoon snack at the buffet, the captain spotted a bear and her two cubs along the rocky beach, so he turned the ship around (!) and we went for a closer look. Even with binoculars she was pretty tiny, but still, our first bear! How the captain saw it I don't know. By the way, we were going to go for the afternoon tea, but they were seating on the starboard side, and we'd already seen that scenery. If we had gone, we wouldn't have known about the bear, as the announcement was only made to the buffet and outside decks. We eventually settled in to a couple of lounges inside at the Lotus Pool area - still bundled up, as this "inside" area didn't seem to be heated. As we left Glacier Bay, we saw quite a few humpback whales headed the other direction - pretty far from the ship, but you could still see their spouts and dorsal fins. We opted for dinner at the buffet, as we were starving and had been eating at off-hours all day. Not much appealed, unfortunately - it would be nice if the pizzeria stayed open later than 6 pm as another dining alternative to the buffet and the formal dining room. Port Day: Skagway We faced the morning crowds at the breakfast buffet, then made our way off the ship and into Skagway. The first thing we noticed was the graffiti on the rocks alongside the pier. So much for pristine Alaska. Apparently ship captains have been "signing" their names at Skagway for decades, so the tradition continues. Transportation was available into town but we opted to walk as it wasn't very far - we could see the main street from the ship. As we wandered into town, I was struck by how many Caribbean-type shops there were - the same jewelry stores and souvenir shops we'd seen before. I had a bit of an idea of this after getting a Del Sol shirt from my mother as a souvenir from their Alaska cruise last year, but it still seemed out of place. We wandered up the main drag, looking for Avis, and finally I asked at a shop. The nice woman inside directed me around the corner, where the Avis was situated actually in a hotel room adjacent to the side street. We had no problems picking up our car (although for some reason they had two reservations for us - for two cars - which was odd). Lori, the manager there, had all our information and we were in and out in just a few minutes, and on our way up the Klondike Highway to the Yukon, with Yukon Murray's guide in hand (see explorenorth.com). We stopped first at the Gold Rush cemetery - we parked at the turnaround area, where you see the first sign for the cemetery, but if you go a little further along the road to the left, you'll be closer to the main cemetery, as it's right along the road. We hiked in and found Reid Falls first, which were beautiful, then wandered back along the trail and to the cemetery, where we easily found Frank Reid's gravestone (the biggest in the cemetery) as well as the infamous Soapy Smith's (off to the right as you come in from the road). Back in the car, we headed up the one road out of town and into Canada. I highly recommend printing out Murray's mile-by-mile guide before you go, but if you don't, we also were given a guide at Avis, contained within the Skagway tourist newspaper. One person in the car should be the designated "sightseer" - keeping up with what's coming up next, as pulloffs appear without a lot of warning sometimes. We could see the train line off to the right along the next ridge, as we made our way up to the White Pass (not as steep/scary a road as it sounds). You pass U.S. customs on the other side of the road BEFORE you reach the border (and will hit Canadian customs long after you pass the border). After crossing the William Moore Bridge (you can stop at a pulloff and take pictures of it after you go over) we hit the summit, at 3292 feet, and the US/Canada border. On the way back downhill, we were surprised to happen on a busload of Asian tourists, dressed in red, who were all standing in the road - we had to honk and signal to get them to clear out of the way so we could get through! At Fraser we hit Canadian customs, which we quickly cleared, and were "officially" in British Columbia. I was under the impression that we were in the Yukon until we hit Fraser - so there's a little bit of B.C. to drive through until you hit the BIG "Welcome to the Yukon" sign. There was still a considerable amount of snow on the mountains as we'd been driving, and we saw snow even on the ground once we hit Canada. Before you hit the Yukon is "Log Cabin" - where the Chilkoot Trail "ends" - I expected a town of sorts, but there isn't much there. Once into the Yukon Territory, some interesting sights included the Venus silver mine ruins and Bove Island. Right before we got to Bove Island, I spotted a bald eagle perched in a tree, so we took some pictures of it before moving on. After Bove Island, it's a short drive to Carcross, the biggest "town" between Skagway and Whitehorse. We stopped in the visitors center (public restrooms) and browsed at the Matthew Watson General Store. The little town felt very overrun by cruise tour buses (I didn't realize that they came up this far) so we didn't linger long. After passing the "world's smallest desert," we came to Caribou Crossing. We opted not to pay for the museum/zoo tour, but instead just browsed a little in the gift shop and went on up the road to the Cinnamon Cache for its famed cinnamon buns and lunch. Gail and BoBo seemed surprised at the volume of business they'd already done that day - they were out of soup and all but two flavors of buns. So we settled for sandwiches (HUGE! Made on homemade bread, with sliced real meat, not lunchmeat) and we split a MONSTROUS cherry-cinnamon bun, which Gail heated up when we were ready. We sat out on the enclosed patio area and enjoyed the view and our food, and talked a bit with a couple sitting nearby who were traveling on the Diamond. We lingered a while, enjoying the friendly atmosphere, but knew that our turnaround point - Emerald Lake - was just a few miles up the road. After more than four hours on the road (and eating lunch), Emerald Lake was almost anti-climactic. Very beautiful, but not much to stay long for, so we snapped pictures and were soon on our way back to Skagway, seeing it all in reverse. On the way up and back, we kept a sharp eye out for wildlife, and were finally rewarded. A couple cars were pulled off the road, and as we passed, I yelled "Bears!". Sure enough, a couple of black bears were at the pull-off, too, as were our Cruise Critic friends John and Suzanne, who had driven to Whitehorse. We all snapped pictures as the bears took no notice of us (John even got out of his car!) and eventually made their way across the road and up the hill. We continued on, and again, "Bear!". This one was larger, and stood down a slope a little off the road, but again didn't seem at all fazed by our presence. Later, John said that these were the closest bears he'd seen in 10 Alaska cruises, so we were very lucky! We wanted to drive a bit down the road to Dyea as we got close to Skagway (Lori at Avis said there was a good place to watch wildlife) but the road was under construction, so we turned around and made our way back to Skagway, filling up the gas tank at the only station in town, and then to drop off the car. We did some quick on-foot shopping, stopping especially at the Rushin' Tailor to pick up pins for my mother (she'd seen them but hadn't bought them for herself last year) and at the Skagway Outlet Store (S.O.S.) for bargain souvenirs. We also made a detour to the local grocery store to buy a box of cocoa packets. :) One unique souvenir to look for in Alaska is rainbow-colored ammolite jewelry - made from fossilized shells. Expensive to buy, but beautiful to look at. Back onboard the Island Princess, we rested in the cabin a bit, and found a message waiting for us on our phone from the Captain's Circle representative. She hadn't found any record of hubby's first cruise, after we'd given her all his information on the form. So we left her another note in her box with his CC number, and went on to dinner and the show. The show, called "Tribute," started with a Beatles medley, and that was about all we could take (see Sea Day #1), so we snuck out and watched the sunset over the Alaskan mountain ranges instead. Tomorrow would be an early day, so we retired early. Port Day: Juneau Another quick breakfast at the Horizon Court and we were off the ship for our whale-watching tour. We bought our $2 tickets for the all-day Princess bus to take us from the pier (we were docked at the AJ dock, which is the furthest from town) to the Mt. Roberts Tramway area (whatever happened to free shuttle service, as we'd gotten with Celebrity?). Right across from the tramway was the office for Orca Enterprises, with whom we'd booked our excursion (independently from the cruise line). We checked in and waited for the rest of the group to arrive, most of whom we'd met at the CC get-together our first day at sea. Once everyone was assembled, we all boarded a purple bus and were on our way. We passed Mendenhall Glacier along the way to the marina - visible, but we were glad we'd opted to take a closer look later in the afternoon. From the purple bus we followed the purple-shirted guy to the purple boat - the Awesome Orca - and met Captain Larry, a character in his own right. We headed out into Auke Bay, and soon Capt. Larry spotted two bald eagles resting on a small island, so we sauntered up and took the obligatory pictures. From there, it was all eyes on the water as we searched for whale spray. It wasn't long before Capt. Larry found some humpbacks, and our whale-watching had begun! We encountered several humpbacks, which would surface a few times, then dive down, tail flukes the last to go. Since they could stay down for 10 or 15 minutes, we'd wait patiently for them to re-appear - one came up quite close to the boat! We continued into the channel, and the humpbacks gave way to orca, traveling in separate groups of males and females. The orca were a real treat, as they don't appear every day, and they came up very close to the boat also. Our naturalist onboard, unfortunately I've forgotten his name, was a font of information. We could see other whale-watching boats around us, many of which seemed to be following us, but after nearly 3 hours, we were one of the last to leave the area. A few orca followed us back toward the marina, but finally faded from sight. We were very happy that we'd decided to book this tour, as we'd debated about being able to just see whales from the cruise ship. This was a completely different experience! The rest of the group headed back downtown, but we'd arranged with Orca Enterprises to be dropped off at Mendenhall, since it was on the way back. The rep gave us vouchers to use for the white or blue shuttle buses back. We started toward the visitors center and noticed people staring at the closest mountain with binoculars. Apparently there were mountain goats up there, but we couldn't see them. We walked along the Photo Point trail first, to get the best photo-ops of the glacier, then walked along the beach out to Nugget Falls for an even closer view. Out on the water while whale-watching, I'd been wearing gloves and a zipped-up jacket, but here near the glacier it had gotten quite warm, and we were both down to t-shirts as we hiked back up to the Visitors Center. We paid $3 admission each, and skimmed through the exhibits. Telescopes are set up inside the center for looking at the glacier, or for searching for mountain goats, but again, no luck. We caught the shuttle bus back to Juneau, and got off near the Red Dog Saloon so that we could take in some shopping (me) and check email at the Juneau Library (hubby, although the wait was too long). We were back onboard at about 3 p.m. - just in time to have missed Libby Riddles. I'd wanted to hear this Iditarod winner's talk, but Mendenhall took precedence, as the talk was scheduled while the ship was in port. We went out on deck for the sailaway, then to afternoon tea, where we ran into some of our whale-watching friends again. Afternoon tea was wonderful - you can special-request herbal or decaf tea, although only regular tea is initially offered. The scones were small but tasty, and the mini-sandwiches and pastries were also very good. We stopped again the Captain's Circle desk after tea, and finally got to speak with Bernadette, who insisted she was "caught up" on getting back to people. She seemed surprised to find our note in her box from the day before. Anyway, long story short (how unlike me!) she issued a new number to hubby and promised he'd have his gold card the next day (like it would matter at this point). She also noted that he'd have to show the card in order to get into the Captain's Circle party, but I reminded her that I had my invitation and gold card already. We went out on deck - the weather was unseasonably warm, and people were lying out on the deck chairs in bathing suits and jumping into the pool. It was nice to enjoy the warm weather, but I think almost everyone was surprised and maybe concerned at temperatures so warm in May. Even though we'd had tea at 3:30, we ate an early dinner and were back in the room around 7:30 or so. Hubby wanted to go to the "big screen" movie in the Universe Lounge, but I was tired so we decided to relax in the room and again went to bed at a "decent hour". Port Day: Ketchikan Our ship was scheduled to tender in Ketchikan rather than pulling up to the pier. We weren't set to arrive until 8:30 am, so slept in and headed to a late breakfast at the buffet, after watching the cruise director and his assistant's very corny and collegiate-level-looking (ie not very professional) morning show. Lot of fluff, little information, and if it was someone's sense of humor, it certainly wasn't mine. After eating, we made our way to Explorer's Lounge, where we were given numbered tickets and waited to be called for our tender. Of all things we'd experienced on this cruise, this was superior to anything we'd run into as far as tendering before - it was nice to be able to relax in a comfy chair in the lounge, and then, when the boats were available, to follow a member of the cruise staff to the waiting tender. We seemed "parked" far from the pier (and actually, another ship that came in after ours even got to be closer - I don't know how they determine this) but before long we were stepping off the tender and onshore at Ketchikan. Of course, gift shops abound at the pier, but we walked past and toward Creek Street. The sun was shining brightly, although it looked like it had just rained, so we took pictures of the dock area while the weather held. Our rudimentary map from the coupon book served its purpose, and we found ourselves at the infamous brothel-turned-giftshop-lined Creek Street. We wandered through a few shops, walking from one end to the other along the boardwalk over the water. At the far end of the "street" was Dolly's house, home to one of Creek Street's proprietors back in the brothel days. So we paid our $5 each (many of the city tours seemed to include Dolly's) and took the mostly-self-guided tour. It was interesting, but not quite $5 interesting. Each room had an audio clip to go along with it, triggered by a light/heat sensor over which you'd place your palm. We soon exited Dolly's and decided to head to the Totem Heritage Center. Again pulling out our map, we made our way uphill past Creek Street, then turned left up a steeper hill, then saw the entrance finally on our left. (On the way back, we asked about a short-cut - there is a much more direct pedestrian route down, I believe it was Park Street, which came out right downtown.) The Totem Heritage Center had the actual, unrestored totem poles that had been found in the area, inside a small museum and interpretive center. A few college-aged guides were standing around to answer questions, but mostly we were on our own to read placards and look at the totems. In a room to the right were more totems - hard to see in their glass cases due to inadequate lighting. But around the room were signs with folk stories and information about the totems. Some of the totems were so far gone it was hard to imagine an orca, or an eagle, or a bear in the wooden facades, but at least we were seeing the real thing. This WAS worth the $5. We opted not to check out the salmon hatchery next door - you could do both as a combination ticket. By the time we started back toward the ship and lunch, it had begun to drizzle, and we made our way through the streets of Ketchikan in its natural, wet state. We stopped at a couple souvenir shops and finally bought what we'd been looking for - a t-shirt for our baby, due in November. We figured she should have some souvenir of her trip to Alaska, even if she didn't see anything! We stood in line to get back on the tender, then made our way back onto the ship for lunch in the dining room. Our waiter wanted to see if anyone else appeared to sit at our table (the two of us were seated at a table for 8) but finally took our orders, just as another couple came in. So we talked with them as we enjoyed the rainy but scenic view of Ketchikan outside the nearby window. They, too, had had more than their share of service problems with Princess (they actually broached the subject) so we compared notes as to which lines we'd been on and how we liked them. At least, we were happy to find, we weren't the only ones feeling a bit dissatisfied. After lunch we'd originally planned to go back into Ketchikan, but it was still raining and we were tired, so we decided to just stay onboard and relax. We popped in to afternoon tea again and had more scones (mmm), and rested in our room, where hubby's gold card had finally appeared. The Patter noted that the Libby Riddles talk from the day before would be replayed on the Princess TV station - we waited for it to appear, but nothing ever came on. Eventually we went up on deck for the 5:45 sailaway, listening for the naturalist's commentary, which was all of three minutes. We got dressed for the second formal dinner (in the Patter, they'd mistakenly printed that dress for the evening was "smart casual" - someone actually knocked on our door and made us get up from a nap to give us a little reminder card that it was actually formal night - don't know why they stuff everything else in the little mailbox outside the door but had to hand us that!). This was also Captain's Circle party night, and since this was the first time we'd ever cruised on a line for the second time, we wanted to see what it was all about. Basically, drinks, a short speech from the Captain, and awards for most days cruised/most cruises taken/etc. Pretty dull, so we went on to our lobster dinner. One thing to note about PC dining - at least, if you choose anytime dining, is the lack of waiter entertainment. Not that we were ever big fans, but it is sort of sad to see things like the parade of Baked Alaska go by the wayside (but maybe that's a fire code change?). I thought that on our Carnival cruise they went overboard with the singing and dancing waiters, but on our last Princess cruise, one of our favorite waiters wasn't even our own, but a man who would bellow "To You!" for every happy birthday/anniversary/bar mitzvah/new house/new pet celebration. After dinner we steeled ourselves for the last production show, "Piano Man." This time we just went for the laughs. The worst were the pink, piano-key, sky-high costumes that the girls had to wear about halfway through the show - hubby took a no-flash picture just so we could always remember how bad they were. The folks around us, though, really seemed to enjoy it, for some reason we couldn't fathom. Even if you've never seen a Broadway show, you'd know the show was bad. Afterward we waited in the atrium as the maitre d' set up the champagne waterfall. Since I'd done the champagne pour before, we just took pictures and watched other people get it flowing this time. Having it in the atrium was a good idea, since it gave multiple levels of vantage points (including a group that just kept going up and down in the elevator - one of the waiters even went in to the elevator to offer them the complimentary glasses of champagne that were being served) - but giving people streamers to throw before the pouring started sort of killed the idea, as the streamers covered the netting over the waterfall and blocked the view of anyone who was above the bottom floor. At least we saw it before the streamers were thrown. Sea Day #3 Before breakfast, we went up to the hot tubs – I only put my legs in (doctor’s orders) but hubby had been in and out of the hot tubs all week. We talked a little with a woman we’d met before, and relaxed, setting the pace for the day. Down at the dining room for the first time for breakfast, we enjoyed the much more relaxed atmosphere and better, fresher food, including a pot of cocoa. (And again got a taste of the “no-can do” Princess attitude, as people at a neighboring table requested fruit muffins repeatedly and were told that the muffins had to be brought down from the Horizon Court, which they never were!) Just a note – we never did use room service for breakfast, which we usually do at least once per cruise. After breakfast in the dining room, we went out on deck for a while to watch the scenery. At 11 a.m. we headed inside for the naturalist’s “Whale Tales” talk. It was, at least, more interesting and informative than what she’d been saying over the PA system all week. She made a special note that later in the afternoon, around 4 pm, would be prime orca-watching time as we passed through Johnstone Strait along Vancouver Island. We had lunch, again in the dining room, and lazed away the afternoon. Usually when we’re cruising and at sea, our day is packed with activities – but on this trip, the scenery and wildlife were the main attractions, so we skipped bingo, the newlywed game, the galley tour, passenger talent show, etc. It seemed that every activity we wanted to do coincided with some prime time for looking for whales, seeing scenery, etc. It had started to rain, dampening our hopes of seeing much, though. The trip along Vancouver Island is supposed to be a highlight of a southbound cruise, but the weather just didn’t cooperate for us. We stayed near the windows in the Lotus Pool area and kept our eyes peeled at 4 pm for the promised resident pod of orca, but didn’t see a one. I did sample the “mocktail of the day” while we watched and waited – a huge virgin strawberry daiquiri – which helped to make up for the lack of alcohol I’d had all week. I also had another slice of Princess pizza – which is pretty good, and again, I wish it was open later for those late-night munchies. At some point we relocated to the Horizon Court for more watching, but still didn’t see anything. It was starting to get pretty rainy and dark when we decided to give up and go to dinner in the dining room (we hadn’t eaten anything substantial at the Horizon Court – and since it was pretty empty we felt comfortable just hanging out there). We were seated at one of the tables for two – which actually are tables for four, since the space between the two tables are all of a couple inches. It’s very hard to ignore the people at the next table – almost rude, since they’re right at your elbows. So we chatted with the older woman who was seated next to us – her husband wasn’t feeling well, so he’d gone back to the room. After I’d had my appetizer (avocado boat with seafood – something wasn’t quite right), I wasn’t feeling too well, either, so we cut dinner short. Well, we stayed to have a bite of the Love Boat Dream – as it only seemed to be offered that one night, and it was worth staying for. Just FYI, here’s a great site for looking at the dinner menus; they’ve been helpful in refreshing my memory: http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4287137705&mode=invite. Although, the "Alaska night" menu is not there. So we went back to the room to start the grim task of packing. Even though I will say that, overall, this cruise had not lived up to my expectations due to the overall lackluster service, the ship itself was very nice and well laid out, the food was good in most cases, and, of course, the itinerary was once-in-a-lifetime. And as a day cruising is ALWAYS better than a day at work or at home, it was disappointing to have to end our vacation. Also disappointing was the fact that no one had left us our colored luggage tags (the job of the room steward), so I called the passenger services desk one final time at around 10 pm. Rather than having them delivered to our room by our steward, they told us we should come down and get them. A final black mark on the Princess service slate. And after our missing bag incident, we decided to carry all our bags off ourselves, anyway. We didn’t have enough time in Vancouver to lose another bag. Disembarkation: Overall a very smooth process for us. We were staying overnight in Vancouver, so no plane to catch and no rush in the morning. We were almost in the last group to leave the ship – 9:15 am, so we decided to have breakfast again in the dining room and avoid the crowds in the buffet and around the ship. We brought our bags with us and left the room open so the steward could get it ready for the next guests. Outside the window we watched the loading process beginning – huge crates of food and supplies that had to be loaded onto the ship for the next two weeks of cruising (since Whittier is such a tiny, relatively inaccessible port, they don’t load supplies there). Just a suggestion to Princess: only get enough bananas for the first, northbound week. They offered bananas as part of the “fruit bowl” menu for the stateroom – but the bananas were already pretty brown when they were delivered to us the second day of our cruise, and they were garbage on day three. Some other CCers commented on this, and someone figured out the Whittier problem and how the bananas were already over a week old when we got them. Best to just keep them off the menu. After breakfast, we cleared out of the dining room. The Horizon Court was still open, until 9:30, so we killed the rest of our time there while waiting for our color and number to be called. Once off the ship, we passed through passport control with no problems, bypassed luggage pickup, and stood in line for customs. We weren’t sure at the customs line exactly what we were standing in line for, so I flagged down an official-looking person, who let us know we should dig our paperwork back out. As we were doing this, a very rude, older woman behind us pushed past. Apparently we weren’t closing the 5-foot gap up to the next people standing in line in front of us fast enough. Her husband said, “What are you doing? Get back here!” and she grumblingly returned to him. I mention this as it was the third time an elderly woman had pushed past (and in one case pushed) me, the visibly pregnant lady, in order to jump ahead in a line that wasn’t moving. The other two instances were while waiting to board the tender – in both cases we hung back as two different disabled gentlemen were being helped onboard the tender by the Princess crew, and two different impatient women thought that they’d have something to gain by nipping at the poor man’s heels. So, even though we’d definitely experienced some problems with the Princess people, some of the passengers weren’t too well-mannered either! After the cursory customs wave, we headed to our hotel, which was within walking distance of the pier. Unfortunately, the Canada Place pier is LONG. VERY LONG! We walked and walked and walked, passing a LONG line for taxis as well as people waiting to board our ship. Eventually we got to a point where we were no longer inside, and we were faced with the choice of either going left and up a driveway ramp, or going through some doors to an elevator. We chose the elevator, went up one floor to the lobby of the Pan Pacific and came out onto Burrard Place. After we got our bearings, we headed to our hotel, the Ramada on West Pender. My parents had stayed here last fall before their Alaska cruise, and recommended it to us as being close and inexpensive. Of course, they went from hotel to pier downhill with their bags, and we were going uphill, so it felt like a much longer walk than we’d expected. But, finally, we saw the Ramada sign and checked in. It was still early, so our room wasn’t ready, but we were able to leave our bags and start our sightseeing. Vancouver seems to get rave reviews from many visitors, including my parents, who’ve been there twice, but we found it didn’t quite live up to the hype. We wanted first to head to Stanley Park, but we couldn’t decipher the bus routes (no information at the bus stops we found). We’d walked to another hotel by this time, and the concierge there recommended the trolley – but then we discovered that it cost about CA$30 per person for hop-on, hop-off, which would have been fine if that was our plan, but we just wanted to go to the park and back. So eventually we gave up and just caught a taxi, about CA$10. The taxi dropped us at the visitors information kiosk, rather than the totem poles, as the streets inside the park are one-way and he would have had to go around a big loop to get back out. So we bought some ice cream from the snack stand there and started walking around. We first stopped at Painters’ Circle, where local artists work and display their paintings, then we wandered back along Brockton Point Trail toward the totem poles. We walked a little bit of the way along the famed seawall, where we got a faroff view of the Island Princess and Canada Place. The totem poles were interesting enough, but after what we’d heard, we’d expected there to be more of them, and that they’d be older, rather than newly-created for the park. We followed the seawall along the northern edge of the park, passing the Girl in a Wetsuit statue and turning back south at a playground. We passed the entrance to the Aquarium but opted not to go in, and made our way back to the information stand, where we were able to quickly catch a cab back downtown. We’d checked out the Harbour Centre tower on our quest for a bus, so we’d decided to have lunch there. If you just go up the tower, it costs CA$10 for an all-day pass, but if you go up to the revolving restaurant, the view is included with your meal. So we took the restaurant option and were soon seated, with Vancouver spread out beneath us. This time we were above the Island Princess, so we took a few pictures and enjoyed our meal. The food was pretty good, the service was excellent (we both agreed afterward, that after being on the ship for a week, THAT was the kind of attentive service we should have had!). After an hour, our table had returned to its original starting point and we’d finished our meal, so we returned to ground level and headed to Gastown. Gastown is a small, easily walkable area, mostly populated by gift shops. The main attraction is the steam-powered clock on Cambie Street, so we waited until it “chimed” and then continued on our way. We made our way back to the hotel, where we could now get into our room. The Ramada itself isn’t in the best part of town – on one side, if you walk toward Gastown, you’re fine, but on the other, east side, the locals get a little dicey-looking (one guy looked like he was snorting something off the sidewalk). I don’t know that I’d recommend it overall – our room was nice, spacious enough considering the size of the hotel and what we’d read on Tripadvisor, with a coffeepot and comfy bed and all, but there were many hotels that were closer to the pier and much more upscale. And, since our trip, I’ve read that many of those can be had on Priceline for less than what we paid. We rested awhile in the room, then decided to head back to Gastown to see the Storyeum show/museum that we’d passed earlier. However, contrary to what was printed on the sign in our hotel lobby, they were already closed. So we hiked toward Chinatown instead, in search of dinner. I definitely would have felt more comfortable if we’d taken another cab at this point – this was actually when I saw sidewalk-snorting guy. We hit Chinatown and it, too, was apparently closed for the evening. No tourists, no non-scary locals, no lights in the shops. We skirted the edge of the area and walked along Keefer Street, next to a park, until we got to the Tinseltown movie theater building. If nothing else, we figured we could see the new Star Wars movie (something we’d thought about doing in Ketchikan, actually, since the movie had opened that day, but the Ketchikan movie theater wasn’t playing it until 7 p.m., after the cruise ships had left). But Star Wars wasn’t playing at that theater. At this point, we were tired and getting pretty hungry, so we decided to eat at the Asian restaurant inside Tinseltown. We lucked out – the restaurant, Wild Ginger - an Asian fusion/Korean BBQ kind of place – was great! I like to drink tea, so I ordered the white tea. The owner or manager of the place suggested the “flower tea.” It was so good I took some home! I won’t spoil the surprise if you ever get the flower tea, but it’s entertaining AND tasty! The food was wonderful, as well, and again we had excellent service. After dinner, we didn’t linger in the streets, as it was still not the greatest-looking area, and quickly made our way back to the hotel to prepare for our early flight the next day. Overall, would we do this trip again? Not on Princess, at least not in the near to mid future, so the whole problem with the gold card and Captain’s Circle membership was really a moot point. This was only the first time we’d returned to a cruise line – our first Princess cruise was on the old Pacific, which made for some interesting stories to bring home, but the only service problems we’d had then were with our room stewardess' stinginess with our beach towels. Before this trip, I would have rated our Pacific cruise about even (in third place) with our Carnival cruise, but at this point I’d say Carnival was much better than our Island cruise. We chose Princess because it seemed like THE cruise line for Alaska, but all the beautiful scenery and experiences onshore didn’t erase the problems on board. Would we ever cruise Alaska again? Perhaps – I would have liked to have visited Sitka, there were many other options in Juneau that we would have enjoyed, and had we hit Ketchikan first (and therefore with a little more energy) we might have gotten more out of it. Victoria also sounds like a nice port for a return trip. Things we’d do differently? Spend a few more days in Anchorage pre-cruise, whether taking a trip to Denali or not, to get adjusted to Alaska time. Plan Ketchikan better, perhaps even take a ship’s excursion – we’d expected independent taxis at the pier (read on CC), to be able to just go to Totem Bight but we didn’t see any. Use Priceline to snag a good deal at a hotel closer to the Vancouver pier, if possible. One other thing I would suggest to all the cruise lines. People come to Alaska for the scenery and the wildlife. At least on our cruise, much of the wildlife came and went without so much as an announcement to the public decks, and definitely not into the rooms. At the very least, when there’s a bear, or a pod of dolphins or whales, or something of interest coming up, make a hallway announcement so people know what’s going on. We were so disappointed to have “just missed” whales on more than one occasion because we were either in our room or in transit to the public decks, and had we gone to that afternoon tea, we would have missed that bear and her cubs entirely! We only knew to look for the orca at Johnstone Strait because we'd gone to the naturalist's talk that day - that kind of information should have been in the Patter. It would also be helpful if the TV station that broadcasts the weather and nautical info would also indicate which milemarker we were on at that point in the Cruise Companion book. Some information is given in the Patter, but we had no idea when we were passing some of the points of interest in the book. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE BEEN ON OVER 40+ CRUISES AND THIS WAS THE WORST! THE SHIP ROCKED AND WAS UNSTABLE FOR THE ENTIRE 15 DAYS. THE SHIP'S LOG SHOWED THAT WE HAD ONLY MODERATE SEAS AND LIGHT WINDS, BUT THE SEAS WERE SO ROUGH THAT WE ... Read More
MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE BEEN ON OVER 40+ CRUISES AND THIS WAS THE WORST! THE SHIP ROCKED AND WAS UNSTABLE FOR THE ENTIRE 15 DAYS. THE SHIP'S LOG SHOWED THAT WE HAD ONLY MODERATE SEAS AND LIGHT WINDS, BUT THE SEAS WERE SO ROUGH THAT WE MISSED THE ISLAND OF KAWAII AND PRINCESS INSULTED US ALL BY GIVING US A $5.00 CREDIT FOR THE MISSED PORT! THE FOOD WAS ONLY MEDIOCRE...WE CHOSE "ANYTIME DINING" AND WERE NOT AFFORDED THE EXCELLENT DESSERTS THAT THE REGULAR DINERS WERE GIVEN, INCLUDING BAKED ALASKA, ETC. THE maitre 'd IN THE BORDEAUX RESTAURANT WAS NOT cooperative IN SEATING US WHERE THERE WAS LESS MOVEMENT, AND ALWAYS INSISTED ON PUTTING US AT A TABLE IN THE VERY FRONT OF THE SHIP WHERE THE MOST MOTION WAS, EVEN WHEN WE REQUESTED NOT TO BE THERE. THERE IS NO 24-HOUR ICE CREAM, AS THERE IS ON MOST SHIPS; YOU MUST BUY YOUR ICE-CREAM IF YOU WANT IT. WE HAD A BALCONY CABIN AND WERE ONLY ABLE TO USE IT 3 OR 4 TIMES, DUE TO THE HEAVY SEAS AND STRONG WINDS. THE OVERALL APPEARANCE OF THE SHIP WAS NOT IN GOOD SHAPE....STAINS ON CHAIRS IN THE LOUNGES, THE PATINA COMPLETELY GONE FROM THE TEAK DECKING, AND THE CREW DID NOT SEEM TO BE ATTENTIVE TO SMALL THINGS LIKE KEEPING THE HANDRAILS CLEANED AND THE CARPETS CLEAN. I SUBMITTED MY REVIEW 2 DAYS BEFORE LEAVING THE SHIP AND WE WERE SUDDENLY UPGRADED TO "ELITE" STATUS FROM OUR "PLATINUM STATUS." THE INTERNET CONNECTIONS WERE NOT GOOD AND TOOK LONG, LONG PERIODS TO BE CONNECTED. I WILL NOT TRAVEL ON PRINCESS AGAIN, AND THIS WAS ABOUT MY 7TH CRUISE WITH THEM. THE QUALITY THAT THEY ONCE PRIDED THEMSELVES ON IS, SADLY, GONE. WE WERE THREE HOURS SITTING ON THE BUS BECAUSE OF A DELAY AT embarkation, AND THE debarkation PROCESS INCLUDED A LINE AROUND THE ENTIRE SHIP FOR OVER AN HOUR TO BE CLEARED BY CUSTOMS. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Sorry, I can't remember our cabin numbers, but we were just a few doors from the wonderful glass elevators on deck 8, I think! Anyhow, if I were going to judge Princess from this one cruise I would NEVER again go ... Read More
Sorry, I can't remember our cabin numbers, but we were just a few doors from the wonderful glass elevators on deck 8, I think! Anyhow, if I were going to judge Princess from this one cruise I would NEVER again go Princess.............this cruise was SUCH a comedown from our HAL cruise in October we were shocked. We left port several hours late with NO explanation and NO announcement and NO sailaway excitement...........a very unexciting departure. Upon embarkation (we'd told our adult "children" there would be a great buffet to greet us) the buffet was HORRIBLE.........iceberg lettuce was the salad, deep fried calamari was cold, as was all "hot" food........tables were filthy and littered with food and dirty dishes so there was nowhere to sit, food was on the floor and the "workers" all stood around cleaning up nothing.......just talking. Unfortunately, their attitudes affected the cruise all 15 days. It seemed a revolt was about to happen among the food/drink servers. Their refusal to work caused the buffet area to be filthy ALL the time.....food on tables, floor, tables never wiped down, etc. Once I asked for ketchup and the gal said, "It's on the line." They were unwilling to do ANYthing to help people. We had holes consistently in our towels, sheets and pillowcases and toiletries in tiny cardboard containers????? Where's the quality? We LOVED Anytime Dining............the schedule was wonderful. We just always called in the morning to reserve a time and/or time and table and it all worked wonderfully. The food, however, was another area needing lots of help. Salads were consistently warm and runny with dressing; in fact I got food poisoning from a Caesar Salad. I kept my mouth shut regarding it, but had several people at the pool tell me they'd had food poisoning..........from the same thing! I tried to report it the night it happened but NO ONE wanted to hear about it at all! Others reported the same problem. We had a WONDERFUL cruise director who wanted to discuss problems but seemed unable to solve anything. There were sewage leaks (bad odor in the showroom and sewage sloshing overhead in our cabin so bad they had to move us). On HAL and NCL we could get herbal tea anytime. I finally learned it WAS available on this Princess ship, but one has to ask for it and a worker has to unlock a cabinet and give you ONE teabag. Want papaya on the buffet? You have to ask and SOMETIMES they will get you a couple of slices from the back room IF you wait long enough. In Lahina we stood in line almost four hours for tenders while the HAL passengers walked right past us and got onto their ship. We could have kept our rental car for hours longer and enjoyed the island. We thought they had a great system for tendering.........go to a lounge and get a ticket, then they call ticket numbers.....THEN, we learned past cruisers know they NEVER CHECK TICKETS, so they just walked into groups going down to tenders leaving some with tickets unable to board because they were farther back in the group!! I could go on and on, but it will be amazing if we ever again try Princess. Anytime Dining - great Food - poor Desserts - even worse Service in the buffet - non-existent. Cabin service - good. Public Restrooms - unclean. Linens - thought we were at GoodWill. Entertainment - excellent Cruise Director - excellent Horse Racing - wish all lines did this; it's a blast! Overall, the attitude/ feeling that one group of servers onboard was about to mutiny caused a serious pall over the cruise; it was the "talk of the ship"............along with the lousy buffet and a few other things!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
The Island Princess is an absolutely amazing ship. It is beautiful and clean and very charming. We found the trip to Whittier from the Anchorage airport to be slightly painful. The Princess representatives @the airport were clueless. We ... Read More
The Island Princess is an absolutely amazing ship. It is beautiful and clean and very charming. We found the trip to Whittier from the Anchorage airport to be slightly painful. The Princess representatives @the airport were clueless. We got multiple answers to our questions. Basically - they hold you either at the airport or at the convention center in downtown Anchorage till around noon or 12:30. So no one is able to leave for the ship earlier than this. We were misled to believe that if you arrived at the airport earlier in the day-they would send a bus as soon as it fills up. This is not the case and we ended up waiting at the airport for about 2 hours. Then we were told that we would make the 2:30 tunnel into Whittier. This was a mess. There were about 10 Princess cruise buses in that 2:30 tunnel time lined up. Therefore, we waited-waited-waited and finally went thru the tunnel and then waited-waited-waited to be dropped off at the port. Then we were in a line about 75 people deep. The entire process took over 2.5 hours. It was very frustrating. Our cabin C230 on Deck 10 Caribe was fantastic. It was forward and quiet. I strongly recommend going for a balcony mini-suite. The bathroom is huge compared to the regular rooms. If you have 3 or 4 people in your party- it would be a perfect size. I am highly disappointed in Princess for this sail. I do not agree with the automatic gratuity being added to your account. My husband and I did the open seating and found the staff to be unhelpful and merely efficient. The normal atmosphere that you expect from a waitstaff was not there. It is my belief that since they knew they would be tipped- their incentive to provide exceptional service was not there. As it was - we adjusted the tips on the last night. We gave to those that we felt appeared to give more service and did not allow the automatic gratuity to hit the account. I hope Princess revisits this in the future- we voiced our opinions as did multiple persons around us. The food sometimes read like an episode of Fear Factor. Frog legs, venison, rabbit. They were big on the presentation- but not so big on the taste. I found the food to be less tasty as Royal Caribbean or Disney. This cruise had very little to offer for entertainment for anyone under the age of 55. The programming appeared to be geared towards a more "retired" age and my husband and I (in 30's) found ourselves watching movies in our room because we were not interested in tea, bridge or watching a classical pianist. It was very hard to sail for 7 days and find that there was so little to do in plans of the programming. Disembarkation was a complete catastrophe. We had a transfer from Vancouver to Seattle. We were advised to be read by 730 for that transfer. We were not able to disembark until 915 am. Then we found out that we were on the wrong gangway (had been standing there for over an hour waiting for our "color" to be called) and had to take our stuff and carryon to another deck. We had asked several princess employees where we needed to be - and never once were we advised the correct information. Overall this cruise would appeal to someone who was looking to Alaska only for the sights and not the usual fanfare and excitement of shows and programming that you would expect on other lines. The ship itself was beautiful. With the exception of the waitstaff in the dining room - we felt that the room steward and the general upkeep of the ship was very good. We would recommend this ship for older adults without children or with older children. On this sail we saw very few children or teenagers- and the ones we did see always appeared quite bored. But with theater movies like Calendar girls and Welcome to Mooseport and a Barry Manilow singer- it is no wonder they may have been a bit bored. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
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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