Sun Princess Cruise Review by SunnyCal
- Sail Date: June 2005
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Bought Princess transfers from airport. We were on the first shuttle to Whittier. Driver was pleasant and informative. Had a five minute wait at the tunnel. Once off the bus we waited maybe ten minutes in line. Paperwork went smoothly and we were on the ship.
Had lunch in Horizon court and explored the ship. Yes, she shows signs of age-worn carpet and nicks in the dressers, but she was very clean. The crew was friendly and service was terrific. We had two cabins, an inside triple and an outside balcony on Aloha deck. Our room steward was amazing. The towels were always fresh, no matter how many showers we took. The beds were made while we were at breakfast and the beds turned down while we were at dinner.
We had traditional dining, early seating. We had a table to ourselves which was fine. I would have liked tablemates so that we could share our excursions over dinner. Food was very good. Halibut and Lobster was the best I'd ever had. The asparagus soup and the garlic soup were exquisite. We occasionally eat at a fancy French restaurant at home, and the food in the dining room was comparable. We tried Verdi's pizza for lunch-very good pizza, but a long wait the day we were there. We ate at Sterling Steakhouse one night and very much enjoyed our filet and three desserts. The Horizon court had all the basics for breakfast and lunch. The lunch menu varied-Italian dishes one day, Asian another, but you could always get salads, soups, fruit, bread, etc. No excuse to go hungry here.
As far as entertainment went, we tended to go to the comedians. All were funny, with the comedian/juggler and the comedian/ventriloquist being hilarious and appropriate for families. Wasn't interested in the review shows so I can't comment on them. It was nice to sit and listen to the strings and the piano player in the lounges.
Both my husband and I had a Swedish massage in the Lotus Spa. It was 50 minutes long for $109.00. It was relaxing. Yes, there was a push for me to buy a body oil, but when I said no, that was the end of it.
Our three daughters enjoyed the kids program. Technically, they were to be in three different group: 8-10, 11-12, and 13-17. Our recently turned 13 year old REALLY wanted to be in the teen group, but when she compared the activities (coffee bar, video games, Karaoke, disco) to the 12 year olds (card games, science activities, making shark tooth necklaces) she decided to go with her sister to the younger program. Much of the time all the 8-12 year olds were together for activities. My advice to Princess is to consider a slightly different different division of ages. There is a tremendous social difference between 8 and 12 years olds, and probably an even greater difference between the 13 and 17 year olds. Maybe they could do a 8-11, 12-14, and a 15-17 year grouping. In any event, all three girls wanted to go to the program every chance they had. We let them check out together and meet us for lunch or back at the room before dinner.
College Fjord-a beautiful sunny day. We had a balcony so we ordered room service and enjoyed breakfast while watching the scenery. The balcony was plenty big enough for the five of us. We had the TV on to the channel 36 and we could hear the naturalist. She was very informative about the glaciers and wildlife. At 10:00 the kids were off to the Fun Zone and my husband and I went up on deck. There were swimmers in the pools and people about but it never felt crowded. Too many icebergs to get close to the glacier, but what we saw was amazing.
Glacier Bay- Spent lost of time on deck in the afternoon in front of the Glaciers. The ship slowly rotated from side to side so all could see and take pictures. It was raining a bit-more like a sprinkle so you didn't have that blinding sun off the glaciers like yesterday. There was some small calving. We enjoyed several hours outside, and the Baileys Irish Cream and Hot chocolate was fun to drink. While looking through the binoculars, I spotted 6 kayaks in the water below. Amazing, the extremes of huge ship next to kayak. I also spotted the green tents on shore, so those people were really experiencing the wild. For this trip, I wanted my hot showers and gourmet meals along with my scenery, though my husband wouldn't mind roughing it in the future.
Skagway-Cloudy today and cool for us-mid to high 50's. We did the 8:15 White Pass Railway. Very pretty and informative. I think everyone should try this once. At the summit we were above the clouds and saw the sun-the last we would see of it on this trip. We had lunch back on the ship, then took an afternoon excursion called "Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float" through Southeast Tours. Highly recommend this adventure. We had a private guide take us two miles up the Chilkoot trail. The first 1/4 mile was uphill, then it was flat and easy. He was very knowledgeable about the terrain, the wildlife and the plants. He had my tired/quiet girls perked up in no time as he showed them all the edible berries and wild things along the trail. We saw eagles nests and bear claw marks. The watermelon berries were a favorite and very plentiful. We then floated 45 minutes down the Taiya River. We had a delicious snack of smoked salmon, cheese, seasoned crackers and cookies. Hard to believe there were 4 ships in Skagway that day because we saw no one else on the River. This was my husbands favorite excursion, and the cheapest! Even the girls really liked it.
Juneau-We went with Captain Larry and Orca Enterprises for Whale Watching. An extra for us, it was the maiden voyage of his brand new boat the Awesome Odysea. It is big, clean and PURPLE. Larry and Carol were excited and in good moods. We saw humpbacks breaching, lots of tails and fins, a council of eagles and sea lions. It was kind of special to be one of the first to try the new boat. It seats 40, but we only had 20. It was a slow day in Juneau with only 2 ships in port. A snack of salmon, cheese and crackers and coffee or juice was also provided. We were given purple caps with the Orca logo on it for being the first customers.
Ketchikan-We went with Michelle at Island Wings for a floatplane over Misty Fjords. It was misty, but perfect flying weather-smooth. The sights were breathtaking. MIchelle landed her plane at a remote lake and we spent about 30 minutes taking in the quiet. She was informative and friendly. Back to the ship for lunch, then out in the rain to walk about town. This was my favorite port.
Overall impressions: This was an unforgettable vacation. We figured we might not get to Alaska again for quite a while (not because we don't want to, but because we have a long list of places to see) so we splurged. In addition to the above excursions we did a helicopter/dogsled out of Girdwood during out pre-cruise stay in Anchorage. It was an expensive trip, but worth every penny.
The Sun Princess in now "our Ship" and we were sad to see her set sail again without us. I can't complain about a single thing. Should time and money be no issue, we would sail her and to Alaska again in a heartbeat.
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