This was our first cruise on Princess and quite possibly will be our last. Seventeen days from Seattle to Osaka. We chose this cruise primarily because of the destinations, i.e. Petropavlosk, Pusan, Muroran, Sapporo, Nagasaki and Osaka. We wanted to see Glacier Bay, but have not done Alaska before, not wanting to be one of ten thousand or so people crowding the towns with four or five cruise ships in port at the same time. This being the last ship of the season meant much smaller crowds, but it was obvious talking to the merchants in Juneau that they were all ready for the cruise season to be over. We never touched land in Petropavlosk.
EMBARKATION: Got to the pier at 11:00 AM. After reading some of the reviews we thought about arriving later. We parked at a friend's house and she gave us a ride to the pier. When we got there there were hardly any people waiting. We got checked in right away and then had to wait for about 30 minutes in the holding tank before we were allowed to board. We were on the boat so fast we could hardly believe it. After our last cruise from San Juan on Royal Caribbean where it took four hours to board and 10 deboard we were half expecting another nightmare.
SHIP: Our initial impression was that it was a nice ship, but as time went by we began to have many misgivings about it. On another itinerary it would probably be fine, but on this cruise where there are so many sea days it just didn't have enough public spaces to accommodate all of the passengers. This ship was designed to maximize revenue. Maximum balconies, minimum public spaces. To get into the theater to see a show you had to get there 35-40 minutes in advance in order to get a seat. Not that we were really into the exercise thing other than lifting our forks frequently and a few dozen trips around the deck, but we heard stories of having to get a reservation to even use the exercise machines!!! sightliness in the lounges were generally poor and in the case of the Explorer's Lounge you not only had a large smoking section, right next to the bar of course, stinking up the room, but behind the hallway in the back of the room was Crooners Bar, the piano bar. Hard to imagine calling it a piano bar though. Perhaps seven tables with a piano at one end and a bar at the other. In addition to three of the tables being smoking tables the sound of the big mouth smokers/drinkers carried into the Explorers Lounge. Smokers drink more. Maximize that revenue. You had to walk that gauntlet to get from one end of the ship to the other on the Promenade deck. Forget about trying to find a seat somewhere where you could just sit and watch the ocean, unless you had an outside or balcony cabin. The good seats filled up fast and stayed that way. Single story dining room so no parade of waiters and assistants with the baked Alaska. No midnight buffet. No ice or fruit/vegetable carvings. No towel animals in your stateroom. Instead you get "hot air" Jose the maitre d' pouring Champagne into a pyramid of Champagne glasses. They tried to create a party atmosphere on a ship that just wasn't capable of accommodating it. Standing room only for a digital photography seminar in the Wheelhouse Bar and pillars everywhere. The casino was pretty much empty every time we passed through it. I usually donate $20 to a dollar slot machine in order to obtain a dollar token which I use for a golf ball marker. I put my 20 in and 19 pulls later I had my dollar token and nothing else. Later I donated $10 to a quarter machine. Same results.