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Island Princess Inaugural Cruise Review July 12-19, 2003 Let me preface this review with a little history of how we ended up on this cruise. We sailed on Disney Magic-April 2001 and RCL Voyager-April 2003. Right before we left on our Voyager Cruise we found out that we could go on an Alaskan Cruise for FREE on The Builders Club Grand Destination Trip. The Builders Club is like a frequent flyer program for home builders and remodelers that rewards them with Club Points for doing business with an exclusive group of suppliers. My husband is a Homebuilder and we had accumulated enough points for the 4 of us. Myself, Husband, Daughter (age:18) and Son (age:16) to not only go on the cruise for free, but get two cabins. Needless to say, it didn't take much for us to decide that we were cruising once again! Day 1 We left Ohio a day early so we could spend sometime in Vancouver. We arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 am PST. I reserved 2 rooms through Priceline.com at the Westin Bayshore Hotel for $75.00 USD each. The rooms normally run around $250. We chose to take a limo from the airport to the hotel because we had so much luggage. I think the pre-set cost was $42 Canadian. Our driver was excellent. He gave us a mini tour and history of Vancouver and drove us through some of the old neighborhoods. It is a beautiful city. Our rooms weren't ready when we arrived so we checked our luggage and set out to explore. It's a great walking city. The architecture is amazing, lots of great shopping, ate lunch at a place called O'Douls (excellent), and then headed back to the hotel to get our rooms. The beds at the Westin were unbelievable. They call them "Heavenly Beds" and they're not kidding. We forced ourselves to get off the beds and headed back out. We rented bikes around the corner and headed to Stanley Park. We stopped at the Aquarium for about an hour and them road around the park for another hour. It's hard to believe your in the middle of a big city when your in the park. After the bike ride, we headed over to Canada Place for our first look at the Island Princess. My family is still teasing me over my excitement at seeing her. She was beautiful. Stylish, polished, sleek and classy! We checked out the boarding area and found out that Immigration opened at Noon and that Princess reps would probably be there at 11:30am. We walked back through the Harbor area to our hotel and hit the Heavenly Beds. Day 2 We headed for Canada Place about 10:45am. I think it's about a $5 USD cab ride. The cabs drive right into the parking garage and the Princess employees take your luggage right from there. We then proceeded into the waiting area (we were one of the first ones there) and met some of the other people from Builders Club. At around 11:30am they opened the gate and we took off for the check in. Check-in is divided up by deck name and deck name with express check-in. We went to the Dolphin Express Check-in booth and had to change our VISA card (my other one was lost about a month ago). We had a trainee at our booth but she did a good job, gave us our cards and got us finished up fast. We then moved onto to another area with chairs in a winding line up. At about 12:10pm Immigration opened up. We waited probably 5 minutes in line and off we went to board the ship. We actually sign up for pedicures on our way onto the ship. Then, they stopped us for the customary family boarding photo. We stepped off the gangway and we were directed to the Welcoming Area. This is where they take your photo for their security. (They check your picture everytime you swipe your card to return to the ship.) The embarkation went very smoothly. There were Princess personnel directing us all along the way. We went right to our rooms, D227 and D229, on Deck 9, forward and starboard side. We had two rooms next to each other and the other 24 people from our Ohio Builder's Club group were also on our deck. There were also 240 Builder's Club members from Minnesota on our cruise. There are name tags on the cabin "mailbox" next to the door. The rooms are nice. You enter into a hall. One side is a full length mirror and the other side is a large closet area with a storage cabinet and safe and the bathroom is off of that area. The bathroom is typical cruise size. You can shave your legs while sitting on the toilet seat and brush your teeth at the same time. The shower controls are tricky. You need to push on the side piece to make it go past the trickle stage and same thing for the hot water. I wish I could explain it better. Once you master the knobs, it's a very powerful shower. I thought I was going through the wall the first time I turned it to full power. The sleeping area is adequate. The bed is by the wall with a small aisle for walking, there is a desk area, two nightstands, a refrig. cabinet, two chairs and a small table. I always overpack and there was plenty of storage and hangers for everything to be unpacked. The luggage fit under the bed. The balcony has two chairs and a table. We had the steward remove the panel between our balconies and it made it feel even bigger. If we weren't in our room sleeping, we spent most of the time on our balcony. Our steward was Victor and he did an excellent job. He had a great personality. Our whole group really liked him. After checking out the room we headed out to explore the ship. We found it pretty easy to find our way around. They have maps and signs posted in every hall where you get off the elevators/stairs. We found all of the lounges, the kids area, the pools, basketball, shuffle board, the golf simulator and putt-putt (we even played a quick game of putt-putt), the restaurants (we checked out our table in the Provence dining room), the spa and exercise areas, the library, internet and card rooms, bought 2 drink cards for my husband and son and then hit the Horizon Court buffet. Needless to say, everything looks new! I'm not sure how to describe the dEcor. It mirrored the outside of the ship, classy, stylish and comfortable. We went back to our rooms and our luggage had arrived so we unpacked and got ready for the Muster Drill. After that we went for our pedicures and had a great view of the sail away. We went around in circles for about an hour and they performed some calibration tests on the ship and then we headed out to sea. Builder's Club hosted a cocktail party for us before our second seating dinner. We were given name tags to wear the whole cruise so that we could recognize others in our large group. It made for a fun time because it opened up a lot of conversations with other people on board. Dinner was scheduled for 8:00pm but we usually didn't get in until 8:15pm. Some people got impatient waiting to get in, but it didn't bother us. Food The dinners were all excellent, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from on the menu. If you didn't like what they were offering on the specials, you could always get chicken, strip steak, ceasar salad, fettucini alfredo, etc. Our waiter was Sylvia from Hungary and our Asst. Waiter was Josepi from Italy. Sylvia was very professional and personable. We think she was training Josepi because he didn't make a move unless she told him too. He was shy and quiet but did a good job. Sylvia never steered us wrong with her suggestions and did a great job of keeping the teenagers happy with their selections. I thought that this was the best food I've had on a cruise, my kids didn't agree. This food was a little too fancy for them but they tried some dishes they normally wouldn't have because Sylvia assured them she would bring them something else if they didn't like it. Although my son was thrilled because they had crab legs on Wed. and lobster on Thursday. The appetizers and soups (especially the cold soups) were so good, the salads and dressing selections were great and the entrees were excellent. Desserts were unbelievable. I had soufflE 3 nights, crème brulee one night and assorted other goodies. I had 2 desserts on the nights I couldn't decide. It's okay, because I rarely used the elevator. (At least that what I tell myself as I'm eating the 2nd dessert). We didn't try any of the other restaurants because we like to eat dinner with our kids every night. Plus we had all of our Ohio group sitting in the same area, which made for a lot of fun. We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court everyday. They could use a little improvement here. They need a bigger selection. They did not offer any specialties, like omelets made to order or waffles. Other ships we've been on have had these items on their buffet. They might offer them in the dining room. They did have excellent french toast. My husband's only complaint on the whole cruise was that it was extremely hard to get juice. There was no place for us to get it ourselves and they had one cart going around the entire dining room serving juice. There were many stewards clearing tables but they couldn't get your juice. Oh well. The pool areas offered pizza and burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and french fries. The fries were really good. Sometimes we'd just stop and grab a plate of them. Some people in our group liked the pizza and some didn't. There is an extra charge for the ice cream, even the soft serve. We did have ice cream bars one time, but that was it. There was a seafood buffet (A Taste of Alaska) the day we went through Glacier Bay. It was up by the pool. I don't eat seafood but everyone else thought it was unbelievable. Entertainment There were a ton of things to do at night. Besides the casino, there were the variety shows, the comedians, the lounge acts, karaoke, dancing, the not so newlywed, name that tune, etc. We had a hard time deciding what to attend. The Variety Shows The regular entertainers need a little more practice. They lip sync because they are dancing and it was very obvious. The shows did not "Wow" us. They were just okay. It hard to beat Disney when it comes to production numbers. The Comedians We saw Steven Scott, Jim MacDonald (very original and funny) and Sarge. They were all very good. The best show on board was Alexander. He's billed as America's Funniest Hypnotist. What a great show. We were in tears from laughing so hard. My son took part the first night. My husband and I tried the next night. It didn't effect my husband at all, I went out for a little bit but I woke up from the trance and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm glad I got to go back to the audience because it was hilarious. Definitely go to this show. My daughter and I spent a lot of time in the Crooner's Lounge listening to Eric Stone. We really enjoyed his Frank Sinatra and Broadway Show tunes. He also does a Name that Tune game that was a lot of fun. The Karaoke in the Explorer lounge was also fun. We had a few karaoke performers in our group, including my daughter so we hung out there quite a bit. We also took part in most of the Team Trivia games that went on everyday. We had a competition going with another group. We rec'd key chains, back packs and travel mugs for our winnings. It's a nice way to get to know other people. We also spent time in the card room, which got quite crowded. We won a shuffleboard tournament. We played putt-putt and played 9-holes on the golf simulator. The casino was a big hit for some of our group. We had a few winners and a few losers. I played the slots twice but lost my $20. My husband and his cohorts were into playing a game called 3-card. My husband won big one night and came out $100 ahead for the entire cruise. Another friend hit $1000 on the slots. My son went to "Off-Limits" the teen club. They seem to have quite a few activities going on every night. He enjoyed it, and he says it was better than RCL's program. My daughter hung out with us most of the time. There were only 22 other 18-20 year olds on board and they must have all been with their parents because we never noticed any groups going by. She was allowed in the lounges and dances with us (just no drinking) so it wasn't a problem. We also spent some time in the Pottery Studio being creative. We had a really good time together. It was nice because she's leaving for college in one month and I enjoyed spending some time with her. Ports I booked all of our excursions independently. I like the smaller groups and personalized service you receive. I rely heavily on Cruise Critic's message boards for help in choosing which excursions and operators to use. Since the cruise was free, I probably spent more than I normally would on excursions. I booked most of our excursions for afternoon so we wouldn't have to rush in the mornings. We like to stay out late and enjoy the entertainment. Ketchikan We chose to go fishing with Captain Ken. I booked at the end of April. There were 6 of us on board with him. We met him right off the gangway at 7:15am and his boat is a very short walk to a very steep gangway down to the dock. It was low tide so the floating dock was very far down. We really enjoyed this trip and our fishing experience. He's extremely knowledgeable about the area and about fishing. We caught and released about 30 salmon: King, Coho, Pink and the other kind that's not Sockeye. We were out until 1:15pm. We did a quick walk through town and bought my husband a pair of Levis (he forgot to pack his jeans, he lives in jeans and he forgot them, it was pretty funny!) Back onboard by 2:00pm for sail away at 2:30pm. Juneau We spent the morning exploring the town. DO NOT take the trolley tour. It is a rip off. They told us they had a historian on board so we thought why not? Wrong. For $12.50 apiece, besides the all day use pass, I expected to learn something that I hadn't read in the Princess Patter. The tour lasted maybe 15 minutes. We walked back to the ship to drop off our bags. When we went to use the trolley again, we sat for 10-15 minutes while the driver talked to friend. We finally got off and walked back into town. It was frustrating. I did find a local artist that makes jewelry from fossilized walrus ivory and embeds Alaskan Jade in it. I bought a pendant and some earrings. A lot of the stores have the same merchandise, so I like to find the local artists whenever we travel. We also visited the Harley store here so everyone could get their T-shirts. My husband and son went on a fly-in fly fishing trip with Butch from Alaska Fly'n Fish Charters. They said it was amazing. My son wanted to just keep flying and forget the fishing. But they did catch 150 trout and salmon. They said the minute your line hit the water you had a fish. They saw two brown bear from the air, and lots of eagles. They said it was one of their top ten adventures. My daughter and I went helicopter/glacier trekking with North Star. This is the most professional tour company that I have ever dealt with, from the moment they pick you up until they drop you off. The staff is very well trained, friendly and knowledgeable. We were picked up outside the Red Dog Saloon. Which by the way has a great bar-b-que beef sandwich! They were kind enough to drop my husband and son off at the airport on the way to their offices. We got there and signed in and got dressed (they supply everything) and had a lesson in helicopter safety. Then off we went into the wild blue yonder. The blue I'm referring to is in the glaciers. I'm not sure if breathtaking is a good enough adjective for the sights we saw, but it will have to do. After a brief tour of the area we landed on the glacier. We were met by our guide, Jimmy, who then prepared us for our trek. It felt like we were on another world. We got lucky because we were the only two on the tour. Jimmy took us for a quick lesson in going up, down and sideways on the ice. We were wearing crampons, they are spikes that fit around your boots. We felt pretty confident we started to hike. We went up, down, through an ice cave, we repelled down a wall, and we drank glacier water. We explored all over the glacier. We did get to do a lot more because it was just the two of us. We got back to base and waited for the helicopter to take us back for another exciting ride. I really don't have any words to describe this experience. If you have a chance to do this excursion, it's a must! Skagway- We really liked Skagway. It's a neat town. This is where we found the Alaska t-shirts and sweatshirts that we liked. The store is called "T-shirts to Go" and they had a nice variety. We decided to go on another helicopter tour of the glaciers here so that my husband and son could get a good look at the glaciers. We chose to go with Temsco and the Pilot's choice excursion. We landed on two glacier areas and got out and walked around about 15-20 minutes at each stop. We also flew for about 1 hour touring the glaciers from the area. Our pilot was excellent. He taught us so much about the area, the glaciers, the mountains...we were hoping for a trivia game on the cruise about glaciers because we know we would have won! Once again, a great excursion with a great guide. Glacier Bay and College Fiord These are not just lazy days on board. The sightseeing is fascinating. This is why you want balcony and why you need to pack binoculars. We saw whales, porpoises, seals, baby harbor seals, and otters. So bundle up(cuz it gets chilly)and be ready to be amazed! There are blankets available by the outside deck chairs. This was some of the most unbelievable scenery I have ever seen. Glacier Bay was a little foggy in the morning but it lifted and our day in College Fiord was sunny and cool. Order a hot chocolate (remember it's European style so you'll want to add cream and sugar to it) and sit on your balcony and enjoy. Or head to the outside decks ( I think it was deck 7 forward that was kind of protected and had heat blowing out ) and be ready to run from one side to the other when you hear that someone spotted a whale. This is nature at its best! Disembarkation We were given our Red 5 tags and put our bags out before heading down to dinner at 8pm. According to the Patter, Red 5 meant we would be called around 7:45am for our bus to Anchorage. We went to breakfast at 7am and then headed down to the Explorer lounge to wait. They called Red 5 at about 7:50am. Make sure you wait in a public area. There are no announcements in the room. One of the single males in our group stayed in his room waiting to be called and ended up missing our bus. He did catch up with us later. We walked off the ship and onto the bus. The drive to Anchorage is like another tour. We had an informative bus driver who even stopped for a quick break and wildflower hike. We got to Anchorage by 11:00am. We were taken right to the Egan Center and our luggage went directly to the airport (our flight was at 7:25pm). We stored our carry-ons at the Egan Center and went in search of lunch. We ended up at a local bar/restaurant called "Humpy's". They had great burgers and great service. Then we walked around for awhile. Some of us decided to kill time by going to the movies. We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean. The fact that none of us fell asleep should attest to the excitement and entertainment of the movie. The others in our group went to a local farm market that had crafters, too. They said it was really nice. We got back to Egan Center and took the 4:30pm bus to the airport. We got to the airport and someone from Princess got on board and told us where to find our luggage. We found our luggage and then waited forever to check in at Northwest. This was a very disorganized ticket counter. Also, watch your baggage weight. Their limit is 50 lbs. and they did charge some of us $25 per bag for being overweight. Now one person in our group had a 65lb and a 70 lb bag and they were not charged by their ticket agent. My bag was 62 lbs and I was charged. In my defense, we flew out Air Canada and their limit was 70 lbs per bag. I forgot to check on Northwest before we left. Overall The Island Princess is beautiful. It was easy to get around the ship. The staircase down to dinner is perfect for pictures. There are windows everywhere so you always have a great view of the sights. She was very smooth riding. I only needed to take Bonine on our last night out. In fact, I was passing out Bonine to everyone. I heard many people remarking about the friendliness, politeness and professionalism of the entire Crew and Staff. They were outstanding! We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were on an Inaugural Cruise because everything ran so smoothly. Well, I think that just about covers it. This is my first ever review so let me know if I missed anything. I'm still working on how to get copies of the patter scanned and downloaded. I'll be glad to answer any questions for you. bbyost@alltel.netAugust 2003

Island Princess

Island Princess Cruise Review by bbyost

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
Island Princess Inaugural Cruise Review
July 12-19, 2003
Let me preface this review with a little history of how we ended up on this cruise. We sailed on Disney Magic-April 2001 and RCL Voyager-April 2003. Right before we left on our Voyager Cruise we found out that we could go on an Alaskan Cruise for FREE on The Builders Club Grand Destination Trip. The Builders Club is like a frequent flyer program for home builders and remodelers that rewards them with Club Points for doing business with an exclusive group of suppliers. My husband is a Homebuilder and we had accumulated enough points for the 4 of us. Myself, Husband, Daughter (age:18) and Son (age:16) to not only go on the cruise for free, but get two cabins. Needless to say, it didn't take much for us to decide that we were cruising once again!
Day 1
We left Ohio a day early so we could spend sometime in Vancouver. We arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 am PST. I reserved 2 rooms through Priceline.com at the Westin Bayshore Hotel for $75.00 USD each. The rooms normally run around $250. We chose to take a limo from the airport to the hotel because we had so much luggage. I think the pre-set cost was $42 Canadian. Our driver was excellent. He gave us a mini tour and history of Vancouver and drove us through some of the old neighborhoods. It is a beautiful city. Our rooms weren't ready when we arrived so we checked our luggage and set out to explore.
It's a great walking city. The architecture is amazing, lots of great shopping, ate lunch at a place called O'Douls (excellent), and then headed back to the hotel to get our rooms. The beds at the Westin were unbelievable. They call them "Heavenly Beds" and they're not kidding. We forced ourselves to get off the beds and headed back out. We rented bikes around the corner and headed to Stanley Park. We stopped at the Aquarium for about an hour and them road around the park for another hour. It's hard to believe your in the middle of a big city when your in the park.
After the bike ride, we headed over to Canada Place for our first look at the Island Princess. My family is still teasing me over my excitement at seeing her. She was beautiful. Stylish, polished, sleek and classy! We checked out the boarding area and found out that Immigration opened at Noon and that Princess reps would probably be there at 11:30am. We walked back through the Harbor area to our hotel and hit the Heavenly Beds.
Day 2
We headed for Canada Place about 10:45am. I think it's about a $5 USD cab ride. The cabs drive right into the parking garage and the Princess employees take your luggage right from there. We then proceeded into the waiting area (we were one of the first ones there) and met some of the other people from Builders Club. At around 11:30am they opened the gate and we took off for the check in. Check-in is divided up by deck name and deck name with express check-in. We went to the Dolphin Express Check-in booth and had to change our VISA card (my other one was lost about a month ago). We had a trainee at our booth but she did a good job, gave us our cards and got us finished up fast. We then moved onto to another area with chairs in a winding line up. At about 12:10pm Immigration opened up. We waited probably 5 minutes in line and off we went to board the ship. We actually sign up for pedicures on our way onto the ship. Then, they stopped us for the customary family boarding photo. We stepped off the gangway and we were directed to the Welcoming Area. This is where they take your photo for their security. (They check your picture everytime you swipe your card to return to the ship.) The embarkation went very smoothly. There were Princess personnel directing us all along the way. We went right to our rooms, D227 and D229, on Deck 9, forward and starboard side. We had two rooms next to each other and the other 24 people from our Ohio Builder's Club group were also on our deck. There were also 240 Builder's Club members from Minnesota on our cruise. There are name tags on the cabin "mailbox" next to the door.
The rooms are nice. You enter into a hall. One side is a full length mirror and the other side is a large closet area with a storage cabinet and safe and the bathroom is off of that area. The bathroom is typical cruise size. You can shave your legs while sitting on the toilet seat and brush your teeth at the same time. The shower controls are tricky. You need to push on the side piece to make it go past the trickle stage and same thing for the hot water. I wish I could explain it better. Once you master the knobs, it's a very powerful shower. I thought I was going through the wall the first time I turned it to full power. The sleeping area is adequate. The bed is by the wall with a small aisle for walking, there is a desk area, two nightstands, a refrig. cabinet, two chairs and a small table. I always overpack and there was plenty of storage and hangers for everything to be unpacked. The luggage fit under the bed. The balcony has two chairs and a table. We had the steward remove the panel between our balconies and it made it feel even bigger. If we weren't in our room sleeping, we spent most of the time on our balcony. Our steward was Victor and he did an excellent job. He had a great personality. Our whole group really liked him.
After checking out the room we headed out to explore the ship. We found it pretty easy to find our way around. They have maps and signs posted in every hall where you get off the elevators/stairs. We found all of the lounges, the kids area, the pools, basketball, shuffle board, the golf simulator and putt-putt (we even played a quick game of putt-putt), the restaurants (we checked out our table in the Provence dining room), the spa and exercise areas, the library, internet and card rooms, bought 2 drink cards for my husband and son and then hit the Horizon Court buffet. Needless to say, everything looks new! I'm not sure how to describe the dEcor. It mirrored the outside of the ship, classy, stylish and comfortable. We went back to our rooms and our luggage had arrived so we unpacked and got ready for the Muster Drill. After that we went for our pedicures and had a great view of the sail away. We went around in circles for about an hour and they performed some calibration tests on the ship and then we headed out to sea.
Builder's Club hosted a cocktail party for us before our second seating dinner. We were given name tags to wear the whole cruise so that we could recognize others in our large group. It made for a fun time because it opened up a lot of conversations with other people on board. Dinner was scheduled for 8:00pm but we usually didn't get in until 8:15pm. Some people got impatient waiting to get in, but it didn't bother us.
Food
The dinners were all excellent, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from on the menu. If you didn't like what they were offering on the specials, you could always get chicken, strip steak, ceasar salad, fettucini alfredo, etc.
Our waiter was Sylvia from Hungary and our Asst. Waiter was Josepi from Italy. Sylvia was very professional and personable. We think she was training Josepi because he didn't make a move unless she told him too. He was shy and quiet but did a good job. Sylvia never steered us wrong with her suggestions and did a great job of keeping the teenagers happy with their selections. I thought that this was the best food I've had on a cruise, my kids didn't agree. This food was a little too fancy for them but they tried some dishes they normally wouldn't have because Sylvia assured them she would bring them something else if they didn't like it. Although my son was thrilled because they had crab legs on Wed. and lobster on Thursday. The appetizers and soups (especially the cold soups) were so good, the salads and dressing selections were great and the entrees were excellent. Desserts were unbelievable. I had soufflE 3 nights, crème brulee one night and assorted other goodies. I had 2 desserts on the nights I couldn't decide. It's okay, because I rarely used the elevator. (At least that what I tell myself as I'm eating the 2nd dessert).
We didn't try any of the other restaurants because we like to eat dinner with our kids every night. Plus we had all of our Ohio group sitting in the same area, which made for a lot of fun.
We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court everyday. They could use a little improvement here. They need a bigger selection. They did not offer any specialties, like omelets made to order or waffles. Other ships we've been on have had these items on their buffet. They might offer them in the dining room. They did have excellent french toast. My husband's only complaint on the whole cruise was that it was extremely hard to get juice. There was no place for us to get it ourselves and they had one cart going around the entire dining room serving juice. There were many stewards clearing tables but they couldn't get your juice. Oh well.
The pool areas offered pizza and burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and french fries. The fries were really good. Sometimes we'd just stop and grab a plate of them. Some people in our group liked the pizza and some didn't. There is an extra charge for the ice cream, even the soft serve. We did have ice cream bars one time, but that was it.
There was a seafood buffet (A Taste of Alaska) the day we went through Glacier Bay. It was up by the pool. I don't eat seafood but everyone else thought it was unbelievable.
Entertainment
There were a ton of things to do at night. Besides the casino, there were the variety shows, the comedians, the lounge acts, karaoke, dancing, the not so newlywed, name that tune, etc. We had a hard time deciding what to attend.
The Variety Shows
The regular entertainers need a little more practice. They lip sync because they are dancing and it was very obvious. The shows did not "Wow" us. They were just okay. It hard to beat Disney when it comes to production numbers.
The Comedians
We saw Steven Scott, Jim MacDonald (very original and funny) and Sarge. They were all very good.
The best show on board was Alexander. He's billed as America's Funniest Hypnotist. What a great show. We were in tears from laughing so hard. My son took part the first night. My husband and I tried the next night. It didn't effect my husband at all, I went out for a little bit but I woke up from the trance and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm glad I got to go back to the audience because it was hilarious. Definitely go to this show.
My daughter and I spent a lot of time in the Crooner's Lounge listening to Eric Stone. We really enjoyed his Frank Sinatra and Broadway Show tunes. He also does a Name that Tune game that was a lot of fun.
The Karaoke in the Explorer lounge was also fun. We had a few karaoke performers in our group, including my daughter so we hung out there quite a bit.
We also took part in most of the Team Trivia games that went on everyday. We had a competition going with another group. We rec'd key chains, back packs and travel mugs for our winnings. It's a nice way to get to know other people. We also spent time in the card room, which got quite crowded. We won a shuffleboard tournament. We played putt-putt and played 9-holes on the golf simulator.
The casino was a big hit for some of our group. We had a few winners and a few losers. I played the slots twice but lost my $20. My husband and his cohorts were into playing a game called 3-card. My husband won big one night and came out $100 ahead for the entire cruise. Another friend hit $1000 on the slots.

My son went to "Off-Limits" the teen club. They seem to have quite a few activities going on every night. He enjoyed it, and he says it was better than RCL's program.
My daughter hung out with us most of the time. There were only 22 other 18-20 year olds on board and they must have all been with their parents because we never noticed any groups going by. She was allowed in the lounges and dances with us (just no drinking) so it wasn't a problem. We also spent some time in the Pottery Studio being creative. We had a really good time together. It was nice because she's leaving for college in one month and I enjoyed spending some time with her.
Ports
I booked all of our excursions independently. I like the smaller groups and personalized service you receive. I rely heavily on Cruise Critic's message boards for help in choosing which excursions and operators to use. Since the cruise was free, I probably spent more than I normally would on excursions. I booked most of our excursions for afternoon so we wouldn't have to rush in the mornings. We like to stay out late and enjoy the entertainment.
Ketchikan
We chose to go fishing with Captain Ken. I booked at the end of April. There were 6 of us on board with him. We met him right off the gangway at 7:15am and his boat is a very short walk to a very steep gangway down to the dock. It was low tide so the floating dock was very far down. We really enjoyed this trip and our fishing experience. He's extremely knowledgeable about the area and about fishing. We caught and released about 30 salmon: King, Coho, Pink and the other kind that's not Sockeye. We were out until 1:15pm. We did a quick walk through town and bought my husband a pair of Levis (he forgot to pack his jeans, he lives in jeans and he forgot them, it was pretty funny!) Back onboard by 2:00pm for sail away at 2:30pm.
Juneau
We spent the morning exploring the town. DO NOT take the trolley tour. It is a rip off. They told us they had a historian on board so we thought why not? Wrong. For $12.50 apiece, besides the all day use pass, I expected to learn something that I hadn't read in the Princess Patter. The tour lasted maybe 15 minutes. We walked back to the ship to drop off our bags. When we went to use the trolley again, we sat for 10-15 minutes while the driver talked to friend. We finally got off and walked back into town. It was frustrating. I did find a local artist that makes jewelry from fossilized walrus ivory and embeds Alaskan Jade in it. I bought a pendant and some earrings. A lot of the stores have the same merchandise, so I like to find the local artists whenever we travel. We also visited the Harley store here so everyone could get their T-shirts.
My husband and son went on a fly-in fly fishing trip with Butch from Alaska Fly'n Fish Charters. They said it was amazing. My son wanted to just keep flying and forget the fishing. But they did catch 150 trout and salmon. They said the minute your line hit the water you had a fish. They saw two brown bear from the air, and lots of eagles. They said it was one of their top ten adventures.
My daughter and I went helicopter/glacier trekking with North Star. This is the most professional tour company that I have ever dealt with, from the moment they pick you up until they drop you off. The staff is very well trained, friendly and knowledgeable. We were picked up outside the Red Dog Saloon. Which by the way has a great bar-b-que beef sandwich! They were kind enough to drop my husband and son off at the airport on the way to their offices. We got there and signed in and got dressed (they supply everything) and had a lesson in helicopter safety. Then off we went into the wild blue yonder. The blue I'm referring to is in the glaciers. I'm not sure if breathtaking is a good enough adjective for the sights we saw, but it will have to do. After a brief tour of the area we landed on the glacier. We were met by our guide, Jimmy, who then prepared us for our trek. It felt like we were on another world. We got lucky because we were the only two on the tour. Jimmy took us for a quick lesson in going up, down and sideways on the ice. We were wearing crampons, they are spikes that fit around your boots. We felt pretty confident we started to hike. We went up, down, through an ice cave, we repelled down a wall, and we drank glacier water. We explored all over the glacier. We did get to do a lot more because it was just the two of us. We got back to base and waited for the helicopter to take us back for another exciting ride. I really don't have any words to describe this experience. If you have a chance to do this excursion, it's a must!

Skagway-
We really liked Skagway. It's a neat town. This is where we found the Alaska t-shirts and sweatshirts that we liked. The store is called "T-shirts to Go" and they had a nice variety.
We decided to go on another helicopter tour of the glaciers here so that my husband and son could get a good look at the glaciers. We chose to go with Temsco and the Pilot's choice excursion. We landed on two glacier areas and got out and walked around about 15-20 minutes at each stop. We also flew for about 1 hour touring the glaciers from the area. Our pilot was excellent. He taught us so much about the area, the glaciers, the mountains...we were hoping for a trivia game on the cruise about glaciers because we know we would have won! Once again, a great excursion with a great guide.
Glacier Bay and College Fiord
These are not just lazy days on board. The sightseeing is fascinating. This is why you want balcony and why you need to pack binoculars. We saw whales, porpoises, seals, baby harbor seals, and otters. So bundle up(cuz it gets chilly)and be ready to be amazed! There are blankets available by the outside deck chairs. This was some of the most unbelievable scenery I have ever seen. Glacier Bay was a little foggy in the morning but it lifted and our day in College Fiord was sunny and cool. Order a hot chocolate (remember it's European style so you'll want to add cream and sugar to it) and sit on your balcony and enjoy. Or head to the outside decks ( I think it was deck 7 forward that was kind of protected and had heat blowing out ) and be ready to run from one side to the other when you hear that someone spotted a whale. This is nature at its best!

Disembarkation
We were given our Red 5 tags and put our bags out before heading down to dinner at 8pm. According to the Patter, Red 5 meant we would be called around 7:45am for our bus to Anchorage. We went to breakfast at 7am and then headed down to the Explorer lounge to wait. They called Red 5 at about 7:50am. Make sure you wait in a public area. There are no announcements in the room. One of the single males in our group stayed in his room waiting to be called and ended up missing our bus. He did catch up with us later. We walked off the ship and onto the bus. The drive to Anchorage is like another tour. We had an informative bus driver who even stopped for a quick break and wildflower hike. We got to Anchorage by 11:00am. We were taken right to the Egan Center and our luggage went directly to the airport (our flight was at 7:25pm). We stored our carry-ons at the Egan Center and went in search of lunch. We ended up at a local bar/restaurant called "Humpy's". They had great burgers and great service. Then we walked around for awhile. Some of us decided to kill time by going to the movies. We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean. The fact that none of us fell asleep should attest to the excitement and entertainment of the movie. The others in our group went to a local farm market that had crafters, too. They said it was really nice. We got back to Egan Center and took the 4:30pm bus to the airport. We got to the airport and someone from Princess got on board and told us where to find our luggage. We found our luggage and then waited forever to check in at Northwest. This was a very disorganized ticket counter. Also, watch your baggage weight. Their limit is 50 lbs. and they did charge some of us $25 per bag for being overweight. Now one person in our group had a 65lb and a 70 lb bag and they were not charged by their ticket agent. My bag was 62 lbs and I was charged. In my defense, we flew out Air Canada and their limit was 70 lbs per bag. I forgot to check on Northwest before we left.
Overall
The Island Princess is beautiful. It was easy to get around the ship. The staircase down to dinner is perfect for pictures. There are windows everywhere so you always have a great view of the sights. She was very smooth riding. I only needed to take Bonine on our last night out. In fact, I was passing out Bonine to everyone.
I heard many people remarking about the friendliness, politeness and professionalism of the entire Crew and Staff. They were outstanding! We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were on an Inaugural Cruise because everything ran so smoothly.
Well, I think that just about covers it. This is my first ever review so let me know if I missed anything. I'm still working on how to get copies of the patter scanned and downloaded. I'll be glad to answer any questions for you. bbyost@alltel.netAugust 2003
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