Coral Princess Alaska July 2013: Coral Princess Cruise Review by SoCal Cruise Critic User
Overall Member Rating
Coral Princess Alaska July 2013
On the negative side there was a lot of vibration in the room, which made sleeping and relaxing somewhat difficult. I thought that being on the 9th level, there would be little or no effects from the engine room. Big mistake. The Princess agent that I worked with failed to mention the vibration throughout the far rear areas also.
I rate the food between average and good. As I recall, the food on previous cruises was noticeably better in terms of variety and taste. However, there were a fair number on the cruise that rated the food as very good. The food on theme days such as Italian Night and Alaska buffet lunch was, indeed noteworthy.
The itinerary and options were probably the best part of the cruise. Alaska is indeed beautiful. The stops along the inside passage were More worthwhile and interesting. Cruising Glacier Bay and College Fjord was the true highlight as both were very scenic and would have been extremely difficult to see on your own. The disembarkation and reboarding process was relatively painless, with few long lines, which moved relatively fast.
Other minor notes - poor lighting for makeup preparation (consider lighted makeup mirror), hot water could be a little hotter, no diet sodas in the refrigerator. There was lot of emphasis on shopping, especially for art, jewelry, clothes and souvenirs - no surprise. It was difficult to hear some announcements in our room and the photographers were everywhere - they slowed the disembarkation process at each port and were constantly present at many other functions
The land tour portion gets mixed reviews. The lodging and restaurants ranged from OK (Denali and Fairbanks Riverside Princess lodges) to very nice (McKinley Princess and Captain Cook Hotel). The included tours were interesting but too commercialized. The visit to Denali was quite nice, but a 1-day stay is not long enough. Too often, we felt like we were herded and held captive by Princess at the lodges and on the tours. It definitely would not get a high rating.
Limited free time in Anchorage. Train ride to McKinley Lodge was nice. Talkeetna stop OK but nothing special. Typical small touristy Alaska town with shopping, restaurants, and tour booking as its main calling.
McKinley Princess Lodge is very spread out with older but nice lodge style rooms with attractive furnishings. Limited shuttle service. Denali Princess Lodge has much more in the way of stores and places to eat (both inside and outside the complex) and is much less isolated than the McKinley Princess. However, it does not have the charm or quaintness of the McKinley Lodge. There is extensive shuttle service at the lodge as well as in the park, which is not far from the lodge. Fairbanks Princess lodge was more like a large motel than a lodge. Rooms were decent but sort of plain. Least charming of the lodges. Poor lighting and no comfortable seating.
Denali National Park is definitely worth the trip. Travel inside the park is by park or contractor provided school bus type coach. It took a long time to travel short distances in the park. We especially enjoyed the Ranger dog sled show and the movie in the visitors center. The natural history tour was interesting. All the Princess bus drivers/tour guides were very knowledgeable and interesting. Same for the park bus drivers/guides.
Fairbanks is not a top attraction area and definitely not a "must see", although it is Alaska's 2nd largest city. There is small downtown, lots of larger stores and the airport are key reasons for going there. It is drier and warmer in the summer. The Discovery Riverboat cruise was interesting, but quite commercialized and somewhat contrived. The same for the Gold Dredging tour - longer than needed with way too much shopping time. Less
Cabin review: ADD715
We stayed in D715, 9th (Dolphin) deck way in back of the ship. It was near the laundry but there was no noticeable noise or traffic. The room (mini-suite) was very nice. Plenty of room, very nicely furnished and well equipped, lots of storage and closet space. The large sitting areas (inside and balcony) were especially nice. The bath was larger than many as there was a long sink counter and tub/shower combination. It was located on the Starboard side, which had slightly better views for the cruises leaving from VancouverOn the negative side there was a lot of vibration in the room, which made sleeping and relaxing somewhat difficult. I purposely booked a room in the rear of the ship thinking it would be quieter, which it was. However, I thought that being on the 9th level, there would be little or no effects from the engine room. Big mistake. Avoid the far aft on the Coral Princess.Some other notes on the room - poor lighting for makeup preparation (consider lighted makeup mirror), hot water could be a little hotter, no diet sodas in the refrigerator. Excellent room service.
Port and Shore Excursions
If you are very interested in plants you would rate this higher. It was a relatively short stop - as the area is not too large and easily walkable. The plants/trees were well marked and viewing and photographing them was relatively enjoyable.
Combined Rainforest gardens, Mendenhall Glacier and State Museum tour. The tour included two of the highest rated sites (glacier and museum), only took a few hours and was relatively inexpensive. You could do these 2 on your own with the shuttle to the glacier and a moderate walk to museum and save a few bucks. Mendenhall is impressive and there is a lovely waterfall (via a moderate walk) as well as a nice visitors center. The State Museum is also recommended as it gives a very good overview of the native cultures, gold mining history and information on wildlife, geography, etc. We also walked around town and visited the unimpressive Capitol Building (with a self guided tour) and the outside of the Governor's Mansion and, of course in town shopping.
Saxman Native Village
There were no "must see" places according to the tour books I read. Saxman Village turned out to be a worthwhile visit with good introduction to the native people and the best selection of totem poles - not too expensive either. Difficult to do much in Ketchikan in 4 hours, so this tour provided some insight into native cultures and also gave us some time to walk around town. We did the Saxman village tour first to avoid any possible crowding in town when the ships unloaded. The flight to Misty Fjords is highly recommended but it was cloudy, rather pricey and my spouse is not a small plane person.
White Pass Scenic Railway
The railroad ride was very enjoyable. The scenery was quite nice and the commentary on the history of the railroad and area was another plus. It takes several hours for the trip and costs over $100, but it is one of the top attractions in Alaska. You can save a few bucks by going to the station in town and buying your ticket directly with the RR, but it may not be worth the effort.