Island Princess Cruise Review by Karen
- Sail Date: May 2007
- Destination: Alaska
Ship: Striking atrium; light, bright and not as gaudy as other ships. Large, well stocked library & separate card room, maybe too large for the activities, but the furniture was very comfortable & rooms well lit. The shops were similar to other ships; prices were fairly comparable to same items onshore. I don't recall seeing a liquor store onboard.
Activities: One outdoor pool, lots of lounge chairs but the air was really too cold for most to swim. The indoor pool was decorated in a tropical/Asian motif; lots of rataan & plants...very appealing. Paxs said pool water was just right. There were 4 Art Auctions with a large selection of artwork but not many people attended the 3 I went to. The moderator was knowledgeable but didn't seem to make contact with the audience. The usual expensive Bingo games and trivia contests but the ship offered full-run movies too. We didn't take full advantage of the dancing parties but there were many opportunities to do so. The casino offered 5 cent slots which was a surprise ... and fun. Not much action in the casino but the machines did seem to pay well. There were a minimal number of announcements over the p.a. (which was welcomed) other than from the naturalists who commented on Glacier Bay and College Fjord as we were cruising through those areas. They also pointed out whales, otters, porpoise, seals as we came upon them
Meals: Excellent food, both in dining rooms and buffet. The scrambled eggs were solid not watery, bacon was crisp, try the 6-grain dinner rolls toasted for breakfast; sauteed lima beans at one evening meal (...I'm a convert!), lots of fresh salmon and top-grade steaks every day and eye-candy desserts at every seating. On the other hand, Room Service items are somewhat limited but they cut the crusts off the bread for a sandwich! I ordered coffee every morning at 5 am ... it was such a treat sitting on the balcony, all bundled up, watching the morning sun. Cabins: I think Princess provides very attractive, large staterooms with plenty of space and hangars for your personal items (behind a wall next to the lav) so your things are out/of/sight. Small, small shower (it's a challenge!) but the lav is well appointed. Only one set of towels per pax which was odd to me since our last cruise with Carnival provided so many towels, I had to ask our cabin steward to remove some of the excess! Beds are hard so we asked for a "egg crate" mattress topper which solved that problem. Also, you're given two flat/as/a/pancake pillows per person; ask your steward for fluffy ones. Our balcony had two chairs and table, more than enough room to enjoy the outdoors. Service: Our cabin steward was efficient and pleasant enough but didn't seem to really extend himself. In fact, we felt this with most of the Island Princess staff. Other paxs commented on the same thing, esp. during meal times. We've cruised 5x before on various cruise lines but this was the first time we were not impressed with the staff in general.
Shore Excursions: Lots of energetic, adventurous shore excursions offered at the 3 ports but the vast majority of them were very, very expensive. A family of 4 could have easily spent $1K a day if they took advantage of some of the shore planes, helicopters and train rides. The amazing thing to us was...many families DID take the expensive shore excursions, along with extended land tours after we landed in Whittier. I'd like to see a few more sedate tours offered at each port. Entertainment: We don't do shows so I cannot comment personally. However, other paxs enjoyed the musicals but were not too impressed with the comedians. There were quite a few opportunities to dance on deck and in the lounges; live and taped music were rockin' Our entertainment was the views of Glacier Bay and the Fjord...simply breathtaking at every turn. The captain stopped the ship at a couple points, turning it around slowly so paxs on both sides of the boat could see the beauty in front of us. Disembarkation: This was another fast, easy procedure ... we have no complaints whatsoever. Princess does handle their in-masse passengers well, even provided a downtown hospitality room for paxs taking late flights out of Anchorage.
Summary: You can't beat an Alaskan cruise. It's everyone's dream. Be sure to take a camcorder and binoculars along with your camera...we didn't so we'll be "forced" to take the trip again to capture the sights. May's a good time to travel; the ice/snow is fresh, weather is cool but not that much rain as compared to late-season cruising, the mosquitos haven't come out yet and prices are right.
One wild thing: sunrise was approx 4:30 am and as the cruise progressed further north, sunset didn't happen until after 11:30 pm. You could read a newspaper on the balcony at that time without a light on...wild!
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