1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Island Princess
From the moment you step up to the dock to the time you leave - Princess cruise lines makes you feel like a VIP! I'm gonnna warn you, this is going to be a long review but I'll break it up into categories like hotel, boarding, cabin, entertainment, dining, etc. So feel free to skim & I apologize ahead of time for the excessive use of the word AWESOME & exclamations !!! - But the majesty of Alaska and the pampering of Princess Cruise Line will do that to you! Who are we? My Mom & Dad - she's a spunky retired teacher & dad is a practicing Psychologist & hilarious loose cannon who will never retire! - Who am I? I'm @GwynethJones, The Daring Librarian! I'm a middle school teacher librarian, Tweeter, Ed Tech & lifestyle blogger, & international ed tech speaker. My parents aren't getting any younger (neither am I, heck - who is?) As a kid my Mom lived on the Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska & she's always wanted to revisit it. I love my parents, we have a great time traveling together, & I cherish every min with them! Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown Historic buildings usually have small rooms and elevators. That's a given. We were jet lagged from flying West from DC Metro and were grateful to have a room to crash in right away! Everyone we met at this property were warm & friendly! It was Canada Day and unseasonably HOT.....it took a while and a phone call but I discovered how to turn on the Remote Control Air Conditioning (?) in the room, got it cranking and was super happy! The neighborhood looked a little sketchy but the tiny hipster Yagger's Restaurant & Bar next door was a godsend for an early dinner (they also do the room service & a more complete review can be found on TripAdvisor) The Ramada's bathroom was super clean, the bed felt great, & what more do you need the night before an Island Princess cruise? Mom & Dad's hotel room down the hall was even smaller than mine - we shoulda switched but we all just wanted to crash. It didn't have a desk & chair like I did - just a lap board & a hassock which was pretty funny to watch my Dad try & email from his iPad perched upon a tuffet! So yeah, older, sketchy neighborhood, creaky floorboards, but only blocks uphill away from Canada Place, it's clean, nice, friendly, reasonable, FREE continental breakfast and FREE INTERNET- just what I needed! The hotel is NOT an easy walk to the docking area, but the Taxi fare was only $5 bucks - totally worth it! Arrival & Boarding We arrived at the Vancouver Canada Place dock early, our bags were whisked onto racks & we were warmly welcomed to make our way to check in. Because we were so early, there were no lines to speak of, and within minutes we were sitting in a large waiting room of metal folding chairs ready to go in. Or so we thought! Next thing you know a guy came up to us asked our names and said, "please follow me" Mom & I looked daggers at my Dad, we were so sure he must have said something to get us in trouble already! But no! Apparently they had heard of me and we were escorted into the Preferred Guests Lounge and WOW!....this was a taste of what was to come for our trip - somehow we made it to the VIP list. What the what!?? We're rolling like the Kardashains! How the Heck did I get bumped up to VIP status? I guess because I have nearly 24K followers and I was excitedly Tweeting weeks before the cruise to Princess, mentioning our excursions, embarkation, ship, & sail date. ;-) Subtle, huh? Anywho, no one was as shocked as I was when we somehow got bumped up to the VIP list! Behold the power of social media! It goes to show that it doesn't hurt to reach out via social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, heck even an an email!) in a friendly way and hope for the best! Ok, nuff of that - let's get to the cabins! Here are the pictures of our cabins and cruise: https://goo.gl/g5RSJh Cabins: We were the first people invited to go on the ship, two handsome ship officers Desmond & August lead us on and personally escorted us to our cabins. My parents had a spacious mid-ship balcony mini-suite Dolphin 401 (the flowers I had pre-ordered for them were there waiting there & gorgeous!) I had a mid-ship balcony cabin - super close to the elevators (which was awesome!) Caribe 421 - and I had flowers, too! A dozen roses & lilies compliments of the Public Relations team! W00t! I love how on Princess you can go to your cabin right away to drop off your stuff - unlike RC. Even if your luggage isn't there - you don't have to wait - that's really a nice service! My cabin was spacious - large walk in closet, nice storage cupboard with shelving and the safe - and a bathroom that was small but very manageable. I considered booking a mini suite, but with just one person, I didn't need the extra space plus I enjoyed the pleasure of lying on the super comfy queen bed being able to see both the flat screen TV and the view. I know, that sounds really luxurious and lazy - and it was! OH the VIEWS! The best thing was the balcony! Seriously, splurge for a portside balcony! Enjoy floor to ceiling windows leading out onto a quite spacious balcony with 2 chairs and revel in the gorgeous views that changed every 5 min. With daylight lasting until midnight - and the vista more jaw-dropping around every bend of the water - I quickly became repetitive saying "WOW" or Whoa!" because of the beauty. Best thing about the C421 balcony - it was COVERED! So, when it was a little misty or rainy you could still enjoy it. I did my research ahead of time reading Cruise Critic Reviews and blogs about the best cabins to reserve. I kept the TV on almost the whole trip - especially at night! I kept it tuned to the forward live webcam channel where it showed the prow view of where we were going with lovely classical music playing in the background. Joining my parents in their larger cabin & balcony for sailaway we were treated to complimentary delivered champagne, gourmet hors d'oeuvres, and chocolate covered strawberries! What a treat! Leaving Vancouver was beautiful, my Mom's only complaint is that they didn't play the love boat theme! LOL More Perks! Another perk of somehow landing on the VIP list was that we were invited to the Captain's party and we were invited to meet with the Captain for a private tour of the bridge! This was a rare privilege! Of course, to pay back Princess for all this star treatment I did Tweet out my appreciation with pictures! https://flic.kr/p/o7QA7C Dining We had anytime dining but like to eat early so we reserved a table at 5:15 in the Bordeaux dining room. Even though the first night we were dining in Sabatini's - on boarding day I wanted to scout out the best tables in the Bordeaux dining room. We wanted a prime 4 top round table near a portside window- for us that was table 16. The best 4 top round tables near windows are portside: 26, 30 and starboard side 90 and 95. The VIP status meant they kept our favourite table for us every night and we never had to stand in line. As soon as they saw us they motioned us to come forward and enter the dining room immediately. I felt bad at first about this but not shockingly grew to love it! Heh heh heh Life on the A List! The food is simply amazing. This really is like a 4 star floating hotel with daily gourmet meals - I don't know how they do it! My advice, sample every course - you don't have to finish it but nibble something new! Standouts were chilled seafood salad with huge chunks of lobster, shrimp, & crab...and of course Lobster night! Sabatini's was a great experience - worth the extra $ - they also had lobster and WOW...it was amazing! Outstanding Dining Staff - Mr Rui Pereira - The amazingly warm, charming, and attentive service of Mr Rui Pereira the maître d'hôtel could not be praised more highly. He was the one who made several very special moments happen. For example, my parents were celebrating a milestone anniversary and they gave them a lovely chocolate cake & sang for them! Mr. Francisco Vascomcelos - Head Waiter Bordeaux - He made sure we got the wonderful Table 16 every night at 5:15, he waved us up to bypass the dining line, and his smile could light a room. (Yeah, he's super cute!) Manuel Bem - Head Waiter Bordeaux Dining Room, he stopped by our Table 16 every night and kindly made sure we were happy with our wonderful dining experience. Richard Lara-Apaza Junior Waiter from Peru Table 16 Bordeaux Dining Room was friendly, warm, genuine, attentive, funny, and emulated the outstanding leadership of Mr Rui Pereira the maître d'hôtel. Richard became like family. We also sought out his table at breakfast! He made sure we were happy and gave us a wonderful dining experience doing everything he could with warm efficiency and courtesy. He even did a few magic tricks that delighted us! WOW!...This guy should be made HEAD waiter! Someday I could even see him following in Mr. Pereira's shoes! All inclusive Alcohol & Specialty Drink Package - Is it Worth it? Yes, and no. Here's how we figured it before the trip: $56 day (includes all TIPS plus all soda, juices, bottles of water & specialty coffee) This is my non-math genius way of figuring this out so please bear with me! You gotta subtract $8 a day because it includes the Soda Plus package & I love at least one Diet Coke a day Subtract $7 a day because it includes the Café Selects Coffee Card & Gelato (I love a Latte!) So it really costs $41 a day for the alcohol portion -- so here's how it could go Morning Latte (double shot) = $6 2 bottles of water a day $8 (Water package is 12 lg bottles for $39.95) Perhaps a pint of Guinness with the pub lunch = $7 1 Diet Coke in the afternoon or with lunch = $4 Before dinner cocktail like a Mojito = $9 Glass of wine with dinner = $8 Specialty coffee like a cappuccino after dinner = $6 2 Glasses of wine with the nightly show = $16 Hot chocolate on deck which are not free = $8 --- Add all that up + a dollar tip to each transaction (cause otherwise I felt like a cheepskate) + $10 = $73 -- So It can add up fast, really! PLUS - if you order a bottle of wine under $100 you get that 40% OFF that's includes Room Service (So a $29 dollar bottle of wine is $17.40) Honestly, I drank the latte & cappuccino coffee a LOT it was delish & warming! AND I did try a few mixed drinks I never would have had it not been for the card but I didn't have one a day. The discount on the bottles did pay off because we really liked sitting on the balcony & sipping wine in port or watching the scenery change. I really don't know if I would splurge for the package again - it was a pain to sign every slip & I felt guilty not adding an EXTRA tip, but it did sort of add to the festive feeling though I know I did not always drink the $41 a day. But you would be surprised how FAST beverages from coffee, water, soda, & drinks can add up! Island Princess Entertainment The Good! The Opus band was amazingly talented! We enjoyed them on the sail away (though we did miss hearing the LoveBoat theme), the Captain's Circle party, and in the lounge! I also enjoyed the talents of the atrium pianist and the engaging crooner at Crooner's Bar. The Bad: Without a doubt, the best show on the ship could be found every day and night on our balconies and on the promenade chaise lounges. With that being said, the evening big venue shows were disappointing. A muppet holding talented singer, a juggler, a sort of funny comedian, and a lavish but repetitive On the Bayou show were just OK. On a cruise that exceeded every other expectation, this was the only clunker. The Ugly: I found the Wake Show by the cruise director consistently grating - his humour was solipsistic and self-aggrandizing and often off colour! (and I'm not a prude!) But his Deputy was engaging & trying his best to mitigate the sometimes inappropriate or falling flat attempts at humour. But the info was great and as I got ready for my day every morning I did turn in - even if I was rolling my eyes or shaking my head at the lame cruise director. Holiday Travel Advisory: If you are going to be in port on Ketchikan, Juneau, or Skagway on the 4th of July - don't schedule an excursion. Or...just walk from the boat. Each city only has one main road - which they totally shut down for a 4th of July parade so you can leave for your excursion but coming back with the only road closed is IMPOSSIBLE! The driver of our bus coach had to stop & let everyone off a LONG way from the ship and though my parents are 65+ & very spry I felt bad for a few of our passengers who had mobility issues. Plus I had knee replacement the year before & wasn't to terribly thrilled to unexpectedly trek it. Whatevs. Just make a note of that. The first week of July was GREAT weather though for this trip! Only 1 day of rain! Ketchikan Excursion: Wilderness Exploration Cruise & Crab Feast - Island Princess Excursion $149pp What we read versus what we got with added rain & an aborted bus trip home did NOT dim the AWESOME time we had here! From the Princess website: "Upon arriving at the lodge, you'll board an enclosed tour boat and cruise the George Inlet waterway (then)... you'll return to the George Inlet Lodge for a not-to-be-missed meal." First up, let me say again we did LOVE this excursion - EXCEPT for the fact that we had to eat the crab at 8:30 in the morning. But hey, we're from Maryland - we can eat crab ANYTIME! When we booked the excursion, it did say a boat trip followed with a crab feast....when we got the actual excursion ticket & it said crab first, I don't think we really believed it (I know, silly right?) I guess we could have cancelled it on Embarkation day - but we didn't. I guess we shouldn't have had breakfast that day, either! DUH! I think the Princess marketing materials should say this more clearly. I also think that for the early shift, the George Inlet folks could offer a more brunchy starter than a green salad with an Asian ginger sesame dressing. Maybe a fresh fruit parfait or a smoked salmon platter on the table to share with bagels, chopped eggs, capers, & onion? Or how about a cheesy bacon quiche? Maybe offer a Mimosa to purchase instead of Wine or Beer along with sodas and iced tea? Keep the cheesecake (no one ate it that I saw!) we were all stuffed with the amazingly succulent wonderfully fresh delicious Dungeness crab. Mmmmmmm Really. Quite. Amazing. So yeah, timing aside the crab feast was delicious and the super cute Austie who lead the feast was lots of fun, high energy, & and very entertaining. The Wilderness Exploration Cruise part was AMAZEBALLS! Our cruise tour young naturalist Kiki was super smart and engaging while Capt. Gil the Eagle Whisperer delivered a once in a lifetime Bald Eagle fetch experience! We saw an eagle perched on a branch on the shoreline - Capt. Gil stopped the boat, produced a raw fish, & held it in the air as he whistled and called for "Lucy" and sure enough - that huge bald eagle flew towards the boat, circled it, and as he threw the fish in the water she plunged just feet in front of us & grabbed that fish! WOW!!!!!! I got pictures, I just wish I had gotten a video of this - it was magical! OK...Next stop & Excursions! Juneau -- Whale Watching & Alaska Salmon Bake Ship Time in Port: Arrive 8:00am Depart 9:00pm 10:15AM - 03:15PM Adult: $189.00 This was a fun trip and the salmon was to die for! We saw some amazing whales, jumping or breaking out of the water flipping over so fast! Wow! We even saw bubble net feeding! This is a rare occurrence! "Bubble Net Feeding is a unique feeding technique employed by Humpback Whales, in which a group of whales swim in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of fish. This shrinking column of bubbles surrounds the school of fish forcing them upward. The whales spontaneously swim upward through the bubble net, mouths wide open, catching thousands of fish in one gulp." I took SO many pictures and short videos of this but they don't do it justice. Skagway White Pass Scenic Railway - $129pp This was a great excursion! The train pulls up right by the docks and the scenery is breath taking! HINT: Sit on the LEFT side going UP and Right side going DOWN. Departure: It was nice to be VIP and wait in the lounge for departure from the ship - we were some of the first off the boat and there was coffee, danishes, and power outlets while we wait for our group to be called. Bus trip to Anchorage: Princess really knows how to coordinate things. We stayed at the Captain Cook hotel and our bags were already there & we were checked in with key cards waiting for us almost as soon as we got there! My first cousin AJ lives in Anchorage and he met us and we got to go around for a few days with he and his roommate David. Anchorage Alaska - Captain Cook Hotel: A Grande Dame & Great Views! It's always sad when the cruise is over- but the Capt. Cook working with Princess Cruises made us feel right at home! It's awesome when you arrive, stop by the Princess desk, pick up your room keys and find your luggage already in the room! We lucked out getting two gorgeous king rooms on the 18th floor - I had a huge room facing the water and my parents had the identical king room facing the mountains. Big windows plus one of the highest (if not THE highest) buildings in the city = great views from any direction! Sure, the rooms were a little outdated - but everything was clean, comfortable, and there was FREE INTERNET and a flat screen TV. I'm in heaven! Palatial lobby appointed with indigenous art work, lots of tucked away comfy seating areas for shuttle waiting or just hanging out and cute shops for last minute purchases! Fletcher's pub in Tower 3 was a nice place for dinner with reasonable prices and humongous portions! Two of us ordered the gourmet 8" personal pizzas but they both came out more like 14 inches! - Thank goodness my tall & burly first cousin and his roommate were dining with us and live in Anchorage and could take the pizza's home with them! Dad picked up the bill so I didn't see how cha-ching it was, but the individual prices I thought were quite reasonable for Alaska. Best thing about The Captain Cook Hotel? Ceiling fans over the beds! I'm weird that way. Last Thoughts & Tips: Ship Navigation An important navigation tip. On the Island Princess, the even sided cabins (Port) have an Orange color outline in the hallway carpet. The odd sided cabins (Starboard) have a Blue color outline in the hallway carpet. Bring a Power strip! Bring a Lanyard for your key card! I bought a super fancy Coach signature lanyard card holder on Amazon that also had pockets for foldable $ combined with a cultured pearl lanyard necklace I got from Etsty I could wear my keycard around all the time with panache! If you don't want a key card holder bring a cheap lanyard and get your card punched so you can wear it around that way! :-) Internet Connectivity Ok, I'm an idiot. I'm a tech savvy girl who needs her internet so I bought a package $159 bucks but one night after checking my email I forgot to log off. Yeah, you guessed it. I burned through all my minutes sleeping. DOH! Here's how it broke down. Don't laugh and don't judge me! LOL https://flic.kr/p/o7QS75 I loved this cruise SO much as soon as we got back I went online to look for last min deals to go again -- and then I woke up because my Mom said I was CRAZY....and I was. For this once of a lifetime cruise to Alaska seeing it in a way you couldn't by car or plane.... with the parents who give me life. Priceless.

Cruising Like a Kardashian (Without the Tacky)

Island Princess Cruise Review by TheDaringLibrarian

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2014
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
From the moment you step up to the dock to the time you leave - Princess cruise lines makes you feel like a VIP!

I'm gonnna warn you, this is going to be a long review but I'll break it up into categories like hotel, boarding, cabin, entertainment, dining, etc. So feel free to skim & I apologize ahead of time for the excessive use of the word AWESOME & exclamations !!! - But the majesty of Alaska and the pampering of Princess Cruise Line will do that to you!

Who are we?

My Mom & Dad - she's a spunky retired teacher & dad is a practicing Psychologist & hilarious loose cannon who will never retire! - Who am I? I'm @GwynethJones, The Daring Librarian! I'm a middle school teacher librarian, Tweeter, Ed Tech & lifestyle blogger, & international ed tech speaker. My parents aren't getting any younger (neither am I, heck - who is?) As a kid my Mom lived on the Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska & she's always wanted to revisit it. I love my parents, we have a great time traveling together, & I cherish every min with them!

Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown

Historic buildings usually have small rooms and elevators. That's a given. We were jet lagged from flying West from DC Metro and were grateful to have a room to crash in right away! Everyone we met at this property were warm & friendly!

It was Canada Day and unseasonably HOT.....it took a while and a phone call but I discovered how to turn on the Remote Control Air Conditioning (?) in the room, got it cranking and was super happy!

The neighborhood looked a little sketchy but the tiny hipster Yagger's Restaurant & Bar next door was a godsend for an early dinner (they also do the room service & a more complete review can be found on TripAdvisor) The Ramada's bathroom was super clean, the bed felt great, & what more do you need the night before an Island Princess cruise?

Mom & Dad's hotel room down the hall was even smaller than mine - we shoulda switched but we all just wanted to crash. It didn't have a desk & chair like I did - just a lap board & a hassock which was pretty funny to watch my Dad try & email from his iPad perched upon a tuffet!

So yeah, older, sketchy neighborhood, creaky floorboards, but only blocks uphill away from Canada Place, it's clean, nice, friendly, reasonable, FREE continental breakfast and FREE INTERNET- just what I needed! The hotel is NOT an easy walk to the docking area, but the Taxi fare was only $5 bucks - totally worth it!

Arrival & Boarding

We arrived at the Vancouver Canada Place dock early, our bags were whisked onto racks & we were warmly welcomed to make our way to check in. Because we were so early, there were no lines to speak of, and within minutes we were sitting in a large waiting room of metal folding chairs ready to go in.

Or so we thought!

Next thing you know a guy came up to us asked our names and said, "please follow me" Mom & I looked daggers at my Dad, we were so sure he must have said something to get us in trouble already! But no! Apparently they had heard of me and we were escorted into the Preferred Guests Lounge and WOW!....this was a taste of what was to come for our trip - somehow we made it to the VIP list. What the what!?? We're rolling like the Kardashains!

How the Heck did I get bumped up to VIP status?

I guess because I have nearly 24K followers and I was excitedly Tweeting weeks before the cruise to Princess, mentioning our excursions, embarkation, ship, & sail date. ;-) Subtle, huh? Anywho, no one was as shocked as I was when we somehow got bumped up to the VIP list! Behold the power of social media! It goes to show that it doesn't hurt to reach out via social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, heck even an an email!) in a friendly way and hope for the best! Ok, nuff of that - let's get to the cabins! Here are the pictures of our cabins and cruise: https://goo.gl/g5RSJh

Cabins:

We were the first people invited to go on the ship, two handsome ship officers Desmond & August lead us on and personally escorted us to our cabins. My parents had a spacious mid-ship balcony mini-suite Dolphin 401 (the flowers I had pre-ordered for them were there waiting there & gorgeous!) I had a mid-ship balcony cabin - super close to the elevators (which was awesome!) Caribe 421 - and I had flowers, too! A dozen roses & lilies compliments of the Public Relations team! W00t!

I love how on Princess you can go to your cabin right away to drop off your stuff - unlike RC. Even if your luggage isn't there - you don't have to wait - that's really a nice service! My cabin was spacious - large walk in closet, nice storage cupboard with shelving and the safe - and a bathroom that was small but very manageable. I considered booking a mini suite, but with just one person, I didn't need the extra space plus I enjoyed the pleasure of lying on the super comfy queen bed being able to see both the flat screen TV and the view. I know, that sounds really luxurious and lazy - and it was!

OH the VIEWS!

The best thing was the balcony! Seriously, splurge for a portside balcony! Enjoy floor to ceiling windows leading out onto a quite spacious balcony with 2 chairs and revel in the gorgeous views that changed every 5 min. With daylight lasting until midnight - and the vista more jaw-dropping around every bend of the water - I quickly became repetitive saying "WOW" or Whoa!" because of the beauty. Best thing about the C421 balcony - it was COVERED! So, when it was a little misty or rainy you could still enjoy it. I did my research ahead of time reading Cruise Critic Reviews and blogs about the best cabins to reserve.

I kept the TV on almost the whole trip - especially at night! I kept it tuned to the forward live webcam channel where it showed the prow view of where we were going with lovely classical music playing in the background. Joining my parents in their larger cabin & balcony for sailaway we were treated to complimentary delivered champagne, gourmet hors d'oeuvres, and chocolate covered strawberries! What a treat! Leaving Vancouver was beautiful, my Mom's only complaint is that they didn't play the love boat theme! LOL

More Perks!

Another perk of somehow landing on the VIP list was that we were invited to the Captain's party and we were invited to meet with the Captain for a private tour of the bridge! This was a rare privilege!

Of course, to pay back Princess for all this star treatment I did Tweet out my appreciation with pictures! https://flic.kr/p/o7QA7C

Dining

We had anytime dining but like to eat early so we reserved a table at 5:15 in the Bordeaux dining room. Even though the first night we were dining in Sabatini's - on boarding day I wanted to scout out the best tables in the Bordeaux dining room. We wanted a prime 4 top round table near a portside window- for us that was table 16. The best 4 top round tables near windows are portside: 26, 30 and starboard side 90 and 95. The VIP status meant they kept our favourite table for us every night and we never had to stand in line. As soon as they saw us they motioned us to come forward and enter the dining room immediately. I felt bad at first about this but not shockingly grew to love it! Heh heh heh Life on the A List!

The food is simply amazing. This really is like a 4 star floating hotel with daily gourmet meals - I don't know how they do it! My advice, sample every course - you don't have to finish it but nibble something new! Standouts were chilled seafood salad with huge chunks of lobster, shrimp, & crab...and of course Lobster night!

Sabatini's was a great experience - worth the extra $ - they also had lobster and WOW...it was amazing!

Outstanding Dining Staff -

Mr Rui Pereira - The amazingly warm, charming, and attentive service of Mr Rui Pereira the maître d'hôtel could not be praised more highly. He was the one who made several very special moments happen. For example, my parents were celebrating a milestone anniversary and they gave them a lovely chocolate cake & sang for them!

Mr. Francisco Vascomcelos - Head Waiter Bordeaux - He made sure we got the wonderful Table 16 every night at 5:15, he waved us up to bypass the dining line, and his smile could light a room. (Yeah, he's super cute!)

Manuel Bem - Head Waiter Bordeaux Dining Room, he stopped by our Table 16 every night and kindly made sure we were happy with our wonderful dining experience.

Richard Lara-Apaza Junior Waiter from Peru Table 16 Bordeaux Dining Room was friendly, warm, genuine, attentive, funny, and emulated the outstanding leadership of Mr Rui Pereira the maître d'hôtel. Richard became like family. We also sought out his table at breakfast! He made sure we were happy and gave us a wonderful dining experience doing everything he could with warm efficiency and courtesy. He even did a few magic tricks that delighted us! WOW!...This guy should be made HEAD waiter! Someday I could even see him following in Mr. Pereira's shoes!

All inclusive Alcohol & Specialty Drink Package - Is it Worth it?

Yes, and no. Here's how we figured it before the trip: $56 day (includes all TIPS plus all soda, juices, bottles of water & specialty coffee) This is my non-math genius way of figuring this out so please bear with me!

You gotta subtract $8 a day because it includes the Soda Plus package & I love at least one Diet Coke a day

Subtract $7 a day because it includes the Café Selects Coffee Card & Gelato (I love a Latte!)

So it really costs $41 a day for the alcohol portion -- so here's how it could go

Morning Latte (double shot) = $6

2 bottles of water a day $8 (Water package is 12 lg bottles for $39.95)

Perhaps a pint of Guinness with the pub lunch = $7

1 Diet Coke in the afternoon or with lunch = $4

Before dinner cocktail like a Mojito = $9

Glass of wine with dinner = $8

Specialty coffee like a cappuccino after dinner = $6

2 Glasses of wine with the nightly show = $16

Hot chocolate on deck which are not free = $8

--- Add all that up + a dollar tip to each transaction (cause otherwise I felt like a cheepskate) + $10 = $73 -- So It can add up fast, really!

PLUS - if you order a bottle of wine under $100 you get that 40% OFF that's includes Room Service (So a $29 dollar bottle of wine is $17.40)

Honestly, I drank the latte & cappuccino coffee a LOT it was delish & warming! AND I did try a few mixed drinks I never would have had it not been for the card but I didn't have one a day. The discount on the bottles did pay off because we really liked sitting on the balcony & sipping wine in port or watching the scenery change.

I really don't know if I would splurge for the package again - it was a pain to sign every slip & I felt guilty not adding an EXTRA tip, but it did sort of add to the festive feeling though I know I did not always drink the $41 a day. But you would be surprised how FAST beverages from coffee, water, soda, & drinks can add up!

Island Princess Entertainment

The Good!

The Opus band was amazingly talented! We enjoyed them on the sail away (though we did miss hearing the LoveBoat theme), the Captain's Circle party, and in the lounge! I also enjoyed the talents of the atrium pianist and the engaging crooner at Crooner's Bar.

The Bad:

Without a doubt, the best show on the ship could be found every day and night on our balconies and on the promenade chaise lounges. With that being said, the evening big venue shows were disappointing. A muppet holding talented singer, a juggler, a sort of funny comedian, and a lavish but repetitive On the Bayou show were just OK. On a cruise that exceeded every other expectation, this was the only clunker.

The Ugly:

I found the Wake Show by the cruise director consistently grating - his humour was solipsistic and self-aggrandizing and often off colour! (and I'm not a prude!) But his Deputy was engaging & trying his best to mitigate the sometimes inappropriate or falling flat attempts at humour. But the info was great and as I got ready for my day every morning I did turn in - even if I was rolling my eyes or shaking my head at the lame cruise director.

Holiday Travel Advisory:

If you are going to be in port on Ketchikan, Juneau, or Skagway on the 4th of July - don't schedule an excursion. Or...just walk from the boat. Each city only has one main road - which they totally shut down for a 4th of July parade so you can leave for your excursion but coming back with the only road closed is IMPOSSIBLE! The driver of our bus coach had to stop & let everyone off a LONG way from the ship and though my parents are 65+ & very spry I felt bad for a few of our passengers who had mobility issues. Plus I had knee replacement the year before & wasn't to terribly thrilled to unexpectedly trek it. Whatevs. Just make a note of that. The first week of July was GREAT weather though for this trip! Only 1 day of rain!

Ketchikan Excursion:

Wilderness Exploration Cruise & Crab Feast - Island Princess Excursion $149pp

What we read versus what we got with added rain & an aborted bus trip home did NOT dim the AWESOME time we had here!

From the Princess website:

"Upon arriving at the lodge, you'll board an enclosed tour boat and cruise the George Inlet waterway (then)... you'll return to the George Inlet Lodge for a not-to-be-missed meal."

First up, let me say again we did LOVE this excursion - EXCEPT for the fact that we had to eat the crab at 8:30 in the morning. But hey, we're from Maryland - we can eat crab ANYTIME!

When we booked the excursion, it did say a boat trip followed with a crab feast....when we got the actual excursion ticket & it said crab first, I don't think we really believed it (I know, silly right?) I guess we could have cancelled it on Embarkation day - but we didn't. I guess we shouldn't have had breakfast that day, either! DUH! I think the Princess marketing materials should say this more clearly.

I also think that for the early shift, the George Inlet folks could offer a more brunchy starter than a green salad with an Asian ginger sesame dressing. Maybe a fresh fruit parfait or a smoked salmon platter on the table to share with bagels, chopped eggs, capers, & onion? Or how about a cheesy bacon quiche? Maybe offer a Mimosa to purchase instead of Wine or Beer along with sodas and iced tea? Keep the cheesecake (no one ate it that I saw!) we were all stuffed with the amazingly succulent wonderfully fresh delicious Dungeness crab.

Mmmmmmm Really. Quite. Amazing.

So yeah, timing aside the crab feast was delicious and the super cute Austie who lead the feast was lots of fun, high energy, & and very entertaining.

The Wilderness Exploration Cruise part was AMAZEBALLS! Our cruise tour young naturalist Kiki was super smart and engaging while Capt. Gil the Eagle Whisperer delivered a once in a lifetime Bald Eagle fetch experience!

We saw an eagle perched on a branch on the shoreline - Capt. Gil stopped the boat, produced a raw fish, & held it in the air as he whistled and called for "Lucy" and sure enough - that huge bald eagle flew towards the boat, circled it, and as he threw the fish in the water she plunged just feet in front of us & grabbed that fish! WOW!!!!!! I got pictures, I just wish I had gotten a video of this - it was magical!

OK...Next stop & Excursions!

Juneau -- Whale Watching & Alaska Salmon Bake

Ship Time in Port: Arrive 8:00am Depart 9:00pm

10:15AM - 03:15PM Adult: $189.00

This was a fun trip and the salmon was to die for! We saw some amazing whales, jumping or breaking out of the water flipping over so fast! Wow! We even saw bubble net feeding! This is a rare occurrence! "Bubble Net Feeding is a unique feeding technique employed by Humpback Whales, in which a group of whales swim in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of fish. This shrinking column of bubbles surrounds the school of fish forcing them upward. The whales spontaneously swim upward through the bubble net, mouths wide open, catching thousands of fish in one gulp." I took SO many pictures and short videos of this but they don't do it justice.

Skagway

White Pass Scenic Railway - $129pp This was a great excursion! The train pulls up right by the docks and the scenery is breath taking! HINT: Sit on the LEFT side going UP and Right side going DOWN.

Departure:

It was nice to be VIP and wait in the lounge for departure from the ship - we were some of the first off the boat and there was coffee, danishes, and power outlets while we wait for our group to be called.

Bus trip to Anchorage: Princess really knows how to coordinate things. We stayed at the Captain Cook hotel and our bags were already there & we were checked in with key cards waiting for us almost as soon as we got there! My first cousin AJ lives in Anchorage and he met us and we got to go around for a few days with he and his roommate David.

Anchorage Alaska - Captain Cook Hotel: A Grande Dame & Great Views!

It's always sad when the cruise is over- but the Capt. Cook working with Princess Cruises made us feel right at home! It's awesome when you arrive, stop by the Princess desk, pick up your room keys and find your luggage already in the room!

We lucked out getting two gorgeous king rooms on the 18th floor - I had a huge room facing the water and my parents had the identical king room facing the mountains. Big windows plus one of the highest (if not THE highest) buildings in the city = great views from any direction! Sure, the rooms were a little outdated - but everything was clean, comfortable, and there was FREE INTERNET and a flat screen TV. I'm in heaven!

Palatial lobby appointed with indigenous art work, lots of tucked away comfy seating areas for shuttle waiting or just hanging out and cute shops for last minute purchases!

Fletcher's pub in Tower 3 was a nice place for dinner with reasonable prices and humongous portions! Two of us ordered the gourmet 8" personal pizzas but they both came out more like 14 inches! - Thank goodness my tall & burly first cousin and his roommate were dining with us and live in Anchorage and could take the pizza's home with them! Dad picked up the bill so I didn't see how cha-ching it was, but the individual prices I thought were quite reasonable for Alaska.

Best thing about The Captain Cook Hotel? Ceiling fans over the beds! I'm weird that way.

Last Thoughts & Tips:

Ship Navigation

An important navigation tip. On the Island Princess, the even sided cabins (Port) have an Orange color outline in the hallway carpet. The odd sided cabins (Starboard) have a Blue color outline in the hallway carpet.

Bring a Power strip!

Bring a Lanyard for your key card!

I bought a super fancy Coach signature lanyard card holder on Amazon that also had pockets for foldable $ combined with a cultured pearl lanyard necklace I got from Etsty I could wear my keycard around all the time with panache! If you don't want a key card holder bring a cheap lanyard and get your card punched so you can wear it around that way! :-)

Internet Connectivity

Ok, I'm an idiot. I'm a tech savvy girl who needs her internet so I bought a package $159 bucks but one night after checking my email I forgot to log off. Yeah, you guessed it. I burned through all my minutes sleeping. DOH! Here's how it broke down. Don't laugh and don't judge me! LOL https://flic.kr/p/o7QS75

I loved this cruise SO much as soon as we got back I went online to look for last min deals to go again -- and then I woke up because my Mom said I was CRAZY....and I was. For this once of a lifetime cruise to Alaska seeing it in a way you couldn't by car or plane.... with the parents who give me life. Priceless.
TheDaringLibrarian’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Island Princess price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC C421
My cabin was spacious - large walk in closet, nice storage cupboard with shelving and the safe and a bathroom that was small but very manageable. BONUS: it was REEELY close to the elevators and stairwell. Believe me, it's like a maze this boat!

Floor to ceiling windows. That's all I gotta say.

I considered booking a mini suite, but with just one person, I didn't need the extra seating space like a couch with an extra TV plus I enjoyed the pleasure of lying on the super comfy queen bed being able to see both the flat screen TV and the VIEW! I know, that sounds really luxurious and lazy - and it was!

Tech tip: bring a power strip - with all the devices we have nowadays you will need to recharge and a power strip is the thing!
Aloha Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Whale Watching
    Juneau -- Whale Watching & Alaska Salmon Bake
    Ship Time in Port: Arrive 8:00am Depart 9:00pm
    10:15AM - 03:15PM Adult: $189.00
    The boat trip of this excursion was the most exciting part! We saw some amazing whales, jumping or breaking out of the water flipping over so fast! Wow! We even saw bubble net feeding! This is a rare occurrence! "Bubble Net Feeding is a unique feeding technique employed by Humpback Whales, in which a group of whales swim in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of fish. This shrinking column of bubbles surrounds the school of fish forcing them upward. The whales spontaneously swim upward through the bubble net, mouths wide open, catching thousands of fish in one gulp." I took SO many pictures and short videos of this but they don't do it justice.

    Oh and the salmon bake? It was delicious! This was a fun trip and the lunch was to die for, but seeing whales like that in the wild? It gives me goosebumps now when I think of it!
    View All 823 Whale Watching Reviews
  • Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast
    Ketchikan Excursion:

    Wilderness Exploration Cruise & Crab Feast - Island Princess Excursion $149pp

    What we read versus what we got with added rain & an aborted bus trip home did NOT dim the AWESOME time we had here!

    From the Princess website:
    "Upon arriving at the lodge, you'll board an enclosed tour boat and cruise the George Inlet waterway (then)... you'll return to the George Inlet Lodge for a not-to-be-missed meal."

    First up, let me say again we did LOVE this excursion - EXCEPT for the fact that we had to eat the crab at 8:30 in the morning. But hey, we're from Maryland - we can eat crab ANYTIME!

    When we booked the excursion, it did say a boat trip followed with a crab feast....when we got the actual excursion ticket & it said crab first, I don't think we really believed it (I know, silly right?) I guess we could have cancelled it on Embarkation day - but we didn't. I guess we shouldn't have had breakfast that day, either! DUH! I think the Princess marketing materials should say this more clearly.

    I also think that for the early shift, the George Inlet folks could offer a more brunchy starter than a green salad with an Asian ginger sesame dressing. Maybe a fresh fruit parfait or a smoked salmon platter on the table to share with bagels, chopped eggs, capers, & onion? Or how about a cheesy bacon quiche? Maybe offer a Mimosa to purchase instead of Wine or Beer along with sodas and iced tea? Keep the cheesecake (no one ate it that I saw!) we were all stuffed with the amazingly succulent wonderfully fresh delicious Dungeness crab.

    Mmmmmmm Really. Quite. Amazing.

    So yeah, timing aside the crab feast was delicious and the super cute Austie who lead the feast was lots of fun, high energy, & and very entertaining.

    The Wilderness Exploration Cruise part was AMAZEBALLS! Our cruise tour young naturalist Kiki was super smart and engaging while Capt. Gil the Eagle Whisperer delivered a once in a lifetime Bald Eagle fetch experience!

    We saw an eagle perched on a branch on the shoreline - Capt. Gil stopped the boat, produced a raw fish, & held it in the air as he whistled and called for "Lucy" and sure enough - that huge bald eagle flew towards the boat, circled it, and as he threw the fish in the water she plunged just feet in front of us & grabbed that fish! WOW!!!!!! I got pictures, I just wish I had gotten a video of this - it was magical!
    View All 118 Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    White Pass Scenic Railway - $129pp This was a great excursion! The train pulls up right by the docks and the scenery is breath taking both going away and coming back!
    HINT: Sit on the LEFT side going UP and Right side going DOWN! Have your camera ready and go out to end of the caboose to stand between the train cars for your best shots!
    View All 1,085 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews