We had hoped to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with our children on an unforgettable experience. We booked our trip a year in advance and looked forward to it all year.
We were told a Princess representative would meet us when we arrived at the airport. No representative met us. We had to search them out in an unknown airport. Fortunately, though, we made the bus as we spoke with people on the land excursion who were left behind.
Let me preface the land cruise portion by saying, DON'T DO IT! We spent most of the time on buses from one location to the other. Each bus ride took longer than we were told. We were not at any location long enough to enjoy it.
Our first stop was the Captain Hook Hotel. We were not told where to go when getting off the bus and wasted time waiting in line to check in at the front desk only to find out we needed to go to another part of the building to the Princess check-in. We checked in at the Princess desk and found out our room was not ready and we would have to check back later. We went to dinner where we first heard about the fires. After dinner we checked back with the Princess desk, our room still wasn't ready. We inquired about the fires and how it would affect our trip. The representatives were clueless and knew nothing of the fire, let alone if it would have any impact.
The next morning we took one of the extra long bus rides to our first stop at the McKinley Lodge. There were bugs in our bathroom. The food was awful. The temperature was well into the 80's and there was no air conditioning in the lodges. We asked about getting an air conditioned room and were rebuffed brusquely by the front desk. We were told there are box fans in the rooms. The fan was so noisy preventing any of us from sleeping.
At well over 4 hours, the bus ride was about double what we were told it would take. We arrived at the lodge around 1:00pm, without luggage. We were told every hour the luggage would arrive shortly. The luggage arrived after 6pm. We lost an entire day waiting for the luggage, which had to be repacked and left outside our door by 9pm. We waited over an hour for a shuttle to take us to Denali Park. Apparently the shuttle missed to iterations. There was a person in a wheelchair who they could not figure out how to strap the chair in as well as the mechanism to secure the chair must not have been safe as the family took pictures of the ordeal. Because the shuttle arrived so late, the trails we had to choose from was limited as the last shuttle would not accommodate longer trails. Had we wanted to do a longer trail, we were told we would have to pay for our way back.
We were scheduled to go on an 8 hour train ride to reach our boat the following day. The train ride took about 12 hours. Apparently, they were given instructions that the train could not travel more than 35 miles an hour. This should have been planned better as the train did not have enough food to accommodate travel for this length of time and the the crew reached their maximum travel time for the crew forcing us to stop and sit on the tracks waiting for the new crew to arrive. The air conditioning was not working in one of the cabins making the trip very uncomfortable. The late arrival forced us to miss the entire first day on the boat. Confined to this small space for the extended period of time certainly contributed to (if not the actual causal factor, behind why both my husband and son got sick on the trip. They started feeling ill in Juneau. My son was diagnosed with influenza and had to spend the rest of his cruise in his cabin. Consistent with the rest of the cruise, the food was poor.
We had to argue with the front desk to get the military credit.
The food was so bad that the first night, I sent my salmon back 3 times because the salmon I was served was completely gray.
As mentioned, our son contracted influenza while on this trip. We cannot blame Princess for this directly, but we would note he became systematic at the average gestation period following the Denali-to-Whittier petri-dish-train ride marathon. Your ship does not have medication for children on board. I could not even buy a children's Tylenol/Motrin in any of the shops. We took him to the medic on board. He sold us adult medicine with syringes and instructed to "mix our own" with a sugary drink. We purchased Sprite (an up charge for soda), grabbed some sugar , sat on the toilet in our cramped head, cut open the tablets and mixed the medications for our ill son. The doctor told us it was important to eat and to give hi anything he wanted to keep him hydrated and get food into him. He said because he was confined to the stateroom, we were told he had special privileges regarding room service. Apparently this was not communicated to room service as they said the special accommodation was the standard menu. We were told that a full array of salads and sandwiches were available. Really, salads and sandwiches for a 7 year old? ! I went to the dining room and begged for pancakes to be sent up. The instant pancakes sent were so dreadful, our seven year old wouldn't eat them when drenched in syrup.
One if the excursions we booked through Princess was the Gold Rush Dog Sled Experience. Of the 2 1/2 hr. excursion, over an hour was spent driving to and from the camp. The sled ride may have lasted 15 minutes and then another 15 minutes "touring" the camp. The rest of the time was spent standing around and waiting for the shuttle to come back. There were rows of dogs chained in front of very small dog houses. The dogs appeared malnourished as my husband could feel their bones when petting them. I asked if the dogs to run around. They proudly told me, yes, each dog got to do 3 15minute sled rides a day. Sad. We were told the children would be able to play with the "puppies". We were told the "puppies" were 9 months old. That is generous. The "puppies" were too large and too aggressive for children to hold let alone play with. One of the "puppies" nipped at my son whenever he tried to pet one of the "puppies." We believe the shuttle driver stole my 7 year old 's camera. I filled out a complaint before disembarking. My son was so upset he wrote a letter to the a President of the cruise line. We sent it certified mail. Would you be surprised if I told you no one contacted either of us?
One of the reasons we chose this cruise was because they were supposed to have an outstanding children's program. Parenting magazine rated it highly, one of the reviews in their magazine said it was like having a science lab on board. This is not true. There were not many scheduled educational activities on board. I am not sure they even did many of the activities on the schedule. Several activities were cancelled or maybe held at different times than scheduled. Every time I went to get y kids, I found them playing video games. Trust me, if there is an engaging activity, my children would not choose video games.
There were laundry facilities on every floor. However, half the machines did not work forcing us to carry laundry to different floors.
There was an up charge to take Spin in the fitness center. The class which was scheduled 45 minutes was closer to 30 because the 45 minutes we paid for apparently included the instructors setting up the bikes. There were no towels available in the spin room.
We were given 5 different set of disembarkation instructions. One was due to our quarantine. We entered our flight information when we checked in, we provided it to our travel agent when we scheduled our transfers, and submitted two forms while on board with this information requesting priority disembarkation due to an early flight. We repeatedly struggled with cruise staff to get this straightened out. They could not even get our special quarantine instructions straight. We were told a steward would be at our door. While the steward was at our door, the front desk called to tell us to meet the steward on the 6th floor with our luggage. The stewards at our door did not know where to go, took us to the wrong floor. Once we got to the correct floor, there was also confusion. They tried to Lead us in one direction. Upon my husband tracking someone down, we finally were able to get off the ship.
There is clearly a breakdown between what your reservation department is sharing with travel agents. We are a party of four with two adults and two children. We booked our reservation a year in advance. We believed a mini suite would accommodate us we'll. we were told the mini suites were already booked and they were only for 3 people. We booked a balcony room which we were told accommodated four. However, we met people on the cruise who booked these type suites within a month of the travel date.
Our balcony too was much smaller than a balcony room on any other cruise and much too small for a party of four. We were unable to store our in the space allowed, much less find space to unpack our bags. The space under the beds was mostly taken by extra bed linens that we did not need or want. Much of our closest space was used by the seven life preservers in the "closet", 7 life preservers for a party of floor, seriously! The bathroom was the smallest I have seen. I could not stand in the shower without having the shower curtain rub up against me.
Remember how late we got to the boat the first night due to the marathon train ride. We'll, upon check in we found our air conditioner did not work. We also noticed the mold in the bathroom, the floors had not been vaccumed, and I am not even sure the shower was cleaned as there was dried up soap scum in the soap tray. The shower drain was stopped up. We called the steward at 8:45. The automated system told us he would be paged. My husband called again. The steward never came. I went down to the desk at 5:30 the next morning to find out what happened to our steward. Apparently his shift was over at 9:00. Again, no accommodation for the late arrival. It was later that afternoon when he finally came. I went to go to the spa to shower and ran into the family we were traveling with, family of 3 in the much larger mini suite. They offered their shower to me. The air conditioner was fixed, and the mold was cleaned out of the shower, floors vacuumed, etc. however, they never fixed the problem with the shower. We were forced to put several towels down each day to capture the water overflowing the shallow scupper around the shower.
The room for 4 bed arrangements was two bunks that pulled out from the top and two smaller than single beds, one for each adult. Upon expressing my dissatisfaction with the sleeping arrangements, I was told the beds would be pushed together. They never were.
The overhead bunk my son slept in was not level. The end where his head would rest was 5 inches lower than his feet. This undoubtedly contributed to the headaches he had while on the cruise.
There were not enough outlets in the room to charge phones, camera batteries, laptops, and use hair dryers without unplugging the tv or lights.
I has asked our steward to replenish our refrigerator. He told me no. I can buy the drinks elsewhere on the cruise and bring it back to the room. That is customer service for you!