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My husband and I traveled to Alaska this July with my sister and her husband; my second trip/cruise and their first. Our vacation started out in Anchorage on July 15th. We flew from Sacramento to Seattle then on to Anchorage and arrived in the early afternoon. The airport was quite busy as people were arriving for several different cruise lines and all checking-in close together. After a short wait, the Princess outfitters were very helpful and got us on the correct bus to the downtown hotels. We stayed at the Captain Cook hotel and were pleased with the accommodations. We had time to explore the city a little, see a film about the Northern Lights at the Community Center, and eat dinner at the Brew House. The next morning we took a one hour trolley tour of the city (very informative) and saw a mother moose with her calf off the side of the road. Around noon we left on a bus for the Kenai Princess Lodge. The two and a half hour coach trip was comfortable and scenic. We stayed two nights at the Kenai Princess Lodge. Our adjoining rooms were very comfortable. The wood burning stove is a quaint touch. We fired it up the first night but the fan was noisy and we were warmer than I prefer, so a fire for one night was enough. Our only complaint was that they did not provide coffee makers in the rooms; having said that, the staff was pleasant and accommodating. The lodge does provide, though, transportation around the grounds. All we had to do was to call the front desk for a van that would take us to/from our building (a little bit of a hike up a hill) or down to/up from the river (a rather steep road). Having the choice to either ride or walk was a nice luxury. The lodge itself is rustic and beautiful. We enjoyed the game and book selection, free internet, and the coffee bar. And we had dinner both nights at the informal bar (great music). We chose not to take any excursions at Kenai, but next time I would choose to take the Kenai Fjords tour because of the abundance of wildlife that can be seen from the boat. The two and a half hour coach ride to the ship (July 18th) was pretty and the tunnel was fun. Embarkation in Whittier was smooth and quick. There was no-one there taking embarkation photos which was fine with us since it was rainy and we were anxious to board and get settled. The Sapphire Princess is as beautiful as the Diamond (the sister ship), but I did notice a couple of small differences in the layout especially in the placement of the restaurants (dining rooms) and the casino. The similarity helped me keep my bearings (most of the time). We had side-by-side balcony rooms on the Caribe deck (10), mid-ship on the starboard side. We used our balconies a lot! Our room steward, Ronaldo, opened the door between our balconies, brought us fresh fruit, ice for our coolers, plush bathrobes and slippers, egg crates for the beds and deck blankets. He was attentive to our coming and going and made up the rooms while we were out. Our first full day out (College Fjord day), we met in the early afternoon with members of our Cruise Critic roll call at the Skywalkers Lounge. We talked for a couple of hours. Princess had set an area aside for us to sit and talk (with the bar handy for those who wanted to order drinks). The young people (teens through young 20s) formed their own "meet and greet" and forged friendships that lasted the rest of the cruise. We chose "anytime dining" and ate in a different restaurant every night. Each restaurant had its own "feel" and nearly all of our waiters were excellent and the rest were pretty good! On "Italian night" (Skagway) we had the Ultimate Balcony Dinner (for four) and it was fantastic! I highly recommend it. The dinner and service were worth much more than the $100/couple cost (plus $20 tip). Alphonso, the room service supervisor, is worth his weight in gold and Angel our server made our dinner a very special event. I have never felt so pampered! Formal nights are a little hectic but it is so fun to see everyone all dressed up. Portrait backdrops are set up all over the atrium area and with no sitting fees, we moved from backdrop to backdrop and had lots of pictures to choose from at the end of the cruise! We ate late (8ish) every night and only made reservations twice. It was difficult to get into the Vivaldi dining room without reservations because it opens late (it accommodates traditional dining for first seating), and the last night of the cruise the dining rooms were packed. I recommend reservations if you want window seating or specific waiters. We ordered room service for breakfast (I wrote in bagels and lox on the card), and went to the buffet, grill or pizzeria for lunch. Twice we had lunch in the dining room (International) and we only made it to tea once. I guess that was for the best, tea that day was not very relaxed. The doors opened at 3:30 to a small crowd of us, we were seated, served and cleaned up by 4:10. I felt guilty asking for another half cup of tea when they so obviously wanted to clear out the dining room. It was no problem since there were so many other areas on the ship where we could linger and visit and we did try tea only the one day. After much thought, we decided to forgo the soda cards and drink ice tea (and lemonade upon request) instead. This worked out well for us and a little cheaper (no charge for ice tea!). My sister and I did buy coffee cards and I was very glad that we did! The lattes were great. We were quite happy, but my husband never did get a good cup of coffee even when we asked for "brewed" with the coffee card. We found the room service coffee was the most drinkable. We purchased (in Anchorage) and brought on board, bloody mary mix (for virgin bloody marys), champagne (for mimosas), and Saint Pauli Girl non-alcoholic beer. This saved us a hefty bar tab for our non-alcoholic drinks. Our room steward brought us ice daily and we ordered orange juice and tomato juice daily with our breakfasts and kept them in the refrigerator. We went to a few shows and really enjoyed them. The dance production show was fun and the comedians were funny. We also enjoyed watching the finals of the Princess Idol competition especially since the winner was someone we had met through our cruise critic roll call! On our last sea day (inside passage), we met up again with our roll call group and went on a "cabin crawl." It was fun touring each different type of room and getting to know each other a little better and sharing our cruise experiences. (Maybe next time a suite!) Our excursions included the White Pass railroad in Skagway and shopping in town (the movie in the train station was fun also); Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching in Juneau (we saw humpbacks and orcas!); and in Ketchikan two went zip lining, one went on a Harley motorcycle tour and I stayed on board the ship and enjoyed the empty pools and hot tubs in the rain and read my library book! The consensus: zipline and motorcycle tour were great but would have been even greater in nicer weather—all-in-all, we got to see Ketchikan just like it is advertised—wet! The seven night cruise was too short! We disembarked in Vancouver on the 25th and stayed two nights at the Westin Bayshore. We had intended to buy a two day ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off trolley, but due to an unpleasant trolley experience, went with a HOHO coach company instead (combo driver narrative and video). It had a little different route, but restrooms on the bus, large windows, air conditioning, and cushy seats and a bus stopped right at our hotel every half hour. We had purchased the Vancouver entertainment book and got more than our $15 back on the horse drawn carriage tour through Stanley Park, the Lookout, and the IMAX theatre two-for-one tickets. We ate at Carderos (across the street), White Spot (up one block), the restaurant downstairs at our hotel, and The Spaghetti Factory in Gastown (only so-so food with not-so-good service—but a great setting). In Vancouver we heard that our ship had brought a whale into port. We saw it on the news but we were not aware of it on disembarkation. We were relieved to find out later that it was either sick/dying or already dead when the ship hit it. Since the weather was off and on, we used the HOHO to explore the city instead of going to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge like we had originally planned. That leaves those sights for a future trip. I was disappointed that the weather was poor and such huge crowds were expected for the Celebration of Lights fireworks show/competition on Saturday the 25th (South Africa). We had dinner at the hotel instead and went to our rooms. We were rewarded by a spectacular sunset and lightning storm that lasted for hours then crowned by the fireworks shooting up in the distance reflected in the glass skyscrapers all seen from the balcony of our room. A life memory to be sure. We spent the day coming home on the 27th. An early morning flight insured a fairly quick customs experience but flying home was not nearly as much fun as going. Oh well, back to reality. This review does not do our trip justice! This was my second trip to Alaska with Princess and I could do it many more times before running out of fun things to try and see. We were all thrilled with the service, the food, the entertainment and the accommodations.

A Wow Trip to Alaska

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by momstime

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2009
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
My husband and I traveled to Alaska this July with my sister and her husband; my second trip/cruise and their first. Our vacation started out in Anchorage on July 15th. We flew from Sacramento to Seattle then on to Anchorage and arrived in the early afternoon. The airport was quite busy as people were arriving for several different cruise lines and all checking-in close together. After a short wait, the Princess outfitters were very helpful and got us on the correct bus to the downtown hotels. We stayed at the Captain Cook hotel and were pleased with the accommodations. We had time to explore the city a little, see a film about the Northern Lights at the Community Center, and eat dinner at the Brew House. The next morning we took a one hour trolley tour of the city (very informative) and saw a mother moose with her calf off the side of the road. Around noon we left on a bus for the Kenai Princess Lodge. The two and a half hour coach trip was comfortable and scenic.
We stayed two nights at the Kenai Princess Lodge. Our adjoining rooms were very comfortable. The wood burning stove is a quaint touch. We fired it up the first night but the fan was noisy and we were warmer than I prefer, so a fire for one night was enough. Our only complaint was that they did not provide coffee makers in the rooms; having said that, the staff was pleasant and accommodating. The lodge does provide, though, transportation around the grounds. All we had to do was to call the front desk for a van that would take us to/from our building (a little bit of a hike up a hill) or down to/up from the river (a rather steep road). Having the choice to either ride or walk was a nice luxury. The lodge itself is rustic and beautiful. We enjoyed the game and book selection, free internet, and the coffee bar. And we had dinner both nights at the informal bar (great music). We chose not to take any excursions at Kenai, but next time I would choose to take the Kenai Fjords tour because of the abundance of wildlife that can be seen from the boat.
The two and a half hour coach ride to the ship (July 18th) was pretty and the tunnel was fun. Embarkation in Whittier was smooth and quick. There was no-one there taking embarkation photos which was fine with us since it was rainy and we were anxious to board and get settled. The Sapphire Princess is as beautiful as the Diamond (the sister ship), but I did notice a couple of small differences in the layout especially in the placement of the restaurants (dining rooms) and the casino. The similarity helped me keep my bearings (most of the time). We had side-by-side balcony rooms on the Caribe deck (10), mid-ship on the starboard side. We used our balconies a lot! Our room steward, Ronaldo, opened the door between our balconies, brought us fresh fruit, ice for our coolers, plush bathrobes and slippers, egg crates for the beds and deck blankets. He was attentive to our coming and going and made up the rooms while we were out.
Our first full day out (College Fjord day), we met in the early afternoon with members of our Cruise Critic roll call at the Skywalkers Lounge. We talked for a couple of hours. Princess had set an area aside for us to sit and talk (with the bar handy for those who wanted to order drinks). The young people (teens through young 20s) formed their own "meet and greet" and forged friendships that lasted the rest of the cruise.
We chose "anytime dining" and ate in a different restaurant every night. Each restaurant had its own "feel" and nearly all of our waiters were excellent and the rest were pretty good! On "Italian night" (Skagway) we had the Ultimate Balcony Dinner (for four) and it was fantastic! I highly recommend it. The dinner and service were worth much more than the $100/couple cost (plus $20 tip). Alphonso, the room service supervisor, is worth his weight in gold and Angel our server made our dinner a very special event. I have never felt so pampered!
Formal nights are a little hectic but it is so fun to see everyone all dressed up. Portrait backdrops are set up all over the atrium area and with no sitting fees, we moved from backdrop to backdrop and had lots of pictures to choose from at the end of the cruise!
We ate late (8ish) every night and only made reservations twice. It was difficult to get into the Vivaldi dining room without reservations because it opens late (it accommodates traditional dining for first seating), and the last night of the cruise the dining rooms were packed. I recommend reservations if you want window seating or specific waiters. We ordered room service for breakfast (I wrote in bagels and lox on the card), and went to the buffet, grill or pizzeria for lunch. Twice we had lunch in the dining room (International) and we only made it to tea once. I guess that was for the best, tea that day was not very relaxed. The doors opened at 3:30 to a small crowd of us, we were seated, served and cleaned up by 4:10. I felt guilty asking for another half cup of tea when they so obviously wanted to clear out the dining room. It was no problem since there were so many other areas on the ship where we could linger and visit and we did try tea only the one day. After much thought, we decided to forgo the soda cards and drink ice tea (and lemonade upon request) instead. This worked out well for us and a little cheaper (no charge for ice tea!). My sister and I did buy coffee cards and I was very glad that we did! The lattes were great. We were quite happy, but my husband never did get a good cup of coffee even when we asked for "brewed" with the coffee card. We found the room service coffee was the most drinkable. We purchased (in Anchorage) and brought on board, bloody mary mix (for virgin bloody marys), champagne (for mimosas), and Saint Pauli Girl non-alcoholic beer. This saved us a hefty bar tab for our non-alcoholic drinks. Our room steward brought us ice daily and we ordered orange juice and tomato juice daily with our breakfasts and kept them in the refrigerator.
We went to a few shows and really enjoyed them. The dance production show was fun and the comedians were funny. We also enjoyed watching the finals of the Princess Idol competition especially since the winner was someone we had met through our cruise critic roll call!
On our last sea day (inside passage), we met up again with our roll call group and went on a "cabin crawl." It was fun touring each different type of room and getting to know each other a little better and sharing our cruise experiences. (Maybe next time a suite!)
Our excursions included the White Pass railroad in Skagway and shopping in town (the movie in the train station was fun also); Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching in Juneau (we saw humpbacks and orcas!); and in Ketchikan two went zip lining, one went on a Harley motorcycle tour and I stayed on board the ship and enjoyed the empty pools and hot tubs in the rain and read my library book! The consensus: zipline and motorcycle tour were great but would have been even greater in nicer weather—all-in-all, we got to see Ketchikan just like it is advertised—wet!
The seven night cruise was too short! We disembarked in Vancouver on the 25th and stayed two nights at the Westin Bayshore. We had intended to buy a two day ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off trolley, but due to an unpleasant trolley experience, went with a HOHO coach company instead (combo driver narrative and video). It had a little different route, but restrooms on the bus, large windows, air conditioning, and cushy seats and a bus stopped right at our hotel every half hour. We had purchased the Vancouver entertainment book and got more than our $15 back on the horse drawn carriage tour through Stanley Park, the Lookout, and the IMAX theatre two-for-one tickets. We ate at Carderos (across the street), White Spot (up one block), the restaurant downstairs at our hotel, and The Spaghetti Factory in Gastown (only so-so food with not-so-good service—but a great setting).
In Vancouver we heard that our ship had brought a whale into port. We saw it on the news but we were not aware of it on disembarkation. We were relieved to find out later that it was either sick/dying or already dead when the ship hit it.
Since the weather was off and on, we used the HOHO to explore the city instead of going to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge like we had originally planned. That leaves those sights for a future trip. I was disappointed that the weather was poor and such huge crowds were expected for the Celebration of Lights fireworks show/competition on Saturday the 25th (South Africa). We had dinner at the hotel instead and went to our rooms. We were rewarded by a spectacular sunset and lightning storm that lasted for hours then crowned by the fireworks shooting up in the distance reflected in the glass skyscrapers all seen from the balcony of our room. A life memory to be sure.
We spent the day coming home on the 27th. An early morning flight insured a fairly quick customs experience but flying home was not nearly as much fun as going. Oh well, back to reality.
This review does not do our trip justice! This was my second trip to Alaska with Princess and I could do it many more times before running out of fun things to try and see. We were all thrilled with the service, the food, the entertainment and the accommodations.
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BA C519
Plenty of space, especially with the over the door shoe organizer. The bed was comfortable with the egg crate. The larger balcony was a must (even with the misty weather). Make sure that you have a great roommate!
Baja Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins