Embarkation was great. We arrived at the pier by noon. We were on board by 12:15 pm. Dropped our carryon off in our cabin and were having lunch in the formal dining room before 1 pm. I am sure Princess designates times to keep a smooth flow going but it was unnecessary on this embarkation. Our ship was full and no one we talked to had any delays getting aboard and people were boarding by 11:15 am, we found out later. Recommend the formal dining room for lunch on embarkation if it is open. Not crowded at all and better food.
The Emerald Princess is a fine ship and you can tell that it had been refurbished in the last 1 ½ years. Everything seemed in good condition and well kept. It is not one of the new mega ships but still plenty big. We were very pleased with it. The crew and staff was very accommodating. We enjoyed the anytime seating for dinner and got great tables every night, always by a window. We did have dinner at the Crown Grill, one of the specialty restaurants. It was excellent and that particular specialty restaurant was recommended by other cruise staff including our cabin steward as the best of the three. I would recommend it.
While on board, you can be as busy as you want or as relaxed as you want. We used the fitness center every day. Plenty of equipment but you can only use the treadmills between 8 am and 8 pm. A bit of an inconvenience for early risers but I realized the reason for it is there are cabins right underneath the treadmills. Some tried to use them earlier but it is a strictly enforced policy by the fitness center staff. With that in mind, I wouldn’t book anyone on deck 15, the Lido deck. We loved the naturalist who was on our ship. Her name is Shelley Gill and she was very informative and one of the most interesting people you will ever meet.
First stop was Ketchikan. We decided to walk around the town on our own and did some shopping. We had stopped there before and knew what to expect. A rainy day and foggy. I don’t think we missed much by not doing a ship’s shore excursion. Next day was sailing into Endicott Arm and viewing Dawes Glacier. Tracy Arm had too much ice to navigate for the ship. Endicott Arm was not quite as good as Glacier Bay, but spectacular none the less. After sailing back out of Endicott Arm, we stopped at Juneau for the rest of the day. There we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching tour. It was great. Mendenhall Glacier is the largest glacier in Alaska and is well worth seeing. The whale watching was fantastic. At one point we were surrounded by 5 humpback whales. They also took us to an island where there had to have been at least 100 sea lions sunning themselves. The next day we were at Skagway. There, we did the Chilkoot Hike and Float trip. The first mile is the most strenuous. The elevation rises 350 feet in the first mile. Footing can be tricky. Not for everyone but we loved it. Great scenery and we had a great guide, “Sam”, who was very knowledgeable. When done with the hike, the guide pilots a raft back down the Tyea River to the start of the trail.
Our cabin was R311, on deck 14, the “Riviera” deck. I just want to say Best Cruise Cabin Ever for us. What made it great was we were only two decks down from the main pool deck. It had an overhang that protected us from rain during inclement weather. Naturally the view was great. It also was the last cabin as you head aft on the ship that was under another cruise cabin on that deck. Important because you were not bothered by any activity on the deck above. All cabins are “cozy” but this one had plenty of storage for clothing and luggage. They had a closet area just outside the bathroom that was great. It was open but all clothing and luggage easily fit there. We didn’t need to use under the bed for luggage storage.
Last day at sea we had a pod of whales swimming alongside the ship. Again, just spectacular.
A word on the shore excursions; Princess has a lowest cost guarantee for shore excursions. If you can find an equivalent independent shore excursion for less, Princess will refund the difference plus 10% as on board credit to your cruise ship account. I was able to do this on both our shore excursions. With the credit we got at booking and these credits, our cruise account was only $86.38 when we disembarked. They allow you to take two bottles of wine on board with you (1 per person). We did purchase the soda package also. Between those three things, we were very thrifty but did not want for anything. Already talking about the next cruise!
Our 9th cruise, first with Princess. Best Cabin Ever
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