We had an aft balcony on our Sapphire cruisetour (Kenai Explorer). It was a quiet room, even despite the fact it was located directly above Club Fusion.
Day one: We booked our cruise transfers directly through Princess according to our travel agent. However, once we arrived at the appropriate desk, we found that our names were not on the list and we had to go through Canadian customs, an extra 40-minute process. Throughout the airport, Princess Cruises personnel guided us through the twisting airport hallways and escalators to our bus transportation to the dock, which was nice and reassuring. At the bus, no one checked to see whether we had purchased our transfers or not. Is this included for all cruiselines?
When we boarded the ship, we found the stewards and the staff very courteous. No foam mattress topper was present even though I had faxed in my request one week prior. We also had to ask for robes, even though I had specified my preference already on the Cruise Personalizer online. And by the way, it's a memory foam mattress, about 1 1/2 inches thick, which is a higher quality than the egg crate kind.
My husband and I decided that we would have preferred a side balcony instead of the aft balcony. When passing by land, I would rather watch the land pass by than watching the wake.
The shower was tiny, with just enough room to stand. And if you didn't pull the curtain over carefully, the water from the shower will drench the floor. I loved that there was a different variety of food every day at the buffets and the dining rooms for lunch and dinner. Moreover, there was pizza, soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and a grill serving hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. all of which was available every day from 11am to 6pm. At the buffet, we felt like the waiters almost never approached us, if we wanted something to drink. We discovered that, most of the time, when a waiter asks you if you would like something to drink, he actually meant alcoholic drinks, for which he would get a tip. He was, however, obliged to get you your coffee, ice tea, or water if that's what you wanted. Therefore, we hardly got table service for drinks because apparently we didn't look like the drinking type. Unlike our Carnival cruise 5 years ago, some of the shows repeated for 2 days, instead of a different singing/dancing show to watch every night.
A fresh fruit basket (oranges, bananas, pears, kiwi, apples) can be requested to be brought to your room, to be refreshed daily on request.
Wireless Internet: 500 Minutes for $175 $0.35/Minute 250 Minutes for $100 $0.40/Minute 150 Minutes for $75 $0.50/Minute 100 Minutes for $55 $0.55/Minute
Day 2: I woke up to the ship bobbing back and forth, making me feel dizzy. This lasted for a few hours, then the ship became more steady. This was the only time the ship was not steady, which was different from our Mexican Riviera trip on Carnival, during which I would marvel that the dancers on the stage nightly did not fall frequently on stage as it rocked back and forth. The view from all around the ship was all ocean. We exercised in the fitness room. There were Arc walkers, treadmills, bicycles, free weights, and some stability balls, as well as machines. No refreshments were available there. Bottled water could be purchased for $2 each. Thankfully, there was a drinking fountain. A steam room and sauna could be found in the locker rooms.
Our room is kept clean as housekeeping (our friendly Freddie) cleaned our room twice a day. That's all he does for 8 months, not being allowed to go on shore all that time, he told us.
Waiters, we found, were not necessarily as friendly. The service was spotty as we had to ask for juice at the buffet for breakfast, and often had to get our own drinks, despite the waiters wandering around the room. Even in the more formal dining rooms, the waiter would offer something ("any coffee for you tonight?") and walk away before I could answer. In fact, I had to shout, "Yes, please!" Day3: We took a trip at the port of Kechikan to see the Misty Fjords via float plane. What we did not predict was how nauseous Peter and I would get. Day 4: In Juneau downtown we saw some town drunks and bearded folk. We watched the tram come up and down as we waited for our whale watching tour. Mind you, boats are not allowed more than 200 feet from the whales. Therefore, "seeing whales" means seeing lines of mist and specks from far away, necesitating binoculars and zoom lens of cameras. Day 5: Chilkoot charters took us up to meet the return trip of the White Pass train. We were in a van which had high seats and tinted windows, so it was not a good vehicle from which to sightsee or take pictures. Larry, however, did do frequent stops so we could take pictures. He was a jolly man who chatted with us about Juneau, where he grew up. We discovered later that the Princess bus had large high windows. This was because Chilkoot charters was not at the train depot to take us back to the dock, so we had to bum a ride from the Princess tour bus. Day 6: This was the day we were to cruise up to Glacier Bay. However, we only arrived at the entrance and were in front of the first glacier when at 9am the captain announced that we would be leaving due to a storm. Needless to say, we were disappointed to miss the best part of an Alaskan trip! On the way out of the Inland Passage, for the next 24 hours, the stormy waters caused the ship to rock violently back and forth, and that night I couldn't sleep. The dancing show was cancelled due to the danger of the dancers falling on stage. Day 7: College Fjord. We arrived at a glacier, in front of which were many sea lions lounging around. From as far as the cruise ship, they looked like slugs. This evening we were to pack and tag our luggage and place them outside the room from 6pm to 10pm to be collected by staff. We were only allowed one tote bag sized carry on to take along with us. Day 8: We were to vacate our room at 8am. The disembarkation procedure was easy and uncrowded due to different meeting times and places for different groups of passengers. CRUISETOUR: Kenai Princess Lodge is a small "resort", isolated on its own. There were two trails to explore the surrounding forest and river, where you had to be careful of bears as well as mosquitoes. I wished I had brought more insect repellant. The "lodges" were very nice on the outside. On the inside, the rooms were big. The floors were not as clean as we would expect for paying an average of $350 a night. There was plenty of dust in the corners as well as cobwebs in the bathroom corners, and it was obvious the floor was not cleaned during the days we were there. The shower curtain smelled as moldy as they looked. We did immensely enjoy the wood burning stove in our room. A small fitness room had 2 stationary bikes, a treadmill, and 2 ellipticals. Body lotion in the room was available only by request. We regretted not bringing our Princess cruise slippers along to use in the lodge. As Los Angeles food connoisseurs, we were even impressed by the food at the restaurant. There was a 3-course prix fixe menu from 5:30pm to 6:30pm for $24 dollars and we ordered prime rib for the main course. Instead of the steak being cooked "medium" in the middles, it was cooked medium through most of the steak, which was delicious. Two dollars for a refillable glass of coke was a bargain for Peter, who missed having his usual coke the past week on the cruise.
The next morning we returned for breakfast. Even though it was half an hour until closing, there was no hostess in sight, and we waited for several minutes. Peter was hungry and tired. I looked around the entrance, and asked a nearby waitress, "Is there someone working at the front?" She replied as if she hadn't heard me,"The hostess will seat you." I said, "But there's no hostess here." She ignored me. Finally, the hostess appeared and made us wait several more minutes, saying, "sorry, we're preparing for lunch and we have to prepare the table back to breakfast." I looked at my watch. It was still going to be an hour and a half until their lunch hours opened. I looked out at the dining room, and there were no tables being changed in any way. After waiting a few minutes, the hostess led us to a table. What annoyed me further, was that another couple arrived 15 minutes before breakfast ended and got seated right away. They were not told there was a table that had to be prepared for them, while no tables were being altered in any way.
On our way to the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, we stopped by Anchorage. we ate at the . The food was delicious. Peter had the blackened Alaskan halibut, and I had a rockfish po'boy sandwich, the bread was toasted crispy, the way I liked it.
When we arrived at the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, there were two full-size beds, instead of one king bed for us. I had booked this vacation a year in advance! Our travel agent understood it was to be a honeymoon-type of vacation. I called to ask for a change of room, and when we arrived at the new room, it was again a couple of full size beds instead of the queen beds promised. By this time, we were too tired to ask for another change of room. Sure enough, six hours later, our luggage had not been delivered to our room. I called the front desk for the 3rd time after being reassured by the front desk several times earlier that day that the "bellman is taking care of it." Which I'd been dubious about since they had not actually called the bellman to check on it. Truly, it seemed that each time I called the front desk, no matter whom I spoke to, he or she would promise something without checking on it. So when I called the front desk yet again in the evening, the front desk person said, "The bellman will look for your luggage." I said, "You mean, is it lost, or what happened?" He said, "I'm talking to him right now," and I heard him in the background telling the bellman about our lost luggage. I had to explain to them that we changed rooms. Then I had to explain that I suspected our luggage had been delivered to our original room.
Overall, Alaska was beautiful and the luggage transportation from ship, throughout the hotel hopping was seamless, as long as you don't request another room. So most of the time we had a relaxing vacation and felt worry-free.
Quiet room, small balcony. Tiny bathroom with leaky shower. Small TV.