It was a last-minute decision to come on this cruise - we booked two weeks before departure (so GREAT rate!! Honestly we paid $100 a day each for this cruise - where else can you get housing AND three meals a day for that? not even at home based on where we live, ha ha ha). I therefore didn't do much research at all other than looking at dates and prices - this was the best value so I went with it. We had outside staterooms, no balconies. We were a party of four - me, my son (turned 12 on day of embarkation!) and my parents (age 80 but not old 80). Just as background I live in Washington DC and they live in New York City...so we are big city people.
We departed from Whittier (Anchorage) - flew into Anchorage the night before which i was glad we did. We both had flight delays. I would have liked more time in Anchorage itself to go to one of their museums - i thought we had a couple hours in the morning but was misinformed by "Princess En-Route" about the transfer times from downtown. Princess has bus transfers shuttles that leave from downtown Anchorage to the port (very very convenient!) but it leaves ONLY at 12 noon, whereas shuttles from the airport leave every hour until 5pm (the folks on the phone didn't get it right, luckily the great folks at check-in at the downtown departure point set us straight). The transfer ride from anchorage to Whittier was interesting even though the driver talked WAY too much. It was just under a two-hour ride from Anchorage to Whittier.
The itinerary itself was great. the scenery is amazing and honestly I had no idea how breathtaking it would be. one stop was Glacier bay - WOW. just WOW (note, the ship goes into this bay and eventually stops right in front of the Margerie Glacier. You don't get off the ship.) My understanding is there are very few ships which can go into this area bc of environmental and size requirements. I'd highly recommend it if you're trying to decide. You'll never see anything like this! The Holland America Volendam was on the same itinerary, FYI, if you want to compare the Island Princess itinerary to something else). Our port stops were Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Enjoyed them all.
In Skagway we did a horseback ride in the forest. It was fun and we chose it because my son likes to ride. Most of the ride was thru the forest - then we got out to the flats which was breathtaking. I'd have loved to do the train ride - my parents did that and really enjoyed it. Skagway was a cute town, literally one strip of shops.
In Juneau we did a whale watch and a glacier trail hike which was really quite nice. My regret is we didn't do an excursion where you actually hiked on the Mendenhall glacier (i think i misread the description of our excursion and thought we WERE hiking on the glacier - i was wrong). I believe I will wish we had done one where we actually got on the glacier (there are many) that for the rest of my life if i don't go back. In retrospect I should have picked the canoe trip and glacier trek. I guess I'll have to go back.
Ketchikan had the busiest town and the most shopping (PLEASE do yourself a favor and first go up to the Creek street shops before going elsewhere). If this is your last stop i suggest holding out to buy stuff here as everything they had elsewhere was also here -but more. We did the float plane flight over Misty Fjords which was absolutely incredible. HIGHLY recommended.
The food was great - we did traditional dining. There were some real winners and some so-so but of course all better than one could make at home. The staff was amazing - exemplary customer service! The pizza on board was pretty darn good - thin and crispy crust like us New Yorkers like (ha ha).
There were fun and kitchy activities like one would expect on a cruise. We enjoyed them. the production shows were pretty over the top cheesy (we are from NYC and DC please remember) - however we were entertained - the production aspect (costumes, set) were pretty impressive.
The one negative on the trip was the spa. The manager was rude all around - the way she spoke to her staff and the way she handled a bad experience i had. The lack of customer service was astounding. Rude and dismissive.
Another highlight was Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod (ok back in 1985) came and did a talk. Very cool!
Overall I'd go back on this same itinerary in a heartbeat!
The stateroom itself was fine, i had no problem with the size as i was bunking with my son so we had it set up as twins. My parents had theirs set up as a queen and realized at the end they should have just done twins bc then there is much more room to move around. The shower is tiny but what can you expect on a ship. we heard from other cruisers that these showers were smaller than most but i doubt it's worth making a decision on the size of the shower. the beds are comfy, sheets soft, pretty standard.
We had redeye flights back home, we got off the ship at 10am. The cruise excursions that included luggage storage and transfer to the airport w/ hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus was sold out. HOWEVER there is a service in the cruise terminal that will take your bags and deliver them to the airport for you, the cost is $40 for up to 4 bags and $10 each additional. PERFECT! You can pick up your bags as late as 11pm at the airport. super easy and very nice staff.
We then bought the sightseeing bus tix ourselves. Do the park line and forget the city line or dual. All you need is the park line. I'd have likely done something else in Vancouver but this was the best option for all age groups and energy level by the end of the trip!
DO IT!!! Amazing - an eagle flew right by my window. WOW.View All 166 Misty Fjords Flightseeing Reviews
This is not a port in that you do not get off the ship - the ship pulls alongside the glacier and you stand there and stare at it. It's awe-inspiring!