This cruise, my first, was primarily a trip to visit with family, but secondarily we wanted to enjoy the mountains, glaciers, and wildlife viewing. Overall, it was wonderful, and I have already recommended it to a few friends. For my review, I will touch briefly each component of the cruise, with a target audience of novice cruisers like myself in mind. If you are an experienced or wealthy cruiser who prefers to spend more time at the bars and nightclub and looks forward to the formal nights, then this review will likely not be helpful to you.
I recommend to those who also weigh heavily the nature portion of the cruise that you obtain a detailed itinerary for the first two cruising days (days 1 and 2 at Yakutat Bay and Glacier Bay, respectively) as soon as possible and use it to prepare your schedule. I never saw one until we received the Princess Patter—which is a daily newsletter placed in your room’s mailbox in the evening that contains the next day’s itinerary—and I felt a step behind as a result.
At Yakutat Bay, after a foggy morning the sun came out when we arrived at Hubbard Glacier, which made for breathtaking scenery. On top of that, Hubbard Glacier gave us quite the show! The same area of the glacier kept calving over and over, which prompted the naturalist to instruct us to keep an eye on that area because repeated calving in the same area is a sign of instability. That we did, and eventually a moderate-sized piece gave way. I thought that might be it, but it kept going until an entire tower of ice tumbled over into the water generating quite a wave and creating a small iceberg! Both sides of the ship received equal viewing time at Hubbard Glacier.
Keep in mind that this was my first cruise and I am usually a value traveler, but to me the cabin and balcony were excellent.
One of the first things I noticed when the ship got underway was that you could feel the vibrations of the ship’s engines in our room. It didn’t bother me, but it was unexpected. The engines are generally quiet, but you do hear them. For me, it acted as a distant and pleasing white noise—except when docking or turning because the vibrations and noise picked up significantly then.
The balcony had plenty of space for the two of us. I suspect that a family of four would be just fine out there watching the glaciers (although only two chairs were provided). The view did not have any obstructions.
On the inside, I could see where a very large or tall individual would have trouble in the bathroom and shower, but I had no troubles whatsoever at six feet tall. The shower was fantastic: excellent heat and water pressure. The twin bed was comfortable. Space was tight in the open closet area.
Location of the cabin was great as we were directly below the cafeteria food services and had a short walk to the stairs and elevators. Not as good for the fitness room, which is forward, and required a walk outside through cool weather when sweaty. I don't consider it a long walk to get to the forward sections of the ship. I never timed it, but I would allocate five minutes to take the stairs quickly and walk briskly to the Princess Theater from our room, for example. Probably more like ten to walk it at a leisurely pace.
Finally, the room is starboard and I thought we may have made a mistake by not requesting a portside room for the southbound itinerary (since the mountains are to the left when traveling south). I don’t have any regrets now, though, since we saw plenty of mountains during the scenic cruising.