An Alaskan cruise was definitely a "bucket list" item for us. We had heard Princess was the best line for Alaska. Our experience on the ship, however, was mixed. Of course the scenery and ports did not disappoint (although towns were definitely geared to tourists). However, the customer service, food and activities on the ship were a mixed bag. My sense was about 40-50% of the staff were polite, professional and accommodating. Unfortunately, there were those who made us feel like we were inconveniencing them by asking questions or for directions to restaurants, etc. on the ship. Quality of the food was also mixed. My suggestion is to stay away from the Horizon buffet and stick to the restaurants. Full disclosure - my husband liked the buffet, although he ignored his low sodium diet while dining there. I, being gluten intolerant, found very few choices that were gluten free and saw no low sodium options for my husband. And, of course, the last thing you want on vacation is to be sick. Quite honestly, in this day and age, I was surprised to see how hard it was to get healthy options. Bordeaux was very good, and the Cajun restaurant, Bayou Cafe was great! We did not go to the Provence or the Italian restaurant, Sabatini's, However, the marinara sauce at Bordeaux was probably the best we've ever had. So, if the Italian chef there was also cooking at the Sabatini's restaurant, I'm sure it was fantastic.
Be very selective in choosing shore excursions. From what I heard from other passengers, you may want to look into the land/sea trips (Donali, etc.) instead of taking the shore excursions. We went on the "White Pass Scenic Railway" in Skagway, the "Whale Watching and Salmon Bake" in Juneau and the "Lighthouse, Totem and Eagles" in Ketchikan. While they were all good in their own way, some things to be aware of: On the Scenic Railway it was difficult to get unobstructed photos as there were only a few spots where you could stand on the train to get a good view. Also, our guide was new and neglected to point out other scenic photo ops like waterfalls, etc. Hopefully, you will get a more experienced guide. Don't expect to see any wildlife on this ride. The whale watch was great for us because a pod of orcas surrounded our boat and our guide was wonderful! Not sure this (orcas) happens consistently, but, given our experience, we have no regrets scheduling this excursion. Salmon bake was great! The "Lighthouse. Totems and Eagles" excursion was very enjoyable due to the incredible hospitality of the guides. They served snacks and the best hot chocolate ever. However, for views of wild life you will need binoculars. We did see bald eagles and harbor seals. To me, it was worth it to meet the wonderful guides and just enjoy the ride.
We did an extra day in Vancouver. If you're into wildlife, you may want to take in the Grouse Mountain Park. We saw grizzlies there. Alaska is a once in a lifetime experience! Enjoy!