Royal Princess Cruise Review by Fortun8
- Sail Date: August 2019
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
We started in Vancouver and boarded after a day of sights and Granville Island. We boarded Royal Princess with the new Ocean Medallions. They did not improve the speed of boarding in-fact it slowed things down with long lines and a long wait. We had sailed on Royal in 2014 a few months after its launch. The balconies in all categories are small with footstools under the chairs you cannot use as it about 3 1/2 feet wide window to deckrail. We chose Princess because of the kid's program for the grandkids and Princess's years of sailing to this destination. Our upgrade put both families in mini-suites on opposite sides of the ship, ours not the best side for scenery but gave us a better cabin than the one we reserved a year and 3 months before. While the cabin size, the new mattresses, and two tvs were terrific on sea days, we did not receive champagne upon sailing. Overall the ship's cuisine was average with a lot of cutbacks in the buffet area and at the specialty Crown Grill from our last cruise. The pub lunch in the Crown Grill was also disappointing.
We enjoyed Alfredo's pizzeria on the first day instead of the buffet/bistro area. The addition of a buffet pastry shop made it necessary to visit there for desserts and rolls and then go back to the bistro for main courses and salads and fruits. And then somewhere else to find drinks. There wasn't any Italian or Mexican avenue or salad section anymore. A table for the 6 of us was a challenge to find. And the Ocean Terrace overlooking the piazza was disappointing. We sat waiting for 45 minutes after drinks were delivered. The staff disappeared after they took our order and then they told us they couldn't find any sushi to serve. Our evenings were spent in Vines and watching piazza entertainment. We enjoyed Swirls ice cream bar, the Trident Grill, Alfredo's pizzeria, and the International Cafe and Vines the most.
We tried to visit the Princess Theater for shows but wildlife films, singers, a comedian, and one production show on the glacier cruising night were not enough to keep us there. On our last cruise there were production shows with several start times so you could eat first or second and still see the show. The Vista Lounge was a Princess Idol singing contest, movies, karaoke, a cocktail party, and bingo. Most nightly entertainment happened in the Piazza. The Movies-under-the-Stars shared the water show in the evenings and used to take 30 minutes, this time it took 10 minutes only. By the time we checked the kids out of kids' club it was over. The best kids club was on this ship and the kids wanted to go after our shore excursions until late. There were only 350 frequent cruisers onboard.
Our shore excursions were mostly pre-planned and only the one Lumberjack show was with Princess to avoid missing the ship but noisy and not enough seating.
Princess has extended stay onshore rail travel to Denali well-coordinated but the train went 20 mph or less. We saw a lot of scenery but it took 9 hours and served lunch which was very good at extra cost. The 5-hour bus tour of the park from 7 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. was long with frequent stops to spot a moose or a caribou, no bears. You arrived at the lodge the night before at 5:30 p.m. and checked out at 7 a.m. and went back for an hour for lunch and back on another bus to Mt. McKinley lodge for 2 hours which was the better of the two lodgings. We had plenty of time to see Denali and eat and hike and roast marshmallows and wander. The bags were picked up from both hotels before 9 a.m. and transported to the next hotel. And then you were bussed to Fairbanks or to Anchorage from there. All was very well planned and went smoothly. But the buses have very small storage space for a carry-ons or backpacks.
The Captain Cook Hotel is old and in downtown but an easy ride to the airport. I didn't see a lot of other hotels nearby. The restaurant for breakfast was great but the dinner choices were one noisy pub that attracted locals and some restaurants a block or more away.
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