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After years of hearing from friends that an Alaskan cruise is THE cruise of a lifetime, we bit the bullet and pushed it to the top of our bucket list. Having cruised Princess once before (this would be our 25th cruise though only second on Princess), we had some expectations of quality of service and condition of equipment. Considering the Island Princess is one of it's oldest ships, for the most part, it met our expectations. Had we done the cruise only portion, would have rated this only "Good". However coupled with the add on land portion, the trip truly was a very good trip, nearing great. The land portion was excellent in almost all respects. Here's our impressions and tips. Embarkation: Best ever. Vancouver has it nailed. Stayed prior night near Canada Place and walked over to drop bags off at noon and just about walked on to the ship. Longest line was U.S. Customs but that went smoothly. Dining: Late dining in the Provence Dining Room. Food was ok, not great but then again, I'm not a gourmand so no complaints. Head waiter (Apollo) was attentive though at times a bit stretched. Great stablemates and conversation. Never felt rushed. Breakfast and Lunch always in Horizon for the buffet. Finding a place to sit can be a challenge during peak times. Selection was a bit limited (would have loved a real pasta bar). Cookies were overbaked. But we didn't starve. Pizza was pretty good. Burgers were not. Liked that someone was stationed at entrance to get people to wash their hands (unfortunately when they weren't around passengers wouldn't do it). Entertainment: Went to all but the last show. The dancers were very good. The singers were not. Magician (Trigg) was really good and did two shows. The comedian (also two shows) was average and second show was similar to the first, material just tweaked a bit. Guest Soprano was very good and just highlighted how much better her voice was than the regular singers. Tried to go to some of the onboard lectures but as space is limited on this ship for large audiences, if you don't get there well in advance you might as well skip it and grab another piece of pizza. Service: room attendant was efficient. Didn't see him much but when requested to leave extra towels each cleaning, he did. Though for some reason, never left any ice (no problem as I brought ice back from the buffet each morning). Room service was very good, timely and orders were always correct. Ports: Icy Strait Point (Hoonah): nothing there. Nice walk to Hoonah and back. That's about it. Juneau: Walked to chairlift and went up the mountain (on our own, no excursion). Great views, nice walking paths up top, pretty good shops. Well worth it. Then took city bus ($2 each from bus station) to Mendenhal (well as close as you can get on the city bus which is about 1.5 miles from entrance - easy flat walk on a paved path). Walk to the falls (another mile to/from) for best views. Note: no food available in park so plan accordingly. Bring water. Lunch at Red Dog Saloon - crowded of course, food was ok, entertainer was pretty profane. Skagway: best stop. Ship excursion to White Pass via railroad. Easy walk to train, nice scenic ride. Good commentary along the way. Dropped off in town, strolled around, grabbed a fantastic cinnamon roll (Sweet Tooth Cafe) and visit the NPS building and watch their show. A fun town to just stroll around and do a bit of souvenir shopping. Glacier Bay: TIP: best view is on Port side (at least it feels like the ship stayed on the port side the longest). Saw a few small calving. Very nice but the best glacier was just to come... College Fjord: Wow, so many glaciers (port side is the best). Spent a long time just in front of the largest. Peaceful and what Alaska is all about. Whittier: nothing there but hop off and on to the train (or busses). TIPs: Want better chance of seeing wildlife (whales and things): starboard on the northbound route. Better for glaciers: Port Best side on White Pass Train: Left side. If doing Denali Land portion and the Kantishna Experience excursion: sit on driver side of the bus.

A Good Start, Though a Better Finish

Island Princess Cruise Review by chatdad

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
After years of hearing from friends that an Alaskan cruise is THE cruise of a lifetime, we bit the bullet and pushed it to the top of our bucket list. Having cruised Princess once before (this would be our 25th cruise though only second on Princess), we had some expectations of quality of service and condition of equipment. Considering the Island Princess is one of it's oldest ships, for the most part, it met our expectations. Had we done the cruise only portion, would have rated this only "Good". However coupled with the add on land portion, the trip truly was a very good trip, nearing great. The land portion was excellent in almost all respects.

Here's our impressions and tips.

Embarkation: Best ever. Vancouver has it nailed. Stayed prior night near Canada Place and walked over to drop bags off at noon and just about walked on to the ship. Longest line was U.S. Customs but that went smoothly.

Dining: Late dining in the Provence Dining Room. Food was ok, not great but then again, I'm not a gourmand so no complaints. Head waiter (Apollo) was attentive though at times a bit stretched. Great stablemates and conversation. Never felt rushed. Breakfast and Lunch always in Horizon for the buffet. Finding a place to sit can be a challenge during peak times. Selection was a bit limited (would have loved a real pasta bar). Cookies were overbaked. But we didn't starve. Pizza was pretty good. Burgers were not. Liked that someone was stationed at entrance to get people to wash their hands (unfortunately when they weren't around passengers wouldn't do it).

Entertainment: Went to all but the last show. The dancers were very good. The singers were not. Magician (Trigg) was really good and did two shows. The comedian (also two shows) was average and second show was similar to the first, material just tweaked a bit. Guest Soprano was very good and just highlighted how much better her voice was than the regular singers. Tried to go to some of the onboard lectures but as space is limited on this ship for large audiences, if you don't get there well in advance you might as well skip it and grab another piece of pizza.

Service: room attendant was efficient. Didn't see him much but when requested to leave extra towels each cleaning, he did. Though for some reason, never left any ice (no problem as I brought ice back from the buffet each morning). Room service was very good, timely and orders were always correct.

Ports:

Icy Strait Point (Hoonah): nothing there. Nice walk to Hoonah and back. That's about it.

Juneau: Walked to chairlift and went up the mountain (on our own, no excursion). Great views, nice walking paths up top, pretty good shops. Well worth it. Then took city bus ($2 each from bus station) to Mendenhal (well as close as you can get on the city bus which is about 1.5 miles from entrance - easy flat walk on a paved path). Walk to the falls (another mile to/from) for best views. Note: no food available in park so plan accordingly. Bring water. Lunch at Red Dog Saloon - crowded of course, food was ok, entertainer was pretty profane.

Skagway: best stop. Ship excursion to White Pass via railroad. Easy walk to train, nice scenic ride. Good commentary along the way. Dropped off in town, strolled around, grabbed a fantastic cinnamon roll (Sweet Tooth Cafe) and visit the NPS building and watch their show. A fun town to just stroll around and do a bit of souvenir shopping.

Glacier Bay: TIP: best view is on Port side (at least it feels like the ship stayed on the port side the longest). Saw a few small calving. Very nice but the best glacier was just to come...

College Fjord: Wow, so many glaciers (port side is the best). Spent a long time just in front of the largest. Peaceful and what Alaska is all about.

Whittier: nothing there but hop off and on to the train (or busses).

TIPs:

Want better chance of seeing wildlife (whales and things): starboard on the northbound route.

Better for glaciers: Port

Best side on White Pass Train: Left side.

If doing Denali Land portion and the Kantishna Experience excursion: sit on driver side of the bus.
chatdad’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin ME D712
Upgraded to a mini-suite (port side aft) and glad we did. The added space does make all the difference for us as we like to spend time in the cabin and utilize our balcony a lot. The decor is a bit dated though. Bed was comfortable though the pillows a bit too soft. This category has plenty of space for storage (more than we could ever use). The location on Deck 9 Aft was quiet albeit one of our neighbors could have been a bit less talkative and a bit of a walk to fore elevators for meals. There was a rather pungent odor towards the forward portion of the deck which didn't bother us other than having to walk through on our way to eat. Shower/bath was good. Great pressure. Not a fan of the large canister shampoos/conditioner/ body wash but guess they save money that way. Biggest complaint - wafer thin robes were worthless.
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