Alaska Inside Passage Cruise - Wonderful!: Sea Princess Cruise Review by fremontfreds

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Member Since 2009
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Alaska Inside Passage Cruise - Wonderful!

Sail Date: June 2010
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: San Francisco
Since we live in the San Francisco area, and did not want to deal with airlines, we looked for a cruise that departed locally and went to an area we had not visited before. Princess had a cruise available that had the right number of days, a good list of ports of call, and cabins available we wanted (we needed adjoining cabins due to family traveling together), so we booked a cruise with our local agent.

At first, it seemed we made a poor choice - the San Francisco embarkation facility at Pier 35 is not well organized, but I imagine this is due to the lack of ships calling San Francisco, and a city that wants to invest more in street fairs, public viewing for sporting events, parades and other forms of mass entertainment than infrastructure.

Once onboard and on our way the seas were rough, which was not surprising, as friends who have their own sailboats all said they would never sail from San Francisco to Seattle due to the rough seas. Overall, the ship handled More this well. We encountered two problems with our cabin. First was the toilet system going out for several hours separate days - this was on two occasions due to other passengers flushing disposable underwear. Second was the lack of WiFi in our cabin, unless we propped the door open to allow the signal to come in.

We had also booked a massage with Lotus Spa, but when we showed up for our appointment, we were told by the spa that the individual who was to take care of us was in training and would not be available until another day. We canceled our appointment.

Overall, not a good start. That said, things on the ship were otherwise very good - the cabin was excellent: roomy, comfortable, had a great view, and good cabin service for clean-up, etc. We opted for anytime dining in the Rigoletto dining room, and arranged with the Maitre D'Hotel to have the same table available for us every night at a specified time period, so we never had to wait in line, but simply walked in and sat down for dinner. The wait staff were truly excellent, as as the food - there were three of us, and we never had a bad meal or bottle of wine. We had dinner in the Rigoletto every night. We also participated in the Maitre D's wine tasting and the Chef's Table, both of which were excellent. All in all, we were very happy with the food and service.

We also opted for the Ultimate Ship's Tour, which was well done and well worth the money for the behind-the-scenes look at engineering, medical, the bridge, kitchens, etc. Also, it was here that one of our family members (who is 90 years old) became a bit weak and opted to sit down and then drop out of the tour. The concern and care by the Sea Princess staff was incredible, notably Ben, the Deputy Cruise Director, who was leading the tour. The staff made sure our family member was looked after and that those of us who could continue the tour were separately escorted back to the group so we didn't miss anything.

Entertainment on the ship was very good - the atrium featured either a pianist or a string trio playing classical musing. There were numerous shows worth catching, and we caught a lecture by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod, on her life and how she won the race. There were lectures by scientists about the Alaskan wildlife, and by the National Park service about Glacier Bay during our visit to that area.

The ports of call were excellent as were most of the excursions (more on this below). Disembarkation was handled much better than embarkation (probably because we had little to do with Pier 35 except to pick-up our luggage and leave). Less

Published 06/13/10

Cabin review: AAC-749

Our cabin had great closest space, a large bathroom with separate shower and jacuzzi/tub, a divided sitting and sleeping area, and a huge balcony at the stern of the ship, giving us wonderful views. We were careful to book on Caribe deck, as the cabin below us was on top of the Vista Lounge, and the cabin above us had a public deck on their roof, so we felt we had the best chance of a quiet cruise - which we did. The only downsides: room service food was cold when it arrived, the WiFi did not work unless you opened the cabin door to allow the signal to come in from the hallway, and the toilets had several breakdowns (usually due to passengers flushing things they should not). We would select this cabin again, despite the minor problems.

Port and Shore Excursions

We did not call Icy Strait, but cruised Glacier Bay for a day, and as I was unable to find a listing for this in the menu, I opted for the closest location. This was the highlight of the trip, as we were able to see whales, seals, birds and several glaciers up close - close enough to hear the cracking and popping of the ice as it moved toward the bay, and to see the ice breaking off (and birds using the tiny ice bergs as islands to land on and float away). There was a narration all day by a U.S. Park ranger, which added to the experience, and the weather was so nice we were able to have lunch on our balcony while enjoying the spectacular scenery.

The port of Juneau itself was interesting to see from the ship, as was Mendenhall glacier, which we visited on an excursion. However, part of the excursion was a visit to a salmon hatchery, which was a waste of time, as we were simply led into a gift shop that had a tank of fish to see. No tour of the hatchery facility itself or an explanation in detail of how it worked and why it was important.

Read 1204 Juneau Reviews

This port was a pleasant surprise, as from the description, I didn't expect much beyond a downtown of jewelery stores, but our excursion took us to the Discovery Center, which had interesting exhibits. We then went to the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Bald Eagle Center, which had an excellent guide who walked us through the small facility, including the tanks where they handled the salmon. In contrast to the Juneau hatchery visit, we learned a great deal about salmon hatcheries and their importance. Although this was a brief stop, we found it interesting. We then visited another small facility, the Totem Heritage Center, which had several old totems we could view and take pictures of. There was a brief but informative lecture. We then went to Saxman Village, which also features totems, but these are reproductions, and so not of as much interest as those in the Totem Heritage Center.

Read 1363 Ketchikan Reviews

In contrast to the first two ports, Skagway proved to be wonderful. We had time to wander the town and get beyond the obligatory jewelery stores to see shops with things of real interest. We also took the White Pass Yukon Route train from Skagway to White Pass. The train, tour guide narrating the trip, and scenery were all well worth the time and money.

Read 884 Skagway Reviews

The port visit was brief and there was not much of interest to see. We went to Buchart Gardens, which were pretty. Were I a gardener, I'm sure I would have enjoyed the tour more.

Read 893 Victoria Reviews

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