We have traveled extensively to fixed destinations and all-inclusive resorts and there isn't a place we wouldn't go back to. Deciding to take a cruise so that we could enjoy the Alaskan glaciers and inside passage ports was a big decision. Knowing many people who enjoy cruising, we decided to go ahead with a Cruise-Tour on the Diamond Princess. The tour portion was handled like clockwork by Princess, although the lodging at the Denali Princess Lodge came no where near matching the quality of the accommodations provided for us in Fairbanks and Anchorage as part of the land tour. We had an inside cabin, and there are no complaints about the size of the room or amount of storage available for luggage and personal belongings. A very nice safe was included in the room, which added peace of mind when we left valuables in the room. The cabin steward was amazing, always cheerful, welcoming, and working hard. We enjoyed the evening shows, and appreciated that all areas of the ship were clean and well-maintained. Our disappointment came first of all with the quality of the food. It was mediocre at best. We chose anytime dining, and frequented the buffet most of the time. Presentation and variety were good, but we never left saying "wow, that was delicious" or "I wish I wasn't so full so I could have more of that." Most everything was just adequate, and believe me there was always plenty of variety. It is sad to have to say that the best dessert most days was the cookies. The desserts looked inviting, but the taste never sized up as being delectable. Too much fluffy white cream layered with a variety of different flavors.
The other major annoyance to us was the constant bombardment about purchasing jewelry. We had no problem with their being boutiques on board, however, the focus on "teaching" passengers how to buy gems and where to go at the ports to get the best deals. Even turning on the stateroom TV, it was hard to escape someone preaching jewelry to us. I don't know about other people, but the last thing on our minds when booking a cruise was how much jewelry we could acquire. It was disappointing to see all of the jewelry shops at the 3 ports we visited, and I suspect they had ties to the cruise ships because they couldn't sustain themselves without them. At one point I counted 6 jewelry shops in a row on one of the tiny streets in Alaska. Granted, no one made you go in them, and we didn't. But it was disappointing to see so much emphasis on spending money on jewels.
Overall, we wouldn't recommend the Diamond Princess unless you prefer mediocre food and want to buy lots of jewelry. I doubt we'll ever cruise again, despite all the amazing scenery we were privileged to enjoy.
P331 is very adequate in space; large closet, nice cabinet with shelves; and more drawers in the desk and night stands. Quiet but no view.
Other than too many jewelry shops, the town was very interesting. We paid $5 pp to ride the local bus all day, although it was not a very long walk into town. We went to the Gold Dredge just outside of town, but did not enter the mine area since we had already done that in Fairbanks. The tour of the Red Onion Saloon is not to be missed. It's only 15 minutes long, but a current day "madame" takes you back in history as you tour a former brothel.
Walked from the ship to the Mt. Richards Tramway. It is definitely worth the price of the ticket to ride to the top. Photos from there are amazing. Took a short trail up the mountain, and visited the gift shop. It was very exhilarating. Followed the tram with a walk to the Red Dog Saloon, where we had lunch. A fun place, with live honky-tonk piano going non-stop. Food was good and ambiance was great. Watched fish being unloaded on the docks as we walked back to the ship. A very short, but enjoyable day.
Here again, way too many jewelry shops. But the town itself, is quaint and loaded with history. We took the free bus to the Totem Museum, though we were disappointed with the admission fee to that venue. The free bus took us back to Creek Street, which is a fun place. Very picturesque and lots of shops to browse. Our good weather left us, and we got caught in rain. Slowly made our way back to the ship between showers. Probably would have used the free bus more had it stayed dry.