Ok! First let me start out by telling you if you are going to go on a cruise to anywhere in the world. Do your research! I cannot believe how many people would go on a cruise without taking advantage of all the information that is out there regarding the region you are going to be traveling in. Hello!!! There are 3 things you have to keep in mind when going on a cruise to Alaska. #1) Possibility of rough seas #2) Possibility of rain #3) Cold weather! I bring this up because, YES! There were passengers on board who were unprepared for this cruise. Because of this, they were miserable.
I am a first time cruiser. However, my wife isn't. She told me to make all the arrangements for our cruise. This way I would learn all the in's and Out's. I had so many questions and so much to learn. Learn I did. I was completely prepared for our cruise and had a wonderful time. Here is some tips that I picked up by reading so many wonderful reviews here on Cruise Critic as well as joining the Roll Call for our particular cruise.
Check the average weather forecast for the region you are traveling. As well as each port! Be prepared to dress in layers of clothes and bring a light jacket that is water proof. having gloves and a warm hat are nice to have especially in Glacier Bay.
Bring a travel size umbrella. It rained five out of the seven days we were on vacation.
If you get sea sick. Start taking your medications before you start your cruise and keep taking them throughout. Drink ginger ale, Eat green apples as well as crackers (Yes, they serve both items on-board the ship). Also, spend most of your time in the middle of the ship. If you can, try and select a room that is as close to the middle of the ship as possible and as low to the water as well. Less rocking and rolling there. Embarkation: As many of you have read. Princess cruises knows how to get people on-board there ships in an extremely efficient manner. I can say this without any reservations that I agree. We had arrived early at the terminal at Pier 91 in Seattle around 9:30 am. I knew we would have to wait. No Big Deal! I guess you can call it First time cruiser anticipation! My wife was laughing at me the whole time. Hey we weren't the only ones waiting! LOL...As soon as Princess opened the terminal around 10:00 am. We checked our luggage with customs. Then went to the check in counter, were we received our room keys after handing over the appropriate documents. Than it was more waiting til they started to load the ship in groups of about 200 passengers starting at 11:00 am. We were unfortunately not part of the first group. Because we were not preferred passengers. However, we were next. as soon as yo get on-board you have you r picture taken for security reasons and than your picture is taken again for your embarkation photo. After that it is party time your cruise has pretty much begun. We went straight to our cabin to check it out. It was wonderful. Than we called the Dine line at noon and made our request to eat at the chefs table (by the way the price to dine at the chefs table went up from $75 to $95 per person. But still worth it in my opinion). As passengers are boarding the ship they are told to go to the Horizon court for lunch. We learned from other cruise critic members that one of the main dining room is open at this time. So we went there and had a nice relaxing and great tasting lunch and watched from the window all the activity of getting the ship ready for leaving. At 3:30 pm we had our life boat muster drill. that didn't take to long. Than it was party time. By the way! for the first day and a half. expect all the offers to buy soda, coffee, and ultimate kid package drink stickers. We put our room keys on a lanyard around our neck so we weren't bothered that much because the stickers are placed on your room key and visible to the serving staff. first day at sea: We had rough seas (Swells approximately 17 feet tall)that lasted about a day and a half. We had a couples massage planned for 9:15 am. We still enjoyed the treatment and commend the therapists for the great job under the conditions. Items that were on the shelves and counter ended up on the floor and the wooden sliding shutters that covered the windows were slamming back and forth against the wall. That is my only complaint about the spa. Not very practical for a ship at sea.
Dining: We chose Traditional dining 2nd seating (8:15 PM). Food was wonderful and the service was superb! We had great table mates. The only thing we would do different next time is do the first seating next time. Second seating didn't allow us the freedom to see the shows we wanted to see. we were so busy during the day that we were to tired to see the late shows. 10:30 Pm and on... Special thank you to our server Svetlana. She indulged my desire to try so many things I have never tried before. We ate at the Chefs Table on our 3rd day of the cruise. Well worth the money paid. It was a pleasure from start to finish. My wine glass was never empty and the food just kept coming. The Horizon court buffet, The food there was pretty darn good. I was pleasantly surprised. My only complaint is that the serving lines as stated before have no rime or reason to them. Yes you go in one way and out another. But while you are in, it can be a mad house at the popular times. also, when you sit down to eat. it can take a long time for a server to come and ask you what you would like to drink. The Trident grill was fantastic. We didn't try out either of the Specialty restaurants on-board
Entertainment: We love to gamble. The casino was great, However, we did have to wait on a few occasions for some of the tables to be opened. There were always tournaments going on at one time or another. The slots are very tight. However, I did manage to hit one Big Jackpot! Woo Hoo!!! As for the shows on-board. Well, we weren't to impressed. especially with the aerialist and the illusionist. They were pretty bad. The Motown show was like something out of a collage production. (there were only a couple of cast members that could really sing) Wished we had a chance to see the British Invasion. I had heard great things about that.
Glacier Bay was Beautiful! What an amazing site. It was very cold and of course it was raining. But we were prepared once again. We actually went to the top of the ship and enjoyed the sites from under the radar installation. Hint Hint... Great place to view. LOL... If you want to take pictures from out side. go to the prominade deck. it is covered.
Our port of call in Ketchikan was cancelled due to rough seas. Oh well. we didn't get to go zip lining like we wanted but we went straight to Victoria B.C,
Our cabin was Great. No noise. we were close to the elevators leading to our dining room and to the horizon court. We loved that we had a large balcony and that it was halfway covered. We would sleep with the sliding door partially open and it was perfect. The water in our shower was great. No temperature fluctuations and great pressure. yeah the shower was small but we had no problem with it. Our bed was very comfortable except for the lump dividing the beds. Our room steward kept our room nice and clean.
Juneau was great! It did rain but not very hard. We took the Mount Roberts Tram and enjoyed hiking and site seeing. The view was wonderful. You can also ride the tram as many times as you would like throughout the day. The view at night was fantastic! seeing the ships and the city all lit up. We than went on our excursion to the Mendenhal Glacier. It was great seeing it as well as the Nugget falls. We than went to the McCauly Salmon Hatchery. Pretty amazing stuff how they catch and extract eggs and fertilize and grow the salmon before releasing into the wild only to have them come back in a few years to the exact spot were there were born. than we went to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. The food was great! The entertainment was wonderful! and the beer (Alaskan Amber) was finominal! This town has all the typical gift shops and jewelry stores as well as T-shirt shops that are owned by the cruise lines. Kind of a disappointment! You will find these same stores at most of the ports we visited except for Victoria!
Rained pretty hard! But we were prepared and had a great time. We avoided all the cruise line owned tourist trap gift and jewelry stores. You see them once you see them a million times and you will. LOL... What are they thinking? The town is beautiful and so is the surrounding scenery. We went Rock climbing and rappelling. Yep! We did it in the rain and We still had a great time. Word of advise. It is tough! Not something to do if your are not in decent shape. we would love to do it again.
Victoria is one of my favorite city's. since our port of call in Ketchikan was cancelled due to the rough seas we had leaving Glacier Bay. We sailed straight to Victoria. instead of arriving at 7 PM and only only spending 4 hours there we ended up arriving at 12 noon and spending 11 hours there. woo Hoo! That is the way it should be. We went to Beuchart Gardens. If you have never been there you have to see it. even if you are not into that sort of thing. It is amazing! we went and walked around the town square and the outlying areas. Legislature buildings and the Empress Hotel are BEAUTIFUL!!! Than we went to one of my favorite pubs, The Sticky Wicket and had a wonderful lunch and enjoyed some of Canada's Best beer.