Note-I'm copying this off of my review on the CC forums, so please excuse the odd use of "More later" :p
Weather blessed us on this cruise . Seattle was overcast when we left, and Juneau was cloudy with an afternoon rain, but after thatwe had amazing weather. Skagway had pure blue skies with the sun out, Ketchikan also was sunny, and the Endicott Arm Fjord (we couldn't enter Tracy) was magnificent, not a cloud in the sky. I'd bring one pair of shorts just in case. It actually got quite hot in some of the towns
I suppose I'll be doing my review in parts. Let's just do Day 1 for now Let me start out by saying a few quick things:-The food was the best we've ever had on Princess.-The service was the best we've ever had on Princess. -The captain, John Foster, and cruise director, David Cole, as well as our server, Arnulfo, were all the best.-We skipped Tracy, and went to Endicott, due to fog, which I definitely did see and understand. We passed the mouth of Tracy and had to keep blowing the fog horn, so Captain Foster decided to just turn around and head to Endicott, his personal favorite fjord.-The naturalist, Michael, was really knowledgeable and entertaining, despite his odd speaking tone.-We missed Victoria due to high winds, which I actually didn't feel, but I trust the Cptn's judgement. We got right to the side of town though, we could see it from our window quite closely.Saturday, June 20th, 2009The alarm went buzzing at 5 A.M., and I rushed into the shower to wake myself up. I then got dressed, gathered up 2 family members that went with me, and we headed to LAX. OUr flight was on time, a relief, and we left LAX around 7:40 and landed at SEATAC at 10:05. No hassle, very easy, kudos to Virgin America. We then contemplated whether to explore Seattle, or just head to the ship, and we chose the latter. We arrived earlier than we've ever arrived before at a cruise terminal. After a 20 minute drive to Pier 91, we were there! The ship came into view and our stomaches tightened. It was about 10:45 and we went to the terminal, checked in and went through security, all under 10 minutes or so. We then got in the three lines to get onboard, as they hadn't started letting passengers on yet. We were on around 11:10 or so, and went to check out our balcony stateroom, mid-ship on Baja Deck. The space was cozy, as expected, and the balcony was bigger than we had thought it to be. Our steward, Timothy, then introduced himself, and every time we saw him, we'd get a huge smile and small talk, something we've never actually experienced before to such a degree on any cruise line.He was truly excellent; room was spick and span. We had lunch at the Horizon Court, but I'm happy to say that the Donatello Dining Room was open ! We then just explored the ship and unpacked, and headed to the muster drill. Then we went to sailaway, which was definitely quieter than usual, and we were on our way. The sailaway view is beautiful. We tried the International Cafe for the first time ever, and truly fell in love. We then booked the Crown Grill for what was supposed to be Victoria on Friday, at 6 PM, so we could explore the town. Then, we headed to dinnersecond seating traditional in the Canaletto Dininng Room. Our server, Arnulfo, and our assistant waiter, Vasiliy introduced themselves, and they were a great duo. Never before had we had such a close connection to our server. Dinner was great, prime rib for all three of us, spring rolls were delicious, as was the salad. Turned out to be the best food on a cruise we've had yet. We then went to MUTS, our very first experience with it, and watched Marley and Me on it. it was really cold out, but we managed with the blankets we provided. Then, we headed to bed in hopes of another great day.More to come
Saturday, June 21, 2009 Our first sea day aboard! Being that Princess does go west of Vancouver Island, we did have a little bit of rocky seas our first and second night, as well as our sixth, but it wasn't that bad, just a little bit of motion in the ocean! We woke up around 9ish, and headed up to HC for breakfast. It was good. On the Golden, the buffet stewards had silverware at the table, and provided drink service the entire cruise. That was a first for us as well. Our prior experiences showed that that happened for the first day or so, but didn't last after the second or third. Pax would have to get their own silverware and drinks, not a big deal at all, but a nice touch. We used the stairs to get everywhere, never stepped foot in an elevator. I figure that I owe my body that much after having it endure a cruise . Let's see. We headed to Demonstration Nation, which had fruit/sushi/flower carving/making/organizing, followed by a martini demonstration; all very nice and cute. We then pretty much relaxed and for the first time, I've never done it before sadly, we ate in the dining room for something else besides dinner! Lunch seating turned out to be an absolute delight on days when we weren't in port, and I am hooked on it now . The rest of the day flew away with exercise on the Promenade deck, snacks at the INternational Cafe, and relaxing on our balcony. We then watched Carlos Oscar's comedy in the Vista Lounge, which was alright, got better as we went through it. It was a formal, we went to the Captain's address and waterfall then headed to our first formal dinner. Had the beef medallions, so tender and juicyabsolutely delicious. Stopped by Princess Pop Star, and went to bed around 11. Another great day at sea. This day really flew by fast. Juneau would come next!I have all of the patters, papers, as many as you can imagine. I stuffed them all in my backpack that I took along, so if you need a document, just ask me .To be continued...
Monday, June 22, 2009 Also, regarding patters, my scanner isn't working, so stand by for those. Today was Juneau! We woke up around 9 AM, grabbed some breakfast in the Horizon Court and hung around the International Cafe until we arrived right on time at noon. Man, the International Cafe is delicious. Paninis, salads, and soups during the day, grilled to perfection, not to mention the completely fresh out of the oven cookies. So warm and chewy....I want one now! Anyways, we left the ship right away, and we had pre-ordered a shuttle for $12/pp/each way. We got on it, it was right across the pier, and we headed to Mendhenhall. We had narration, although when booking it said that it wouldn't be provided, so that was nice. Today was the only day where weather wasn't on our side. We had cloudy skies at this point. We approached Mendenhall Glacier and from the very tips of the trees I saw the highest point of it. As we reached closer, people on our shuttle were gasping at the enormity and majesty of that amazing glacier. We hopped off the shuttle right in front of the glacier, and hiked over a huge pile of rocks to get as close as possible. The hike over the rocks took a good 10 minutes as you had to get on hands and knees, but it was really worth it. We stood right next to the huge, loud, raging white waterfall and were treated with tall icebergs and a front seat view of Mendenhall. We were so close that the waterfall continuously sprayed in our face and sprayed mist across our camera. When we were there, they were constructing a trail through the rocks, so everyone could go there more accessibly. Definitely go. A must see. We spent a good two hours there and headed to catch the next shuttle. As soon as we hopped on, it started raining, so I suppose weather waited for us .We headed to downtown Juneau, and went to go through a free tour, I repeat free , of the government building. We saw the Governor's Office, as well as the Lt. Governor's Office. It was about a 30 minute tour, informative, but not a must-do, as much of the building was closed for construction. Palin actually lives in Anchorage, and we heard 2 jokes relating to the SNL skit on that day from locals . We looked for a lunch place for an hour and a half. There really aren't too many inside of Juneau. So we settled for the Hanger, which wasn't very good...at all. Very expensive lunch for miniscule crab legs. After this, we continued to walk around the quaint little town, but it got a little too rainy and cold, so we headed for the ship after a good 5 hours in town. The Amsterdam and Eurodam were there as well. We took a peak at Cinematastic, and we were not very happy with it. We walked out. It turns out I mixed things up, Cinemantastic was on the sea day, Carlos was in Juneau . We had dinner, it was the Alaskan Dinner, and it featured quite a bit of fish. I had prawns with beef tenderloin medallions, and they were so tendered. Great dinner and we headed to bed for Skagway!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 One note about embarkation daythe beds were really bumpy. We asked for egg crates which helped a little bit, but it was still somewhat uncomfortable. I had never asked for an egg crate before so I was expecting an actual crate, and I was surprised when he brought foam Anyways, let us continue! Today was Skagway, and we had an excursion, our one and only, booked through Princess today. It was Summit, Suspension Bridge, and Salmon Bake. We woke up around 9 and had breakfast in the HC. We headed off the boat around 10 and walked around for about 3 hours. Skagway is a very small town, so there isn't too much to do except walk around, eat, and shop. They have about 30 jewelry shops owned by cruise ships...a shocking number. The Red Onion Saloon and just about every restaurant in town hosted an hour wait at least, so we headed to the ship around 1:15. We rushed to try to get lunch seating and made it by two minutes, arriving at 1:28. We had a very delicious lunch, and headed out to our excursion at 2:45. We left at 3 and our tour guide was Jo, and she was hilarious. The entire bus was roaring with laughter the entire trip and we ended up telling stories instead of learning about the Yukon. Approaching the summit of the White Pass is amazing. The tram followed most and went past where the railroad went. It was beautiful, and we were able to get off for pictures about five times. We arrived at the Suspension Bridge, which was in Canada, and the scenery was magnificent. Under the bridge when crossing are white water rapids, the view to the leftmajestic snow capped mountains, and to the rightbeautiful green fields and trees. It was quite a sight! Had some hot cocoa there, which was great! We then headed to Liarsville for the Salmon Bakeit is close to the pier and it took about an hour. The food was great, the salmon was delicious. They had a lot of characters there that could play songs on saws, as well as story tellers. There were huskies, and old wagonsit was quite a nice stop. Then, we headed back to the ship and said our good-byes to our wonderful tour guide. By this time it was around 7:15, close to the all-aboard time, so we went onboard and had to get dressed for dinner right away (not that we were exactly hungry after that huge meal at Liarsville). It was Italian Dinner night, which was good. We were pretty tired after this, so we hung around lounges and tuned into Princess Pop Star, and then went to bed, for our next lovely day in the Fjords!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Today was Tracy Arm. I didn't want to miss this at all, as I expected it to be the highlight of our cruise. Set my alarm nice and early for either 6 or 7 AM, don't recall. When I woke up, we were treated to islands and icebergs outside of our balcony. However, I knew that our ship was not yet in the Fjord. Soon after, our ship was COMPLETELY blanketed in fog, and our fog horn was blowing nice and loud every minute. I, personally, love hearing that sound, but I wasn't happy that our fjord would be missed by fog. It then disappeared, and I heard the three tones, meaning an announcement was coming. As soon as I heard the word, "safety", I knew what was coming. We were going to skip Tracy and visit Endicott, which the Captain soon announced. I was slightly disappointed, but I was still looking forward to it. The Endicott Arm Fjord is one of the most beautiful places I've even seen. Granite walls surround and tower the ship, and seem so close to the rails that you can almost touch the cliffs. Icebergs, some HUGE, surround the ship, and the movie Titanic comes into mind. I was surprised that we could just run right over them without a problem. We passed the Star Princess while entering, nearing the Dawes Glacier. They were SO loud and we were quiet, but passengers on the Star say the opposite. View the Star here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxI4nAGI0jUThat was a very interesting experience! We then got unbelievably close to the Dawes Glacier, as close as we can go, and I praise Captain Foster for his commitment toward giving his passengers the best scenery. We even went out of our way on our way to Ketchikan to visit an Island filled with bears, and to go to a different route to view whales. Captain Foster was great! The fjords are truly magnificent. Hundreds of seals lie on the icebergs. Pictures could not, absolutely could not, capture what we saw. We spent a good 4-5 hours in the fjord. After we left, we were still treated with scenery. GREAT day, highlight of the cruise by far. After exiting the fjord, we had a sea day-like schedule of activities. Before our wonderful dinner, we went to a magic show, featuring the magic of a name that slips me, Gaeteno or something like that. It was great! David Cole participated in a disappearance scene at the end, quite a surprise! Definitely see this. Dinner was the Chef's Dinner, something never before experienced on Princess. It was great, I had Alaskan King Crab Legs, Yum. They were nice and fat too . After dinner, at 10:45, we went to the International Crew Showthe absolute highlight show of the cruise. The crew is so, so talented. Four singers, all better than the lounge singers. The band was fantastic. They really were great, like record-recording quality. I can't praise them enough . Comedy acts were good, final act was goofygreat show. Headed to bed, and set a very early wake up alarm for Ketchikan the next day.
Thursday, June 25, 2009 Today was Ketchikan. We set our alarm for 7, and we were off the ship at 7:30. We were only in port until Noon today, and all aboard was at 11:45, so we had to get a nice and early start. We got off the boat, and went to the visitor's center, where we decided to purchase a tour for $35 pp that took us to creeks and waterfalls, it was short and adequate, but I was expecting a bit more. We saw tens of bald eagles in flight, including the nest. I thought that the totem pole visit was a waste of time, as they have been touched by modern man for touch-ups, major touch ups. We walked around town, and it was a nice little town, my favorite that we visited. We had some fish and chips by the pier and it was the best that I've ever had, without a doubt. Crispy, without being greasy, it was just perfect. We then entered a looong line to get back on board, but we didn't mind too much. We went on board, but we didn't sail until 12:30 because of the long lines to get back. We enjoyed the rest of they day at sea, and we had a nice and scenic sailaway as well. We had lunch in the dining room and the rest of the day flew by, and before I knew it, it was time for a second formal and our last night with our wonderful servers in the dining room. Dinner was great. Beef wellington was much improved then from when it was last had on Princess, and the lobster was good as always. Tomorrow was Victoriaer, was supposed to be.
Friday, June 26, 2009 Today was our last day of the cruise . It went by oh so fast. It was a sea-day like of activities until we were schedule to reach Victoria around 7 PM. We would be having the Crown Grill at 6 PM. During the day, we watched movies like Gran Torino,at 3 PM, which was very good as well as having our final dining room lunch, going to the Culinary Show and Galley Tour, as well as taking a nice visit to the dessert buffet which was open from 11:30 AM-2 PM. The fruit tart was great! . After those activities, it was already 5:30 and we had our scheduled dinner at 6. We got dressed in normal smart casual attire, and we went to the Crown Grill, and we enjoyed our almost free dinner, because of the Twitter Contest that I won. I must add that getting this recognized was difficult. I had to spend $12 at the internet cafe just to print out and prove that we had actually won something, and several visits to the Purser's Desk later, they finally contacted corporate and our OBC was added. The Crown Grill was very good. I had a 4 oz. lobster tail and a filet mignon, which was perfectly cooked and very tender. During dinner, I noticed that the ship had stopped right outside of Victoria. I could see the buildings of the town quite well, even the Empress Hotel. But right after I finished my steak, I heard the three tones, and I heard the word "safety" again, and I had a strong hunch that we'd be skipping Victoria. The Captain said winds were much too high, approaching 25 knots, and that the ship couldn't handle it. I went outside to the deck shortly after the announcement and felt no wind at all, but oh well, I trust the Captain's judgement. We were looking forward to this port though. They sent a tender with a few passengers ashore to comply with law, and then we set sail quite early. Dessert at the Crown Grill was very good. My molten chocolate lava cake was pure batter, and our waiter insisted that he had to report it to the Executive Chef, so he did, but everyone else's souffle was delicious! DH went up to the room, full and uncomfortable, and called it a night really early. DS and I went to the dining room, as he loves the Princess souffle on the last night with that warm vanilla sauce, so we said that we'd go just for dessert and to see our wonderful dining team again. We had our souffles and our waiter ended up talking to us for a good hour and a half. The other tables in our area were getting ignored . The Head Waiter came in and joined the conversation for thirty minutes as well, haha.We had a very funny conversation. We thought we'd be there for ten minutes, but we stayed longer that passengers that had the full dinner . We gave our servers a big hug at the end, and took a picture, and then we left . I headed to bed after this but DS went to watch Princess Pop Star Finale in the Princess Theater. Then DS went to bed, and we had to disembark the next day.
Saturday, June 27, 2009 Disembarkation day. Blech! We woke up at 7 AM, and we vacated our stateroom as requested around 8. We then had a nice breakfast in the dining room ( a first for me again), and we headed to.....our meeting place. We had silver 6 tags, and we had to meet in the Vista Lounge at 9 AM. We went into the lounge at exactly 9 AM, and they called our tags at 9:01. I've never had that happen before; it's usually 30 minutes of a delay for each tag, but that was surprising. We were off the ship quickly, and we headed to the luggage area. They should have more signage in this area, but the collection was typical-chaotic. After about 20 minutes, we found all of our bags, and we headed past customs, out of the port, and into a taxi. There was barely a line for this, actually there wasn't a line, even at a peak time like 9:30 AM. We had wanted to go into town, but we had luggage and it was $50 in and out of SEATAC, something we didn't want to pay, so we tried to get on an earlier flight. OUr flight was scheduled for 3:35, but we arrived at 10:40, and they put us on standby for the 11:50 flight out of Seattle to LAX. We were called up at the gate, and they told us that they had 2 seats for us, so we didn't take itone extra. The next man had a wife and a young child with him, and he completely left his wife and child there to wait. After he got on the plane, his wife was quite mad! We waited the four hours, and I started this review .My sister picked us up and drove us home, and we relaxed. Didn't get home until 7ish, so it was a long day. We slept long and hard. This was a fantastic cruisemy second favorite that I've completed. Alaska is so beautiful, and is a must-see. I would absolutely do it again. The Golden was beautiful and Vines, MUTS, and the International Cafe were icing on the cake. The food was wonderfulthe best I've had on Princess, as was the service. Embarkation and disembarkation was simple, plenty of time to relax and to explore. Grade A cruise. Thank you Princess for a wonderful vacation. Read Less