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Sail Date: September 2013
Arrived at Pier 93 in San Pedro at approximately 10:30 am. Plenty of parking at cruise terminal. Cost for parking was $12 per day. Easy walk with luggage to the cruise terminal. Was met by numerous porters wanting to take our luggage. I am ... Read More
Arrived at Pier 93 in San Pedro at approximately 10:30 am. Plenty of parking at cruise terminal. Cost for parking was $12 per day. Easy walk with luggage to the cruise terminal. Was met by numerous porters wanting to take our luggage. I am a little uncomfortable using porters. I would prefer to handle my own luggage. When I arrived at entrance to the terminal, I was told by a Princess cruise representative that I couldn't proceed until I had used a porter to check in my luggage. So had to turn around and go find a porter. No big deal. Check in was fast and efficient. The only problem we had was, there was confusion as to what line to put us in. On the Golden Princess there are two Deluxe Ocean View Staterooms located on Deck 15. Our room is located right next to a row of suites. The code for our room which was S704 listed it as a suite. So we were put into a line with other suite passengers. Again no big deal as there were no long lines. The check in rep had to go to another area to find our stateroom keys which took some time to locate. After check in. We were directed to the waiting area to await boarding that was supposed to start at noon. Boarding didn't start until approximately 12:45 pm. The waiting area was comfortable. The only problem I had with this area is the fact that the gangway is located right in the middle between the check in area and the waiting area. So when the ship boarding process began you had people making there way from there seats to get in line with there group. but you have people entering the waiting area and getting mixed up with the passengers heading to the gangway. caused a lot of confusion. Once on board we headed straight for our cabin to drop off our carry on's and to call the Dine line and made or reservations to eat at the Crown Grill. Once this was done we headed to get some lunch at one of the Main Dining Rooms. We asked a rep on board which MDR was open. We were told that none were open for lunch that we had to go to the Horizon buffet. Having eaten in the MDR in the past, I questioned the rep about this. and she finally told us which MDR was open. Lunch was wonderful and not very crowded. Hmmm I wonder why. We loved our room. The bed was comfortable and the floor to ceiling windows were fantastic. The room had crown molding and pictures on the wall. The air conditioning worked great. The bathroom was typical with the small shower. But the sink and counter had upgraded features like tile work and fixtures. The only issues we had were as follows: Overhead speaker in room didn't work so P/A announcements were heard from speakers outside of room. remote for the TV didn't work very well. Our room steward (Frenchy) was pleasant and informative and kept our room clean. However, we never got the robes that we requested and he kept all 3 of his cleaning carts right outside of our room. Which would get banged around every so often and he would have long conversations right outside our door with his assistant. Also our room was directly in line with the elevator hallway so we got a little bit of noise from people waiting on the elevators. This wasn't to bad because there are so few people in this area of the ship. Surprisingly the make up of passengers on this cruise was mostly older. If I were to guess I would say 85% were age 50 and above. There were only maybe a dozen kids on board. We dined in the Canaletto Main Dining Room We had originally requested a table of 6. I have a hard time hearing so anything bigger than a 6 person table can be a little hard on me to carry on a conversation. We were put at a 8 person table. Luckily we had wonderful table mates and wonderful servers. Natalia (Head server) and Marina (Asst server) Did a wonderful job and kept us well feed and entertained. We ate at the Crown Grill, one of two Specialty restaurants on board. The food was great and the service was fantastic. Well worth the $25 cover charge per person. The Entertainment on the ship was only so so. This time around we managed to see the show The British Invasion. Kind of a college production. The singing and dancing was just ok. We say comedian Phil Tag. He was entertaining and well worth watching and we also attended the Culinary arts show hosted by Maitre d Giuseppe Gelmini with Executive Chef John Convery. Both were very entertaining and put on a great class. One disappointment I had was there was no Wine Sommelier on board and I never saw the Maitre d during the entire cruise with the exception of the culinary arts class. In the past the Maitre d would make it a habit to at least introduce himself to each table and welcome everybody. Also dining at the Chefs table wasn't offered on this cruise. Another issue was formal night. There was supposed to be one formal night on a 4 day cruise. Many passengers had brought formal wear on board only to find out later that there was no formal night. Santa Barbra was wonderful. The beaches were pristine and the weather was gorgeous. Had to take tenders ashore. that went nice and smooth. Ensenada, I could have done without. It was dirty and I don't like dealing with beggars and the children trying to sell Chiclets. In my opinion there should have been more excursions offered besides going on a city tour and going to wineries or two the blow hole. Bought a few cheap gifts and enjoyed some good chips and salsa and beer at Papa's and Beers. Disembarkation was horrible. received info notice two days before which was a sea day. didn't read notice until the night before. My mistake. On the day the notice was distributed you were supposed to contact passenger service to arrange your luggage to be picked up outside your stateroom the night before. If you didn't it was assumed you were a walk off passenger. Well I would have to say that probably 75% of the passengers were walk off. We were the very last group to be let off the ship. Our meet time was 11:45 am. We had to be out of our stateroom by 8 am. We had to carry all of our luggage and not leave it unattended for 3 hours and 45 min. Also the ship had to do crew emergency drills that also slowed down the disembarkation process. We didn't leave the ship until shortly after noon. No wonder our embarkation process at the beginning of the cruise took so long. Princess you can do a lot better. As a result of our late disembarkation. we got charged for another day of parking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
This was our 2nd Princess cruise and we sailed on the Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska cruise in September 2013. While not a true "sister ship" to our previous cruise aboard Caribbean Princess, its layout and interior design was a ... Read More
This was our 2nd Princess cruise and we sailed on the Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska cruise in September 2013. While not a true "sister ship" to our previous cruise aboard Caribbean Princess, its layout and interior design was a very close match. Cabin - We stayed in a balcony cabin, A743, which is starboard aft, only the 2nd cabin in from the back door which leads to the aft pool and then up another short flight of stairs to the aft bar & entrance to the Horizon Court buffet restaurant. We love this convenience. In warmer climes, we love access to the quiet adult-only aft pool, but that was only available for a few hours of sunning ourselves on nicer days during our Alaska journey. The cabin was decent in size and just as expected with the exception of the beds running horizontal from the door perspective to allow access to the balcony. This would be fine except that we had a third passenger in an upper bunk that had to squeeze between the beds to access the ladder. This would be fine for children but was a slight challenge for an adult to maneuver. I quickly learned the best way to manage this, though. Dining - We opted, as usual, for the early traditional dining. We love the assigned waiter (we had Roy from the Philippines). On this cruise we did miss 2 dinners in the dining room because we were in port late or attending other activities on the ship (in our case - whale watching). The dining room staff was right on point with food selections & timing, with the exception of the last night where the Baked Alaska on Parade is a highlight, but took too long for our preference and we left before the festivities. The other two nights we could have reserved an "Anytime Dining" time with 24-hours advance notice, but opted for the casual approach of the Horizon Court buffet. On our previous cruise the Horizon Court offered some of the same dishes featured in the main dining room, but that was not the case on this sailing. Regardless, the options were tasty and varied and the service was appropriate for the casual setting. We did not choose any of the specialty restaurants on this cruise, but there is also a steakhouse (located in the far aft section of the Horizon Court) and Sabatini's Italian Restaurant whose aroma was beckoning! Activities/Entertainment - We only attended one show and were slightly disappointed at the shortened length of only 35 minutes. However, the singing, dancing, and costumes were similar to other Princess performances. We really enjoy the other shipboard activities like the trivia contests and game shows and here the cruise staff excelled, as usual. There were also multiple events for dancing and learning to dance as well as Bingo and casino games, which is typical of most cruises. The highlight for me on this sailing was the addition of the onboard naturalist who sailed not only the entire journey with us, but sailed the whole Alaska season on the Diamond Princess. He provided a variety of talks in the theatre as well as some impromptu get-togethers on deck and dedicated points-of-interest commentary from the bridge. The best was the evening sail through Snow Passage (between Ketchikan and Juneau) where he explained how to see identify whale activity and described sightings of each whale, porpoise, harbor seal, and stellar sea lions. It was an amazing event. Ports - This sailing left Vancouver and sailed northbound to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway before ending in Whittier. We also had a full day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park where the National Park rangers were brought aboard for a full day of commentary while viewing several major glaciers in the park. These were excellent ports with a wide variety of activities and convenient docking areas.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
I've been on a number of the Grand Class ships before but this one beat them hands down in most areas! It is so well designed: you never realise that there are so many passengers. Like other Princess ships, there are main dining ... Read More
I've been on a number of the Grand Class ships before but this one beat them hands down in most areas! It is so well designed: you never realise that there are so many passengers. Like other Princess ships, there are main dining rooms, speciality restaurants, bars, a club, theatres, shops and plenty of deckspace around the pools/tubs. What it didn't have was young people! My wife, aged 51, must have been in the youngest 150! In fact 150 could've been the average age! With such elderly cruisers the pace was slow and the music/PA seemed to be rather too loud ---for our ears. Most of the passengers were fellow Brits. This was a shame because I really enjoy meeting people from other countries. Still, the many trivia competitions were well attended and fun. We dined in Sabatini's for our breakfast ---the three waitresses in there were brilliant! For lunch we tried various locations and for our evening meals we went to the Crown Grill steakhouse four times (thanks Marius & George who looked after us so well), had room-service once and otherwise used the main restaurants. We did find the plague of photographers too much. The prices are so high as well. You'll sell more if you half the prices, guys. Yes, we did some ship's tours at some ports: Gibraltar: the dolphin watch. Great fun but no dolphins. I give it **** Corfu: missed because we helped some poor Syrians who were in a really bad way. Dubrovnik: Sadly I missed this because I had injured my leg playing tennis (!) Koper: ship's tour to Piran. So interesting---although some people found it too focused on history and culture! I give it ***** Venice: we did our own thing (ate at Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal---wow!) Valetta: I've never been to Malta before. We went on the ship's Hypogeum tour. It was absolutely amazing. If you are into history this is a great experience! ***** Cadiz: the ship's tour to see the Andalusian horses and taste sherry was one of our highlights. ***** Otherwise, the good and bad things: For me, the food in the main dining areas was disappointing. Also, the long queues that happen on such a huge ship. The luggage collection ashore once we had disembarked in Southampton was awful. The good things for me that I haven't already mentioned.... the crew were fab, some of the entertainers were so good (the Russian girls Lady Hit Trio who played their violins and accordion so well plus Chris Ricketts, the singer/guitarist who was so enthusiastic about sea shanties ----not everyone's cup of tea though. Would I go on this ship again? Yes. Would I go on this cruise again?...Probably yes. Would I change the time of year? Well, I just wish that there was a greater mix of passenger nationalities and ages.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
Overall impression: The Island Princess is a fine ship--it is in great shape--looks almost new. The ports and glaciers--this ship goes to both Glacier Bay and College Fiord which is a great combination--you will see multiple glaciers. ... Read More
Overall impression: The Island Princess is a fine ship--it is in great shape--looks almost new. The ports and glaciers--this ship goes to both Glacier Bay and College Fiord which is a great combination--you will see multiple glaciers. Other ports are standard--Skagway is OK (I prefer Sitka)(I rented a car instead of the train and drove into the Yukon--Whitehorse was surprising nice), Juneau is fine, and Ketchikan is pleasant (ps in Ketchikan you can walk 10 minutes to the Safeway if you want to buy anything and the store even has free internet access). Re the Island Princess--the ocean view cabin is small--it isnt small by measurement compared to other ocean view cabins on other cruise lines--but due to what I regard as a poor layout due to the wasted space for the "walk in closet" and the wall running perpendicular to the orientation of the room which cuts the room by 1/3 and makes the bed area seem small--not even enough space for a small couch. You will feel cramped. I am sure Princess did a lot of research on how to arrange the space--but I think it makes the room feel cramped. And the comments on the shower that other people have commented on--it is really tiny--if you are at all a bigger person (really I am normal weight (BMI 24...) and it was tight)--it will be tight--seriously--you will be surprised how small it is. Re the layout of the ship itself--this is great--if you like to walk--you can walk on the promenade deck or the top of the ship. The lowest level, the Plaza--does feel claustrophobic as it opens to the atrium. And the coffee shop is on the Plaza level along with the dining room. Get the coffee card for around 32 dollars and you are set--just leave your room and get endless brewed coffee and up to 15 expresso drinks--right there near the room--no need to go to the Lido deck. Re dining--never a signif wait for a table under anytime dining. Service excellent. The food is fine--as long as you stay with pure american or italian food. Anything non-european will be terrible--interestingly, Carnival or Holland America do good Asian food--but not Princess. The italian food on Princess is good--surprising good pizza. Food was fine, both on the Lido deck, and the dining room. Overall a fine experience. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
My husband and I just got off the Golden Princess and I would like to share some of our pro and cons. Pros: Great passengers!Everyone sailing was very nice. Kids were well behaved and not running wild on this cruise. The naturalist , ... Read More
My husband and I just got off the Golden Princess and I would like to share some of our pro and cons. Pros: Great passengers!Everyone sailing was very nice. Kids were well behaved and not running wild on this cruise. The naturalist , Kathy Slamp was amazing! We were also lucky enough to have the author of the Alaska Cruise Companion book with us. She really rounded out what the naturalist had to say.We went to every Scholarship at Sea presentation. Our cabin steward, Jorge was also very good. Ok (not great): The food. The pizza I have been hearing so much about had barely any cheese on it. The dining room selections were very bland. The best night of food in the dining room was the last night. My mother who has sailed on the Golden Princess said this as well. I loved the coffee card and the International Cafe selections. I wish they had more whole grain pasta options. The service from the staff was ok. The dining room staff was nice, we had any time dining, but other staff members were not as cheerful or pleasant. I was surprised. Cons: The Gym!!! They boast about fitness on the ship, but they only have 6 elliptical machines, and the gym does not open until 7 A.M. My husband had to leave our cabin at 6:30 every morning to get to the gym. He said when he got there, there were at least 20 people waiting to get in. Not everyone was able to work out at that time. We spoke to Passenger Services and they said they were aware of the issue, but there was nothing they could do. We enjoyed this cruise to beautiful Alaska, however, my husband was so unhappy with the gym situation, that I do not think we will cruise with Princess Cruises again until they change their policies. Most hotels we travel to , and we are business travelers, have 24 hour work out rooms now. The cruise was not so amazing that we would make a point to go on this line again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2013
I have thought a lot about my experience on board the Royal Princess, let it digest and settle in for a couple of weeks before penning a review. I will say that, compared to how I felt getting off the boat, my negative impressions have not ... Read More
I have thought a lot about my experience on board the Royal Princess, let it digest and settle in for a couple of weeks before penning a review. I will say that, compared to how I felt getting off the boat, my negative impressions have not mellowed with time, although my acute irritation has tamped down somewhat. To sum up the experience: beautiful ship and if it had been my first Princess cruise, I would never have considered returning to the line. The good: This is a BEAUTIFUL ship, to look at. No plastic brassy Sopranos-esque splendor this. Woods and granites and polished steels, as well as wide open spaces and broad areas make the ship a joy to be in. Automatic doors and wider entryways everywhere are wonderful. It feels like a luxury resort hotel on the water, which is really what all cruise ships should be in my opinion. The public spaces are bigger and grander than I have seen on Princess ships. Despite almost 4000 passengers, there really wasnt any problem with getting a place to be or a place to sit wherever you wanted to go. That was a wonderful new experience, especially during busy times where there were a lot of people out and about. The new Ocean seafood bar is a great, if pricy, experience. Ossetra caviar set up in the perfectly traditional way with plenty of fixings (egg, onion, crme fraiche, the whole schmear) is a joyous experience and we thoroughly enjoyed the splurge. Note-- -get a vodka martini straight up, NOT a shot, if you like vodka with your caviar. The pour is bigger and more cost effective. The sushi here was also wonderful, with unusual offerings like tuna poke for the Hawaii-philes amongst us. They do not do rolls, however, which is a bit of a lack, but if you charm the staff they will work with you regardless of the official offerings. This was one of two areas where the staff and service simply shined. The boutiques are better stocked and have broader breadth. A particularly nice addition, to me, was the cosmetics boutique dedicated just to fragrance, cosmetics, and body products. The prices were really good, too. Bravo! Horizon Court is vastly better and improved. From the space and layout to the variety and quality of the food-- A++++. The bad: I read someone else describe this as a teething situation. Yes, this ships staff is collectively a cranky fussy baby that does not know what to do with itself. Without cataloguing in a super boring way the serious and ongoing shortcomings: dining room service is slow, incompetent and belligerent about its incompetence (no I DID bring you the right bottle of wine, oh really, cause I can read my account number on the previous bottle which is not this); bar service is hit or miss at best never even a waiter to be found in the casino and only three times over 13 days in the aft smoking section; room service is an unmitigated mess--- deliveries an hour early, consistently missing items (like milk for cereal), fruit orders are an absolute shuffle (heres your bowl of kiwi, wait, I ordered everything BUT kiwi) and on and on and on. More than once I was brought the wrong drink, and once told "just drink that its close enough." The ship is new and the staff has no experience with each other, and boy does it show. The best example of this was standing, for a full five minutes, trying to get a simple Diet Coke, listening to the lone bartender argue with a server at the bar about how the server had taken an order, with the server arguing back that he had done it correctly to start with. Aside from our STELLAR cabin steward, the service got a D- grade consistently. The staff are pretty clear, universally, that they are there for their own reasons and purposes. Providing service or experience is definitely not high on the list. I got particularly sick of the entertainment staff strutting and shoving around the ship--- even crowding and shoving in line at the buffet--- as if they owned it. Its too big, period. Everything and everywhere is a hike. This becomes really tiresome after a while and its just wearing to walk a football field to get anywhere. Dining choices and especially the wine list have taken a serious turn towards the uninspired and mediocre. When coupled with the "service" the Dining Rooms really left me cold, which was sad since on our other cruises I loved the Dining Room experience nightly. The fountain show is lame. Perhaps a better pool would have been a better call. The ugly: Its a profit maximizing situation, only, for Princess and thats how theyre treating it. It starts to stack up in an annoying way. They are charging separately for soda in a mixed drink. They actually have fewer and less nice amenities throughout when compared to other ships--- laundry room is top loader and old washers and dryers; no game room/area; the pools (see below); the library is several shelves with a single conference table; steam rooms and spa amenities are co-ed and costs $49.00 per day; etc. etc. The idea was clearly to cram as many people as possible onto this pretty tub with the minimum amenities they could get away with. Two pools for 4000 people. Yes two. No aft pool area which was awesome on other ships. No indoor pool. Basically, if you want to wade into Manhattan rush hour type crowds the pools are great, otherwise the pools are unusable. I found this situation unforgivable. Our cabin, while beautiful, was ridiculously badly insulated, poorly installed and the tradeoffs Princess made, bluntly, suck. Our balcony on a mini-suite was a joke--- teeny tiny. Compared to the Island Princess where it was basically another room on our mini-suite, the Royal Princess balcony frankly just made me mad. Two chairs crammed in and no room to move. There were ottomans underneath the deck chairs that one could not get out without taking the whole mess inside, and nowhere for them to be. The balcony was basically useless and unusable. I could not find a comfortable way to sit, ever, and every time I tried my legs fell asleep. The suites were also balcony-deficient. The noise in the cabin was outrageous and was a lot like being inside a boiler room--- crashes, bangs, shudders, groans. A TV fell off the wall at one point. Ugh. For a laugh--- whoever designed the bathrooms clearly never poops. Toilet paper was IMPOSSIBLE to get to or use and everyone I spoke to had toilet paper sitting in a roll on their counter for this reason. While this is just dumb, it gives you an idea of how they treated the ship and comfort of the passengers--- i.e., not at all. The verdict: All in all, we had a great trip because of the itinerary in the Mediterranean and the wonderful people we met. The Royal Princess itself was not something that made the trip better, and I will never sail it again.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
My husband and I (in our mid 60's) just got back from our Alaska Princess cruise tour, 12 night Denali Explorer, leaving from Vancouver and returning from Fairbanks. It was the most wonderful vacation!! We both highly recommend it! ... Read More
My husband and I (in our mid 60's) just got back from our Alaska Princess cruise tour, 12 night Denali Explorer, leaving from Vancouver and returning from Fairbanks. It was the most wonderful vacation!! We both highly recommend it! Note: It never got dark! I brought with a black eye cover for sleeping. Lots of mosquitoes on land - bring repellent! First, The CRUISE itself: We were on the Coral Princess. Our stateroom with a balcony was plenty big and comfortable. The small bathroom was very adequate with a small shower which I was surprised to have strong water pressure, which was great! It was fun to have the balcony with which to look outside and occasionally go outside. We finally had time to go into the outdoor pool and hot tub on the last day of sailing, which was great! while watching “Back to the Future” on the big outdoor screen. What fun! DINING: We did ANYTIME dining and loved it! We tried to get to dinner between 5:30 and 6:30 because it ended up being about a two hour meal! But...it was so enjoyable and relaxing! Pampered to the max! EVERYBODY that worked on the ship was so nice and friendly and wanting to please. The meals were excellent as were the choices on the menus. (I usually got more than one dessert!) We met people that tried some of the other restaurants for dinner where you pay, but we couldn’t understand why anyone would want to pay extra when there were such great choices and such good food in the dining room. We always requested to be seated with others. It was so much fun to meet people from all over! Couples from Australia, England, Wyoming, Denver, Nashville, Boston, Texas, Virginia, Kentucky, etc. We would see some of these folks throughout the cruise and it started feeling like a community of sorts. I exchanged e-mails with about a dozen people! BREAKFASTS and LUNCHES we always went to the buffet in Horizon lounge on the 14th floor, opposite the outdoor pool area. LOVED all the choices. Everything was delicious! And the wait staff couldn’t do enough for you! FITNESS: I actually worked out at the fitness center 3 mornings and it was great! I was impressed with the quality of the gym and that so many others made use of it. All the aerobic machines (ellipticals, treadmills, etc.) faced the ocean and mountains and was beautiful! Also went to a couple talks there, which were very good, but didn’t buy anything. I managed to get to a Zumba class and it was great!! SO MUCH FUN!!! SHOWS: The shows we saw were pretty good. Two theaters - one with plenty of seating, the second had all comfortable lounge chairs and small tables, so you had to get there early to find a seat. I especially loved the comedian, Steve Moris, they had one night. He was awesome!! A magician who was a comic too, was entertaining and the big production numbers (esp. “The Bayou”) were terrific! Don’t miss the kitchen galley talk - where you watch the chefs prepare a meal. They were hysterical! and then you go for a tour of the kitchen which is very interesting. NATURALIST: There was a naturalist who gave informative talks about the wild life - whales, otters, sea lions, etc. And also gave a running commentary which you could hear all over the ship and also on your state room TV, while going through Glacier Bay and the College Fjords, and telling you where you should look for whales and other wild life. EXCURSIONS: KETCHIKAN - we didn’t sign up for anything. It was the only place it rained. We took a local bus for $1 to Totem Bight State Park - 1/2 hour ride, and enjoyed talking to other visitors on the bus. We met someone who paid for a tour there and it sounded like they might have learned a lot more from the guide. It was okay - more like something to do. When we caught the bus back after an hour, we walked on the Creek St. boardwalk in and out of the shops, which was fun - in the rain. JUNEAU - We did a whale watch with Captain Larry and ORCA Enterprise, which Trip Advisor folks recommended. We called them from home to make the reservation. It ended up being only 6 of us on board. We immediately saw whales, breaching, which was cool! Then we went to an area where we saw lots of sea lions. but after that, no more whale sightings. The scenery was gorgeous though. But it was disappointing not to see any more whales. Especially since when we got back to the ship, many on other boats (including Princess excursions) saw many more whales than we did. Afterwards, we were dropped off at The Mendenhall Glacier, which is truly spectacular and definitely worth the visit! Walked to Nugget Falls, which is so neat! We were getting picked up in an hour so I felt a bit pressured to rush, but we took some great photos. The town of Juneau was fun to walk through and we ended up at the Red Dog Saloon for a beer and listened to fun live music. SKAGWAY - We booked bus tour with DYEA DAVE to Emerald Lake, all through the Yukon Pass. Same as the train, but less expensive and more personalized, I think. There were six of us. Dave was TERRIFIC!! He stopped at all the best scenic places so we could get out and take pics. And he stopped when we saw a black bear on the side of the road, and also a lynx, on the way back. He gave a running commentary and was so funny! A real character! When we didn’t have enough cash to pay him at the end, he was, like, “no problem”. We went back on ship, got the money, and met him outside, where he was “off duty”. He gave us a ride in his antique convertible Metropolitan sports car to town. Wanted us to see the museum and film about the gold rush, which we did and liked very much. He actually picked us up afterwards and drove us back to the ship!!! Everybody seemed to know him and was taking photos of the car and waving, etc. LAND PORTION - Princess Cruise is amazing for their organization. They totally took care of our suitcases and we only had to carry a tote bag with whatever we needed for the day. The trains and coaches were comfortable and the drivers always gave commentary. Of course you have to tip them at the end of the ride. WE WERE SO LUCKY - the weather was really warm, clear, and sunny! A heat wave! 70’s and even 80’s in Fairbanks!!! ANCHORAGE - A Beautiful city with lots of flowers and a beautiful park across from the hospitality center. Great shops and galleries. We had lunch at the Snow Goose - the upstairs, outdoor deck at the Brewery part. The salmon fish and chips were good. We could see Denali, 250 miles away! Dinner at a pizza shop. TALKEETNA / McKINLEY PRINCESS LODGE - You get dropped off from the train in the little town of Talkeetna, before going to the McKinley Princess Lodge, an hour away. There are shuttles that leave every hour. So we walked around the little town - very little! We spontaneously decided to do a Flightseeing Tour, because it was such a gorgeous, clear day. Went to the visitor’s center and the enthusiastic woman behind the counter got us on a plane that was leaving in 20 minutes! for the discounted price of $199 each. It was an amazing adventure!! I’m afraid of flying usually, but HAD to try this. I mean, these pilots do this several times every day, right?? Not to worry, it was an awesome flight that I’m SO GLAD we took! There were 7 of us in the plane and Andre, our pilot, took us right over Mt. McKinley!! The north face, the east face, etc. etc. Thought we might bump the mountain, we were so close!!! It was about 1 1/2 hours or so. Very exhilarating! Note: The Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage and all the Princess Lodges were exceptionally beautiful and comfortable!!! And in very scenic locations. DENALI - We took the included “natural history” 5 hour bus tour, which started at 6:20 am. UGH! This was the only disappointing thing on the trip. No animal sightings, not too interesting, and MANY MOSQUITOS!!!! Why did we have to get up SO EARLY for this??? On our free day, we took a shuttle to the Visitor’s Center, which is definitely worth a visit, and saw a beautiful film about Denali and wonderful exhibits. We also took a short hike to Horseshoe Lake. Found out we just missed some moose at the lake. Ate at the Salmon Bake restaurant across from the Lodge and we really liked it! Also the fun ice cream shop across from the Lodge is a must! FAIRBANKS - I think this was one of our most FUN excursion days and it was included in our tour! The Paddle Wheel Riverboat Cruise (including a hearty lunch at the end) and then the Gold Dredge 8. Definitely DO THIS TRIP!!! We saw so much! From the boat we saw a bush pilot take off and land his sea plane, sled dogs doing their thing, salmon skinning demo, and got out at an Athabascan Village, with various demonstrations and talks. LOVED IT!! Afterwards we were all treated to a hearty beef stew lunch, family style - all you could eat! Then we went to the Alaskan Pipeline and learned about it’s history. An open tram ride was next, with demos along the way all about gold mining and it’s history. At the end we all got to try panning for gold! So much fun! My husband and I combined our gold (worth about $30) and purchased a pretty locket that they put the gold into and now I can wear it! An AWESOME trip!! To top it off, one of our flights home was overbooked. We opted to get ‘bumped’ and was given $400 flight credit each! And took another flight only 1/2 later!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
This was our sixth Princess Cruise. Booking last minute we found an incredible bargain ($1329 for a $3799 balcony; interior cabins were sold for $599). We are Platinum members, and hence boarding was very easy, as was disembarkation. Our ... Read More
This was our sixth Princess Cruise. Booking last minute we found an incredible bargain ($1329 for a $3799 balcony; interior cabins were sold for $599). We are Platinum members, and hence boarding was very easy, as was disembarkation. Our Cabin was R718, aft on the ship, but perfectly comfortable and convenient. Good things: We've always had pleasant experiences with crew, dining hall staff, stewards, and this was true on this cruise as well. Crew worked to be very attentive and helpful, with only one invisible exception I'll mention later. Always found if we are courteous and respectful of crew, they'll be likewise to us. We have liked Princess for social dancing, more floors and venues, space in general for dancing than we have found on Carnival or Royal C. That said, often live bands played very short sets (30 to 45 minutes) and then were wisked off to another venue. The ship has four dance venues. They make generally poor use of the Skywalker Club at the top of the ship, and the objective there didn't seem to be dance but selling drinks.. They kept a band in Wheelhouse Bar regularly most evenings capable of a wide selection of music. Only problem there was length of time between selections, waiting for computers to pull up their music. Explorer's Lounge was underutilized for dancing, bands starting late and leaving early so one of the over-done cruse staff games could be shuffled through, and those well worn performances were eternal, never ending. Club Fusion was mostly DJ music,and often slow without much being offered for dance, just an empty room. It is used some, but could be used much more effectively without huge overhead. I've read some downer reviews on food. In regular dining rooms, two things helped for anytime dining. First, don't ask for a table for two or you will wait a long time. Be willing to mix with others, and you are seated quickly. This cruise was very international, and we always enjoyed meeting others, Brits, Israeli's South Africans, many Asians, Aussies and New Zealanders. One of the great aspects of the trip was only about half of of the guests were American. The second thing that helped was to ask the waiter for a recommendation. A couple of times I went on my own, a steak, or a seafood item I had attraction too. Usually, if it was an every night available or if it was beef, it tended to be a bit ordinary. When I followed wait staff recommendations, I always got a good entree. On desserts, creme bulee is always a good choice. We found food to generally be a bump better than Carnival or RC. Some of the Excursions on this cruise were a mistake. Getting the more expensive excursion where you depart in the morning and meet the ship at Geiranger was a mistake. . Lots of down and wasted time, and the best sites can generally be seen from the Geirnanger side. We opted for a rental car in Bergen, a mistake (use Hop On Hop Off bus). For Flaam, buy railway tickets in Bergen the day before and save a few bucks. Stavenger is a walk on your own city, everything in good proximity of the ship; called that one right. Use public transportation in Tromso (we walked too much).. We were generally disappointed in the shows. Couple of weak entertainers, a magician and comic who brought no energy to the show and the audience was unable to generate any either. Because there were 3 shows each night (limitation of seating in theatre), shows were short, about 45 minutes. On this cruise, four or five times 45 minutes was actually enough. Sameness about them, lack of creative choreography. If not for midriff and sexual inuendo, there wasn't much else to carry them. Nice string group that was used in very limited capacity. A good group where most of the band was from Barbados, but again they were under utilized. My disappointment came in the Admin officers and his staff to help correct an error I made. I use a CPAP machine at night. In packing it, I had inadvertently left the silicone portion of the mask behind, the piece that sits directly upon one's face. I realized my error on the plane before landing at LHR. As soon as I boarded ship, I went to the Purser's desk and asked for an address to have the missing portion of the mask shipped too. We were in Bergen, Norway's second largest city following a day at sea, and I was told that if it were shipped there it would be delivered to the ship. I was provided an address, we called home and my daughter was off to the UPS Store with the address provided within the hour. She paid UPS Global $140+, had them box the item ship it out on overnight delivery. Upon returning to ship, an hour and a half ahead of departure, I asked if the package had arrived. At second request, a call was made to the port agent, who said he hadn't received the package. I was told there would be an effort to get the package traced, and they were certain it would be delivered possibly at North Cape, but certainly by either Tromso or Stavenger. I went by the Medical Office. Staff there was wonderful. We tried to take a regular oxygen mask, which cost about $200, and amend it to work. Good effort, but unfortunately it was $200 down the drain. Doctor there and staff were very responsive and polite. We checked in every couple of days to see if Admin officer had located the package, and answer varied as to whether the mask was in Oslo or Bergen. It never showed up. Six days into the cruise, UPS called my home phone in the states and left a message that they didn't have a deliverable address. UPS offered to ship the package back to my home address for another $170. Upon returning to the states, and running tracking info, there had only been one inquiry with UPS (other than the two I made by internet), and outside of about three crew packages, I don't think any other packages shipped to passengers could have ever happened given the lack of address, and the poor communication between crew and the largest American shipper. I tended to be more angry about this problem with UPS. My wife was more upset with Princess, as she felt there was no link or possibility for success put in place by Princess. With 1300 Americans on the ship as passengers, it seems to me that Princess should have in place a probablilty for successful delivery of a package from the states on a twelve day trip. They clearly did not. I would still recommend this cruise, and taking it with Princess. Holland America typically runs the same route, perhaps a day longer every summer. While a Princess fan for most of the past 20 years, I'll tell you we have generally had good cruises with Carnival, one great cruise on Pride of America in Hawaii, and we are giving RC Liberty of the Seas a shot next month. Our only terribly disappointing experience in cruising was with RC ten years ago, and their fumble made me reluctant to return and had Princess not been screwing up pricing and mismanaging their website this February, my wife would still not be open to returning to RC. Our view is for the money, Carnival offers a good cruise; Food not quite as good, unless one uses pay dining. The ships are gaudy, but crew nice and a fun experience. RC likes big ships, tends to herd passengers around like cattle, lots of unique on ship activity sometimes difficult to access and good shows, but from mid management up service is terribly lacking. Norwegian tends to have fewer frills, but good service; lots of not bad on NCL from my conversations with their cruisers. Hear very good reports on Disney and Cunard, but neither have offered a cruise to the right place and the right price for me. All the older people I know love Holland America, one couples' comment the hubby says "they have the nicest suites and most comfortable beds on the seas," but wife commented, "yeah, but you always walk around the ship feeling like you are going to trip on somebody's oxygen line." In short, if one goes with a good attitude, not aiming to be critical, and makes no mistakes on their end, you can have a good cruise at a reasonable price with a half dozen companies. Each has a target niche. . Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
Pros,We loved the size of this boat, big enough to have a selection of everything on larger ships (entertainment, fitness etc.), great back deck, and much easier to move around ship and meet people.We loved the itinerary, Israel and Egypt ... Read More
Pros,We loved the size of this boat, big enough to have a selection of everything on larger ships (entertainment, fitness etc.), great back deck, and much easier to move around ship and meet people.We loved the itinerary, Israel and Egypt were the highlights, nice amount of relaxing sea days, food was good.Food and beverage and stateroom staff were very good. Security was good.Princess tries hard to please.Cons, - the boat is getting old and badly needs an update, particularly in staterooms where beds were very marginal, balcony door didn't work well etc..- the front desk and excursion desk staff were terrible (just wanted to get rid of you, no port knowledge) there was obviously a management problem in this area.- wifi outdated and slow and expensive (I get better wifi flying on airplanes in the US), this seems to be a problem throughout the industry.- we stopped in our first Israel port on the sabbath, everything closed, not good planning, plus it would have been better to stay in Ashdod for 2 days to let us access Tel Aviv, Haifa is not a great place to see. If you were not on a Princess tour the staff were not helpful at all.Conclusion,I would look for this ship size in a more updated ship, with modern electronics.Cruise lines need to cater a bit more to passengers getting off on their own in ports of call, better advice and maps, not just leave us to using Rick Steves (which is good but not always the best if you have only one day). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We are from the Greater Seattle area so this was our 6th trip to Alaska. We got an e-mail from Princess indicating some great discounted prices on balcony staterooms. The price was right $499 plus $150 in fees. With vacation time coming up ... Read More
We are from the Greater Seattle area so this was our 6th trip to Alaska. We got an e-mail from Princess indicating some great discounted prices on balcony staterooms. The price was right $499 plus $150 in fees. With vacation time coming up we tried to book on the internet. This would not work so we called Princess and got a very helpful man who booked us but we had to wait several days to get our cabin number. My girl friend is a Princess Platinum member. She got a personal phone call from a hostess who gave us the room details and arranged for our friend ( who drove us to the ship ) to have a ship tour on embarkation day. We parked in the very large parking area and soon caught the shuttle to the terminal. Very straight forward, left our luggage with a bag guy and up the stairs to clear security. Being with a platinum member we went right to the platinum check in, and were on the ship shortly. Our friend got his own card and a special badge. He had to be off the ship by 3pm. Since this was our third straight trip on the Star Princess we showed him around and then took him to the buffet. Once he left we had the muster drill and sailed away under cloudy and cool Seattle weather. I had been checking the weather and was optimistic that we would be seeing some Alaskan Sun. All of our other cruises have been in August and once in September. Since cloudy and showers is the normal summer weather in SE Alaska you can only hope for the best. We sailed on Sat. 5/18 and arrived in sunny Juneau on Monday 5/20. We had no shore excursions planned so walked north thru downtown towards the capitol. We found a nice coffee shop and ordered our lattes. We then headed to the State capital building. After our tour we head up the hill to the house of Wickersham for a free tour. We made our way down the west slope of the hill and ended up at the Governors mansion. The weather was gorgeous and spring blooms were in full force. Lots of snow still on the surrounding mountains. The next day Tues. 5/21 we arrived in Sunny but cool Skagway. Again no excursions. We walked into town and found another local latte shop. I then found a bakery that had $1 day old cupcakes. Wed. 5/22 found us in Sunny Tracy arms. Tons of ice in the water so we could not get too close to the glaciers. Waterfalls were going crazy with all the melting snow. Thurs 5/23 found us in Ketchikan on a very rare sunny day. We walked to Creek Street and the back to town to do some trinket shopping. We left mid afternoon. Lots of people on deck to enjoy the sun and marvel at the scenery. Friday evening found us in Victoria B.C. Under partly cloudy skies and cool weather we walked into town to take some photos. Saturday was back in Seattle under of course Cloudy skies. Disembarkation went smoothly but initially I could not find our bags. Next time I will use some big colorful ribbons. I carried off 2 bottles of liquor but could have bought more as there is not one to check your purchases. Our stateroom B702 was in a perfect location. Near the stairs but not noisy. Just 2 decks below the buffet. The room was very quiet and of course we loved the balcony and I remembered to bring my binoculars. All rooms and balconies are now non-smoking. However I could smell smoke on several occasions when on the balcony. Hard to tell where it was coming from, though. Parts of the casino were too smoky and it tends drift into the Princess Theater. We had first seating in the Amalfi dining room. Our table mates were from Texas and we had a wonderful time with them. Service was good, however on a couple nights the entrees were somewhat slow in arriving. Also, the serving sizes seemed a tad smaller than previous years. That being said you could order extra anything and get it with a smile. You can check your folio charges on stand alone printers. I would do this daily as one drink charge did not show up until 3 days later. I do keep a notepad on what I order so there are no surprises. Everything I spent was either beverages or the nightly room fees. We did no excursions this trip and no Spa trips for my girl friend.In summary, this last minute trip was the most relaxing with the best weather yet. I will definitely be watching for those Princess specials! Read Less
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