Princess cruises was chosen because of the reviews and it's reputation for doing Alaska the best. I had researched it in , 2015, 2017, 2018 & booked in 2018 to cruise Aug 2019. It was a 30th Anniversary Celebration!!! I ... Read More
Princess cruises was chosen because of the reviews and it's reputation for doing Alaska the best. I had researched it in , 2015, 2017, 2018 & booked in 2018 to cruise Aug 2019. It was a 30th Anniversary Celebration!!! I don't jump into anything & I do my research. I spoke to many people that did the same cruise with glowing reviews. Our friend is a travel agent and we joined a group of 10 that was already planning to go Aug 2019. We told our other friends and added 16 of us to the count. It was everyone's dream vacation. Good friends, a beautiful venue, a cruise & land travel to lodges had the perfect recipe to fulfill the dream.
Everyone in our party were adults.
Embarkation was busy at the luggage drop off with little direction and no signs with directions. Once the luggage was dropped off & you found your way to the line to proceed through the convention center it was smooth sailing! We did not pre-register for the medallion so we had to go through the line to get our medals. It was quick and easy. When you have your embarkation photo taken remember the time of embarkation & get the name of the photographer in case you need to find your photo. Mine was printed but when I went to purchase it the next night it was gone and never found. We searched the computers with a team member but it was not located. That was the only photo that looked great!
The cruise was the 1st 7 days. The ship was large with the "city center" of everything located on Levels 5,6,7.The buffet dining was on Deck 16 by the pools, and outdoor movies under the stars deck. The lounges and entertainment theater were on the front & rear of the ship. The spa was in a good location as traffic from the elevators let out near it.
The elevators were in 3 areas of the ship(front, middle, rear). Maximum capacity was 10-18 depending on the elevator but they were snug with 10 people in them, so I could not imagine getting 18 people in an elevator. They were crowded when shows were starting or ending, other than that they were easy to maneuver.
The mini-suite cabin was a great size with a queen bed that was comfortable and warm. There were storage drawers, a couch, 2 tvs, a balcony with 2 chairs, foot stools, & a table. The restroom is snug but fine. The shower has dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. There is a blow dryer in the drawer in the living area.The body wash was scented and fine to use. The shampoo was fine for a man, but I needed my product or my hair just wasn't cooperative. The balcony room was also an adequate size if savings are needed. I would not want an inside room as the views are a MUST in Alaska and having a balcony is terrific.
We had a set dining schedule of 5 pm. Our group of 16 were spread out over 3 tables and were next to each other. The original 10 were at a table near us also. We were able to visit each table and catch up on the days events.The food was good but not great. There was a variety of choices each night from a meat, chicken, fish, pasta, or for a fee you could add a specialty item like filet mignon. The desserts were good & a nice ending to the meal,with about 5 choices each night. There were other dining options at the buffet, or Alfredos, The International Cafe. There were 2 specialty dining restaurants for an up-charge, but we did not do that. One night there was a Seafood Buffet for an additional fee, also, I did not do that, but others in our group enjoyed it very much. We really liked the location of Gideon's Bar and the excellent bartenders & servers.The seating by the window were cozy.. There was a large bar height table that sat 8-10 people so gathering together was easy.
Many of the activities and entertainment overlapped so sometimes it was difficult to get from one venue to the next without being late. Once the show started it was difficult to find seats in the dark. It would have been nice to have ushers to help seat guests.There were a lot of "present to win" drawings that could monopolize your time. It was about the sales of jewelry, art, and other products in the shops.
The service was good. Sometimes it was difficult to understand the accents but by the 3rd day it was better. The servers knew our preferences by the 2nd-3rd day. They were very nice.
We were scheduled to go to 3 ports: Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway.
The seas were rough in the open waters and we experienced nausea despite the natural ear patch & Sea bands, and Bonine. Ketchikan was a busy port with lots of charm and shopping. Salmon was plentiful in the water streams. We missed the 2nd port which was Juneau because of wind and seas which became another sea day. Later we learned from other passengers on other ships that they were able to dock in Juneau without issues. That left us wondering why our ship could not dock. The reason was the larger the ship the more difficult it is to navigate in less than ideal conditions.An online site had other reasons that we did not like reading. Skagway was the 3rd port on the itinerary that we visited. It was quiet and quaint. Brewery visits are the big hype everywhere and Skagway filled the needs for those that went there. There was another night of rough seas with expectations of 12-14 ft seas expected overnight. The crew prepared the ship with what I was told are baffles/stabilizers and they did a good job easing the excess motion. We took Bonine just in case, & wore Sea Bands on our wrists for prevention of motion sickness. We were able to sleep through the night without sickness.
There were so many excursions to choose from that it was overwhelming. We scheduled 1 to 2 at each port so we could walk the towns and see what they had to offer. Ketchikan was the busiest and largest shopping area but that port has the less time to shop everything.
-Would I go again? When I was on the cruise ship we had decided it was so beautiful that we would like bring our 2 adult children to Alaska to enjoy it's wonderous beauty.
Now,after the land experience, that is to be determined. We had the bad experience of rough seas, & the disappointment of missing Juneau and the excursions there. The scenery was beautiful in the Glaciers with wildlife and ice floating in the water.
-The Princess Lodges need updating/modernization, as they are a lot dated.
-Kenai Lodge itself was quaint. The restaurant was great with a very creative menu. The food was very tasty, and not one person in our group of 12 had a bad meal.
Then the land portion was a bad experience at Kenai Lodge because of heavy smoke & embers from the wild fires that were about 10 miles away, & flooding of the river that closed it. All outdoor excursions were cancelled. We were handed 3M N95 Repirator masks to wear to protect our lungs and airways from the smoke. We wore the masks but within 2-4 days about 6 people in our group had to see a PA for sinus infections from the smoke & needed antibiotics. Then a few others returned home to see a Dr that diagnosed sinus infection and gave antibiotics. Another in our group was given antibiotics for sinus, and 3 days later when they returned home they had the flu that they are certain they contracted from the person before them that had been diagnosed with the flu! We were not told about the fire conditions at the lodge when we disembarked the cruise ship to board the bus.We felt they should have notified us and given us the option to go to a different lodge and not exposed us to the hazardous conditions.
-When we were in Denali, Princess finally moved the guests from Kenai to the Denali Lodge because of the fires & the smoke causing health issues.
I also had to reschedule my return flight home moving it up 1 day to get home for hurricane Dorian, as the airports were scheduled to shut down on Sunday when my flight was scheduled to arrive in FL. One of us is a 1st Responder & once a state of emergency is declared all vacations are cancelled and all personnel must return to duty at a specified day and time. We were working with EZ Air to get the flights rescheduled. That was more difficult then it should have been as it took me several phone calls between Princess EZ Air & the airlines. It was about 3 hours of phone time (and vacation time)to get it accomplished.
-There were too many unplanned(bad) events that occurred during this trip. It felt like National Lampoons Family Vacation!!! Read Less