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509 Whittier to Alaska Cruise Reviews

Great trip on the land part of the tour. Princess had the luggage handleding down to a science. They took care of everything and we just went where we were supposed to be and rode nice buses and the train. Mckinley and Denali were GREAT! ... Read More
Great trip on the land part of the tour. Princess had the luggage handleding down to a science. They took care of everything and we just went where we were supposed to be and rode nice buses and the train. Mckinley and Denali were GREAT! Definitely do these in Alaska. The cruise was wonderful also. There were eight of us, we were on the same level just different sides of the ship. This was good, we were able to see different things. The boarding process was easy, Princess had a representative board the train in Anchorage and fill out paper work and go over passports before we got to Whittier. We were issued our cruise cards/door keys cards while on the train. At arrival, the lines to board moved very quickly and we were on board in no time. Our cabin was clean and set up just the way we ordered, Out steward handled our every request and did a great job. Cleaned everyday and prepared at night. The ship was farely east to move around on, it just took a day or two to get my bearings. Lots of activities to do during the cruise days at sea. And boy did they take a lot of pictures. That got old, them trying to sell the pics. But you didn't have to buy. The food was pretty good, we ate in the anytime dining room and had good service. The food was just a little disappointing at times. We thought later we might should have taken the same time meal, rather than have to coordinate four different couples schedules. The buffet food was good also, the service here though was not as good. You waited for drinks at time and had to get things for yourself once in a while. The pizzeria was very good, available anytime. And the grill was good, burgers. Also, ice cream place was good and available anytime also. We had a voucher for one of the premier restaurants Sabatinies (sp). It was very, very good, Italian with lots of pasta, very good. The entertainment seemed to start a couple of days after we sailed or we missed the first days. The shows were very good, just not very long, hardly and hour, but there were two shows. The Captain did an excellent job with moving the ship in the glacier areas, so both sides could get good views. But I would still get a balcony, We spent a lot of time there. The ports and side trips, we didn't book them through Princess. When you arrived at a port, you could get the same acitvity through a vender on site at a much cheaper price rather than though Princess. An example, Princess had a whale watching trip in Juneau for $179. We got off the ship and got one for $75. Same trip with the same amount of time. So shop around Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We just completed our first ever cruising experience with the last Alaska cruise for the Coral Princess this season in Sept 2013. We also booked the Princess pre-cruise land package to Mt. McKinley & Denali Nat'l Park. 1. ... Read More
We just completed our first ever cruising experience with the last Alaska cruise for the Coral Princess this season in Sept 2013. We also booked the Princess pre-cruise land package to Mt. McKinley & Denali Nat'l Park. 1. Pre-cruise tour was very good, saw some of Alaska in the shortest time possible but you spend more time in transportation then enjoying the destinations. We will want to cruise Alaska again but next time we will book our own land hotel & train arrangements & spend more time in Denali, Fairbanks etc. 2. We choose this southbound inside passage cruise as it visited both Hubbard Glacier & Glacier Bay whereas many cruises only see Glacier Bay. Hubbard was well worth it! 3. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise experience on Princess and would sail them again. Service was excellent everywhere except one shipboard amenity below. Overall a wonderful cruise. 4. Food was very good, tasty, well prepared and well presented especially in the main dinning rooms. However, the dinner menus were selected with very cost conscious budgets in mind. Prime rib was on the menu the first night but after a day of travel I didn't want a heavy meal so I thought I'd enjoy it another night. Wrong! Prime rib never appeared again. Same with Lobster night, ditto steak night; 1 night only and gone if you please. And the steak was well prepared but I'm sure was "Select" grade, not Choice or Prime cuts. There are 2 sections to the sit down menu, "Chef's Specials" and "Always Available". Go for the specials as we tried 2 every day items and they were very mediocre. There was a dedicated hamburger & hot dog grill open for lunch every day and I wanted a hamburger but it was fatty and stringy so never went again. For us food isn't the most important priority but if you want top notch dinning find a more upscale cruise line. 5. The only real issue for us was the Spa service. The front desk girls were courteous but not friendly and the entire spa crew must work on commissions as there was never ending pressure to up sell you. Whatever spa service you booked they'd try & tell you that you really needed a more expensive package. And once inside the spa the service girls were relentless on trying to get you to buy their products. We'll either never set foot in a Princess Spa again or at least talk to other passengers first to get their read on the particular spa crew before trying. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We did a combination land/sea package. We flew from DFW to Seattle, changed planes (a very interesting boarding process with Alaska Air requiring us to go outside, down a long flight of stairs, across the tarmac, and back up the stairs at ... Read More
We did a combination land/sea package. We flew from DFW to Seattle, changed planes (a very interesting boarding process with Alaska Air requiring us to go outside, down a long flight of stairs, across the tarmac, and back up the stairs at the rear of the plane. It was dark and we had to lug our carry on items with us. Not favorably impressed with Alaska Air) and flew into Fairbanks. Even though it was the middle of the night, Princess staff was there to meet us, take charge of our luggage, give us our room keys, and speedily get us to the hotel. We stayed at Fairbanks Princess where we had a lovely view of the parking lot. The hotel was okay. The room was small and plain. Our biggest complaint was the lack of dining options. The menu was the same in both restaurants and very pricey. We did a tour of the gold rush area, and even though it was very touristy, we enjoyed it very much. Panning for gold was harder than it looked! That afternoon we did the riverboat cruise and really enjoyed it. Again, it is very touristy, but we learned a lot and liked the experience. Then we went by bus to Denali Princess. The grounds are beautiful, the dining choices were varied (even pizza delivery to our room!) The room was small but tastefully decorated. We did have a frustrating experience in the main dining room. Since we didn't make reservations we were told it was a minimum 30 minute wait. After the obligatory wait, we were shown to a table that had been open the entire time we were there. Not impressive. The food at the facility was very good, however. We did the nature tour through Denali and found it to be very well done. Our driver was excellent and the length of the tour was perfect. It was very rainy and cold so there were no views of Denali itself. We saw a couple of moose, but the blueberry bushes were in their fall colors as were the aspens and birches so the drive was beautiful. The next day we went by train to the Princess lodge in Talkeetna. The train ride was pleasant, and we absolutely loved this facility. It is so remote and quiet. We loved the huge fireplace in the main lodge which burned day and night. Still no view of Denali due to clouds although the other mountains are magnificent. The food here was very good. We took a nature hike with one of the rangers which was fun. We didn't ever cook s'mores at the outside firepit but would if we stayed again. My birthday fell during this portion of the trip. They gave us a view of the mountains and a special dessert. Very nice. We went into Talkeetna and walked around a bit. That is a very unique little place, to say the least. We did an afternoon jetboat tour on the river and saw lots of eagles. Again an excellent guide although I've never done a hike through the woods before with a guide who carried a shotgun The next morning, it happened. The clouds disappeared, and there was Denali. Oh my gosh! Words would never be adequate. We just gazed in awe for hours. The staff said it was the first sighting of it in more than three weeks, so I bought the 30% magnet since we are now members of the 30% club! Unfortunately all too soon it was time to board the bus to the train station and leave this truly wonderful facility. The train ride was okay. Lots of trees until we did the portion between Anchorage and Whittier which was incredibly beautiful with the sun glinting off the glaciers. Our guide was awful and gave virtually no information during the ride. The Princess rep got on the train, as promised, in Anchorage and checked us in to the ship. It was getting dark as we arrived in Whittier and the line to board the ship was very long. By the time we got to our cabin, it was almost time for the lifeboat drill so between that and unpacking we had virtually no time to explore the ship at all. We ordered room service which came rather piecemeal--no spoon for my husband's soup, and no hamburger for my condiments, so they ended up making three trips to our cabin. We book A201 which is up high and at the very front of the starboard side of the ship. Although we had been told it would be a long trip to anywhere we wanted to go, it was actually fine and extremely quiet. The officers' quarters were next to us on one side and we could view the bridge from our cabin. It was a nicely appointed room with way more storage space than I would have thought possible. The first day we cruised to Hubbard Glacier. The crew does a wonderful job of positioning the ship so that everyone could see everything from any side of the ship. We bundled up (and re-bundled up!) and utilized our balcony for incredible pictures. And since we were cruising in September, we also got to cruise up to the Johns Hopkins glacier which is only open to cruise ships during September when the seals have finished mating, bearing, and raising their pups. So it was great to see something that most never get to see. The next day was Glacier Bay. Again, the crew did a wonderful job of providing visibility to everyone on board. Our other stops were at Skagway (we did a private tour arranged by our travel agent and took a very small van up to Whitehorse Pass. This was great as we got to make some stops when we felt like it and it wasn't crowded). From there we took the train back down to Skagway. Unfortunately, it was very misty and foggy so the views weren't as good as we had hoped. We did some good shopping in Skagway and headed off to Juneau the next day. Again we did a private tour through our travel agent which went to Mendenhall Glacier in the morning and the whale watching in the afternoon. Although rainy, the weather cleared as we got out into the water. The whales were performing well, and we had a great experience. Our third stop was supposed to be Ketchikan, but a storm blew in with very high waves and winds so we did an extra sailing day. Although we rocked and rolled, we never felt uncomfortable. It was funny watching all of us lurch around the ship as it dipped and dived. We ended up docked in Vancouver where we had decided to stay a couple of extra days. We had a magnificent room at my favorite Vancouver hotel. We had view over the harbor and could watch the ships enter and leave. Being on the 36th floor had its perks. Although again there was rain the first day, we happily got tickets for the tram that circles Vancouver and took off. The weather cleared early in the afternoon, we had lunch outside at Bridges restaurant (no relation to us), and walked and walked. The next day was more of the same although there was heavy rain for part of the day. We found a great little local Italian restaurant down a few blocks from our hotel with some of the best food and live entertainment we have experienced. On board the ship, we loved our cabin and thought the food on the cruise was pretty good. We had chosen anytime dining but made reservations each night, especially after finding a waiter we really liked in one of the restaurants. The only minuses were 1) a Philly cheese steak sandwich with a cheese whiz like cheese on it (weird!), and 2) the night we went to the steakhouse. The service was poor, the steak not as good as what we had in the regular dining room, and glitches like the sauces for the steaks arriving after we had nearly finished eating them. Not impressed! We loved the small bar in Crooner's lounge where the bartender recommended a wine that was better and cheaper than what we would have picked ourselves. He had chilled glasses, and every night was ready for us with our order instantly appearing without us having to ask. The singer in the Crooner's Lounge was terrible. First of all, his singing style was unimpressive. Second he must have decided that our entire crowd was somewhere in the vicinity of 150 years old since he decided we would love to hear things like "Sixteen Tons" and other up-to-date ditties from the 1950s. He also wanted the audience to sing along, and when people didn't he berated and belittled the audience. The ship was beautiful, clean, and there was lots to do. It was great fun on the first morning, cruising along, wrapped up in blankets by the pool and watching NFL football on the big screen used for outdoor movies. So would we cruise again in September? Absolutely! Being there as the seasons changed was beautiful, there are far fewer crowds, and for shopping everything is on year's end close out sales. Also we got to see Johns Hopkins glacier and some other things that we wouldn't have seen earlier in the season. The only time we were really cold was at Hubbard Glacier and in Glacier Bay, but that would be the case anyway. Would we choose Princess again? We'll we're trying them again in February in the Caribbean, and after that we'll see. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We've done 3 Caribbean cruises prior to this Alaska cruise, and this was by far the most relaxing cruise we've ever taken. We did a 5 day connoisseur land tour prior to the cruise and highly recommend spending the extra money for ... Read More
We've done 3 Caribbean cruises prior to this Alaska cruise, and this was by far the most relaxing cruise we've ever taken. We did a 5 day connoisseur land tour prior to the cruise and highly recommend spending the extra money for this level (friends did the Denali Explorer version and didn't enjoy it nearly as much as we did). But I'm here to talk about the cruise! Embarkation: By taking the Connoisseur tour, we we're checked in on the train from Denali to Whittier, so we basically just walked right onto the cruise ship. Cabin (Baja 416) was great. Midship, clean, incredibly quiet. One piece of luggage (which we had sent ahead) was already in the cabin; the other two arrived just before dinner (we ate at 8:15 the first night). Cruising Hubbard Glacier: Words cannot describe how beautiful this is. It ranked right up there with sunrise over the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Sit on the balcony and enjoy a bottle of wine (and take about 500 pictures!). Until you hear a glacier break away, you cannot imagine how incredible it really is. If you weren't already completely relaxed, you will be by this point. Glacier Bay: Ditto on Hubbard Glacier, although Johns Hopkins Glacier is amazing! NOTE: Folks will tell you "don't sail Alaska on a big ship, only the small ones go all the way into Glacier Bay." NOT TRUE. Access is limited based on the molting of the seals that are in Glacier Bay. Park service lifted the restriction this year on Sept 1. We sailed in on 9/2. The Naturalist from the Park Service who accompanied us from 7:30am until about 6pm was great. Did a fantastic job describing everything (they played the audio via the cabin TV's, so we could stay on our balcony and watch / listen). You could tell he was actually excited by how far in we could go and how close we got (in addition to the volume of calving's taking place). Skagway/Juneau/Ketchikan described elsewhere Cruised inside passage: Wine, pictures and complete relaxation. Saw another humpback whale and a ton of dolphins. Disembarking in Vancouver is painless. Maybe 10 minutes from lounge to curb. Ship itself: Loved it. We last cruised on the Caribbean Princess, and found Sapphire Princess to be less crowded, a little more "classy" and the staff was flawless. Every meal was delicious. I can't speak for the buffet because we only had 2 breakfasts there. Breakfast in the International Dining Room was quick, comfortable, and always delicious. Never had to wait for a table, and my wife and I ate alone (by choice) about half the time. For dinner, we ate at most of the dining rooms and found anytime dining a breeze. We found Savoy to be the best (that may have just been the two waiters we had we're phenomenal. Overall, the ship is spacious, quiet, does not show any sign of wear and the staff is tops! This is the first time we've ever done the future cruise deposit, which speaks to how much we loved this cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our tenth Alaska cruise. We have cruised with four different lines and this was our third with Princess. You must understand that we cruise Alaska for the scenery and the wildlife, not for the food or entertainment. And one thing ... Read More
This was our tenth Alaska cruise. We have cruised with four different lines and this was our third with Princess. You must understand that we cruise Alaska for the scenery and the wildlife, not for the food or entertainment. And one thing we have learned is that captains and naturalists do matter. The captain on the Diamond Princess is as good as we have ever had at sea. He personally spotted brown bears and mountain goats in Glacier Bay and knew just how to get the most out of the glacier viewing. You can just tell if a captain really loves Alaska and this captain does. The naturalist was, likewise, wonderful. He inspired us with his sense of wonder at what he was showing us, and he knew his stuff. I know those things don't matter to those who cruise to enjoy the great indoors inside a ship. That is not us, and I don't understand why anyone would go to Alaska just for a ship. But what of the ship? It was better than average, though not the best afloat. The food was satisfactory. Service in the restaurants did not measure up to some other ships and stateroom service was thorough and responsive. The entertainment, though, was mediocre. Thank goodnes for the scenes on the outside. The band was excellent, but two of the four singers struggled to stay on key and the production shows were high school drama department quality. There was one great entertainer--comedian "Sarge." If you are ever on a ship that features him, don't miss him! For new cruisers, it's important to be realistic. The Alaska experience hinges somewhat on the weather> Fortunately for us the weather was excellent> We had the most whale sightings we have ever had and saw a number of bears and other wildlife> Would I recommend the Diamond Princess? In a heartbeat! Take it from an old Alaska cruise veteran: you could do a lot worse than this ship and this itinerary! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise and upon finding a good deal online, our group of six (ages 24-67) booked our three inside cabins less than three weeks before embarkation through Costco. We were assigned three rooms that ... Read More
We have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise and upon finding a good deal online, our group of six (ages 24-67) booked our three inside cabins less than three weeks before embarkation through Costco. We were assigned three rooms that happened to be handicapped rooms. Two of the rooms (E717 and E714) were very spacious with sitting areas complete of a second TV, minibar, and a sofa. I read somewhere that people have described this layout as an "inside mini suite". The third room (E706) was smaller, without the sitting area, but still bigger than other inside cabins. All three rooms were very close to the elevators and the dining rooms. It was easy getting to all areas of the ship since the Emerald deck (deck #8) goes the entire length of the ship so we could easily walk to the very front or the very aft of the ship then take the elevators or stairs up to wherever we want to go. Overall very comparable to Carnival -- except the towel animals were missing :D. FOOD: It seems that on port days the offerings for sit-down dinners were better than other days. We had surf & turf one day with king crab legs as appetizers, and lobsters and escargot on another day. For breakfast, the buffet usually has all the selections offered by the sit-down breakfast. But for dinner, the dining rooms had better offerings than the buffet. We especially liked the shrimps, very good quality every time. We also visited Alfredo's Pizzeria -- very good thin-crust pizzas indeed. At the pool area in the afternoons, we'd happened upon reindeer chili (so-so), fish & shrimp kebab (loved it!), sandwiches, etc. The bratwurst station near the pool was pretty good too, but I don't think I enjoyed any of their chowders offered anywhere, in the dining room, at the buffet or at the afternoon stations. We brought six bottles of wines with us but we ended up only drinking three. After eating so much alcohol seemed like extra calories we didn't need to consume. We did order occasional beers with our pizzas though :). ENTERTAINMENT: Dance & song shows were very mediocre. We are from NYC so we have high standards. The stand-up comedian (Duncan?) was the highlight; his ADHD persona was very funny indeed. Some people liked the international crew show but we also thought it was just so-so. The crew director's fiddler on the roof segment was quite good though. Our family friend enjoyed the karaoke hours and oldies in Club Fusion. We got into the hot tub and watched Oz at Movies Under the Stars. It was very enjoyable and kind of funny since everyone else on the lounge chairs was hiding under winter jackets and blankets while we were in our swimsuits. They had relatively new movies rotating on TV so sometimes we actually stayed in our rooms and watched Iron Man 3, Skyfall, Wreck It Ralph, and Quartet. ANCHORAGE/WHITTIER: We flew into Anchorage and stayed the night at Springhill Suites University Lake which had an airport shuttle that could also take you anywhere into downtown area. It was a nice rest and breakfast was plentiful, and we took a walk around the lake after breakfast before we took their shuttle to the other Springhill Suites downtown to be picked up by Alaska Cruise Transportation shuttle to Whittier. The University Lake location seemed much nicer and newer than the Downtown one. The bus ride was pretty smooth, and it stopped at a scenic spot and again at a wildlife reserve so we were able to have lunch and see some caribou and moose before the cruise even began. It was an economical and painless way to connect to the cruise. EMBARKATION: Embarkation was quite efficient and smooth. We had to unload the luggage from the shuttle bus onto the receiving area. It was a rainy day so it would've been nice if the staff could get the luggage directly from the bus since the bus parked right in front of the receiving station and the staff had raincoats on and we didn't. No big deals though, it was just a matter of taking the luggage from the left of us and passing it to the right. Just the rain made it kind of annoying. The line wasn't long at 2:45pm, and after filling out a quick info sheet we were onboard in 15min. Luggage was delivered after dinner. HUBBARD GLACIER: It was a cold day when we got to Hubbard Glacier. Our cabins had no windows, so we went up to the Horizon Buffet area on deck 14 early and sat down at a table for six which allowed us to drink tea and eat all day while enjoying the scenery indoors. Later on two of us ventured outside to take pictures, and decided to follow the two brave souls in the hot tub to enjoy the view from the back of the ship. It was a very good decision and we got great views of the enormous glacier and calving while relaxing in hot water. The cold and windy day meant we had the hot tub to ourselves (there were two hot tubs at the AFT, deck 16, so the other couple had a hot tub to themselves, and we had the other). GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK: The park ranger talk was so well attended we had to sit on the steps and some of us decided to skip it. But it was the best ranger talk we'd heard, and everyone had the same sentiment. We again got a table near the buffet. It was a sunny day so unfortunately we could not get the hot tub to ourselves so we just stayed around the table and walked around the ship some times to get better shots. SKAGWAY: We booked the Emerald Lake tour with Dyea Dave and opted to take the scenic train back from Fraser. Debbie drove our 21-passenger shuttle and was very friendly and knowledgeable. She made frequent stops for us to take photos, and the Emerald Lake was indeed very special, well worth the long ride. We were very happy to have taken the train back even though the price of the train ride was more than the tour. As amazing as the scenic spots were during the tour, the scenery for the train portion was even better! We stayed between the cars and leaned out to take tons of photos. I'd say sit on the right side going back to Skagway -- most of the scenery is on the right side. JUNEAU: our parents went whale watching with Harv & Marv. They didn't seem very enthusiastic about their experience although we read good reviews. Their friend, afraid of being sea sick, opted to stay on the ship and enjoyed a leisurely day. Three of us children went on a glacier trek with Above and Beyond Alaska tours with Chelsea. There were two other people in our group so it was a very intimate hike with just six people overall. We loved this excursion! It was physical but not too strenuous, and where else do we get a chance to walk on a glacier??? We started the hike at 8:30am and got to Mendenhall glacier around 10:30am. After snacking and putting on our crampons we were on the ice by 11am. We walked all around and visited an ice cave (so cool!), filled up our water bottles with glacier water, then got off the glacier at 1pm. We made our way back just before the ship took off at 3:20pm. We are not very experienced hikers (we had to buy hiking boots just for this excursion -- our KEEN boots worked very well), but Chealsea is very experienced so we felt safe the entire way. KETCHIKAN: It was a drizzling day and we were glad that we booked with Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours who picked us up at the Discovery Center 5 min away from where our ship docked. We got the town map from visitor info center as we got off the ship. David took us to spots where we could see eagles perching on trees near the hatchery, salmon jumping out of the water, Totem Bight Park, took us berry picking and tasting, and answered tons of questions we had about the area and his former life as a commercial fisherman. We also caught a glimpse of the arrival of Native Americans who paddled all the way from Vancouver (the last of such event was 15 years ago). We all enjoyed the tour tremendously and would highly recommend booking with Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tours. The van was very nimble and we were able to stop wherever we pleased. David dropped us off at Creek Street at the end and we got some souvenir shopping done. DISEMBARKATION & CUSTOMS: We missed the chance to do self help check out for 7:30am disembarkation because we didn't read the disembarkation request form until after it had to be turned in. It's ok because we didn't want to carry our own luggage around that morning anyways and we wanted to eat breakfast before we left the ship. So we were assigned to leave at 9:55am. We had to clear our rooms by 8am, so we headed up to the buffet and hung out until 9:40am. We were able to leave the ship soon after we got to our designated waiting/meeting spot, picked up our luggage at the designated area where they had carts available, and got on a cab to go out our hotel near the airport at Richmond (cab fare $40). Very smooth I'd say. Very relaxing vacation, overate as predicted, but finally could cross off "Alaskan Cruise" off our bucket list! :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was my 18th cruise and my husband's 14th. We had previously sailed on the Sapphire Princess on a similar itinerary but that didn't stop us from booking this cruise on a last minute deal. We had an obstructed ocean view ... Read More
This was my 18th cruise and my husband's 14th. We had previously sailed on the Sapphire Princess on a similar itinerary but that didn't stop us from booking this cruise on a last minute deal. We had an obstructed ocean view stateroom. We could see out the window directly in front of us but the lifeboats obscured any lateral view. We missed the wildlife that one sees from a balcony as one is just sitting there enjoying the scenery but we did enjoy fantastic scenic cruising from the open decks. Our sailaway was the worst we have ever experienced due to fog and rain. Oh well! We frequently experienced fog and rain on this cruise but it magically cleared up when we had scenic cruising scheduled and we felt we were very lucky. The glacier viewing at Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay was astounding. We saw a large number of calvings including a spectacular large one, and by Hubbard Glacier we saw many harbor seals resting on icebergs. Whale sightings were common as were sea otters, bald eagles and occasional brown bears. All of this was, as usual, a function of where one happened to be on the ship at any moment. Our excursions were on the train into the Yukon from Skagway and the Glacial View Sea Kayaking in Juneau. These are wonderful excursions for the scenery and the experiences. We didn't know in advance that we would be able to get a dog sled ride at the Michelle Phillips sled dog training facility near Carcross, Yukon Territory. The ride was on a trail rather than on snow so we did eat a fair amount of dust from the sled in front of us but we would do it again. We had a chance to pet and feed the dogs and the other animals such as goats here and we had a blast. This 15 minute ride cost us an additional $30 per person and gave us the experience we wanted without costing us an arm and a leg. During the sea kayaking we saw harbor seals come to the surface and watch us float by. Terrific! The title of glacier viewing is misleading however in that the glacier is miles away across the inlet. Our final tour was the Vancouver city tour which then took us to the airport. Again, well worth it for a quick overview of the city and Stanley Park. The production shows aboard this ship were lacking in quality. The best show was the comic Sarge--absolutely hilarious but watch out! He does make fun of just about everything and everybody. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
For the most part, it was a wonderful experience. Cherished memories. Memories made within our group. NOT because of Princess staff. The ship and offerings were beautiful and fun. The entertainment was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the movies ... Read More
For the most part, it was a wonderful experience. Cherished memories. Memories made within our group. NOT because of Princess staff. The ship and offerings were beautiful and fun. The entertainment was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the movies under the stars. Shows and movie in the Princess theater were a great way to spend the evening. Breakfast at Sabatini's was relaxing and delicious. The service was top notch it was an incredible early morning experience. In Skagway, we took the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad excursion to the top of the mountain. It was relaxing, informative, and beautiful. We took a ton of beautiful pictures. Be aware the return trip is along the same track as on the way up. You see each point of interest twice. In Juneau there was free transportation from the terminal to Wal-Mart. Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan are beautiful and friendly. We chose leisurely walk around and enjoy each port. The souvenir shopping was a lot of fun if you like little gadgets. There are lots and lots of other items to purchase. We also saw a lot of food and clothing items. With great anticipation of our adventure, I spoke with several Princess Representatives. Most of the information I received was accurate and only fueled my excitement and anticipation. I asked over several calls about the best time to arrive to meet the transfer from Anchorage airport to the cruise terminal in Whittler. (We flew in a few days prior) I wanted to limit our wait time. I was told transfers directly from the airport to the ship leave starting at noon and leave about ever 1/2 hour so there should never be much of a wait. I asked that notation be made on our reservation that we will arrive to take the noon shuttle. We arrived at the airport about 11:20 am in anticipation of catching the noon shuttle. The female was pleasant but told us we had to wait for the 1:00 pm shuttle. Of course we did...but over 1 1/2 hours waiting in the airport? Embarkation was unbelievably smooth and quick. YIPPIE. Our cabin was absolutely beautiful as we anticipated! It was fabulous and exactly what we planned as we were celebrating with our group and anticipated spending lots of time in our cabin. Our cabin steward was attentive, and wonderful. He was crucial in making our in cabin experience wonderful. Along with his normal/usual duties, Allan kept us in ice & clean glasses, helped decorate for the celebration. He made restaurants aware of the events which allowed from birthday cakes at dinner. Thank you...Thank you...Thank you Allan. We were advised the cover at two of the restaurants was waived for the first two nights. We decided not to take advantage of those offers because we chose to spend time with members of our group. It seems that privilege could/should have been available to use at our discretion at any time throughout the cruise. When making our reservations at the Sterling Steakhouse, the Matre D was incredibly rude. I asked his name, he covered his nametag and repeated his name twice very quickly. It was something like Demitri. We enjoyed our meal at the Sterling Steakhouse during our reserved time. Our server Chip and other staff were very attentive. The steaks were incredible absolutely incredible. I decided to use the automated kiosk to check the balance due. Though I followed the directions on the kiosk, no report was received. I attempted this several times, a nearby crewmember assisted with the same results. The screen was dark on the other kiosk. He directed me to an adjacent desk for assistance. At the desk I explained what happened. The female seemed unhappy because of the interruption and explained the directions for using the kiosk in less than pleasant tone. I explained again it was inoperative. She exhaled sharply before swiping my card and generating the requested report. (I learned of an error on the report which was promptly corrected by another staff member) I approached the grill at the Horizon court at the same time as a male. We both requested sandwiches. A second male arrived and placed an order for a sandwich. When the first two sandwiches were ready. The person working the grill gave the first male French fries he just removed from the fryer. He looked at me, dumped the fresh fries in the holding area, mixed them with the fries that had been there, and gave me a batch. He told the male behind me "It will be a couple of minutes for fresh fries (There were more fries in the holding area than I was given) the male behind me told him that he will wait. Our group regularly enjoyed breakfast at the Horizon buffet. The made to order omelets and fresh fruit were spectacular. Often our group would choose a table. Several individuals would visit the buffet while others waited at the table in hopes of having coffee, water and juice ready when the others returned. Rarely did we receive timely or non-requested service. It was difficult to watch other parties take their seats after us and promptly receive staff attention where they received coffee, juice or water. Often we regularly had to flag someone down for service or self-service. It was truly a disheartening experience to which we did not look forward. But we had to eat and dining options were limited. While waiting for disembarkation directions, a female announced from outside the restaurant that our group was ready to disembark. She stated, if our luggage tag was what she called to see her for directions. I approached her outside the location as directed and asked for directions/instructions. In a less than pleasant tone, she asked if my entire party was ready. I explained my partner was in the restroom and I would like to have the instructions when she is ready. The female told me to come ask her again when my party was ready. Within a couple of minutes we were ready and searched the area. The female was nowhere to be found. We disembarked following the crowd. In the terminal, it was determined we were in the incorrect location. We were directed through and around several barriers to the correct location. Once aboard the transfer our driver told us about the only woman forklift driver in the terminal. Two weeks in a row she carried and spilled cantaloupes as she drove. He ended by chuckling and telling us that she is no longer works for Princess. What was the point of the story? What was the point in telling us the driver was a woman? We were advised several times we will receive feedback forms from Princess within a couple of days of disembarkation. The importance of Princess receiving that information was emphasized No one in our group has received and such documentation. I have emailed customer service twice. Our disembarkation was Saturday August 17. Based on our overall experience, this was the last time I will look to Princess for a wonderful overall vacation experience.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We flew into Anchorage from Seattle on Alaska Airlines. It was a very early flight but we found places to be comfortable at the airport while we waited for the Princess shuttle to Whittier. We were among the first group to check in due to ... Read More
We flew into Anchorage from Seattle on Alaska Airlines. It was a very early flight but we found places to be comfortable at the airport while we waited for the Princess shuttle to Whittier. We were among the first group to check in due to our early arrival so we got the first bus to the ship. Princess has their processes at embarkation down to a science, very efficient, friendly and knowledgeable. This was my "Graduation Cruise" from Princess Academy so I had Elite status - and WOW is loyalty worth it! Princess' goal is to be the "Consummate Host" and to allow their guest to "Escape Completely" and they succeed at both! The Diamond Princess is beautiful, her staff and crew superb, the itinerary breathtaking. Skagway is what it is, mostly run by the cruise lines, but it is cute. We didn't take a shore excursion here, but enjoyed it. Juneau was lovely and Ketchikan beautiful. But the highlight was the cruising of Glacier Bay. You simply must put this on your bucket list if you've not been yet. Princess knows Alaska well and this crew, especially Captain Bilson, are true adventurers and experts. They went out of their way to call us by name, cater to our needs and give us the best service possible. We were impressed by the design of the ship, the ease of learning her layout and all of her facilities. We chose "Any Time" dining and ate in all of the available dining rooms. They were all beautiful and their "Signature" dishes were excellent. In fact all of the food was excellent. We enjoyed the Horizon Court, and even the service there was impeccable, as it was in all of the dining rooms. Even though we didn't have assigned wait staff, they went out of their way to be sure we got what we wanted and enjoyed it. Above and beyond was every service we received! I had a Manicure, Pedicure and Facial in the Spa - all excellent. No pushy sales pitches, but knowledgeable technicians. My hubby enjoyed the fitness facilities while I was there, he was also impressed and enjoyed his time. Our cabin steward, Jean Luc, was THE BEST we've ever had and pampered us to no end. Even the shows and entertainment were excellent. The Singers and Dance troupe professional and exciting. The lounge pianist/singer was fun and professional and the Elton John tribute performer was terrific. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our second cruise. First was with Royal Caribbean 2 years ago in the Caribbean, that boat twice the size of this one in terms of passengers, otherwise basically similar construction and facilities, just smaller scale. We stayed ... Read More
This was our second cruise. First was with Royal Caribbean 2 years ago in the Caribbean, that boat twice the size of this one in terms of passengers, otherwise basically similar construction and facilities, just smaller scale. We stayed overnight in Anchorage, Alaska, poured with rain, didn't get to see much but shopped at JC Penney, stayed at Residence Inn near airport, very comfortable, picked up by them and taklen back to airport next day, good breakfast. Full size bus from airport to port Whittier a little over two hours away, very scenic route. On to ship via check-in and security, mostly older women doing check-in, delightfully pleasant, friendly, helpful, what a nice thing to see such people in that situation. Had a really beautiful mini-suite. On our first cruise we had booked late and couldn't get a room with a balcony, this time we did. IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Very nicely thought out room, full bath, two TV's, everything you need for a few days. Of course when most people go on board they go straight for the food as if they haven't eaten for a month. Main buffet is Horizon Court on Deck 14, not far from us on Deck 11. Buffet very good for breakfast, quite good for lunch. Large range of cereals, fruits, eggs, etc, and more 'meaty' stuff for those who think they need that at breakfast. Desserts for lunch sometimes very good, small fish selection at lunch. Some theme lunches during the week such as 'Alaska', 'British'. We did 'Anytime Dining' which means you may have to line-up but rarely for more than a few minutes, and you can choose to sit just as a couple or at a table with others, we varied. Sometimes the company was very enjoyable, at other times a bit strained. We ate twice from the Kosher menu, which was much better than what Royal Caribbean had offered, and praise to Head Waiter for our area Maurizio who arranged this with courtesy, promptness, efficiency, and our frequent and always very quiet dignified and very helpful waiter Virgilio. There was one waiter who came to a large table one evening, he may have been a waiter at an exclusive large city restaurant previously, but he chose to recommend selections which we thought might be appropriate for a small size 60 seat restaurant, but totally inappropriate for a boat with 1900+ passengers. Because we eat either from the kosher menu or from a limited range of fish such as salmon, cod, haddock, snapper, grouper, plaice, halibut, sea bass, mahi mahi, we were disappointed with the limited range of fish available - that is to say most of those mentioned were NOT available or offered - and most nights when we had salmon it was undercooked, excerpt on the last night. That was the biggest food disappointment. By contrast, the desserts especially in the buffet, were very good. We run or walk regularly, we did that either on the upper open deck or on deck 7. On the upper deck it is a big nuisance having to go past the smokers each circuit, especially the truly foul cigars. In this day and age public smoking is really unacceptable. We realize the cruise is 7 days, but...!!! The gym was of course smaller than on the previous boat but otherwise acceptable, I only once saw people waiting a few minutes for a free treadmill or machine. Entertainment. 2 good shows plus a final night show that was a mixture of the best professional dancers and singers plus some really good crew members. 2 moderate one-person shows, and one good comedian. None of the one-person performers came anywhere near the outstanding quality of the one-person entertainer on Royal Caribbean, I think his name was Henderson? who was just superb. The piano-player-singer in the main lobby who does Roy Orbison-Chris De Bergh numbers was also very good, easy to listen to. Library. Very good. Internet. The other main totally unacceptable aspect of cruise gouging. Astronomical rates are Totally unacceptable. Just stop it. We waited until the port towns of Skagway and Juneau and went to the local libraries and used the internet there free. Excursions. After reading many reviews we did go with independents, but we did not hear anything negative about those organized by the boat. From Skagway we went up the White Mountain Pass by bus, wonderful young woman driver with a great sense of humour, and down by train. THis seems the more interesting way. Fantastic scenery and two quite different perspectives. WE are from Toronto. In our city our city council has been arguing for years about extending our subway just a miserable few miles and still can't get their act together. There, we heard about a railway being built more than 100 years ago for 100 miles or so, in a fraction of the time our council has spent arguing and getting nowhere. From Juneau we took Orca for whale watching, with Larry driving and two young assistants Josh and Kelly who were enthusiastic, knowledgable, and great fun. THe weather was lousy, pouring and overcast, and it was still an absolutely fascinating and exciting morning that everybody loved. On the boat itself, the first two full days were spent visiting the Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. These are so spectacular, they are almost beyond description. The only thing comparable in grandeur is the Grand Canyon. (Yes, the Rockies are great, but we have been to Switzerland many times and so we are 'used' to magnificent mountains. This was something very different) We totally enjoyed this cruise. The treatment on board from the staff is continually polite, friendly, always helpful. Becaue of the food it is not quite a 5 star, but it is at least a high 4 and a half star.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We are in our mid-50's and have cruised before. We like longer cruises but enjoy variety. So we booked two cruises, first Anchorage-Vancouver on the Diamond Princess, then one night in Vancouver, then back to Anchorage on the Holland ... Read More
We are in our mid-50's and have cruised before. We like longer cruises but enjoy variety. So we booked two cruises, first Anchorage-Vancouver on the Diamond Princess, then one night in Vancouver, then back to Anchorage on the Holland Zaandam. We chose the Zaandam last primarily because we wanted to end in Seward instead of Whittier. Before leaving, we purchased a Northern Lights coupon book. Toursavers is very similar. I highly recommend checking them out. We saved hundreds. In our short time in Anchorage we enjoyed watching the sea planes from the patio of the "Fancy Moose" (at the Millennium hotel). We really liked the Alaskan Native Heritage Center (coupon). We stayed at the Alaskan Frontier Gardens B&B which was good. Renting a car at the airport was a snap. We used Anchorage Tours and Transfers to travel from Anchorage to Whittier. With the NL coupon it was a great deal, and our driver was a teacher at the University of Alaska. She was adept at managing a group and could make complicated information both interesting and understandable. We enjoyed her as much as any tour guide we've had! Embarkation in Whittier was quick and easy. Our Princess ocean-view cabin was small and obstructed, but we could see quite a lot and were glad we'd gotten the window. With the arrangement of the room, the window would have been much more useable if the beds were left as two twins. Something we really appreciated about Princess (over Holland) was the presence of a Naturalist onboard. He maybe wasn't the best speaker, but he had some interesting talks. He also would announce in the hallways and public areas when wildlife had been spotted so everyone could go take a look. Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay were spectacular. Many people commented about our captain's ability to bring the ship up really close to the glaciers, and he did not disappoint. Glacier Bay on the Diamond was a highlight of our cruises! In Skagway, we rented a car through Avis rather than take the train. We had no problems and enjoyed the drive, but being from Colorado, it wasn't as spectacular as we'd hoped. People who took the train told us it got a little long. We had a beer at the famed Red Onion afterward. (The second time in Skagway, we took the ferry to Haines, rented a car, and went to Kroschel's wildlife center. It was a unique and wonderful experience! Princess offers this as an excursion, and I'd definitely recommend it over the train. If you don't use Princess to book, you need to make reservations well in advance for the ferry, the car, and Kroschels.) In Juneau, we went fishing with another family on Wolverine Charters. The captain, Jim Lewis, was wonderful. A retired teacher, he was personable and able to relate to adults as well as the child onboard. His boat and equipment were well kept and clean. (The second time we were in Juneau we rented a car and went to Mendenhall and other sites. Be sure to walk to Nugget Falls if you can handle a couple of miles.) In Ketchikan, we first went to the Lumberjack show. It's cheesey but lots of fun for all ages. Tickets were the same price from the ship in advance as waiting in line for what's left over. In the afternoon we did the Bering Sea Crab Fishing tour. Incredible!!! We booked independently and saved a few dollars compared to the identical tour with princess. It boards literally at the bottom of the gangway, so no transportation is required. You'll see a better eagle show on this excursion than anywhere else. Out of all the excursions we've done, anywhere, this is one of the most memorable! (The second time in Ketchikan we went on the Misty Fjords Flight seeing with Island Wings, booked independently. Also highly recommend!) Disembarkation was a snap. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which is walkable but uphill from Canada place. The Vancouver Trolley Hop-On-Hop-Off was an easy way to see the city. We enjoyed walking in Stanley park, the seawall near Canada Place, and Granville Island. The very best thing we did was take the shuttle out to the Suspension Bridge Park in the morning before embarking on the Holland Zaandam that afternoon. The customs line on the American side in Vancouver can be very, very long. After our week on the Princess Diamond, we boarded the Holland Zaandam and cruised back north, ending in Seward. There we went to Exit Glacier. We used our NL coupons for the Major Marine dinner cruise, which was nice even though we didn't see much wildlife. We went on a float trip down the Kenai out of Cooper Landing with River Drifters (coupon) that was very pleasant. Our only negative experience was a beginners kayaking trip out of Miller's Landing near Seward. We got a newbie guide. Not good, although it seemed like groups with other guides fared better. A real highlight of our trip was the Northwestern Fjords 9 hour trip with Kenai Fjords Tours (coupon). It was absolutely incredible!!! We had an outstanding captain who knew when to turn the motors off and let you enjoy the "national geographic worthy" whale shows and calving glaciers in quiet! We'd go again in a heartbeat! Overall, we really enjoyed the Princess Diamond, much better than Holland Zaandam. The whole tone of the Diamond was upbeat. There are several dining rooms for any-time dining, and though the menus are the same and equally delicious, we enjoyed the variety. The buffet was good. The singers and dancers were a bit disappointing, but at least their last show was very good. There was a good comedian one night. Service was great. The public spaces in the ship are beautiful, varied, clean, and offer something for everyone. The captain was outstanding. We would look forward to cruising on the Diamond again.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Will be brief -- a back to back journey from Whittier Alaska and back, on The NCL SUN. This is our second/third cruise with NCL. This trip was excellent. No issues, nothing to report as to disappointments. Our Inside stateroom was the ... Read More
Will be brief -- a back to back journey from Whittier Alaska and back, on The NCL SUN. This is our second/third cruise with NCL. This trip was excellent. No issues, nothing to report as to disappointments. Our Inside stateroom was the largest yet. nearly 20 x 12 feet. Smallest shower to date. Room was well laid out and well taken care of Neat and very clean. Our cabin Steward was excellent. We were on the 8th deck, so it was handy for all the various public areas. Only took minutes to get to them. The first segment we had approx.2100 guests. You could see the difference from one week to the other. Mainly the food court and outside areas. Very low amount of pushing of upcharge items. Only time I was approached was when we boarded and when we were in Glacier Bay. The rest of the time little to no daily pushing of up charge items. NICE! We did have some minor issues regarding being a back to back cruise guest. They did forget paperwork and we had to remind them. Again no big deal. The food was very good, not great. Basically we had the same menu twice since we were on the same cruise twice. But there were highlights and some nice touches. Several nights the menu would totally beat out the upcharge restaurants for quality and food types. So plan your nights. The Garden Cafe basically is serving food 24 hours a day. There is a daily BBQ by the pool deck -- not bad! The upscale restaurants; Italian was wonderful fun and worth the money. Great views and inviting. The French restaurant they can keep. I thought was not very good. And the Steakhouse was very good. The steak I had was tasty and correctly prepared. The side are smallish So you can ask for more no. Bottom line NCL did a great job. The staff are great and super friendly. Not one sour puss in the crowd. The room was perfect size, the food met and exceed many of our expectations. The ship is clean and nice to ride in.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Went as a solo passenger in a mini suite! I had cabin 1206. The ship was kept up OK but extremely basic in decor - CERTAINLY not luxury! The staff was all Filipinos and most did not appear to like what they were doing! The purser's ... Read More
Went as a solo passenger in a mini suite! I had cabin 1206. The ship was kept up OK but extremely basic in decor - CERTAINLY not luxury! The staff was all Filipinos and most did not appear to like what they were doing! The purser's office was not warm and friendly at all! The food was REALLY bad! I wonder when they will start getting with the times and offering organic foods, healthy foods and non dairy basic items like coconut milk, almond milk, etc.! Food all tasted pre-made and barely edible! Room service was VERY VERY basic (cheeseburgers and hotdogs, stuff like that)! The tapas restaurant have the same tapas each night and it doesn't really make up a meal whatsoever! The Benihana restaurant on board was definitely not nearly as good as Benihana and you have to pay an additional $25 per person!!! Sorry to sound so bad in this but the ship was not luxe at all. Also the entertainment was super lackluster at best (best to skip them, they feel like a student production at best)...NO WAY would I sail this ship again! Canon was GREAT but there is noise from the above dance floor until about 12ish every night! Good balconies but they have railings and are not glass so they obstruct a but when looking from inside! Also, there is no drain and balcony floor was always wet! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As a 1st time cruiser(s) we wanted to make sure our experience would be top shelf all the way. We booked the Sun thru RCI-Exchange and got a price of about $5,600 for both of us in Penthouse 0065 - Deck 10 Aft. We were escorted VIP ... Read More
As a 1st time cruiser(s) we wanted to make sure our experience would be top shelf all the way. We booked the Sun thru RCI-Exchange and got a price of about $5,600 for both of us in Penthouse 0065 - Deck 10 Aft. We were escorted VIP privately onto the ship at Whittier and were immediately introduced to our butler, Juremar, who had a bucket of champagne and appetizers waiting for us in the living area. My wife was immediately impressed with the size, location and comfort of the Penthouse suite with the large balcony, separate jacuzzi bath & shower and ample living area for entertaining. We had also booked aft cabin 0267 for our friends which was 2 doors starboard of our cabin. Butler service allowed us to have private dining in the room each morning we wanted, appetizers in the afternoons and wine our champagne on demand. We only dined in the specialty restaurants for Teppanyaki, Brazillian style, East meets West steakhouse, Le Bistro for my birthday night, and Sushi and Italian for good measure. All the service was excellent and we want to especially thank our restaurant host Alvin Hernandez for being exceptional and going above and beyond to make us feel like VIPs. We flew the Temsco helicopters in Skagway up to the glacier for the dog sledding ( my wife's favorite day of the trip), took whale watching tours everywhere we could and saw large numbers of humpbacks. We were so impressed all around that we have booked the Panama Canal aboard the NCL Star in Nov for 13 days... Penthouse all the way baby! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Princess delivered a great cruise/tour to Denali and the inside passage. We had never taken an organized tour or a cruise; our first experience met every expectation. As we researched the places and activities in Alaska, we determined that ... Read More
Princess delivered a great cruise/tour to Denali and the inside passage. We had never taken an organized tour or a cruise; our first experience met every expectation. As we researched the places and activities in Alaska, we determined that we wanted to see the Kenai Peninsula, Denali, and the inside passage. We wanted the freedom of independent travel to see the Kenai Peninsula, but we decided that we would enjoy the convenience of an organized tour to Denali, and we wanted to ride the domed railcar from Denali to the cruise ship. After selecting the HB5 land tour, we selected the dates/ship for the Princess portion of our Alaskan adventure; then, we booked air tickets that took us to Anchorage a few days before the Princess tour. For the next few months I researched activities. Prior to travel, we completed the requested information on the Princess website and read the instructions for our tour. Princess has excellent organization and processes. Upon arrival at Hotel Captain Cook, we checked in at the Princess desk (not the hotel front desk) where we were given an envelope with our room keys, instructions for departing to the next location the following morning, and luggage tags for the next stop. Princess is expert at transporting people and luggage to each place, and a successful trip is obtained just by following their instructions. The motor coaches are comfortable and accommodating, driven by capable drivers who also provide information and stories along the way. Once we began the Princess land and cruise tour, we did not have to worry about our luggage until we departed the cruise ship in Vancouver. Tour HB5 was the perfect land tour for us. It provided one night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, two nights at McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and two nights at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. After reading that Denali is only visible an average of one out of three days, we hoped that we would get to see it at least once - we were very lucky that the mountain was visible 4 out of 5 days! It is an amazing sight! Spending two nights at McKinley Princess was better than one night for us because the location is in an area that provides great views of the mountain when it is not enshrouded in clouds. It also gave us a full day to enjoy the town of Talkeetna. More than two nights at Denali would have been better, but we were happy to enjoy 1  days in the park. The only significant comment I'll make here about Denali NP is to note that, prior to travel, we cancelled the Natural History Tour that was part of the Princess package. They kindly gave us a refund for the tour. Prior to travel I booked the national park shuttle to Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66 in the park. This gave us a much better opportunity to see the park. The train ride in the domed railcar from Denali to Whittier was a highlight; we were assigned to a car and table that happened to be among a great group of people - we talked and laughed all day as we marveled at the beautiful views and photographed the scenery. I've reviewed the lodges on TripAdvisor, so all I'll comment here is that a variety of room types exist at both lodges. I don't know if there's a way to get the better rooms, but we were satisfied with our accommodations. At McKinley, our room was neat and clean - nothing special except for the fact that the window provided a great view of Denali. Our room at Denali Princess was much nicer but with no special view. Some travelers who were a little disappointed in their room at Denali had had a much nicer room at McKinley As we traveled by rail from Denali to Whittier, Princess once again impressed us with their organization. At a brief stop in Anchorage, staff boarded the train and checked everyone in for the cruise. Our boarding pass was collected, and passports were scanned. Before leaving the train, we were given our cards which were used for identification and cabin entry on the ship. Leaving the ship, we only had to wait in two lines - one for security and one for an electronic identification photo which was later used when leaving and re-boarding the ship at each port of call. We were amazed with how easy it is to travel with Princess. Coral Princess is a great ship! Our Baja-level cabin and balcony was comfortable, and we were well cared for by our cabin steward. In fact, all of the stewards were friendly and helpful during our week on the ship. The atrium, theaters, dining rooms, buffet, and public areas were all attractive and well maintained. Since our cabin was aft and dining was forward, we had quite a walk to the dining rooms and some shows, but we enjoyed the back deck and were glad to be close to the laundry. Sailing was smooth, and we had no issues with sleeping. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court buffet each day; the options were many, and the food was very good. Buffet wait staff was professional and friendly, and except for very busy times, service was perfect. Dining in Horizon Court can be a little hectic during the busy times, and we often ended up sharing a table with others - not a problem since it gives an opportunity to share travel experiences. Pizza was easy to pickup for a late snack after busy days in port. Dinner in the dining room was a treat - tablecloths, special menus, excellent service. We ate some meals with other diners at large tables; other dinners were at a table for two. We preferred the private table, but note that another table for two will be so close that you will find yourself talking with the other couple. When I celebrated my birthday one evening, the waiters delivered a special dessert and sang. My favorite dinner was the orange roughy one evening - cooked to perfection! Entertainment on the ship was enjoyable. The variety of shows provides something for everyone. We enjoyed the musical presentations and the magic shows of Garry Carson. Our days were very busy, so it was good that the shows were an average of 35 minutes. It was fun to see two different shows on the same evening without worrying about falling asleep after the busy day! Princess provides access to tours at the ports of call. They can be booked before or during travel. We did not book any tours with Princess. After spending many dollars for the cruise tour, we looked for less expensive ways to tour Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. The day at Glacier Bay National Park was amazing - great information was provided by the park rangers that boarded the ship. One reason that we booked the southbound cruise was for the opportunity to see Hubbard Glacier; however, ice and fog prevented the ship from making the trip all the way into Yakutat Bay to see the largest glacier. Lesson for touring Alaska - stay flexible, and realize that you can have a great day even when weather conditions prevent you from your planned activities. I had read here about the forward viewing deck on the Baja and Caribe levels. When I first looked for it, I was put off by the sign on the door that indicated crew only, but later, I pushed on through and found a great place for viewing Glacier Bay National Park - others did too. The only negative to the forward decks is that it's cold when the ship is moving, but then so is your balcony - bundle up! The back decks on the same levels were great for watching the sunset during the later part of our cruise when we were further east and the sun was setting in late evening. The only alarming moments on the ship were early on our first morning at sea - 4:30 to be exact. A passenger became ill during the night and needed to be transported to a medical facility. It was a strange way to wake hearing the captain's voice through the speaker just above our heads informing us what was happening, but we were comforted to know the professional and caring way that the ship's captain and crew handled an emergency situation. Decks were cleared, and a few top-level cabins were evacuated for two hours. A helicopter arrived and hovered using a basket to pick up the ill passenger. We later heard that the passenger would be o.k., and we were very happy to see that all the necessary precautions were a taken to handle the situation. Since the trip overall was very pricey, we looked for ways to save dollars. Instead of booking the Princess transfer from the ship to the Vancouver airport, we used a shuttle service at the airport -- $15 each instead of $29. We used public transportation in Ketchikan, and we rode a bus from the kiosk tour area of the dock in Juneau out to Mendenhall Glacier. In Skagway, we saved $80 by booking the Whitepass and Yukon Railway tour that we wanted with a reputable tour operator. While planning, it is important to learn what places and activities are available in each locale, decide what is most important to you, and learn what options are available for seeing/doing what you want. Things we wish we'd known before travel: - the ship PA system dialogue for stops in Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay National Park is provided on a ship TV channel that you can listen to from your cabin or balcony - breakfast and lunch are served in the formal dining room as well as the Horizon Court - if doing anytime dining, call each morning for a dinner reservation time - order afternoon fruit delivered to the cabin for snacking without walking to the dining area Tips I found here on CruiseCritic that were helpful: - take a nightlight for the bathroom - spacious storage for luggage available under the bed Other things to know: - if doing a land tour before cruising, be sure to pack a suitcase that can just meet you at the ship - very convenient to keep from lugging all of your luggage all over Alaska even when luggage handling is provided - when packing at home, pack a small backpack that will take minimal space in your luggage; then, use the backpack as your personal carry bag during the land tour when you must keep valuables, medication, etc. with you separate from the suitcase that Princess transports - the cabin safe is convenient for small items like passports, wallets, watches, etc., but it is too small for a laptop - the shower in our Coral Princess bathroom had a clothes line - we were glad that we packed some plastic tube hangers for doing laundry onboard ship - pack a sweatsuit or something warm for sitting on your balcony - it's quite chilly when the ship is moving - wearing sea bands all week and taking motion sickness pills at bedtime prevented sea sickness Prior to this trip, we thought that cruising Alaska's inside passage would be our only cruise; however, we enjoyed our experience so much that we have decided to look for other cruise opportunities that meet our travel desires. We would definitely travel with Princess again. A more-detailed report of our trip activities is on TripAdvisor.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was our first trip to Alaska, and our second Norwegian cruise. We sailed with our daughter and her boyfriend, first time cruisers who usually travel very frugally, frequently camping or staying in hostels, so we weren't sure how ... Read More
This was our first trip to Alaska, and our second Norwegian cruise. We sailed with our daughter and her boyfriend, first time cruisers who usually travel very frugally, frequently camping or staying in hostels, so we weren't sure how they would like the relative luxury of a cruise ship. We needn't have worried. We had a great time on the Sun. It's a smaller ship and older (you can tell by the truly miniscule showers, which is really the only bad thing I can say about the accomodations. It's less glitzy than other ships we have sailed on, but lovely and comfortable and clean. The staff was truly outstanding. Lucille Seno, the Group Coordinator, set up our Meet & Greet at rather short notice (our roll call was rather lackluster until the very end) and arranged for us to meet many crew members. She also set up a galley tour which was truly eye-opening for many of us. Sherryn Lacson, the hostess at Seven Seas, remembered our names from the very first evening, no matter when we came in during the cruise, and remembered where we liked to sit. We were in a aft balcony cabin which was very comfortable (except for the aforementioned tiny shower, and an unusual type of hairdryer that was oddly placed), and Benson Fallon our steward was very helpful and attentive to everything we needed or desired. Candi the cruise director was very entertaining and on top of things; she and the beverage manager and Tom the general services manager were ever present and approachable. We went to a couple of the shows, which were quite good. We participated in most of the trivia games, which were at times hilarious, at times contentious, but excellently done. Most nights we listened to music in Las Ramblas or in Windjammer. Pleasant surprises: Icy Strait Point, which I expected to be dull. We signed up for ATV/ziplining through the ship and not only did we have a blast, but we had a fabulous guide and learned a lot about Hoonah, and much general information about the native populations in Alaska. Thank you, Thomas James! Also: the effort to get us as close to glaciers as possible, and keeping us informed every step of the way. Even though it was raining, windy and COLD, I wouldn't have missed the viewing of the Hubbard Glacier for anything. And Candi seemed as disappointed as we were when we couldn't get as close to the Sawyer Glacier because of ice in the water. Both exhiliarating experiences. In Skagway we booked an excursion to take the train over White Pass outside the cruiseline and had a great time. The weather cleared up as the day went on, but the train ride was kind of spooky in the mist which added to the excitement! Biggest disappointment was Ketchikan, although the totem museum is worth seeing. The other major museum was closed due to plumbing problems, and the general weather was rainy and cold. There are a couple of other interesting places to see but we felt "nickel and dimed" there more than anywhere else. If we had to do it again we would have booked a salmon fishing excursion. Maybe next time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
My husband and I love cruising, it is a true getaway. We have been on about 14 cruises, including the inaugural season of the Grand Princess, but for some reason, had not been back on Princess until now. We have been to some exceptional ... Read More
My husband and I love cruising, it is a true getaway. We have been on about 14 cruises, including the inaugural season of the Grand Princess, but for some reason, had not been back on Princess until now. We have been to some exceptional nature destinations, including Africa, the Galapagos, and Costa Rica, and we have to say that Alaska is right up there toward the top in ranking. We traveled with another couple who had never been on a cruise before, and they say they will do it again after this experience. Pre-cruise: We did a land tour prior to the cruise. We arrived in Fairbanks a day early, mostly to avoid any travel problems. We had read that Fairbanks isn't all that interesting, which we agree with, but we booked a Segway Tour through EcoSeg Alaska, and it was a lot of fun. We stayed at the Hampton Inn the first night before beginning the "official" Princess tour, and it was a bit worn. The second night we stayed at the Princess Riverside Lodge, which was very nice. We ate at the Pump House, which has a great outdoor deck. Our weather was great the entire time we were in Alaska. Sitting on a deck at 10 pm with the sun still shining was strange, but fun. The Denali Princess Lodge was nice, but a bit more rustic, and the Mt. McKinley Lodge was very nice. Food at the lodges was pretty mediocre. Upgrade to the tundra tour at Denali instead of the included history tour, you will be glad you did. It's 8-9 hours on a school bus, but worth it with all the scenery and wildlife. We saw Mt. McKinley in all its glory from both sides in the 2 days we were there. Our train ride to Whittier was a bit disappointing. We were not on the Princess train, but rather a train they lease from the Alaska Railroad during peak season. It did not have all the amenities that the Princess train has. Ship: We thought the ship was in great shape and had a lot of interesting venues. I agree with another cruiser, though, the shower was definitely the smallest we have ever seen on a ship. It was very difficult to move around and the bathroom was flooded most days. The dining rooms were always way too warm, there just didn't seem to be any air circulation. Activities: The best activity was watching the scenery go by and looking for marine life. We saw quite a bit. We also did the dance lessons that were offered on sea days - the instructor was excellent - and played bingo. Entertainment: We did not go to many of the shows as we always seemed busy doing something else. The Bayou show was good, but was interrupted by technical difficulties and we had to sit around and wait for them to sort that out. The performers were real troupers. We also enjoyed the marriage game. We especially enjoyed Dan Hodges in the Crooners Lounge and went every night to listen to his songs and stories. Service: Contrary to what we read in some reviews, we found the staff to be friendly and helpful. Our cabin steward, James, and the bar staff in the Wheelhouse Bar were great. Ports/Excursions: In Skagway we did the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari - saw whales on the way out, sea lions on the way back, and walked on a glacier - would recommend. In Juneau we did the Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari since my husband and our friends are into photography - would also recommend. In Ketchikan we did the Rainforest Island Nature Walk & Seahawk Adventure, and I would say "pass", there are better things to do here. Be sure to walk up to the salmon ladder in town. It's amazing, but kind of sad, to see these fish work so hard to get up stream. Dining: The food on board was a nice surprise. We really weren't expecting much, especially after reading some other reviews. We are all "foodies" and enjoy nice restaurants. We did any-time dining most nights and never had a problem getting a table as we always ate after 8 pm. We did both specialty restaurants and the meals were excellent. Even the main dining room food was good to very good. I had lobster 3 times and it was done perfectly every time. Others said the steaks were some of the best they had ever eaten. Summary: All in all, we had a great time. Princess is a master of moving people. We never had a problem in the 12 days we were in their care. Alaska is a wonderful place to see, and having great weather the whole time made it even better. We will definitely sail with Princess again.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We decided to do the land tour first and then sail south down the inside passage to Vancouver. We correctly thought we would be tired after the land tour and ready to relax on the Coral Princess for the next 7 days. We left July 4th and ... Read More
We decided to do the land tour first and then sail south down the inside passage to Vancouver. We correctly thought we would be tired after the land tour and ready to relax on the Coral Princess for the next 7 days. We left July 4th and returned home July 17th, 2013. We packed rain jackets and layered our clothing. Most of the land tour was in the 55-60 range, overcast and drizzled often. We wore all the layers we brought including our rain jackets. We started in Anchorage and stayed at the Captain Cook, a great hotel and perfect location in downtown Anchorage. We left by motorcoach to Princess McKinley lodge and were there 2 nights. The room was nice, weather was chilly and rainey and the mosquitoes BIG. The lodge was nice and had a great view of McKinley, if the clouds lifted. We were VERY lucky on the 2nd day after we returned from our excersion and the clouds had lifted and we were able to see McKinley. We took the Devil's Canyon Adventure Tour and it was EXCELLENT, very exciting and we got a lot of great photos. I highly recommend this excersion. We then went by motorcoach to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. The room was fine and the lodge was nice. We tood the Tundra Wilderness Tour, it was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend this excersion. We saw moose, bears, caribou and Dall Sheep with spectacular scenery. Lucky for us the rain stopped right after we started the tour and stayed away all day! After the tour we saw the Denali Dog Sled Show (free) and it was great. We then road the Princess Dome Railcar for 8.5 hours to Whittier. The lower level of the dome railcar had an elegant dinning room. The entire experience was EXCELLENT. You should definitely enjoy this experience while in Alaska. We boarded the Coral Princess at Whittier. Boarding was well organized, in fact we were very impressed with how well organized ever aspect of our tour had been. Our bags always arrived at the next destination and moving all the people from place to place went very smoothly. The Coral Princess was exceptional. Staff was always friendly and asking if there was anything they could do. Our room steward was wonderful. The ship was beautiful, everything sparkling like new and nothing out of place. We had a great time on the ship. In Skagway we rode the White Pass Scenic Railway, a MUST DO! In Juneau we did the Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari, another MUST DO! In Ketchikan we went to the Totem Bight State Park and the Lumberjack Show. We enjoyed both activities. At Vancouver we purchased the Princess transfer and it was flawless. It was well worth the cost which I think is probably about the same cost as taking a taxi from the port to the airport. Highly recommend you use the Princess transfer services. Overall we give the Princess Crusietour the top rating and when we cruise again it will be with Princess! Be sure and read the other reviews that give suggestions on what to pack, I was glad I did! Some of the things we used every day, rain coat, hat, gloves, extension cords and warm socks. I ended up buying some long socks because my little short socks didn't do it for me. I hope you take the time to read the reviews because they will give you great insight into what to expect, how to pack and help you decide which cruise line will be best for you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Had a great cruise. Cruised with kids (10&12) and parents (early 70's). Flew into Fairbanks, spent 2 nights there, 2 at Denali, and 2 in Achorage.  Embarkation in Whittier was a breeze. Should have listened to advise and booked a ... Read More
Had a great cruise. Cruised with kids (10&12) and parents (early 70's). Flew into Fairbanks, spent 2 nights there, 2 at Denali, and 2 in Achorage.  Embarkation in Whittier was a breeze. Should have listened to advise and booked a glacier tour before departure. Ports: Icy Strait - Was a rainy day. Went whale watching with FISHES. Had a great trip and saw many whales and some seals. Walked around the cannery and the shore. The tide is great. Be sure to take pictures of the starfish when you get off the boat because a couple of hours later, the tide will have come in! Juneau - rented a car and went to Mendenhall. Walked to the waterfall and used Dad's National Parks pass to do the exhibits. Ketchikan - Did the ship trolley tour to see the totem poles and had an excellent tour guide. Got off on the way back to check out the salmon and do some shopping. Skagway - split up here. I took daughter to pan for gold and sled dog puppies. She totally loved it. We had done panning and a sled dog ride and petted the puppies on out land tour. Mom, hubby and son did the trolley tour and even the 12 year old had a great time and learned alot about Skagway. Dad took the White Pass trip. Overall, had a great time. The kids don't usually spend much time in the kids programs. We usually do the trivia contests and there was a crafty lesson each day. Also enjoyed the shows at night. Only negative is the food. Loved the pretzel rolls but most of the rest, expecially dinners in the dining rooms is boring and not anything to write home about. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Island Princess is 10 years old but you would never know it....very modern and extremely clean. The staff were very friendly. The food on the ship was certainly the normal Princess standard - they offered excellent quality and a bundle of ... Read More
Island Princess is 10 years old but you would never know it....very modern and extremely clean. The staff were very friendly. The food on the ship was certainly the normal Princess standard - they offered excellent quality and a bundle of choices and you could always order as much as you wanted. My spouse purchased the coke card for the week and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it included milkshakes too! I highly recommend a visit to Sabbatini's as the food and service here is second to none. The entertainment options offered were too numerous to attend all. The song & dance shows were top notch, the comedian(he did shows on 2 nights) was outstanding, and the final song & dance show on a Bayou theme was one of the best shows I have ever seen on a ship or in Vegas! The costumes and choreography were outstanding. Island Princess provided great shore excursions with a wide array of choices. Their on-ship activities were numerous and varied and we could not do everything. The scholarship at sea talks are always interesting and educational. On this Alaska cruise they had park rangers on board to present talks and photos of glaciers and whales and other wildlife. They provided an on-board commentary as we entered Glacier Bay. This was very informative. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment ... Read More
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment (save for one) and would do the entire trip again beginning to end. The aft suite was incredible - and we enjoyed the various perks that came with it. Because we had done a land tour, having the free laundry service was fantastic. Being able to order room service off the main dining room menus was a huge perk. This allowed us to keep our eyes glued on the phenomenal scenery. Having a suite overlooking the wake was just lovely. It wasn't loud and could only be heard if you opened the balcony doors. And even moving at a speedy for a cruise ship 22 knots, we could talk quietly on our deck and easily hear each other. We felt we had a private box and the best seats in the house during the scenic cruising and traveling the inner passage. Whales and porpoise were easily spotted playing in the wake. Our room steward, May, was a delight and really made our stay special. Our room was always spotlessly clean and she anticipated every need. One morning we passed May in the hallway and mentioned we were planning to walk around Ketchikan and skip our planned excursion. When we got back from breakfast, two umbrellas were waiting for us. She was like a friendly ghost - we never saw her come or go but we knew she had been there from all the little things she did. If we could request May with our next cruise, we would. We didn't partake in any scheduled activities or entertainment on board. Sitting in a theater watching a show seemed silly when the real show was happening all around us 24/7 courtesy of Alaska! We chose Anytime Dining which was very convenient for us. We only ate in 2 of the main dining rooms (Santa Fe and Savoy). The food was good, service was good, decor was good. Not a lot of window seating which made this style of eating less interesting for us. Main dining room food, whether delivered to our room or served in the dining room, was 3 to 4 star caliber. We ate at both Sabatani's and the Sterling Steakhouse. We opted for Sabatini's while for dinner the first night of the cruise as the extra fee is waived on this night for suite passengers. Easily 4 to 5 star dining from the caliber of the food to the amazing wait staff. This was the best way to start our cruise. We checked out Sterling Steakhouse and because it had huge windows and generous window seating, we decided we would eat here on our final cruising day. Sterling easily compared to Capital Grille, Morton's or Ruth's Chris. We did eat at the Horizon Court buffet a few times for lunch or to grab a quick snack. 3 star caliber food. It was a buffet - Nothing to write home about. I will say that the wait staff here was quick to get drinks, clean away dishes and prep tables. As suite passengers, we had access to Sabatini's for breakfast each morning. This perk is worth every extra penny paid for the suite. We enjoyed the wait staff tremendously and when we remember our cruise, we fondly remember our friends Jiovannie, Agu and Leo and hope we see them again. The fresh orange (mimosas!), and best mochaccino's ever plus fruit plates, made to order eggs and pastries were all fantastic but it is the wait staff here that makes Sabatini's truly special. Afternoon tea delivered to our room (another suite perk) was fantastic, fresh and I wish we had done it every day. Embarkation and disembarkation was easy and well organized. Luggage delivery and pick up at the port was simple and easy. The entire trip with Princess (we did a land portion as well) was simple, organized and easy. We felt well cared for and never had a worry. The key to the success of the Diamond is the crew - from the Captain to the folks in the laundry (yes we did the ultimate ship tour and HIGHLY recommend it!). Everyone is friendly, helpful and seem genuinely pleased that you are on-board. It was our first cruise and most certainly not our last. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Quick cruising background: We are in our lower mid-40’s and just recently took up cruising. Our first experience was over 10 years ago with family…and our children were little then. I only half remember the cruise itself, not sure if ... Read More
Quick cruising background: We are in our lower mid-40’s and just recently took up cruising. Our first experience was over 10 years ago with family…and our children were little then. I only half remember the cruise itself, not sure if it was because of some sea sickness and worries about the little ones, or the food/service was just ok. Regardless I didn’t come back from that cruise eager to book another one. Then for our 20th anniversary looking for a special trip, all inclusive or renting a house on an island, I stumbled across cruising and cruise critic, and the rest is history (in terms of vacationing). I wanted a balcony experience, and Carnival had the itinerary and price at the time, so we sailed on the Miracle. We really enjoyed the experience, and have been hooked on cruising ever since....sailing twice a year so far (Carnival 4 times in a row). BTW I haven’t had a bad cruise yet, I just love the water, scenery, ports of call, and overall cruising experience. I do look forward to trying other lines and ships in the future…there are darn too many destinations/ships to try in my lifetime! So since my last 4 cruises have been with Carnival, I will have some inevitable comparisons between Princess and Carnival. I have another Princess cruised booked in January 2014, so after that I will know if I am hooked on Princess, but I think I am already. We just had a fabulous time on the Sapphire, which I know a lot of Princess cruisers claim as one of their favorites. Quick overall comparisons/thoughts MDR food – I thought was great. Always hot and fast (dinner was never over an hr), interesting selection at times (never heard of some of the dishes, but tried them anyway. Crème Brulee was great! (my go to staple dessert – like the warm melting chocolate cake on Carnival). What surprised me with Princess during the entire cruise…every MDR dinner and in 3 different dining rooms, sometimes very crowded – we were in and out within 45 minutes or so…every single time. This never happened to us in our 4 previous Carnival cruises (in fact MDR dinner would always be 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs sometimes, the steakhouse would always be 2hrs). I don’t know if this is typical Princess or just the Sapphire, but we appreciated this. We didn’t feel rushed at all…everything was just timely. Loved the live music on the ship, shows were ok but not bad (I did like the shorter format, gave us more time/options every evening). Alcoholic drinks were weak on Princess, not sure if just this ship or fleetwide (every Carnival drink on every ship I have sailed were pretty potent, even the free drinks for past guest). International Café (IC) and Alfredo’s were very nice – visited both every day it seems. Service was fantastic and the crew/staff very friendly. Another nice touch by Princess was the various communications regarding our anniversary on this cruise. We received a nice card one evening, of course a spa special offering, one night they placed balloons/flyer on our cabin door, and the anniversary chocolate cake/singing at dinner one night. Day 1 -We had booked a package deal (train/lunch/Prince William Sound tour) with Major Marine to spend the afternoon seeing glaciers/water falls/wildlife before boarding the Sapphire, since the ship did not leave until 8:30pm. The train arrived at 12:15pm and Major Marine took off at 12:45pm. We got close to two beautiful tidewater glaciers, and to Hidden Falls. We saw seals and otters, and scenery was just gorgeous. After Major Marine we boarded the Sapphire no problem - stateroom itself was nice, loved the location behind the art gallery on the Piazza level. Room P327 - Inside 1C. The cabin had easy access to the Promenade deck (LOVED how wide it was, I wish more ships had this type of room), dining rooms, bars, International Café and Alfredo’s…and nearby stairs to avoid the elevators for just going up a few floors. It was pretty quiet (no foot traffic, ship equipment etc.), but we could hear snoring from our neighbors form time to time, so the room was not as soundproof as our Carnival cruises (I never heard our neighbors). The TV/movie choices were great, a lot better than Carnival. I do wish they had MDR menus/stateroom account access like they do on Carnival though. Our inside cabin had plenty of closet space, and I liked the safe system (4 digit code versus using a card w/magnetic strip). Yes the shower was small, smaller than Carnivals, but one can manage (barely). Day 2 - Hubbard Glacier Unfortunately the ice field in front of Hubbard was extensive, and we had to stay 12 miles away from the glacier itself. That sounds like a lot, but Hubbard was 6 miles wide, and we looked closer than we were. The expansiveness of Alaska is something you need to experience. So Hubbard was too far to observe any calving, but she was beautiful to see. Day 3 - Glacier bay was awesome - fabulous weather---did the Glacier Scenic Package in the Sanctuary - loved it. Day 4 - Skagway---Based on trip advisor/port forums on CC I decided to book a Carcross/Yukon tour with Dyea Dave. We enjoyed British Barry as our tour guide and his commentary. We always stayed ahead of the big tour buses on every stop, and had lots of photo opportunities (off and on the mini-bus). We were treated again to wonderful weather (it was sunny, no wind, lakes were glass, and in the afternoon it nearly reached 80) and to seeing a black bear eating dandelions roadside. The highlight for us was seeing the various glacier lakes along the way, including Lake Bennett and Emerald Lake. Carcross was a neat small town (quickly saw the world’s smallest dessert), and we had a quick lunch there as well. The backdrop Yukon scenery for your 2 hr road trip up to Carcross was magnificent. Day 5 - Juneau For Juneau we had a Harv/Marvs whale watching tour booked. We were fortunate because the time I actually booked the cruise itself (late March), Harv/Marvs had one slot left and only for their 11am tour (Sapphire left at 3:30pm). However that gave us enough time to have breakfast in the IC, take the $8 shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier, and have Harv/Marv pick us up at the Mendenhall Visitor’s Center at 10:45am (Mendenhall close to the docks where whale watching boats are kept). Mendenhall Glacier, wow, I was surprised at how beautiful this place was. I had seen pictures, but the hike/views were fabulous. Again this was a beautiful sunny day, so that played a factor in its awesomeness! Nugget Falls was flowing heavy too, it was just a roar. The hike is easy, most can manage it, worth doing! There were beautiful flowers and trees along the way as well. Harv/Marv - awesome!!! Saw 5 or 6 bubble nets and plenty of eagles, sea lions, and humpbacks of course. PERFECT day. Day 6 - Ketchikan For Ketchikan we did not have any excursions planned (I tried getting a tour with Ketchikan Cab Tours but they were full), so we planned to do our own walking tour. Day turned sunny in the afternoon - just a shopping day and laying out! Day 7 - Inside Passage - nice scenic cruising...weather good. Overall the Princess product met/exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed our cruise and the ship. Love the Sapphire and its amenities (the multiple dining rooms, Alfredo’s/Vines and IC in the Piazza). That large Promenade deck that circled the entire ship was nice. I liked having the options during the day/evening (dance classes, other stuff), the music choices were good. Most of the music was a decade or so earlier than what I am used to (I am an 80’s/90’s lover – rock and dance) but it was fine to me. I dig 70’s and good 60’s rock and roll. I didn’t miss the rapping DJ even though at times I enjoy that as well. The service and food was great – better than my previous 4 Carnival cruises (and I enjoy the food on Carnival as well – again I have not had a bad cruise yet!). Alaska was better than I imagined…hope to get back soon!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My daughter and I enjoyed our cruisetour overall. We began in Anchorage and traveled to Denali National Park and Aleyska Resort. The land tour was great and the tour guide very knowledgeable and friendly. We met wonderful new friends on ... Read More
My daughter and I enjoyed our cruisetour overall. We began in Anchorage and traveled to Denali National Park and Aleyska Resort. The land tour was great and the tour guide very knowledgeable and friendly. We met wonderful new friends on this part of the tour. Most of us learned that we are not bus travelers, but still had a great time - were very excited when we exited the tunnel to Whittier to see our the Norwegian Sun waiting there for us! Our balcony room was nice, although we prefer front or back to the middle, and sized adequately - even enough closet space for two women! The only "bad" part was the size of the shower - the smallest I've seen on a cruise. Great service by our steward and everyone we encountered on the ship. We did the Chef's Table dinner, which I would recommend to everyone taking NCL - I understand the menu is the same on all their ships. It was the highlight meal of the trip. The regular dining menus were lackluster and very disappointing. Very little difference from night to night and I definitely NEVER want to see squash puree again! We did love the freedom to eat when and where we liked, but the food in general was not up to what we have had before. I will commend them on having a very good buffet and casual choices for dining if you did not do one of the dining rooms. And the dining room for breakfast was absolutely awful - the worst food (pancakes) I have ever had on a ship. Luckily, many good choices on the buffet - and the French bread made on the ship - wonderful! All in all, I would definitely cruise again, but be prepared to eat mainly in the buffet or sports bar or tapas. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Background: We planned this trip for a year in advance. 10 signed up and 2 dropped out due to a medical situation. Our initial contact was with Vacations To Go but we were disappointed in call-back responses so we dealt directly with ... Read More
Background: We planned this trip for a year in advance. 10 signed up and 2 dropped out due to a medical situation. Our initial contact was with Vacations To Go but we were disappointed in call-back responses so we dealt directly with Princess and were glad we did so, traveling from the East Coast left too much room for problems and we wanted the Princess "assurances", even though another, earlier, booking experience with VTG was fine. The Princess booking people were a pleasure to deal with. We used Princess Air and all of us got on the same planes. Our only hitch was that we found on our own, without any notice from Princess, that our return flight was booked into Dulles, not BWI as we had signed up for (lesson: keep checking your itinerary). One key element in this cruise was the desire to be able to have adjoining cabins with interconnecting balconies, which was a big selling point for our group and we were able to do that on Coral Princess, so everyone was pleased with that. More on the cabin arrangements later, but a balcony cabin is almost a must for this cruise. Arrival in Anchorage: We flew into Ted Stevens Intl. Airport. We were greeted warmly by Princess reps. Our bus was waiting for transfer to Cpt. Cook Hotel. Baggage was handled efficiently and ALL of it went to the hotel. We boarded and were off for about a 45 min. ride into Anchorage with some good commentary along the way. Capt. Cook Hotel: One of several in downtown Anchorage, which is more cosmopolitan than we imagined. Arriving around 9 p.m. (still daylight) we were tired from a long trip and hungry. We went to the rooftop "Crow's Nest" restaurant with a great view. However, that restaurant does not allow shorts, flip flops, or hats. We found the staff in it somewhat condescending. We had a drink in the "Nest" and went to Fletcher's on the ground floor where the food selection was much better and the staff eager and accommodating. The room in the hotel was very nice, not extravagant. The one issue with this leg of the trip was that our bags were to be tagged with "Meet Me Onboard" or "Keep With Me" luggage tags and NOT placed in the hall the night before, but left in the vestibule to the room which the porter would enter around 7 am the next morning to retrieve. We got up early to make sure all was in order and not be surprised by his arrival. Leave plenty of time for breakfast as the hotel lobby restaurant was mobbed and the service was slow. We walked around Anchorage the morning of our departure. Mosquitoes (it was very mild) were an issue down near the waterfront, but the downtown area is nice. We saw our luggage loaded on to trucks for transport to McKinley lodge (not on the bus) and to Whittier, for the ship, then ate our breakfast and boarded our motor coach for McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge in Talkeetna. Arrival at McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge and Talkeetna: The bus trip of about 2.5 hours from Anchorage to Talkeetna went quickly. Nadine. our driver, provided great commentary. Views of the countryside were excellent. On arrival at the Lodge, our luggage had not yet been delivered, but it was promised soon. Again, a lot of mosquitoes (some said it was the worst in the last 40 years due to the mild weather with temps in the 70s and 80s F). A fabulous view of Mt. McKinley greets you at the lodge. New arrivals crowd the deck in the back for views of the mountain. Our room was spartan, but neat, with a tv, desk and a fan since there is no air conditioning in the rooms. We could have used the a/c but the fan proved enough. The staff at the Lodge was pleasant and answered questions. The Lodge operates a shuttle into Talkeetna, since the Lodge is about 45 mins. outside of town. The shuttles run throughout the day and into the early evening and are free, except for gratuities. Our first experience with "Roy" was not too pleasant as the a/c on the bus went out and it became very warm inside. After arrival at the bus "turnaround", we walked through the town. The women did some shopping and the men went to Denali Brewing Company where the food was good and the beer excellent and cold and we were subsequently joined by the women. Talkeetna Air Taxi Excursion to Ruth Glacier at Mt. McKinley. This was not booked through Princess. The air trip and the glacier landing was a FABULOUS experience. The staff was warm, welcoming, and competent. It takes a bit of an easy walk from the town center to the airpark. Once at TAT, you are weighed and given boots to protect your feet from the slushy snow on the glacier. Sunglasses are a must and TAT will provide them if you don't have them. Trent was our pilot and he advised he had a lot of hours on multiple aircraft and was fully certified. To say this was a breathtaking excursion would be putting it mildly. The weather was perfect - clear skies and great visibility. Trent remarked that the weather is not often like it was that day since the Mountain generates its own weather. Anyway, we landed smoothly on Ruth Glacier. No one needed a jacket even though we had them with us. Long sleeve wicking material and a tee shirt over it (we were our Ravens' shirts) was sufficient with a pair of jeans. We stayed on the glacier for about 20 to 30 minutes and then smoothly took off. Trent took us over "Moose Meadow" where we spotted some of them grazing. Our flight back to Talkeetna and landing were smooth and uneventful. Do not miss this type of excursion if you can help it. (Note: We learned after our return that another TAT pilot's plane and passengers suddenly got "fogged in" while on the Glacier. News accounts stated that the passengers spent about 2 days on the plane, which carries emergency supplies and sleeping bags, on the glacier with additional emergency supplies delivered by rangers who hiked in. The lesson is not to take this excursion for granted.) Dining in Talkeetna. There are not a lot of restaurants in Talkeetna, as you might expect, but what's there is very good. In addition to our lunch at Denali Brewing Company, we ate at West Rib (site of the tv show episode of Man vs. Food for its giant burger) for dinner after our TAT flight and were served by Trent's girlfriend and a charming and pretty young woman. The next morning we had a great breakfast at Roadhouse, which truly is a Roadhouse, with accommodations for day hikers, etc. Alaska Railroad's Denali Express: Our "Keep With Me" luggage was placed outside our door in the a.m. and picked up for transport to the railroad. The rail trip was a great experience. Different cruise lines have different cars. We were in the last car. They are double deck with the dining area below and seating on top. The panorama is great. You sit at a table on the top level and have plenty of room to spread out at your table which fits 4 comfortably. The trip takes about 4.5 hours after about a half hour ride to the train depot. Our coach supervisor, "Zach", kept the trip interesting. The service was great. You are assigned a time to eat lunch but you can "defer" your time until a later point if you are not yet hungry, but at some point dining service stops. The food served is soup and sandwiches, but it was very good. Upstairs and down in the rail car you can have beer, soft drinks or mixed drinks. The bartender has "specialty" cocktails available. All of this is paid for at the end of the trip by credit card. We had no issues with the rail car travel at all - it was a pleasant experience. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge: Again, this Lodge is Spartan but nice. The dining here is limited. The area across the street is rather "honky tonk" but a number of people were seen going over there for liquor or food at Subway and another restaurant. The bar at the Lodge serves food which is fairly reasonably price and seats a large number of people both outside and in. There is a pizza parlor on the site which we did not use. The view from the bar's dining area is fabulous. Again, mosquitoes were an issue outside. The King Salmon dining was "overpriced" in our opinion. The main lodge area has a snack bar and the ever present gift shop. Get to the snack bar early on the morning of any excursion as it becomes "mobbed" and you might miss departure. Be warned that the Visitors Center at the Park and the Wilderness Center are not easy walks from the Lodge as we were led to believe. It's about 3 miles to the Visitor Center on foot. Kantishna Experience: We were up early to take this excursion, grabbed a bite at the snack bar and boarded a bus to the Denali National Park Wilderness Center. Tours of Denali depart from there. Watch the excursion you book as this one goes all the way into Denali and turns around to head back out. It is a long day but a great trip. We heard that the partial trip into the Park was not as enjoyable. Our driver, Don, spoke the entire length of the trip, save for brief times when he had to negotiate traffic on switchbacks. The buses are not air conditioned and do not have bathrooms on them but there are frequent rest stops. We saw the "Big Five" game in the Park and additional wildlife. Photographers were living a dream. The bus provides a "bag" lunch of snacks and drinks with plenty to keep hunger at bay. At the end of the trip, a Park Ranger boards the bus for the final leg into Mirror Lake and to tell the fascinating tale of Fannie Quiqley. Again, this is a long day but highly recommended if you wish to see all Denali has to offer. Don said that only about 10% of all the visitors to Denali see what we saw on that day. It was great. Denali to Whittier: Our final day of the Cruise Tour was marked by a 8 hour or so bus trip from Denali to Whittier. Our driver, Bob, provided great commentary. Frankly, the time passes quickly. We were so tired from our land adventures we slept most of the way. But if you don't think you'll sleep, bring lots to do. To get to the port at Whittier you will pass through the Anton Anderson Tunnel, only one way each hour and your coach's arrival is scheduled so it has to be on time or else you might miss the ship's departure. There is a brief stopover in Anchorage on the way to Whittier where you can buy some liquor in accordance with Princess rules to bring onboard. The Coral Princess: We were one of the first buses to arrive. Embarkation went smoothly and continued for others throughout the afternoon. The ship looked to be in fine shape with no showing of excessive wear and tear. As promised, our travel companions and we had adjacent cabins. Also, as promised, doors on the balcony opened to allow all the balconies to flow as one and we could move freely between our cabins. We were on the Emerald deck on the starboard side, which I would recommend to anyone going Southbound because on our trip the prevailing winds coming over the port side made for colder and windier conditions than the starboard. We found our cabin steward to be pleasant and provided good service. We only attended one show which was comedy and pretty good but very short (an hour at most). We enjoyed a movie on deck on several nights. We would not recommend the dining room for breakfast, we found the buffet had a greater selection and the service in the dining room for breakfast did not merit using it. Plus, the view was better. When we arrived on board we cancelled a helicopter glacier landing since we had already done that and thought our prior experience with Talkeetna Air Taxi could not be topped. Our dining experiences in the Bordeaux Dining Room were just superb. The food was good and our server was excellent. A nice feature from Princess is a kiosk near the service desk on the main deck that allows you to check your bill each day. We had no children with us but I do not think this is child's type of trip. We did not see many children on board. Hubbard Glacier: We could not see this stop on the trip as we were fogged out of Yakutat Bay with much ice floating in the water. The Captain apologize for this but felt it just unwise to proceed for safety reasons. It was creepy moving through the waters in the fog with ice floating by and the fog horn sounding. Shades of "Titanic". Glacier Bay: Here we had a great visit and the Captain spent much time in the Bay and he maneuvered the ship marvelously to allow those on both sides of the ship a view of the Marjerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, as well as some "lesser known" such as Johns Hopkins (which we did not maneuver around but passed going and coming). The weather was perfect. Skagway: Having cancelled our helicopter trip over the Chillkoot Mountains we opted for a walking trip to White Pass Gardens, which was beautiful, then walked back into town to eat at Skagway Brewing Company, doing some shopping, and hitting The Red Onion for a drink before returning to the ship. Skagway can become very crowded on certain days of the week with multiple ships in port. Watch out, we were told, for long lines on those days which I believe were M-W. Juneau: Here we got a close up shot of an eagle AND a close up view of whales with a calf on the Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest run by Allen Marine Tours (Princess Excursion). Our boat for the Quest was big, very comfortable seating (airplane like) with lots of viewing area and with a bar with snacks. Be prepared for the wind up top if you go and dress warmly even if the day is warm. The commentary on the trip was superb. We walked the town, went to the Heritage Center (but did not go in due to limited time) and passed on the Roberts tram which is very expensive to ride. Ketichikan: We ended our trip with a great excursion with Backcountry Zodiac Expedition. Jeff, our guide was wonderful and it is an experience that can be shared with young and old alike. All gear is provided for the trip. The Zodiacs are fun to drive and easy to do so. A more comprehensive review of this great excursion (also through Princess) is posted on Tripadvisor as the vendor requested. Disembarkation: This went smoothly. We boarded buses for Vancouver Intl. Airport at the dock and waited for several hours until our plane was ready to go. The plane ride was pleasant and uneventful. In summary, this is a very active Cruise Tour but a great experience. If you have good weather, as we did, and you allow Princess to give you some peace of mind as to your travels, it is a wonderful experience. All of group shed tears remembering it. A true "bucket list" voyage. Bon Voyage!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013

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