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115 Whittier to Alaska Cruise Reviews

We chose a land sea tour of Alaska with the land portion first. Princess handled the land portion well in terms of organization of buses, and trains. Getting us our travel material for each hotel and providing a number of interesting ... Read More
We chose a land sea tour of Alaska with the land portion first. Princess handled the land portion well in terms of organization of buses, and trains. Getting us our travel material for each hotel and providing a number of interesting trips at each "Wilderness Lodge" We chose a North South Cruise following our land trip and it gave us lots of opportunities for shore excursions. We also had two day of Glacier viewing with stays near Hubbard Glacier followed by another visit to Glacier Bay. I believe that taking the cruise following the land portion gives you some time to unwind and still see sites. If you have no interest in our air issues you can skip this next part The air part of the trip booked using Princess air was a very poor introduction to our vacation. We never got any advice that would take us from BWI to Fairbanks with a minimum of stops (changing planes). Our path was early flight from BWI to Dallas. Plane delayed for a brake light failure with brakes working. That put us behind schedule on our American Airlines flights by an hour and 1/2. Once in Dallas having missed our connection we tried throughout the day to get on standby for our flight to Seattle. Finally we did board where we encountered a problem with the window seal. That was another hour plus wait first on board then at gate and then back on board. We then got to Air Alaska 10 minutes before that flight went to Fairbanks. So given our luck that put us back a few more hours as we could not board. We arrived at our hotel at 2:30 am their time for about a 26 hour traveling experience. Our trip home was also quite interesting. My wife needed assistance to get off ship ant through the airports. We got to the appointed place to meet on ship, but unfortunately we went from the 7th floor area, moved on to the 5th floor area (could not get off), up to the 6th floor area where we also could not get off, and finally back to the same 7th floor area. The person in charge of that area was friendly, but apparently never told the rookie aide that the ramp was right around the corner from our original meeting place. Then we continued with a race to the bus and just got to our early flight on time. Now comes our Toronto experience. We had a turbo prop plane to BWI. It was all the way (seemed like a couple of miles) from where our first plane came in. My wife was passed on to at least 6 different people to help her and we got the special pleasure of doing customs twice (once for Canada and once for U.S.) and I think two security check through procedures. We did not want a turbo-prop plane. Once booked on a restricted fare we could not change without excessive fees beyond our original booking fee. Also we later found out that air out to Fairbanks could have been much easier. Alaska Airlines did offer a flight to Seattle and then another flight from Seattle to Fairbanks. Instead we got to travel through 3 plane changes. So much for service and definitely Princess Air was not geared to find us the easiest route. Now back to the Land Fairbanks (3 nights) We came in a day early. At least that was the plan. So our late arrival led to us just recovering that day. The Princess Wilderness Riverside Lodge was fine. Lobby attractive and several restaurants to choose from. But lots of duplication among them in terms of selection. Our excursion on our 2nd day was a combo Gold Dredging (train) and Riverboat trip. This was excellent. The hotel did have some fairly short walking trails near the river with paths around the woods. This was nice diversion for me since we did not go on as many trips as planned. Princess handled our transfers and gave us our welcome packets including room key and excursions, meals included. This saved us impacting front desk. Denali Wilderness Lodge (2 nights) Loved our cabin-like rooms. And had wonderful breakfasts at the King Salmon Restaurant. Nice variety and was a coupon voucher included meal. Took the Tundra bus trip on our second day at the lodge. This was a long day in a school bus vehicle. We had rain, heat, cold, sleet and snow. Still a great trip with lots of animal sightings. After a long day, back around 10:30 had pizza at the lynx restaurant. You order they bring to table. Billed itself as best pizza south of the Yukon River. Who knows, but coming from NYC the pizza was pretty poor. The price for what you got was high. I would skip unless you believe their hyperbole and/or must find a place to eat after a long day of traveling. Our first night included Music of Denali show/meal. Service was good, food was fine and show though hokey used our waiter/actor well. Enjoyed the evening. Again welcome packet set us up well. Mt. Mckinley (1 night) We are among the 30% who could see the mountain completely. Room was small and room was hot even with fan on. Lodge itself was nice with great view from back deck of the Mountain. We took a covered wagon excursion which was fun, and also included a stop for reindeers along with smore"s over a fireplace. This trip started at lodge and returned us to lodge so we did not have to add another 45 min to an hour to connect with excursion all after a long bus ride to the lodge. Packet once again got us for our day there. We had dinner at the Mountain View Restaurant. Yes there was a view. Room itself was average especially compared to King Salmon Restaurant at Denali. Meal was great and made greater because our voucher covered it all. Otherwise this would have been one very expensive meal. Train ride to Whittier- Long, but very scenic using domed cars. Food available with non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Now on to the ship (yay) Service Service with one exception was excellent. Here is the exception. We dined in the specialty Italian restaurant. Meal was on voucher. We also had a free bottle of wine on another voucher. I asked if we could upgrade and pay the difference. We were told that the difference was $7 for the one picked by us. Later the bill showed the difference as $19.10. Tried to correct this with telephone calls to restaurant and up the ladder of management. Told that it might be a waitress mistake. We responded but why should we be penalized. Then told maybe we misheard the amount of difference. 4 people in our party heard $7. Told once paid that we could not get any credit. Next told that a manager from the Italian restaurant would meet us at the Steakhouse next night and offer us an apology. He never showed up. But did give us a house wine (white or red) 4 glasses. Not really a satisfactory resolution we felt as we did not want that wine from the beginning of our conversation at the restaurant. Food Main dining room had good variety . Food was hot and tasty. We had a choice of Alaska specialties and 50th anniversary items. For breakfasts we ate mostly in the buffet. The food was good and the variety included fresh made omelets and eggs. Also had lunch which was good and ate a lot at the International Cafe which had sandwiches, soups and salads. The pizza restaurant on deck 5 was great. As others mentioned the only thing you could not get was salads. You could bring them in from those available at the International Cafe. Excursions 3 ports (Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan) Took private tour (not from ship) in Skagway. Chilkoot Tours gave us a train and mini-bus tour that was excellent. Whale Watching Tour from ship got us Whales Whales and More Whales. Throw in Seals, Eagles...Oh My!! On our own wandered near Mt. Roberts Tram to Tracy's King Crab Shack. Great and Beyond Great. But bring plastic as it was pricey. In Ketchikan wandered around on my own with the rain (light to heavy modifying my plans) Went to South Eastern Discovery Museum (free for seniors if you have your National Parks Card otherwise $5) Small but Interesting Museum with bonus of a place to dry out and clean restrooms. Entertainment Only went to two show. One a large musical review was ok. Comedian magician did not really hit my funny bone. Getting on/off Ship Easy getting on. Already covered our getting off experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Disclaimer up front - this was not just a cruise but a cruisetour. We had 12 days (5 land, 7 sea) with Princess, with the land portion first. We chose to sail with Princess solely because they had such an extensive network of land lodges, ... Read More
Disclaimer up front - this was not just a cruise but a cruisetour. We had 12 days (5 land, 7 sea) with Princess, with the land portion first. We chose to sail with Princess solely because they had such an extensive network of land lodges, excursions and itineraries. Knowing what we now know, we would have done everything on land on our own instead of through Princess and explored the interior of Alaska independently instead of doing a cruisetour. That would have made our cruise options much more open. The cruise itself was fine but will get to that later. Would not discourage anybody from sailing with Princess but also will not purposefully seek out a Princess cruise or tell anybody "you just HAVE to cruise with Princess". I would strongly encourage anybody to do your own thing on land and NOT use a Princess cruisetour, though. Flew to Fairbanks a couple days before the land portion of our Princess cruisetour began. Got a car and went to a lot of places. Had a great time and did things on our schedule. Turned in the car and picked up the bus transfer to Fairbanks Princess Lodge. Lodge was fine but thankfully the Pikes Landing was a short walk away. Had a great dinner and view of the Chena River from there. Had to get up super early just to put luggage outside the door. That is a recurring theme and a huge irritant for us. I get why this is necessary in some circumstances but the times given to us were ridiculous. Anyways, took the morning cruise on the Riverboat Discovery and had a great time. Got on the bus to transfer to Denali Lodge and had a pleasant ride down. Got to our room and discovered that only one of our two bags had made it to the room. Not cool. Please understand that we are VERY independent travelers and never use bell hops, porters, luggage handling services, etc, and have never done organized bus tours or the like. It's nice to know where your stuff is and to always have access to it. After numerous inquiries and a great deal of nervousness and trepidation, and also many promises to contact me with updates as to what had been done to find it, we went on our rafting trip thinking that my luggage had been lost on the very first opportunity for Princess to lose it. Got back from rafting, all the while thinking that the clothes I was wearing while in a drysuit for 3+ hours were the only clothes I would have, and wouldn't you know it, my luggage magically appeared in our room. Mind you that both bags were tagged identically, both bags retained their luggage tags, and there was no good reason for these bags to be separated. I get that human beings were the ones delivering the luggage and that things happen, but what ticked me off was absolutely no explanation or apology was offered, even after asking for both. Moving on... the scenery and excursions were great while we were on land. The Princess lodges and food were good. Nothing special, nothing horrible or bad... just good. We went to a grocery store while we had our rental car and stocked up on breakfast items to eat in our room. Very good move on our part, and saved a lot on overpriced breakfasts at the lodges. Also saved a lot of time. Took the train from Talkeetna to Whittier. Very nice ride, but was really surprised to find the state of the infrastructure at the Talkeetna train station. For those who haven't left from this station, it isn't the one in Talkeetna. It is an unmarked gravel lot with sufficient room for buses to pull in and for the train to be able to stop and deboard and board passengers. There is nothing there other than the gravel parking lot! Very surprising considering how many people come through there that there is no shelter or any other structures there. Embarkation was very smooth and quick since they process boarding passes and passports on the train before we get to Whittier. Stateroom was very nice, luggage arrived shortly after we got to our room, and our overall experience on the ship was really nice. I was assuming (perhaps unfairly) that a Princess ship would be a step up from Carnival ship. Other than the lack of drink servers constantly asking if you wanted a drink, I was not able to discern any difference between this ship and the two Carnival ships we were on as far as amenities, service, food, stateroom etc. Everything was fine with all of those items, but nothing really stood out as way above Carnival. I understand that Princess and Carnival are owned by CCL, but am now wondering why this is the case since they are so very similar. The scenery and excursions while cruising were SPECTACULAR!!! Our only true disappointment was with Juneau. Our whale watching/Mendenhall glacier excursion was great, but the city of Juneau itself? Complete bust. State capitol? Closed and under construction. City museum? Closed and under construction. Governor's residence? Don't know if it is ever open to the public, but it was under construction as well. No interesting architecture or other sites in the city, and we did walk around a LOT. Did discover Cope Park and found a really pretty creek that is fed from glacial runoff. Super clear and deep water there. The lesson learned is that when 70% of a city's economy is government, and many of the interesting government sites are closed or unavailable, there is nothing to do. We had rain in Ketchikan that cancelled our flightseeing trip, but Ketchikan is in a rain forest. We expected to have rain. The clouds were really low that morning and it was raining pretty heavy, and the flight company (Seawind Aviation) canceled early. The reason given was that we would have been safe to fly but would have been very disappointed in what we saw. I appreciated their honesty. Not true disappointment that the flight was canceled because I completely understood why, but that did leave us with nothing to do and rain all day. We did make it to the Forest Service and totem museums, and rode the funicular to Cape Fox Lodge (free WiFi there if you need it) and made the best of the day. We did the Chef's Table and it was fantastic!! Many people have a really hard time justifying the cost ($95/person), and apparently there were a lot of penny-pinchers on our cruise because we barely had enough participants to even have that dinner. However, if you put the Chef's Table in the context of an excursion, all of a sudden it makes perfect sense and it is one of the cheapest and most enjoyable excursions you will take. We did Chef's Table on our last Carnival cruise and this was every bit as good if not better. We will always try to do Chef's Table on every cruise we do from now on. Money and time well spent. This trip was a 25th anniversary present we gave ourselves, and had been planned and dreamed about since before we got married. Seriously. The build-up and expectations and anticipation for this vacation had been building up for 26+ years, so the chances for a let down and disappointment were higher than for any other trip we have ever taken. Am happy to say that our expectations were not just met but far exceeded. This was by far due solely to the sights, the wildlife, the whole Alaska experience and seeing the vastness for ourselves. The fact that we were with Princess didn't enhance the experience at all, and in some small ways it detracted from it. Bottom line - we would do this exact same trip again in a heartbeat, other than we would do the land portion completely on our own and meet the ship in Whittier on our own. Great trip and would highly recommend an Alaskan cruise and spending a lot of time on land in Alaska to anybody. I won't discourage anybody from using Princess, but frankly the scenery and the environment are why you are going to Alaska. The cruise ship itself and the cruise line are pretty far down the list unless you have zero interest in experiencing that scenery and all that Alaska has to offer. I'd then have to ask why you were there in the first place? Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We were a family of four adults traveling on the Southbound Alaskan cruise from Whittier to Vancouver July 15. My husband and I have taken 8 or so cruises. Most of these have been with Carnival, but this was our second with Princess. In ... Read More
We were a family of four adults traveling on the Southbound Alaskan cruise from Whittier to Vancouver July 15. My husband and I have taken 8 or so cruises. Most of these have been with Carnival, but this was our second with Princess. In fact, we took this exact same cruise 8 years ago and loved it so much we wanted to do it again. Maybe because we are more seasoned cruisers now, but I was disappointed in this vacation. The ship itself was fine. It is going into dry dock in January for a needed update. (We saw places being marked for repair even in July.) ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment was pretty good. I really enjoyed the comedian. The magician and ventriloquist were okay. I felt like I had seen their acts before. The pianists onboard were excellent. The singers and dancers were good. I really enjoyed the Bayou production. STAFF We made the Crooner's Bar our meeting point due to the seating by windows and it being a central point to our evening activities. Having a pianist who had been employed by Frank Sinatra was certainly a bonus. The excellent servers and bartenders became friends during our week. In fact, all of the men and women staff onboard were friendly and helpful. Edmundo was our cabin steward and was fantastic. Darwin and Ryan took care of us during dinner each night. My two dealings with the customer service desk went well. The Captain was more engaging (and understandable!) than other ship captains. I enjoyed Susan, the Cruise Director, and her staff. She made her role understated appearing when necessary and not trying to steal the show from the main entertainment. As a bonus, having been a past dancer, she led a Zumba class a couple of days which I really appreciated. Her staff were funny and made the trivia games and dance classes in the Explorer's Lounge fun. Mark, the Naturalist, held a few classes in the Princess theater, but we expected him to be on the lookout for wildlife and report findings all along our trip. It was in our Princess Patter newsletter that he would do so. Nothing. This was one of our main reasons for choosing Princess. On our first cruise, the naturalist was fantastic and kept us informed all along the way. I will blame the fog for limiting his sightings, but there were times when he could have seen things and reported. I saw whales and dolphins myself from the promenade deck. FOOD AND BEVERAGE One of my biggest complaints was the coffee! It seems like a small thing, but it was HORRIBLE. It had to have been a powdered instant, reconstituted and then pumped from the kitchen via spigots in the Horizon restaurant. The food selections in the Horizon were excellent and the quality overall was very good. Unfortunately, the desserts were tasteless. On vacation, I was ready to splurge, but....not worth it. The main dining room and the specialty restaurant, the Bayou Cafe, were just so so. The choices were limited and the quality was average. I enjoy Carnival food so much more. CABIN We had a balcony which was a good idea in theory, but wasn't used as much as we expected due to the fog and rain on our cruise. We were in B718 on the 11th deck. The bed had a distinctive lip to the mattress on my side of the bed, but perhaps it kept me from rolling out from the shimmy we felt from the engines. Truthfully, it really did not disturb my sleep though.The shower was smaller than what we were used to on Carnival, which is pretty small. One had to squat to recover anything dropped. There was a lot of storage area. The safe opened via a coded number you chose rather than the credit card system on Carnival. EXCURSIONS I booked our excursions myself and did not use Princess. As I have said, we had thick fog and it rained everyday at some point. We dressed accordingly. Do not let that stop you from exploring the different ports! We had phenomenal excursions and the weather was perfect for the majority of the time off of the ship. Alaska is a beautiful place and everyone should experience the majesty of the mountains, wildlife and glaciers. I would compare and consider all the different cruise ships sailing here...even other Princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Do NOT take a cruise that ends in Vancouver, BC. DO NOT!, The airport is a virtual cattle call. We stood in 6 lines to check in, check package, go through security AND through US customs. The security folks took apart my backpack ... Read More
Do NOT take a cruise that ends in Vancouver, BC. DO NOT!, The airport is a virtual cattle call. We stood in 6 lines to check in, check package, go through security AND through US customs. The security folks took apart my backpack TWICE, because, they said, it looked "cluttered." Otherwise, our Princess experience was quite good. Land and sea. From beginning to end, we had connecting buses, trains, flights waiting for us. Most of our issues were with United Airlines (four flights, all late; we made our connecting flight to anchorage with ONE minute to spare.) I will never fly United again; UA is too big, cumbersome, and incapable of keeping a schedule. If I were giving advice on folks going to AK it would be this: plan on an extra day for EVERYTHING, including the connecting flight. AVOID having to go through Canada, Schedule an extra day in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchican. Wonderful little cities. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We did our land tour FIRST and then trained from Denali to Whittier for the inside passage cruise. I recommend doing it this way; after the land tour we needed some time to relax, and the first couple days at sea provided that. As to the ... Read More
We did our land tour FIRST and then trained from Denali to Whittier for the inside passage cruise. I recommend doing it this way; after the land tour we needed some time to relax, and the first couple days at sea provided that. As to the Star Princess, the dining room service was very good, but the menu uninspiring. I would have expected more seafood offerings, this being Alaska. We have cruised Carnival and Royal Carribean -- both were better, dining-wise. Cabins were larger and more comfortable as well on the other ships. All our excursions were fabulous. I also give Princess high marks for keeping us on our itinerary, providing prompt transportation to hotels and the ship. I scold them for the constant selling of extras. My mail box was filled with junk mail every day. Their sink or swim drill at the beginning of the drill was dragged out a lot longer than it needed to be. Carnival has this down perfect. I see others posting criticism of ship's staff, but I found everyone to be very attentive. As with other cruise lines, they charge a ridiculous sum for Internet (WiFi). This, in a day and age, when even the cheapest hotel offers WiFi free. Finally, Vancouver is an interesting, albeit congested city. But their airport is a veritable zoo. I'll be looking to avoid their airport if we return to Alaska in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Well into our mid-seventies, we are still active and this was our 12th cruise, 7th on Princess and first guided Cruise Tour from Princess. Cruise Tour (Connoisseur) - This is the best way to visit Alaska prior to cruising to Vancouver. It ... Read More
Well into our mid-seventies, we are still active and this was our 12th cruise, 7th on Princess and first guided Cruise Tour from Princess. Cruise Tour (Connoisseur) - This is the best way to visit Alaska prior to cruising to Vancouver. It is important to read the FAQ section on the web site for detailed instructions on how to have a hassle-free holiday. Ex: dual baggage policy – land and ship. We do not travel without serious precautions which begin by a visit to our travel medicine specialist. It is critically important to wash our hands often on the ship as many were sick and confined to their staterooms. We remained healthy throughout. Accompanying guide Our guide Sandy Malen was simply outstanding in every respect. She has a wonderful approach to human interaction and was very knowledgeable. She ensured our well being and that we got the most out of the voyage. We could not have asked for more. Accommodations These are all wilderness lodges that operate May-September. They were all good, some better than others but we rated them all above average with excellent restaurants. The food prices are very high but Connoisseur level tour includes just about all the meals. That is great value for money. Fairbanks Riverside Lodge: Lodge is quaint with lots of charms and pleasant staff. The rooms are nice but there is no room safe, no bath soap (gel wall dispenser), shampoo and conditioner comes in the same wall dispenser. Minuscule wardrobe. Excellent bed. Denali Wilderness Lodge: Largest Lodge that we stayed at. Rooms are in various ‘blocks’ with outside corridors. There are no elevators. Here again, small wardrobes and gel dispensers in the shower instead of bath soaps etc. Copper River Wilderness Lodge: Lovely lodge facing the mountain and with a spectacular lobby. Many trails adjacent to the lodge. There is an evening flag ceremony honoring veterans and serving members. Kenai Wilderness Lodge: Best of them all. Spectacular lobby deck overlooking the gorge below. The rooms are in two-unit bungalows. Great beds as usual and each room has a small fireplace. Lots of charm and fantastic staff. Transportation on land Princess cruises have their own set of tour busses. They are very comfortable 45 passenger cruisers with washrooms on board, close-circuit TV, AC, overhead limited storage and our bags travel either separately by trucks on in the baggage hold of the buses. From Fairbanks to Denali we travelled on the Alaska Railroad Gold Star dome observation car which was superb. The cars are comfortable with a 360 degree view, washroom facilities, bar service and very friendly staff. In Denali Park we used converted school busses that are reasonably comfortable but with very limited storage. Park visits (part of cruise tour) The Connoisseur Land Tour includes a number of excursions that are first class throughout. These included a paddle-wheel boat tour in Fairbanks followed by a gold dredges visit. In Denali we toured the park (62 miles) in converted but comfortable school busses. The drivers have TV cameras and the busses have a set of TV screen throughout so that we can see the wildlife identified by the driver/naturalist. That is an outstanding tour where you can observe wildlife in its own habitat. There are regular health stops during the tour. There is an evening event called Music of Denali which involved local talent and was great fun. Other Excursions (through Princess) In Copper River we took the air panorama flight tour that included a very close encounter with glaciers offering an excellent view and photo opportunity. The aircraft was in reasonable shape and the pilot was a retired airline captain with an enormous amount of flying hours. In Kenai with toured Cooper Landing which gave us a close look at the local pioneer conditions. It included a close encounter with a musher and her dogs. Coral Princess The seamanship was exceptionally well done. This is a very nice ship that has a forward facing Horizon Court (buffet) which is just lovely. Wish more Princess ships had that lay-out. It also has a single-level promenade deck that goes all the way around the ship. To protect passengers from the wind glass panels have been added to the Sun and Sports decks thereby preventing good access for photography. Bad move. There appeared to be a leadership issue in the hotel department based on a number of annoying events. However we encountered far more positive than negative. The vast majority of the crew were friendly and cared for the passengers. Another wonderful lay-out is the back of the ship on decks 9, 10, and 11 where there are no rooms but a nice open deck with lounge chairs. Gorgeous spot to enjoy the wake of the ship in the fjords. Embarkation Just a breeze but then again we arrived as a land tour group accompanied by our guide who left us at that point  The baggage was a bit slower than normal but it all showed up before departure. Cabin/Stewart/Amenities The room steward is a key crew member as he/she sets the tone and is the first impression one gets from the ship. In our case, she either needed more training or was overwhelmed by her duties. On arrival there were no hand towels in the room. She had to be asked twice for them to appear the next day She would remove dirty glasses but not replace them with clean ones. It took a day before we got our gifts cards (2) and our excursions booking. On the second day at sea I enquired at the Captain’ Circle desk about the cocktail for platinum, elite, and suite passengers only to be told that my invitation should have been in my room on arrival. The room was fine with ample storage space. The bed was excellent. The bathroom is small but quite acceptable except for the shower. The space is minuscule, the shower curtain is always clinging and who knows when it was last cleaned. In addition, there is no bath soap but rather two gel dispensers attached to the wall. We now carry our own soap dish and bath soap bar just like in developing countries... Princess can do better that that. Restaurant/Food/Service Food was excellent. Princess now augments its menus with local fares which made this trip even better. There were some excellent waiters but we were not blessed at our table: the server took our order (no comment of the menu) served us and then was quick to see us off. For the first time in 12 cruises we did not add a gratuity. Our major complain on this voyage was the disinformation regarding the traditional seating times. We, like all our table mates, were told that we had confirmed 1745 seating at a table for six. On boarding we were told that our first seating was at 1715 and upon arrival in the Provence dining room discovered that we were at a table for 10!!! As is our custom, we booked the Bayou Café & Steakhouse. We went to the restaurant to do our booking yet they lost our reservation. The Maitre-D found us a nice table anyway and the food and service were excellent. Itinerary Outstanding itinerary. The highlight was a day of cruising Glacier Bay National Park accompanied by Park Rangers. The manoeuvring of the ship close to the glaciers was magnificent and the view spectacular. This was the best part of the seven-day cruise. Shore Excursions In Skagway we took the Yukon Expedition White Pass rail tour. Great tour but it is not a complete rail tour. The rail portion in only from Skagway to the Canadian Border. The rest of the way to Carcross Yukon and the return to the ship are by tour busses. This itinerary can also be done in reverse. In Juneau we took the Mendenhall gardens and glacier visit which is excellent in every respect. The glacier is very impressive and the Park visitor centre excellent. In Ketchikan we took another flight tout to the Misty Fjord Park. The weather was perfect, the aircraft in excellent shape and the water landing very smooth indeed. Disembarkation The disembarkation was well planned and executed. We have been known to have issues with this part of the cruises for a variety of reasons; not so on Coral Princess. All was perfect until inside the terminal where it was pandemonium. Our wait and disembarkation was perfect; we were effectively directed to our baggage and proceeded through CBSA without any glitches. Past that point the terminal staff seemed to be headed in all directions snapping directives to passengers that made no sense and it is only the experienced travellers that directed the newbies to their appropriate areas for either going directly ashore or to booked tours. Cost This Connoisseur Cruise Tours was expensive but it was great value for money. Recommendation. We would highly recommend this vacation to any of our friends interested in pristine nature. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Overall, the ship was beautiful, I read a lot of reviews before leaving and found the ship to be in much better shape than some of the reviews had suggested. There were no leaking buckets, no sewage smell, and no flooded carpets. The ... Read More
Overall, the ship was beautiful, I read a lot of reviews before leaving and found the ship to be in much better shape than some of the reviews had suggested. There were no leaking buckets, no sewage smell, and no flooded carpets. The staff was very friendly and helpful and the food was great. Now, that being said it was our honeymoon and we wanted to do it big with a penthouse suite. The room was amazing, everything you would hope it to be. The bathroom was huge, the deck was huge, and overall absolutely no complaints about the room. The "suite perks" that they call it are pretty much a joke and almost a slap in the face. There is NO priority anything. Not to embark, not to get off the ship at ports, and certainly not to disembark. When we arrived at the embarkation port we stood in a separate line but then they took one suite passenger then one regular passenger back and forth so really there was no advantage there. When we disembarked the ship we were told we had a private suite lounge, so we went and had breakfast there and waited for our turn to exit the ship. When our turn came we were simply escorted to the back of the line where we stood for at least thirty minutes to get off the ship, so again absolutely no advantage here either. Also, there was no butler and no concierge. When we wanted guacamole and chips (which were an added charge) we were told it would be 6 hours! That's ludicrous. Although the ship and staff were great, the way we were treated for the amount of money we spent was ridiculous and we won't be sailing with princess any more. I'll stick with norwegian who knows how to treat their suite passengers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We had never cruised before and had some concerns about the Grand Princess after reading so many negative reviews. Maybe because we had nothing to compare.. BUT, our Alaskan Cruisetour was overall fantastic.,!! Sure the ship wasn't ... Read More
We had never cruised before and had some concerns about the Grand Princess after reading so many negative reviews. Maybe because we had nothing to compare.. BUT, our Alaskan Cruisetour was overall fantastic.,!! Sure the ship wasn't the newest, but overall it was pretty good shape and we found that the crew was constantly cleaning and painting etc. Food was far better than we expected, and the anytime dining rooms for all of our meals (plus a couple of room service breakfasts and afternoon fresh fruit and cookie) was great. Entertainment was really well done and varied.. From a British Invasion show, comedian, magician, Irish duo and National Park Ranger talks.. Ok, the BIG complaint was the smoking. As someone with asthma, we were very careful in reading the no smoking rules before booking, and Princess seemed pretty good, even restricting smoking on private balconies, which they said was strictly enforced... Well, not only was the casino was so smoky, but they LEFT ALL THE DOORS OPENED CONSTANTLY! This filled the beautiful 3-story Piazza in the midship with smoke 24-7, making it completely miserable to enjoy the International Cafe for coffee and desserts, or the many venues and entertainment found in that area. After the cruise l contacted Princess to understand why they simply could not close the casino doors to contain the smoke, and the rep couldn't really give me any good explanation... And after pressing her further, she came up with a lame answer about ventilation not being good in the casino... It's unfortunate that after an amazing trip otherwise with Princess Cuises, that this is enough for us not to be looking at another using Princess, as they seemed far more concerned with the poor ventilation for the smokers in the casino than for the vast majority of cruisers enjoyment on the rest of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was not our first Princess cruise, and we consider ourselves "savvy" as to the ins and outs of cruising. We started our 8-day cruisetour in Fairbanks with the first hiccup occurring right off the plane. We were a day early, ... Read More
This was not our first Princess cruise, and we consider ourselves "savvy" as to the ins and outs of cruising. We started our 8-day cruisetour in Fairbanks with the first hiccup occurring right off the plane. We were a day early, and the Princess rep. was unable to provide our Welcome packets, as they were at the Princess Fairbanks Lodge. She wrote our names down, and told us that we could collect our packets at the Lodge, assuring us the packets would not be sent back to the airport. We arrive at the Lodge only to learn that our Packets were sent back to the airport. The packets never did arrive, so they had to re-print new ones-they forgot our meal vouchers. Our group was small enough that this was not a problem. Most of the land tour was seamless, except that my DH got sick at Denali. No problem, it was not Noro. Our guide, Jack Curtiss was very attentive and concerned that he would be well enough to travel; he was. Boarding the ship at Whittier was an interesting experience. The bus was boarded by a woman reminding me of a prison matron; she was wearing a Princess name tag. We got no welcome, and were given explicit instruction as to what we were to do next without the opportunity to ask questions. We got on the ship in less than 20 mins. start to finish with no further contract with the matron. First impression was not good. Once on board, we were offered the Maitre D wine tasting no less than nine times in the first hour and a half. While having lunch in the Horizon, we were asked by a staff member if we "want some coffee card". I am beginning to re-think the Princess experience where the staff have become carnival hawkers. I do not want to be sold anything after paying almost $12,000.00 for my vacation, and I did not appreciate the in-you-face sales pitches during the boarding period. Overall, the cruise was very nice, the weather could have been better. Three weeks of rain every single day. One comment I have is to the disorganization experienced on the ship. No one seemed to have their"act" together as to being consistent with instruction, etc. The usual precision with which excursions are handled was totally off. The Princess Theater was our meeting place, and only one staff person was there to organize tours and passengers. She was not prepared to seat us nor did she have her signs arranged for the different tours. It was quite the gaggle. The "our last Alaska Cruise for the season" should not be offered as as an excuse for anything. All passengers deserve a consistently good experience be it the first or last. I noticed subtle changes throughout the cruise as to the quality of the on board experience. As I mentioned previously, the sales pitches are way over the top. The Pub lunches were a HUGE disappointment. No bangers and mash, no ploughman's lunch. Instead it was a deep fried and greasy disappointment with fish and chips and "prawns" and chips, Scotch Eggs and chicken curry. The cruise director was MIA most of the time, and the entertainment and activities were mundane. Thank goodness we had excursions at port to off set the lack of imagination. I think Princess needs to do some market comparisons and become a little more creative in their guest experience. As much as I enjoy Princess, I do not want to be nickel and dimed to death on my vacation. The so-called beverage package is over priced at $49/day/person. The Bayou Cafe was not worth the cover charge at $25/pp as I found it lacking imagination. I can get more than three pieces of catfish and fries for a lot less than $25.00 here at home. The Island Princess is in need of a face-lift. Our balcony door leaked and we had wet carpeting the entire time, despite off and on efforts to wet vac and fan dry it. The person who brought the fan left a mess of debris; our cabin steward thought we had made the mess! As much as I want to remain loyal to Princess, I will be looking at other lines that offer all-inclusive fares and do the math. Princess may not win. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My wife and I booked a cruise on the Island Princess as part of our 3 week vacation in Alaska. We taught it would be good to include some luxury and pampering in a more sportive and adventurous holiday. It was my 4th cruise on Princess and ... Read More
My wife and I booked a cruise on the Island Princess as part of our 3 week vacation in Alaska. We taught it would be good to include some luxury and pampering in a more sportive and adventurous holiday. It was my 4th cruise on Princess and the second time I did an Alaskan cruise with them so I taught I knew what to expect. There were more than 10 years in between my previous Alaskan cruise but the itinerary hasn't changed. (anyway not that I remember) We booked our cruise transportation from Anchorage to Whittier with ATC. They pick you up at the exact same location at the airport, around more or less the same time. Our driver was very friendly and gave lot's of information about Alaska, he even made a stop when we saw some Beluga whales. I can absolutely recommend them and they're cheaper than what you order from Princess. Boarding process was very efficient and we were on the ship in no time. What I immediately noticed was that from the moment we had 1 foot on the ship we were invited to join wine tasting ($$$), book a massage ($$$), go to a special opening of the shops ($$$), .... We felt like we walked on an Egyptian market. I had hoped to enter an oasis of luxury and tranquility but this was completely different and it ruined our first impressions. The selling practices continued the whole cruise. It seemed like there were wine tastings each and every day. I lost count how many times they asked me if I wanted to sign-up for wine tasting. In the atrium, in the dining room, at the entrance of the Horizon bar, at the entrance of the theater.... Every evening after dinner they had some special shot they tried to sell. All things that were organised from video screenings about glacier bay to vodka tastings and port talks ended with a special offer for a DVD or something else they tried to sell. And what I disliked most, you couldn't trust any of the prizes or promotions as the next day it turned out to be cheaper or the promotion that supposedly only ran for this day only was still going on 3 days later. As a last point of frustration. They used to put a napkin on your table once they had asked if you wanted something to drink to signal other waiters that you have been served. Not anymore... so now 3 or 4 different waiters will come by to ask if you need anything. Completely unnecessary and not efficient. Except for these remarks we liked our cruise. We were impressed by the food at diner time, only once we had something that was not to our taste but much more often it was above our expectations. (we always had diner in the main restaurant) For lunch we always went to the Horizon court, the grill or we took a pizza. Pizza's were really good, Horizon court was so&so. Service in the restaurant was excellent. We had a mini-suite on the dolphin deck. Our room was spacious but you shouldn't get too high expectations when you hear "suite". Except for a bath and a maybe somewhat bigger cabin there's not much "suite" to this room. I was surprised we had to ask for slippers, a bathrobe, a shower cap and even our welcome drink. I wonder if we would have gotten our welcome drink if we hadn't asked for it. As for the amenities it would be a nice gesture if they were provided in the room and you wouldn't need to ask for them. Compared with celebrity cruise's "concierge class" the mini-suite is really subpar. Our cabin steward was really helpful though. Entertainment on-board was okay. Great illusionist and nice production shows. There were always lot's of things going on, we had to plan our day carefully to be able to fit in everything we wanted to do. :-) The ships condition is OK, except for some minor issues in the room I noticed nothing that could point to wear and tear. If I'm informed correctly the ship will be in the dry dock pretty soon for 3 months so by then it will certainly be no problem anymore. Maybe they should clean the AC cause I noticed that by the time we arrived in Vancouver more than half of the ship seemed to be sneezing, coughing and so on...my wife and myself included. That was a bit of a disappointment as well. It was the first time I encountered something similar to this but it clearly showed how fast that a disease can spread on a cruise ship. Disembarkation again went very smooth. As we had no plans we were one of the last to disembark and there was no delay, we disembarked exactly as the time announced. Superb! To wrap it up: For the cruise itinerary I remain convinced that Princess or HAL are one of the best in Alaska. It's a nice ship, crew and food are really OK. My biggest disappointment was all the selling going on as well as the decline of the inclusive package. (190$ to visit the galley, are they really serious?) Princess was till today the Cruise Line I was most loyal to but I don't think you get that much in return for your loyalty. The captain's circle reception was a bit a dull experience. We had, just like everybody I think, one little bite to eat and it was tasteless. As a drink I took a cosmopolitan but I had the impression they had forgotten to put the alcohol in, it tasted like lemonade. Next cruise will probably be on Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Let me start by saying this was our second trip to Alaska, last year we went on the Carnival Miracle and had a fabulous time. We had cruised before as well on Carnvial and Royal Carribean. This trip was nice but we expected an upgraded ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was our second trip to Alaska, last year we went on the Carnival Miracle and had a fabulous time. We had cruised before as well on Carnvial and Royal Carribean. This trip was nice but we expected an upgraded experience since Princess is supposed to be a step above Carnvial. I won't discuss the weather as it will never be the same and shouldn't be a decision if you choose this cruise, it's Alaska it might be cold and rainy or you make luck out to a sunny trip. Alaska and the ports were amazing as always. This review is based on the cruise line itself and our experiences. We have severe food allergies which were handled very differently on both trips. I will share positive and negatives as well as comparing the two. Observations: The Princess ship was more elegant and refined in its design, as Carnival is much more playful and themed. We had very few children on both trips but the Princess ship had a much more mature crowd with most couples we spoke with on their 30th-50th cruise. Food was very similar quality on both ships. Carnival does has their chocolate melting cake every night which my husband missed. I enjoyed having crime brûlée every evening on Princess. Princess has the international cafe which is a nice treat. Activities throughout the day and entertainment were also similar on both lines. We really enjoyed the comedians although I think Carnvial has a better lineup. Our cabin steward did a great job and the ship was very clean. Positives: Princess had all of the NFL games on which was a huge plus for my husband on sea days. The gym was much nicer, cleaner and with newer equipment. The yoga classes were great. If you have no food allergies, the international cafe had a large assortment of pastries every morning, and treats throughout the day. We are gluten and soy free and the dining rooms had a great bread for all meals, muffins for breakfast and scones for tea time. Negatives: As I stated we have food allergies and they were not handled well on this ship. My husband has intolerance while I am anaphylactic in reaction. We let the ship know ahead of time and onboard we have multiple issues with allergens in our food. My husband was sick multiple times. We would order ahead every night to find out the next night that they hadn't been able to change a dish or they made some things that were done so poorly they were Inedible. We found for breakfast we were safer in the buffet and asking for very specific ingredients that they could cook in front of us. We did find a head waiter team about half way through the trip that seemed to care and take these issues seriously but overall it was handled very poorly. No one seemed to care was the theme. When we traveled with Carnival the customer service was outstanding. They would go above and beyond. The Princess team seemed to be there just to do there job, and not much more. I was a little disappointed at how rude some of the servers were. My husband and I were surprised to have had much better service on our past Carnival trips. We both agreed we wouldn't choose Princess over Carnival. We enjoyed ourselves but wouldn't rush back to Princess anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Background: My husband and I are in our 50s. This was our first cruise on Princess. This was our first time doing an Alaskan itinerary. We've done four Carnival cruises and seven Norwegian (NCL) cruises. We went on this cruise with ... Read More
Background: My husband and I are in our 50s. This was our first cruise on Princess. This was our first time doing an Alaskan itinerary. We've done four Carnival cruises and seven Norwegian (NCL) cruises. We went on this cruise with friends who are in their 60s. This was their first time on Princess. Pre-cruise: We flew into Anchorage the day before the cruise. We stayed at the Microtel hotel. We arrived late night and having had made prior arrangements with the hotel, they sent their shuttle van to pick us and other late-arriving hotel guests. Quick and easy. A nice way to end a l-o-n-g day of travel and get to the hotel for some much needed rest before the fun of cruising began. The hotel had a complementary breakfast buffet. Bananas, waffles, boiled eggs, cereal, oatmeal, coffee, orange juice, milk, water. Super way to start the day. We were going to walk to see the area, but quickly found the surroundings were of a neighborhood. Too far to walk to shopping or downtown, so we returned to the hotel's front desk to see about transportation to downtown Anchorage for some shopping. The nice gentleman working the desk called for a taxi to come pick us up. Later we got another taxi to return back to the hotel for getting our stuff and checking out. The taxi to downtown was approximately $13.00 and the same amount coming back to the hotel. We added a $5 tip to each trip. While downtown we popped into an information center, then walked along the street, stopping in several of the stores there. We hit the jackpot in one store because their prices were extremely good since they were having an end-of-season sale. We bought many items and, now home, wish I had purchased a few more items. I’ll have to remember this regret next time we go to Alaska in September! ;-). Transportation to Whittier (port) from Anchorage: We had made prior arrangements with the company (Alaska Cruise Transportation) to pick us up for transportation to port in Whittier. We chose the option that included a stop by a wildlife viewing area. I had never seen the majority of wildlife they have, so I was looking forward to it since it might be the only time during the trip to see some of these animals. There we saw moose, elk or caribou, musk ox, bison, eagle. The stop at the wildlife viewing area was extremely short...too short for us to see all of the animals they had and go to the restroom and get a snack. So we saw as many of the animals as we could, went to the bathroom, and got a snack. I'm glad we chose the animal stop because it was the only time we saw some of the animals during the vacation. The transportation was good, got us to port safely and on time. We'd use this company again if available and reviews were still good, but we'd skip the animal stop since we did it this time. Port and getting on ship: Whittier is an extremely small town, with not much to do or see (at least that we were able to find before the trip), so we just got on the ship once we arrived. Checking in was easy. There were two or three employees who made getting from the atrium and onto elevators a drawn out process. Soon, people ignorned the employees and went around to other elevators. Why they tried to keep a line and funnel people to certain elevators made no sense as it caused a back up of people wanting to get on and out of the area. Once we got an elevator, we quickly got up to our deck then cabin. This was our first time at being able to take our carry-on bags to our cabin immediately upon boarding and that was nice. On NCL and Carnival we had to wait for the cabins to be ready before taking our things to the cabin. Later, on the last day (disembarkation) we found out how Princess is able to accomplish this - you have to have your things - and yourself - out of the cabin by 8 a.m. That gives them the necessary time to prep the rooms for the next passengers. Early in, early out rather than what I was used to - late in, late out. Either way works for us. Ship (Crown Princess): The ship was clean and in good repair except for one area of ceiling in the Horizon Court buffet. There they must have had a leaking issue as we saw black discoloration on the ceiling, a sponge in the wooden fixture on the ceiling. We talked with one of the buffet attendants about this. A day later there was a yellow caution stand-up sign saying wet area and a bucket there. That's when we noticed the rust on the white ceiling panels. Don't know how we didn't notice the rust before then. Guess we were too focused on the discoloration and the sponge. A nice feature provided by the ship is the kiosk where you can swipe your card and get a print out of your onboard account. The kiosk was sitting outside one of the shops. It's a great way to avoid the busy times at the guest services desk. There is a variety of artwork around the ship. It made it interesting to explore. Some of the art I liked, some not-so-much. But it kept me happy and busy so no time was spent reading or doing my usual Sudoku puzzles. There are a lot of areas to sit in the sun or in the shade, depending on your mood or needs. I liked the large, tastefully decorated public areas and lounges. Some of the seating was on the smallish side for plus-sized people, but there were also settees, loveseats, and benches available in many of the venues, so finding a comfy seat isn't too difficult to do :Cool: I loved the multi-layered decking outside. It made it easy to find good viewing areas for scenery, relaxing in the shade, worshipping the sun, being in the crowd, or catching a quiet moment to yourself. The promenade deck is where you can walk around the ship on deck seven and eight. Down here you can hear the waves and get a better sense of being at sea. For such a big ship with a large passenger count, I was continually surprised at how uncrowded the ship felt and the vast amount of open area we had out on deck much of the time and in some venues many, many times. The only times and places we found it crowded are the usual - breakfast in the buffet, maybe a lunch or two in the buffet, the early performances in the theater, and some of the lectures in the theater...and of course, occasionally in different points around the decks during glacier and wildlife viewing (but people were very good about not hogging places and would view, take pictures, then move on to another spot so others could take a turn - at least in my experience). Like I said earlier, it's such a large ship so finding a good spot was pretty easy to do. I was disappointed in not finding a shuffleboard court , though. Our obstructed ocean view cabin was of nice size and well laid out. The picture window was larger than I expected it to be. We had found pictures of the ship's cabins on the internet and thought the obstructed view was okay, but in person we were happy to find the view better than expected. It was obstructed, but I didn't have to stand on tip-toes in order to see over the tender boat...so I was one VERY happy cruiser!!! The closet location was excellent - right outside the bathroom door. It was long, open, with more than enough hangers for us. Shelf storage above the hanging items (life jackets located here). Below the hanging items is ample floor area for luggage storage, shoes, and room for our small pop-up laundry hamper to sit (very convenient!). A storage cabinet with a door stood between the open closet and the bathroom. It had approximately six or seven shelves - the safe was located on one of them. The bathroom was of good size, a nice counter top to sit things on while showering and getting ready. Three small shelves along one side. A couple of glasses were on one and the other two could be used for keeping items in the bathroom, if desired. The shower, however, was dinky! It's adequate to shower in if you're small to moderately plus-size (which we are), but would not be fun if you are very plus-size or want to shave your legs while showering. Thank goodness I shaved them before the trip, and I’m old enough the hair doesn’t grow as fast anymore :D. You may end up bumping the walls, knocking yourself out, or covered in shower curtain :o. I wasn't too crazy about the placement of the wall bottles of shower gel and shampoo/conditioner - a little too low. The room wasn't too far from a set of elevators. There was a crew area across from our cabin door. There wasn't much noise coming from this area except for the last night when luggage collection was going on, but really the noise wasn't bad and didn't last too long into the night. Since it was a forward cabin, it was quite a walk to and from the buffet, but that can be a good thing :-) . Food: We ate all of our shipboard meals in the buffet this trip - excellent. We got pizza from the pizza station once - very good. They have a couple everyday selections and a third choice that changes each day. I ordered a cheeseburger, french fries, and iced tea from room service late one night - good. Hubby and I ordered a white chocolate mocha for me and a hot chocolate for him at the International Cafe - good. Lol, I had "try a Cronut" on my list of things to do on this trip, but my lazy self just never made it to I.C. early in the day to get one, so it'll be on my To-Do list on a future sailing. If I can’t wait that long, I’ve seen a poster in a Dunkin Donuts store that says they have Cronuts. The Buffet: The variety of foods available in the buffet blew me away!!!!! They had different themes each day. There was a lot of seafood available throughout the voyage. I've always been impressed with the variety and freshness of fruit available on NCL, but Princess outdid them :eek: :Cool:!!!!! Amazing. The selection of side dishes, meats, vegetables, eggs, pancakes, cheeses, breads/pastries,......Just simply amazing! There were so many dishes I'd only seen in magazines, on television, or in recipe books, but had never made or found in a restaurant to try, but they had many of the items in the buffet - so it's not too hard to guess what I did. I tried a bit of each of them :-) . Thanks to Princess for providing this unexpected happiness! Hubby and I thought the vast majority of items we tried were very good to excellent. One of the items I wasn’t too happy with was the iced tea. I’d read posts on Cruise Critic saying the iced tea on Princess wasn’t very good, but I'm pretty easy to please, in my opinion, so thought I’d be fine with it. I'd been happy with the available iced tea on Carnival (2002-2008) and NCL (2007-2013), but the iced tea on Princess wasn’t very good. In fact, it burned my throat on one occasion, and my friend said she had the same sensation on another occasion. Weird. We had a big problem with the heat in the front sections of the Horizon Court buffet. We could not sit in this area because of the heat. I think it was coming from the open kitchen area in the middle of the ship between the buffet lines. We found the back section of seating more cooler due to doors opening to the back of the ship deck helped cool this area. One note about employees we encountered in the buffets. They were the friendliest by almost always saying hello/good morning/good afternoon/ good evening when passing by each other. When entering the buffet line, greet us with a good morning/afternoon/evening, welcome, have a pleasant breakfast/lunch/dinner. Or they’d ask if they could help us find a table, or if they could carry a plate of our food to a table for us, or get us something to drink (juice, tea, coffee, water, sometimes offer to sell us bottled water), or refill our cups. Or they’d stop by our table and make observations of the day’s events, tell us about the ship, ask how our day/evening was going, ask about any plans we had for the day/evening, things to do in port, what we’d done in port, the scenery, events going on on the ship that day/evening, how their day is going, which ships and itineraries they’ve worked on previous cruises, where they’d be going after the final Alaska cruise (which turned out to be our cruise), … We really enjoyed being greeted and returning the greetings. We appreciated the offers of help at finding tables, assistance with plates, offers to bring us drinks and refilling them. Most of all, we liked the employees stopping by to converse with us about themselves/ship/itinerary/scenery/us/previous jobs, current job, ships, itineraries, future jobs, ships, itineraries. The only thing I didn’t care for was the amount of times they stopped by to offer drinks and refills. Most often there were too many stops. On rare occasions too few stops to our table. It reminded me of a restaurant chain the four of us eat at a lot back home. There are many times when the chain restaurant’s employees stop by the table too often, causing disruptions in the conversation and in eating our dinners. Then I got to thinking about the Brazilian Steakhouses or Churriscarias (sp?) on land and on Norwegian (NCL) cruise ships. In these, you are provided with a card that you turn up a certain color if you want more meat(s) right now or turn to another color if you don’t want any meat(s) right now. A card with service, please on one side and we’re fine at the moment on the other side might be a good thing to use in the Horizon Court. That way the tables not requiring drinks or refills at the moment wouldn’t be using up time the employees could be using on tables that would like drinks or refills at that time. Just a silly thought on my part... Alcoholic Beverages: I ordered a few different drinks during the cruise, with one drink being the most purchased - and purchased in many venues. The consistency of one drink varied greatly in one of the venues, and between venues. I quickly gave up ordering in the venue that had too great a consistency. Another problem across the board, no matter where I ordered a drink, was the fact way too much ice was put in the glasses. I even mentioned it to one bar tender - along with the lack of quality of the drink (way too little alcohol content, too watery taste). The drink I had so many problems with is one listed in their drink menu that can be found on tables in each venue, therefore a reciped drink of the ship’s. I expected quality and consistency with each and every one of those drinks I purchased. A shame that didn’t happen, because if inconsistency and lack of quality happened to me, it probably happened to other passengers as well. I’m sure it affected the number of drinks I ordered, and would be surprised if it didn’t affect the number ordered by anyone else if they had the same experience. I also learned quickly not to order a drink outside near a pool or hot tub. On the two occasions that I did, the drinks were not in an appropriate beverage container for the drink. I'm not into small plastic dining room cups for my alcoholic beverages. I understand the need to use plastic near pools and spas. That's fine. But give me a plastic cup (clear, preferably) of the appropriate size and shape for the drink I've ordered. We found that the drinks were in very small glasses, as compared to NCL and Carnival, and the drinks were more expensive. Not a good value! One thing we liked was that the staff were not pushy when it came to selling drinks (as they are on Carnival and NCL). If I want a drink I’ll ask or signal a server or go up to a bar, I’m happy with that, and that’s the way it was on Princess - cool! Entertainment: Hubby and I went to a couple of comedy shows featuring Carlos Oscar. - hilarious!, a couple of production shows (Blame It On The Boogie - good, Motown - okay, if I recall the names correctly) a naturalist lecture on animals found in Alaska and Canada - very good, and Libby Riddles' Iditarod (sp.?) talk - very good. Hubby and I enjoyed one night of the show band playing big band music in (I believe the venue's name was) Explorer's. We didn't stay to see them on another night for a couple of reasons (not able to find a seat and that was the venue that had the varying quality of drinks so I wanted to move on to another venue). One night they were supposed to start at an advertised time, and we were there at that time, but the band wasn’t. They were like 10 minutes late. Then they stopped at the set time to stop. Are you kidding? Show up late then don’t make up that time? And that became a sore point with us about the entertainment. All of the entertainers didn’t seem to play for very long periods of time considering how many hours there are in a day. Too many hours between live entertainment. In fact, hubby and I noticed and discussed the lack of live entertainment our first day or so on the ship. Too quiet, and not as much fun as the first day or so on all of our prior cruises. Again, I’m not too picky - really I’m not - but I didn’t care much for some of the entertainers :blush:. Some entertainment drew bigger crowds than others. Big band music (which I love, in part because it’s not as readily heard everyday) drew a smaller crowd than the 70s music show in the lounge drew - a packed house. I like 70s music, I grew up with 70s music, but I can hear that any time. Hubby and I went to the venue holding Karaoke a couple of times, mainly because of a lack of other entertainment going on, or what was going on wasn’t up to par for us or not of interest to us. We used to like Karaoke back when we sailed Carnival, but then we came to the conclusion that Karaoke was a cheap form of entertainment for the cruise line, so we aren't into it like we used to be. The first time we stayed to hear a whopping three people sing. When they weren't singing one of the Karaoke hosts sang. The second time only one person, besides one of the hosts, sang. We stayed maybe two or three minutes. The venue was large, yet very few people were in there either time when we stopped in. Spent a few minutes in a venue where the band Tons of Fun was playing. Skywalkers. Nice venue day or night. During the day is great because you have all that glass to look out at the ship and the scenery. Spent more time here during the day than during the night. Night time it's dark with dim warm white and colored lighting. There was either canned music or a DJ playing in there when I stopped by for a few minutes one night. Since I'm not into either one, I didn't stay long or come back on other evenings. Movies Under The Stars. I absolutely loved watching movies on deck on Carnival Liberty, and I still remember the movies that I watched there and when re-watching them at home, I think about sailing on the ship, watching the movies. So I was r-e-a-l-l-y looking forward to watching a movie or two during this cruise. Seemed like there was one thing or another that kept me from making it to a movie - either we were dining, or seeing a show, or I'd already seen the movie and wasn't interested in seeing it again, something else was going on, or the volume was too loud and the sound quality wasn't very good. I was determined to get to MUTS on the last night of the cruise, no matter what. The last night instead of a movie, music shows were aired. Oh well. The evening was fabulous - comfortable temperature, only a few people around, choice of chairs, so we sat there and watched a few minutes of some group I didn't know, though I think Paverotti (sp?) was to be showing. I'll just have to give it another try on a future cruise. The entertainment was [b]not[/b] up to my wishes or expectations - too much dependence on karaoke, canned music and DJs. Playing times of music too short, and there were too few sessions of them. Either too few trivia sessions - or they were held at times when other things were going on or when we were off ship, too few movies on cabin tv playing on continuous loop, too few airings of movies on MUTS (two showings seemed to coincide with dining or other entertainment going on. Movies on television played at strange times - too early, during dining, or during other entertainment, that I didn’t get to watch any of the ones I would have enjoyed watching once back in my cabin for the evening. I found a continuous loop of a movie during one of the last nights of the cruise, but unfortunately it wasn’t one of the movies I wanted to see. Casino. Spent some time here most nights playing slots. Won a bit, gave most back. The best night was a no smoking night. The place was packed with people. I've read reviews where people say no smoking nights aren't busy, well, this was not the case the no smoking night we went. Really enjoyed it. There were lots of slot machines, but not as many as on other ships/cruise lines I've sailed on before this cruise. Overall the casino seemed more open/uncrowded somehow, though the area where the slots I played a lot was a little cramped at times. Maybe due to the arrangement of machines there? Itinerary: Absolutely fabulous! The cruise started in Whittier, went to Hubbard Glacier, Margerie Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Day at Sea, ending at Vancouver. The only way to improve it would be to lengthen the stay in Ketchikan :-). Along the way we saw whales, seals, porpoises while sailing. Officers/Staff/Crew: The personnel working in the buffet were pretty attentive, almost constantly asking if they can carry something to the table for me, getting drinks, refilling drinks, asking how our day is going, how the day went, how is the cruise going, how did the cruise go, were we having a good time, did we see this, did we go to that, talking about something that would be going on on ship, talking about the scenery, the area, the towns, excursions, their jobs, ... The entry way attendant into the buffet lines almost always said good morning/evening. Almost every time we'd pass by an employee of the ship, the employee would say good morning/evening/hello. Our cabin steward took good care of our cabin, provided items we'd request (supplies, towels, sheet for the bed). He introduced himself the first day and would say hi when we'd see each other. I don't know how many cabins he had to take care of, but he seemed to always be in a hurry. Overall, there were lots of hellos, can we get you fill in the blank, can we help you fill in the blank, and general pleasantries, but there were few smiles or genuine warmth. There were a couple of exceptions, and that was refreshing - I truly enjoyed seeing these people. I wasn’t all that wowed with the cruise director or the job he did with scheduling entertainment. Too few activities/shows with too many overlaps = entertainment missed or no entertainment to be had. I’ve said and posted that if one is bored on a cruise, they had only themselves to blame for that condition, but now I may see their side of things. I truly am fairly easily to please entertainment wise (as said by many people who know me), but I struggled this time. Veterans Appreciation get together in one of the lounges one afternoon was appreciated and attended by quite a few former military people. We (Hubby and I) went with our friends (he retired from the military after 20 years and his wife). It was a nice touch by the personnel, the ship, and the cruise line that they provided champagne/sparkling wine for making toasts to the veterans, their spouses, the current military, and to those who died while serving their country. Setting Out Luggage For Pick Up On The Last Night: It was kind of confusing for us as it's done differently than we'd done on Carnival and Norwegian (NCL). Instead of putting luggage out in the hallway for collection before going to bed (or midnight) the last night, we were instructed to put luggage out in the hallway for collection following evening dinner. Disembarkation: This was different, in a way, than what we'd done before in that they provide a list of times when each color is to disembark. During the cruise a paper is given to each cabin asking what time you would like to disembark. We chose a time and way we wanted to get off the ship (late and independent, since we were going to be spending the night in Vancouver and wasn't going to be doing an excursion or airport transfer with/through the ship). Our area to wait to be called to leave the ship was in the casino. The list they provided helped us keep up with who was leaving next. Getting off the ship was easy. Finding our luggage in the port building was easy. In Summary: I had been worried about cruising on Princess but found out that I shouldn't have been afraid at all. It was somewhat more formal than some of the cruises I've been on, but it's not too hard to fit in. The majority of cruisers on this trip were in the mature category than my other cruises have had, but that could be due to time of year, itinerary, because we’ve gotten older. The itinerary was superb! And boy, did we luck out in the weather department! Only a little mist or drizzle a couple of times - once early in the morning for a very brief time then clearing up into a beautiful day, and one evening while whale watching from the front of the ship during sailing, for a little bit of time then ending. The food was of amazing variety and quality, ranging from very good to excellent (except for the iced tea :mad:). The entertainment was hit or miss - in quality, quantity, length, amount, and attendance. Our ship booked excursion - Skagway railroad and motorcoach was good (but I wouldn’t have wanted to pay more than we did for it). Personnel were attentive and did their jobs. But felt they were a little cooler than what I’ve experienced on previous voyages on other cruise lines. The ship was beautiful and interesting to explore. Just wish I’d been able to spend more time enjoying all those amazing venues and outdoor spaces. We liked everything about our cabin but the coziness of the shower (will just have to keep plugging away at the gyms or add an extra Zumba class...and remember to again shave legs before getting on the cruise ship :P). All-in-all, it was a fantastic cruise, the only negative for me was the entertainment and I know that would most likely be different on a future sailing. And there probably will be a future sailing on Princess because they have terrific looking itineraries - and that has become one of our top factors when taking a trip.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just got home from Alaskan cruise on Norwegian Sun. Loved the cruise first and foremost. Had our very first balcony cabin and now are spoiled! We really thought the ship was very nice, it is an older ship but we felt it was very clean and ... Read More
Just got home from Alaskan cruise on Norwegian Sun. Loved the cruise first and foremost. Had our very first balcony cabin and now are spoiled! We really thought the ship was very nice, it is an older ship but we felt it was very clean and well maintained. our balcony room was very spacious and out kids ocean view cabin was as well. In our cabin we had 2 separate 3 drawer dressers, also the closet had lots of room for hang up clothes. My only negative was the shower...Can you say TINY!!!!!! the dining room was beautiful , both the Seven Seas and The Four Seasons. Pros and cons of 'freestyle" cruising......loved the fact that we could go to dining room anytime and sit where we wanted with just our family. However didn't really like the fact that we didn't have the same waiter each night and the wait staff didn't do dance or sing like on other ships we've cruised on. Also the menu in both dining rooms didn't have much variety.....each night half of the menu remained the same and they added maybe 4-5 new main entrees each night and even the dessert menu remained the same with the exception of a few new each night...there was never LOBSTER on the menu or SHRIMP COCKTAIL!!!! I've been on 2 other cruise lines and they ALWAYS have lobster night. This said the food was very good , however very little variety. Loved the cruise director and the staff, everyone was very polite and friendly. When we arrived in Whittier it was pouring and , we got off our bus and had to get our luggage and give it to the cruise staff to put it on the ship. It was pouring rain and we got wet however they moved as quickly as possible and the process of getting o the ship as well as getting off the ship was very organized and smooth.. We discovered the Tappas bar up on deck 12 and loved the ceviche they served. Each day in port getting on and off the ship was great, no hold ups .We loved Alaska more then we ever dreamed.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My husband & I cruised on the July 26th sailing of the Crown Princess on the Voyage of the Glaciers southbound from Whittier to Vancouver. ABOUT US: It was my sixth or seventh cruise (I've lost track); his first. I've been ... Read More
My husband & I cruised on the July 26th sailing of the Crown Princess on the Voyage of the Glaciers southbound from Whittier to Vancouver. ABOUT US: It was my sixth or seventh cruise (I've lost track); his first. I've been on Royal Caribbean, Holland America, NCL and American Hawaii (RIP), but this was my first Princess cruise. We're in our late 20s with no kids, but we are not into partying or drinking at all. We like natural scenery, photography, eating and relaxing so we fit in well with the older crowd on Princess. PRE-CRUISE: We did a week in Alaska before the cruise that we arranged independently. We flew into Anchorage, did a day trip to Katmai National Park for brown bear viewing at Brooks Falls, drove to Denali National Park where we took the shuttle bus to Wonder Lake, and then drove to Seward where we explored the Kenai peninsula and Kenai Fjords National Park by kayaking to Aialik Glacier and hiking the Harding Icefield trail. Then we drove to Whittier, returned our car and got on the ship. Our first week in Alaska was spectacular but very hectic and we booked the cruise for two main reasons: 1) to see Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and 2) to relax and have a "vacation to recover from the vacation" after our very busy first week. I booked the cruise about 6 months out, and the price fell quite a bit after I booked it (steadily, not all at once). I kept calling Princess and they kept giving me price adjustments to the lower fare, even though sometimes the lower fares were advertised as "new bookings only." This was hugely appreciated and definitely started off our cruise on the right foot with very positive feelings about Princess. I highly recommend checking the price after booking but before final payment and asking for a price adjustment if it drops. FOOD: Overall, I thought the food was satisfactory but not outstanding, probably average or slightly better than average compared to my previous cruises. We ate dinner in the dining room every night (anytime dining) and ate breakfast and lunch in either the dining room or the buffets (there are two, both on the Lido deck – the traditional Horizon and the Caribe, which serves Caribbean fare). Breakfast in the dining room was the most unimpressive meal on the ship. Eggs ordered over medium came out almost raw with the whites not cooked, hashbrowns were a quarter-size patty that tasted worse than McDonalds, etc. The breakfast buffet was the usual mid-range hotel quality, but the French toast was great and there were made-to-order eggs that I think were better than those in the dining room. Generally we preferred lunch in the dining room, but it’s not served on port days (which I found annoying) and we didn’t have time for a sit-down lunch in Glacier Bay, so we only took advantage of it a few times. I had a sole meuniere at lunch in the dining room on our last sea day that was probably the best meal I had on the ship. There’s also a poolside grill with hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and very good pizza, and the International Café is open 24/7 and has good pastries and also little sandwiches and appetizers. There’s also a British Pub Lunch on sea days, and reindeer chilli and fish chowder served on deck in Glacier Bay (both free). One thing that Princess does that is unique is that in addition to the usual appetizers, soup/salad, entrée and “always available” choices at dinner, they have two pastas – their signature fettucine alfredo and a pasta of the day – available as either appetizers or entrees every day. We are big pasta lovers and had one of these almost every day and found them to be generally very good. The dining room desserts were underwhelming but the “Love Boat” heart-shaped chocolate mousse was very good and always available. My husband had never cruised before and found the food pretty bland. We both found it amusing that they came around with fresh pepper and offered it to you no matter what you ordered – they even offered it for a Philly cheesesteak. Maybe they are trying to mask the blandness of the food. The food at the buffet for lunch was adequate, but we definitely preferred the dining room. The most annoying thing about the buffet was that it was very crowded and there wasn’t enough seating at peak times. I did like that the buffet has waiter service for drinks so you don’t have to walk around carrying heavy trays loaded with food. We never ate at any of the restaurants with an upcharge because the free food was more than satisfactory. Our first day, we went to dinner fairly early, around 6 pm and getting a table for 2 was no problem (although I found that they seemed to want to force you into sharing even when there were lots of open tables for 2 or 4 – if you want to sit alone you’ll have to be somewhat insistent about it). The second day, which was a formal night, we went around 8 pm because there was good glacier viewing until after 7, and we were told (after waiting in line for about 15 minutes) that the wait for a private table was indefinite. Since they couldn’t even quote us a time, we shared a table with 4 other people and our meal took way longer than we like. After that, we made a reservation for a private table every day. I recommend doing that. Even with a reservation, we frequently had to wait a few minutes, which was frustrating. You can only make a reservation on the day of, but we never had a problem getting a reservation even in the late afternoon. Menu and food photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/123726325@N05/sets/72157646139180645 CABIN: We had an interior cabin on the Lido deck. The cabin was big for an interior cabin and very well organized with a lot of closet space and a big (for a cruise ship) bathroom. We had closet space to hang all of our clothes up and then could stack our suitcases, which saved a lot of space. I debated getting a balcony cabin (if you’re ever going to get a balcony cabin on a cruise, Alaska seems like the place to do it) but then decided to just go with the interior cabin, partly because our first week in Alaska was very expensive and I was looking to save money and partly because I figured we’d be out on deck when there was anything scenic anyway. I really regret not getting a balcony cabin. In Alaska it’s impossible to comfortably spend hours on deck and so I would have to retreat to the room to warm up and then I’d feel like I was missing scenery, whereas if we’d had a balcony I could have mostly stayed inside but easily popped out every 10 minutes to take a photo. I highly recommend a balcony cabin if you can afford one, even though Princess’s inside cabins are very good for inside cabins. The bed was very comfortable and I slept like a baby, finally away from the bright Alaskan “night” after 8 days of very restless sleep. SERVICE: Service was very friendly but inconsistent. Our cabin steward Glenn was great, we had no complaints about him at all. He never disturbed us and whenever we returned our room was always made up. The service in the dining rooms was generally ok, but far from perfect. We got the wrong meal a couple of times and once the hot chocolate I ordered didn’t arrive until after we had eaten our food. One night I ordered tea & mignardises off the dessert menu and only got tea, no mignardises. Of course I had plenty of food, and could have gone to the buffet for additional desserts, but these little lapses in service were noticeable. My husband hates wasted food and was upset that they brought us things we didn’t order a few times and wouldn’t take them away, and they always brought more bread without asking if we wanted it. On the first formal night, the waiters were very pushy about a champagne breakfast, asking each person at our group table several times if they wanted to order it and leaving forms about it on the table, even though every single person said no the first time around. I do agree with other reviews that there was more upselling than I remember on previous cruises. SHIP: I thought the ship was beautiful and well-maintained and I do not understand comments about wear and tear showing. The piazza (atrium) area is particularly beautiful. The elevators were of course crowded, and it’s annoying that people take them down 1 floor, but that’s not the cruise line’s fault. My biggest complaint about the ship is that the Lido Deck (where 2 of the pools are) was always absolutely soaked to the point that there was sometimes standing water on the deck. I understand that Alaska is rainy, but it seemed like absolutely nothing was being done to dry the deck. Our room was on this deck and it got to the point that I couldn’t wear flip flops anywhere on the ship, because trying to get back to our room across the slippery deck in flip-flops was death defying. ACTIVITIES: We didn’t take advantage of a lot of the activities, due in part to the fact that we only had one true sea day and also the fact that they were (in my opinion) somewhat poorly scheduled. For example, on our first full day, we didn’t have scenic cruising until after 3 pm, but aside from a few naturalist talks, there wasn’t a whole lot going on during the day. They scheduled a formal night that night, which I found odd, since we didn’t leave the glacier area until around 7, meaning everybody had to get ready after the glaciers & descended on the dining rooms around 8 pm. Then there was a comedian/vocal impressionist at 10 and the Newlywed Game at 9:30 – we wanted to go to both but they conflicted and we went to the comedian since we were still eating at 9:30 (on previous cruises I’ve done, the Newlywed Game is a daytime activity that doesn’t conflict with shows/dinner). There were no poolside/on deck activities but that makes sense because it’s Alaska. Perhaps due to the limited number of activities, there were very few onboard announcements, which was nice. The comedian/vocal impressionist was decent, although a lot of his impressions seemed to go over the heads of people under the age of 60. There was another comedian who did two shows; he was pretty funny and his two shows are different so it’s worth going to both. Note that his act is audience-participatory, so if you come late or sit up front beware you may be part of the act. We went to a production show on the final night, and it was ok but not amazing. EMBARKATION/SAILAWAY: We were at the cruise terminal by 11:30 and were disappointed when they announced they would not begin checking people in until 1 pm. However, they started checking people in shortly after noon and we were on the ship by 12:30. Overall, embarkation was very smooth. We went straight to the dining room and had a nice, relaxed lunch – I love that the dining room is open for lunch on embarkation day. Our stateroom was ready as soon as we got onboard, which was great. Luggage arrived around 4 pm. We were supposed to sail at 8 pm. We ended up being quite delayed (they said because they were still loading luggage, although I heard later in the week that there were some late-arriving passengers) and we did not sail until almost 10 pm. This was a little frustrating because there was good scenery for at least an hour after sailaway and possibly longer. As it was, we went to bed around 11 pm, which was later than we wanted, and we still felt like we might have missed some scenery. HUBBARD GLACIER: We lucked out with weather at Hubbard Glacier. It was overcast and drizzly as we entered Yakutat Bay but by the time we reached the glacier it was partly sunny and a balmy (for Alaska) 60 degrees. Thanks to the lack of fog and ice in front of the glacier, we got incredibly close to it (closer than any ship this season, they said) and watched it calve over and over again for more than an hour. I think it was calving about once a minute on average. Hubbard is the largest tidewater glacier in N. America (6 miles across and 76 miles long) and incredibly active. It was spectacular and definitely the highlight of our cruise. I did find it pretty annoying that the ship’s photographers came around bugging you to take a photo on the glacier days. It’s fine at dinner, where people can decline if they’re not interested, but when you’re standing on the deck with a huge camera pointed at the glacier, trying to capture a calving, it’s pretty distracting to have the ship’s photographers repeatedly tapping you on the shoulder, “Turn around for a photo with the glacier, ma’am!” I’m trying to TAKE a photo of the glacier, thank you very much. Perhaps thanks to the large number of people with balcony cabins, the decks were fairly uncrowded and it was easy to move around to different places, you didn’t have to stake out a spot. Since there was nothing going on scenery-wise until after 3 pm, I went to a naturalist talk in the morning – I found her talk fairly slow-paced and repetitive but her on deck commentary about the glaciers & wildlife was adequate (certainly better than the Glacier Bay park rangers the following day). GLACIER BAY: Glacier Bay was honestly a pretty big letdown after the spectacular Hubbard Glacier (and our pre-cruise trip, which included hiking and kayaking to glaciers). We did get closer to these glaciers than we did to Hubbard (1/4 mile) but we got plenty close enough to Hubbard. These glaciers didn’t calve nearly as much – Margerie calved a handful of times in an hour and I didn’t see Lamplugh calve at all - compared to Hubbard, which seemed to be calving every minute or two. The weather also didn’t help – it was partly sunny and about 60 in Hubbard, and raining and around 50 in Glacier Bay. The commentary from the park rangers was absolutely terrible, I thought. They went on and on again about the same scripted factoids but failed to point out anything that was actually of interest. At one point the ranger casually said, “As you can tell from the bear on the shore, this area is rich in wildlife…” Seriously? You can tell us 852 times why glacial ice is blue, but you see a BEAR and you mention it ONCE, casually, without telling anyone where it is? The ranger was particularly annoying, going on and on about what a peaceful, undisturbed wild place this is (it would have been a lot more peaceful if she would have shut up) and telling a long, boring story about her own kayaking trip where she saw humpback whales and bears, the only point of which seemed to be to make us feel bad about all the wildlife we weren’t seeing. (Jokes about the rangers’ repetitive commentary were the funniest part of the comedian’s act that night.) SKAGWAY: We booked a tour to the Yukon through Frontier Excursions, not through the cruise line. We did a 3.5 hour tour called The Yukoner that went just across the border. They also offer a longer tour called Yukon Discovery that is more similar to what Princess offers, but you'll save quite a bit of money booking it directly. The longer tour goes to Emerald Lake, which would have been nice, but also includes a BBQ lunch and stops at a taxidermy museum and a dog sled farm which we not only didn't care about, we actively did not want to do (we are animal lovers & heard the dog sled farms are very depressing with dogs chained up and howling, etc). We cared about setting foot in the Yukon and good scenery/wildlife and for that the shorter, cheaper tour seemed much better. We were not expecting this scenery to be spectacular in comparison to what we saw pre-cruise and also at the glaciers, but it was disappointing even with our lowered expectations. It was overcast when we left Skagway but as soon as we set out, it started raining and very thick fog set in so we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. We skipped a whole bunch of scenic viewpoints (which was objectively the correct decision, since we couldn’t see anything, but it was still disappointing). I was really thinking the whole trip was a waste of time and money, but as we approached the Yukon the rain and heavy fog let up, and we were greeted by a beautiful cinnamon-colored black bear right by the road, whom we observed for 10 minutes or so. On the way home, the clouds cleared considerably and we saw some mildly nice scenery and stopped at the viewpoints we skipped on the way out. Still, had we not seen the bear, the trip would have been quite a disappointment, and the bear sighting of course cannot be guaranteed. I was extremely unimpressed with our guide, who didn’t spot any wildlife on her own (the bear was spotted by other people on the bus), insisted we had seen a brown bear because of its light brown coat when people on the bus, including us, pointed out that it clearly had the tall ears and short claws of a black bear and lacked the brown bear’s distinctive shoulder hump, and at one point actually started to drive the bus away from a viewpoint with two people still outside. JUNEAU: Today we went to Mendenhall Glacier (on our own, not through a Princess tour). The ship docked early (6:30 AM) and we were at the glacier before 8 AM (we had to take a cab -$40 with tip –because the Glacier Express “blue bus” does not do its first run from the cruise dock until 9 AM. We went so early because the ship naturalist said the best bear viewing was first thing in the morning. We did not see any bears when we first got there but still felt it was well worth being the first ones there because we had the beautiful glacier to ourselves. It was still beautiful later in the day, but it had lost some of its majesty when it was overrun with tourists. Even after viewing numerous tidewater glaciers and hiking the Harding Icefield Trail with great views of Exit Glacier, we still felt Mendenhall was gorgeous and very worth it. After taking a few photos, we hiked the East Glacier Trail, which was mildly scenic but nothing to write home about. We wanted to do West Glacier Trail, which is supposed to be spectacular, but the trailhead is not near the visitor center and looked to be several miles away according to the map – I think you need a car to do that one. To the left of the glacier, there’s a stream that has salmon in it in late July and August and they’ve built an elevated platform over it so people can watch the salmon and any bears that come to feed on them without any harm to bears or people. After our hike, we went back to the bear viewing area and were lucky enough to see a large male black bear (this one with a very dark black coat) fish (unsuccessfully) and then wonder around in the woods right near the platforms munching on berries and leaves. Thanks to the platforms, the bear seemed totally unconcerned with all the people trying to photograph him. We didn’t get good photos, because of the crowds and the fact that the bear was hiding behind shrubs and bushes, but it was still fun to observe him for a while. However, unlike our excursion in Skagway, where the bear was the only thing that really made it worthwhile, Mendenhall Glacier is certainly worth a visit even if you aren’t lucky enough to see a bear. We took the blue bus - $10 per person per way – back to the cruise dock. On the southbound cruise, a few hours after you sail away from Juneau, from around 7 pm to 8 pm, there’s a very good whale watching opportunity. Unlike other supposed whale watching opportunities (into and out of Glacier Bay, in Johnstone Strait, BC on our sea day), where I only saw one whale or none at all, there were TONS here – I saw probably 20-25 humpbacks over that hour, including a mom with calf and several that came very close to the boat. I think this is definitely the best whale watching opportunity of the whole week. If you want to see whales on the cruise for sure, schedule your dinner to avoid this hour. KETCHIKAN: After gloomy, overcast weather all week, we arrived in the rainiest city in Alaska to brilliant sunshine and warm (by Alaska standards) temperatures. I think it broke 70 degrees, if not, it was definitely high 60s. We didn’t have an excursion planned and unfortunately I had to do a fair amount of work, so we walked around Ketchikan a bit to the Totem Heritage Center which was mildly interesting and probably worth the $5 admission fee, and then walked along Creek Street, which is quite picturesque with brightly colored buildings on stilts (just don’t tell the people you’re showing your photos to that they were once brothels and are now extremely touristy shops). We did some shopping and then observed a harbor seal in the creek eating a salmon. We got back on the boat around 3 pm and took advantage of the nice weather by going swimming for the first time all week. The adults-only pool was freezing cold, but the other two pools were a good temperature and not too crowded. If I ever do another cold weather cruise, I’ll certainly look for a ship with an indoor swimming pool; I really missed swimming regularly. SEA DAY: I went to a culinary demonstration/galley tour in the morning. The culinary demonstration was alright, although the maitre d’hotel and head chef were a little too into their not very funny comedy routine. It was also a little horrifying to see how much butter, cream and cheese went into the mushroom risotto, a dish I make at home that can be very flavorful without butter or cream and with a much smaller amount of cheese. The galley tour was badly organized. There were hundreds of people in attendance and they led us down into the dining rooms while we waited and waited and waited…I eventually got bored and left, before we ever made it into the galley. There was a shopping event taking place in the dining room at the same time, which seemed like poor planning. The patter said we would be passing through Johnstone Strait, “one of the best places in the world to see killer whales” sometime after noon. Around noon, we went outside but couldn’t see any land at all. We frantically tried to find the naturalist or someone who could provide us more information, to no avail. We finally discovered a map outside the gift shop, which indicated that we wouldn’t get to the whales until 5:15 pm – you would think they could have provided something more detailed than “sometime after noon” or at least made an onboard announcement. We had afternoon tea in the dining room, which was fun – they serve you tea and come around with pastries, cookies and sandwiches. Around 4:45, I went out on deck to look for killer whales. Johnstone Strait is very picturesque and I saw a couple more humpbacks, but the killer whale eluded me. DISEMBARKATION: We had an early tour in Vancouver that we were supposed to check in for at 10:15 AM so we opted for walk-off disembarkation. We were assigned 7:45 AM (other walk-off times were 7:25 and 7:35), which was pretty much perfect since Princess requires you to be out of your stateroom by 8 AM. As soon as we arrived at our meeting point they made the announcement that we could disembark and we had no line getting off. This was so smooth I will never do regular disembarkation again. Plus if you walk off, you get to keep your luggage with you and don’t have to put it outside your stateroom before dinner on your final night. In Vancouver, I went whale watching with Wild Whales Vancouver, which was spectacular. We observed a pod of killer whales for an hour & the company was great – I highly recommend them if you want to see killer whales in Vancouver. For the price paid (which was less per night than most of our hotels in Alaska, and included food and transportation) I was very satisfied with the cruise, and cruising is a good way to see tidewater glaciers. I wouldn’t hesitate to take another Princess cruise if the price and itinerary were good, but I also wouldn’t seek out Princess above other lines.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Pros; Great day in Glacier Bay as we enjoyed beautiful weather and got to see both Margerie and John Hopkins Glacier. Highly recommend a balcony when on an Alaskan cruise. Coral Princess didn't seem crowded except a couple of nights ... Read More
Pros; Great day in Glacier Bay as we enjoyed beautiful weather and got to see both Margerie and John Hopkins Glacier. Highly recommend a balcony when on an Alaskan cruise. Coral Princess didn't seem crowded except a couple of nights when we tried to get into the dining room at 7 p.m. and had an hour wait I think the time in ports was pretty good so made good use of time. Embarkation went smoothly as well as getting off the ship. Overall very organized. Cabin steward did his job well though seemed less personable Some meals were quite good: my favorite was Chef's night. Servers in dining room (Bordeaux) were hit and miss. Some were wonderful. For the most part enjoyed food in the Horizon Buffet. Servers pretty prompt with serving coffee, iced tea, orange juice. Entertainment o.k. didn't spend too much time at this. Naturalist talks were nice though my husband didn't have positive feelings Ranger being on board for Glacier Bay Exercise work out area very nice. Remember to pack ear buds so you can listen to the TV while exercising. There is a plug in spot. It took me a while to find it. Cons The cons are enough that my husband doesn't plan to cruise with Princess again (our third cruise with them) Some high pressure sales techniques the first night at dinner to buy drink packages. Seemed a little misleading in how it was promoted. Since we are experienced cruisers and not big alcohol consumers we avoided alcohol package. Also can live without coke for a week so didn't go with that package. Also high pressure in the dining room to order wine for dinner. Some of the servers seemed a big miffed if we chose not too. Quality of the photo paper has gone down considerably. We didn't buy any photos because we were trying to find ways to save money. Asked for robes to be in our rooms when we filled out our preferences before the cruise. Had to ask for them again. We had trouble both with the shower and the sink in our room. The sink stopper was replaced and my husband had to make the shower work. Waited quite a while for someone to show up. We didn't use any cruise excursions as we always find them to be expensive and we needed to keep within budget. Highly recommend renting a car in both Skagway and Juneau. I can't speak to the land package offered by Princess as we did our own land tour prior to the cruise. The food could be somewhat hit and miss though overall I would say it was good. Many of the servers seemed like they were just doing their jobs but not expending any extra energy. This wasn't true of all servers. Entertainment venues were usually pretty full. I think the shows lasted about 30 minutes. Didn't like how the cigar smoke smelled from the smoking area. It wasn't contained and could smell it when we were in the area.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We are not experienced cruisers, but we are experienced world travelers. Our conclusion studying opportunities for Alaska was that there isn't much of an alternative to taking a cruise, and we booked with Norwegian partly because of ... Read More
We are not experienced cruisers, but we are experienced world travelers. Our conclusion studying opportunities for Alaska was that there isn't much of an alternative to taking a cruise, and we booked with Norwegian partly because of their combined pre-cruise package going to Denali. First .. during the entire time we were in Alaska there just perfect weather ... almost everyone exclaimed that 'it's usually not like this!" ... Our trip to Denali had spectacular views, and the entire 7 days going south from Whittier to Vancouver was also just perfect weather. It was great luck, but it also made things that might have been more irritating much less so just because it was hard not to have a good time being outside with this kind of scenery and wildlife. We had a forward cabin on deck 8, starboard side, large rectangular window. For just two, the room space was fine. We requested the beds be together (sort of a queen size bed), but since one of us sleeps in the middle, there was the uncomfortable joint where the two mattresses meet. There are lots of solutions to this, but clearly this isn't something Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) counts as a priority. I'm a good sleeper, and eventually manager with it. We thought there was plenty of closet and drawer storage space for two of us, and we are not light packers at all. We never heard the anchor drop, hardly even heard the ship ... everything was very quiet. Since our weather was always perfect, there was really never any ship movement. A note about packing ... if you enjoy having a drink in your room, or a glass of wine or a beer, be sure you bring this on at the beginning and packed in your luggage -- not in your backpack! If you can manage without the mini-bar in the fridge, ask them to remove everything ... and voila you have your own in-room fridge! It is almost impossible to bring something on once you are underway making the point calls, ... so buy what you want in Anchorage, put it safely in the luggage. Oh, and bring your own corkscrew!! The crew were always delightful .. everywhere you went, someone was smiling and saying hello. This is top to bottom ... the room steward and other staff on your floor, all the public areas, eating areas and bars .. great training and it was all well done. I give NCL kudos for that. The food was just horrible, although sometimes it rose to the level of mediocre. We found that having breakfast in the room from room service was the best option for us, and to order nothing cooked. Coffee, fruit, milk, cereal ... it was great to just be on our own schedule and not worry about a schedule. There was no charge for room service, other than a nominal tip. But the food for lunch and dinner .. it's just incredible that it could have been so uniformly bad. The best strategy for lunch is the outdoor bar b que on the pool deck. Our advice would be to always avoid all buffets anywhere on the boat other than this lunch. Of course, if your weather is bad, this might not be an option .. but ours was uniformly great, and this worked. Dinner was another story ... but first, a suggestion for couples or groups of 4. The regular dining rooms have lots of tables by a window, and if you are 2 or 4 you can always get one if you are willing to wait 10 minutes or so. We always had a window table, every time in every restaurant. Large parties .. this isn't going to work for you. More amazing about the food ... we were in Alaska .. where a large part of America's seafood is from. But in the restaurant, the salmon was either Atlantic (farmed) or, really, Norwegian (farmed). There was never Alaska crab, or halibut ... or anything. Even though it looks like the two dining rooms share the same kitchen, we found that begging for something to be cooked a certain way worked better in Seven Seas than the other dining room. Not sure why that was the case. It hardly mattered ... insipid menus, no vegetables, horrible ingredients prepared like your middle school cafeteria. It seemed to me that being on a cruise ship was just a bit expensive ... and then being fed horrible meals over and over was like a poke in the eye. (salad nicoise with canned tuna; some 'risotto' made with what had to be velvetta, and lots of it, etc. I just don't want to think about it.) Ports ... we did not book any of the NCL excursions, but always found fun things to do, even though these are mostly cruise-ship stops with not much special. At Hoonah, the small town near Icy Point Straight, we saw Eagles, an Eagle nest, and had a great lunch of fresh caught Alaska crab .. it's the first little place to eat on the road to the town. We enjoyed the view of Hubbard glacier, plenty of time to see it, and enjoyed seals, two whales, otters along the way. In Juneau, just walk to the main bus area (big letter "C" over the parking lot) and buy a ticket to the Mendenhall Glacier park ... it's $20 round trip and there was an entertaining talk both ways. At the glacier we saw spawning salmon in the stream, and enjoyed the walk to the face of the glacier, and the waterfall. That's about all the time there is in Juneau. The ride up Tracy Arm Fjord to see the Sawyer glacier was also great. (Get on the top deck, and grab a deck chair up close to the wind protector!) In Skagway we rented a car (Avis) and drove into Canada, stopping to talk walks on various trails. In Ketchikan we walked along the creek and saw more spawning salmon, went to the totem museum, had a nice dinner at Cape Fox Lodge (need reservations .. some think Bar Harbor restaurant is better .. need reservations further ahead for that), and walked around more up to boarding. We enjoyed having a drink in the observation lounge .. great windows, great drinks. The biggest negative from NCL corporate was the relentless, incessant selling. Over the loudspeakers, in the halls, it was just non-stop. What are they thinking? Have they tested this? I'm concerned that it must be working, but suspect that some genius in corporate decided that they weren't selling hard enough and they needed to up the number of contacts per day. It was just horrid, and always left a bad taste. We enjoyed the exercise room ... tried to figure when the peaks were and go other times, also liked having the whole of deck 6 as a jogging/walking track. But, overall ... we had a nice cabin, had great weather, great views of wonderful scenery. Saw wildlife, both in Denali (bears, golden eagles, foxes, caribou, moose, ptarmagan, etc), and on the ship (whales, multiple times, including Orcas, seals, otters). I didn't sign on for the food, and I learned to ignore the hawking of junk (who buys diamonds on a cruise ship?). Your mileage may vary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Our biggest motivation for this cruise was to check the #1 on my 85 year old grandmother's bucket list (who am I kidding, mine too). There were 4 of us in our party: my aunt, my psuedo aunt, my grandmother, and I. I'll break my ... Read More
Our biggest motivation for this cruise was to check the #1 on my 85 year old grandmother's bucket list (who am I kidding, mine too). There were 4 of us in our party: my aunt, my psuedo aunt, my grandmother, and I. I'll break my review into pros and cons for easy reading. Pros: -You can't help but being awestruck by the beauty of Alaska (I think everyone should aim to go there at least once in their lifetime) -the option of doing a land tour and cruise -for the most part, well organized -Blown away, that they had a LGBT event...very proud of Princess to do so -Guides on coach buses, front desk employees, waiters were fantastic -they brought on rangers to the ship which gave great narrations and discussed what we might see and the best times to look out for them -Entertainment was pretty good. Cons (need improvement): -you essentially label yourself handicapped or not handicapped (this was an issue, because my grandmother falls somewhere in the middle). By not labeling her as handicapped she was expected to walk long distances. She's almost 85 and for example on the land tour they'd book us in the farthest lodges/rooms, some with stairs. Suggested solution: Princess could perhaps offer a limited mobility option. -Communication: Communication was poor. Examples include: When I book the cruise, verbally tell me that if I book a flight it has to be at least x hour after disembarkation. I scheduled a flight 4 hours after we were to disembark, and then come to find out a week before we leave that that is not enough time, which resulted in an additional $500+ in change fees for me. Later I found this information in fine print on the Princess website. Communication about Itineraries-they give you your itinerary/room keys as you exit the coach bus and then expect that you know where you're going. The 2 minutes walking off the bus was not enough time for me to figure what I have to do, before I step off the bus in the rain. Also, on the cruise portion, they drop off schedules for the next day, late late at night while you're asleep. I wish they were earlier so you know if you should get up early in the morning for something. Instead, I missed many of the early activities. Communication amongst land tour excursion desks-In Denali, I was interested in finding an active excursion that fit in my schedule in McKinley. When asking the tour desk, they told me that each desk is pretty "localized". Also, improvement I envisioned is maybe a kiosk or something in your room that will give you your schedule AND tell you what excursions would fit the free time with descriptions. Kayaking excursion communication- They did not tell us they would give us dry bags for our things until we got there. That caused me to keep my camera back on the ship and miss out on some fantastic shots. General mistreatment of their employees: These workers work 12-16 hours a day with very limited time off. Nickel and Diming-Princess is really good at charging you for almost every little thing. OVERKILL with jewelry Would have loved a way to communicate with my family-suggest maybe onboard text messaging-meet me here. I know we used to have to plan back in pre-2000 or just miss out, but the technology is there and I feel like we missed out on some things because we were wasting our time trying to find each other. Would have loved more time in each port-sometimes 6-8 hours is really pushing it No sommelier in the dining room-DO NOT GO ON THIS CRUISELINE IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY WINE ON A CRUISE. The wine was beyond mediocre and no one could tell me a single thing about a single bottle, but I hear a "Merlot" is good. Forget it if you want a nice bottle of Bordeaux, the oldest bottle they had was a 2011. At the very least tell me a little something on the wine menu. They could at least offer some wines that have been rated. Also, if you like dark beer..DO NOT GO ON THIS CRUISELINE. Bright side is I saved a lot of money by not drinking hardly at all. Lack of attention: In the dining room, my grandmother fell on a poorly designed 1" step. The table next to the step said they've seen someone fall at least once a night. What is worse is that no one from the ship addressed the incident, only a Physician Assistant who was another guest. Way to go Princess! You should probably at least put a sign there that says watch your step. Lack of providing tools for employees: I can't tell you how many times, I would see employees struggling to do their jobs...though they always kept a smile on their face. Princess is in the dark ages as far as giving their employees tools and information for them to succeed. I would have really loved to see that they had more icebreaker events for guests to meet other guests...common interests...geographic...something..they did have the LGBT one that I was proud of Princess that they had. Would be nice if they threw in maybe 30 minutes of wifi for each guest. I couldn't contact my mom to tell her how my grandmother was doing without selling my right arm. They could have communicated how to tip extra our waiter, room attendant, for great service. And last but not least, because I know you're all wondering about the food. Food-they probably save money by people not ordering seconds or missing courses because the food just isn't worth the calories. In their defense, there were some nights, where the food was better than average but for the most part the selection and preparation were lackluster. For better food, go on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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
Princess knows how to do Alaska! We booked a 50th birthday land & cruise tour with Princess including a Penthouse suite (C408). Normally we would only have a balcony room, but thought this was a special enough occasion to splurge on a ... Read More
Princess knows how to do Alaska! We booked a 50th birthday land & cruise tour with Princess including a Penthouse suite (C408). Normally we would only have a balcony room, but thought this was a special enough occasion to splurge on a suite. It was worth it! I'll only mention the land portion briefly. We flew into Anchorage and were met by the Princess Rep and transferred to our Hotel. (Captain Cook) We transferred the next morning by bus to Princess McKinley Lodge for 1 night. We then went by rail to the Princess Denali Lodge for 2 nights. Finally we went by bus to Whittier to catch the ship. Everything was seamless and smooth. You send one bag to the ship so it never travels with you while on the land portion just meets you at the ship on cruise day. If you want more info on the land portion send me an email, mikemgt58@gmail.com. Alaska is such a scenic cruise words and pictures don't do it justice. Standing on your balcony seeing humpback whales breaching is an amazing site. Glaciers, fjords, wildlife etc was just as advertised. Be sure to bring good binoculars and a camera. I rented a nice long range lens for my trip and it was worth it. The weather was supposed to be rainy and in the 50's & 60's in Alaska during June. Well we must have won the weather lottery because it was mid to high 70's and low 80's our entire trip. They say only 30% of the visitors ever see the full Mt McKinley (Denali). We saw it, cloudless, all 4 days of our trip and no rain the entire 11 days. The ports we visited were Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, two days cruising in Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier. We were in suite C408 and it was great. The room itself was at least twice the size of a regular balcony room. The balcony had a table w 4 chairs, plus 2 lounge chairs and a small table. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub and a separate shower. There were 2 TV's in the suite with DVD player and a DVD library with lots of movies. Our Steward Arlon was great. The mini bar comes filled and is complementary the first time if you want it restocked then you pay for it. The full room service menu was great as well. They come to your room and will set it up inside or on your balcony your choice. You also get a free dinner the first or second night of your cruise in one of the specialty restaurants. Every morning you can go to Sabatini's for breakfast and a free mimosa for suite members only. We went there 3 times and really enjoyed it. There were never more than 10 or 12 people there and the staff was super attentive to our needs always. We used the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service as well. My wife did visit the lotus spa and the complimentary use of the Thermal suite and really raved about it. We traveled with my wife's sister and her husband and we all had a really great time.This was our 2nd Alaska cruise. I probably won't do it again, only because there are so many other places to visit. But I will say that its the only way to see Alaska. The land portion added so much more than just a cruise. Please feel free to email me with any questions you might have. Mikemgt58@gmail.com Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We did an Alaska Cruise tour with a balcony for my wife's 50th birthday. Her sister and brother in law traveled with us as well in a balcony room. Our 4 day land tour preceeded our 7 night cruise. We arrived in Anchorage and were met ... Read More
We did an Alaska Cruise tour with a balcony for my wife's 50th birthday. Her sister and brother in law traveled with us as well in a balcony room. Our 4 day land tour preceeded our 7 night cruise. We arrived in Anchorage and were met by a princess rep who quickly got us to our hotel (Captain Cook) We stayed in Anchorage 1 night before transferring by bus to the Princess McKinley Lodge. The next day we took a train to the Princess Denali Lodge where we stayed for 2 nights. Finally we left Denali by bus for our cruise ship. Only 30% of the people who visit Alaska see the entire mountain due to clouds and weather. We had 4 cloudless days and saw Mt McKinley all day every day we were there. Guess we won the weather lottery. It was supposed to be in the 50's and 60's with rain during June...Ha! It was in the mid to high 70's and into the 80's all 11 days of our entire trip with no rain. Guess we just got Lucky! We boarded the ship mid afternoon with no lines and went directly to our suite C408. Wow! What a great room. We were in suite C408 and it was great. The room itself was at least twice the size of a regular balcony room. The balcony had a table w 4 chairs, plus 2 lounge chairs and a small table. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub and a separate shower. There were 2 TV's in the suite with DVD player and a DVD library with lots of movies. Our Steward Arlon was great. The mini bar comes filled and is complementary the first time if you want it restocked then you pay for it. The full room service menu was great as well. They come to your room and will set it up inside or on your balcony your choice. You also get a free dinner the first or second night of your cruise in one of the specialty restaurants. Every morning you can go to Sabatini's for breakfast and a free mimosa for suite members only. We went there 3 times and really enjoyed it. There were never more than 10 or 12 people there and the staff was super attentive to our needs always. We used the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service as well. My wife did visit the lotus spa and the complimentary use of the Thermal suite and really raved about it. The Diamond Princess was a fun ship to spend a week in Alaska on board. Meals in the dining room were good not great, but the service more than made up for any shortcomings. The buffet was actually pretty good although we only ate there twice. The grill had good burgers and the pizza was also very good. We had 3 ports, Juneau, SKagway and ketchikan along with cruising 2 days in Hubbard glacier and Glacier Bay. The scenery in Alaska and the inside passage is 2nd to none! The glaciers, fjords, wildlife, humpback whales breaching etc, its right out of National Geographic or Travel Channel. We did the main show most evenings and it was ok. 2 or 3 variety type shows with dancing and singing etc. The comedian "Sarge"was very good. The other venues were solid. We really enjoyed Skywalkers lounge at the back and very top of the ship. It was great to have a ship with a full wrap around promenade deck for strolling around the ship. This was our 2nd cruise to Alaska and the additional land portion made it all worth it. Princess knows how to do Alaska! Seamless movement from each hotel. Luggage always arrived in a timely manner. You pack one bag the first night and they take it to the ship so you never have to worry about that one. The others travel with you and meet you at the hotel each night. You never check into a room, they just hand you an envelope with you room key and itinerary as you depart the bus or train.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013

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