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10 Whittier to British Columbia Cruise Reviews

we were delighted when we joined the cruise in Whittier, the send-off was with fireworks and it was great to see. The sail down to Skagway was quite nice too but it was always quite misty on the shores so we were unable to see much. ... Read More
we were delighted when we joined the cruise in Whittier, the send-off was with fireworks and it was great to see. The sail down to Skagway was quite nice too but it was always quite misty on the shores so we were unable to see much. However Glacier bay was spectacular and the ship did go very slow for pictures and stuff. The activities on board were not so great, the prices of alchohol at meals and at the bar were extortionate to say the least AND this Cruse crowd DO NOT give drinks packages like other lines do so it was put up or shut up. The meals were good to start but got very samey when you got to the 3rd and 4th days. The wine at table was quite ridiculously priced so we declined as did our other 6 diners at the table. If the price for a bottle of wine at the table was reasonable then everyone could have probably bought one, but as I said the prices were extortionate therefore Princess cruises lost out big time. People always speak with their wallets if things are too dear. We decided we would go for something different one night for dinner so booked into the steak house, we enjoyed our steaks and the pudding but we did not enjoy that a surcharge of $20 per head was added on to the bill, plus we were cotracred in to pay $12 dollars per person per day for gratuities to the staff. This is not what I would call tipping for good service, it was in fact tipping for the sake of tipping and it should be stamped out. This should be left to the individual and NOT be compulsory. The 1st port we visited was skagway which was excellent, a day later we visited Juneau which also was excellent, both were wet but warmish but that did not deter from their appeal. The next stop was to be Ketchekan, but due to a Force 11 storm brewing we were told that it had been cancelled. So we had to sit, the now, Force 12 storm out aboard the ship as it grew worse and worse. It only blew itself out as we approached Vancouver. After paying our bar bill at the end, our gratuities bill was $117.90. Still a total rip-off and should be exposed so that people can choose for themselves about tipping. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Have always been with Holland America and none of these negatives exited on those cruises of 18, 28 and 10 days. THE SHIP...Very Nice FOOD..In anytime dining was lousy. One night ordered pork and sauerkraut and got sauerkraut and a ... Read More
Have always been with Holland America and none of these negatives exited on those cruises of 18, 28 and 10 days. THE SHIP...Very Nice FOOD..In anytime dining was lousy. One night ordered pork and sauerkraut and got sauerkraut and a piece of ham. Other nights food was bland at best. The folks servicing the tables were rude at best. Kept interrrupting any one talking with stupid non essential questioning......How is the meal, need anything..any coffee, everthing OK, and on and on. After 5 nights of this went to the floor above and ate in the scheduled dining room. Matre D was a pleasure. Gave us a nice table. Food was better, which I do not understand since I presume it comes from the same prep area. Service here was excellent. Went back for our last night and had the same impression. STATEROOM...very nice. Good attendent. No issues ENTERTAINMENT...Please ...no good. An illusionist doing 30 to 40 years old "stuff". The last night the crew show was good for some of the crew ..they do have talent. BUT the last segment on the last night was crude and not up to the standards I THOUGHT existed with Princess. OVERALL....Next cruise will be with Holland America. Food, Service and entertainment were top shelf at HAL. Princess has lost a prospective cruiser for the future. Its a shame since our Travel Agent recommended them. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Princess did an excellent job with the land portion of this and the arrangements. However the ship was very lacking in various ways. First, the food, I'd rather go to Red Lobster for seafood and Outback for beef than dine aboard the ... Read More
Princess did an excellent job with the land portion of this and the arrangements. However the ship was very lacking in various ways. First, the food, I'd rather go to Red Lobster for seafood and Outback for beef than dine aboard the CP, portions were small and of poor quality. Numerous passengers noted that their requests for salt free meals, Kosher, etc were not fulfilled. Many of the wait staff seemed to have only limited command of English. The entertainment was well below what I've experienced on Royal Caribbean, two nights were repeats of the previous night, one night there was nothing. The cabin had worn out pillows with no support, scratchy towels, the toilet paper was so thin I could read through it, take a roll of your own. Cabins not turned down. Very hard sell, from the time we stepped onto the gangway and got aboard the ship we had been offered three deals of one kind or another, then there was the wine tasting, cola deal, wine deal, photos, etc. The smoking lounge was located off the atrium and the stench from it was obnoxious for many feet in any direction. It's only fair to say that I'm not criticizing the personnel of the CP, they were doing their best with what they were given. I'd tell anyone going to Alaska to do the land portion with Princess and the cruise with someone else. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Being first time "big ship" cruisers, and avid travellers, we spent 2 years researching Alaska cruise info before booking our trip. So, we were able to book exactly what we wanted, and were very pleased with the size of the ... Read More
Being first time "big ship" cruisers, and avid travellers, we spent 2 years researching Alaska cruise info before booking our trip. So, we were able to book exactly what we wanted, and were very pleased with the size of the ship, layout and size of our cabin, location of our cabin, and our excursions. We booked the train from Anchorage to Whittier on our own, and were on the 9:30 am train. A pleasant ride. NOTE: most hotels offer free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and then to the train station. Don't hire a cab without checking this out. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn - which was fine. Nothing fancy, but we were there for only overnite. At the train station, we checked our bags straight through to Princess and never saw them again until we got to our cabins. When the train arrived, it was a short walk across a parking lot to the ship terminal to fill out health forms and check in. We got there around noon. Chose to walk into town to buy bottled water, and then checked in around 1:30. Our cabin was ready, and our luggage was delivered. As opposed to recent complaints I had read - we found the staff of Coral Princess to be friendly, helpful, energetic, with happy attitudes. Yes, it was hard to understand some of them, as it is an almost entirely non-American crew. Sometimes we had to ask a question repeatedly in order to understand the answer. Our cabin was clean, and our beds were comfortable -no need for the egg carton cushion. Only complaint - too few plugs that you could use because of their placement on the walls. Several of our electronics didn't fit the space specifically at the desk location. The locations behind the 2 tv's was difficult to reach.. Bring a multi-plug strip or extension cord ( I had one with me but it somehow didn't get unpacked and I thought I hadn't brought it!). Also, it was hot with the duvet. There were no other covers, and so we requested a top sheet and a blanket. Well, the top sheet was torn, and dingy, and we chose not to use it. However, the blanket came in handy to wrap around as we sat on the balcony when sailing in Glacier Bay! Also, a few extra pillows for the sofa and the bed had to be requested. All of our clothing and items had a place to be stored - and we had 4 suitcases and 2 carryon bags!!! We chose a mini-suite that had a tub/shower so that my 6'4" hubby would have room in the shower. It was really nice!! We had anytime dining and found the food to be pretty bad. Clearly the chefs were trying to prepare dishes that were too complicated to be served on such a large scale. After a couple of nites we went to the Horizon Buffet and found the food flavor and quality to be much better. Not fabulous, but better! Of course, Sabatini's and the Bayou Cafe were very good (don't get steak at Bayou Cafe - stick with Cajun dishes - poor meat grade). We had room service for breakfast 2 mornings that we were in a hurry. It was fine. Note - any beverage you buy has an add-on gratuity, so those latte's at the Patisserie not only had an added-on gratuity, but the ticket you must sign doesn't list the gratuity, yet is has a line for you to (foolishly) add gratuity). We saw a few show - they were pretty good. Not Broadway, but fine. The crew show on the 2nd to last nite was great. The naturalist, Kathy, was outstanding. After crowding on the front deck when we arrived in Glacier Bay, we chose to do the rest of our glacier viewing from our balcony. We just turned up the volume on the TV, and easily hear her narration while having space all to ourselves. Also, the Park Rangers that came on-board to narrate were terrific as well. Ports/excursions: Skagway - took the Chilkoot Charters' excursion on the train to White Pass/Yukon. Loved it - especially since on the van ride back our driver could make any stops we wanted to see sights and take photos along the way. Juneau - Harv & Marv's whale watching. Captain Sean was terrific. Saw LOTS and LOTS of humpback whales. Stopped at Mendenhall Glacier on the way back. Wish we had more time in Juneau. Ketchikan - Seawind Aviation floatplane to Misty Fjords. Pretty views. Included a stop in a beautiful cove. Smooth flying. Then on our own took the town's free shuttle to the Totem Pole Center - very interesting. Then walked back to the heart of town. We arrived in Vancouver around 6 am. Since we were staying on in Vancouver on our own for a few days, we selected a late disembarkation. We put out our bags at 10 pm the nite before. We had to vacate the cabin at 8. Went to breakfast, and then to our waiting area for our 9:50 disembarkation. It went very swiftly and smoothly. And there were a lot of Princess staff on hand to help out if needed. Our bags were waiting for us. Lucky us it was sunny and fairly warm most days. Never had rain in a port - just one afternoon at sea. All in all - a great trip!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Just got off my first princess cruise and was not impressed with the layout or the mothership's (carnival)Ideas 1st problem design ideology. . Elevator banks are limited to different floors, The front bank of elevators goes from the ... Read More
Just got off my first princess cruise and was not impressed with the layout or the mothership's (carnival)Ideas 1st problem design ideology. . Elevator banks are limited to different floors, The front bank of elevators goes from the 7th to 14 floors ,The lobby bank of elevators goes from the 5th to 8th floors then center bank goes from 2nd to 15 floor.My cabin was on the 10th floor forward... In order to reach 5 th floor dinning room I had to take two sets of elevators or walk the narrow hallways to center ship elevators (about 350')and then double back the other way. 2nd problem Casino Ideology.Carnival lets you put money into there slot machines but does not let you take it out . If you are lucky and win some money you have to insert your sail card and create a pin number along with your birthdate on the smallest keyboard at sea. It's HORRIBLE, you need reading glasses or read brile ,then wait 15 seconds, and guess what happens if you pull the card out a milli second early ..... You have to go to the cashier cage or jail as i see it to get one of the guards. The joy is G O N E ...P.S. don't leave money on "your card" pass midnight on the last night of the cruise or....it's G O N E (carnival cyberspace )I was told that this idea was for "my safety". Directive from the mothership GO CARNIVAL! Surprised Las Vegas hasn't followed that ideology. Simply trendsetting 3rd problem alcohol measuring! I don't want togo on ANY CRUISE that the bartender becomes Betty Crocker with a measuring cup. I spent $9.13 With a tip x 2 on drinks that were horrible My bartender was a chemist..... who kept on apologizing about the mothership's drink pouring rules My recommendation is to go on a celebrity cruise, where elevators go to every single floor and where alcohol pours generously,And you don't need reading glasses and a bank pin number to play the casino Slots. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
The Diamond princess was our first cruise with the princess cruise line. We were very happy with all the aspects of the cruise. We arrived in Whittier after riding the train from Denali. While the line was long, it moved well and we were ... Read More
The Diamond princess was our first cruise with the princess cruise line. We were very happy with all the aspects of the cruise. We arrived in Whittier after riding the train from Denali. While the line was long, it moved well and we were on the ship in a short period of time. We had the anytime dinning feature and enjoyed the opportunity to try the four different dining rooms. The menu in each was the same, except for the fact that a daily special was offered. This special was not on the menu and was given to you by your waiter. We enjoyed the service in the Santa Fe and Savoy the best. The food was good and well seasoned. As like any cruise you could order as many appetizers, entrees, and desserts as you wish. We had six people in our group, so dinner was always an hour and a half to two hour event. We did breakfast in the Horizon court (buffet). They had a wide selection of food from cold cereal to egg omelets to order. They offered many different fresh fruits and pastries and breads. The staff was constantly changing out the food to keep fresh items available. Each day during the lunch hours they provided a theme buffet. We found this food to be very good and fresh as well. Our only complaint was in the specialty restaurant Sterling Steak house. This cost $20 person and is noted as one of the best places to eat on the ship. I need to be very specific, the food (steak) was outstanding. The service on the other had was about as bad as I have every had at any restaurant. We were ignored for the first 25 to 30 minutes, then we almost had to beg to get our water refilled. Just a poor experience from start to finish. We had a balcony room which was so nice. They did a good job of giving each side of the ship the same equal time while viewing the glaciers. So nice to sit on your balcony and watch large chunks of ice 100's of years old fall into the sea. My wife got coffee delivered to the room each morning, always at the time she requested. Good size room and bathroom considering you are on a ship. I used the spa service every day. The steam room was always hot and the showers in the spa were well stocked and larger than the showers in the room. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful for the most part. A few crew members did not seem to know where some places where on the ship, however, for the most part they were courteous. The shows were all good, but none were outstanding. The last nigh members of the crew staff performed and they were very entertaining. The cruise director (Kelvin) and assistant (Dan) were tremendous. The games and shows they MCed were do not miss events. The under the stars movies are not to be missed. They give you blankets to keep warm. They serve warm cookies and popcorn. The drink prices were very fair, much better than RC (Royal Caribbean). Princess lets each person bring on board one bottle of alcohol. Over all we had a fantastic experience with Princess. If you are thinking about Alaska, the Diamond Princess is a great way to go. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at ... Read More
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage which was very nice, great room with views of water and town (corner room), eating at a local pub called Humpy's which now in hindsight was THE highlight of our meals in AK over all, including the cruise ship fare. Second and third nights at the McKinley Princess Lodge was just an average, boring place, including the restaurants. The uninspiring decor could have been anywhere. I did not feel as if I was in Alaska. Boring, plain rooms. In fact, I can't even recall a single detail about them. Mt McKinley showed it's face for about 20 minutes. Rain, Rain, Rain. Our first very overpriced excursion was the horseback riding trip with very, very nice wranglers and horses that were kept in really awful quickly built cover, not worthy to be called a stable. Nice new trails, but I longed for a bit of cantering and galloping as I am an experienced rider. This is ALASKA! Where are all the animals????? Saw nothing other than the horses. Next days overpriced excursion was the Devil's Canyon Jet Boat trip. Rainy, but enjoyable, very nice staff, but saw 2 bald eagles and quickly, 2 young moose running away from the rivers edge. 130 miles and WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? Ate at the 20320 restaurant twice and the staff were clearly overwhelmed and clueless asking us twice on 2 different dining occasions if we wanted anything else before the check when we hadn't even received our meals yet. Went into Talkeetna and ate at a very nice Cafe (something Brewing Company) which was delicious!!! (better than Princess food) Next two days at Denali Princess again: rain, rain, rain... and overpriced food, especially at the King Salmon restaurant with a King Salmon entree for $46-$48 which was just so-so. Ongoing disappointment, thus far with Princess and their price gouging. The Lodge was much better than McKinley in terms of ambiance and projecting that you are actually in Alaska, the river views below were lovely, but I longed to get on the ship for my very first cruise! Our "included" Denali History Tour advertised for a 6+ hr tour was just about 4 hrs and was on a cold school bus. The guide was informative, friendly & funny. Again: WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? FINALLY...ONWARD TO THE SHIP! I was excited and the 9 hr train tour to Whittier was very nice and went by quickly thanks to a nice older couple from Florida and the very knowledgeable guide on board. Our first night on board was nice and the anytime dining option chosen was fine. We were eager to sit with others at a shared table as we are friendly. Our room steward Bonifacio was very attentive and helpful from the start. No problems with him at all, exceeded my expectations here @ Princess. The Horizon food court was average to below average and we tried not to eat here much unless hurried or if only for breakfast. Food was fine for breakfast, but "eehh" for other meals, in my opinion. Fruit and desserts were always good however here. Not crazy about the main courses. As far as the Bordeax anytime dining room, the staff were good and the food was anywhere from just okay to good. Never anything great or fantastic. The room itself is quite large and well appointed. Spa services: $19 for a nail polish change!!!!! I did it as my nails were a mess after the land excursions. At home in NYC metro area, one of the priciest places in the USA, same service for $6. I pre-booked a Swedish massage for the second to last day and was happy to change it for a lower priced "special" advertised the night before. Still, I can get a better price at home. As far as all of our land excursions off the ship in Scagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, again, while they were nice and the staff were excellent and friendly, Princess prices again were overly inflated for what we actually got. Just way too over the top price wise for the actual product. Suggestion: look into booking privately to save big bucks. As we are first time cruisers, we just took the whole Princess package as we didn't know better. We spent ~ $1200 on all of our excursions above and beyond our cruise costs. I do not feel that any of them were worth that kind of money NOW IN HINDSIGHT! Another issue: the Spa staff are heavily attempting to sell, sell, sell you overpriced products you don't need or can get at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. My spouse coined the phrase "Prince-sell" cruises. The FINAL insult was the 14 hr layover in the Vancouver, BC airport to fly back to NYC on the red-eye at 11:00pm. Thankfully, Cathay Pacific was wonderful and short and sweet. Our flight on Delta to Seattle before transferring to Alaska Airlines has sworn me off Delta for life. Overall, in hindsight, I would not do the land part before the cruise as there was little of value for me. In conclusion, I feel taken advantage of by Princess with price gouging of the optional excursions and Spa services. As a now "experienced cruiser", I would pack less, (people were very informal), I would make my own land tours with a independent company ashore and probably NOT use Princess again IF we cruise again. I can't stand all the waiting around and time wasted. We travel all over, but without formal tours; I do all the planning and work and our best travel has been this way. If you are considering a trip to Alaska, there are far more superior National Parks in the USA. Yellowstone is AMAZING as are the Grand Tetons. Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are all far superior to Alaska, IMO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We have traveled extensively to fixed destinations and all-inclusive resorts and there isn't a place we wouldn't go back to. Deciding to take a cruise so that we could enjoy the Alaskan glaciers and inside passage ports was a big ... Read More
We have traveled extensively to fixed destinations and all-inclusive resorts and there isn't a place we wouldn't go back to. Deciding to take a cruise so that we could enjoy the Alaskan glaciers and inside passage ports was a big decision. Knowing many people who enjoy cruising, we decided to go ahead with a Cruise-Tour on the Diamond Princess. The tour portion was handled like clockwork by Princess, although the lodging at the Denali Princess Lodge came no where near matching the quality of the accommodations provided for us in Fairbanks and Anchorage as part of the land tour. We had an inside cabin, and there are no complaints about the size of the room or amount of storage available for luggage and personal belongings. A very nice safe was included in the room, which added peace of mind when we left valuables in the room. The cabin steward was amazing, always cheerful, welcoming, and working hard. We enjoyed the evening shows, and appreciated that all areas of the ship were clean and well-maintained. Our disappointment came first of all with the quality of the food. It was mediocre at best. We chose anytime dining, and frequented the buffet most of the time. Presentation and variety were good, but we never left saying "wow, that was delicious" or "I wish I wasn't so full so I could have more of that." Most everything was just adequate, and believe me there was always plenty of variety. It is sad to have to say that the best dessert most days was the cookies. The desserts looked inviting, but the taste never sized up as being delectable. Too much fluffy white cream layered with a variety of different flavors. The other major annoyance to us was the constant bombardment about purchasing jewelry. We had no problem with their being boutiques on board, however, the focus on "teaching" passengers how to buy gems and where to go at the ports to get the best deals. Even turning on the stateroom TV, it was hard to escape someone preaching jewelry to us. I don't know about other people, but the last thing on our minds when booking a cruise was how much jewelry we could acquire. It was disappointing to see all of the jewelry shops at the 3 ports we visited, and I suspect they had ties to the cruise ships because they couldn't sustain themselves without them. At one point I counted 6 jewelry shops in a row on one of the tiny streets in Alaska. Granted, no one made you go in them, and we didn't. But it was disappointing to see so much emphasis on spending money on jewels. Overall, we wouldn't recommend the Diamond Princess unless you prefer mediocre food and want to buy lots of jewelry. I doubt we'll ever cruise again, despite all the amazing scenery we were privileged to enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Let me start by saying we will never book our airfare through Orbitz again. We left on Monday, May 24th from Syracuse, NY. Got into Fairbanks at 12:30 their time, 4:30am Syracuse time, to find one piece of luggage missing and no welcome ... Read More
Let me start by saying we will never book our airfare through Orbitz again. We left on Monday, May 24th from Syracuse, NY. Got into Fairbanks at 12:30 their time, 4:30am Syracuse time, to find one piece of luggage missing and no welcome packet from Princess. Alaskan air was very helpful about the missing luggage, and we were reassured that our welcome packet would be waiting for us at the hotel. We had to wait an hour for transportation to our hotel, which ended up being a 5 minute ride from the airport. When we got to our hotel, we were a bit apprehensive, The Riversedge Resort looked like it had seen it's better days, but was actually quite nice. Beautiful little private cottages that were decorated well and very up-to-date. The staff bent over backwards for us and could not have been more helpful and attentive. But no welcome packet from Princess. That same morning after we had slept, the Princess rep told us that our packet was missing, nowhere to be found. So we had no tickets for our land excursions, no itinerary, nothing. The printer would not work, so they did manage to make an itinerary for us. We demanded another packet be fed-exed immediately. We did get to go on our pre-booked tours, but had to take the bus driver in with us to vouch for us. Meanwhile, our missing luggage took two days to catch up with us, the one with all of our toiletries. We didn't get it until Wednesday evening, and we were leaving for Denali in the morning. I cannot say enough about the staff at the Riversedge Resort, they were great! And new girl Elise at the Princess Desk went above and beyond to be helpful. Train ride to Denali was nice. However, the Denali Princess Lodge was very disappointing. Dated, no air-conditioning (it was 86 degrees) limited lunch venues. Had to ask for more linens and pillows from housekeeping staff that spoke very limited English. One of our excursions at Denali was great. The Black Diamond Treasure Hunt with Jason was fabulous. Five of us in an ATV off-roading through the wilderness, what a trip! The natural history tour was long, hot and our tourguide was knowledgeable, but as exciting as watching paint dry. Rail trip to Whittier was fun, but long 10 1/2 hours! We had sent one of our bags ahead to the ship. When we got to our cabin, only one piece of luggage was there, the one we had sent ahead. We checked out the ship, did the muster drill, then we back to the cabin to unpack before dinner. To our dismay, all of the clothes were wet! It was like someone had set the bag down in a puddle and the clothes had soaked up water from the bottom of the bag up. We contacted our room steward, and the pursers desk. We were extremely displeased with the lack of customer service from the pursers desk. The ships laundry was closed, unless I wanted to do it myself at the laundromat, nothing would be done until the next day. Let me see, all of our formal clothes, shoes, and other freshly laundered items now wet and smelling pretty bad. I spent the next three hours in the laundromat, missing dinner and the welcome aboard activities. The next morning our room steward took the remaining items to have them urgently dry cleaned for the first formal evening that day. The pursers desk wanted to give us complimentary future use of the laundromat. What a joke! My DH raised holy hell and they did credit us the $15 spent in the laundromat. We have been on many cruises, and we were disappointed with this ship. It was clean and efficient and the staff (for the most part) was great. But the ship itself was nothing special. We didn't take any pictures of places on the ship because they were plain. The theatre wasn't as nice as our hometown high school auditorium. The shows were very amateur, not like some on previous cruise where the entertainment was fabulous. The bands in the bars were pretty much bits and pieces of the orchestra or theatre crew. The meals at the International Dining Room were okay. I personally do not care for seafood, and there was several nights that I wished I had gone somewhere else to eat because of limited choices on the menu. Two nights I got alternate choices which were dry and tasteless. The buffet had good food and we did enjoy eating there most days. The shore excursions we chose were really enjoyable and we did have a great time on those. Our cabin was nice, and we had a lovely balcony at the back of the ship which was sheltered from the wind. Our room steward, Armando, was great. There was a large contingent of Asians on this ship. I was appalled at how rude and inconsiderate many of these people were. They would run you down to get in front of you, cut in front when waiting in line, push and shove their way onto a crowded elevator, and walk right in front of a photographer while he or she was trying to take a picture. They thought nothing of talking over a speaker, and would pretend not to understand English when addressed about it. Enough said. We were issued the wrong luggage tags for disembarkation, and it took waiting in line an hour because only one person with limited hours was available to change them. When we got to Vancouver Airport, one of our bags had been totally destroyed in handling by Princess. The rep had no more baggage forms, and gave us the back copy of someone else's with all of their contact information on it. We had to pay to have it shrink wrapped to send home. All of our luggage was lost on the trip home, and we had a call on our cell from another airline who had our baggage in Detroit wondering who we were, and why they had our luggage. United was a pain in the patooty about the luggage, but we did manage to have it delivered to our home by midnight on Sunday evening. Halfway home the car broke down and we had to have it towed. It's a really good thing that we enjoyed our trip, because with all this bad luck it could have been a disaster. Next time we will book airfare through the cruise line, but it won't be with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
WEEK PRIOR TO EMBARKATION My wife and I had spent the first five-day (Mon. through Fri.) taking the land portion of our Alaskan trip, visiting Fairbanks, Denali, and Mt. McKinley before boarding the Diamond Princess at Anchorage. After ... Read More
WEEK PRIOR TO EMBARKATION My wife and I had spent the first five-day (Mon. through Fri.) taking the land portion of our Alaskan trip, visiting Fairbanks, Denali, and Mt. McKinley before boarding the Diamond Princess at Anchorage. After staying overnight at the Captain Cook Hotel, Anchorage, we were escorted to the dock in a Princess motor coach, making one stop en route at the Native Heritage Center. EMBARKATION After arriving at the cruise ship terminal, we lined up to have our picture taken and receive our cruise card and other material before finally boarding the ship. Luggage arrived at our cabin a short time later. Dinner for the first night was only being served at the buffet (lido deck 14) and, for that reason, it was quite crowded. Pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs were also available adjacent to the buffet. Throughout the voyage, all passengers were supplied with dabs of disinfectant cleansing cream as they entered each restaurant or buffet in an effort to prevent an intestinal virus outbreak. Fortunately, it wasn't until we were returning home by plane that we met someone who had actually been affected with the virus while on board the ship. Before setting sail, everyone attended the required passenger emergency drill with our life jackets. FOOD Although we had been assigned first seating (5:45) at the Vivaldi Restaurant, we had the privilege, like everyone else, of choosing any one of the other restaurants, where we could either make reservations or take our chances. Usually, before 6, it is not necessary to make reservations. However, what is surprising to many is that all restaurants have essentially the same menu. Each restaurant can have one specialty item that is unique to that particular restaurant, with the exception of the two restaurants which have a cover charge. When we arrived on board (6 pm), we were informed that all dinners would be served in the buffet. So it was turned out to be quite crowded and somewhat hectic trying to maneuver to a table. On the second day (Mon) we ate at the Vivaldi. But on the two formal nights (Tues. and Thurs.) we elected to revisit the buffet rather than pack the obligatory formal attire. On all other nights we ate at the Vivaldi. There, my wife enjoyed the wide variety of well-prepared items that were available, while I was easily satisfied with the sirloin steak and chicken dishes, even though I must confess that their definition of medium done more closely resembles my definition of well done. On the final Friday night, they served prime rib that was mediocre in quality and doneness. On our three meals at the buffet, we were somewhat disappointed at the quality of the various offerings. Granted, there were some very interesting and tasty offerings but, on the whole, the very popular Horizon Court buffet fell well short of what we had expected, compared to other restaurants on board the Princess and other buffets where we have eaten. I tried their pizzeria twice for lunch as well as the hamburger and hot dog stand and found them both to be quite satisfactory as well as convenient. Every day, from 3:30 to 4:30, the buffet offers free vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a choice of butterscotch or chocolate fudge toppings. And this is also well attended. ENTERTAINMENT We thought the evening shows were marginal. There was a Broadway musical (Piano Man) and a mixture of other shows that seemed to draw very mixed reviews. The first show begins at 8 pm and I would strongly suggest arriving at the theater at least 20 minutes early to be assured of getting a good seat. ACTIVITIES Since this was only our second cruise and the first Princess cruise, we were astonished at the wide selection of activities. From computer lessons to dance lessons to golf lessons. Seminars, casino, art auctions, and gift shops, to name just a few. You could literally do a different activity every hour and still not do them all. At the persuasion of my wife, I decided to leave my wireless laptop at home, opting instead for one visit to the Internet cafe. Cost was 35 cents a minute with four separate terminals and usually less than ½ full. My 30-minute session cost slightly under $10. Had I taken my wireless laptop, it would have been the same cost. SERVICE Like everyone else we talked to, we felt the service offered on board was extraordinarily good. Quite often I slept until 9 am so out went the DO NOT DISTURB sign. When we returned from breakfast, the cabin was cleaned. In fact, it seemed that every time we left our room, it would be cleaned when we returned. Truly amazing the way the stateroom stewards handle their work load. Although the stateroom was small, it was certainly comfortable. Having read that there are no accessible electrical outlets, except in the bathroom, I took an outlet which screwed into one of the bedside lamps for laptop computer and recharging my cell phone. (wise decision and better than taking an extra long extension cord) Our waiter (Angel) and assistant waiter (Jimmy) worked our table (154) and one other table and were simply superb. Even the dining room captain and maitre d' would stroll by each table and briefly chat or join the two waiters in singing happy birthday or happy anniversary to some appreciative couple. EXCURSIONS In Skagway, we spent several hours visiting some of the touristy shops in town but were completely turned off by the vulture-like sales personnel who hovered over you every step. That afternoon, we took the White Pass Scenic Railway ($100 ea. 3 ½ hrs.) and were pleasantly surprised by the terrain and the history that was revealed to us as we chugged along the narrow gauge railway toward the summit. We booked our excursion when we booked the cruise but there were three trains departing at roughly the same time and each train was only about 60 percent full. So you might prefer to wait until you see what the weather is like before you purchase this particular excursion. In Juneau, we took the Mt. Roberts Tramway ($24 ea. 1 ½ hrs.) gliding 1,800 feet up the steep slope beside the cruise ship pier. At the top, on a clear day, you can see spectacular vistas and an aerial view of the Diamond Princess, anchored below. We also took one of the several walking trails going just a little further up the mountain. Afterwards, we returned to the ship to simply relax. In Ketchikan, we took the Totem and Town motor coach tour ($39 ea. 2 ½ hrs.) having a driver who made the trip both entertaining and informative with anecdotal stories galore. Because of the extreme likelihood of rain on any given day (60%), you may prefer to book your tours at the last minute rather than pay for a Princess sponsored tour. But you should plan to be back at the ship several hours before departure because the ships will not delay their departure. And to reach the ship that has already departed usually involves astronomical costs (e.g. charter air to the next port). As with Skagway, our short walk into town was met with dozens of touristy shops ready to grab your money in exchange for some cheaply made merchandise that had been imported into Alaska. So, from our standpoint, the biggest threat to the beauty of Alaska is the proliferation of merchants that now dot the main streets of these and other Alaskan ports. We had heard that it was wise to bring insect repellent because of the mosquitoes. But we actually encountered very few on this trip and never once used our repellent. DISEMBARKATION Several days before the scheduled disembarkation, we were given a form explaining the advantages of paying an extra $15 per person to receive Express Luggage transfer. We opted to pay the amount because we then wouldn't have to drag our two heavy bags through customs and into the boarding area. Princess would take full responsibility so that all we had to do was take our two small carry on bags with us. To us it seemed that Princess did such an incredible job of getting luggage picked up and delivered to the precise destination as successfully as they did. Yes, there were some reports of lost luggage. And, obviously, if this had happened to us, I'd be whistling a different tune. But when you consider the sheer volume of luggage, you can't help but be impressed! Getting through customs does take time and patience. But would it likely cause you to miss your scheduled return flight? Highly unlikely. But if you have serious reservations about this, you should definitely call the Princess Hotline 800-545-0008 since they deal with these concerns every day and certainly want to avoid having even one irate customer. What did we enjoy most about the cruise? Choosing a balcony stateroom was definitely worth the extra cost because of the spectacular views and the many opportunities it afforded to look for wildlife and whales while in the privacy of our stateroom. Secondly, the three extra excursions that we tacked onto the cruise were much more enjoyable than aimlessly wandering in and out of the many tourist traps. On the morning of our disembarkation, we received our bill for all charges that had been made using our ship card while on board, including excursions, drinks, internet cafe as well as the automatically included tips. All in all, our added expenses totaled $700.54, including $140.00 in tips ($10 per person per day). This amount was automatically charged to our credit card, giving us the benefit of Express Check Out -- like most everyone else. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006

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