11 Whittier Princess Crown Princess Cruise Reviews

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
We'll I think the weather help on this cruise, sunny on most days and hardly a drop of rain. We had a 9:30 am from Ord direct to ANC that landed at 1:30 a little wait for the shuttle and a 1.5 hr ride we were on and in our room by ... Read More
We'll I think the weather help on this cruise, sunny on most days and hardly a drop of rain. We had a 9:30 am from Ord direct to ANC that landed at 1:30 a little wait for the shuttle and a 1.5 hr ride we were on and in our room by 5pm. Getting on the the ship was pretty quick. The ship was very clean and spotless and room C210 had a nice oversized balcony. There is plenty of hangers and closet space. Too many bars to choose from, but we really enjoyed drinking bloody Mary's in Skywalkers. Every once in awhile we go up a deck to take a look at the Glaciers from there. The food was very good in the main dining room, the buffet was not very enjoyable. We only at there twice for breakfast because either we over slept or had to eat very early to get off the ship. As a Chicago pizza snob the pizza served is too greasy and the cheese a low grade mozzarella. Burgers and hot dogs served were ok. My only complaints. We booked The extrusions on our own. The highlight of the trip was with Orca in Juneau. We saw so many humpbacks and seal ions, and eagles picking fish out of the water. We also rode a bus all the way to Emerald Lake and the train back to Skagway. We would be happy to go back on Princess.   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
You would think that after paying over $10k for an Alaska CruiseTour that you should not have to pay extra to get a soda with your meal or have to spend $29 for a soda card, but not here. For "your convenience" they charge $11.50 ... Read More
You would think that after paying over $10k for an Alaska CruiseTour that you should not have to pay extra to get a soda with your meal or have to spend $29 for a soda card, but not here. For "your convenience" they charge $11.50 per person (children included) per day for tips for the room stewart and serving staff. This works out to a total "take" of $250k. If this was shared among the entire 1200 person crew (which it is not), each one gets a $200 "tip" per week. Then they say that if you wanted to put a little extra in an envelope for someone you should. They are always trying to sell you something, from art auctions to the constant push to buy jewelry. The seating and space in general around the central "piazza" is limited and then they have tables of junk (jewelry, t-shirts etc) for sale taking up the isles. These ships were designed for cruising in the warmer climates where many people can sit outside and around the pool. This is not an option when the temperature is 50 degrees with fog or a cold rain (typical Alaska). That is when you discover that the ship is sorely lacking in comfortable quiet public space (that is not in a bar!) to just sit an relax, watch the scenery or read a book. The rear portion of the ship experienced a constant vibration, even when in port. This, combined with the rolling of the ship when at sea, was accentuated by the 15th level aft location of the Horizon Buffet. We left a plate full of breakfast and never returned.The "anytime" dining rooms are located further forward and on the 5th and 6th level did not have as much of a problem, However, sit-down breakfast was limited to one dining room and closed at 9:30 AM, even when at sea when you might just want to sleep-in. The staff, while very courteous, was not very fluent in English, which made getting your request correct difficult. As you may guess, we did not enjoy cruising and will NEVER cruise again. 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
Given 3 weeks notice to book a lifelong dream of cruising Alaska, we made the best of it. We left our 3 children at home with the grandparents, and had a much deserved getaway, adults only, to Alaska. We flew from Florida the day before, ... Read More
Given 3 weeks notice to book a lifelong dream of cruising Alaska, we made the best of it. We left our 3 children at home with the grandparents, and had a much deserved getaway, adults only, to Alaska. We flew from Florida the day before, and spent the night in Anchorage which was expensive. We then took a Princess charter bus to Whittier, where we walked off the bus, walked into the terminal which was empty, and walked right on to the ship. It was the easiest embarkation we ever experienced. The food was typical buffet food. They do offer several varieties for each meal, however it seemed just average. The ship itself, seemed to be in nice condition. My thoughts are Princess attracts the elderly crowd, as the entertainment was geared for the elderly. I think the average age was in their 70-80's. We found the pizza on the pool deck to be very good, and found ourselves there almost every day for lunch, after walking through the buffet.The comedy show was the best show we saw on this trip. He was funny, and picked on anyone walking in late or anyone sitting up front. We had late dinner, which was recommended to me, so we could enjoy each port without having to rush back for dinner. This was a great tip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Every guest had access to our balcony from a large observation deck that obstructed our view. Very disappointing especially going through the glaciers. We were never notified about this in advance. We saved a lot of money to have a suite. ... Read More
Every guest had access to our balcony from a large observation deck that obstructed our view. Very disappointing especially going through the glaciers. We were never notified about this in advance. We saved a lot of money to have a suite. People on the observation could look into our bedroom and living area. The only privacy we had was to keep our curtains shut. When we complained we were offered a smaller room, the next day, or a bottle of wine. If we were on our balcony we could touch the people on the observation deck. They also took our cushions, from the sofa, to be refurbished because it was our rooms turn. We spent a whole day looking at a sofa with missing cushions. The Casino smoke radiated to many areas of the ship where vendors were selling jewelry & clothing. Crew members were fooling around. They were in public areas and disturbed guests especially in the Adagio Lounge, during the string quartet performances. There were also crew members conduction business in Sabitini's during breakfast. We could hear their whole conversation. The Crown Grill (Specialty Restaurant) disturbed guests, who paid extra, with loud singing (Happy Birthday). The meal was delicious. Our head server was cold and impersonal. The ass. server was wonderful. There were fifteen members in our party and the Crown Princess made special reservations for thirteen to eat at Sabitini's, another specialty restaurant. We were excluded because we had a suite and received a picture frame instead. They told us that if we returned the frame, and a voucher for a photo, we could eat with the rest of our group. Really!!!!! We took the frame and voucher down to guest services and offered to return it. Food was adequate at best. Beware, if you are thinking about a suite to ask about the privacy & safety. We only chose Princess because our friends would only go on Princess. We did an Alaskan Cruise with Celebrity and had a perfect suite with a butler....Same price. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I have been on roughly 30 cruises, this is my 10th Princess cruise and my 6th doing the inside passage....I live in Alaska so it is a very easy trip for me, and I get to see many friends in the 3 ports along the way. This is my first time ... Read More
I have been on roughly 30 cruises, this is my 10th Princess cruise and my 6th doing the inside passage....I live in Alaska so it is a very easy trip for me, and I get to see many friends in the 3 ports along the way. This is my first time on the Crown. On my New England cruise last year, I was very disappointed in the ship, the food and the staff.....so it was with a bit of trepidation that I did the passage again with Princess......This was a girl trip and a last minute trip. I had a guarantee IB inside....I was hoping for a "sweet" upgrade, however the upgrade fairy was on vacation....I had A256 and I was pleased with the location....no complaints. Rodolpho, the room steward was excellent...This ship was spic and span. I think the attitude that a ship has, starts from the top down....and it turned out to be a wonderful cruise. The upkeep of the ship was great....EVERYONE had a smile on their face and seemed to go the extra mile. The Chef was Dutch....and the food was wonderful. I had one dish that was not top notch and it was brought out again....perfect, this time....and I should have known better. Steak in the MDR is hard to do when you have 3000 people to feed. I had anytime dining which for Alaska works out much better for me as if there is something to watch, I don't want to feel like I have to leave a pod of whales to go eat.....and the light is so long, it is easy to be up late. Dined once in Sabatini's....It could not have been better, and my mother is Italian...from the North so I was brought up to appreciate the nuances on the food. The waiter was excellent. I hope he gets a promotion....I think he deserves it. Food is always a very subjective topic, and I am food oriented, having 2 chefs and a sommelier in my family. For mass produced food, it was excellent. One thing I would change.....PRINCESS....PLEASE, PLEASE, serve Alaskan Salmon in your dining rooms, especially in Alaska......PLEASE....That farmed raised stuff just doesn't cut it and it is not good for you. Entertainment was excellent....Nice to see different shows....I had stopped going, but saw that this was a different production. It was also the first time this group was on the ship...They could dance AND sing....the pianist, Don Cousins was excellent in Crooners. Sky Walkers is the place to be to see all of the scenery if you are not going to be outside. I saw several friends as well as did a few excursions this time. Libby Riddles is a wonderful person to have on board. She is inspirational and a great role model for women. Throughly enjoyed her.... In Skagway, took the fast ferry to Haines. What a charming town....Went to Steve Koschel's place and learned about the animals that he trains for films. He has filmed for PBS as well as numerous other venues and it was fascinating. Never knew that you could have a more or less friendly wolverine. Juneau went to Taku Lodge...Pricey and well worth it. The lodge is great and the food is absolutely delicious...Best salmon I have ever had, and I live here....so were the ginger cookies. Ketchikan? Went snorkeling....great tour, vastly underrated....Saw more stuff is perfectly clear water. Kelp forests are amazing as are purple starfish and thousands of Jellyfish...Equipment is top notch, and no, you are not cold...in fact you are very warm in 7mm wetsuits....Best excursion of the whole trip... My husband drove us to Whittier which is about an 1.5 hrs from my house.....On the way back, we used the ships transfer to get back to Seattle. It was a bit confusing and none knew what bus the luggage was in but it all worked out. For those people who had some mobility problems or had to carry luggage, it was a long, long, walk. All in all, this cruise brought me back to Princess....I booked another one on the Crown.....this time with my husband..... Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We have done a majority of our cruises with Princess and this was our 4th AK cruise with them. It was our second time on the Crown Princess. We did a Caribbean cruise on her in 2011 and still consider it one of the best values we've ... Read More
We have done a majority of our cruises with Princess and this was our 4th AK cruise with them. It was our second time on the Crown Princess. We did a Caribbean cruise on her in 2011 and still consider it one of the best values we've had cruising. So, we booked the Crown again for 2014. It was a totally different experience and disappointing. First, the good. The itinerary was exactly what we wanted. The weather was good, and the captain/pilot got us up close to Hubbard Glacier and the glaciers in Glacier Bay. We saw more wildlife from the ship than on three other AK cruises combined. The photo opportunities were abundant and we took full advantage. There were no rough seas the entire voyage. Other than the fact that we got lucky with the weather, the general shipboard experience was not good. The staff was perfunctorily polite and "welcome aboard" and "how are you today" are not substitutes for service. Our room steward was friendly, but did the minimum or less. Written forms that we could leave for him or take to the customer service desk were left in the "mailbox" and I had to take them down myself. The ice was not replenished unless my wife put an empty ice bucket outside our room. He seemed to manage to show up when we had the privacy sign in the lock and not when we were out and left the sign indicating the room was empty and ready to be cleaned, which was most of the day. Except for a few items the food was beyond poor. I could not finish anything I tried on the buffet and I am not a picky eater. It was evident that the food was not prepared meal to meal but prepared ahead of time and placed in cold storage to be reheated before each meal. Too often they didn't succeed in getting the food to a proper serving temperature. Where I live, the health department would shut them down for serving food that cold. These are only a few examples of what was wrong. Scrambled eggs were barely warm on the edge of the serving pan, and cold once you got beyond the first inch or so. On the German theme night the sausage was warm on the outside and cold in the middle. The hot German Potato Salad was so undercooked that the potatoes had a raw taste. The grits with cheese and bacon had no flavor indicating cheese or bacon. The fresh pineapple was only cored and sliced and the knives provided were barely could separate them from the peel. The anytime dining wasn't much better. One of our party got a piece of off tasting fish and became ill. The scallops had so much sand in them I could only eat 3 of the 6. The tenderloin was anything but tender. The lobster was undercooked and the king prawns cooked to leather. I could only eat a couple of bites of my NY Strip steak as it was so tough I couldn't cut it with the provided steak knife. The scoop ice cream appeared to be their soft serve dessert mix (lots of large ice crystals) that was placed in container and hardened. I know that a lot of people like the pizza but to me it can't compare to what we were served on the Celebrity Century. The pool side hamburgers were big but flavorless, and the available toppings were very basic. The best food on the ship was the pastries in the International Cafe. The coffee there was good too. Maybe the food would have been acceptable if my expectations hadn't been raised by my previous experience on the ship. But overall it was beyond disappointing. Because of our excursions we could only get into anytime dining venues at later hours and that limited our opportunities to take in the ship's entertainment unless we wanted to be up very late, which we didn't. We did make it a priority to see the comedian who was in the theater and not a small venue. He was OK until a couple of families arrived late and had to find seating in the front row. They tried to be polite and discreet and not interrupt the performance, but he seized on the opportunity to heckle them. It might have been OK if they had been native speakers of English, but the comedian kept pushing the issue and made it personal to the point where the father of the family got up and started shouting at the performer. This response was to tell the man that, "If you don't like it write Princess a letter. They'll show it to me and your address will be on it so I'll know where you live and can come burn your house down." Totally unacceptable and really ruined the mood for the evening after a great day of scenic cruising. By the end of the cruise I couldn't wait to get off the ship. The previous cruise on the Crown I wanted to stay forever. It is really a shame about the deterioration of food, entertainment, and service that has taken place since I last sailed on the Crown It was a cruise of extremes. Extremely good weather, itinerary, and opportunities to see things we have always wanted to see. Extremely bad food and entertainment that left a very poor impression of Princess Cruise lines. I was surprise to have read so many negative reviews of the ship before my cruise because of my prior experience. Now I know why. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
The ship and the crew were not 100 % prepared for one of their first Cruises in Alaska. We took the land tour first, seeing Mt. McKinley and Denali. For the most part that was fine, except when our luggage was unloaded from being ... Read More
The ship and the crew were not 100 % prepared for one of their first Cruises in Alaska. We took the land tour first, seeing Mt. McKinley and Denali. For the most part that was fine, except when our luggage was unloaded from being transported from Mt. McKinley Lodge to the Denali Princess Lodge, the luggage was covered in fine dust / dirt and damaged. Apparently no one had the foresight to clean out the luggage carts from last season. This happened to other travelers as well. When we arrived at Whittier on the train from Denali, we had to wait for our room keys to be handed out on the train car, even though they had been promised to us, when our passports were scanned on the Train by Princess representatives.. The stairway was at the rear of the car, but they started handing out room keys from the front of the railcar. This was a really bonehead move, somewhat like deplaning an airplane from the rear then working up to the front to First Class. Upon arrival to our cabin on the ship, we found only 2 sets of towels and a broken refrigerator . Upon calling Guest services to get a new one, they asked me to wait until the next day. Also, some elevators were reserved for transporting luggage that arrived late. In fact one Mid-Ship elevator was broken for the first 3 days. There were many questions we posed to various crew members and soon learned they didn't have many correct answers. We finally had to resort to ask the same question of multiple cruise personnel and use the consensus answer which was not always correct. The second day we needed to do laundry on deck 14. We found out the hard way that two of the four dryers would take your money, but not generate heat to dry the clothes. I reported this to guest services, who sent up TWO repair people, who put their hands in the dryer to feel if there was heat, and concluded that yes, they needed maintenance. They only had one Out of Order sign with them, so they removed an out of order sign from a broken detergent dispenser and placed it on the dryer. When I inquired as to why they didn't fix the dryer, they said they had to get an electrician. That afternoon, the ship visited the Hubbard Glacier and there was a Naturalist who was describing the sights of the Glacier. However, for anyone trying to watch the view from the Web Cam on their television sets, they were out of luck as the Webcam was covered with water and ice droplets and was totally useless. For many late risers breakfast was a journey to the Horizon food buffet. The food selection was good, but the seating inadequate. Princess had an adjoin buffet area called Caribe, but would let anyone sit there after getting their food from the Horizon buffet. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
The good: The St. Thomas suite is rather roomy and could easily accommodate six people for cocktails canapés and even dinner. The main atrium was generally well-done, and the offerings (vines) above average. Our itinerary voyage of the ... Read More
The good: The St. Thomas suite is rather roomy and could easily accommodate six people for cocktails canapés and even dinner. The main atrium was generally well-done, and the offerings (vines) above average. Our itinerary voyage of the glaciers southbound seemed to be superior to the itinerary of a number of other cruise passengers we met throughout the week at the pair of overlapping ports. Embarkation for passengers traveling in suites could not have been better- dedicated line and expedited handling. Complementary use of the thermal suites and access to the spa gym was a very nice touch reserved for suite passengers. Similarly the expanded room service affording complete menu offerings for suite passengers also proved to be valuable, as the quality of the food received from room service was superior to hash being slung in the main dining rooms. The food and service at the Crowne Grill and wheelhouse pub (although only open for lunch two of the seven days) was generally very good, the breakfast in Sabatini's for suite passengers also a very nice touch. The bad: Despite throwing the cabin steward an extra hundred beginning of the trip service was average at best. While the room was clean and well refreshed daily and ice was omnipresent, getting the correct daily menus was a challenge. Speaking of menus, food in the main dining rooms could best be described as a bland version of bland. Why in the hell a suite contains two twin beds smashed together to create a queen is beyond me. How often has a passenger(s) booked a suite and specifically requested two twin beds? Several of the other public areas of the ship or downright pathetic and included the mini golf course, arcade, boards that contained a map of the voyage were 25% map and 75% exposed plywood. The evening canapés were pathetic and when specific items were ordered (chocolate covered strawberries) and claim to have been delivered only to realize they had not the excuse became "We must of been out of those." The ugly: The spa and associated services go well beyond being a bad joke and border on the criminal. After specifically declining a number of product's my wife was still charged almost $400 for said product's. After objecting she was told that the transaction had already been completed and it was suggested she just take the product's and try to return them at a later when a "Supervisor" was on duty. This was obviously an attempt to extract as much "additional income" as humanly possible and a source of great aggravation for my wife and by extension me. On the first day of the cruise we were told that the specialty restaurants could be booked the day of and not in advance, as suite passengers we had preferred reservations and not overly concerned. Halfway through the cruise we found out that the specialty restaurants were completely booked for the remainder of the voyage, and could not accommodate any any additional reservations. Given the lackluster food options, this was particularly infuriating because in addition to the preferred reservations for suite passengers not being applicable, at no point were any of the specialty restaurants more than half full on nights that were supposedly "Sold out." Summary: Most of the other reviews about the Princess line slipping into and below mediocrity are by in large accurate. This is particularly disappointing given that we popped for a suite, as we were traveling with a group of 16 people. Our group consisted of a suite, a family suite, a mini suite, a premium balcony, and two premium Oceanview cabins. At the end of the day if you're looking for a bargain, sale with Norwegian, Carnival, or Princess. If you're looking for a better boat, service, and overall experience sail with Celebrity or Holland America. Full disclosure I am a carnival cruise stockholder Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Crown Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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