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59 Whittier to Alaska Princess Diamond Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our tenth Alaska cruise. We have cruised with four different lines and this was our third with Princess. You must understand that we cruise Alaska for the scenery and the wildlife, not for the food or entertainment. And one thing ... Read More
This was our tenth Alaska cruise. We have cruised with four different lines and this was our third with Princess. You must understand that we cruise Alaska for the scenery and the wildlife, not for the food or entertainment. And one thing we have learned is that captains and naturalists do matter. The captain on the Diamond Princess is as good as we have ever had at sea. He personally spotted brown bears and mountain goats in Glacier Bay and knew just how to get the most out of the glacier viewing. You can just tell if a captain really loves Alaska and this captain does. The naturalist was, likewise, wonderful. He inspired us with his sense of wonder at what he was showing us, and he knew his stuff. I know those things don't matter to those who cruise to enjoy the great indoors inside a ship. That is not us, and I don't understand why anyone would go to Alaska just for a ship. But what of the ship? It was better than average, though not the best afloat. The food was satisfactory. Service in the restaurants did not measure up to some other ships and stateroom service was thorough and responsive. The entertainment, though, was mediocre. Thank goodnes for the scenes on the outside. The band was excellent, but two of the four singers struggled to stay on key and the production shows were high school drama department quality. There was one great entertainer--comedian "Sarge." If you are ever on a ship that features him, don't miss him! For new cruisers, it's important to be realistic. The Alaska experience hinges somewhat on the weather> Fortunately for us the weather was excellent> We had the most whale sightings we have ever had and saw a number of bears and other wildlife> Would I recommend the Diamond Princess? In a heartbeat! Take it from an old Alaska cruise veteran: you could do a lot worse than this ship and this itinerary! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was my 18th cruise and my husband's 14th. We had previously sailed on the Sapphire Princess on a similar itinerary but that didn't stop us from booking this cruise on a last minute deal. We had an obstructed ocean view ... Read More
This was my 18th cruise and my husband's 14th. We had previously sailed on the Sapphire Princess on a similar itinerary but that didn't stop us from booking this cruise on a last minute deal. We had an obstructed ocean view stateroom. We could see out the window directly in front of us but the lifeboats obscured any lateral view. We missed the wildlife that one sees from a balcony as one is just sitting there enjoying the scenery but we did enjoy fantastic scenic cruising from the open decks. Our sailaway was the worst we have ever experienced due to fog and rain. Oh well! We frequently experienced fog and rain on this cruise but it magically cleared up when we had scenic cruising scheduled and we felt we were very lucky. The glacier viewing at Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay was astounding. We saw a large number of calvings including a spectacular large one, and by Hubbard Glacier we saw many harbor seals resting on icebergs. Whale sightings were common as were sea otters, bald eagles and occasional brown bears. All of this was, as usual, a function of where one happened to be on the ship at any moment. Our excursions were on the train into the Yukon from Skagway and the Glacial View Sea Kayaking in Juneau. These are wonderful excursions for the scenery and the experiences. We didn't know in advance that we would be able to get a dog sled ride at the Michelle Phillips sled dog training facility near Carcross, Yukon Territory. The ride was on a trail rather than on snow so we did eat a fair amount of dust from the sled in front of us but we would do it again. We had a chance to pet and feed the dogs and the other animals such as goats here and we had a blast. This 15 minute ride cost us an additional $30 per person and gave us the experience we wanted without costing us an arm and a leg. During the sea kayaking we saw harbor seals come to the surface and watch us float by. Terrific! The title of glacier viewing is misleading however in that the glacier is miles away across the inlet. Our final tour was the Vancouver city tour which then took us to the airport. Again, well worth it for a quick overview of the city and Stanley Park. The production shows aboard this ship were lacking in quality. The best show was the comic Sarge--absolutely hilarious but watch out! He does make fun of just about everything and everybody. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
For the most part, it was a wonderful experience. Cherished memories. Memories made within our group. NOT because of Princess staff. The ship and offerings were beautiful and fun. The entertainment was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the movies ... Read More
For the most part, it was a wonderful experience. Cherished memories. Memories made within our group. NOT because of Princess staff. The ship and offerings were beautiful and fun. The entertainment was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the movies under the stars. Shows and movie in the Princess theater were a great way to spend the evening. Breakfast at Sabatini's was relaxing and delicious. The service was top notch it was an incredible early morning experience. In Skagway, we took the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad excursion to the top of the mountain. It was relaxing, informative, and beautiful. We took a ton of beautiful pictures. Be aware the return trip is along the same track as on the way up. You see each point of interest twice. In Juneau there was free transportation from the terminal to Wal-Mart. Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan are beautiful and friendly. We chose leisurely walk around and enjoy each port. The souvenir shopping was a lot of fun if you like little gadgets. There are lots and lots of other items to purchase. We also saw a lot of food and clothing items. With great anticipation of our adventure, I spoke with several Princess Representatives. Most of the information I received was accurate and only fueled my excitement and anticipation. I asked over several calls about the best time to arrive to meet the transfer from Anchorage airport to the cruise terminal in Whittler. (We flew in a few days prior) I wanted to limit our wait time. I was told transfers directly from the airport to the ship leave starting at noon and leave about ever 1/2 hour so there should never be much of a wait. I asked that notation be made on our reservation that we will arrive to take the noon shuttle. We arrived at the airport about 11:20 am in anticipation of catching the noon shuttle. The female was pleasant but told us we had to wait for the 1:00 pm shuttle. Of course we did...but over 1 1/2 hours waiting in the airport? Embarkation was unbelievably smooth and quick. YIPPIE. Our cabin was absolutely beautiful as we anticipated! It was fabulous and exactly what we planned as we were celebrating with our group and anticipated spending lots of time in our cabin. Our cabin steward was attentive, and wonderful. He was crucial in making our in cabin experience wonderful. Along with his normal/usual duties, Allan kept us in ice & clean glasses, helped decorate for the celebration. He made restaurants aware of the events which allowed from birthday cakes at dinner. Thank you...Thank you...Thank you Allan. We were advised the cover at two of the restaurants was waived for the first two nights. We decided not to take advantage of those offers because we chose to spend time with members of our group. It seems that privilege could/should have been available to use at our discretion at any time throughout the cruise. When making our reservations at the Sterling Steakhouse, the Matre D was incredibly rude. I asked his name, he covered his nametag and repeated his name twice very quickly. It was something like Demitri. We enjoyed our meal at the Sterling Steakhouse during our reserved time. Our server Chip and other staff were very attentive. The steaks were incredible absolutely incredible. I decided to use the automated kiosk to check the balance due. Though I followed the directions on the kiosk, no report was received. I attempted this several times, a nearby crewmember assisted with the same results. The screen was dark on the other kiosk. He directed me to an adjacent desk for assistance. At the desk I explained what happened. The female seemed unhappy because of the interruption and explained the directions for using the kiosk in less than pleasant tone. I explained again it was inoperative. She exhaled sharply before swiping my card and generating the requested report. (I learned of an error on the report which was promptly corrected by another staff member) I approached the grill at the Horizon court at the same time as a male. We both requested sandwiches. A second male arrived and placed an order for a sandwich. When the first two sandwiches were ready. The person working the grill gave the first male French fries he just removed from the fryer. He looked at me, dumped the fresh fries in the holding area, mixed them with the fries that had been there, and gave me a batch. He told the male behind me "It will be a couple of minutes for fresh fries (There were more fries in the holding area than I was given) the male behind me told him that he will wait. Our group regularly enjoyed breakfast at the Horizon buffet. The made to order omelets and fresh fruit were spectacular. Often our group would choose a table. Several individuals would visit the buffet while others waited at the table in hopes of having coffee, water and juice ready when the others returned. Rarely did we receive timely or non-requested service. It was difficult to watch other parties take their seats after us and promptly receive staff attention where they received coffee, juice or water. Often we regularly had to flag someone down for service or self-service. It was truly a disheartening experience to which we did not look forward. But we had to eat and dining options were limited. While waiting for disembarkation directions, a female announced from outside the restaurant that our group was ready to disembark. She stated, if our luggage tag was what she called to see her for directions. I approached her outside the location as directed and asked for directions/instructions. In a less than pleasant tone, she asked if my entire party was ready. I explained my partner was in the restroom and I would like to have the instructions when she is ready. The female told me to come ask her again when my party was ready. Within a couple of minutes we were ready and searched the area. The female was nowhere to be found. We disembarked following the crowd. In the terminal, it was determined we were in the incorrect location. We were directed through and around several barriers to the correct location. Once aboard the transfer our driver told us about the only woman forklift driver in the terminal. Two weeks in a row she carried and spilled cantaloupes as she drove. He ended by chuckling and telling us that she is no longer works for Princess. What was the point of the story? What was the point in telling us the driver was a woman? We were advised several times we will receive feedback forms from Princess within a couple of days of disembarkation. The importance of Princess receiving that information was emphasized No one in our group has received and such documentation. I have emailed customer service twice. Our disembarkation was Saturday August 17. Based on our overall experience, this was the last time I will look to Princess for a wonderful overall vacation experience.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We flew into Anchorage from Seattle on Alaska Airlines. It was a very early flight but we found places to be comfortable at the airport while we waited for the Princess shuttle to Whittier. We were among the first group to check in due to ... Read More
We flew into Anchorage from Seattle on Alaska Airlines. It was a very early flight but we found places to be comfortable at the airport while we waited for the Princess shuttle to Whittier. We were among the first group to check in due to our early arrival so we got the first bus to the ship. Princess has their processes at embarkation down to a science, very efficient, friendly and knowledgeable. This was my "Graduation Cruise" from Princess Academy so I had Elite status - and WOW is loyalty worth it! Princess' goal is to be the "Consummate Host" and to allow their guest to "Escape Completely" and they succeed at both! The Diamond Princess is beautiful, her staff and crew superb, the itinerary breathtaking. Skagway is what it is, mostly run by the cruise lines, but it is cute. We didn't take a shore excursion here, but enjoyed it. Juneau was lovely and Ketchikan beautiful. But the highlight was the cruising of Glacier Bay. You simply must put this on your bucket list if you've not been yet. Princess knows Alaska well and this crew, especially Captain Bilson, are true adventurers and experts. They went out of their way to call us by name, cater to our needs and give us the best service possible. We were impressed by the design of the ship, the ease of learning her layout and all of her facilities. We chose "Any Time" dining and ate in all of the available dining rooms. They were all beautiful and their "Signature" dishes were excellent. In fact all of the food was excellent. We enjoyed the Horizon Court, and even the service there was impeccable, as it was in all of the dining rooms. Even though we didn't have assigned wait staff, they went out of their way to be sure we got what we wanted and enjoyed it. Above and beyond was every service we received! I had a Manicure, Pedicure and Facial in the Spa - all excellent. No pushy sales pitches, but knowledgeable technicians. My hubby enjoyed the fitness facilities while I was there, he was also impressed and enjoyed his time. Our cabin steward, Jean Luc, was THE BEST we've ever had and pampered us to no end. Even the shows and entertainment were excellent. The Singers and Dance troupe professional and exciting. The lounge pianist/singer was fun and professional and the Elton John tribute performer was terrific. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We are in our mid-50's and have cruised before. We like longer cruises but enjoy variety. So we booked two cruises, first Anchorage-Vancouver on the Diamond Princess, then one night in Vancouver, then back to Anchorage on the Holland ... Read More
We are in our mid-50's and have cruised before. We like longer cruises but enjoy variety. So we booked two cruises, first Anchorage-Vancouver on the Diamond Princess, then one night in Vancouver, then back to Anchorage on the Holland Zaandam. We chose the Zaandam last primarily because we wanted to end in Seward instead of Whittier. Before leaving, we purchased a Northern Lights coupon book. Toursavers is very similar. I highly recommend checking them out. We saved hundreds. In our short time in Anchorage we enjoyed watching the sea planes from the patio of the "Fancy Moose" (at the Millennium hotel). We really liked the Alaskan Native Heritage Center (coupon). We stayed at the Alaskan Frontier Gardens B&B which was good. Renting a car at the airport was a snap. We used Anchorage Tours and Transfers to travel from Anchorage to Whittier. With the NL coupon it was a great deal, and our driver was a teacher at the University of Alaska. She was adept at managing a group and could make complicated information both interesting and understandable. We enjoyed her as much as any tour guide we've had! Embarkation in Whittier was quick and easy. Our Princess ocean-view cabin was small and obstructed, but we could see quite a lot and were glad we'd gotten the window. With the arrangement of the room, the window would have been much more useable if the beds were left as two twins. Something we really appreciated about Princess (over Holland) was the presence of a Naturalist onboard. He maybe wasn't the best speaker, but he had some interesting talks. He also would announce in the hallways and public areas when wildlife had been spotted so everyone could go take a look. Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay were spectacular. Many people commented about our captain's ability to bring the ship up really close to the glaciers, and he did not disappoint. Glacier Bay on the Diamond was a highlight of our cruises! In Skagway, we rented a car through Avis rather than take the train. We had no problems and enjoyed the drive, but being from Colorado, it wasn't as spectacular as we'd hoped. People who took the train told us it got a little long. We had a beer at the famed Red Onion afterward. (The second time in Skagway, we took the ferry to Haines, rented a car, and went to Kroschel's wildlife center. It was a unique and wonderful experience! Princess offers this as an excursion, and I'd definitely recommend it over the train. If you don't use Princess to book, you need to make reservations well in advance for the ferry, the car, and Kroschels.) In Juneau, we went fishing with another family on Wolverine Charters. The captain, Jim Lewis, was wonderful. A retired teacher, he was personable and able to relate to adults as well as the child onboard. His boat and equipment were well kept and clean. (The second time we were in Juneau we rented a car and went to Mendenhall and other sites. Be sure to walk to Nugget Falls if you can handle a couple of miles.) In Ketchikan, we first went to the Lumberjack show. It's cheesey but lots of fun for all ages. Tickets were the same price from the ship in advance as waiting in line for what's left over. In the afternoon we did the Bering Sea Crab Fishing tour. Incredible!!! We booked independently and saved a few dollars compared to the identical tour with princess. It boards literally at the bottom of the gangway, so no transportation is required. You'll see a better eagle show on this excursion than anywhere else. Out of all the excursions we've done, anywhere, this is one of the most memorable! (The second time in Ketchikan we went on the Misty Fjords Flight seeing with Island Wings, booked independently. Also highly recommend!) Disembarkation was a snap. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which is walkable but uphill from Canada place. The Vancouver Trolley Hop-On-Hop-Off was an easy way to see the city. We enjoyed walking in Stanley park, the seawall near Canada Place, and Granville Island. The very best thing we did was take the shuttle out to the Suspension Bridge Park in the morning before embarking on the Holland Zaandam that afternoon. The customs line on the American side in Vancouver can be very, very long. After our week on the Princess Diamond, we boarded the Holland Zaandam and cruised back north, ending in Seward. There we went to Exit Glacier. We used our NL coupons for the Major Marine dinner cruise, which was nice even though we didn't see much wildlife. We went on a float trip down the Kenai out of Cooper Landing with River Drifters (coupon) that was very pleasant. Our only negative experience was a beginners kayaking trip out of Miller's Landing near Seward. We got a newbie guide. Not good, although it seemed like groups with other guides fared better. A real highlight of our trip was the Northwestern Fjords 9 hour trip with Kenai Fjords Tours (coupon). It was absolutely incredible!!! We had an outstanding captain who knew when to turn the motors off and let you enjoy the "national geographic worthy" whale shows and calving glaciers in quiet! We'd go again in a heartbeat! Overall, we really enjoyed the Princess Diamond, much better than Holland Zaandam. The whole tone of the Diamond was upbeat. There are several dining rooms for any-time dining, and though the menus are the same and equally delicious, we enjoyed the variety. The buffet was good. The singers and dancers were a bit disappointing, but at least their last show was very good. There was a good comedian one night. Service was great. The public spaces in the ship are beautiful, varied, clean, and offer something for everyone. The captain was outstanding. We would look forward to cruising on the Diamond again.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment ... Read More
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment (save for one) and would do the entire trip again beginning to end. The aft suite was incredible - and we enjoyed the various perks that came with it. Because we had done a land tour, having the free laundry service was fantastic. Being able to order room service off the main dining room menus was a huge perk. This allowed us to keep our eyes glued on the phenomenal scenery. Having a suite overlooking the wake was just lovely. It wasn't loud and could only be heard if you opened the balcony doors. And even moving at a speedy for a cruise ship 22 knots, we could talk quietly on our deck and easily hear each other. We felt we had a private box and the best seats in the house during the scenic cruising and traveling the inner passage. Whales and porpoise were easily spotted playing in the wake. Our room steward, May, was a delight and really made our stay special. Our room was always spotlessly clean and she anticipated every need. One morning we passed May in the hallway and mentioned we were planning to walk around Ketchikan and skip our planned excursion. When we got back from breakfast, two umbrellas were waiting for us. She was like a friendly ghost - we never saw her come or go but we knew she had been there from all the little things she did. If we could request May with our next cruise, we would. We didn't partake in any scheduled activities or entertainment on board. Sitting in a theater watching a show seemed silly when the real show was happening all around us 24/7 courtesy of Alaska! We chose Anytime Dining which was very convenient for us. We only ate in 2 of the main dining rooms (Santa Fe and Savoy). The food was good, service was good, decor was good. Not a lot of window seating which made this style of eating less interesting for us. Main dining room food, whether delivered to our room or served in the dining room, was 3 to 4 star caliber. We ate at both Sabatani's and the Sterling Steakhouse. We opted for Sabatini's while for dinner the first night of the cruise as the extra fee is waived on this night for suite passengers. Easily 4 to 5 star dining from the caliber of the food to the amazing wait staff. This was the best way to start our cruise. We checked out Sterling Steakhouse and because it had huge windows and generous window seating, we decided we would eat here on our final cruising day. Sterling easily compared to Capital Grille, Morton's or Ruth's Chris. We did eat at the Horizon Court buffet a few times for lunch or to grab a quick snack. 3 star caliber food. It was a buffet - Nothing to write home about. I will say that the wait staff here was quick to get drinks, clean away dishes and prep tables. As suite passengers, we had access to Sabatini's for breakfast each morning. This perk is worth every extra penny paid for the suite. We enjoyed the wait staff tremendously and when we remember our cruise, we fondly remember our friends Jiovannie, Agu and Leo and hope we see them again. The fresh orange (mimosas!), and best mochaccino's ever plus fruit plates, made to order eggs and pastries were all fantastic but it is the wait staff here that makes Sabatini's truly special. Afternoon tea delivered to our room (another suite perk) was fantastic, fresh and I wish we had done it every day. Embarkation and disembarkation was easy and well organized. Luggage delivery and pick up at the port was simple and easy. The entire trip with Princess (we did a land portion as well) was simple, organized and easy. We felt well cared for and never had a worry. The key to the success of the Diamond is the crew - from the Captain to the folks in the laundry (yes we did the ultimate ship tour and HIGHLY recommend it!). Everyone is friendly, helpful and seem genuinely pleased that you are on-board. It was our first cruise and most certainly not our last. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Princess knows how to do Alaska! We booked a 50th birthday land & cruise tour with Princess including a Penthouse suite (C408). Normally we would only have a balcony room, but thought this was a special enough occasion to splurge on a ... Read More
Princess knows how to do Alaska! We booked a 50th birthday land & cruise tour with Princess including a Penthouse suite (C408). Normally we would only have a balcony room, but thought this was a special enough occasion to splurge on a suite. It was worth it! I'll only mention the land portion briefly. We flew into Anchorage and were met by the Princess Rep and transferred to our Hotel. (Captain Cook) We transferred the next morning by bus to Princess McKinley Lodge for 1 night. We then went by rail to the Princess Denali Lodge for 2 nights. Finally we went by bus to Whittier to catch the ship. Everything was seamless and smooth. You send one bag to the ship so it never travels with you while on the land portion just meets you at the ship on cruise day. If you want more info on the land portion send me an email, mikemgt58@gmail.com. Alaska is such a scenic cruise words and pictures don't do it justice. Standing on your balcony seeing humpback whales breaching is an amazing site. Glaciers, fjords, wildlife etc was just as advertised. Be sure to bring good binoculars and a camera. I rented a nice long range lens for my trip and it was worth it. The weather was supposed to be rainy and in the 50's & 60's in Alaska during June. Well we must have won the weather lottery because it was mid to high 70's and low 80's our entire trip. They say only 30% of the visitors ever see the full Mt McKinley (Denali). We saw it, cloudless, all 4 days of our trip and no rain the entire 11 days. The ports we visited were Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, two days cruising in Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier. We were in suite C408 and it was great. The room itself was at least twice the size of a regular balcony room. The balcony had a table w 4 chairs, plus 2 lounge chairs and a small table. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub and a separate shower. There were 2 TV's in the suite with DVD player and a DVD library with lots of movies. Our Steward Arlon was great. The mini bar comes filled and is complementary the first time if you want it restocked then you pay for it. The full room service menu was great as well. They come to your room and will set it up inside or on your balcony your choice. You also get a free dinner the first or second night of your cruise in one of the specialty restaurants. Every morning you can go to Sabatini's for breakfast and a free mimosa for suite members only. We went there 3 times and really enjoyed it. There were never more than 10 or 12 people there and the staff was super attentive to our needs always. We used the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service as well. My wife did visit the lotus spa and the complimentary use of the Thermal suite and really raved about it. We traveled with my wife's sister and her husband and we all had a really great time.This was our 2nd Alaska cruise. I probably won't do it again, only because there are so many other places to visit. But I will say that its the only way to see Alaska. The land portion added so much more than just a cruise. Please feel free to email me with any questions you might have. Mikemgt58@gmail.com Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We did an Alaska Cruise tour with a balcony for my wife's 50th birthday. Her sister and brother in law traveled with us as well in a balcony room. Our 4 day land tour preceeded our 7 night cruise. We arrived in Anchorage and were met ... Read More
We did an Alaska Cruise tour with a balcony for my wife's 50th birthday. Her sister and brother in law traveled with us as well in a balcony room. Our 4 day land tour preceeded our 7 night cruise. We arrived in Anchorage and were met by a princess rep who quickly got us to our hotel (Captain Cook) We stayed in Anchorage 1 night before transferring by bus to the Princess McKinley Lodge. The next day we took a train to the Princess Denali Lodge where we stayed for 2 nights. Finally we left Denali by bus for our cruise ship. Only 30% of the people who visit Alaska see the entire mountain due to clouds and weather. We had 4 cloudless days and saw Mt McKinley all day every day we were there. Guess we won the weather lottery. It was supposed to be in the 50's and 60's with rain during June...Ha! It was in the mid to high 70's and into the 80's all 11 days of our entire trip with no rain. Guess we just got Lucky! We boarded the ship mid afternoon with no lines and went directly to our suite C408. Wow! What a great room. We were in suite C408 and it was great. The room itself was at least twice the size of a regular balcony room. The balcony had a table w 4 chairs, plus 2 lounge chairs and a small table. The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub and a separate shower. There were 2 TV's in the suite with DVD player and a DVD library with lots of movies. Our Steward Arlon was great. The mini bar comes filled and is complementary the first time if you want it restocked then you pay for it. The full room service menu was great as well. They come to your room and will set it up inside or on your balcony your choice. You also get a free dinner the first or second night of your cruise in one of the specialty restaurants. Every morning you can go to Sabatini's for breakfast and a free mimosa for suite members only. We went there 3 times and really enjoyed it. There were never more than 10 or 12 people there and the staff was super attentive to our needs always. We used the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning service as well. My wife did visit the lotus spa and the complimentary use of the Thermal suite and really raved about it. The Diamond Princess was a fun ship to spend a week in Alaska on board. Meals in the dining room were good not great, but the service more than made up for any shortcomings. The buffet was actually pretty good although we only ate there twice. The grill had good burgers and the pizza was also very good. We had 3 ports, Juneau, SKagway and ketchikan along with cruising 2 days in Hubbard glacier and Glacier Bay. The scenery in Alaska and the inside passage is 2nd to none! The glaciers, fjords, wildlife, humpback whales breaching etc, its right out of National Geographic or Travel Channel. We did the main show most evenings and it was ok. 2 or 3 variety type shows with dancing and singing etc. The comedian "Sarge"was very good. The other venues were solid. We really enjoyed Skywalkers lounge at the back and very top of the ship. It was great to have a ship with a full wrap around promenade deck for strolling around the ship. This was our 2nd cruise to Alaska and the additional land portion made it all worth it. Princess knows how to do Alaska! Seamless movement from each hotel. Luggage always arrived in a timely manner. You pack one bag the first night and they take it to the ship so you never have to worry about that one. The others travel with you and meet you at the hotel each night. You never check into a room, they just hand you an envelope with you room key and itinerary as you depart the bus or train.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We cruised the Diamond Princess, with a land cruise first to Denali Park. The land cruise - the cabins were frigid and didn't warm up until well into the night; the bathrooms never warmed so showers were quick. The food at the ... Read More
We cruised the Diamond Princess, with a land cruise first to Denali Park. The land cruise - the cabins were frigid and didn't warm up until well into the night; the bathrooms never warmed so showers were quick. The food at the breakfast and dinner buffets was atrocious and expensive. The cruise was okay and allowed plenty of time in each of the three ports visited. The bar service was very good - they make great spicy Bloody Marys. The cabin service was okay considering there was only one steward rather than two as we've encountered on other cruise lines. Food - YUCK! Very little variety in the main dining rooms - same menu in in all of them. The buffet catered strictly to orientals, no variety except perhaps in the freshness of the kimchi, although how a non-Westerner could determine the freshness I'm not sure. It just stinks, period! The little food that was available for the non-oriental palate was bland, unappetizing, and very pedestrian. Overall, we had expected far more of Princess and were exceedingly disappointed. This was our first and last cruise with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We took the 12 day escorted land-sea cruise tour of Alaska. Our ship was the Diamond Princess. First the Pros: The Diamond Princess is a clean, well-maintained and roomy ship. crew is friendly and helpful. The scenery on both the land ... Read More
We took the 12 day escorted land-sea cruise tour of Alaska. Our ship was the Diamond Princess. First the Pros: The Diamond Princess is a clean, well-maintained and roomy ship. crew is friendly and helpful. The scenery on both the land and sea parts is beautiful...awesome is a better word. We saw some animals of each of the Alaskan species..bear, moose, caribou, sea otters, whales, eagles, mountain sheep etc. But not many, usually they were in groups of 1-3. Food throughout the tour was excellent. The escorted tour includes almost all of the meals, and is well worth the additional cost from that aspect alone. We took the Skagway train, Devils Canyon jet boat, Denali tundra tour, whale watching, zip line and Ketchican Duck for excursions. All were excellent and fun. The disembarking process at the end of the sea cruise was very efficient. The Cons: The land tour escort was sometimes not present at key times (like when boarding a bus for excursions) and since the escorted tour had sometimes different transportation, it was frustrating to try to figure out where we were supposed to be. In a related issue, we often received 2 differing sets of instructions for the land tour. The first night on the ship, we went to the buffet and found old and tired lettuce in the salad bowls. When this was pointed out to the chef, he had the bowls changed. But they should have not even put this salad out. There we no hand sanitizers at the entrances to the dining areas, with the exception of the buffet and the fast food areas. The ship is very commercial. Lots of sales, jewelry, art work. It was sometimes hard to get from place to place because the vendors tied up the passage space so that you were forced to funnel past their wares. Especially annoying were the on-board photographers who actually forced long lines when we were disembarking for the ports, so that everyone had to get a picture taken, whether they wanted to or not. I have been on many land and sea tours, so on a comparative basis, I would rate Princess as good, but not excellent. In my opinion, Viking is the best, followed closely by Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Last July my wife and I took our first cruise on a cruise tour to Alaska with Princess. This was our first cruise. We are glad that we started with the land portion of the trip and followed that with the cruise portion on the Diamond ... Read More
Last July my wife and I took our first cruise on a cruise tour to Alaska with Princess. This was our first cruise. We are glad that we started with the land portion of the trip and followed that with the cruise portion on the Diamond Princess. We enjoyed our cruise very much. Things went very well with our trip. Our flights from CMH to ORD and from ORD to ANC went very well (we had quite a hike at ORD from the United flight to the Alaska Air flight, but we made it in plenty of time). We were met by the Princess folks at the airport in Anchorage. Things went smoothly on our trip into Anchorage to the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage. Our bus driver on the way into Juneau told us about free films that are shown all day long at the Federal Building in Anchorage. The building was only a few blocks from our hotel some did catch the end of the film presentations that day. We enjoyed the hotel, and our brief stay in Anchorage. We ate at the fine roof top restaurant at the hotel, and we enjoyed our meal there very much. On Tuesday we began the land portion of our trip with a coach ride to the McKinley Princess Lodge. We spent two nights there. The lodge was very nice. The rooms were basic -- more like a Comfort Inn. We did enjoy good views of the mountain both days while we were there. I discovered as we were leaving on the second day that some of the best views of Denali were available from the road that leads up to the lodge. There is a marked trail for walking along the road. On the day we arrived at the McKinley Lodge, we had scheduled a float trip on the Chulitna River. The trip took about four hours. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day so we did not enjoy much of the scenery in the area. The young woman who was our guide did a good job navigating our raft down the river to Talkeenta. We enjoyed the little village that evening. We ate at a local pizza place (Mountain High Pizza), and then we finished our evening there with a cinnamon bun that we purchased at the Road House. The highlight of our trip there was the flight seeing trip that we booked to the Alaska Range from Talkeentna. We landed on the Kahiltna Glacier at the 7000 foot level, and then we were able to get out of the plane and walk around in the snow (the flight service provided us with snow boots). This is the base camp for the climbers on Mt. McKinley. It was a great trip. When we arrived back in Talkeenta, we took some time to explore the village. We visited some of the shops, and we were able to have lunch outside one the deck of one of the Wild Flower Cafe. After our second night we headed for the Princess Denali Lodge on the Princess dome cars on the Alaska RR. The three-hour trip was very scenic. The domed cars are very comfortable. Princess has a narrator on each car who describes points of interest and history along the way. I had reindeer chili for lunch in the dining section of our car along the way. We enjoyed our stay at Denali. It had a different feel with all the shops and restaurants across the road from the lodge. After arriving at the lodge, I went on a two hour nature hike that I had scheduled. The trail took us above the on a mountain side above the lodge area. I think the guide adjusts the hike according to the folks who have signed up so it was not a strenuous trip. He did point out several nature and geological features along the way. My wife enjoyed an excursion to one of the sled dog camps. She said it was informative and entertaining. On our full day in Denali, we opted for the all day school bus ride in the park to Kantishna. We only saw glimpses of the mountain, but we saw a lot of wildlife. We also enjoyed the park ranger interpretation from Wonder Lake to Kantishna. The lodge was nicely appointed at Denali, but again the rooms were more like what I would expect at a Comfort Inn. The all day train ride from Denali to Whittier went well. Checking onto the ship and boarding went well. It was nice that they're able to do some processing of our passports and our room keys on board the train. We really enjoyed the cruise portion of the trip. Of course this was our first cruise, but we enjoyed the Diamond Princess very much. The crew and staff were friendly and helpful. I was not impressed by the efforts to get us to buy diamonds, watches, and art, but I understand that is part of the deal. We enjoyed our mini suite with the veranda very much. I'm glad we chose the balcony room, and I am glad we paid a little more for the mini suite. It was nice to have the sofa and the extra room. Travel on the ship was very smooth. Most of the time I could not tell when we were moving and when we were in port. We never experienced any motion sickness on the ship or on any of our excursions. We had selected the any time dining option so we could choose from several restaurants each evening. All the restaurants have the same menu, but each may include a specialty item. We did try out the two dining rooms that an extra cover charge. I found those meals to be very enjoyable. The only nights that I made reservations were the nights that we dined in those restaurants. Usually we would strike up a conversation with folks who were seated at tables near us. We enjoyed our service and the meals. Everything was well prepared and nicely presented. We were glad that we chose the anytime dining. It gave us flexibility around when and where we wanted to eat. There was only one time for dinner that we were told that no seating was available so we just went to another restaurant. On three mornings we had continental breakfast in our room. Those meals were ok, but convenient especially when we had an early excursion scheduled in one of the ports. We went to the buffet the other days for breakfast. We went there for lunch when we were not in port. The buffet is kind of hectic because it is rather crowded and busy. The food was ok there, too. We also tried out the grill and the pizza place when we didn't want to go to the buffet. I appreciate the fact that the ship monitors persons coming into the buffet and requires everyone to use the hand cleanser before selecting their food items. Most evenings we took in the live entertainment in the theater. The shows were nicely done, and we enjoyed the shows. We also watched some of the movies in our room. We didn't do the "Movies under the Stars" because it was just too chilly for us. On days we were at sea, I enjoyed walking laps around the Promenade Deck. I also did lap swimming two days in the adults only pool. The "current" pool feature was not working, but the pool and hot tub were nice. On the last full day of our southbound trip, we enjoyed a presentation on board by the head chef of the ship and the matrie d. The chef did a cooking demonstration, and then everyone had a tour of the galley. During the cruise, we enjoyed the day in Glacier Bay. We got to see some nice calving of the glacier. We had a nice day in Juneau (we has some sunshine). We selected a combo of the whale watching (we saw humpbacks), a salmon bake (nice meal at a nice lodge with a nice view), and a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. We also enjoyed our trip on the Yukon RR. We had an extension to Frasier, BC with a coach ride to Caribou Crossing in the Yukon. We saw a lot of pretty scenery. We went to a little tourist place for lunch. We enjoyed our float plane trip over the Misty Fjord. I wish I would have chosen the round trip float plane trip. The return jet catamaran was not very exciting. I thought we would cruise more in the narrower fjords than we did. We did most of our shopping on Creek Street in Ketchikan. I liked several of the shops in that area. Again I didn't care for the all the diamond and watch shops. Of course there are the other typical souvenir shops along the streets. I found more variety and more seemingly Alaskan artist and artisan items on Creek Street in Ketchikan. We did not care much for the shops in Skagway although we did enjoy the interpretive museum that is run by the National Park Service there about the gold rush. We did not have time to visit the shops in Juneau because of our excursion schedule and the ship's departure time. We were amazed on both the land and sea portions of the trip how well Princess kept everything organized and kept folks (and our luggage) going where they needed to be. The only small glitch we had concerned disembarkation. Princess had us scheduled to depart to the Vancouver airport. We saw the notice about selecting the self-disembarkation option. Before I was able to sign up, we received information about our transfer to the airport. I went to the passenger service desk, and they helped change my status. When it came time to disembark on Saturday morning, we were scheduled to be in a group that was to meet in a lounge. When we took the elevator down to that floor, they were letting the folks in our group off so we just joined the line and got off the ship. We were through customs by 8:00 am. Thanks for the heads up about the self-disembarking option. We basically had no lines when we got through customs in Vancouver. We got a taxi, and by 8:30 we were having breakfast in our hotel. All in all it was a great trip. It was a once and life time experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We flew to Fairbanks 2 days ahead of the start of our tour. We stayed at teh Alpine Lodge near the airport. Since most of what we wanted to do was in town, this wasn't the best choice for us - we ended up spending a lot on taxis. ... Read More
We flew to Fairbanks 2 days ahead of the start of our tour. We stayed at teh Alpine Lodge near the airport. Since most of what we wanted to do was in town, this wasn't the best choice for us - we ended up spending a lot on taxis. if we had a car it would have been a great location though. (see all my hotel reviews on tripadvisordotcom) Tour: Our tour started from Fairbanks. There were some logistics issues with the buses and we ended up waiting for longer in town for the bus. But the bus did eventually come get us and we were on our way (the literature says be at the airport by 2 for a 3 pm departure. but if you arrive by 11 or so they will take you downtown and pick you up later, 2:15ish. it's nice if you don't want to spend your day at the airport). The buses we perfectly comfortable and were clean. When we boarded the bus we were given our first information packet. It included info about the Denali Princess Wilderness lodge, our room info & room keys, map, and already booked tour info. we had 2 nights there which is necessary to do the longer tours of Denali. **** I highly suggest upgrading from the Natural History tour to the Denali Wilderness Explorer tour. the NHT only goes to mile 13 and lots of people did not see any wildlife. We took the longer tour, which goes to mile ~52, and saw a lot of animals. We had a great tour.*** The front of the lodge is a mad house in the mornings with all the tour buses, buses to trains, etc. But they handle it well. There is also a TV that shows what tour is boarding and what tours leave when. They also come through an announce what is boarding. The morning before departing we did the Black Diamond ATV adventure - it was lots of fun. They put us into wind/waterproof pants, coats, gloves & even covered our shoes. We were worries about getting dirty before getting on the train - but it was not an issue. The train had assigned rows or tables (depending on kind of car). It was inconvenient in our car to go for lunch seating in waves, but they did get through everyone at a reasonable pace. Again on the train (I think) we received our next info packet (again w/ room info, tour info, keys, etc). When we arrived at Talkeetna, part of our group stayed in town for dinner while I went directly on the (1 hr) bus ride to the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness lodge. I did go to the tour desk to get a duplicate print out of the itinerary info as there were 3 of us traveling together and were going in different directions at any time. We had 2 nights here, but I could have done everything I wanted in 1 night. The town was cute, but if you are not really up for shopping it could be done in an hour or 2. We did do the excursion to Sun Dog Kennels - really worth it! Very fun - and we got to hold 3 week old dogs that may race in the Iditarod some day. There is a General's Store in town with a surprising amount of over the counter drugs/medications. I was surprised that the food & souvenirs at the Princess lodges didn't have a huge mark-up. Alaskan prices are higher than at home. But the prices were very reasonable (mostly for warm clothes, fleece, jackets, etc) especially at the McKinley lodge. This is true especially considering we were a captive audience since it's a 1hr bus ride to town. I saw many people wearing the jackets or fleece sold at the lodges (men & women colors up to XXL). The train from McKinley to Whittier again had assigned tables. this time they brought the food to us. The trip was nice, but our guide would not stop talking. it made it difficult to appreciate the beautiful scenery. Once the train arrived it took a good 45 minutes to get through security & on board (had received all our keys etc at the end of the train ride). We did the evac drill and then went to dinner. I had managed to catch the flu during the tour (remember to use purell after touching bus rails!) so after a trip to the Medical Center I had drugs in hand, but was also on quarantine. Good news is we had a balcony room so I could see all the glaciers (they spin the ship so both sides can see). Since I was on quarantine room service allowed me to order off the dining room menus as well (as long as I called while the dining rooms were still open). They visited me in my cabin the next day to check on me, and I was given the all clear in the afternoon. this was my first experience using a ship medical center and was impressed. They had up to date drugs, good staff, and it looks like they were decked out with equipment. Skagway - we did the Kroschell Films Wildlife Park tour and it was great. The guys are a little goofy, but it was neat to see the animals up close (got to touch caribou antlers, get kissed by a moose, etc). town was cute and had lots of shopping. Juneau - Glacier & Whale watching Photo safari - good tour. really nice to be in a small group and on a small boat. Saw orcas, humpbacks & seals. A humpback came right up to the boat, dove under and came up the other side - it was bigger than the boat, but it was really neat! Lots of shopping close to the boat dock. Ketchican - Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer tour was disappointing. It was a long boring boat ride out and back for 1/2 hr of semi-interesting scenery. Not worth the time and $$. There were a couple of shops near the boat, which was nice since the tour took up most the day. My friend took the float plane and loved it. Ship & cruise: Our room C702 was supposed to be able to accommodate a roll-away bed - it does if you push the other 2 beds together and push the roll-away against the others (3 mattresses making 1 solid bed). And it didn't allow for any maneuvering around the room. Luckily there was also an overhead bunk, so we used that instead of the roll-away. It was a challenge to have 3 adults & our stuff in 1 room, but we seemed to manage okay. Closet had lots of space & lots of hangars. I did bring an "over the door pocket shoe holder" which was nice for lots of odds & ends. Also a couple of clothes pins helped keep the shower curtain where it belongs & kept the bathroom floor dry. I loved anytime dining. Whenever we were ready for dinner we went & ate. We had no problems getting a table to ourselves right away. Longest wait was about 3 minutes. Food in general is a little disappointing over Carnival or Royal Caribbean (same as prior Princess experience), but acceptable. Formal night was much less formal than in the warmer climates. Nice slacks & blouse was fine for ladies (on up to nicer dresses, and men were in nice slacks & shirt on up. Regular nights it was okay to be in jeans as long as they were in good shape. The ship is heated, so jeans and cute shirt were fine for most of the ship (always has a light sweater with me though). Sitting in the sun on our balcony was really warn, but if not int he sun it was cold. Staff was great, especially the room service people - they seemed to go the extra mile (one offered to go up to the buffet to get me hot cocoa). I didn't meet any staff that were anything less than exceptionally pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Our Alaska Adventure was a wonderful experience. I highly recommend this vacation to Cruise Critic readers. We vacationed for 2 1/2 weeks in Alaska consisting of traveling by train (Alaska Railroad) and Cruise ship (Diamond Princess). ... Read More
Our Alaska Adventure was a wonderful experience. I highly recommend this vacation to Cruise Critic readers. We vacationed for 2 1/2 weeks in Alaska consisting of traveling by train (Alaska Railroad) and Cruise ship (Diamond Princess). I have been on over 25 cruises with well over 12 cruises on Royal Caribbean. We decided to devote future trips on Princess in light of (in our opinion) a slippage of quality in Royal Caribbean Cruise lines. A summary of key points follows: The service on the Diamond Princess was very good. The entertainment was exceptional. During the day dance lessons were given by the staff which my Wife really enjoyed. I must admit, I had a good time as well. The staff was very friendly and made sure everyone was at ease learning new dance steps. The food was very good. We felt secure with the professionalism of the Captain and crew (we were in Alaska waters). The guests on board were of a mature age which should be expected based on the expense of the trip. However, I am of a mature age (60). The ship was very clean and well maintained which is expected of Princess. The British Officers commanding the Diamond Princess are very disciplined and demand quality. This is very reassuring to passengers in light of recent cruise ship incidents at sea. The ship also has a Laundry Station with ironing boards on each deck which is very convenient especially during formal night. I recommend this cruise and ship to readers. Thank you CPAMAN. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This and a short trip on the Golden Princess a month earlier were an introduction to the newer Princess ships. These are nice ships, and the visits to the glaciers and the scenery in the inland passage are the highlights of this particular ... Read More
This and a short trip on the Golden Princess a month earlier were an introduction to the newer Princess ships. These are nice ships, and the visits to the glaciers and the scenery in the inland passage are the highlights of this particular voyage. This is especially true with the number of cruise ships overpowering Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan these days. We had been on an inland passage cruise on the old Regal Princess in 1993, so the ports were familiar. We were blessed with beautiful weather for this trip, which came on the end of a tour also blessed with seeing Mt. McKinley for at least some portion of the day all four days. FOOD We do traditional late seating dining and the service was spectacular, really made the evening meal a treat. Menu variety was good, and the only thing that would have made it better would have been a nice lamb chop or leg of lamb one night. We also generally have breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms and these were very enjoyable. The breakfast menu could be better with additions such as corned beef hash, and beans. We also tried the pizza available on deck and it was very nicely done. A couple times we tried the buffet and were not impressed. Breakfast lacked fish dishes. Usually you expect to see at least salmon available, and the size of the buffet itself seems cramped, too crowded to be a pleasant experience. We had taken a trip recently on the Golden Princess and it had the same "too small" feeling. ROOM The rooms are configured with what is essentially a dressing area between the bathroom door and the closet space. This appears a little strange at first, but it works well in practice and it is an improvement over the "in-line" configuration on ENTERTAINMENT The shows were very good. They also had an excellent presentation by Libby Riddles who won the Iditarod in Juneau. It would be nice to see Princess provide more educational opportunities. The one Cunard cruise we were on had daily educational lectures and it was very enjoyable. PORTS Since we had been to the ports and taken the excursions previously, we spent our time in Skagway and Juneau exploring the towns, and found that worthwhile. Good museums and Capital tour in Juneau. In Ketchikan we rented a car from First City Car Rental. They delivered to the dock, let us return it to the parking space there and mailed us the receipt, great service. We visited the Totem Bight Park, hiked the Ward Lake and Lunch Falls Loops and had a nice picnic lunch watching the activity on the fishing boats at the Clover Pass Resort.. EMBARCATION DEBARKCATION These were both well done. We had an assigned dining room debarkation which was equipped with juice, coffee and tea and a representative who kept you appraised of progress, made this hurry up and wait experience passable. Much better done than we've seen on other ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We just returned from our cruise and I wanted to share our experience with the wonderful members of cruisecritic.com. Our cruise had been planned for a year and included 15 family members from all over the US. We were travelling with 4 ... Read More
We just returned from our cruise and I wanted to share our experience with the wonderful members of cruisecritic.com. Our cruise had been planned for a year and included 15 family members from all over the US. We were travelling with 4 couples and kids ages 1 - 15. My parents are experienced cruisers, having sailed with Holland and Royal but this was their first time on Princess and my first cruise. We all flew into Anchorage and stayed at the Anchorage Grand Hotel (would not recommend this hotel). We had arranged private transportation to Whittier from Anchorage the following day. We did make a stop at the Wildlife Conservation Center en route to Whittier which I really enjoyed. You have the opportunity to see bears (up close and personal - only separated by a thin wire barrier), moose, bison etc.. Embarkation in Whittier A very smooth process - we were checked in very quickly and our reservations were all correct - 4 suites Suites We were in the Family Suite (and my sister and her family were in the other Family Suite). Pros- The suite was nice and spacious for a family of 4. There were nice amenities included such as canapes, fruit, chocolate strawberries and profiteroles delivered daily Steward was very nice and attentive - and even did special little things for our kids (like making animal figures out of the bath towels each day). Cons- Suite had 2 bedrooms with a sitting area connecting them. Both bedrooms had 2 twin beds. Great for our kids - flashback to "I Love Lucy" for my wife and I. Balcony was large but totally unusable when the ship was moving due to the wind and lack of overhead shelter (it was totally open). Family Suites are the first cabins at the front of the ship (D101 and D102) so we felt the movement a little more. Because the suites are at the front of the ship you have to walk pretty far to get to dining rooms/public areas (but was a good workout everyday). The other members of our family had suites midship and my parents had a huge suite at the rear of the ship that was quite nice. Ship Layout The ship was very confusing to navigate. Most of the decks did not go from one end of the ship to the other and we continually were hitting "dead-ends" as we tried to get to different areas of the ship. I think I finally figured it out on our 5th day onboard. Shows Pros-Shows were well done and great for all ages Cons-Hard to get a seat for the early show Casino Pros-The Casino manager was very pleasant Cons-No free drinks while gambling - not even sodas.. Incredibly smoky - there was one night that was no smoking but the rest were almost intolerable Slot machines were very dated and worn (faded reels, fuzzy resolution) Dealers did their jobs -but definitely didn't go to any great lengths to engage the players. Pools Pros-Nice assortment of pools for all ages Movies Under the Stars This was great on our last day when the weather was pleasant enough to sit outside to watch the movies. The other days when it was windy/rainy there weren't many people willing to sit out to watch.. Spa Pro-Had some great treatments Con-Lots of "hard" selling and pressure to purchase add'l treatments/items. Food This was my greatest disappointment. Everyone had told me about all the wonderful food we would have on the ship - 24/7. I ended up losing weight between the horrible food and long walk to our suite several times a day. The first morning we were told the International Dining Room was serving breakfast from 7:30-9:30. We arrived at 9:25 and were told we could not come in and had to go to the Horizon Court Buffet. Awful - I felt like I was at a hospital cafeteria. Sandwiches wrapped in saran wrap that didn't appear fresh, weird assortment of items, servers who had no idea what items were, long unorganized lines, temperature was hot and stuffy, tables were left with dirty things until we requested they be cleaned.. It wasn't until the 3rd day that we realized we could eat breakfast in Sabatinis because we were in a suite. Noone had told us this - we just happened to walk by and see the sign. We ended up eating breakfast there each morning and it was the highlight of our food experience on the ship. International Dining Room - Food was awful and we always had to wait about 15-20 min for our drinks. Our servers were pleasant but we'd only see them when we sat down, when we ordered and when we were done. If you had a problem you were on your own.. We didn't have one decent meal the entire week. Sterling Steakhouse - Nicer and more attentive than the International Dining Room - but they cooked everyone's steaks wrong (I mean really wrong).. Trident Grill and Prego Pizzeria were both good - but the seating options were awful - you could either sit outside in a very cold uninviting environment - or try to find a table at Horizon Court where it was hot/stuffy and smelled like a cafeteria. Sundaes - Ice Cream Bar- Awful - Bad soft serve ice cream on bad cones with one topping option -colored sprinkles. The servers were incredibly "put-out" when you'd walk up and interrupt their personal conversations. Calypso Bar - the only decent bar on the ship and made an awesome latte. Customer Service In addition to the disappointing food we found the overall customer service to be incredibly lacking. The general feeling amongst our group was that the staff did not really care about accomodating the guests. It really was about what was the most convenient for them (the crew/staff) and if you made any inquiry outside of that it was quickly shot down. We were disappointed that on port days all of the stores on the ship were closed and unless you were in port there was not much to do. When we boarded we realized there wasn't anyone to help explain the different services, dining options etc.. While our steward was very helpful -he was from another country and incredibly hard to understand. All that said -we were left to figure out everything on our own. I also was a little annoyed that we had to have our bags packed and outside of our room by 9:00 the night before we arrived in Vancouver. Disembarkation in Vancouver We had to be out of our room by 8:00 a.m. the day we arrived in Vancouver. We all felt it was a little early to have to "check-out" given our flight wasn't until 2:00. While not the fault of Princess - the process once we arrived at the Vancouver Airport was horrible. We arrived at the airport by 9:30 a.m. and by the time we'd cleared customs it was close to 12:00 (and stood in not less than 5 lines with 2 small kids). Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Our vacation started with a week visiting my sister in Seattle. After a week with her and her family we flew to Fairbanks via Anchorage. We took the UB5 12 Night Classic Alaska cruisetour with 5-day land tour before boarding the Diamond ... Read More
Our vacation started with a week visiting my sister in Seattle. After a week with her and her family we flew to Fairbanks via Anchorage. We took the UB5 12 Night Classic Alaska cruisetour with 5-day land tour before boarding the Diamond Princess. Princess representatives were waiting for us at the Fairbanks airport, took us to baggage claim, and guided us to the coach. Before getting on the coach, they handed us our first envelop with our room key, luggage tags, and itinerary for the next day. Everything was well-organized and self-explanatory. They gave us envelop at every stop with all the information we needed on a daily basis, like which coach/train to take, time to put baggage out, etc. The coach stopped at Princess Lodge near the airport first and then to Bear Lodge at the other end of town where we were to stay for two nights. I don't know whether we were the 'overflow' guests or because our whole tour group was placed there for convenient. I was actually looking forward to our stay there. I have checked out the Bear Lodge on line and liked what I saw. It's part of the Wedgewood Resort which encompassed a huge campus. The room was very spacious with two queen beds, flat screen TV, a balcony, air-conditioning, coffee maker, and wi-fi access (need to get code from front desk). After cleaning up a bit we went downstairs to the restaurant for dinner. We knew that the prices for food would be more expensive in Alaska but our first dinner turned out to be quite OK for the price. After dinner we explored the grounds of the resort. It was too late to get into the Antique Auto Museum so we just went on the trail to Wander Lake. Visited the outdoor museum and had a very pleasant chat with the gentleman working there. First Day--The coach took us first to the Alaska pipeline, then El Dorado Gold Mine, and the Sternwheeler River Boat ride. Enjoyed them all! It was raining on and off but we still had a great time. Panning gold was a lot of fun but the delicious free cookies and hot coffee/cocoa melted us on a cold wet day. I thought it was quite considerate of them to give each of us a poncho for the rain. It was a little chaotic to get on the boat after a good beef stew lunch which was family style in a big dining hall at the landing. There were two boats so you really have to line-up at the right time and the right place. There were many different tour groups so it was very confusing with the different color boarding passes. It rained really hard in the beginning of the boat ride then it cleared up. We watched the float plane demonstration and the Susan Butcher's Iditarod sled dog team on the boat. Then we got off and spent about an hour ashore at the Athabascan village where we experienced traditional Native lifestyles. We also helped ourselves to the free donuts and coffee while on the Discovery. After we got back to the lodge, we took the free shuttle to Pioneer Park for the salmon bake. I really think that was a good deal for an all-you-can-eat meal of prime rib, grilled salmon, fried cod, salad, sides, and beverages. We thought the quality was very good. The park itself was quiet maybe because we were there kind of late. Too bad we didn't have time to explore it more because we wanted to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. After we got back to the hotel, DS wanted to go back to Wander Lake and take more pictures, so DH went with him. I had to get our bags ready for the next day. I had to decide what to put in the "Meet me Tonight" bags, or the "See you Onboard" bag tonight. On the second day, we took a short ride to the train depot in the morning. Our group was on the McKinley Explorer car, which was one car in front of the Princess'. All the seats faced forward instead of having a table in between so no one would have to sit backward. It was a wonderful train ride in the domed car with comfortable seats. Plug in your own headphones to listen to the music on board. Breakfast was served downstairs for those who wanted to be scheduled. For about $10 a decent breakfast was served. My only complain was that food was not hot enough for me. By the time we got to Denali Princess Lodge it was about 12:30. We quickly went across the street to the Subway, got ourselves some sandwiches and then caught the free shuttle to the Wilderness Access Center at Denali Park. We booked the park shuttle to Toklat which cost $24pp but we were charge $34 online with the park entrance fee. They had no problem to refund the $10 back to us once we showed them the Princess itinerary that we would be on the NHT the next day. Our green shuttle bus departed the WAC at 3:00pm and about 10 miles in we saw a bear! Then we saw dull sheep, a wolf, a lynx, a few caribou, a few moose, and then another bear. There were no TV monitors on the bus so you really have to look for wildlife. It was a long 6-hour ride with a couple of stops but very pleasant. We came back to the WAC around 9:15. The princess shuttles stopped services by 7:30 so we used the courtesy phone on the wall to called Salmon Bake to pick us up. They provide free shuttle services if you have dinner at their restaurant. Dinner was great at Salmon Bake. I had a huge cobb salad which was loaded with scallop, shrimp, crab meat, avocado, etc. etc. Our room at Denali Princess was on the second floor of a 500 building. More like a motel room and a bit outdated. We started our third day with the all-you-can-eat breakfast at the dinner theater building. Good value for the money ($14pp), Alaska standard. We enjoyed the movies about Alaska while having breakfast there. We got to walk around the lodge a bit before getting on the NHT bus. The NHT was about 4-hour long and went about 18 miles into the park. It was shorter but still enjoyable. The tour started with a movie at the Wilderness Access Center. Our driver/guide was Jennifer who gave us a lot of information and insights about the park. We saw moose, caribou, and sheep. We also listened to a couple of presentations at the Savage Cabin and Primrose Ridge. After we got back from the NHT, we had pizza at the Lynx Creek right at the Princess Lodge. $9.95 special for a 12-inch pepperoni pizza, long wait because they made it fresh but delicious! After lunch we got on our coach for the 2-hour long ride to McKinley Princess Lodge. On the way the bus driver stopped for us to take pictures of Mt. McKinley which was in full view on a sunny day. We were very lucky to have two sunny days to see Mt. McKinley. I really liked the McKinley Princess Lodge with its beautifully landscaped grounds and bigger, newer rooms. We decided to stay, explore the grounds, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon there instead of going to Talkeenta. Wi-Fi was available at the main lodge and can be access even out on the deck if you have your own laptop. How cool is that to have Mt. McKinley right in front of you while surfing on the internet? Dinner was at the Bear Bar which served pub food and we enjoyed the same great view of the mountains as the more expensive restaurants. We got up early on the fourth day. Put our bags outside our door before taking the first shuttle to Talkeetna at 7:30. I was surprised that the bus was full that early in the morning. I believe most people got up early for their excursions because the town was actually very quiet. We headed right to the Roadhouse for breakfast after we got off the bus. It was for the experience and well worth it. We ordered the half breakfasts and they were huge in size. After breakfast we walked to the riverbank and had the most spectacular views of the three rivers and the majestic Mt. McKinley. What a sight! After exploring the town we went back to Roadhouse and bought some pasties (hand-held pies with meat and vegetables inside) and clam chowder to-go for lunch. We took the shuttle back to the lodge and enjoyed our pasties on the deck of the main lodge. At around 2pm we got on the coach for the ride to Anchorage. The only stop that we had was the ice-cream shop where all the buses stopped. Long lines but they moved quickly. We had the Huckleberry ice cream in a waffle cone, yummy! At around 5pm we arrived at our hotel—Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage. We were on the 5th floor of building 2. It was a spacious modern room with free wi-fi and coffee maker. After a little walk to the river, which was 3 blocks away, dinner was at the Teriyaki Box across the street from Captain Cook. Food was OK and a little expensive for California standard. We walked a little around downtown until it started to rain and then headed back to the hotel for the night. Day five--we took the coach to Whittier to be on the Diamond Princess. Our driver was a lot of fun. She is actually a school bus driver who was doing the tour buses during summer vacation. I found that the drivers on this trip were all good tour guides, not just bus drivers. They provided excellent information and personal stories along the way which made the trip much more interesting. The stop at the Wildlife Conservation Center was fun, especially if you did not see enough wildlife on the previous days. She also stopped at a place where we could see the salmon run. The scenery was amazing throughout the trip to Whittier. When we came out of the long tunnel the sight of the Diamond Princess was right in front of us. Checking in was painless except the line for security was a little long. Lunch was at Horizon Court because we were too late for lunch in the main dining room. The ship was unusually quiet because many people would be arriving late in the afternoon and evening on the trains. We spent the afternoon exploring the ship and then had an early dinner at the Pacific Moon. After dinner it was time for the muster drill. Our station was in Club Fusion. They kept telling us not to put the safety vest on until the demonstration is over but many people were not listening. It was a long assembly but at least we had the comfort of sitting down. Some people were so tired from traveling long distance that day that it was difficult for them to stay awake during the drill. For some reason, our ship was delayed in sailing out. We attended the Welcome Onboard show which was fun because of the guest comedian. Diamond Princess: We had an inside cabin on the Caribe deck this time because we realized that we would be spending much money on the land tour part. We were happy with the cabin. It was spacious enough for the three of us, especially with the separated closet space. Being in the inside cabin forced us to go out to other parts of the ship instead of just staying in. Our room steward was OK, cabin was cleaned on time and adequately. Ice bucket was filled everyday. Fresh fruits provided as requested. No towel animals but chocolate on the pillow every evening. Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship with a lot of places to relax and enjoy. We liked being in the Skywalker which was usually quiet except everyday at around 4 or 5pm part of it was corded off for suite guests and VIP for their afternoon snacks. DS liked to be out and about, like the Conservatory, outside deck 7, and up the stairs to the bow for great photo opportunities. We had meals 2 times at the Pacific Moon, twice at the Savoy, twice at Vivaldi and once at Santa Fe. If there is a wait at Pacific Moon, they will give you a pager, but not at Santa Fe. They will give you a time and you will have to go back at that certain time. Services varied even in the same restaurant. One night we had a great timely dinner at the Vivaldi and then another night at the same restaurant the service was very slow. I think dining early or late would avoid the wait. The two times that we had to wait for 30 minutes or more were around 7pm. Food was excellent. I didn't have to use their always available menu and was happy with the daily choices. Horizon court was OK sometimes hard to find a table. We liked to be at the aft of Horizon Court where they use as Sterling Steakhouse in the evening. It's quieter there. We only attended a couple of shows—the welcome aboard show and the crew talent show. We also went to the guest comedian Gary Delena show at the Explorer Lounge. He was funny! I have to comment on the Interdenominational Sunday service which was lead by Romeo, the assistant cruise director. It was one of the best services that I had experienced on board a ship. It was well-organized and with substance. Ports: The first two days we cruised to Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. We were not able to get close to Hubbard Glacier because of the weather and the icy condition. It was a little disappointing. The next day when we were in Glacier Bay we got right up close to Mergerie Glacier. It was beautiful! On the 3rd day we visited Skagway. This was our second time to Skagway so we decided to just explore the town. We had the most amazing beer chili from the Skagway Brewery. The place was actually pretty crowded so we just ordered the chili to-go. The hot flavorful chili was great on a cold, wet day. After walking around town and a visit to the public library to use their wi-fi, we went back to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon we went on a hike up Dewey Lake. DH and I only went half way and DS went all the way up. He said it was beautiful up there but it wasn't an easy hike. Juneau—We had been here three times before. Originally we wanted to take the tram up Mt. Roberts but it was cloudy and rainy so we changed our minds. Instead we walked up the hill to visit the Orthodox church and also took a free guided tour of the state capital. Then we went to the library to use the wi-fi but it didn't work on our laptops. We found the King Crab Shack that was recommended and shared a combination of crab legs, crab bisque, crab cakes, and a roll. It was delicious but expensive! Ketchikan—We took the city blue bus to the Totem Bight Park north of the city in the morning. For $2 we got the all-day pass and it was a beautiful 30-minute ride. I like this park better than the Saxman village. They also have a Firearm Museum nearby and the park is free to visit. After spending an hour there we went back to the ship for lunch. Then we walked around town in the afternoon. We had a very nice sunny afternoon here but the whole town seemed to be very quiet. Business seemed to be very slow throughout. Disembarkation was a little chaotic. First, our scheduled time was delayed for some reason. Then they called our color and number to disembark but when we went down they said they did not call our color. After we got off the ship everything was fine. Our transfer to the airport was included in the package so we didn't have to pick up our luggage until we got to the airport. All in all we had a great trip both on the land part and on the cruise. We had done the Alaska cruise 3 times before but this was our first cruise tour. I was amazed at how everything is organized and ran smoothly throughout the trip. Well done, Princess! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My sister, brother in law and I have just returned from the best holiday I have ever had,over two weeks on a mainland and cruising tour in Alaska with Princess Cruises. Why was it so brilliant? Alaska itself is simply stunning. Huge ... Read More
My sister, brother in law and I have just returned from the best holiday I have ever had,over two weeks on a mainland and cruising tour in Alaska with Princess Cruises. Why was it so brilliant? Alaska itself is simply stunning. Huge landscapes, pristine wilderness, soaring mountains, unbelievable ice blue glaciers , incredible wildlife. It was such a privilege to visit "The Great Land" and Princess did an impeccable job of organising an amazing range of tours to cater for a wide range of interests. All the tours were so efficiently run that you never felt worried that you would end up stranded or miss the ship. The first week we spent travelling from Heathrow to Seattle (ovenight stay), then Anchorage (overnight stay) by coach to the Mt McKinley Princess Lodge , where we stayed two nights , then on via train from Talkeetna to the Denali Princess Lodge for two more nights , then finally on to Whittier where we picked up the ship. We covered a lot of miles in that week, and loved it all! What can I say about the highlights? Anchorage Museum - incredible if you are interested in First Nations history and Art, the Princess Lodges themselves - Mt McKinley Lodge is beautiful, and we were lucky to see the Mt McKinley summit peak clearly, shining white in the early morning sun. Loved the 5 hour Three Rivers Jet boat trip on huge ,wide wilderness rivers - just awesome!Talkeetna was great, and we enjoyed a fabulous wagon ride complete with cowboys and huge horses, panned for gold and had very close mouth to mouth encounters with caribou! Denali National Park was the highlight - we were lucky to book the nine hour bus trip into the Park, and the landscapes of multi coloured striped mountains and vast braided rivers were incredible. We saw wolves, caribou, a grizzly bear and we came back with fantastic photos. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to see the heart of Alaska. Even the school buses were fun -the only vehicles allowed in the park, squeegie mops provided for passengers to keep the windows clean since there is no tarmac road. The Alaska Railroad was marvellous -excellent views from panoramic railcars of hundreds of miles of the most stunning scenery. The final journey down to Whittier to meet the ship is fabulous ,those amazing blues where mountains, glaciers , snow and ice meet the the sea. And then we saw the Diamond Princess waiting for us , white against the mountains and sea. Boarding was quick and easy and soon we were exploring the ship, which we all loved. Our cabins were on Caribe deck and we were delighted with the double balcony and plenty of space . My cabin steward Joseph was a delight - nothing was too much trouble. We had breakfast every morning in Sabatinis - food was plentiful and beautifully prepared. We ate every evening in the International Restaurant - superb service, wonderful food , brilliant!Our waitress Merila was fantastic- we were upset to say goodbye at the end of the cruise , she was so lovely! Adored the ship, we are all working out how to sail on her again. We were so sad to see her leave Vancouver without us on the day we disembarked. We all feel a real connection to her now and check the bridge webcam to see where she is every day. We did some excellent shore trips , one up the White Pass to the Yukon from Skagway,- we ended up at Caribou Crossing in the middle of nowhere= hilarious!! ! Al;so a highlight was whale watching with Allen Marine from Juneau. We were so lucky to see a pod of orcas hunting , though it was upsetting when they finally killed the seal they had been using for twenty minutes as bait for the two young calves in the group to learn how to hunt. Also saw humpback whales ,seals, sealions and lots of bald eagles. Unforgettable! Ketchikan and Skagway are fun, really quaint and lots to see. But the really most memorable days were on the ship visiting Yakutat Bay and Glacier Bay to see the most spectacular glaciers. Imagine a green blue sea filled with floating ice everywhere, dotted with seals , eagles and other seabirds , and then approaching a 300 feet high cliff of ice which is the face of the Hubbard Glacier. Pieces of ice are constantly falling from the face, - just magical. If you haven't been to Alaska , then go! It is truly unique. I would go again in a heartbeat , and a few people on our cruise said they were returning for the third time! If I am lucky enough to return to Alaska, it will definitely be with Princess for a repeat of this trip. And I hope to catch up with the Diamond Princess soon! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We have cruised several times on several different lines (Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) and were looking forward to our first trip on Princess. We were blown away with the fantastic itinerary and excursions, but must admit to ... Read More
We have cruised several times on several different lines (Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) and were looking forward to our first trip on Princess. We were blown away with the fantastic itinerary and excursions, but must admit to being disappointed about Princess in general. We did the 3-day land tour followed by a sailing from Whittier to Vancouver in July 2011. The Land Tour: Pros: Well organized, properties very nice, the tour guides friendly and pretty knowledgeable. We did a 2-hr river guide ride (booked through the Lodge) and flightseeing/glacier landing (booked through a private company - TAT) in Talkeetna along with breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse (not to be missed if you are in the area - the cinnamon rolls are AMAZING and all the portions are ENORMOUS - pancakes literally hang over 10-inch plates and the toast looks like it is on steroids). Cons: Would have preferred food be included in the base cost even if the base cost was increased- we quickly tired of the $15 breakfasts and burgers. Regarding the Denali History tour, I was told by my TA and later Princess when I called them directly, because of our arrival time, we couldn't book the longer tour. When we arrived; however, people who were on our same bus had tickets for the longer tour. The air conditioning in our rail car on the way to the ship broke 3 hours into the trip, which made for a very long remaining 6 hours. The Cruise on Diamond Princess: Pros: Nice layout, clean, great itinerary, and awesome shore excursion options. We did the Yukon Pass train in Skagway (booked thru the ship), in Juneau we did whale watching via a private company (H&M) and sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier via Helicopter (booked through the ship) and in Ketchikan we took a floatplane tour with all-you-can-eat crabfeast in a private dining room at George Inlet Lodge (also booked through the ship) Most of the on-board staff seemed very nice. Enjoyed the park rangers being on the ship as we cruised through Glacier Bay. Cons: Room steward service left a bit to be desired. The plate with the remnants of our welcome chocolate-covered strawberries stayed in our room for 1.5 days until we finally got tired of looking at it and set it outside the cabin. Our champagne only had ice in the ice bucket the first night; it was never checked or refilled again the entire cruise. These are a couple of things to me that are "no-brainers" and I didn't feel that I should have needed to "ask for ice in the bucket" with the bottle sticking out of it right in the middle of our suite. Anytime dining was anything but. We arrived the second night at 5:45 and were told unless we had reservations, the wait would be 45-70 minutes. Reservations for "Anytime" dining defeats the purpose of ANYTIME dining. When I tried to call the next day for "reservations" I was told the earlier seats were again taken but I could have a reservation for 8:15. As a result we ate most of our meals in the Horizon buffet, which were okay but not what we were expecting to do. The couple of times we did eat in the dining rooms the food seemed to be the same options for each night and the service was slowww---several times I had to find someone simply to refill my water or take away my dishes. When we took pictures, some of the photographers were very pleasant but others seemed to be counting the time until they were off work. We like to have a couple of pictures from our cruises that don't look mass produced yet when we asked if we could "try this" or "try that," we could see the irritation in their eyes (and we made sure there was not a line when we asked). Some finally agreed to our requests but we felt it was an extreme imposition for them to accommodate our request and that they were doing us a favor...but seriously, at $25 a pop, who is doing who a favor here? The Sundaes ice cream station was simply horrid - hard, horrible tasting ice-milk....the ice cream offered in the dining room was much better. We were delighted to see the ship had a number of hot tubs, but disappointed when so many of them were closed during the cruise. A couple of days were so warm people were out by the pool yet I believe it was closed a fair amount as well. The Piano "Bar" we have experienced on other ships was much different than the one on the Diamond. This one appeared to be a regular seating area with a piano stuck back in the corner...no stools that sat around the piano, simply regular chairs arranged like you would see in any of the other seating areas around the ship, some facing the piano and others facing the opposite direction. Post-Cruise Once we arrived in Vancouver after the cruise was over, we stayed overnight so we could take in some of the sights but we had to arrange for our own transportation back to Seattle. Transportation was only available if we left the same day we disembarked the ship - EVEN if we purchased their optional post-cruise Vancouver tour...wow. So in the end we booked our own room in Vancouver at the very same hotel Princess wanted to book us at for $150 less. We then used the savings to purchase business-class tickets back to Seattle on the Amtrak train, cab fare to the station and breakfast on the train. That ended up being a nice relaxing trip back to the states....Why couldn't Princess have done the same thing for us? Take these issues one by one and they may seem insignificant to some, but to us they added up and equaled a really disappointing experience (and trust me, I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt because I really REALLY wanted to be impressed with them). All of the tours, both those booked through Princess and the ones we booked on our own, couldn't have been more spectacular. The scenery was breathtaking, service exceptional and we were not disappointed in the least. But the rest? We couldn't help but wonder if Princess thought because their itinerary was so great and people were going to book because of it, they could afford to provide less-than-stellar service. We received better service on not only Holland America and Royal Caribbean but even extended Carnival cruises...and they seem to have a reputation of being "party" ships. You can reach us with any questions at lookforus@bellsouth.net. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Those who bash the Diamond as old and dingy are "glass half empty" folks. The ship is a gleaming jewel of the sea, with plenty of different venues to satisfy every taste. Since we were coming off a 4-day land tour, the Princess ... Read More
Those who bash the Diamond as old and dingy are "glass half empty" folks. The ship is a gleaming jewel of the sea, with plenty of different venues to satisfy every taste. Since we were coming off a 4-day land tour, the Princess train dropped us off at 6pm right at the dock. There was only a 15minute line thru security and we were up in our room in no time. Our large bag was already in our room, since they took it the first day of our cruisetour. Our carryon bag arrived a few hours later. We had a balcony cabin on the Aloha Deck 12. It is the highest balcony on the ship and overlooked the open balconies below. The only negative was that at times we could hear chairs being moved on the Lido deck in the Horizon Buffet room. I would probably move down to deck 11 if I returned for that reason. Had the late 8pm traditional dinner seating in the International Dining room. We lucked out and sat with 3 other lovely couples who ranged from late '30's to early '60's. Everyone was very friendly and shared their daytime excursions at the table.Had only 2 breakfasts there and 2 lunches, since we had excursions in every port. The Horizon Buffet was OK, decent for lunch and good for breakfasts. The entertainment was above average with magic and comedy acts, several dance reviews, a pop singer and international revue. Formal nights were slightly dressy, with about 20% in tuxes, 60% in jackets and 20% in either dress shirts or golf shirts. The maitre'D only refused 2 men who dressed in jeans and sneakers, but they were not thinking or didn't care about the atmosphere. Saw one movie under the stars during mid afternoon and the weather that day was sunny in the upper '60's. Also used the Internet Cafe for about 30 minutes on the pay as you go plan, spending about $15. It was fairly empty and I was able to get on right away. The scenic glacier cruising was awesome - with Hubbard Glacier first, then Glacier National Park the next day. Both areas gave us great panoramic views of the huge ice fields and bergs floating in the bays. The first stop on our southbound trip was Skagway-Haines. We took the cat ferry over to Haines and took a private excursion with Joe Ordonez' Rainbow Glacier Adventures. My wife and I were the only cruisers on the trip so we got a really personal tour. Jennifer, our guide, picked us up at the dock in quaint Haines. It is a small cozy village with only a 3 block downtown, unlike bigger Skagway. We took a van over to the Chilkoot Lake for kayaking for about an hour. On the way we stopped and watched a female brown bear and her 2 cubs strolling along the riverbanks. The lake was like glass, with tall waterfalls cascading down from the high peaks surrounding the lake. Then we drove over to a nearby bay and hiked around the shoreline for another hour, then stopped at her house for a nice homemade lunch. The experience was very intimate and personal, with Jenn giving us a firsthand description of the area since she is a local. Her personality just added to the flavor of the wild. Next stop was Juneau, where we did the Princess Photo Safari Whale Watch and Mendenhall Glacier tour. It was much smaller than the standard whale watch trips, with only 12 people on the van. We stopped at the Glacier first and walked around the lake, shooting photos. Then we hiked thru the forest and spotted a black bear eating salmon on the riverbank. Took several shots of him too. Next we got in a large Zodiac raft with outboard motor and took off for humpbacks. Saw over dozen whales in the bay, tails and bodies splashing on the surface. That was an incredible sight, seeing the big beasts cavorting in the water. Our last port was Ketchikan, a down-home funky Alaska village. There we walked along Creek Street in the morning on our own, stopping in some local shops. Even walked by Dolly's House, the local madame who invited us in for a price!!! Our excursion was with Island Wings with Michelle the pilot and owner. They picked us up at the docks and drove to her seaplane. Unfortunately, the visibility was poor and our Misty Fjords trip was cancelled. Still, she offered us a chance to go on a bear-watch trip to Traitors Cove and Margaret Creek Fish Hatchery. We took a 20 minute floatplane ride to the island. Then after a 10 minute van ride, we walked thru the forest to the platform. There we saw a big black bear feasting on salmon. He was there for over 30 minutes and we shot many pix. The flight back was smooth and carefree, even though my wife was initially scared, she was pleasantly surprised at how easy the ride was and worryfree. Michelle offers a personalized trip and she cares about her customers. Debarkation was fairly smooth with a slight delay. But we had decided to stay overnite at the Pan Pacific Hotel after getting a great deal on travelzoo. com. We had an upper floor room overlooking the harbor, Lionsgate Bridge and the seaplane base. It was an incredibly stunning vista. Took the Trolley tour thru Stanley Park, got off and walked around Granville Island, with its charming art studios and public market, where we had a great chinese lunch. Then hopped on the trolley back to our hotel. Had dinner at the Lift Restaurant, on the harborfront near the westin bayside hotel. Took a taxi to the airport for about $40 with tip, since we had luggage with us. Air Canada was OK, the best thing is that they DO NOT charge you for the first checked bag. All in all, everyone should go to Alaska once in their lives. It is a wonderful land, unlike anything else in the lower 48.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our 15th cruise with Princess, but first to Alaska and first on the Diamond. We normally book a balcony or mini-suite but for this cruise opted for a less expensive option and booked an ocean view obstructed cabin as it did not ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise with Princess, but first to Alaska and first on the Diamond. We normally book a balcony or mini-suite but for this cruise opted for a less expensive option and booked an ocean view obstructed cabin as it did not seem likely that sitting on the balcony in a coat would be particularly to our taste. Being familiar with Princess ships we knew that there would be multiple inside viewing areas that would allow spectacular views, in particular we thought that Skywalkers would be a great place to view the scenery from and that assumption was correct. fortunately very few other people thought of this and typically there were only a handful of people using this massive space. We booked late and were unable to get our preferred Traditional fixed seating dining option. Our experience with Anytime dining was generally excellent. No issues with accessing a dining room at our preferred times as we generally made a reservation the day before or early in the morning, this also allowed us to get a table for two with no difficulty. We did miss the personal relationship that you can develop with your waiter when using Traditional fixed seating and for that reason we will likely return to traditional dining option for future cruises. On our anniversary we opted to dine at Sabbatini's, first time we have ever used one of the alternate dining options, the food and service were both exceptional. We had a table for two right beside the window so it made a perfect setting for our special occasion. The entertainment was generally excellent. We have seen most of the Princess production shows multiple times but they are always somewhat differently staged and of course the performers are different. On this particular cruise the shows were outstanding primarily based on the strength of one of the lead singers, Tracey Dawdy, who was an absolute powerhouse. Amazing range and handled all the different genres exceptionally well. I suspect that she has an acting background as she displayed a range of powerful emotions when singing that added to the production. A great change from the usually talented singers who simply 'stand and deliver', she didn't just sing - she preformed! We used ship booked shore excursions at all three ports and found them to be of higher quality than usual. We had exceptionally knowledge and personable guides/drivers on all three. Skagway we did the full day White Pass & Yukon Railway excursion which visits the Yukon. Went for a dog 'cart' ride at Carcross which was a highlight for my wife, not so much for me! In Juneau we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Garden Tour and in Ketchikan the Saxman Village and Totem Pole Park. We will definitely cruise again with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I had been advised to cruise with Princess because they "did" Alaska the best. I must say I agree. This was our first Cruise with Princess and we were favorably impressed. We found it to be less of a party atmosphere than other ... Read More
I had been advised to cruise with Princess because they "did" Alaska the best. I must say I agree. This was our first Cruise with Princess and we were favorably impressed. We found it to be less of a party atmosphere than other cruises we have been on. We stayed in a balcony room on the Lido deck port side. The room was very clean and nicely appointed, not really different from other balcony rooms we have stayed in. We certainly used our balcony quite a bit to watch the scenery and wildlife. The balcony was covered, which is nice when it rained. The only drawback was we did hear people walking on the deck above the balcony occasionally, however, it was nice to be so close the the pool and eating areas on the Lido deck. It didn't matter much which side of the ship your balcony room was on, as the ship turns around in the fjords and ports so that you eventually end up seeing what was on the other side. Our cabin steward was excellent, very friendly and pleasant. We thought the food was slightly better on this cruise than others we have been on. We were so busy we usually ate at the Horizon court buffet, poolside grill or pizza spot. We chose anytime dining but only visited one of the regular dining rooms (Pacific Moon) one night. We especially enjoyed all the fresh seafood they served. Several afternoons, there were special buffets in mid-afternoon set up by the pools. The service of the food staff was excellent. Be advised that antibacterial lotion is offered at the entrance of all dining rooms and buffets, manned by waitstaff, who make sure everyone uses it before entering. Hand sanitation is a real priority, and they remind you often. We enjoyed the Princess theater shows, especially the comedians and illusionist. The entertainment staff was very good and there is a great variety of things to do. We did Movies Under the Stars some nights,and you are provided with blankets to stay warm under. We chose to fly into Fairbanks. It was unusually rainy for Fairbanks while we were there. We stayed in Wedgewood Resorts Bear Lodge. It is a little older hotel than we usually stay in, but was very clean and nicely done. The service staff was very good and very friendly. There is a restaurant on site, and the gift shop has a snack bar that serves desserts, sandwiches and some breakfast items as well as candy and snacks. We ate at the dining room only once for a breakfast buffet which was very good but pricey. The snack bar was good and much more affordable but there are few places to sit. The resort itself has many things to see and do. There is an antique car museum and wildlife observatory. While in Fairbanks, we took the Wedgewood resort free trolley to many spots in Fairbanks, such as museums, downtown, Pioneer Park and shopping areas. There is a wonderful Migratory Bird Sanctuary there, however, the birds have been slow in coming this year, so we didn't see much. We chose to take a late evening Hummer tour, which was great fun, but unfortunately, we weren't able to see much except the Alaskan Pipeline because it was so unusually foggy and rainy. Our guide was awesome. The next day we took the Princess train to Denali National Park. We ate breakfast on the train, on the second story observation car. The food was great, especially the reindeer sausage. There is a bar on board and a guide who was great! Once in Denali, we stayed at the Princess Wilderness Lodge. It was beautiful, with great rooms, views and food! There is a free trolley to take you anywhere on the property. There are several great restaurants, even a pizza spot and coffee bars. Service was excellent. We took the Denali Back-country tour through Shoretrips.com. This tour gives you a school bus ride thru the park all the way to the end of the road in Kashtina. We had a wonderful driver who had lots of information on the park. We saw grizzlies, moose, caribou, eagles and a fox. The scenery is unbelievably beautiful. There are several pit stops at Park visitor areas and snacks and drinks are provided. A delicious lunch is served at the Kashtina Roadhouse ( there are awesome cabins there too). It really does take all day to do this tour, but well worth it. We had heard from several other guests how good the trails and hiking are there in the park. We also did Canyon Run whitewater rafting thru Shoretrips on the nearby Neanana River. The water is 32 degrees, so they put you in dry suits, which really do keep you dry, but be sure to wear really warm clothing and socks underneath it. We went through Class 2, 3 and 4 rapids. What a blast! Our guides were so awesome! The next day, we went by bus to Whitter, where we met the ship. For lunch, we stopped in Anchorage, where we could go wherever we wanted for lunch. We chose to go the the Captain Cook hotel and had an excellent seafood lunch. Afterwards, we went to a great street fair held on Saturdays in Anchorage. Our bus driver was very friendly and informative. Embarkation was fast and effortless. The next day we visited Hubbard Glacier. There was a naturalist on board who broadcasts from the bridge on wildlife sightings. I don't get cold easily but it would be wise to bring a substantial waterproof coat and waterproof shoes, hat and gloves if you plan to be out on the deck for wildlife viewing in the glacial areas! The rest of the time, we wore polar fleece jackets with a rain shell if needed. The next day, we visited Glacier Bay. Park rangers board the boat, and have presentations and wildlife viewing. Bring your really good binoculars and long lens cameras. We saw puffins, whales, harbor seals and dolphins. After visiting Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, we left the ship in beautiful Vancouver. We had transfers to the airport, and debarkation is a little slower than doing it yourself, but not too tedious. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I am an experienced cruiser, having traveled on Carnival, Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean with my family in the past. I have just returned from an 11-day land/sea tour , cruising on the Diamond Princess from Whittier to Vancouver. ... Read More
I am an experienced cruiser, having traveled on Carnival, Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean with my family in the past. I have just returned from an 11-day land/sea tour , cruising on the Diamond Princess from Whittier to Vancouver. Overall, the trip was a fabulous experience, due to the magnificent scenery and the natural beauty of Alaska. However, there were some serious disappointments that would cause me to hesitate to recommend the Diamond Princess to future travelers. Land Tour Positives: well organized, generally nice hotel facilities, plentiful, good options for excursions, very good, friendly service from Princess hotel staff, bus drivers etc. Land Tour Negatives: demands for luggage to be out for collection and extremely early hours. They wanted our bags outside our rooms at 6am at the Mt.McKinley Lodge, even though we didn't depart for the day until 11am. Fairbanks Princess Lodge- lobby not large enough - always very crowded, how about adding an indoor pool? hot tub? game room? something more to do? Natural History Tour in Denali- some of our group took this included tour, and found it to be too short, and they did not see much of Denali. We were glad to have been "tipped off" in advance via internet blogs that the Tundra Wilderness Tour was much more inclusive of the park and we upgraded to that and enjoyed it very much. Diamond Princess Cruise Positives: Good itinerary, nice selection of shore excursions. We chose this itinerary because it included both Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. Both were magnificent and not to be missed. Diamond Princess Cruise Negatives: *Arrival: On board the Princess train to Whittier, our train hostess announced that because our train was nearly 2 hours late coming to the ship, the ship would be having "open seating" in all dining rooms that evening and it would be "come as you are" as far as the dress code. After waiting through a very long line to go through the process of boarding the ship, (600 passengers all arrive at once on the train) we dropped our carry-on bags at our cabins and proceeded to the International Dining Room. We were turned away because it was not our time to dine (5:45 had come and gone) I told them about the "open seating" announcement that had been given and he just said "NO". We were referred to the "anytime" dining rooms, where we were turned away because one in our group was wearing shorts. Obviously, this was not a very warm welcome. When we expressed our concerns on the ship, it only brought about lectures about dress code. We are experienced cruisers and we understand dress code. The point is that their employees gave us erroneous information, and no one felt the need to apologize or adapt to the information that had been given to the passengers. We were forced to spend our first evening dining in the Horizon Buffet- a very over-heated serving area and dining room. There was a long line- only one side open, and a disorganized arrangement of food and people all bumping into each other. * As I said above, we chose this itinerary because it was the only one that included both Hubbard Glacier and Glacier bay, but the one big draw back I would say, is that when you arrive so late on the Princess train from the land excursion, you really miss your whole first day of cruising. We normally arrive to a cruise ship about 11am and spend the whole first afternoon exploring the ship, getting oriented etc. In this case, boarding at 7:30m and scrambling to find a place that would welcome us for dinner left us feeling cheated of our normal welcome aboard routine. * Horizon Buffet - this venue was always too warm. On another occasion, at breakfast, one side of the dining room was closed at 9am, even though this created a huge line on the remaining open side. We were hoping for a quick breakfast so we could explore the port that day, but the staff seemed more intent on "closing up" one area than on serving customers quickly and efficiently. This is only one small indication of an overall feeling we got that the staff was just not that interested in providing flawless customer service. *International Dining Room- our servers seemed to struggle to keep up with the tables they had. Any special requests took a long time to fulfill because they seemed to be always behind. On past cruises, our friendly servers quickly knew our names and we got to know them a little as well. Other past servers have been very helpful with the menu, and generous, even offering to bring out two appetizers or entrees if there was question about which one to order. These guys were strictly business with no "extra" offers of any kind. *One very important part of cruise travel that we appreciate, is the ability to travel with a large family group, each member doing their own thing during the day, and then all gathering together for dinner in the evening to share experiences and dining time together. We were traveling with an extended family group of 12. We were told that Princess would not accommodate us dining together at a table that large. Rather we were seated at two tables of 6, next to each other, but with different service staff. They were usually finished well before us, due to their efficient servers.... not much fellowship time together at dinner. I consider this a very significant reason to choose Royal Caribbean or Disney over Princess for our family travels in the future. Our experience with Disney and RCCL in the past was one of the staff going out of their way to accommodate the wishes of the passengers whenever possible. A table for 12 or even 15 is not a problem on those lines. Also, we chose traditional early seating, hoping for our family group to dine together regularly. I would recommend "anytime" dining instead. We missed much of the good viewing of Hubbard Glacier because we were at dinner. Also, some shore excursions run into dining times as well. *A second very important reason we enjoy family cruising is the variety of activities for all ages on most ships. We were pleased to see that the Diamond Princess had multiple swimming pools and 4 hot tubs, as our teenagers really like to swim (as do we). We were more than disappointed to find that the hot tubs were closed for most of the cruise. We were lucky if there was one open at any given time. The indoor pool was also closed periodically. Again, I spoke up on the board the ship, but was told a variety of "stories" by different staffers. One made up an amusing tale about the fact that they aren't allowed to have the pools open due to the environment in Alaska (???) Others told us the "chlorine was off". There seemed to be very little effort to correct the situation. We paid a huge sum of money to vacation with our family on your ship, and we felt cheated that one of the amenities that was important to us was rarely available. If pools / hot tubs are not generally available in Alaska, then that should be publicized well in advance. * Shows: we attended the shows in the large theater each evening. They were decent, but you had to arrive early for the first show or the seats would be gone. Other more popular shows in the show lounges also were standing-room only. *Cabin Steward: our cabin steward was the most friendly staff that we encountered and he kept the room nice and clean. However, on a number of occasions we tried to "page" him as per the instructions by the phone in the cabin and we never got any response to our pages. We were looking to get ice in the room for cold drinks, but that did not happen all week. The only way we finally got ice was by ordering it from room service. * Food: I usually found one item on the menu each evening that I wanted to order, but no more than that. Many of their selections were just plain "weird". The Alaskan food buffet and a dessert buffet were set up outside on the lido deck two afternoons. They looked great when first presented, but huge crowds of people waiting in long lines quickly devoured these foods and they didn't seem to make any attempt to replenish the foods. The buffet was published to be from 11am-2pm, so we decided to wait until closer to 2pm when we hoped the lines would be down. Surely the lines were down, but the food was wiped out by then as well. These problem areas might seem small and insignificant, but as a passenger, it's all these small "niceties" that add up to a wonderful cruise experience. Maybe these disappointments were magnified because one of the couples that were traveling with us had never cruised before. We had bragged to them, in advance, how attentive, friendly, and accommodating a cruise staff is normally, making every passenger feel like a "prince" or "princess". Instead, once on board the Diamond Princess we spent much of our time apologizing to these friends that the experience was not as we had described. After our trip on the Star Princess in 2007, followed by two cruises on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, I would have told people that Princess and RCL were about equal in service, food, etc. My opinion has now shifted well in favor of Royal. Finally, I know Princess doesn't control things at the airports, but I will tell you I would recommend that folks avoid departing through the Vancouver airport if at all possible. Their system was ridiculously complicated. We waited in no less than 7 different lines, showing our documentation over and over again and dragging our luggage with us much of the way. It took over 2 hours to make it through their system and I am told is "quick" for them. We've traveled a whole summer in Europe with less immigration/ security hassle. Thanks for reading my comments- feel free to email me with any specific questions: rknelson3@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
From the disorganized check-in process to disembarkation, the Diamond Princess is a mockery of the hospitality industry. When placed on a different deck than on our reservation, customer service simply said they were fully booked and would ... Read More
From the disorganized check-in process to disembarkation, the Diamond Princess is a mockery of the hospitality industry. When placed on a different deck than on our reservation, customer service simply said they were fully booked and would get back with us and that the option we received was much better and quieter than the original booking. All statements were false. We never heard from anyone while onboard the ship. The food was horrible. It was comparable to a high school cafeteria. I lost ten pounds while on the trip. Not even a decent cup of coffee was to found onboard the ship. The staff was not well train and not able to answer the simpliest question. For example, my husband was locked in the gym by the staff. He had to call security to unlock the door. We asked to change American dollars into Canadain Dollars and was told they did not handle currency onboard. Additionally, we received the same response when a washing machine ate our change and did not work. We were charged for making a reservation to eat in any of the "anytime" dining rooms. The list goes on-and- on. However, probably the most reflective of the Princess Cruise line incompetency is the post cruise online survey. Sent on June 11th, the ending day of the cruise, I was not able to respond to it until June 16th due to extension of our travel. When I attempted to participate in the post-cruise survey, I received the pop-up window that the survey had expired. I guess Princess really does not want to know. I filed this review with Princess via email and did receive an answering machine response but was not able to understand the customer service representative message due to his mumbled verbage. Please do not waste your money crusing with Princess Cruise Line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We are mid-late 50's and have previously cruised both RCCL and Princess. We had a great time on this cruise. If anyone has previously only cruised in the Caribbean, it is good to be aware that cruises to Alaska are ... Read More
We are mid-late 50's and have previously cruised both RCCL and Princess. We had a great time on this cruise. If anyone has previously only cruised in the Caribbean, it is good to be aware that cruises to Alaska are different than Caribbean cruises, no matter what line or ship you are on. The fellow passengers will tend to be slightly older and there are not the pool side festivities that Caribbean cruises are well known for. Alaska is about the scenery and wildlife. Food: I know food is subjective, but we thought most of the food was very good. I primarily ordered the fish dishes offered in the main dining room and all but one dish was fabulous. One dish did not appeal to me, so I ordered something else...no big deal and the waiter was happy to accommodate. My husband typically ordered one of the mean dishes, either beef, lamb or pork and was happy with all his selections. I am always amazed when people say they have a hard time finding something on the menu that appeals to them. If you happen to get something you don't care for, just re-order something else and quit complaining. We chose anytime dining and I really liked it. We were always seated at a table for two. We usually arrived between 6:00 and 6:30 and were always seated quickly. Once we arrived at 7:30 and had to wait a half hour. Not a bad thing, since we then spend time looking out of the windows by the lobby bar and saw about 3 whales fairly close to ship. The buffet can get crowded for breakfast, but we always were able to find a seat. Entertainment and speakers: Princess has a wildlife speaker/naturalist on board their Alaskan cruises which I enjoyed. I enjoyed all the presentations. If I had to give any feedback, it would be that I would like to have learned more specifics about each of the main animals/wildlife encountered, such as sea otter, harbor seals, humpbacks, etc. We were given some info, but I would have preferred more detail. Avoid any of the "shopping talks" what ever cruise you are on...nothing but a paid commercial and a total waste of time. Most of the entertainment in the theaters was good to very good, not necessarily outstanding, but fun and enjoyable for an evening. The comedians were my favorite. The first shows in the main theater and Explorer's lounge always filled up early, so if you are interested in going during those time slots, get there early. We beat the crowds by always going to the second shows in the evening and never had a problem getting a seat. Ship and staff: We always encountered friendly and helpful service. The ship was elegant and nicely decorated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This trip was a replacement (can you believe this) for a 16 day jaunt from Valparaiso, Chile to San Francisco on Star in March 2011, However Princess for the second time cancelled a cruise from under our feet. It took years to convince my ... Read More
This trip was a replacement (can you believe this) for a 16 day jaunt from Valparaiso, Chile to San Francisco on Star in March 2011, However Princess for the second time cancelled a cruise from under our feet. It took years to convince my wife that there was more than your standard "warm weather" cruising, so off we went. We stayed with friends in Vancouver prior to our flight(s) to Anchorage. The two of us flew with Continental on a Vancouver/Seattle/ Anchorage routing for the great price of CAD$736.00. Air Canada wanted CAD$630 plus change per person for the non-stop Vancouver/Anchorage flight. Arrival times were not that far apart. Great service and will fly Continental again in a heartbeat. Stayed one night pre-cruise at the Holiday Inn Express in Anchorage on Spenard Street close to the airport. For an HI Express, it had all the amenities of the larger Holiday Inns (without a pool). It appears to be a relatively new property for IC hotels...very clean and modern. Beds were extremely comfortable (almost Crowne Plaza standard for an HI Express). Princess can take a lesson here. Cab fare to downtown was USD$13-15. For those who booked Princess transfers, the transfer process opened at 9am with the first shuttle departing the Convention Centre for Whittier at 1pm. The process was excellent all staffed by locals. You could leave your bags there, check them in and they'd show up several hours later at your stateroom door. This allowed you more free hands to do pre-cruise shopping in Anchorage for those items necessary for a happy cruise...a few well priced PGA golf shirts and of course a few pairs of dress pants to replace those with the ever shrinking waist bands. Transfer time to Whittier was approximately 90 minutes and the bus driver was knowledgeable on the local area providing the standard tourist info especially on the sandbars and the tunnel through the mountain into the port area. Check in at the pier was painless. As we were Platinum Captain's Circle members the staff checked for our Preferred Boarding Pass and ushered us to the front where we were served immediately. Afer providing the print of the credit Card we were on our way shipboard cards in ahnd and we were onboard and in our staterooms within 30 minutes of arriving in Whittier. It was our first time on this class of vessel. She looks magnificent from the outside, but after having explored several of the venues and shipboard areas as well as our stateroom we were a tad sad to see her run down look throughout in general. Furnishings were well rubbed (not polished) scuffed and in most cases are in dire need of replacement. Hopefully a refit in Singapore in October this year will include more than the requisite installation of MUTS and an International Cafe. The seating in the Princess Theatre for some reason felt more comfortable than the Golden and Star, possibly due to the lack of comfort of the beds in the stateroom (even with egg crate attached). Sammi Baker as always is an effervescent lady as a Cruise Director and was always interacting with passengers...a real go getter. The hypnotist from Las Vegas, she was OK...why do they advertise the shows with promo material that is 10-15 years out of date? Other than that didn't take in any of the larger onboard productions. In terms of activities I suppose we were spoiled by the numbers who participated in sea-day activities on Star on our trans Pacific voyage. Trivia sessions were lucky to draw 15 people if you were lucky, and I felt bad for Tim, the art director, as there were no large crowds bidding on the Nechita and Rembrandt pieces he was trying to auction off. I give great credit to the service level provided onboard specifically to Harish our stateroom steward and to Satipa one of the bartenders in the Atrium, Wheelhouse and Tradewinds Bars. Even outside in inclement whether she would always have a smile and chat with you although she could have used some warming up I'm sure. Our dining room stewards were amazing, and we lucked into getting them (a total Thai team) for six of the seven nights onboard, which segues into a somewhat contentious topic dining. The food for the most part in the HC was average to below average and cool temperature wise. It took 13 minutes to find a replacement bottle of ketchup. I am convinced that the chair hogs from Caribbean cruises, when on Alaskan cruises move indoors and occupy chairs and tables sitting and reading for hours on end while others are left to fend for a place to eat. This was a common complaint on this cruise. The food in the main DR was nothing to write home about, about 3-4 out of five on the Richter scale for food. Then onto that favourite contentious issue of dress in the Dining room. A group of Taiwanese cruisers were seated next to us on five of our six nights. They obviously had never bothered to read the dress "suggestions" from Princess as they sat down at the table in jeans, sneakers, teeshirts and wearing caps, ballcaps and (yes even) toques for you Canadians out here. What topped it off was when they brought out the laptop placed it on the table and illuminated the corner of the Dining Room with the twenty minute PowerPoint presentation of all the they had taken. The issue was addressed to Paco and Joseph, the head waiters for the Vivaldi DR who explained that they had almost been fired for trying to address a similar issue on a previous occasion. It would appear that the poor staff are in a Catch 22 situation either way. Princess needs to establish DR policies that are applied equitably across the fleet. Plaudits to Capt Bob Oliver, his Staff Captain and the Bridge crew for getting us so close to the glaciers in both Yakutat and Glacier Bays. Bob is off for a well deserved holiday with the family as we speak. ...and before you know it the seven days had come and gone. Even though we were "walk off", I give credit to Princess for having moved the "luggage out" time tppm from midnight which allows all passengers to try to sleep without the continual ruckas of baggage being bounced about throughout the early hours. Disembarkation was painless and Canada Customs and Immigration at Canada Place (IMHO) are the friendliest ( if you can call a CBSA officer that). To summarize, a cruise with both highs and lows. I do hope they can certainly do something during the refit to update the furnishings and carpets in the staterooms and public areas to freshen her up on the inside as well as out. From captainron, you know it by now...Ciao for now!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Diamond Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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