23 Whittier First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was a much anticipated and planned for cruise with my daughters and there husbands. This was my 8th cruise on Princess, first trip to Alaska. I won't berate the ship or crew severely though will comment briefly later. My ... Read More
This was a much anticipated and planned for cruise with my daughters and there husbands. This was my 8th cruise on Princess, first trip to Alaska. I won't berate the ship or crew severely though will comment briefly later. My travel agent made some very good recommendations that turned out great for our trip. We flew into Anchorage AK the day before Embarkation. At his suggestion we choose to take the Alaska Railroad to Whittier. That was an incredible trip in itself. The train literally puts you out on the dock at the Ship. We were able to board and get to our cabins immediately. We had booked a premium balcony with an interior cabin directly across the hall. As the cruise does not leave until 8:00 PM I took the kids on a tour of the ship. We did a leisurely lunch and the only evening dining room dinner I enjoyed for the rest of the cruise. So now everyone are thinking Norovirus, Ohhhhh Nooooo! The first clue that should have warned me was at the Emergency Drill. We were in a packed lounge and there was so much coughing and sniffling going you could not avoid being contaminated. Sure enough the next day my cold/flu started and I spent the next 6 days confined to my cabin for 90% of this trip. No ships crew could have sprayed enough disinfectant around to account for all the sick people that got on that ship. Ok that being said what scenery I saw from my kids balcony was breathtaking. We actually had sun on the Hubbard glacier day. The rest of the trip was overcast but not rainy. My girls and Spouses had a blast. They did railroad excursion in Skagway, whale watching in Juneau and Salmon fishing in Ketchikan. To hear there stories every day was worth every minute. Now as for the ship: The Star Princess was pretty Typical with one pool area with a closed roof. Movies under the Stars was not well attended on the nights the Kids went, it was just too cold and damp. The crew were probably not the best I have had on other Princess ships, but I had only limited interaction due to my being sick the entire trip. That may be due to Alaska burn out on the crews part, their next destination was Hawaii, that should have cheered them up. This was the last Alaska cruise for the season. I truly think Princess has Alaska down cold. With the land excursions and comments I heard from passengers arriving on Princess train/bus transport there were only great comments all around. Food I did have was well prepared, I did venture out on Glacier Bay Day, the buffet put out on deck was very good, all the while many with colds still walking around, thanks to the kids for meals and assistance. I will stop bellyaching and let you know I did see and enjoyed enough even sick that I'll be on the second Coral Princess cruise itinerary to Alaska this coming May. I truly think you can't go wrong with Princess for an Alaska Vacation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We did a land tour first and then a seven night cruise southwards of the Inside Passage on the Pacific Princess. This was our first cruise and we are now hooked. The land tour which was also organised by Princess was well planned, we had a ... Read More
We did a land tour first and then a seven night cruise southwards of the Inside Passage on the Pacific Princess. This was our first cruise and we are now hooked. The land tour which was also organised by Princess was well planned, we had a great Tour Director with us who was very knowledgable and helpful, and we felt we learned a great deal about life in Alaska. The boarding process at Anchorage was well organised and we enjoyed being on a smaller ship of 670 passengers and around 300 crew. Food was excellent, particularly the buffet, the staff were attentive and cheerful, entertainment and presentations were also great and there were also lots of viewing areas on the boat without feeling too crowded. Our inside cabin 8036 was also great, plenty of storage, quiet, comfy bed and pillows and a lovely cabin steward. Good value for money as we were only in it to sleep. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Pacific Princess and would recommend to others. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I did the pre-cruise land tour to McKinley and Denali Lodges. Wonderful. No complaints there. Then we rode the train down to Whittier and boarded the ship. I loved the Grand. Everyone was super nice. I had no problems at all anywhere ... Read More
I did the pre-cruise land tour to McKinley and Denali Lodges. Wonderful. No complaints there. Then we rode the train down to Whittier and boarded the ship. I loved the Grand. Everyone was super nice. I had no problems at all anywhere on the ship. The food and service in the dining rooms was great. The entertainment was wonderful. I saw a show where they danced and sang 50's music. They were really good. They had a wonderful comedian onboard. His show was the best! The entertainment in the piazza was always good. I loved the dance party on Wednesday night when they dropped the golden balloons. That was lots of fun. Seeing the scenery, the naturalist they had on board was perfect. They had the first female Iditarod winner onboard. She was great. Overall, it was the perfect cruise for me. I enjoyed every minute of it. Let me add here that I was traveling by myself. And I had a wonderful time! I will definitely sail with Princess again. And hopefully soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We had never cruised before and had some concerns about the Grand Princess after reading so many negative reviews. Maybe because we had nothing to compare.. BUT, our Alaskan Cruisetour was overall fantastic.,!! Sure the ship wasn't ... Read More
We had never cruised before and had some concerns about the Grand Princess after reading so many negative reviews. Maybe because we had nothing to compare.. BUT, our Alaskan Cruisetour was overall fantastic.,!! Sure the ship wasn't the newest, but overall it was pretty good shape and we found that the crew was constantly cleaning and painting etc. Food was far better than we expected, and the anytime dining rooms for all of our meals (plus a couple of room service breakfasts and afternoon fresh fruit and cookie) was great. Entertainment was really well done and varied.. From a British Invasion show, comedian, magician, Irish duo and National Park Ranger talks.. Ok, the BIG complaint was the smoking. As someone with asthma, we were very careful in reading the no smoking rules before booking, and Princess seemed pretty good, even restricting smoking on private balconies, which they said was strictly enforced... Well, not only was the casino was so smoky, but they LEFT ALL THE DOORS OPENED CONSTANTLY! This filled the beautiful 3-story Piazza in the midship with smoke 24-7, making it completely miserable to enjoy the International Cafe for coffee and desserts, or the many venues and entertainment found in that area. After the cruise l contacted Princess to understand why they simply could not close the casino doors to contain the smoke, and the rep couldn't really give me any good explanation... And after pressing her further, she came up with a lame answer about ventilation not being good in the casino... It's unfortunate that after an amazing trip otherwise with Princess Cuises, that this is enough for us not to be looking at another using Princess, as they seemed far more concerned with the poor ventilation for the smokers in the casino than for the vast majority of cruisers enjoyment on the rest of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We just completed our first ever cruising experience with the last Alaska cruise for the Coral Princess this season in Sept 2013. We also booked the Princess pre-cruise land package to Mt. McKinley & Denali Nat'l Park. 1. ... Read More
We just completed our first ever cruising experience with the last Alaska cruise for the Coral Princess this season in Sept 2013. We also booked the Princess pre-cruise land package to Mt. McKinley & Denali Nat'l Park. 1. Pre-cruise tour was very good, saw some of Alaska in the shortest time possible but you spend more time in transportation then enjoying the destinations. We will want to cruise Alaska again but next time we will book our own land hotel & train arrangements & spend more time in Denali, Fairbanks etc. 2. We choose this southbound inside passage cruise as it visited both Hubbard Glacier & Glacier Bay whereas many cruises only see Glacier Bay. Hubbard was well worth it! 3. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise experience on Princess and would sail them again. Service was excellent everywhere except one shipboard amenity below. Overall a wonderful cruise. 4. Food was very good, tasty, well prepared and well presented especially in the main dinning rooms. However, the dinner menus were selected with very cost conscious budgets in mind. Prime rib was on the menu the first night but after a day of travel I didn't want a heavy meal so I thought I'd enjoy it another night. Wrong! Prime rib never appeared again. Same with Lobster night, ditto steak night; 1 night only and gone if you please. And the steak was well prepared but I'm sure was "Select" grade, not Choice or Prime cuts. There are 2 sections to the sit down menu, "Chef's Specials" and "Always Available". Go for the specials as we tried 2 every day items and they were very mediocre. There was a dedicated hamburger & hot dog grill open for lunch every day and I wanted a hamburger but it was fatty and stringy so never went again. For us food isn't the most important priority but if you want top notch dinning find a more upscale cruise line. 5. The only real issue for us was the Spa service. The front desk girls were courteous but not friendly and the entire spa crew must work on commissions as there was never ending pressure to up sell you. Whatever spa service you booked they'd try & tell you that you really needed a more expensive package. And once inside the spa the service girls were relentless on trying to get you to buy their products. We'll either never set foot in a Princess Spa again or at least talk to other passengers first to get their read on the particular spa crew before trying. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
we were delighted when we joined the cruise in Whittier, the send-off was with fireworks and it was great to see. The sail down to Skagway was quite nice too but it was always quite misty on the shores so we were unable to see much. ... Read More
we were delighted when we joined the cruise in Whittier, the send-off was with fireworks and it was great to see. The sail down to Skagway was quite nice too but it was always quite misty on the shores so we were unable to see much. However Glacier bay was spectacular and the ship did go very slow for pictures and stuff. The activities on board were not so great, the prices of alchohol at meals and at the bar were extortionate to say the least AND this Cruse crowd DO NOT give drinks packages like other lines do so it was put up or shut up. The meals were good to start but got very samey when you got to the 3rd and 4th days. The wine at table was quite ridiculously priced so we declined as did our other 6 diners at the table. If the price for a bottle of wine at the table was reasonable then everyone could have probably bought one, but as I said the prices were extortionate therefore Princess cruises lost out big time. People always speak with their wallets if things are too dear. We decided we would go for something different one night for dinner so booked into the steak house, we enjoyed our steaks and the pudding but we did not enjoy that a surcharge of $20 per head was added on to the bill, plus we were cotracred in to pay $12 dollars per person per day for gratuities to the staff. This is not what I would call tipping for good service, it was in fact tipping for the sake of tipping and it should be stamped out. This should be left to the individual and NOT be compulsory. The 1st port we visited was skagway which was excellent, a day later we visited Juneau which also was excellent, both were wet but warmish but that did not deter from their appeal. The next stop was to be Ketchekan, but due to a Force 11 storm brewing we were told that it had been cancelled. So we had to sit, the now, Force 12 storm out aboard the ship as it grew worse and worse. It only blew itself out as we approached Vancouver. After paying our bar bill at the end, our gratuities bill was $117.90. Still a total rip-off and should be exposed so that people can choose for themselves about tipping. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We decided to do the land tour first and then sail south down the inside passage to Vancouver. We correctly thought we would be tired after the land tour and ready to relax on the Coral Princess for the next 7 days. We left July 4th and ... Read More
We decided to do the land tour first and then sail south down the inside passage to Vancouver. We correctly thought we would be tired after the land tour and ready to relax on the Coral Princess for the next 7 days. We left July 4th and returned home July 17th, 2013. We packed rain jackets and layered our clothing. Most of the land tour was in the 55-60 range, overcast and drizzled often. We wore all the layers we brought including our rain jackets. We started in Anchorage and stayed at the Captain Cook, a great hotel and perfect location in downtown Anchorage. We left by motorcoach to Princess McKinley lodge and were there 2 nights. The room was nice, weather was chilly and rainey and the mosquitoes BIG. The lodge was nice and had a great view of McKinley, if the clouds lifted. We were VERY lucky on the 2nd day after we returned from our excersion and the clouds had lifted and we were able to see McKinley. We took the Devil's Canyon Adventure Tour and it was EXCELLENT, very exciting and we got a lot of great photos. I highly recommend this excersion. We then went by motorcoach to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. The room was fine and the lodge was nice. We tood the Tundra Wilderness Tour, it was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend this excersion. We saw moose, bears, caribou and Dall Sheep with spectacular scenery. Lucky for us the rain stopped right after we started the tour and stayed away all day! After the tour we saw the Denali Dog Sled Show (free) and it was great. We then road the Princess Dome Railcar for 8.5 hours to Whittier. The lower level of the dome railcar had an elegant dinning room. The entire experience was EXCELLENT. You should definitely enjoy this experience while in Alaska. We boarded the Coral Princess at Whittier. Boarding was well organized, in fact we were very impressed with how well organized ever aspect of our tour had been. Our bags always arrived at the next destination and moving all the people from place to place went very smoothly. The Coral Princess was exceptional. Staff was always friendly and asking if there was anything they could do. Our room steward was wonderful. The ship was beautiful, everything sparkling like new and nothing out of place. We had a great time on the ship. In Skagway we rode the White Pass Scenic Railway, a MUST DO! In Juneau we did the Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari, another MUST DO! In Ketchikan we went to the Totem Bight State Park and the Lumberjack Show. We enjoyed both activities. At Vancouver we purchased the Princess transfer and it was flawless. It was well worth the cost which I think is probably about the same cost as taking a taxi from the port to the airport. Highly recommend you use the Princess transfer services. Overall we give the Princess Crusietour the top rating and when we cruise again it will be with Princess! Be sure and read the other reviews that give suggestions on what to pack, I was glad I did! Some of the things we used every day, rain coat, hat, gloves, extension cords and warm socks. I ended up buying some long socks because my little short socks didn't do it for me. I hope you take the time to read the reviews because they will give you great insight into what to expect, how to pack and help you decide which cruise line will be best for you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As a 1st time cruiser(s) we wanted to make sure our experience would be top shelf all the way. We booked the Sun thru RCI-Exchange and got a price of about $5,600 for both of us in Penthouse 0065 - Deck 10 Aft. We were escorted VIP ... Read More
As a 1st time cruiser(s) we wanted to make sure our experience would be top shelf all the way. We booked the Sun thru RCI-Exchange and got a price of about $5,600 for both of us in Penthouse 0065 - Deck 10 Aft. We were escorted VIP privately onto the ship at Whittier and were immediately introduced to our butler, Juremar, who had a bucket of champagne and appetizers waiting for us in the living area. My wife was immediately impressed with the size, location and comfort of the Penthouse suite with the large balcony, separate jacuzzi bath & shower and ample living area for entertaining. We had also booked aft cabin 0267 for our friends which was 2 doors starboard of our cabin. Butler service allowed us to have private dining in the room each morning we wanted, appetizers in the afternoons and wine our champagne on demand. We only dined in the specialty restaurants for Teppanyaki, Brazillian style, East meets West steakhouse, Le Bistro for my birthday night, and Sushi and Italian for good measure. All the service was excellent and we want to especially thank our restaurant host Alvin Hernandez for being exceptional and going above and beyond to make us feel like VIPs. We flew the Temsco helicopters in Skagway up to the glacier for the dog sledding ( my wife's favorite day of the trip), took whale watching tours everywhere we could and saw large numbers of humpbacks. We were so impressed all around that we have booked the Panama Canal aboard the NCL Star in Nov for 13 days... Penthouse all the way baby! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Princess delivered a great cruise/tour to Denali and the inside passage. We had never taken an organized tour or a cruise; our first experience met every expectation. As we researched the places and activities in Alaska, we determined that ... Read More
Princess delivered a great cruise/tour to Denali and the inside passage. We had never taken an organized tour or a cruise; our first experience met every expectation. As we researched the places and activities in Alaska, we determined that we wanted to see the Kenai Peninsula, Denali, and the inside passage. We wanted the freedom of independent travel to see the Kenai Peninsula, but we decided that we would enjoy the convenience of an organized tour to Denali, and we wanted to ride the domed railcar from Denali to the cruise ship. After selecting the HB5 land tour, we selected the dates/ship for the Princess portion of our Alaskan adventure; then, we booked air tickets that took us to Anchorage a few days before the Princess tour. For the next few months I researched activities. Prior to travel, we completed the requested information on the Princess website and read the instructions for our tour. Princess has excellent organization and processes. Upon arrival at Hotel Captain Cook, we checked in at the Princess desk (not the hotel front desk) where we were given an envelope with our room keys, instructions for departing to the next location the following morning, and luggage tags for the next stop. Princess is expert at transporting people and luggage to each place, and a successful trip is obtained just by following their instructions. The motor coaches are comfortable and accommodating, driven by capable drivers who also provide information and stories along the way. Once we began the Princess land and cruise tour, we did not have to worry about our luggage until we departed the cruise ship in Vancouver. Tour HB5 was the perfect land tour for us. It provided one night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, two nights at McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and two nights at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. After reading that Denali is only visible an average of one out of three days, we hoped that we would get to see it at least once - we were very lucky that the mountain was visible 4 out of 5 days! It is an amazing sight! Spending two nights at McKinley Princess was better than one night for us because the location is in an area that provides great views of the mountain when it is not enshrouded in clouds. It also gave us a full day to enjoy the town of Talkeetna. More than two nights at Denali would have been better, but we were happy to enjoy 1  days in the park. The only significant comment I'll make here about Denali NP is to note that, prior to travel, we cancelled the Natural History Tour that was part of the Princess package. They kindly gave us a refund for the tour. Prior to travel I booked the national park shuttle to Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66 in the park. This gave us a much better opportunity to see the park. The train ride in the domed railcar from Denali to Whittier was a highlight; we were assigned to a car and table that happened to be among a great group of people - we talked and laughed all day as we marveled at the beautiful views and photographed the scenery. I've reviewed the lodges on TripAdvisor, so all I'll comment here is that a variety of room types exist at both lodges. I don't know if there's a way to get the better rooms, but we were satisfied with our accommodations. At McKinley, our room was neat and clean - nothing special except for the fact that the window provided a great view of Denali. Our room at Denali Princess was much nicer but with no special view. Some travelers who were a little disappointed in their room at Denali had had a much nicer room at McKinley As we traveled by rail from Denali to Whittier, Princess once again impressed us with their organization. At a brief stop in Anchorage, staff boarded the train and checked everyone in for the cruise. Our boarding pass was collected, and passports were scanned. Before leaving the train, we were given our cards which were used for identification and cabin entry on the ship. Leaving the ship, we only had to wait in two lines - one for security and one for an electronic identification photo which was later used when leaving and re-boarding the ship at each port of call. We were amazed with how easy it is to travel with Princess. Coral Princess is a great ship! Our Baja-level cabin and balcony was comfortable, and we were well cared for by our cabin steward. In fact, all of the stewards were friendly and helpful during our week on the ship. The atrium, theaters, dining rooms, buffet, and public areas were all attractive and well maintained. Since our cabin was aft and dining was forward, we had quite a walk to the dining rooms and some shows, but we enjoyed the back deck and were glad to be close to the laundry. Sailing was smooth, and we had no issues with sleeping. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court buffet each day; the options were many, and the food was very good. Buffet wait staff was professional and friendly, and except for very busy times, service was perfect. Dining in Horizon Court can be a little hectic during the busy times, and we often ended up sharing a table with others - not a problem since it gives an opportunity to share travel experiences. Pizza was easy to pickup for a late snack after busy days in port. Dinner in the dining room was a treat - tablecloths, special menus, excellent service. We ate some meals with other diners at large tables; other dinners were at a table for two. We preferred the private table, but note that another table for two will be so close that you will find yourself talking with the other couple. When I celebrated my birthday one evening, the waiters delivered a special dessert and sang. My favorite dinner was the orange roughy one evening - cooked to perfection! Entertainment on the ship was enjoyable. The variety of shows provides something for everyone. We enjoyed the musical presentations and the magic shows of Garry Carson. Our days were very busy, so it was good that the shows were an average of 35 minutes. It was fun to see two different shows on the same evening without worrying about falling asleep after the busy day! Princess provides access to tours at the ports of call. They can be booked before or during travel. We did not book any tours with Princess. After spending many dollars for the cruise tour, we looked for less expensive ways to tour Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. The day at Glacier Bay National Park was amazing - great information was provided by the park rangers that boarded the ship. One reason that we booked the southbound cruise was for the opportunity to see Hubbard Glacier; however, ice and fog prevented the ship from making the trip all the way into Yakutat Bay to see the largest glacier. Lesson for touring Alaska - stay flexible, and realize that you can have a great day even when weather conditions prevent you from your planned activities. I had read here about the forward viewing deck on the Baja and Caribe levels. When I first looked for it, I was put off by the sign on the door that indicated crew only, but later, I pushed on through and found a great place for viewing Glacier Bay National Park - others did too. The only negative to the forward decks is that it's cold when the ship is moving, but then so is your balcony - bundle up! The back decks on the same levels were great for watching the sunset during the later part of our cruise when we were further east and the sun was setting in late evening. The only alarming moments on the ship were early on our first morning at sea - 4:30 to be exact. A passenger became ill during the night and needed to be transported to a medical facility. It was a strange way to wake hearing the captain's voice through the speaker just above our heads informing us what was happening, but we were comforted to know the professional and caring way that the ship's captain and crew handled an emergency situation. Decks were cleared, and a few top-level cabins were evacuated for two hours. A helicopter arrived and hovered using a basket to pick up the ill passenger. We later heard that the passenger would be o.k., and we were very happy to see that all the necessary precautions were a taken to handle the situation. Since the trip overall was very pricey, we looked for ways to save dollars. Instead of booking the Princess transfer from the ship to the Vancouver airport, we used a shuttle service at the airport -- $15 each instead of $29. We used public transportation in Ketchikan, and we rode a bus from the kiosk tour area of the dock in Juneau out to Mendenhall Glacier. In Skagway, we saved $80 by booking the Whitepass and Yukon Railway tour that we wanted with a reputable tour operator. While planning, it is important to learn what places and activities are available in each locale, decide what is most important to you, and learn what options are available for seeing/doing what you want. Things we wish we'd known before travel: - the ship PA system dialogue for stops in Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay National Park is provided on a ship TV channel that you can listen to from your cabin or balcony - breakfast and lunch are served in the formal dining room as well as the Horizon Court - if doing anytime dining, call each morning for a dinner reservation time - order afternoon fruit delivered to the cabin for snacking without walking to the dining area Tips I found here on CruiseCritic that were helpful: - take a nightlight for the bathroom - spacious storage for luggage available under the bed Other things to know: - if doing a land tour before cruising, be sure to pack a suitcase that can just meet you at the ship - very convenient to keep from lugging all of your luggage all over Alaska even when luggage handling is provided - when packing at home, pack a small backpack that will take minimal space in your luggage; then, use the backpack as your personal carry bag during the land tour when you must keep valuables, medication, etc. with you separate from the suitcase that Princess transports - the cabin safe is convenient for small items like passports, wallets, watches, etc., but it is too small for a laptop - the shower in our Coral Princess bathroom had a clothes line - we were glad that we packed some plastic tube hangers for doing laundry onboard ship - pack a sweatsuit or something warm for sitting on your balcony - it's quite chilly when the ship is moving - wearing sea bands all week and taking motion sickness pills at bedtime prevented sea sickness Prior to this trip, we thought that cruising Alaska's inside passage would be our only cruise; however, we enjoyed our experience so much that we have decided to look for other cruise opportunities that meet our travel desires. We would definitely travel with Princess again. A more-detailed report of our trip activities is on TripAdvisor.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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
Since we had never cruised before, didn't know what to expect except what we had read. It was certainly better than expected! The staff of Princess Cruises love to help out the first time cruisers. Never felt so taken care of and ... Read More
Since we had never cruised before, didn't know what to expect except what we had read. It was certainly better than expected! The staff of Princess Cruises love to help out the first time cruisers. Never felt so taken care of and didn't want for anything. The cruise tour started off with freezing weather because the day before we got there it had gotten colder than it had been since 1928. It's Alaska, never know what to expect. Fairbanks riverboat and tour was wonderful even though it was freezing, there is coffee and donuts. In Denali had to switch rooms because of frozen pipes but Princess gave us each $25 vouchers for our trouble. Luggage was transported from spot to spot although a little late coming sometimes. Went on tour by Princess into park and saw a couple of Moose. Was beautiful and informative. In McKinley, the lodge and the mountain was beautiful. They say only 30% see it, it usually has a ring of clouds around it but not on the day we were there. For about an hour, it was clear.Took a bus to the train to get to the ship in Whittier, our float trip was cancelled because the river was frozen.Boarding ship was a breeze and so exciting for us. The weather turned out to be beautiful the whole trip. Cabin was great, steward friendly and helpful as were all of the staff. Danced until we couldn't dance anymore. Had great luncheon on deck when we went to glaciers. All Alaskan food! Ports we stopped in were interesting, but a lot of shopping. Our favorite was the the helicopter ride and a stop to walk on a glacier in Juneau or maybe it was the Whitepass railway in Skagway. Too many favorites to count!Disembarking in Vancouver went very smoothly because Princess was there to direct us all the way.Food was very good on the buffet but in the Anytime dining room, it was delicious. No problems eating at 6:00pm every evening, I even lost 5lbs eating fish every night while hubby gained 8lbs. We really enjoyed the wait staff and their great smiles.We would do this trip again in a flash. And we are planning our next cruise to the Panama Canal on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Being first time "big ship" cruisers, and avid travellers, we spent 2 years researching Alaska cruise info before booking our trip. So, we were able to book exactly what we wanted, and were very pleased with the size of the ... Read More
Being first time "big ship" cruisers, and avid travellers, we spent 2 years researching Alaska cruise info before booking our trip. So, we were able to book exactly what we wanted, and were very pleased with the size of the ship, layout and size of our cabin, location of our cabin, and our excursions. We booked the train from Anchorage to Whittier on our own, and were on the 9:30 am train. A pleasant ride. NOTE: most hotels offer free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and then to the train station. Don't hire a cab without checking this out. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn - which was fine. Nothing fancy, but we were there for only overnite. At the train station, we checked our bags straight through to Princess and never saw them again until we got to our cabins. When the train arrived, it was a short walk across a parking lot to the ship terminal to fill out health forms and check in. We got there around noon. Chose to walk into town to buy bottled water, and then checked in around 1:30. Our cabin was ready, and our luggage was delivered. As opposed to recent complaints I had read - we found the staff of Coral Princess to be friendly, helpful, energetic, with happy attitudes. Yes, it was hard to understand some of them, as it is an almost entirely non-American crew. Sometimes we had to ask a question repeatedly in order to understand the answer. Our cabin was clean, and our beds were comfortable -no need for the egg carton cushion. Only complaint - too few plugs that you could use because of their placement on the walls. Several of our electronics didn't fit the space specifically at the desk location. The locations behind the 2 tv's was difficult to reach.. Bring a multi-plug strip or extension cord ( I had one with me but it somehow didn't get unpacked and I thought I hadn't brought it!). Also, it was hot with the duvet. There were no other covers, and so we requested a top sheet and a blanket. Well, the top sheet was torn, and dingy, and we chose not to use it. However, the blanket came in handy to wrap around as we sat on the balcony when sailing in Glacier Bay! Also, a few extra pillows for the sofa and the bed had to be requested. All of our clothing and items had a place to be stored - and we had 4 suitcases and 2 carryon bags!!! We chose a mini-suite that had a tub/shower so that my 6'4" hubby would have room in the shower. It was really nice!! We had anytime dining and found the food to be pretty bad. Clearly the chefs were trying to prepare dishes that were too complicated to be served on such a large scale. After a couple of nites we went to the Horizon Buffet and found the food flavor and quality to be much better. Not fabulous, but better! Of course, Sabatini's and the Bayou Cafe were very good (don't get steak at Bayou Cafe - stick with Cajun dishes - poor meat grade). We had room service for breakfast 2 mornings that we were in a hurry. It was fine. Note - any beverage you buy has an add-on gratuity, so those latte's at the Patisserie not only had an added-on gratuity, but the ticket you must sign doesn't list the gratuity, yet is has a line for you to (foolishly) add gratuity). We saw a few show - they were pretty good. Not Broadway, but fine. The crew show on the 2nd to last nite was great. The naturalist, Kathy, was outstanding. After crowding on the front deck when we arrived in Glacier Bay, we chose to do the rest of our glacier viewing from our balcony. We just turned up the volume on the TV, and easily hear her narration while having space all to ourselves. Also, the Park Rangers that came on-board to narrate were terrific as well. Ports/excursions: Skagway - took the Chilkoot Charters' excursion on the train to White Pass/Yukon. Loved it - especially since on the van ride back our driver could make any stops we wanted to see sights and take photos along the way. Juneau - Harv & Marv's whale watching. Captain Sean was terrific. Saw LOTS and LOTS of humpback whales. Stopped at Mendenhall Glacier on the way back. Wish we had more time in Juneau. Ketchikan - Seawind Aviation floatplane to Misty Fjords. Pretty views. Included a stop in a beautiful cove. Smooth flying. Then on our own took the town's free shuttle to the Totem Pole Center - very interesting. Then walked back to the heart of town. We arrived in Vancouver around 6 am. Since we were staying on in Vancouver on our own for a few days, we selected a late disembarkation. We put out our bags at 10 pm the nite before. We had to vacate the cabin at 8. Went to breakfast, and then to our waiting area for our 9:50 disembarkation. It went very swiftly and smoothly. And there were a lot of Princess staff on hand to help out if needed. Our bags were waiting for us. Lucky us it was sunny and fairly warm most days. Never had rain in a port - just one afternoon at sea. All in all - a great trip!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
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
ANCHORAGE: First, please be there a day early if you are just doing the cruise. The ship leaves at 8pm, but you have to land at the airport by 4pm to make it thru the (one way every 30 minutes) tunnel. My sister was supposed to land at ... Read More
ANCHORAGE: First, please be there a day early if you are just doing the cruise. The ship leaves at 8pm, but you have to land at the airport by 4pm to make it thru the (one way every 30 minutes) tunnel. My sister was supposed to land at 1 pm, got delayed and landed at 6pm. She missed the ship and had to meet us 3 days later in Skagway. Now, Princess was wonderful. Helped her every step of the way and refunded her ship days, but plane hopping and hotels were absolutely not in the budget. We had trip insurance, but it doesn't cover mechanical problems with the plane, and the airlines have a 6 hr window before they comp you a hotel. Since she was only 5 hrs late, she had to do everything out of pocket. We are still irked at United for not putting her on a different airline which would have had her in Anchorage in time. We were able to get there a day early. Stayed at the Captain Cook Hotel and had no complaints. In fact the beds were amazing! The black out shades were sufficient and we didn't need the sleep masks we brought. Dinner was at the Glacier Brewhouse. Highly recommend it! The food was perfect and I fell in love with the Denali Red microbrew. Drank it everyday of the land tour. All the Princess Lodges carry their beer. We also visited the Alaska Museum and enjoyed it very much. FOOD: not that impressed with the sit down dinner. In fact, our last night we sent the steak back... It was tough, overcooked and had no flavor. The salmon was always good. My favorite was the pizza. In fact I ate it every lunch. The buffet had a good selection, but it was no better than other buffets I've eaten at. Not that impressed with the drink of the day either. Gave up after the second day. I purchased the kids soda card. Best thing ever. Now, I had to drink out of fish themed cup, but it was a double walled tumbler and came in handy. All you can drink soda, all you can drink milkshakes and malts, and all you can drink virgin cocktails which I enjoyed :). My sister purchased a coffee card. Not worth it. You basically got 1 drink free, but you had to drink 2 coffees a day and being in the ports all day, she just didn't drink that. She had 3 coffees left so she actually lost money.ENTERTAINMENT: we enjoyed the shows. Not the best singers, but the dancing was very good. There was a presentation by Shelley Gill on Iditarod dogs, Denali and other stuff. She was hysterical and very informative. Rangers came on board for Glacier Bay, and again.... Very informative. ROOM: We were in B603. Covered balcony and great views. The beds were decent, but the comforters need to be replaced. We used the 3rd bed that pulls down from the ceiling. It was just as comfortable as the others. Getting up was no problem, getting down the ladder took a while, but by day 3, I had it perfected. Tons of closet space and hangers. The bathroom had 3 shelves so our toiletries fit just fine. The shower is small, and it's tricky keeping the curtain inside. We flooded the bathroom more than once. There is a small shelf that holds 1 body wash and the ships shampoo and conditioner. That's it. The best tip I found on these boards was to bring the shower caddies that suctions to the wall. We needed that! Shaving your legs is tricky, but doable if you turn off the water. We also brought the over the door shoe hanger. We put our gloves and misc. in there, but honestly.... We didn't need it. There were plenty of drawers and desk space. It's mid ship, so we didn't have traffic noise and it was very smooth. We took Dramimine the first day just in case, but didn't need it at all.DISEMBRKMENT: actually, very smooth. Make sure you check your luggage tags the day before. They had us in the wrong group, but it was fixed quickly. Princess people direct you the whole way. We left at 7:30 for an 11am flight and had plenty of time. Picking up your luggage at Vancouver Airport is mass chaos. People directed you every step of the way, but it's just so much luggage and only one way in and out of the room. For the whole cruise, there's no crowds or lines, then boom..... Back to reality. Also make sure you call your credit card company before you travel. Canada is on the list of blocked countries for my Credit Union and I couldn't use that card to pay for my checked bags or anything else at the airports! If you are connecting thru Toronto, you pick up your luggage on the 3rd floor area G. It's right next to customs, which was smooth, but going thru security again took forever. EXCURSIONS: My only complaint is you don't know your excursion is cancelled till you go to check in. We had a 10 am tour that was cancelled, so we didn't have enough time to do another before our 1 pm tour. The tour director was there where you meet and was very helpful in getting us situated. We were never charged for the tours that were cancelled or the ones we cancelled so we could do the main one we wanted. So, have a back up plan :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at ... Read More
We were very excited to do this as well as all the excursions. Paid mucho dinero $$$ for the expeditions that were average and now, in hindsight very overpriced! I feel ripped off by Princess. Did the 12 day cruise-tour. First night at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage which was very nice, great room with views of water and town (corner room), eating at a local pub called Humpy's which now in hindsight was THE highlight of our meals in AK over all, including the cruise ship fare. Second and third nights at the McKinley Princess Lodge was just an average, boring place, including the restaurants. The uninspiring decor could have been anywhere. I did not feel as if I was in Alaska. Boring, plain rooms. In fact, I can't even recall a single detail about them. Mt McKinley showed it's face for about 20 minutes. Rain, Rain, Rain. Our first very overpriced excursion was the horseback riding trip with very, very nice wranglers and horses that were kept in really awful quickly built cover, not worthy to be called a stable. Nice new trails, but I longed for a bit of cantering and galloping as I am an experienced rider. This is ALASKA! Where are all the animals????? Saw nothing other than the horses. Next days overpriced excursion was the Devil's Canyon Jet Boat trip. Rainy, but enjoyable, very nice staff, but saw 2 bald eagles and quickly, 2 young moose running away from the rivers edge. 130 miles and WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? Ate at the 20320 restaurant twice and the staff were clearly overwhelmed and clueless asking us twice on 2 different dining occasions if we wanted anything else before the check when we hadn't even received our meals yet. Went into Talkeetna and ate at a very nice Cafe (something Brewing Company) which was delicious!!! (better than Princess food) Next two days at Denali Princess again: rain, rain, rain... and overpriced food, especially at the King Salmon restaurant with a King Salmon entree for $46-$48 which was just so-so. Ongoing disappointment, thus far with Princess and their price gouging. The Lodge was much better than McKinley in terms of ambiance and projecting that you are actually in Alaska, the river views below were lovely, but I longed to get on the ship for my very first cruise! Our "included" Denali History Tour advertised for a 6+ hr tour was just about 4 hrs and was on a cold school bus. The guide was informative, friendly & funny. Again: WHERE ARE ALL THE ANIMALS? FINALLY...ONWARD TO THE SHIP! I was excited and the 9 hr train tour to Whittier was very nice and went by quickly thanks to a nice older couple from Florida and the very knowledgeable guide on board. Our first night on board was nice and the anytime dining option chosen was fine. We were eager to sit with others at a shared table as we are friendly. Our room steward Bonifacio was very attentive and helpful from the start. No problems with him at all, exceeded my expectations here @ Princess. The Horizon food court was average to below average and we tried not to eat here much unless hurried or if only for breakfast. Food was fine for breakfast, but "eehh" for other meals, in my opinion. Fruit and desserts were always good however here. Not crazy about the main courses. As far as the Bordeax anytime dining room, the staff were good and the food was anywhere from just okay to good. Never anything great or fantastic. The room itself is quite large and well appointed. Spa services: $19 for a nail polish change!!!!! I did it as my nails were a mess after the land excursions. At home in NYC metro area, one of the priciest places in the USA, same service for $6. I pre-booked a Swedish massage for the second to last day and was happy to change it for a lower priced "special" advertised the night before. Still, I can get a better price at home. As far as all of our land excursions off the ship in Scagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, again, while they were nice and the staff were excellent and friendly, Princess prices again were overly inflated for what we actually got. Just way too over the top price wise for the actual product. Suggestion: look into booking privately to save big bucks. As we are first time cruisers, we just took the whole Princess package as we didn't know better. We spent ~ $1200 on all of our excursions above and beyond our cruise costs. I do not feel that any of them were worth that kind of money NOW IN HINDSIGHT! Another issue: the Spa staff are heavily attempting to sell, sell, sell you overpriced products you don't need or can get at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. My spouse coined the phrase "Prince-sell" cruises. The FINAL insult was the 14 hr layover in the Vancouver, BC airport to fly back to NYC on the red-eye at 11:00pm. Thankfully, Cathay Pacific was wonderful and short and sweet. Our flight on Delta to Seattle before transferring to Alaska Airlines has sworn me off Delta for life. Overall, in hindsight, I would not do the land part before the cruise as there was little of value for me. In conclusion, I feel taken advantage of by Princess with price gouging of the optional excursions and Spa services. As a now "experienced cruiser", I would pack less, (people were very informal), I would make my own land tours with a independent company ashore and probably NOT use Princess again IF we cruise again. I can't stand all the waiting around and time wasted. We travel all over, but without formal tours; I do all the planning and work and our best travel has been this way. If you are considering a trip to Alaska, there are far more superior National Parks in the USA. Yellowstone is AMAZING as are the Grand Tetons. Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are all far superior to Alaska, IMO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My husband and I are in our mid-50's and were 1st time cruisers. We decided to take a 4 day land tour prior to our 7 day cruise. Everything we did was booked thru Princess as we felt more secure that way. From the time we landed in ... Read More
My husband and I are in our mid-50's and were 1st time cruisers. We decided to take a 4 day land tour prior to our 7 day cruise. Everything we did was booked thru Princess as we felt more secure that way. From the time we landed in Anchorage until we arrived at the Vancouver airport to depart, Princess handled our luggage and had it at our doorstep at each point along the way. This alone is amazing as they have several land tours that go in different (crossing) directions but all end up on the same cruise! Our first 2 nights were at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. We are east coast residents and chose to fly in a day early to allow for the 4 hr time difference and to see some of Anchorage. The hotel was as expected from the various reviews I read. There are plenty of those so I won't go any farther with that. We took the Explore Anchorage tour which was $59/ea - not really worth it. I recommend taking the local trolley tour (ask the hotel desk) and also spending 3-4 hrs at the Anchorage Museum. This is a WONDERFUL museum with lots of history on the native people and the city of Anchorage. We ate at the Snow City Cafe and the Sandwich Deck for breakfasts - I would recommend either. Snow City is a bit more trendy while Sandwich Deck is basic breakfast food. OH, and while in Anchorage try the Alaskan Amber Ale - if you are a beer drinker, you'll enjoy this one! Our 1st tour stop was Mt McKinley - very nice lodge, mountain was out in full view and everyone was friendly and helpful. A bonus to traveling in May is that you are the first customers of the season and everyone you meet is eager to please. Although some are new and the resorts just opened for the season so there were a few small hitches. But worth it to be welcome guests. Next on to Denali - a larger property but lovely all the same. The tour of the park that is included was nice and enough. Were lucky enough to see Dall sheep, caribou and moose in the park. We took the ATV excursion which for an additional $10 per person included dinner. You won't find food any cheaper!! The meal was pretty good too. Next day was a 9 hr train trip to the port of Whittier. It was on the double-decker train we've all see in brochures. The dining car was wonderful (if a bit pricey - captive audience!). Coming out of the tunnel and seeing the ship was a lovely site. We were lucky enough to have our cabin upgraded at the last minute so we enjoy the additional space a great deal. We also had a balcony. Many said that would not be worth it in Alaska as it's cold in May. True, it was cold but totally worth it any way. We were able to view the glaciers on our balcony without being crowded and enjoy ALL of the views from inside our cabin thru the full glass door. I would be hard pressed to not have a balcony next time. They keep the ship spotless and the service was excellent. There were plenty of electrical plugs and hangers in our room although that may vary by room size. I did take a couple of those plastic hangers that bras come on and used them to hang a couple of things I hand washed so they were handy and small/light to pack. 1st port: Skagway. We took the White Pass Railroad (all day) trip. The Yukon scenery was worth it all! Lunch was pretty good and the town we stopped in (Carcross) was unique. Didn't get to see much of Skagway itself as the tour took up all of our time there. 2nd port: Juneau. We took the Northstar Trekking helicopter flight/hike to Mendenhall Glacier. WOW!! Very expensive but I would have passed on all other excursions and done this one if cost were a big concern. The young people who worked there were delightful and very helpful/accommodating. The flight was amazing as was the time on the glacier. 3rd port: Ketchikan. We took the Kart Adventure excursion here as my husband loves to drive fast. :) It was a bit scary for me (I just rode) but he loved it. I enjoyed the totems in Ketchikan and heard the trips to see them were good. The weather was mid-50's. We did wear long underwear to the glacier and on the ATV and Kart rides. Otherwise 2 light layers under a coat were more than fine. It was mostly windy which made it feel colder. I had read all of the forums and reviews before so there wasn't anything that I felt surprised me. The formal nights had some in long dresses and tuxes and others in much less formal wear. So don't feel you have to go all out - pack what fits in the suitcase as you will only wear it once or twice. All in all it was just as wonderful as we expected. Princess did a great job of getting us and our luggage where we needed to be. I'm glad we went in May. Many in AK said May was the best time to come - although, they may say that to everyone no matter when they come! HA! We did purchase and take a netbook computer to download our pictures on each day. That was a great decision as we enjoyed doing this and we didn't have to worry about extra digital cards, etc for the cameras. Plus when you are waiting at the airport or on the land tour, you can use the wi-fi. I hope you enjoy your trip to Alaska as much as we did. Bon Voyage!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Our cruise on the Island Princess was very nice and we had fantastic sunny weather all the way until the last full day. Princess had a naturalist on board, who spotted animals and did mini lectures, which was nice. Our room was always ... Read More
Our cruise on the Island Princess was very nice and we had fantastic sunny weather all the way until the last full day. Princess had a naturalist on board, who spotted animals and did mini lectures, which was nice. Our room was always clean, new towels, cookies at night, candy on pillows. Some of the things we didn't like: the laundry rooms were in disrepair; SMOKING!!; commercialization of the ports was ridiculous and the onboard shopping thing was just nuts. We felt like Princess had it's hand in our pockets all the time! Let's face it, unless you have the bucks, this byline they go by 'escape completely' is unattainable. More ping pong tables would be an asset as all the teens tie them up all day long. We also felt like we were very uninformed about how things went. We eventually figured it out, but maybe a little flyer 'new cruiser tips' would be good. Food. Supper in the anytime dining 'Bordeaux' was great. We didn't want to go formal, so two nights we had to eat elsewhere. Sabatinis and the Bayou Cafe were not an option as $20 times 4 when you have two little kids who won't eat much is a waste. Forget dinner in the Horizon cafe. YUK. Pizza is excellent. Coffee is awful. We never got the complete scoop on the drink cards. My kids have never had soda, so that didn't seem like a good idea. Coffee card for that yukky coffee? no thanks. But then when I went to get one of those (free) midget ice cream cones, there were a lot of other items, not for free. !? no prices listed though. We did not book any port activities with Princess, but I did a lot of research and we did great things at lesser prices. All our port activities were SUPER! All in all, a great time, but I wouldn't be adverse to checking out another cruise line next time. Oh, and disembarkation. We had an 11:30 flight, so Princess had all of us early flights gather in the Bayou at 6:30 AM. They pick up your baggage the night before. All the people moving part went fabulously, but then we waited an hour at the airport for the truck to deliver the bags. Not so good at the baggage moving part. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Where to begin. After spending a year planning this trip, I have to say that knowledge, research, and planning pay off. It was great to know what we wanted to see, and to seek out the best ways to experience this beautiful state and ... Read More
Where to begin. After spending a year planning this trip, I have to say that knowledge, research, and planning pay off. It was great to know what we wanted to see, and to seek out the best ways to experience this beautiful state and coastline. Land tour: We had a guided land tour, spending a night in Anchorage, 2 at the McKinley Princess Lodge, and 2 at the Denali Princess Lodge. It was important to spend 2 nights there to be able to see more of the national park, without the limitations of travel on the second day. On arrival at the lodge, we had lunch in the informal restaurant. The food was very good, and the service was fine. We were fortunate to view the peak of Denali for about a half hour. I found it interesting how people come to work in Alaska from so many places, and stay (in-season) year after year. The rooms are adequate, and the grounds have a retreat-like atmosphere. This was great for resting after busy travel-time. My husband loves ATV's, so we did the four-wheeler adventure the first morning and had pure fun. The owners and guide were locals, and it was great to learn about the flora, fauna, and lifestyle. All of the gear and rain protection was provided, and if I can learn anyone can. We drove through a few streams, along rough paths, and the guide set a pace that was doable. It was a small group, and very manageable. We then took the shuttle into Talkeetna for lunch. It is a quaint town. We ate at the Roadhouse, sharing our table with some locals, and trying the waitress's recommendations for food and local brew. The peanut butter balls came highly recommended, and served as a carry-out dessert as we continued to enjoy the town. The Denali Arts Council has an open air art show on weekends. It was nice browsing through some of the artisans booths and choosing a couple items as gifts. We were disappointed that our flightseeing tour with glacier landing was cancelled due to weather, but glad that the air tour companies there are honest and safety-concious. We departed the next morning for the Denali Princess Lodge. We went to the Music of Denali dinner theater with friends and our tour group, and it was delightful. The food was picnic fare and served family style (all-you-can-eat). The performers had wonderful voices, and it reminded me of a very good high school musical. :) The pianist had played on Broadway, and set the tone during dinner with great, familiar tunes. The next day was busy, starting early with the Tundra Wilderness Tour. We saw a lot of wildlife, and the driver/guide did a great job with the videography for those who may not have the best view. She would stop if wildlife was spotted, and stay until everyone had their fill. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, and alone worth the trip. After supper, we went on the Husky Homestead tour, delighted that Jeff King picked us up in the van from the lodge. I highly recommend this experience for people of all ages. It is so much more than a "pet the puppy" experience, although you receive a puppy as you step off the van. You learn about the Iditarod from the master. It is great to learn how he trains for the race, prepares and cares for the dogs, and of his passion for the lifestyle, He still does many of the presentations himself. Highly recommended. He has written a book, artwork by his wife, and they have both signed them. I had them personalized for gifts, and had someone take our picture with Jeff to make it even more personal. Great guy, and an honor to meet him. The next morning we were off in the domed train to Whittier. It is a long, beautiful ride. Lunch on the train is reasonable, and they have you sign a wait list during busy seating times in the dining car. They also had some items they served in the domed area. Princess staff came aboard prior to arrival at Whittier, checked passports and boarding documents. Prior to arrival at Whittier, they give you everything you need for boarding, so you are on the ship straightaway on arrival. We had a wonderful balcony mini-suite on the end of the mid-ship bumpout. Our daughter had arranged for chocolate covered strawberries, and they were there on arrival. The balcony was smaller, but the view was exceptional! We spent a lot of time there, just admiring the scenery. After all, that is what we came for! The mini suite bathroom has a full tub, which is a great plus according to those who have just the shower stall. There was plenty of storage and closet space, room for the luggage under the bed, and a safe in the room. The steward service was very good, and we could count on the cabin being serviced twice daily. The Princess Patters arrived the evening before for the following day, so that is great for those of you who love to plan life aboard the ship. The webcam channel (42) played classical music, and the naturalist or staff would announce wildlife or other special sightings. It's a great reason to keep your balcony door open for the ambiance and information. My husband loved the buffet. (He is a buffet lover, so in his heaven). I had to make him dress up for formal night to celebrate our anniversary, and have a picture pouring at the champagne waterfall event. (I always wanted to do that). The photo came out so good, I bought it. We ate at the Anytime dining restaurant three times. Service and food was always good, and I tried caviar and escargot for the first time. I also had the pizza twice which was good. We had the champagne breakfast one morning and it was tasty, and too much food for 2 people. We lost a little bit of money in the casino, but we only brought what we could afford to lose. We pre-purchased an internet package and got extra minutes doing it that way. Very few problems with internet access although it was slower that what you probably have at home. But that was expected. The internet cafe manager was very helpful. The library area and card room have good areas to read a book or play a game, while viewing the scenery. The Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) were generally simulcast on TV for you movie lovers who don't want to brave the elements/cool air. You can always stop by and get some popcorn, and a couple blankets to take up to your room balcony.(we did) I have to say there were people in the pool/hot tub most of the time (not us). Being on the ship was our down time, so we didn't fill it with shows, activities, etc. We enjoyed the view. Speaking of views, there were great areas on baja deck (and others also) fore and aft for viewing. Brave it and go out those doors. Absolutely wonderful, and a great way to meet the few people who know about them. :) We did the Ultimate Ship Tour on the morning of the final sea day. It was wonderful to learn more about how the ship and it's crew work and live. It was an honor to meet the captain, see the bridge, the production area, the galley areas, the engine control area, the area where they dock the ship from. Everyone was friendly and informative. There were tasty treats and drinks presented along the way. Later in our room, we received plush bathrobes, chefs jackets, and photos of our tour group with various staff from areas we visited. Well worth the "excursion" price for the 3-hour tour. One word to describe Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier...AWESOME! Find yourself a front row seat and enjoy some of the most spectacular views you've ever witnessed. We were fortunate enough to see calving, seals floating on the icebergs, sea otters, gulls, whales in some of the entrance areas... I wouldn't have missed a moment of it. They pilot the ship so both sides can view the areas, and speak to wildlife that they note. While in Skagway, we really wanted to see Emerald Lake, so went with Chilkoot Tours to take a van ride up, eat a BBQ lunch at Carcross, do a fun little dogcart ride, and then ride the train back from Fraser. This could easily be done by driving yourself in a rental car, or with other vendors also. It was wonderful to see all the scenery, get good photo opportunities, and learn about the history of the town, gold rush, characters, and the trail. In Juneau we took the MGT bus out to Mendenhall Glacier. Absolutely beautiful, especially the icebergs floating in the water. There had been a recent historic event with some flooding near the glacier that we were able to learn more about through staff talks and photos. The visitors center is a great place to visit. We didn't have time to hike, as we then went with Harv and Marv's on a whale watch. Binoculars were provided, and the captain did a great job. The smaller boats with 6 or less passengers was appealing to us, but the whales will be there despite the size of the boat so it doesn't make a difference. All of the tour companies know where to go, and how to find the whales. We were fortunate enough to witness a group of humpbacks bubble netting. Quite a happening, and better than the best fireworks I've ever seen. In Ketchikan we wanted to go to Anan, and Dave with Family Air had permits for the day. He did a nice job piloting his floatplane through the misty areas to the entry area for Anan Wildlife Observatory. This was the highlight of our trip. We hiked along a 1/2 mile boardwalked path with many steps into the observation deck area. Get your camera ready. Honestly, you don't even need binoculars...the bear are that close. You may even meet them on the path on your way back and forth. The ranger briefs you on what to do should you encounter a bear. There is a second ranger at the deck. Bear would come within feet of the deck, including moms with cubs. We were fortunate to see both black and brown bear with cubs, countless eagles, and bear catching salmon in the stream...awesome, like I said before. We were able to be there for 3 hours before needing to make the hike back to the entry to meet Dave again for the trip back. So, our experience was fabulous and meant to be once in a lifetime, BUT I can think of many other things I'd like to do should we see Alaska again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Introduction: DH and I are 1st time cruisers; 67 & 56 respectively. 1st trip to Alaska, we wanted everything 'easy' and we couldn't have asked for any better service than what we got with Princess. We decided to ... Read More
Introduction: DH and I are 1st time cruisers; 67 & 56 respectively. 1st trip to Alaska, we wanted everything 'easy' and we couldn't have asked for any better service than what we got with Princess. We decided to 'go for it' and after much research on CC, we did the 12 day Crusietour (5 land/7 cruise). We booked an AA mini-suite, (C504) midship, Deck 10 (Caribe) on the Island Princess, SB from Whittier to Vancouver, June 8 to 15. Our land tour began June 3 in Fairbanks.We booked ourselves from upstate NY to Seattle, WA . We had 2 nights at the Mayflower Park Hotel located only 3 blocks from the Pikes Market, and adjoining the Westlake Mall and access to both the monorail to the Seattle Center (Space Needle) and the light-rail. We used the Shuttle Express to/from the airport for a web reserved discount of $54 r/t for the both of us and 4 pieces of luggage. Great location, rooms are smaller than newer hotels, but staff was helpful, friendly and accommodating. Loved the convenience of being able to walk anywhere. Also, business district city busses are free, so we saved on a Hop on/Hop off tour bus. Ate at the Market (Lowells the 1st night; The Pink Door for the 2nd - OUTSTANDING!) Picked up some fresh cooked prawns and fruit and picnicked for lunch.Booked through Princess for air travel between Seattle and Fairbanks. Arrived in Fairbanks and left our worries behind. Princess took care of EVERYTHING! At the airport, they gave us a welcome envelope that included our room keys, luggage tags ( "come with me tonight" and "meet me at the ship"), itinerary for the next day, time to leave luggage outside (6:00 am), time to get bus to Discovery Riverboat trip and bus # to Denali Princess Lodge. This same scenario repeated itself over the course of the next days travels. A Princess Rep would get on the bus and hand out our envelopes with all information required printed on the front. Travel by coach - comfortable, like a regular charter bus. Small storage bins above seats, room at feet; storage in belly of bus for larger items. Travel by train - 2 different types of trains. Our 1st experience was the McKinley Explorer, a double decker, dome car with front facing, wide cushioned seats. Ample room at feet for small bags & carry ons; storage available below prior to getting on train for larger items. Did see some 'airline' sized carryon bags that were stowed underneath. This was between the Denali Princess and the McKinley Princess lodges. The 2nd train (between McKinley Lodge and Whittier), was the McKinley Express. This is also a dome care, but one level, bench seat style facing each other over a table. NO SPACE AT ALL! We crammed our backpacks in at our feet - a VERY uncomfortable 5 hour trip! The lady seated opposite us (we were facing forward) said she'd get sick riding backwards, so my DH switched with her. They did offer storage as well in the club car, but I traveled with my computer and didn't want to risk it being bounced around and damaged. Dining car available on the 1st train; limited menu on the 2nd. Not supposed to bring on own food, but we didn't know that and we'd brought our own sandwiches with us! No one said anything.Lodging - Fairbanks Princess Lodge: 5 min. trip from airport. Located on river, nice rooms, spacious and clean. Small gift shop, ate in Pub for dinner first night; had buffet for breakfast the next morning. Very satisfied with both. Would have liked 2 nights in Fairbanks, some interesting tours near by we didn't have time for. Shuttle bus into Fairbanks available for $5 pp. We didn't take it, but saw several people lined up for it.Princess Denali Lodge: 3 hr trip from Fairbanks by coach. Had a great guide/driver, who pointed out many points of interest and interesting side stories along the way. Those on the 2nd coach to Denali had a more 'sedate' driver/guide who hardly spoke. Main lodge is near road; across the street from a 'strip' of shops and places to eat. Pizza place, Subway (24 hrs), Salmon Bake rest. Ate at the lodge's pub the 1st night (just chowder and appetizers). Had dinner at the Salmon Bake the following night and breakfast there the morning before leaving for the McKinley Lodge. Heard different comments regarding the dinner show (from 'cute' to 'hokey'). Rooms are spread out in different buildings, shuttle constantly running through, but hardly ever saw anyone using it. Several gift shops between the main lodge and the rooms. Newer buildings (#10/11) are up a slight hill. Our room was in a Bldg near the restaurant. Comfortable, flat screen TV, quiet - quite satisfied. Took the Tundra Wilderness Tour the following morning. DO NOT bother with the Natural History tour. Your first 15 miles are essentially the 'public' areas of the park - with the exception of a mother moose and her twin calves near the entrance of the park - there was virtually no wildlife that we saw - even the drive is limited in the views. We probably went in about 25 miles before we began to see anything. NOTE: the busses look like a school bus on the outside; the seats are NOT bench style - they are more like the coach/charter bus seat, a bit more narrow. Open shelving above for storage. Try to sit (either side) either right below one of the drop down video screens or one row back. They are spaced out about 1 every 4/5 rows. It made a difference a couple of times to see the wildlife up closer. NOTE: 'box lunch' includes: reindeer sausage (looks like kielbasa), bag of baby carrots, bag of granola, 1 oz pkg of cheese, 1 bottle of water, 1 sliced white roll.) Bathroom breaks were every 90-120 min. Nice, clean facilities - not what I expected. One stop even has a small gift shop!! Wildlife viewing is different every trip. Appreciate what you DO see! We saw everything but bears - bus behind us? Saw the bears! Oh well! The views are breathtaking!Some took shuttle back to Visitor's center - we didn't because DH wasn't feeling well, but others said it was great - do it if you can.HINT - taking the train from Denali to McKinley? Don't wait for the scheduled bus - crowded and mayhem at the main lodge. Hop on one of the free shuttles to the Visitors' Center, cross the street and you're at the train station! Princess has their clients wait in covered shelters to the left of the main station. Holland America has theirs wait in a more open area towards the center. A Princess rep will tell you which shelter to wait in based upon the name of the railcar you are assigned to.We had a great 'guide' on the train and had a great day of weather - as we rounded a bend, he pointed out that "the mountain is OUT!" Sure enough, Mt McKinley (Denali to the locals) was clear and bright! An incredible and impressive sight. We counted ourselves very fortunate to get to see it!!McKinley Princess Lodge - REMOTE! A good hour drive by coach after arriving by train in Talkeetna. Some chose to stay in town and catch the hourly shuttle back to the lodge later. NOTE: You are allowed one "FREE" roundtrip on the coach. If you stay in town upon arrival, you can catch the shuttle back at no cost. If you take the shuttle into Talkeetna and back the same day (like we did on our 'free' day), it is $10 roundtrip pp. The town is SMALL! Only about a dozen buildings. If you can, catch some of the lectures/presentations back at the lodge before exploring the town. We went to the one about "Bush Pilots" and then went into town. It really gave a lot of background info on some local legends. Visit the historical museum, and if you have time, walk over to the town cemetery. There are gravesites there that have plane propellers instead of headstones! Eat at the "Roadhouse" - it's family style seating, good food and the building is pretty interesting itself.Our room was located in one of the several lodge style buildings throughout the grounds. We were right near the 20,320 Restaurant. This is the only place we ate on property - breakfast and dinner. Prices were reasonable and service good. The main lodge had a good sized gift shop, a HUGE common area with large windows and a large deck area with plenty of seating to see the mountains. They have 4 or 5 computers available in the 'internet' lounge, but wireless was easily available on your own equipment. Not in the rooms, however. Again, Princess made everything easy. Bus to the train the next day was on time and our driver was a doll! Train to Whittier - only issue on entire trip. The McKinley Express is (as I described above) not as a comfortable mode of transportation. It did go past some beautiful scenery though. Arrival at Whittier - I should mention that we stopped shortly in Anchorage where Princess rep's boarded the train - one to each car. They went seat by seat and scanned everyone's passports. Answered questions and explained how embarkation would work. When we arrived in Whittier, and before leaving the railcar, we received our Cruise Cards! Simply walked off the train, followed the walkway to the security building (there were about 400 of us on the train, so that did take about 20 minutes or so to get through), continued to the ship where they scanned our card at the entryway and the 'machine' took our photo! Onboard at last! Barely walked in when our room steward, Robert, came by, introduced himself, pointed out that the egg crate and distilled water (for DH Cpap machine) were already in our cabin, confirmed our requests for robes, showed us how to request service, explained the breakfast room service card. Within 15 min. or so it was time to go to the muster drill. Crew and staff were posted everywhere to direct people, instructions were short and sweet and then everyone disbursed again.Got our bearings and headed to the buffet where it was a bit crowded and crazy to say the least. Buffet lines were slow moving (some seemed to be filling up a week's worth of food - perhaps they were afraid the ship would run out!). Eventually we got our 'light' supper and then did a quick cursory tour of the ship, unpacked and settled in for the night.1st day of cruise was spent getting a massage, attending the CC Meet and Greet (Thanks Jody!), having lunch in the Bordeaux . It was also the first formal night, but because we were also cruising to Hubbard Glacier, we made a decision to forgo the dinner to watch the glacier instead. HOWEVER, due to heavy ice floe and heavy fog setting in, the Captain decided for safety sake to stop eight miles away (still pretty impressive from what we could see) and turned around earlier. Problem solved - dressed for dinner. We preferred eating our meals in the dining room. Enjoyed the service, the quality of food and the ambiance. We had a lunch in Horizon Court once and on an early tour excursion in Juneau, we had room service (mostly breaks, fruits, cereals, juices and an 'egg mcmuffin' style sandwich. DH had room service bring coffee, juice and fruit each morning. Always on time or early. Always delivered with a smile and 'good morning'! Had pizza a couple of times as a snack. Actually pretty good! Had ice cream cones a couple of times as well. I'm a big diet soda drinker, so we sprung for a soda package ($36 for the length of the cruise, unlimited). Had no trouble getting it at the buffett, dining room or any of the bars open throughout the ship. I saw some people walking around with their 'coke' souvenir mug to have it filled up, but I just showed my cruise card with the sticker on it. NOTE: got my cruise card punched in the casino and the cashier put it on a lanyard for me. VERY handy!Glacier Bay was outstanding - weather was perfect, glaciers were calving, Rangers on board were great!Skagway - DH didn't want to do the train, so we opted for the bus trip over the summit and Liarsville. Beautiful scenery. Liarsville was cute. A B+ overall. Went back to the ship for lunch, then met up with our guide for the "Good Times Girls walking tour". Also a B+ (although DH would probably give it an A+!!). Juneau - booked our own tour with Harv & Marv's. OUTSTANDING! They book no more than 6 pax per ship, so imagine our surprise when we were the ONLY TWO on our tour! We had Captain Liz, who did a WONDERFUL job of getting us to the whales fast and pointing out great shots. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day! I HIGHLY recommend H&M! Ketchican - the first 'drizzly' day we had all week! Still, not wet enough to need much more than a good waterproof jacket and baseball cap. We took the self-guided tour through town (pick up right at the dock at the Visitor Center). The first thing we did, though, was head to the Post Office to mail packages of gifts we'd been buying all along. What I didn't know, until I read it in the Patter, is that you have to meet with a Custom's agent ON THE SHIP prior to taking any packages off to be mailed. About a dozen pax and crew waited for the agent to arrive in the Provence DR. She did a cursory check of the opened packages and then you sealed it and she put the customs inspection tape on it. I don't know if this is something that people bypass by not packing boxes and just carrying things off, but we didn't want to take any chances. Also, stopped by the Library/Museum. Nice museum and the library offers 30 minutes free wifi if you have your own laptop. They also have some PC's available, but I overhead the librarian tell a fellow pax that they would have to wait an hour to use it.Ultimate Ship Tour - yes, we sprung for the $150 pp and LOVED IT! Only one dozen permitted on the tour (we had ten total). Got to see the galley's, coolers, laundry, medical center, mooring, engineer room, walk the "M1" secret corridor on deck 3 from forward to aft, and finished up in the Bridge with the Captain. Not long after the 3.5 hr tour, we received 2 heavy terry cloth robes, 2 chef's coats, autographed photos taken at the different locations. A great experience!Vancouver - arrived in dock on time. Disembarkation was relatively quick. Our group was given the place (Universal Lounge) and time (8:20). We departed the ship about 8:30, went right through Canadian customs, found our luggage, got in a cab and by 9:00 we were at the West End Guest House B&B only about 4 blocks from Canada Place. Dropped off our luggage, picked up the Vancouver Trolley and toured the city. Caught a couple of comedian shows, but generally, we were pretty tired in the evenings and would spend a quiet night in our cabin.A wonderful experience and can't find a negative thing to say about Princess! 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
As first time cruisers we had to learn everything from the Internet and asking questions of our booking agent. It took me awhile to get to where I am now and probably still have a lot to learn. I had been to all out ports of call before ... Read More
As first time cruisers we had to learn everything from the Internet and asking questions of our booking agent. It took me awhile to get to where I am now and probably still have a lot to learn. I had been to all out ports of call before and have lived and vacationed in the areas so my shore excursions are not the purpose of this review. I would rather pass on my experiences to maybe help others going through this process. I liked the fact that the Coral Princess only held around 2000 passengers. I was surprised by what I thought was a rather older group and how many people needed some kind of assistance in getting around. The elevators always had a line so we stuck to the stairs. I picked a cabin in midships and was pleased that I did--quick to forward and aft as needed. I agonized which over which cabin category and decided to splurge (in case we never sailed again) and this turned out to be my best move. We ended up on Deck 10, Caribe in a mini-suite, category AA-mid-ship. What I liked--tub in the bathroom, 2 dozen hangers, a queen size couch that could fold down and a feeling of size. We made full use of our cabin and its deck. Because our cabin was larger the deck was smaller than those around us and only held 2 chairs. Cabin was quiet even though near stairs. Points to note--safe in room is very small-barely could hold my Kindle and not meant for bulky items. Plenty of dresser room, no outlets in bathroom, hairdryer over desk, same with outlets. We went with anytime dining which means the Bourdeaux dining room. We heard that you can make reservations there after 7:30 p.m. but didn't partake. If you show up and no tables are available they will give you a pager--longest wait was 20 minutes. As there were just the 2 of us you can request a table for 2 or take whatever opens up. Our tables for 2 were so close to the other table for 2 that you end up talking to them. For the most part we had great table-mates but than had a couple that made you want to bolt. An issue--over lunch if they seat you at a large table (i.e. 10 seats) you have to wait until the table is full before you can order--one lunch it took us 15 minutes as savvy cruisers saw the size of the table and asked to be sent elsewhere. Food and service. Outstanding service no matter where we ate. I guess my expectations on the food were too high. We tried the specialty dining at the Bayou Cafe for a nice steak-fillet for me and a porterhouse for her. Good cut of meat just no flavor. Bread-pudding turned out to be just pudding--no bread. I gained no weight on the trip. We only ate at the Horizon Court for breakfast--typical buffet food and generally crowded. One thing I learned is that they will serve limit quantities of food not offered in the dining rooms. We had reports of plates of sushi being served. If you go be prepared to be bumped and trampled as people go for the food--saw some "mile high" full plates and some that didn't make it back to the table. Entertainment. It was good and varied. If a show starts at 8:15 p.m. make sure you show up anywhere from 15-20 minutes early for a seat. Late show usually wasn't as bad. Keep moving around until you find something you like. Movies under the stars is a great concept but probably better suited for the warmer climates--anyway too much other stuff to do. Formal dress. I really agonized over this. In the end I brought a suit. She really wanted to dress up. No they will not throw you out of the dining room if you aren't wearing a tux or suit. A nice shirt or sweater would get you in. Sunday night at sea was the first formal night and people really did dress up nice. The second night--Wednesday out of Juneau--was a little less formal. It did add some fun and I would probably do it again but maybe just a sports coat. Overall, some people dressed as if they had never left their home and others tried to be smart casual and relish what it must have been like in the older days. Best Bet. Sign up for the Ultimate Ship Tour. They only take around a dozen passengers at the end of the cruise and it does cost $150 but the best money I spent. We had a 4 hour tour that included among other places--the galley, medical facilities, navigation and other parts of the ship off limits to the passengers. I came away with four pictures, a chef's jacket and a bath rob plus lots of snacks in between. If too many people sign up they have a drawing. Quick thoughts. I did not like all the photographers holding me up for pictures. Pizza and hamburgers filled a hunger but nothing special. Not many gamblers and in fact couldn't get some tables up and going. It was one of the few places you could smoke which kept a lot of folks out. Pools were OK but the hot tubs better--great weather but no real crowds. Easy to find spots to hang out on the deck or just sit and relax. They have some great chairs aft and out of the wind. No one seemed to be paying for the Lotus and its Sanctuary. Wine--We always bought 2 bottles while on shore and never had a problem with security and even paid the corkage fee one night for dinner. Brought our own bottled water as well and saved some bucks--did drink tap water at meals. Summary. I would cruise again. I would invest in the best cabin I could justify, be pleasantly surprised if the food was really good, stick to smaller ships and hope for great weather. PS. I tell all my family and guests to come up in May for the best chance of good weather. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We started with the land portion of our cruise in Fairbanks. Did the Riverboat cruise there which was very interesting and fun. We also had time to check out the Georgeson Botanical Gardens there which were beautiful and only had a $2 ... Read More
We started with the land portion of our cruise in Fairbanks. Did the Riverboat cruise there which was very interesting and fun. We also had time to check out the Georgeson Botanical Gardens there which were beautiful and only had a $2 admission fee. Gorgeous! From there we went to Denali which was also interesting. We saw moose, bald eagles and beavers. Most importantly, we saw Mt. McKinley! The Wilderness Lodge was very nice. Went to the Denali Dinner Theater which was ok, but a little pricey. The Natural History Tour was great, and we had time to take in the dog mushing camp and also walked a trail where we saw more moose. I don't think we would have enjoyed the longer version, although I've read here it's wonderful. For me 4 hours on an old school bus was enough! On to Mt. McKinley Lodge next. The views were incredible, but not as much to do here as there was at Denali. I was surprised to learn that some of our group spent 2 nights at the Denali Lodge and 1 at McKinley, and some the other way around. We were glad we had 2 nights at Denali. Next was on to Whittier to board the Diamond Princess. Embarkation was super easy and well done. Glacier viewing was incredible! Lots of calving and just amazing and awesome to get to see. Skagway we took the Helicopter tour landing on Meade Glacier. Scarey! But again, incredible. The guides were so great at making us feel comfortable walking around on the uneven surface. What an awesome thing to get to do! We also did the Dog Musher's camp in Skagway which was lots of fun and interesting. Loved seeing the dogs, including a litter of 8 day olds pups. Juneau was Whale Watching. We saw lots of whales and it was very interesting. Our only complaint was a family with young kids including a dad who was annoyingly saying he wanted to give away his kids. We also did a Salmon Bake in Juneau. This was our only excursion we felt was a tourist trap. The food was just ok and there was a woman playing guitar and singing and trying to push her cd's which she had for sale. Would have rather spent the time doing something else. Ketchikan was just charming. Did the Lumberjack and Totem combo. The Lumberjack show was corny, but very cute and fun. The Totems were very interesting with a carver there explaining just how she works on the totems. Again there were unruly kids who ran around and whose parents were oblivious. I wish the guide would have asked them to take a seat, but it was still very good. Our cabin was great. We had a balcony and spent most of the at sea time on it. The food was very good, especially in the Savoy dining room where we had a super attentive server. Disembarkation was very well done as well with no problems. This trip has been on our "bucket list" for a very long time. It was everything we had hoped for and more! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Pre-trip: Our excellent journey actually began 2 days before our departure when we received an e-mail from Princess advising us that we had been upgraded to a full suite! We then departed from the east coast to Anchorage on June 17,2010 ... Read More
Pre-trip: Our excellent journey actually began 2 days before our departure when we received an e-mail from Princess advising us that we had been upgraded to a full suite! We then departed from the east coast to Anchorage on June 17,2010 for our 12 night cruisetour. We'd booked our own air travel on Alaska Airlines, taking advantage of the Alaska Airlines credit card $99 companion ticket to travel first class for 2 for just over the price we would have paid for 2 coach fares. It was well worth the extra money to fly first class on such a long trip. Alaska Airlines was an outstanding flight experience. Land Tour: We arrived in Anchorage and found our Princess transfer to our lodging at the Hotel Captain Cook. We found this hotel to be adequate with a smallish room in the original hotel tower. We found it odd that the common areas of the hotel had air conditioning, but our room did not (even inquired about it at the front desk and they confirmed no AC in guest rooms). It was a bit warm, but we made it work by opening the window. Even though the time difference made it a very long day for us, we decided to venture out to see some of Anchorage. We found ourselves at Glacier Brewhouse, enjoying some snacks and beer brewed on-site, which was all very enjoyable. The weather was warm, so we walked around the city a bit from there, marveling at all of the beautiful snow-topped mountains that seemed to surround the city. We browsed in the local shops and found a souvenir shop that seemed to have everything, Trader Jacks (I think), with some items made locally and some overseas. We were generally pleased with the prices. We then found another spot, Rumrunners, to have another local brew and watch a basketball game. We enjoyed our low key afternoon/evening in Anchorage. The next morning we arose early to have our bags out in order for them to be picked up for transit to the Princess MT. McKinley Lodge. We boarded a coach for a very short trip to the train station, where we boarded our Princess railcars to travel to the lodge. The railcars were very nice, with the seating on the second level in domed cars. Shortly after we set out, we saw a moose just off the tracks and then we were treated to an airshow by the fighter jets stationed at the airbase just outside of Anchorage. The train ride was pretty, taking us through wooded areas and over streams. The guide did a nice job narrating and pointing out items of interest as we went. We enjoyed a nice breakfast in the dining car below. We pulled in to the Talkeetna station shortly after noon. We decided to stay in Talkeetna and explore rather than immediately heading out to the lodge. Talkeetna is a tiny little town with essentially one main street. We explored some of the local shops, most of which appeared to have locally-made items. We also found another brewhouse, The Denali Brewing Company. We had lunch at one of the local cafes. We then caught one of the regularly-scheduled coaches heading back to the Lodge, which took approximately one hour travel time. We'd already received our keys, so went directly to our room in one of the small buildings that surround the main lodge. We found our room basic and clean, with 2 double beds. No cause for complaint, but certainly not a well-appointed room. The main lodge was spectacular, with a huge central stone fireplace and a big porch off the Mckinley-facing side that was lined with benches and adirondack chairs perfect for mountain viewing. When we arrived, part of the mountain was visible and we enjoyed just taking in the view and the wilderness. One of the walking paths below the lodge was closed in the evening due to the presence of a mother moose and her baby who were munching on leaves near the path. It was a neat sight through the binoculars. We had dinner one of the on-site restaurants and found the food to be good. The next morning we had a good breakfast in the lodge's main dining room and then explored the various walking paths on the property. All were a very easy walk. We chose not to do any optional excursions while at the McKinley lodge and elected to just sit on the porch enjoying the views. In the afternoon, we boarded a coach for the trip to Denali Princess lodge. Upon arrival, we were given our keys and found our room to be in one of the new buildings on property. Again, we found the room to be basic and clean, but nothing special. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to elect (and pay for) upgraded room accommodations. We explored the many souvenir shops that are across from the lodge, most of which seemed to be selling items made overseas rather than in Alaska, and all seemed to be of the "tourist trap" type. However we did buy a few decent t-shirts and other trinkets. We returned to the lodge and had a wonderful dinner at the main restaurant. The next morning we arose early and had breakfast at the buffet on-site. It took quite awhile to get served drinks and the buffet food was just fair. We then embarked on our Tundra Wilderness Tour into Denali. The buses are operated by Aramark and are school buses rather than nice coaches. Overall, they were fairly comfortable. We had a knowledgeable tour guide who had been doing tours in the park for several summer seasons. The ride in the park was beautiful, with so many different types of scenery, from dense woods to tundra grasslands to rocky mountains. We got to see quite a bit of wildlife once we got further into the park, including lots of caribou and Dahl sheep, a fox and her baby right near the bus, a golden eagle soaring near a mountain peak, a wolf sleeping near the entrance to its den and a mother bear and her 2 young cubs off on the side of slope. It was a terrific trip into the park and well worth the full day on a school bus. That evening we had pizza at the on-site pizza place, which was not great pizza. We then ventured off-property to the outlook, which is across the street and up a very steep incline from the lodge property (you can call for a pick-up). We enjoyed a beautiful view of the park while sipping some of the local Alaskan beers. The following morning we had our bags out early for pick-up and then boarded buses to the train station. We boarded the train for a very long ride to Whitier to meet the ship. We were paired up at our table with a very nice older couple from north of Chicago and really enjoyed talking with them throughout the trip. We had a gloriously sunny day for the trip and as the train wound down on its travels, there were a number of beautiful vantage points from which we could see Mt. McKinley (Denali as the locals call the mountain) in all its full, uncovered beauty. It was one of the most spectacular sights that either of us had ever seen and the train slowed a number of times for passengers to be able to take pictures. Even some of the guides and staff on the train were taking pictures and telling us it was one of the most clear shots they'd seen while working on the train. It was a long train ride, but manageable with the dining car for a nice lunch and the bar for some tasty drinks. Embarkation: All of the pre-boarding was actually done on the train when we picked up several princess employees in Anchorage who handled all of the pre-board paperwork, checked our passports and handed out our cruise cards. We pulled into Whitier, went through security and were on the ship within 15 or 20 minutes. Cruising: Suite: Upon entering the ship, we were directed to our suite, D701, the Seychelles Suite. It was absolutely beautiful and very spacious. It had a nice marble-tiled entryway which then entered into the living room, which had a roomy desk area across from the wet bar and refrigerator, which had been stocked with complimentary beverages. The living room had a TV, nice sized sofa and armchair and a cocktail table and side table that held a beautiful arrangement of flowers. The living room had a set of balcony doors leading out to our double balcony, set with a table and chairs as well as lounge chairs. Back in the suite the living room was separated from the bedroom by a set of heavy draperies that could be pulled at night to accommodate different sleeping patterns. The bedroom was roomy with a large queen-sized bed and two side tables, another TV, a big mirrored dressing table with a lighted make-up mirror and plenty of storage for all of our clothes and belongings. There was a huge walk-in closet for all of our hanging clothes as well. The bathroom was huge, actually separated into two sections, one for the sink and toilet, separated by a door from the area for the jetted jacuzzi tub and large glass-walled shower. The extra bathroom space was very nice. We met our cabin steward, Chet, who brought us a glass of champagne to celebrate our arrival. We watched from our balcony as the ship pulled off from the dock. Shortly after we did the obligatory muster drill, then began exploring the ship. We had a cocktail up on the lido deck at the pool area. The dining had been changed since it was the first night on board, so we decided to have a late dinner at the buffet rather than the main dining room. We did not find the buffet food to be very good. We're used to buffets in Vegas where there are many more selections and both the selection and quality were lacking in the buffet. We discovered Crooners martini bar and enjoyed a wonderful late-night cocktail. Our second day on board was a sea day and the first of our formal nights. We started the day by having breakfast at Sabatini's, a perk for Suite guests. We enjoyed this immensely. The food was excellent and the service, by our waiter Sebastian, was outstanding. We did breakfast at Sabatini's most days when we didn't have an early port excursion. We were surprised that there were not many others who took advantage of this wonderful experience. We spent the day exploring the ship and finding all of the main entertainment areas, dining areas, lounges and pool areas. We found the ship very easy to navigate and get around. We spent the day leisurely napping and also had a very good lunch in the main dining room. We dressed early for dinner and took part in the evening cocktail hour that is held for elite and suite guests. We were surprised to find that very few people attended this cocktail reception, which was surprising given that they put out some very nice hors d'oeuvres. We enjoyed the service from the Italian chef, Eduardo, who oversaw the event. We took part in this several evenings during the cruise. We decided to have formal portraits taken by the ships photography staff. That evening they were having a contest. If you had your picture taken at all of the photography stations, you could enter a drawing to win a $300 photo package. We had our picture taken at all of the stations and turned in our prize card and the next morning, when selecting some pictures, learned that we had been drawn for the prize. We received a CD of our selection of formal portraits and 5 8x10 prints. We were thrilled. We also attended the Captain's Champagne Reception that evening which was nicely done with a Champagne waterfall. We had a very nice dinner at the main dining room. We had elected the anytime dining room and had not problem getting a table at approximately 8:00, even requesting a table for two. After dinner we went over to the bar at the Bayou Cafe to listen to Jean Mac sing songs from the American Songbook. We danced and really enjoyed the music. Later we found the casino and found the gaming to be adequate, with roulette for me and video poker for my husband. The dealers were very nice, although throughout the cruise I didn't find that many other players at the roulette table. Over the course of the cruise, between the 2 of us, we actually walked away from the casino with an extra $500 or so over what we'd started with, which was nice. We also did check out the Wheelhouse Bar, which was nearly deserted most of our voyage. There was a band called Nova, and they were just okay. I don't think we ever saw more than one or two couples dancing. We ended our evening at Crooners with the terrific entertainment by Dan Oliver who was great on the piano and had a wonderful singing voice. We met our favorite cocktail waiter Enrique, who provided us excellent service throughout the cruise. The cosmos made by the Crooners bar staff were excellent. The next day was the trip into Glacier Bay. We had our morning breakfast at Sabatinis and then attended the Glacier Bay Park Ranger presentation in the Princess Theater. It was a very interesting presentation about the glaciers and history of glacier bay. The day was rainy, but we braved the elements and went up on the open deck. It was well worth the cold and rain. The captain was able to pull in quite close to the Margerie clagier and we were able to hear and see it calve off ice several times. We saw a seal pull out on a small iceberg. The glacier was simply awe-inspiring. The captain then spun the ship around, so we retreated to our cabin where we could continue to see the glacier from our covered balcony while enjoying a yummy hot tody. We were also visited by a gull who decided that he like the railing of our covered balcony as well. Glacier bay was a wonderful day. That night we enjoyed a good dinner in the main dining room as well as the entertainment and cocktails at crooners. Our next day was in the port of Skagway. We had an early breakfast at the buffet, which we found to be quite good, with made to order eggs and omelettes and a good selection of fresh pastries. The coffee however, was awful. We were scheduled to go on the very first helicopter glacier landing flight of the day. However, with significant fog, the first trip was cancelled. They were able to book us on an 11:00 flight with the hopes that he fog would lift. Until the flight, we walked around town a bit. Skagway is a fun little town, with one main street full of small shops. We then presented back for our excursion and luckily it was able to fly. We hopped aboard a helicopter and took a 20 to 25 minute flight out to the glacier. We landed on the glacier and did a 20 minute trek around the glacier looking at the different melt formations, the running water, which appears a beautiful blue and the rocks and other items that get picked up and dragged around by the moving glacier. It was a very cool experience. We then re-boarded the helicopters and flew back to the base. The helicopter flight in both directions covered some very beautiful scenery. We were transported back to town just in time for our next excursion out to a summer sled dog camp. We were met by our nice guide Tini (Christine) and took a bit of a drive up out of town to Dyea where the sled dog camp is located. We then broke up into groups and boarded small wheeled carts, holding about 6 people each. The musher gave the command and were were off, pulled by a pack of 18 dogs. The dogs were absolutely amazing. All slight in build and clearly very athletic. They just couldn't wait to run. There was one who would bark like mad and jump up and down in line while waiting, clearly ready to do his job. We learned that the dogs were owned by our musher on board who had run the iditarod race several times, placing well with some of the very same dogs pulling our cart. We then returned to the musher's center for a brief history of dog sledding. Then we got to spend time with a group of young husky pups. They were absolutely beautiful and so much fun. Then it was back to town. We really enjoyed both excursions in Skagway. We finished up our day in Skagway with a pizza and beer at the Red Onion, a former brothel turned bar that maintains its original brothel theme. The pizza was good and the atmosphere very fun and light. The it was back to the ship. We finished off our day on ship with a nice dinner, some casino play and drinks at Crooners. The next day was another early port day, this time in Juneau. We had pre-planned excursion called Whales, Bears & Glaciers. We took a short van ride to a small harbor on the outskirts of Juneau where we boarded a small boat. The Captain then headed out in search of whales and other sea life. As we were pulling out of the harbor, we passed a small pebbled beach on which there was what we were told was a "parliament" of eagles. There were approximately a dozen or more eagles all feeding on halibut. The were simply beautiful, some adults with full white-feathered heads, some juveniles who had not yet gotten their white heads. We then moved into the open water and very shortly spotted the plume from a whale's blow hole. We slowed down and were able to see 2 whales off a bit in the distance, with their humped backs occasionally cresting out of the water followed by their big tails. We continued on our way, seeing a few small seals poking their heads out of the water and then a group of sea lions who had pulled themselves out of the water on to a navigational buoy to enjoy the sun while others barked around in the water clamoring for a spot. We then continued on and saw a group of porpoises that came right up to the boat, jumping and playing along beside the boat as we moved through the water. They actually looked like small killer whales, with similar coloring and markings. Last, we saw a humpback whale calf who came very close to our boat and was having a great time just playing. He was rolling around and pulling his fins out of the water. His mother also came fairly close to us and he continued to play. It was a fabulous whale watch. We then landed on a island, which were later told was twice the size of Rhode Island, with a human population of 950 and a bear population of 3500. We then got on a 15 person van with a guide who was a local young man who had grown up on the island. He was very informative about life on the island, wildlife and growing up in Alaska and shared many great stories. We got out at a wooded path where we walked along a raised plank path through dense woods. Our guide showed us some signs indicating bear had been through recently including claw marks on trees and hair left from the bear rubbing its back against a tree as well as bear droppings on the path. He noted that it was not yet salmon season and that the bears were still in mating season, during which they are constantly on the move. As we came out into a clearing at the end of the path at the water, we saw a small deer and an eagle. We returned to the van and shortly after heading out, just ahead on the logging road, was a large brown bear. Our guide pulled up further on the road and stopped where the bear had crossed the road. There right beside us, on a small rise next to the road, was the bear. He was no more than 8 feet from us. He'd climbed the small rise and had turned sideways and was just staring at us. He was so beautiful. He looked at us for about a minute or so, then turned, walked off and disappeared into the woods. Our guide said that the bear looked to be fairly young, maybe 4 years old and that it is likely that the bear had never seen humans before, which is why he turned to look at us. It was such a cool experience. We then continued on our way for another half hour or so, then arrived at a small airfield. We boarded a small plane that took us up for a 25 minute flight over the Juneau icefields. We saw what looks, from the air, like rivers of ice, that surround Juneau. It was absolutely stunning. We landed back at the Juneau airport and boarded a bus that brought us back to the ship. Back on board the ship, we returned to our suite and prepared for our second formal night. We had a lovely dinner in the main dining room with three other couples at our table and then closed our day at our usual crooners. The next day we awoke to a steady rain in the port of Ketchikan. We had originally planned to do the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show, which we decided to forego due to the rain and wind. Our main goal in town was to finish up our gift shopping, which was easily achieved in Ketchican's many shops. There were many jewelers in town, similar to what one sees when visiting Caribbean ports. We steered clear of those and stayed with the local shops. We found some nice local-made gifts and souvenirs. As soon as we finised shopping, we re-boarded the ship. We dried off and warmed up, then hit the pizza counter by the pool for lunch. We grabbed drinks from the buffet, sat under the covered section near the pool and found the pizza to be very good. We napped and had a leisurely afternoon. We invited in some frineds that we'd met on the land tour into our suite for pre-dinner cocktails, which was very easy to do since we had such a large living room in our suite and also were able to order a tray of canapes every evening as part of the suite perks. For dinner we went to the Bayou Cafe, which we found to be quite good. I had a fabulous spicy grilled shrimp appetizer and we both had steaks as our entree. The food was well done and the service very good. In the eventing, we went to the early Comedy show in the Princess Theater. Kevin Hughes was the comedian and he was pretty funny. Overall we enjoyed the show. We went to the late showing of the International Crew Show in the Princess Theater, which was sort of hokey, but fun too. We finished the night at our usual crooners. The next day was our final full sea day We had our final breakfast at Sabatini's where we continued to experience great food and outstanding service. We took a long walk around the Promenade deck and spotted whales and porpoises off the ship. We ate lunch from the Grill counter on the pool deck and found the simple burgers and fries to be good. In the afternoon, we packed our bags in preparation for having them out in the hall that evening and shopped a bit in the on-board shops, picking up some Princess-themed souvenirs at sale prices. We had made reservations for dinner at Sabatini's that evening and arranged to be served by our favorite waiter, Sebastian. Sabatini's has a really neat way of doing dinner service, where you choose your entree and then they bring you platters of all of the salads and appetizers with small tastes for you to try. It was wonderful. We really enjoyed the food and the way it was served. That evening we found all of our special crew that we got to know and gave them special tips. It was nice to be able to let them know how special they had made our trip. We then visited the casino, again taking away some winnings and closed out our night at crooners. The following day we had an early breakfast in the main dining room and then proceeded with our hand-carried luggage to the wheelhouse bar, the designated area for suite guests, where they had good coffee and juice out for us. We heard our designated pick-up color and number and proceeded down the gangway and through the customs area. We then boarded our Princess transfer to the airport. I was glad that we did the Princess tansfers, as we never had to handle our bags until we got to the airport. The whole process was very smooth and quick. We had a wonderful trip overall and would not hesitate to do the Alaska cruisetour again with Princess. We did purchase future cruise credis and are working on planning our next Priness adventure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click