Sail Date: August 2019
We had been planning to take an Alaska Cruise for sometime. We heard good comments about Princess Cruise and got a good deal from them. Our family of 15 members consisting of my husband and I, our three children, their spouses and seven ... Read More
We had been planning to take an Alaska Cruise for sometime. We heard good comments about Princess Cruise and got a good deal from them. Our family of 15 members consisting of my husband and I, our three children, their spouses and seven grandsons ages 3 -13 were on this trip and we all loved the experience. The Medallion concept is great. Love the way the Medallion opened the cabin door and showed our picture. The Medallion was great when boarding and disembarking the ship. The staff on board the ship were excellent and very friendly. The service in the restaurants was very good. The sailing was smooth all the way, only one night there was a possibility of rough sailing. Liked the way Captain kept us informed about what to expect. Although we missed stopping in Juneau, I appreciated that the Captain made the right decision to sail through to avoid the bad weather. We spent seven nights on the ship and three nights on the land. There were enough activities for the children to be entertained. Overall, it was a very good experience. Hope to go in a cruise again. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We are elite cruisers with Princess (have sailed on many ships) and booked two 7 day Alaska cruises from July 3 - July 17, 2019 on the Island Princess. This ship is sadly lacking in public amenities and the cabin was so small you ... Read More
We are elite cruisers with Princess (have sailed on many ships) and booked two 7 day Alaska cruises from July 3 - July 17, 2019 on the Island Princess. This ship is sadly lacking in public amenities and the cabin was so small you couldn't escape to it either. There is no International Cafe, which on other Princess ships serves a menu of very fresh food for 24 hours a day. After 11 pm the only snack available is from Room Service with a limited menu of food which you have to eat in bed as the stateroom has no chairs to relax in. There is no Skywalkers Lounge for a panoramic view of the scenery. There is no Vista Lounge as Princess took lovely lounge space and converted it to revenue producing cabins. There is no Adagio Lounge for relaxing. All that is left is the Wheelhouse and Explorers which are just bars meant to sell liquor and are not convivial day venues. The atrium has no appeal since it is constantly noisy with martini shaking and various music programs and no International Cafe to give you a nice cup of tea and a sandwich. The fitness room and gym are stuck inside with no windows to enjoy the view. The fitness room is so small you cannot stretch because of the number of people on the floor. Stretch classes have been cut from 30 minutes to 20 minutes and 10 minutes of that is taking foot impressions to sell orthotics. You cannot walk all the way around the Promenade Deck as it is always blocked off. There is no jogging track. There is extremely limited deck space since the Horizon Court is at the bow of the ship and most ships have it aft with nice outside tables to enjoy the view out the rear of the ship. There is no aft pool which also affords a view on most ships. The Sanctuary is aft instead of amidship which cuts off the last opportunity to access the rear of the ship. We felt like prisoners on this ship, Stuck in limited public lounges with the Alaskan views only slightly visible through exceedingly dirty windows in the Horizon Court, the dining rooms and whatever few public areas remain. A fleet wide Princess problem is the lack of fresh food on their ships. Frozen fish is unacceptable on an expensive holiday with easy access to port reprovisioning. The only saving graces on this cruise were the entertainment and the staff. The entertainers were very good and on the second cruise we had 3 excellent production shows. The staff (other than Customer Service) were excellent. They are the biggest strength of Princess. Although we often cruise 2 or 3 times a year we are not in a hurry to book another cruise with Princess and will probably give Celebrity or RCCL another try. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We loved this cruise. It was a 50th wedding anniversary celebration with our family. The food was excellent and the waiters were very friendly and made the experience very fun. We liked most of the evening entertainment, but the magic ... Read More
We loved this cruise. It was a 50th wedding anniversary celebration with our family. The food was excellent and the waiters were very friendly and made the experience very fun. We liked most of the evening entertainment, but the magic act was not up to par. Their act was lacking in variety and seemed juvenile. The comedian was fun, but he needs to improve his vocabulary - all the swear words were crude and offensive. The swearing distracted from the fun. I also don't think making fun or people and embarrassing them is very funny. I don't like the disembarkation process. The questionnaire we had to complete for the disembarkation was vey confusing and should be revised. We wanted to take our luggage off ourselves and but were not ready to leave the ship at 7:30 AM. There was not an option to take our own luggage off ourselves and leave a little latter. This was confusing and needs to be improved. Getting on the ship in Vancouver was one of the worst experiences I have had in a long time. The cruise terminal was very disorganized. We have to stand in several lines and it weened we went around in several circles. Then we went up stairs and got in more lines and then we went down stairs and stood in more lines. Someone needs to improve this process. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Terrible slow service in the restaurant and a bad waiter. We had a pre-paid reservation for the same restaurant for another night but canceled due to our bad experience. Princess also needs to make sure that the beautiful pictures on the ... Read More
Terrible slow service in the restaurant and a bad waiter. We had a pre-paid reservation for the same restaurant for another night but canceled due to our bad experience. Princess also needs to make sure that the beautiful pictures on the boat that shows the pictures of the food dishes should match what Is served to you. It is almost like night and day difference (have some look at the picture on display of the short ribs pasta dish and then go order it in the restaurant). You will be shocked. Also, our bathroom in our suite was dirty as there was mold on the shower grout walls. The shower curtain was stained yellow across the bottom. Also, the fitness center was truly the most disappointing fitness center I have ever seen on any cruise ship that we have been on. Stuck in a room with no windows and just staring at walls is unreal. How could you ever enjoy working out? Many comments from passengers on board said they would not work out because of the fitness center location. We have been on many cruises and will most likely not go on Princess again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We did a 3 nights cruise from van to lax and it was the best relaxation ever! The ship is good and clean. Our check in was smooth and we had a very nice balcony room overlooking the ocean. The staff were attentive, friendly and helpful. ... Read More
We did a 3 nights cruise from van to lax and it was the best relaxation ever! The ship is good and clean. Our check in was smooth and we had a very nice balcony room overlooking the ocean. The staff were attentive, friendly and helpful. Our housekeeper was superb and cleaned our room at least 3 times a day. Haha. The food was great and there was a good selection of everything. The Italian restaurants were great as well. The boat is no slouch when it comes to entertainment. The comedy and broadway shows are at par with Las Vegas shows. There is always something going on in every hour. The live band was good and the night club is bumping. There is absolutely no point in staying in your stateroom unless you are sleeping or sick. Overall a great experience and will definitely do a cruise with them again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
I enjoyed the cruise, but the Effy jewelry personell conducted a raffle for those buying jewelry. I bought my wife a ring that cost almost 3 grand. There were 3 prizes. The same person won all of the prizes. This is almost certainly ... Read More
I enjoyed the cruise, but the Effy jewelry personell conducted a raffle for those buying jewelry. I bought my wife a ring that cost almost 3 grand. There were 3 prizes. The same person won all of the prizes. This is almost certainly impossible to happen if done randomly, i DID NOT EXPECT TO WIN BUT I DID NOT EXPECT THE SAME PERSON TO WIN ALL PRIZES. Also no drink container delivered to my room even though we ordered drink package for soda and virgin drinks. I was therefore unsure where these could be obtained until after third day, I finally took my own container and asked the person behind the drink counter in casual dinning room, who told me. I would go again but please correct these problems for a perfect score. Disney has drinnk stations free throughout ship. It would be nice to have an onboard movie theatre with current movies. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We left August 10th on Radiance of the Seas. Our plane was late but we booked our travel through RC so they waited for us, several were on our particular plane. Embarkation was great as we were rushed onto the ship. We researched the ship ... Read More
We left August 10th on Radiance of the Seas. Our plane was late but we booked our travel through RC so they waited for us, several were on our particular plane. Embarkation was great as we were rushed onto the ship. We researched the ship prior to our cruise and saw quite a few negative comments. We were pleasantly surprised by the ship and the crew. From our room stewart to the wait staff in the main dining room to most all the crew we encountered, everyone was pleasant and very helpful. The ship is older, yes, but it is not falling apart. It was clean everywhere. We booked a junior suite and had plenty of room. The closet was large and the room was big. The food in the MDR was good as well as, of course, Chops Grill. We were not impressed with Giovanni's or the brazilian steakhouse, Samba. That might just be our personal taste. There was not too much in the way of entertainment but we usually do not attend to many shows. We did go one night to a comedian which he was very good. Most people on the ship were 40-50-60ish but there were also a lot of kids and younger adults. We had booked all our excursions prior to boarding the ship so we did get them at a discount. One excursion, dog mushing, was cancelled due to weather and no snow on the glacier but we rebooked at the dock to another helicopter onto a glacier which was awesome. All our other excursions were great too. In Ketchican, we went on a boat ride and after had a delicious lunch of all you can eat dungeonous crabs. We definitely recommend this excursion. Next stop was Icy Straight Point where we went out on a boat for whale watching. We did see whales and orcas. Then Juneau where we went up on the glacier. Next was Skagway where we enjoyed a wonderful salmon bake. We ended in Seward and continued on to the land tour. Starting in Anchorage we boarded the Wilderness Express train to Talkeetna for one night, then onto Danali by train for two nights and finally by a third train to Fairbanks for two nights. Although we thoroughly enjoyed all the sights, we wish we had had the itenerary for this land tour ahead of time. No food or extra excursions along the way were included in the cruise price. And food is VERY expensive in Alaska. Plus in some of the places you are very limited on places to eat. You are also very busy everyday especially if you went on the extra excursions that were not included in the price and were also expensive. Plan on spending about another $2000 on food and excursions. That doesn't include any souveniers you may want to buy. The three train rides were fabulous and most all of the excursions included in the price were great except for the salmon bake in Fairbanks. Of note, the bus ride into Danali National Park was long, about 8 hours, and was on a remodeled school bus. The only time you could get out of the bus was on bathroom breaks. You could only take pictures from the bus windows and on the bathroom breaks. We did see some wildlife but mostly from very far away and you really needed a long range camera len to get close up pictures. We absolutely enjoyed our cruise and land tour and would recommend it to anyone wishing to go to Alaska. It is a bucket list place. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Spent three days in Vancouver prior to the cruise. Embarkation was a nightmare, long queues. Carried our own bags when leaving therefore disembarkation went smoothly. The ship is tired looking, cabin was clean although the curtains, ... Read More
Spent three days in Vancouver prior to the cruise. Embarkation was a nightmare, long queues. Carried our own bags when leaving therefore disembarkation went smoothly. The ship is tired looking, cabin was clean although the curtains, bed valance were torn. Bathroom had a musty smell which was sorted by our cleaner. Dining room was fine, great service and food was ok, ate here for breakfast and evening meal. The OceanView was a nightmare, queues, no room to eat, tables were not vacated and not asked to move even though there were signs. People were having to eat standing up. On the plus side, the cleaning and dining room staff were excellent. Entertainment wasn't brilliant, enjoyed the lectures. Port excursions were ok, I found all three ports very similar and boring. Enjoyed Hubbard glacier very much. In my opinion the company is only interested in taking as much money off passengers as everything seemed to cost extra I will not cruise with Celebrity again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Dear all My room no. Is 8012 in ms nieuw amsterdam. 23rd June departure from vancouver There are several issues. Let me point out each one 1. I am pure Hindu vegetarian traveller. Before booking I had clearly asked that I need ... Read More
Dear all My room no. Is 8012 in ms nieuw amsterdam. 23rd June departure from vancouver There are several issues. Let me point out each one 1. I am pure Hindu vegetarian traveller. Before booking I had clearly asked that I need Indian vegetarian meal. I was clearly told yes Holland America is best vegetarian friendly. On coming the same turned to worst nightmare On first day of lunch it was told that there were less supply as new supply is being refilled and from tommorow you will get variety of food. Told ok no problem. Let's manage a day while all other had there full option to eat. From 2nd day the same is situation till day 6.either something is over or we will do tommorow but there is no tommorow than. Had Worst experience where I had taken a naan and just yogurt to each and tried to break naam with hand and in couldn't and than with teeth than too it was unbreakable. Given it to chef MR mani who told me this is hard one requested by guest but no guest request a UNBREAKABLE NAAN as it is to eat and not a sovenier at the room I was told daily to contact Mr mani and he will make seperate but my simple question is why we are not provided quality food and substandard is done between guest who complains and some they are normal and no complain gets the unbreakable naan. Matter reported to charnea guest manager at lido market. Most Indian on cruise if asked are satisfied than you can see the reply 15 are there in my group. The best person who eats in to most item in our group it wss also now fed up. There are no variety. I had complained on day 3rd breakfast where I had waited 1 hrs for a menu item before the steward came to me and told item is wrongly written and had complained to Denise who was manager for in room dining and she called chef Mr siva Kumar who says he is only one Indian chef and have 120 people to handle alone. There is no fault of him seems and so called Denise in front of Mr siva Kumar and told her what Mr siva said as this is fault of Holland America side that enough staff was not provided though clear booking was done with passport details nationality and even telling our food preference to booking agent. Even in Indian item. Name tags are not being put and the same counter is mixed with non vegetarian. 2nd greenhouse spa Offered hydro pool and thermal suite package at 219 per couple and was booked by me immediately on the day of embarkation and was told only last 4 space left 35 couple. 70 person is the max allowed. All good for 2 days and than came the day of skagway where board was kept for the same thing of 130 dollars which was only for skagway joining passengers but to my surprise they took booking from all the guests who boarded from Vancouver too and with bargained price of 90-100 dollars for couple. Right now there are much more than 70 persons and had told first day that I would only do it if the max cap of 70 is maintained. It is like public pool now and also with this bargain thing totally dissatisfied with working and demand a strong refund for the same. Also all general public is entering the hydro pool as the door is not kept closed 3rd room shower had fallen when it was turned on leg on first day of cruise which can't be allowed as it was not checked 4th room ac not working properly complained on first day is not resolved till date. 5th highly overcharged from exc tours. Don't buy they don't care for us Team to my surprise I found that white pass railway done by me through exc tours is also price higher than the price given on its official website Matter report to Mr lyron who was not ready to agree the fact first that it's overpriced. After giving him proof he have taken time and than comes with terms and conditions no where published. Mr lyron says this offer is only for online purchase and sent letter of terms which wasn't available online. no where that terms are published online Also if its for online only it should have been clearly written on main page This is program with Holland America that you try to earn 10 dollars more for anything and everything after normal profit and than just tell to read terms where nothing was told to us like this. Point 1 reported to Denise and charnea as well as guest manager Mr Jorn Point 2 reported to mr jorn who committed me to get back to me within next 24 hrs. Point 3 and 4 reported to housekeeping Point 5 reported to lyron exc manager on board Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
Great ports in all our favorite NW cities. Great food both onshore and in Infinity’s restaurants. Superb butler service in our suite Entertainment was way above average. The magician was outrageously funny and accomplished. The ... Read More
Great ports in all our favorite NW cities. Great food both onshore and in Infinity’s restaurants. Superb butler service in our suite Entertainment was way above average. The magician was outrageously funny and accomplished. The aerialists were an unexpected surprised - like watching ballet. Couldn’t believe how big the work out area was. Lots of machines, free weights and awesome views off the bow. The observation lounge had the best view I’ve every experienced. Awesome sail away views in Vancouver and Seattle. Butler service for the Royal Suite was superb - our every request cheerfully fulfilled. Can’t save enough about Singh who was personable and articulate and intelligent without a hint of subservience. Qsine was the best food by far that I’ve had on a cruise ship and rivals onshore restaurants. Tuscan was also very good with an excellent steak for me. Luminaire was an excellent choice. Best food overall for any cruise that we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
What a wonderful cruise. We went to Corfu, Santorini, Sicily, Croatia, Turkey, Athens, Rome. So many wonderful places. Used Viator.com for shore excursions and was terrific. They guarantee to get back to the ship on time. Private ... Read More
What a wonderful cruise. We went to Corfu, Santorini, Sicily, Croatia, Turkey, Athens, Rome. So many wonderful places. Used Viator.com for shore excursions and was terrific. They guarantee to get back to the ship on time. Private tours with experts in history made for an awesome tour. Holland America was outstanding. Service was great and food, entertainment was wonderful as well. The flight to Europe was good and Holland America provided transportation to the hotel and then onto the ship, no problems with all the connections. We were able to board the ship early and get settled in the cabin and have lunch before the ship even sailed. Highly recommend getting to Rome, our departure city a couple days before so you can explore it. Did use the ships shores excursions for some trips and they were very good. I would highly recommend this cruise and would definitely do this same cruise again. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We liked the itinerary, the time of year and the size of the ship. The trip was perfect. There were plenty of sea days to enjoy the daily activities, interesting ports of call and thankfully perfect weather. The onl;y disappointment ... Read More
We liked the itinerary, the time of year and the size of the ship. The trip was perfect. There were plenty of sea days to enjoy the daily activities, interesting ports of call and thankfully perfect weather. The onl;y disappointment was missing Mystery Island because of a lapse in the weather but t his happens, Food was outstanding even though a previous reviewer could not eat between 5pm and 5,30pm!!! Is that a problem? Yes, some of the shore excursions were ridiculously expensive but you could opt out and organise them privately yourselves at a fraction of the cost. The evening entertainment was brilliant with a series of professional individual musicians and the ship's cast with wonderful singers and dancers. THe music every night gave everyone choices between classical, dance , big bands and the popular piano man. TH e Cruise Director was the best we have ever seen on any ship. Her personality and enthusiasm generated an atmosphere of excitement and fun. Her side kick was also outstanding. The daily trivia session was a highlight for those who attended. Our memories centered on the friendliness and competence of the whole crew. Everything worked! It seems to be a feature of Holland America.It encourages us to continue cruising with them after 4 happy cruises. Bring on the next cruise! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My husband and I chose this cruise because it fit into our timetable and allowed a visit to Vancouver. I sailed with HAL several years ago on an older ship and did not have a good experience but since it fit we decided to give it another ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise because it fit into our timetable and allowed a visit to Vancouver. I sailed with HAL several years ago on an older ship and did not have a good experience but since it fit we decided to give it another try. The Noordam is a newer ship and exceeded our expectations. We upgraded to a signature suite and found it to be quite spacious with 2 sinks in the bathroom, balcony roomy too. Finishes are nicer in Celebrity solstice ships but overall it was very good. Service was excellent in all areas. The several talks about Alaska and what we were seeing were great. Food demonstration and galley visit also very good. Food in the main dining room and Pinnacle very good. Room service excellent for breakfast...real oj and good coffee. Lido terrible for breakfast. Watery coffee, fake oj , noisy and it smelled like McDonalds. It was fine for lunch especially Asian dishes. Piano bar and Blues were excellent, comedian very good but the singers and dancers were terrible! Nice gym and Indonesian tea. We did not book shore excursions but did go with Juneau tours in Skagway and they were great. Overall a very good experience. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Arrived in Vancouver a day and a half early to see some of the city sights.Took a cab to the cruise terminal and yes...they take American money. The driver took us all the way up to the entrance to Holland America section of the terminal. ... Read More
Arrived in Vancouver a day and a half early to see some of the city sights.Took a cab to the cruise terminal and yes...they take American money. The driver took us all the way up to the entrance to Holland America section of the terminal. Upon arrival a porter had us put the labels supplied by Holland on our bags and took our luggage. He directed us to the next step which was registration. After filling out an agriculture declaration form we sat on a row of chairs until our we were called (about 10-15 mins) to register. When that was complete it was off to customs then we boarded the ship. Embarkation was a breeze, well organized and quick. Once aboard they directed us to the spa to hear a sales pitch. They will try to sell you the spa packages available, access to the fitness center and pools, etc.To save money book your spa days when the ship is in port. Its less crowded and there are special deals with cheaper rates at the spa. Upon arrival to our cabin 7034 we met our cabin attendent Putu. He was friendly and pleasant. Cabin was clean and comfortable. I chose the Rotterdam deck of the ship because the are many suites on this deck. Even though our cabin was not a suite ships usually put the best cabin stewards on the decks with the suites. Since our luggage had not arrived yet we decided to get acquainted with the ship. We stopped at the crows nest to get a bloody mary and it was the best I have ever had. The prices of the drinks were a lot lower than I expected too. Every drink I had on this cruise was excellent. It is easy to see the bartenders take a lot of pride in what they do. I also cant say enough about the food. Tamarind restaurant was excellent. My only regret was discovering this wonderful restaurant on our last night of the cruise. I would have dined here 3 or 4 nights if we found it earlier. Order the sake mojito in the bar, it was the best! Entertainment onboard was good, Bingo was fun because my wife won $240. We enjoyed the dance lessons in ballroom dance, the computer classes, and the slot tournaments. Nothing bad to say about the service. We had great service everywhere aboard ship. The highlight of this trip was cruising Glacier Bay National Park. Breathtaking scenery, glaciers so close you can see the deep blue colors. The sounds you hear at the glacier is amazing and we saw calving of the glacier as large chunks of ice break off and hit the water...Amazing. As far as port excursions go our 5 glacier seaplane expedition was cancelled due to low clouds and fog. I was very disappointed but glad they did not take us in bad weather. The mushers camp in Dyea was fantastic. We really enjoyed that. The cruise was great despite the bad weather in Juneau. Already planning another one in 2 years. If I go to Alaska again in will be in July or August. September was a little too late as the weather started to change, lots or rain. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Eviactive put together a ballroom dance program on Crystal Serenity. Her pros were outstanding and we took lessons every morning before touring. In the evening we danced the night away to the superb band provided by Crystal on their dance ... Read More
Eviactive put together a ballroom dance program on Crystal Serenity. Her pros were outstanding and we took lessons every morning before touring. In the evening we danced the night away to the superb band provided by Crystal on their dance floor. The pros from Eviactive partied and danced with us each night until 11 p.m. On the last night we dance until midnight and then some of the younger ones in our group headed for the pulse lounge for more dancing. What an amazing week we had. The ship provided a band for nightly dancing. I must say, the band was exceptional. Eviactive provided dance lessons every day with award-winning professionals. They were available for private lessons in the afternoon which turned out to be a treat, given how good they were. We took lessons every day and danced every night. Food was gourmet. Rooms were lovely. Nothing could have been better except skipping the port stop in Astoria. Can't wait to go to Buenos Aires with Eviactive and her dance pros. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met ... Read More
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met our expectations and pleasantly so. We knew the average age would be senior and often less mobile, but that was ok. This was our first retirement getaway and we were under no time pressure. The cabin was prefect #6047. Midway between the main decks of #3 (dining and entertainment) and #9 (cafe, spa/gym, sun decks and pools). Not only did we get into the routine of using the gym and spa everyday, but we rarely used the elevators (only 6x's I remember). Cabin was as per our expectations. Lots of storage, a nice balcony, and a very comfortable bed as were the pillows. The cabin stewards, Rudi & Lee, were excellent and accommodating. The TV screen was small (14"+/-) and could have been larger as the 4 movies shown each day were well selected. Not that you couldn't choose from a large selections from the CD catalogue (free!). This is not to say we watched a lot of TV, but for what we did watch, the TV could have been larger. Food offerings were very good. The Lido cafeteria has nearly everything you would want for breakfast lunch and dinner. The more formal (mostly Smart Casual and once weekly Formal) Vista dining room was very good for dinner. Portions were smartly presented and were small in size, but a simple request for a larger portion when ordering was always pleasantly accepted. And second helpings are not an issue. Basically I saw this as a way to keep food waste to a minimum. We didn't try either of the "specialty" restaurants. We couldn't justify the added surcharge. But I did hear from many others that they very much like those offerings. We did take advantage of room service breakfast nearly everyday. Very effective way of starting each day. Overall we were very happy with this first cruise. Entertainment was very entertaining, and different every night over 25 nights. A very professionally run theatre program. We took full advance of the health club facilities and paid the surcharge for use of the hydro-thermal pool, steam rooms and thermal-beds (Love these!!!). For the 25 day cruise, these were well worth the surcharge. The administration and execution of activities, events and embarkation/disembarkation at the start, end and each port was well organized. If we have any criticism of the cruise, it was the background music and the age of the musical entertainment offerings. Yes, the average age of the guests were closer to 70+/-, but even a 70yr old was listening and concerting to Rock and Roll in the 60's and 70's. I am sure some entertainment playing music from the early Rolling Stone's, the Beatle's, CSNY I am confident would have been appreciated. I am only 55, but if I am on a ship when I'm 70, they better be playing music from "the Lost 80's". Hope this helps the next passenger. Ahoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first cruise ever, and we were generally pleased with it. We knew several other couples who had done the Princess cruise to Alaska, and none had complaints, so we never even considered another cruise line. Our total vacation ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever, and we were generally pleased with it. We knew several other couples who had done the Princess cruise to Alaska, and none had complaints, so we never even considered another cruise line. Our total vacation was 3 days in Vancouver before the cruise, 7 days on the ship, 5 days of Princess cruisetour on land, and then 3 days, mostly in Seward. The 3 days in Vancouver before embarkation was just about the right amount of time. We stayed at the Landis, a suite hotel, and there are many small restaurants within walking distance. We rented bikes to go around Stanley Park,and also went to the Aquarium, the Capilano suspension bridge and the Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden. We went to Vancouver Island and Butchart Gardens on a previous trip, so skipped it this time. Cruise embarkation was as slow as other reviewers have reported, but we finally made it on. The weather was warm and sunny as we sailed from Vancouver, and after exploring the ship a little, we settled on our balcony with the wine we had brought on board and watched the city slip away. Our cabin was spic and span and, although small, there is adequate storage space for everything. Our steward came in at least twice a day to clean and replace any used towels. We were very satisfied with the food in general. We ate almost all breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court (buffet). On the first at-sea morning, we tried the Da Vinci dining room to order breakfast off the menu. That was a mistake, as the service was extremely slow, and the food was no better than in the Horizon Court. There is a large selection of food at all meals in the HC. The only problem is it can be difficult to find an open table, as people tend to sit at the window tables for a long time to just enjoy the passing scenery, but staff are helpful in getting you a table. We ate most dinners in the Michelangelo dining room, as we wanted any-time dining. The food was generally very good there, although sauces tend to be heavily salted. The service is slow there, and it was usually 9-9:30 by the time we were done, so not being night people, we did not go to any evening entertainment, except once for the 50's and 60's music night. We did not purchase any beverage cards as we are not soda drinkers and I couldn't see spending an additional $49/day for alcoholic beverages, so we just ordered them a la carte, and remained well below the $49/day . As first-time cruisers, we found the Princess Patter daily newsletter very helpful in notifying us of the day's events, port info, etc. The weather in Alaska in August was not as rainy as I had feared, but at sea it was quite cold, as were some of the days during the land portion (the second half of August is already Fall season in Alaska). Going out on the outside decks meant dressing in warm jacket, hat and gloves most of the time, but in the ports it was warmer. Many days were cloudy with occasional drizzle, but there were periods of sun, especially in Skagway, where it was warm and delightful. We did shore excursions at every port. In Ketchikan we did a Misty Fjords float plane sight seeing flight; well worth it; in Juneau the rain forest garden, Mendenhall glacier, Mt. Roberts Tram-- warm and sunny at the top so we hiked around a bit. We saw bald eagles, Dall sheep and a marmot. We had booked the Yukon train from Skagway, which it turned out was a bus ride up, and then train back (the train actually is slower than the bus, so you wouldn't want to take it both ways anyway). It was very scenic but Caribou Crossing (not to be confused with the nearby town of Carcross) is a tourist trap and the barbecue lunch there is mediocre, although it was fun to see the sled dogs. Glacier bay and College Fjord were stunning, for the last 2 at-sea days. On one of the at-sea days we attended a presentation by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod race. Her story was fascinating. We also attended a naturalist presentation, which was informative, but not as riveting. After disembarkation in Whittier we got right on the train up to Denali. We were lucky to get views of Mt. McKinley from the train as we approached--everyone tells you that only 30% of visitors get to see it as it's usually in clouds. The room in the Denali Princess lodge was a let down after our nice cabin on the Crown--dark and musty smelling but at least the window opened to air it out. We went to the Music of Denali dinner theater which is a very silly retelling of the first climbers to summit the mountain. Food is served family-style at long tables, and is plentiful and adequate. It did seem ironic, however, after all of the sanitary precautions on the ship buffet (hand sanitizer at entrances, staff wiping up spills quickly, clearing dishes quickly, etc.), that you would have perfect strangers serving themselves seconds onto their used plates as was done at the dinner theater-- always a no-no at buffets. We did the park bus shuttle tour into Denali the next day, instead of the included Natural History tour and got a refund from Princess for it. We took the shuttle all the way to the Eielson visitor center, which is farther than either the Tundra tour or NH tours go. We were very lucky that the mountain was "out" again that day and got some great pictures of the sun glowing on its white peaks. We were also lucky in seeing lots of wildlife--about a dozen grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. The next day we took the bus down to the McKinley Princess lodge, which was, surprisingly, a 3 hour trip. No more views of the mountain, though, as it was foggy and drizzly. That afternoon we did the Byers Lake nature walk and the weather cleared up a bit. I was surprised that we didn't encounter any mosquitoes, since I'd heard they are really bad in Alaska--maybe too cold already? The following day in Talkeetna we did the Mahay jet boat adventure which was a blast as you go through rapids before the turn around point. Saw a black bear and more bald eagles. Back to Anchorage the next day; Captain Cook hotel was very nice--meals a bit pricey but there are also many restaurants within walking distance. After our cruisetour ended we rented a car and drove down to Seward on the Kenai peninsula to extend our Alaska vacation a few more days. We took the Kenai Fjords Tours National Park boat tour-- it was fantastic, in part due to great weather, and the park is gorgeous. We saw glaciers and lots of wildlife-- whales, sea otters, sea lions, seals, puffins, cormorants and more. In Seward we also hiked to Exit Glacier--an easy hike, and did the Ididaride sled dog ride. On the way back to Anchorage we stopped in at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage. We did the behind-the-scenes tour which was well worth the money as we got to go in the pens of the more docile animals. The weather our last 3 days in Alaska was mild and sunny (upper 60's), so a great ending to our trip. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
This was our 11th cruise, 4th with Celebrity and second to Alaska. Have previously cruised with Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Disney. We arrived two days early in Vancouver and stayed at the Westin Bayshore, which was a great ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise, 4th with Celebrity and second to Alaska. Have previously cruised with Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Disney. We arrived two days early in Vancouver and stayed at the Westin Bayshore, which was a great location. We caught the free shuttle right in front of the hotel to the Capilano Suspension Bridges, which is a pricey entrance fee (a little less with our AAA discount), but we thoroughly enjoyed our time there, spent a couple of hours going on all the bridges, magnificent! Had dinner at Coast nearby, which was excellent, great service too. Finally we were ready to head to the ship. While I agree with the previous reviewers that the check-in process in Vancouver was lengthy, most of the wait was to get through customs, not sure you can blame Celebrity for that. Once we cleared the customs line, we quickly were presented with our Sea passes and were on our way. Our passes were stamped with the appropriate insignia for the Premium Beverage Package, and we never had an issue with being charged for a drink once, I kept checking our account on the t.v.(had read that was a problem for some). We hadn't had the package before, and really enjoyed ordering what we wanted with little concern for pricing or signing a bill. Not sure that we would pay out of pocket for it, but having only to come up with the upgrade cost due to the 123 promotion was great. We were given champagne as we boarded around 12:30 pm and went to the Oceanview Cafe for lunch. We tend to head to the dining room for most meals, but enjoyed the meals we had in the Oceanview nonetheless. Our rooms were ready about 2:00. We chose select dining after a bad experience with table mates several cruises ago, and while it worked well, I would recommend making reservations ahead with select dining to avoid a wait when being seated. The service on the ship was superior, of all the service we received, I would give 5 out of 5 rating to everyone, with one minor exception in Cellar Masters. We particularly enjoyed the bartenders in Molecular! We dined in Silk Harvest, which we hadn't been to before-thoroughly enjoyed it! We also enjoyed Tuscan Grill twice-spectacular food- and saw several whales as we dined. The service in the specialty restaurants was second to none-well worth the fee to us. Another favorite was enjoying specialty coffee in Cafe Al Baccio, big comfy chairs with large windows to watch the scenery go by, could have done that for a couple hours every day. We also enjoyed a couple of late breakfasts in Bistro on 5 along with a Mimosa or two-just ask, they'll bring them to you. We did the train/land tour through the Yukon in Denali with Chilkoot Charters-that was an amazing experience well worth doing! Our guide Stanley was super, down to earth and very informative. The beauty on both portions of this tour was unforgettable, and the trip to the sled dog venue was also great. We booked a whale watch trip through Celebrity in Icy Straight, again, amazing. We saw at least 15 whales, several up close, even their faces; sea lions, porpoises were also plentiful. The captain did a great job of finding the best spots. We also enjoyed the trip through Tracy/Endicot Arms, weather was beautiful, no problem sitting out on the deck the whole time we were in that area. Each show we saw, I think we missed two, was well worth seeing. Particularly liked the comedian, he was sort of an older version of Jerry Seinfeld-making funny out of ordinary life, also very clean comedy which was refreshing to us. We never wanted for anything to do, in fact missed several things because there were two events at the same time and had to choose one or the other. We used the gym several times, and at the times we went, were always able to get the equipment we wanted. Disembarkation was a breeze, off in 20 minutes-be warned that if you are behind your group number for disembarkation, your luggage may be shifted all the way to one side or the other. A short search located all our baggage together. Was an excellent trip all the way around. The only suggestion I can think of to improve things would be to offer a few more wine by the glass choices that would meet the premium package criteria. All in all we like the feel of Celebrity, just elegant, relaxing, great service, heading out again in December to the W. Caribbean on the Silhouette! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
This was our 9th cruise with Disney, but our first without the little (now all grown up) children. This was a trip with highs (many) and lows (just a couple). We arrived a day prior into Vancouver because I a): Am Paranoid about being ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise with Disney, but our first without the little (now all grown up) children. This was a trip with highs (many) and lows (just a couple). We arrived a day prior into Vancouver because I a): Am Paranoid about being late to the party and b): Love to see a bit of other cities. Our first low (but very minor) occurred about 2 months prior to arrival when we were notified the ship would be embarking at Ballantyne Pier vice Canada Place (Which, conveniently (we thought) was where we had booked our "night before" hotel). I don't think this was Disney's choice, because there were 3 other ships docked at CP that day. The first "high" was that Disney had arranged free (yes, that's right, you read it here first -> FREE) shuttle transportation to Ballantyne. They took our luggage at the Pan Pacific, put it on a truck and bussed us to Ballantyne without having to mess with the bags anymore (score!!). Embarkation was well handled (but announced very quietly). The only issue was that they did not seem to give one whit about the "port time" on your cruise papers. You could show up anytime without worry, so embarkation passenger level was probably heaviest in the morning instead of steady throughout the day. We Were initially assigned room 51XX (don't remember the exact #). Aaaaand it was, uh, broken. 1st - the phone did not work. 2nd - the wave phones did not work (& the charger was broken). 3rd - the veranda was microscopically small. Could not even face the chairs outward. This would not have been an issue if we had chosen the room, but it was assigned by DVC when we booked. 4th - (& the biggie) the shower had little to no water flow. So little we had to shower in the fitness center. Additionally,the staff seemed to be somewhat slow to address the issues. We finally went to guest services the next morning to address the issues, and (long story short) they gave us a free 1 category upgrade and moved us to a deck 8 room.. Btw, if you sail the Wonder, the guest services manager (Szylvia) is an absolute gem! She bent over sideways to make sure our problems were resolved and checked with us periodically throughout to see how we were doing. Even gave us a bottle of wine. My wife and I are definitely not high maintenance people, so that was a bit overboard to us, but we appreciated the effort. Staff was amazing! Adult entertainment people were well prepared, very active and a ton of fun. Entertainment shows were the normal Disney superb. Even got to see "Maleficent" while on board. Twice. Our wait staff (Roy (head), Henry (table) & Rose (assistant table) were great. We even had the good fortune to have table mates that we got along fabulously with! Weather was good. For Alaska. I think. Definitely NOT a bikini and sunscreen cruise though.......... Cool to cold, mostly overcast, but practically no rain. All in all a great trip..... However. IMO, the Wonder is just a bit "rough" around the edges. Not talking carpet, chairs, furniture or the like, but a fair amount of corrosion is present in spaces. This boat needs the "Magic Update", but due to the ducktail addition to the hull, it can't be done until the Panama Canal expansion is complete or Disney is locked out of the Pacific. The ship just fits now. Add 20' and it won't.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
A very romantic ship to cruise to Alaska {or any where on?}, a nice dinning experience with the Miracle many Buffets, Restaurants, Bars & Dinning rooms! My only caution - guard your plates - too make sure the waiters don't remove ... Read More
A very romantic ship to cruise to Alaska {or any where on?}, a nice dinning experience with the Miracle many Buffets, Restaurants, Bars & Dinning rooms! My only caution - guard your plates - too make sure the waiters don't remove them prematurely? My up graded cabin, an outside Obstructed life boat room was very nice with a sliding door railing access to fresh ocean air, CA. & AK. views! It was nice to wake up on a king size bed too an ocean view! I dinned early for access to later Adult Entertainments & Shows. You can bring one bottle of wine per customer, but keep it in your cabin ice box & don't take it to your dinning room table or they will charge you a $10 corking fee! The Sore Excursions were of good value & experience in all ports of call: I took the tram up the mountain with trails from the Juneau Harbor up to the Visitor Center: Good show & Stores, well worth the Views! The first & Last Miracle AK Cruises of the season visit the Glacier National Park, a great photo option! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
This was our 2nd Princess cruise and we sailed on the Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska cruise in September 2013. While not a true "sister ship" to our previous cruise aboard Caribbean Princess, its layout and interior design was a ... Read More
This was our 2nd Princess cruise and we sailed on the Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska cruise in September 2013. While not a true "sister ship" to our previous cruise aboard Caribbean Princess, its layout and interior design was a very close match. Cabin - We stayed in a balcony cabin, A743, which is starboard aft, only the 2nd cabin in from the back door which leads to the aft pool and then up another short flight of stairs to the aft bar & entrance to the Horizon Court buffet restaurant. We love this convenience. In warmer climes, we love access to the quiet adult-only aft pool, but that was only available for a few hours of sunning ourselves on nicer days during our Alaska journey. The cabin was decent in size and just as expected with the exception of the beds running horizontal from the door perspective to allow access to the balcony. This would be fine except that we had a third passenger in an upper bunk that had to squeeze between the beds to access the ladder. This would be fine for children but was a slight challenge for an adult to maneuver. I quickly learned the best way to manage this, though. Dining - We opted, as usual, for the early traditional dining. We love the assigned waiter (we had Roy from the Philippines). On this cruise we did miss 2 dinners in the dining room because we were in port late or attending other activities on the ship (in our case - whale watching). The dining room staff was right on point with food selections & timing, with the exception of the last night where the Baked Alaska on Parade is a highlight, but took too long for our preference and we left before the festivities. The other two nights we could have reserved an "Anytime Dining" time with 24-hours advance notice, but opted for the casual approach of the Horizon Court buffet. On our previous cruise the Horizon Court offered some of the same dishes featured in the main dining room, but that was not the case on this sailing. Regardless, the options were tasty and varied and the service was appropriate for the casual setting. We did not choose any of the specialty restaurants on this cruise, but there is also a steakhouse (located in the far aft section of the Horizon Court) and Sabatini's Italian Restaurant whose aroma was beckoning! Activities/Entertainment - We only attended one show and were slightly disappointed at the shortened length of only 35 minutes. However, the singing, dancing, and costumes were similar to other Princess performances. We really enjoy the other shipboard activities like the trivia contests and game shows and here the cruise staff excelled, as usual. There were also multiple events for dancing and learning to dance as well as Bingo and casino games, which is typical of most cruises. The highlight for me on this sailing was the addition of the onboard naturalist who sailed not only the entire journey with us, but sailed the whole Alaska season on the Diamond Princess. He provided a variety of talks in the theatre as well as some impromptu get-togethers on deck and dedicated points-of-interest commentary from the bridge. The best was the evening sail through Snow Passage (between Ketchikan and Juneau) where he explained how to see identify whale activity and described sightings of each whale, porpoise, harbor seal, and stellar sea lions. It was an amazing event. Ports - This sailing left Vancouver and sailed northbound to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway before ending in Whittier. We also had a full day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park where the National Park rangers were brought aboard for a full day of commentary while viewing several major glaciers in the park. These were excellent ports with a wide variety of activities and convenient docking areas.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
I dealt with Holland America directly to book the cruise and prepaid 2 dinners for my family of 6, a $25.00 soda card, $250.00 Spa access and I also requested Wheelchair service for my mother. After 10 trips to the front desk in the first ... Read More
I dealt with Holland America directly to book the cruise and prepaid 2 dinners for my family of 6, a $25.00 soda card, $250.00 Spa access and I also requested Wheelchair service for my mother. After 10 trips to the front desk in the first 2 days I found out that everything I preordered didn't get added to my profile because Holland America switched my cabin. This shouldn't have been a quick easy fix. However they didn't accept responsibility or take initiative to resolve these issues. I'm Sorry there is nothing we can do followed by silence was the standard response from everyone I dealt with. I would offer simple suggestions on how this could be solved (eg. just give me another soda card and figure out the accounting later) and they would just be quiet until I finally walked away.. It became obvious that their goal was to get me to leave. Not find out how they could help. They insisted that it was head office and I should just pay again onboard and figure it out when I get home. Again shifting the responsibility back to me to follow up and deal with Holland America's mistakes. The majority of my cruise was spent troubleshooting the mistakes of the cruise line and asking for what I already paid for. I had to double pay for everything and spend an hour on the phone with their customer service people when I got home to find out why preordered items were canceled 3 days into the cruise and why my visa hasn't been credited for the double payment. Lack of Customer Service Examples: My brand new Luggage had a hole in it when it was delivered to my room. I'm sorry there is nothing I can do. I asked to talk to a supervisor and his first response was" I'm sorry there's nothing we can do". I said that I purchased full insurance and this should be covered. After 10 minutes he decided that he'd have to look into it. The front desk girl asked me to go bring her the luggage. I said that I'm going to dinner she can send someone to go pick it up. I had to call back on day 4 and 5 for them to look at the luggage and on day 6 I filled out a form stating that I would get a $100.00 credit for my $350. luggage. The cleaners left a wet bathroom rag in-between my suitcase and the dinner clothes I had draped over it. What were the cleaners doing by my closet handling my luggage? Let alone wiping things down with the bathroom rag! I held the rag outside the door and the cabin boy looked horrified. He ran past me, grabbed the rag and said, I'm sorry before he disappeared around the corner. I didn't call the front desk because I knew they wouldn't be helpful. I question the cleanliness of the ship and the integrity of the staff. The customer service agent is looking into my concerns and said she was embarrassed of their staff's actions. It's been two weeks since I talked with them and I haven't heard if they are going to refund my prepaid items or make up the difference in the value of the suitcase. I'm sorry Holland America. I won't be cruising with you again.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
This little Celebrity ship(91K tons) tried and tried but just could not make it to Seward. She pulled a hammy on her way out of Ketchikan and had to limp back to port. She is now on the the 28 day DL awaiting reconstructive surgery in he ... Read More
This little Celebrity ship(91K tons) tried and tried but just could not make it to Seward. She pulled a hammy on her way out of Ketchikan and had to limp back to port. She is now on the the 28 day DL awaiting reconstructive surgery in he Bahamas. It was a great disappointment to not be able to finish our cruise. The repeating of the same "We are evaluation the root cause" announcement to the constantly changing information regarding charter flights out of Ketchikan for 2000 passengers only added to everyone's frustration. The compensation is fair but could have been better for valid airfare considerations were lacking. The worst has to be the constant changing of charter info from choices of Anchorage, Vancouver or Seattle to just Seattle and Vancouver caused quite an uproar. The notification of which charter group you were in was horrible. They just put a letter and luggage tags on your door. If you were already asleep and had group 1 or 2, you missed the flight. I had group 6 and did not find the info until 9AM Wed. morning. It told us to have our luggage out by 10AM. Oh the fun of it all. It took 6 hours to get the first 3 of ~20 groups off the ship. Otherwise, I found the food in the main dining room and fancy restaurant excellent. They dining staff did an excellent job of accomodating my DW's special requests each night. Our Butler, Ramir, took very good care of us and even assisted when I had a room key issue. Our breakfast each morning in suite was superb. The buffet, as always, is the weak spot in the dining group. The limited selection and constantly closed stations always kept my expectations low. I usually only had salads and pasta. Even they were below par in service, quality and taste. The on board guitar player, Justin Wade, and guest performer Christina Bianco were excellent and I looked forward to their next performances. Passengers for the most part kept a positive attitude until the breakdown in Charter flights. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
Overall impression: The Island Princess is a fine ship--it is in great shape--looks almost new. The ports and glaciers--this ship goes to both Glacier Bay and College Fiord which is a great combination--you will see multiple glaciers. ... Read More
Overall impression: The Island Princess is a fine ship--it is in great shape--looks almost new. The ports and glaciers--this ship goes to both Glacier Bay and College Fiord which is a great combination--you will see multiple glaciers. Other ports are standard--Skagway is OK (I prefer Sitka)(I rented a car instead of the train and drove into the Yukon--Whitehorse was surprising nice), Juneau is fine, and Ketchikan is pleasant (ps in Ketchikan you can walk 10 minutes to the Safeway if you want to buy anything and the store even has free internet access). Re the Island Princess--the ocean view cabin is small--it isnt small by measurement compared to other ocean view cabins on other cruise lines--but due to what I regard as a poor layout due to the wasted space for the "walk in closet" and the wall running perpendicular to the orientation of the room which cuts the room by 1/3 and makes the bed area seem small--not even enough space for a small couch. You will feel cramped. I am sure Princess did a lot of research on how to arrange the space--but I think it makes the room feel cramped. And the comments on the shower that other people have commented on--it is really tiny--if you are at all a bigger person (really I am normal weight (BMI 24...) and it was tight)--it will be tight--seriously--you will be surprised how small it is. Re the layout of the ship itself--this is great--if you like to walk--you can walk on the promenade deck or the top of the ship. The lowest level, the Plaza--does feel claustrophobic as it opens to the atrium. And the coffee shop is on the Plaza level along with the dining room. Get the coffee card for around 32 dollars and you are set--just leave your room and get endless brewed coffee and up to 15 expresso drinks--right there near the room--no need to go to the Lido deck. Re dining--never a signif wait for a table under anytime dining. Service excellent. The food is fine--as long as you stay with pure american or italian food. Anything non-european will be terrible--interestingly, Carnival or Holland America do good Asian food--but not Princess. The italian food on Princess is good--surprising good pizza. Food was fine, both on the Lido deck, and the dining room. Overall a fine experience. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
This is a lengthy review. Skip what you're not interested in!! We left Maryland Sunday, 7/14, for Vancouver and met our traveling companions: DH's brother, his wife, and the wife's brother. We are all in our low to mid-60s. ... Read More
This is a lengthy review. Skip what you're not interested in!! We left Maryland Sunday, 7/14, for Vancouver and met our traveling companions: DH's brother, his wife, and the wife's brother. We are all in our low to mid-60s. DH and I have cruised many times, the others twice. We spent the night at the Quality Hotel Vancouver, which was a good choice and while not close to the pier, it was not a very expensive cab ride there. We were just a few blocks from the AquaBus and a very enjoyable few hours at Granville Island and just 3 blocks from Nando's with the Best. Chicken. Anywhere! It was a pleasant walk to Gastown that evening. On Monday, we walked the waterfront to Stanley Park, enjoying the sea views. Back to the hotel where we took cabs to the pier and dropped off luggage. We walked around Canada Place and the waterfront toward Stanley Park but gave up after an hour. We boarded the ship about 2, went to our balcony room, and met everyone for lunch in the buffet. Our immediate room impressions: narrow doorway, smallish room, tiny (even by cruise ship standards) shower and small bathroom with old hair dryer (no controls at all), nice balcony & robes. No lotion or conditioner!! Steward Rene immediately greeted us by name, and as we unpacked, we realized we had plenty of storage space after all, and Rene brought extra hangers. Lunch in the buffet was always adequate. I suggest finding the dining room on the opposite side of the main buffet; it's where the pasta station and pizza are. That room was rarely crowded. Don't neglect the back of that same floor - The Great Outdoors. There are food lines there as well. That night was our first time for FreeStyle dining - yuck! It was very slow. Our waitress had no help, and the food was so-so. We attended a singing/dancing show, which was average, and throughout the week we would see a comedian, husband/wife acrobats (best act by far), a magician, and a crew talent show. Activities during the week included short dance lessons, a cooking demo, vegetable/fruit carving, trivia, captain Q&A, DWTS, newlywed game, etc. We never tried a specialty (fee) restaurant, but other free food options included Las Ramblas bar with complimentary tapas, another bar with "comfort food" like chicken winds, and the coffee bar with sweet breads/pastries. Pretzel rolls and sticks on the lunch buffet quickly became my favorite food! Tuesday, 7/16  Cruising the Inside Passage, this is a sea day. We exercised (there's a decent gym and a running track on the top outside deck if you want to run before 8am; otherwise, you can run on the promenade deck), ate, and participated in various activities, some with everyone, some just us. Dinner service was even worse and slower. 2.5 hours!! Food continued to be average. Wed., 7/17 - Ketchikan. Two in our party took the duck tour and learned quite a bit about the town. Another went fishing, and while he caught several fish, his excitement was landing two large halibut. We took the 8am public bus to Totem Bight Pk/Potlach Pk where we saw our first eagle. We made the big loop of totems - saw it all (including Potlach Park where totems are being carved), reading a totem guide I printed from the internet, in an hour, making the next bus. We had lunch on the ship and then walked around Creek Street, Married Man's Trail, and the Staircase Streets (nice workout!). We finally got good wait staff, and Sushma would prove to be very kind to us. She brought a cheese plate for the table and strawberries after the meal. We asked if we could request her; we could; and we did. Thurs . 7/18 - Juneau. 10am arrival, so we exercised, had breakfast and went into town to look at shops and find wifi (we went to a federal building about 10 minutes away - their upper balcony has great views of the harbor!). Three in our group took the ships excursion to the Mendenhall Visitor Center. After lunch on ship, we took the bus for our Mendenhall canoe excursion. We booked this through the ship, as they were the only providers of this trip. 12 people paddled the canoe, and our guide was informative. This was an impressive outing; so amazing to be 100 yards from an immense glacier. We paddled across the lake, toward the glacier, spent time there, paddled in front of the waterfall, beached the canoe where Visitor Center visitors walk. After some snacks, we paddled near icebergs in the lake and back to shore. This was one of our favorite outings. After our return to the ship to get snacks and hiking poles, we walked 2 miles through town(a lot up steep hills!) to Perseverance Trail. This is a beautiful trail, once you get there!! Friday 7/19 - Skagway. Three in our group took the White Pass train. We rented a car (Avis, $122) for the trip to Emerald Lake and were on the road by 8:15. We spent 5.5 hours, driving and stopping for views and photos. The summit was completely fogged in going, partially on return, but we enjoyed beautiful vistas everywhere else. We bought a loaf of sourdough bread in Carcross, and with some fruit, we made a lunch of it as we walked toward the train station (train was in) and waters edge. We drove some more and turned the car around at Emerald Lake. Back in Skagway, we drove to the gold rush cemetery, parked, wandered the site, and hiked to the waterfall. After turning in the car, we went to the public library for a wifi catchup with family. After a late lunch on the ship, we took a 2-hour hike around Lower Dewey Lake. Skagway has an impressive system of hiking trails; stop by a visitor center in town and ask for a map. Sat 7/20  We got up early for Glacier Bay, spotting whales, dolphins, sea otters, and eagles during the day. Natl Park reps on board discussed the bay and glaciers, and we saw some calving. We watched on deck for several hours, and when the captain turned ship, we watched from our balcony. This was a spectacular day. Sun 7/21  Our day for viewing Hubbard Glacier was fogged and iced out; the captain turned the ship around. Drat. So after breakfast, we exercised, attended a fruit and veggie carving, wandered the shops, enjoyed a formal dining room lunch, went to a very enjoyable comedy seminar, the crew talent show, and a trivia game. It is sad that the cruise is coming to an end, but we have 9 more days ahead of us!! Mon 7/22 We were off the ship to meet Renee (PJ's Taxi; $250 for the 5 of us) at 9:45 for the two-hour (once we got through the tunnel) drive to Seward. Renee was accommodating (stopping by Wildlife Conservation Center and, closer to Seward, showing us a salmon stream). We went to the Best Western Edgewater Hotel  our rooms were not ready, so we all walked to a Subway for lunch and then checked into rooms. While the others enjoyed the marina area, DH and I took the Natl Park shuttle to Exit Glacier and walked the trails (not up to the ice fields though; that takes 6 hours!). I recommend the blackened halibut burrito at the Railway Cantina! Tues 7/23  That morning, we wandered the shops near our hotel for a bit, packed and took our bags to the train depot by 9am, DH and I checked in for the 6 hour Kenai Fjords Natl Park boat trip, then got some food to go for the train later that evening. We could not make the walk to Safeway and get back in time, so we settled on Subway. The weather was sunny and calm for our tour. We saw an otter up close immediately, then birds and puffins, seals, and detoured to watch humpbacks bubble feeding!! The captain said that was an extremely rare occurrence! We could have stayed there twice as long, but we were then off to an actively-calving glacier and watched a lone humpback breaching and slapping the water with his dorsal fin. The lunch on board was more than adequate (leftovers were available, free), and we were served freshly-baked choc chip cookies before disembarking! The captain provided excellent commentary, had great scouting eyes, and graciously lingered at spots. This was a definite highlight of our trip. We walked to the train, met the others, and boarded at 5:45 for a 4-hour ride to Anchorage in a domed car with seats that swiveled and free juice and soft drinks! We enjoyed gorgeous views (with commentary) from the domed car and in between cars. Once in Anchorage, we called our hotel for a shuttle and checked in. DH and I rented a car the next day while the others returned home. I will include below an outline of what we did. If you have questions, email me at djkiser@gmail.com Wed 7/24  Anchorage. We spent 2 hours at the excellent Anchorage Museum (and could have spent more), drove to Earthquake Park (an ok visit), wandered around the AK Wildberry Products store, had a delicious lunch at Moose's Tooth Pizza, and walked to Ship Creek to watch non-existing salmon swim upstream, toured the ulu factory, souvenir shopped along the touristy Fourth Ave, and DH tried a reindeer hot dog! Thurs 7/25  Turnagain Arm drive. Hiked the North Face trail under Alyeska tram in Girdwood. This was a more challenging trail than we expected, taking us 1:45, instead of the 1-1:30 some people on TripAdvisor posted! We fought black flies, too, which seemed undeterred by our Deet. Views are beautiful, and anyone in reasonable shape and who likes to hike can make this. We took the tram down for free, after we enjoyed our lunch up top. We drove to Eagle River and checked into the Microtel Hotel, which I would not recommend, and went to Eagle River Nature Center. Fri 7/26 - Left Eagle River. Went to Thunderbird Falls (very pretty and fairly short hike), saw Eklutna Village Historical Park from outside the fence (Russian Orthodox Church and graveyard houses), and took a 10 mile detour to Eklutna Lake. While the lake is pretty enough, it is not extraordinary, and unless you want to fish or picnic, I am not sure it's worth a visit. Palmer Visitor Center is nice. We drove to Glacier View for the Matanuska glacier trek with MICA Guides. This 3-hour adventure was great fun, and the glacier is beautiful (in parts!). Night in Talkeetna. Sat 7/27  Flight seeing trip over Mt. McKinley - spectacular!! Drove to Denali, and since it stays light so late, we were able to take a couple hikes. I recommend the Savage River Loop for a late arrival. Night in Healy. Sun 7/28  Shuttle to Eielson Visitor Center. Lots of wildlife, and we had a chatty, informative driver. On our return ride,we got out at Stony Dome and hiked.....with a bear in the distance! Night in Healy. Mon 7/29  Morning only in Denali; we hiked the 4.5 mile Mt Healy Overlook Trail. Night in Talkeetna. Tues 7/30  Drove to Anchorage: Still no salmon in Ship Creek. We parked in the downtown district, ate lunch at Midnight Sun Cafe, souvenir shopped on 4th Ave, touched quivet at a musk ox coop, and got smoothies before heading to the airport for our 5:30pm flight, arriving the next morning at 9am. It was a fantastic trip! I am so glad we did the cruise as well as the DIY land-based portion.   Read Less

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