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Old June 4th, 2007, 09:33 AM
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Default Back from Golden Princess / Alaska

Since I lurked on this board for several weeks to gleem information I thought I would post some of my experiences to return the favor. My family cruised the Inside Passage from May 26 - June 2. Let me just say that the Alaska experince exceeded my expectations. So in brief:
* Clothes - layers! Jeans, t-shirt, light long sleeve sweater and then a jacket, hat and gloves - no kidding. Leave your cute clothes at home - we all have them but this is not the trip for fashion. Formal nights are not so formal. I wore a short black cocktail dress and hubby in a coat and tie and we were among the better dressed.
* Motion sickness - if you are prone to it take the pills when you get up the first day cause the captain has the petal to the metal to get up to Juneau the following morning. After that it is smooth sailing rest of the cruise.
* Whales - all over the place! We had a fantastic time whale watching in Juneau (see below), but even back on the ship we saw them several days and nights. You will learn how to spot them.
*Food on board - lackluster. We are foodies and this is just our opinion but this was nothing but hotel food. Even the steak house was a disappointment. But we didn't cruise for the food. It just got pretty old after so many days.
* Juneau - Took the whale watching cruise with Harv & Marv - got more than what we paid for. We saw over 20 whales (humpbacks and Orcas - no kiddding.)
* Skagway - We did the White Pass Scenic Railway - nice but not that great. One hour late and unorganized at the pier. Think next time we will take a private van tour up the mountains instead.
* Tracy Arm - you will not believe the beauty of this place. It rained some but never took away from the experience.
* Ketchikan - Great town. Took Island Wings with Michelle and had a fantastic flight. It's a must do if you are going to go this far.
*Victoria - we walked into town (15 min) and had a wonderful meal at a resturant named "R" just a couple blocks up from the hotel. Walked around then took a $8 cab back to the pier.
*Seattle - forgot to mention that we spent the night before the cruise at the Westin and took in a lot of downtown. It was great fun!
So, that's it in a nutshell. If you are planning on an Alaska cruise - lucky you. If not then it's time you did. We have traveled many places around the world and this was a very wonderful surprise right here in our backyard so to speak.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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Thanks for posting, Randga. We're heading for Alaska on the Golden in September. This will be our first time on the Golden. We booked a balcony cabin on Caribe Deck, mid ship. Couldn't decide between a balcony or mini-suite. We can hardly wait!
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Old June 4th, 2007, 04:38 PM
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Randga, Did you have a balcony room? we did not book one this time out and I know that I will spend most of our time on the in-laws balcony. Did you do traditional or any time dining? Any info on the spa or casino? We leave in 3 weeks. Can't wait. Did you find that it was best to have excursions booked ahead of time? How about prices of things in ports? We are used to Mexico so I know we are expecting it to cost more. Any info is greatful. Thanks!!
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Old June 4th, 2007, 04:49 PM
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BrwnEyedGirl - We did have a balcony on Baja level. There is plenty of space to view up on deck if your in-laws kick you out. We had any time dining and had no problems just have to be willing to share a table from time to time. I did get a 25 minute massage but it was the day at sea that was so rough so I didn't enjoy it like I would have normally. Lots of queasy folks in the spa that morning. Books your excursions now if you have things you really want to do. I believe several things sold out and I know the private firms we booked directly with where sold out. In port we did a small about of shopping. If you want authentic Alaskan art you will pay a good amount for it but some fantastic things. Cheap stuff abounds if that is your thing. Jewlery like in the caribbean. Hope that helps! Happy sailing!
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Old June 4th, 2007, 06:26 PM
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In Juneau--I thought I"d do the whale watching offered through princess---did you hear comments about that. I always hear about Capt. Larry

Also as of now we are scheduled to do the White Pass rail ---4 hours in the afternoon.----What time did you go? So was it just the lack of timeliness that was bad or overall somewhat lacked atmosphere.

Did you also do any land excursions?--in other princess lodges?
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Old June 4th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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We loved the White Pass rail trip. We didn't have any problems however as the previous poster did. Our trip was the first in the morning and it was a perfect day. Some posters in the past have mentioned that early has more chance of clouds and fog blocking the views.
FYI, the scenery from the train is better than on the private van....we've done both.
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Old June 5th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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wwgoddess2004 - I did not hear any comments about other whale watching tours but sure you will be fine with whatever Princess offers. In regards to the train ride we took the 12:40 train. At 1:30 it pulled away from the pier. Apparently the morning excursion was extended over an hour - something to do with moving trains about at the summit. The weather that day was partly cloudy but we still had some beautiful views.
We did not do the extended land excursions.
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Old June 19th, 2007, 11:43 PM
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I noticed you used the Westin in Seattle pre-cruise. Did you arrange this through Princess? In checking for next year, flights seem to be cheaper from Detroit to Seattle rather than Vancouver but weren't sure what arrangements to make to get to the port.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 08:54 AM
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Our travel agent made the arrangements for the Westin. It is a very nice hotel that is right in the shopping district of downtown Seattle. We looked at taking a cruise from Vancouver but flights to Seattle were a good bit cheaper for us so we took the cruise that went out of the Seattle port. We purchased the port transfers so Princess took us from the airport to the hotel and then from the hotel to the cruise port. And from the port to the airport. It was nice not to have to worry and think thru all the logistics of luggage and space for 4 people for each leg. Hope that helps!
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Old June 21st, 2007, 12:58 PM
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We also did both, Van and Railroad and we agree with Peter. View from train much better.
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Old June 27th, 2007, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janice Marie
Thanks for posting, Randga. We're heading for Alaska on the Golden in September. This will be our first time on the Golden. We booked a balcony cabin on Caribe Deck, mid ship. Couldn't decide between a balcony or mini-suite. We can hardly wait!
Balcony on the Caribe deck is a great choice. They are larger than the minisuite balconies and larger than the Baja and Aloha balconies. That is what we had on our Alaska trip in late May. We had unusally warm weather for May and we loved our balcony. If we ever sail on the Golden again we will book the Caribe deck balconies. However the Golden's balcony rooms are a bit on the small size. and the minisutes are more like regular balcony rooms on say Carnival Spirit class and HAL Osteerdam class ships.
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Old June 27th, 2007, 10:11 PM
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Thanks for going through the trouble of posting a writeup. I'm helping to plan a cruise for me and a group of my friends next summer, and we're planning on Alaska. It's helpful to get a more personal "review" of the experience.
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Old August 1st, 2007, 12:16 AM
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Someone asking about excursions being booked ahead of time. We had friends that did so and were greatly disappointed as the weather was horrific she said, raining, fog, could see nothing on their booked flight over the glaciers and a little boat trip. It's hard to say, if you don't book, you may not get a chance to go, if you do, you may wish you didn't if the weather did not cooperate.
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Old December 12th, 2007, 11:54 PM
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Thanks for the tips, Georgia. Will be taking Golden out of Seattle in June 08. Sounds like seas will be higher than Sapphire North-South route to Vancouver. Will go prepared with ginger, etc., etc,.
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