Returned from my first week long Alaska cruise on June 8th. I traveled on the Star Princess (first w/Princess line too). My opinions:
Princess Cruise Ship/Star:
FOOD - mediocre in dining rooms and terrible in the 24 hr food court(compared to NCL, RCL and CCL) - I ate cheese pizza 3 days out of 7 for lunch....I've never done that on the previous 10 cruises, as the ship's food has always been outstanding. Not the case on this one.
CABIN - I had an inside lower mid-ship w/queen bed. Great bed after steward put the eggcrate mattress and a top sheet on the bed. Had faxed request to Princess prior to cruise and verified receipt/record of the request....but it had been ignored. Spoke to others who had to request a top sheet on the bed...they do not use them but by request. Great sound proofing....never heard anything from adjoining cabins. Location provide just the right amount of "rocking" to sleep at night...barely noticed it.
ENTERTAINMENT: Comedian was good (appeared on Jay Leno a couple times)...but, main shows (singers/dancers) not so great. Went once and was too dissapointed to go back. Went to bed early anyway...to get up on deck by 4:45 - 5:00 am some mornings anyway. Sunrise is 4:01 am and sunset about 10:00 pm.
Took the land and sea tour offered by the ship. Sea tour was great (saw bald eagles, eagle's nest, gigantic star fish) and they provide plenty of great binoculars...but land tour boring/waste of money and time. SHOP IN THIS PORT for best prices on anything. Selections are the SAME items in Juneau and Skagway...but they get progressively higher the farther north you go. There were no differnces in products...only higher prices. Rainy/cold/windy in the morning. Sunny/almost warm afternoon.
Took the whale watch offered by the ship. FANTASTIC! Although rainy/cold, wore layers and waterproof/hooded windbreaker and stood outside to see lots of whale action, bald eagles and seals. They provided plenty of great binoculars.
Took White Pass RR offered by the ship. Good scenery on this 3 1/2 hr. ride into Canada. But....saw tour bus on the road that follows the path of the RR tracks...and those people were provided scenic picture taking spots....very hard to get pics on the moving train. Seats on the train are rather hard...so think twice before scheduling a longer ride. Town of Skagway was so fun...old timey storefronts, horse drawn carriage rides through town...quant, rustic and good stores. Had the best "fish and chips" lunch at the wooden red colored restaurant close to the cruise pier/RR station (across the street and down about 75 yards). Freshest cod I ever tasted. Very popular (waitress said line usually wraps around the building) - but go there at 11:30 am...got right in.
Tracy Arm Fjord:
Too much floating ice first week of June....so our ship sailed to another one on the advice of another cruise line's call to our ship's captain (can't recall the name of the fjord)...still pretty, but very few ice bergs. Did see beautiful "Dawes" glacier at the mouth of this fjord. I got on deck at 4:45 am to see us sail in! Ship provides 100% wool blankets for use throughout the week...came in real handy on deck this particular morning.
Took city tour (34.00 for supposedly 2 hours, but more like 1 hour). Total waste of time/money. Not much to do in the port....other than Butchart gardens, but not my thing. It was incredibly windy and cold.
Overall opinion....Alaskan water is a dull green in color all through the southeast Alaska...didn't know I would not see the beautiful blue "liquid sapphire" water color experienced on carribean cruises. Did enjoy the more peaceful atmosphere without any of the drunken, loud passengers that forget how to behave when sailing and having fun... those that sometimes spoil the experience of a familie's cruise. Saw fewer young familes...but they were there. Probably 40 kids I saw in the grade school age kid's program on the ship. There were many friendly, kind passengers on this cruise...of all ages. The ship's staff were customer oriented/friendly, except many of the dining staff....we had to flag them down for drink refills nearly every meal. They could use some re-training. Well, that concludes my cruise notes....hope this helps some who are planning. Would I do Alaska again? Probably not, but it was great to do it at least once.