We just completed a short three (3) day cruise up the Pacific Coast on the Golden Princess which we had booked for our wedding anniversary (May 11) while on the Sea Princess in November last year. The cruise was from Los Angeles USA to Vancouver BC Canada and was May 11 - 14, 2011.
As we live in Victoria British Columbia , Vancouver Island Canada I arranged for us to fly Victoria via Vancouver to Los Angeles the day prior to the cruise and fly from Vancouver to Victoria the day after the cruise.
If I say so myself that was a wise (Owl pun of course) move as when we docked in Vancouver on May 14, 2011 another four ships also docked at the same time. Instant pandemonium had by all who were waiting for taxis and busses including the ones arriving to get on these ships.
As we got off the ship, I saw a person with a shuttle bus sign to hotels or airports so was able to get the shuttle in about 45 minutes later and in our hotel by about 11:30 am while our friends were backat the terminal still waiting for the ferry bus to Vancouver Island at 1pm. We did stay at a boutique hotel (Sutton Place) in Vancouver that for dinner also had a Chocolate Fountain Buffet and all the sins you could eat. My wife was very excited.
Back to going down to LA. We flew to Vancouver then went to USA pre-clearance where they showed us our luggage on the computer screen in colour to verify it was ours, nifty as we did not have to transfer then between fights.
We must have been asked five times for our passports and boarding cards while going through Homeland security area and I got moved aside for extra wand checking where it beeped on top of my bald head and my shoeless feet. Give me a break.
We flew on an Embrer I90 , about a 2 hours 30 minutes flight into LAX and our bags arrived on time but to get to the pickup area you have to walk by where all the outbound security are is, a tight squeeze.
We took a taxi to Long Beach where our Hotel Hyatt Regency is located as were told more shops existed in that area as I originally wanted to stay at the Queen Mary Hotel . The taxi ride was about $65 US and the ride from that hotel the next day to San Pedro for Princess cruise port was about $30 US.
WE took a walk around the Hotel which is lovely but went the wrong direction as the next four blocks were all dining or fast food places, no shops or malls in sight. Had we gone the other direction we would have seen the marina and shops and the beach but we had fun. The staff at the hotel are very nice and say hello, it is a clean and safe hotel but no safe in the room for passports and tickets and they charge for WiFi. Otherwise we had a good time and used room service for our supper while in the morning we had coffee and muffins in thr lobby then they ordered a taxi for us to the pier. Next time I might use the hotels in San Pedro but taxi costs will still be about the same.
If you use a taxi, tell then you want to pay by CC when you get in and they do not carry change over $5 US. I elected to get cash prior to our trip.
Finally , we got to the ship about 12:30pm and boarded in about 30 - 45 minutes. I tipped the porter who I had to find as our taxi dropped us off behind a pile of bus passengers, she was only a few feet away, gave her $5 or two bags and she just smiled at me called me "dear' and pointed to where I should go and promised my bags would be on the ship. At least I made her day.
Go in the terminal, a pile of people , a lot of families with children from Disney World and five bus loads of folks from Las Vegas, Lots of Canadians on this trip. Quite a mixed bag of cultures onboard.
It was a sunny day, left port on time and averaged 20.7 knots for 2,700 kilometers from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday Am at 7am.
It was all sea days and the dress code was smart casual , staff were fine considering they would only know us for a few days and we had a mini-suite with two TV's but the remote batteries were weak so one had to stretch to adjust the controls. Balcony was fully out from the ship , not enclosed but the weather of course dropped into the fifties F so we did not sit out a lot but we could have course enjoy the breeze and the sea.
We had swells such at lunch the MDR windows were clear from middle of MDR and then the you could see the swell come up halfway in the window. Stabilizers help and one lady ssaid as she walked , I've not had anything to drink.
We were at a table for eight for 1st seating (6pm) but felt like Mum and Dad . One were a young couple in twenties, other a brother and sister (she left hubby and son at home) in thirties and another couple who must have just got connected (fifties) as he fed her food all the time and she just smiled and said nice things. They were great to know as we all got to know each other but we were a diverse table.
Service was very good and prompt as we got to see the shows this time and our wine when ordered was delivered on time. Lately I noticed on last two Princess Ships you have to remind staff in MDR to give you your receipts while elsewhere not an issue. Front desk and cabin staff were great but the Library has been reduced to about three chairs inside the Internet Cafe which as usual has it often slow moments.
Casino was running all day and night as we were cruising for three days and it was doing a good business , course on the Golden Princess you still have to walk through the casino to move from stern to bow and the MDR you have to walk down the photshop deck to use the stairs to get to the MDR as the kitchens are in the middle.
Art Auctions was doing a great business and people were buying anything for hundreds of dollars in a fast pace, still amazes me. One day they had a Trivia contest in the main bar while we sat near the windows reading as my E-Book (a Kobo) while Liz shuffled her paperback and tried to prevent ourselves from yelling out the answers.
All the meals were great including room service and we really had no complaints but you do notice a slight difference when on a short re-positioning cruise in that all of a sudden you have to pack on the third evening and Princess has not yet gotten to the point where you can stay in your cabin till your number is called as we had to leave the cabin by 8am Saturday. We met in the Vista room for a scheduled 9:05 am departure but did not leave till 9:40am approx. as Canada Customs had only assigned four staff to the 2,800 people leaving our ship.
All in all we had a great time and going back to my earlier entry in this post, 'Owl' made a very wise decision to book a hotel for the night after arriving in Vancouver and getting the Shuttle Bus to the Hotels instead of a taxi.
The lesson here is that if five ships are unloading passengers in Vancouver and getting new passengers on the same day be prepared for a wait or find alternatives as in take a cruise ship bus to the airport or a post cruise hotel to bypass and relax as you deserve it.
Cheers Rob (aka robh) (aka Owl)
Just back from a 7-day on the Golden Princess. First let me say this was my 10th cruise overall, first on Princess, 8 on Carnival and 1 on NCL. My wife and I are both in our 50's and are real easy to please. I'm not going to get into great detail on everything, but will try to keep things to a point.
We booked this cruise on Princess mainly because of the itinerary, ship times in port, and price. We chose an inside room for this trip. This being my first trip on Princess we really didn't no what to expect but were expecting just a little more than we got, I'm talking cruise ship. Our first impression of the ship was rather dull, not much done to the interior to add that bling affect. The ship was very clean and well maintained, but just didn't sparkle. I will get into that later. First the ports and check-in.
Seattle Check-in: If you fly in it's a 40-50 dollar cab ride depending on number of people. This is way cheaper than the ship offered transfer. The terminal area is rather smallbut these people really knew how to get you checked in promptly, this had to be the easiest check-in we have ever had, showed up at 12.30 and was on the ship by 1.30 very impressive.
Juneau: We booked a ship tour of the Glacier and Fish Hatchery, well worth the price. If you haven't seen a Glacier up close this is a must see in your life. The town in general was awful, the same Jewelry stores that you find in any cruise port, and for that matter it was like being at any other cruise port with one exception, everyone speaks great English. If you travel here get outta town fast and see what they have to offer, which is the real beauty of Alaska
Skagway: The ship offered many tours but we decided to venture out on our own. We rented a mini van and traveled the Klondike Highway all the way to Emerald Lake, which is in Canada; this was another one of the great experiences of my life. This is the only way to see Alaska, plenty of stops that offer real souvenirs not the crap they sell in town. Be prepared to be stopped at the Canada border, these guys are very hard-core so don't make any jokes they are way too serious. The same for the trip back into the US, our border guards are the same but it gave me a good sense of security. (DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT) Both ways don't care if you're on a cruise ship or not. The town was just like I said for Juneau.
Tracy Arm Fjord: One word AWESOME, this is a must see in your lifetime. Nothing else to say.
Ketchikan: We decided to just walk the town, Creek Street and the town is very pleasant, the town still has the same stores as in each port but it was still a nice place to visit.
Victoria B.C: Not much to say, we stayed on the ship.
We stayed on deck 10. Room C532, our room Stewart had to be the hardest working gal on that ship, her name was Lilia and was just Outstanding, she was courteous, kind, and gracious. She seemed to always be at your door greeting you with a smile. She was by far the best we have ever had on a ship. Now for the not so good, this was the only ship we've been on that did not display any towel animals on your bed, way disappointing. This was always something we looked forward to at night, but not on this ship. Sorry Princess you missed the boat on this one. Every previous ship that we've been on was designed with some theme in mind, this ship was about as plain as you could get.
We had assigned dining at 5.30 in the Bernini Dining Room, our waiter and busboy did a superb job, they truly seemed like their jobs. The weeklong dinner menu was just ok; they seemed to put more emphasis on how fancy to make food vice making it taste good. A+ for creativity and a C- for taste. The only night that we truly enjoyed was Lobster night, hats off to the cooks on that night.
Shipboard shows: In twelve words ( The worst shows on any cruise ship we've been on to date), if I was the Princess show director I would resign, the shows had very little flair, no talent and frankly lacked that showroom experience. Very disappointing.
Tours: Be prepared to spend a lot for these tours, I'm by no means tight, but I think with the seasonal tours they have to up the prices to cover their yearly cost.
Disembark: Like check-in this was just way too smooth, we stayed in our room until our assigned meeting time of 9.45 in one the lounges, once we arrived in the lounge we were allowed off the boat and our luggage was waiting for us. (Way too easy). Was kind of hard to get a cab but nothing to complain about.
Overall we would rate this cruise as an 8 out of 10, so taking the good with the bad at least we got to see Alaska. The cruises we've taken on Carnival were always a 9 out of 10. Now, having said that, we always talk to a lot of people while cruising and find many with more cruises under their belts than us. Each of these folks had the identical experience we had. So if the issues we had don't seem big to you then Princess may be the way to go. For me I am going back to Carnival.
Once again there were problems with a Princess cruise.
Since cruising with another Princess cruise ship in June, I must report that I will not be cruising with this cruise line again.
Their ships are very well kept and clean,and the crew very good,but these problems persist (on this repositioning cruise):Food - very average, and sometimes unacceptable. Their desserts are uninspiring and industrial The coffee is tasteless, even at their coffee house (not free) Poor entertainment, with no main theater shows at all No upper sheet on the beds Breakfast not available in the cabins (at least a full breakfast) Poor movies and bad TV programming The on-deck big screen movies are noisy and a nuisance There is a 15% hotel fee every day per person (meant to cover tips). But tips are asked for on every order as well!
All this I believe is due to cost cutting. The only result is that I will choose another cruise line next time.
Wonderful cruise to Hawaii for a Thanksgiving. The only thing I have to say bad about the ship is that the casino is very tight. Service was perfect in every way. Food was excellent in everyway. Stateroom service was perfect in everyway. Thanks Golden princess. I just think the casino was very tight and I have sailed on this ship more than once.
First of all, the showers are Not That Small. Just wanted to say that right out there. I'm not a small woman, by any means (Plus size clothing section), and I had plenty of room in the shower. Even DH, who is 6 ft tall, felt comfortable in the shower.
Okay... my review of the Golden Princess. Wow. Great time, wonderful, fabulous, excellent food, service, amenities, venues, and activities. I got writer's cramp filling out all the "You made a difference" comment cards (you fill them out to highlight a crew member that really made your cruise memorable... I think they expect one or two. Yeah. Right.) on the last day. On the bright side, it made me run all over the ship to the various bars, dining rooms, and service counters getting names of people that had truly gone above and beyond to make our cruise PERFECT. Any chance for exercise is good!
Just in case you get to cruise the Golden soon, look for Maria in the Bernini dining room... tell her the Ninja Ducks sent you. Antonio was our waiter, with Cyril assisting... sort of a Portuguese Jackie Chan& Chris Tucker. Angela and Whinn at the Lobby Bar--they just went through barista training (went from damned good to truly excellent), and they make incredible soy mochas! Get a coffee card, trust me on this.
Our room steward, Jaime (a guy; pronounced "Hi - me") was amazing. We think he stayed in the hidden bunk bed in the ceiling of our room so he could pop out and clean up every time we stepped out. Always a smile, always greeted us happily, opened our door for us, found me a vase for the flowers I brought on board, always remembered the extra washcloths that I like to have handy, and found me a great fluffy pillow quickly!
Next, the FOOD. I'm a vegan, and my DH is a vegetarian, so after the first night, we tried the Bernini dining room, and asked for the head waiter. Maria was awesome. She made us a standing reservation for a table for two by the window, where the best waiters would spoil us rotten, and I think she beat the kitchen staff into submission, frequently. After a couple of meals, I just left it in her hands, and we were indulged with the most incredible meals, prepared artistically, with incredible flavors and textures... great variety! It's all her fault that we booked another cruise! Not once did I ever feel deprived of the "cruise experience" by my dietary choices... in fact, our waiter, Antonio, would pop into the kitchen to verify that something that sounded good to me would be okay "Madam, I think that dressing is too creamy... it has cream in it. No, we'll do a nice vinegarette for you, okay?" They made us laugh every night, too! Lovely people.
We also had breakfast and lunch in the dining room (Donatelli's), with only an occasional foray to the buffet. Afternoon Tea is certainly a wonderful experience! The buffet was okay, we did find the sushi buffet one day... WOW, FRESH WASABI!! consider this a warning! it was great. We did grab fresh fruit at the buffet a couple of times, as there was always a great selection of fruit.
Our stateroom: a balcony on the Baja deck, starboard side. Small room, yes, but so cleverly appointed, that we were able to misplace things regularily! Both of our HUGE suitcases fit under the bed easily... I think we could have put three of them under there. Plenty of closet room... more than I have at home, actually.
The safe uses a code only... no card required (we had taken along a card to use just for that purpose; a membership card that would not be a problem to lose/replace). Nice safe, just big enough. Lots of shelves, and a few drawers. The beds. Very firm. Also, as it was two twins shoved together to make a queen, and we did not use an eggcrate pad, the edges of the mattresses that were touching were a little raised, and rather firm. It wasn't a problem, but if I were on a longer cruise, I'd ask for a mattress pad, to facilitate cuddling a little better. The bedding was very nice, and comfortable.
Temperature control seemed very good... we kept our thermostat very low. It was warm everywhere on the ship, unless we were in port, and the gangways were out. Then, it was a bit cool and breezy near them.
I was impressed with the constant maintenance going on. Every day, we'd notice some crew members, somewhere, sprucing up something on the ship! One of the pools was closed one day, as it was drained, scrubbed, touched up, and then refilled. No matter, there was three other pools to choose from! All very nice, warm, and didn't seem over chlorinated to me. The hot tubs were great!! The ones outside were rarely in use, so we had no crowding issues.
We only did a couple of shows... first night welcome show, very nicely done. Later that week, we did a comedy juggler (Steve Patient), he was great! We also attended the champagne waterfall... I got to help pour! and danced afterwards. It was fun. (DH also poured some champagne!!)
The Wheelhouse Bar. Oh, yes... ask the bar tender, Ricardo, to show you his wine cork magic trick! Christian is another waiter that always was cheerful, prompt, accurate, and attentive. There was a latin band there, and we loved dancing there. Just sitting and people watching was good, too!
Let me mention... all the drinks that we enjoyed onboard, whether at the cocktail party (free ones) or bought in the bars/lounges, seemed pretty strong to us. Not at all "watered down"... DH had the "Iced tea" drinks... Long Island and Beverly Hills... and they were almost entirely alcohol. We did notice that the care taken in making drinks seemed a little bit more meticulous in the Wheelhouse, the Lobby bar, the Martini Bar, and the Vista Lounge (all inside bars), more than the bars at the pools, which seemed more crowded, and the bartenders a little more rushed. That may have made a difference. The price was the same, regardless of which bar one ordered at. Oh, and the bartenders did not seem to mind at all if you brought in your own drink, sat and drank it, and then left.
Water was always available. Every waiter and bartender was happy to bring me a glass of "tap" water (free, not bottled) at any time. I was asked ONCE if I wanted bottled water... they must have all told each other that I was happy with tap water, because I always got it after that, without question! It was great to sit in bars and not feel pressured to buy a drink! and, if I wanted a drink, I got a GREAT drink! (no cheap-ass booze, it was all quality stuff)
Unfortunately, none of the photos taken of us onboard were worth buying. There were a few of DH that were good, but none of me. I am not photogenic. DH wouldn't buy any if I didn't look good in them. We did buy the Reflections DVD, though... thought that might be fun.
There was a problem with Noro onboard, apparently. Seemed to us like it was only a few people, and the crew was great... no huge inconvenience, though they did have to cancel our tour of the bridge (shhh...don't tell anyone. We were asked to be discreet about it, but we were invited, yay!), which is a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully, next cruise, we can manage to be invited again.
Hated to leave. Disembarkation was okay, we were off the ship fairly promptly... it seemed longer, as I misread my watch and got us to the waiting area an hour early. Darn. We could have sat at the Lobby bar longer!
Okay, we booked another cruise (open booking)... Princess has spoiled us. Badly. I'm at home, looking around for a waiter to bring me some coffee...
We just had our first Alaskan Cruise with two other couples, our best friends on the Golden Princess. So excited to see what everyone is talking about the "Glaciers". We probably picked the wrong time of the year knowing the weather might not cooperate with us. And We were disappointed as the Ship decided not to go thru the Tracy Arm Glaciers due to Fog and Ice forming (small pieces). Our whole point of the trip was for that but other than that and getting so lost finding the right floor on this Huge ship for the different Dinning Rooms, and Bars, we had a great time.
14 day RT Hawaii from LA to LA. I can only sight one fault with this ship and that is with the food both in the DR and Lido. Most dishes were tasteless and the beef was of a poor quality. First night's prime rib looked as if it had been washed, no flavor and tough. My fellow table mates said the same thing. My husband and I had the pot roast one night and it was nothing but fat and grizzle covered in gravy.
We had an inside cabin which had enough storage space, but the pillows were as flat as pancakes and I had to ask for an egg crate mattress cover as the beds are too firm.
The service in all departments on this ship was excellent. The Staff was very friendly and always willing to help you. Also the ship itself was very clean and smoking limited to certain areas.
The entertainment was very good,especially the 2 lectures who were outstanding. We spent most of our time at the Lotus Spa pool which is in a very quiet area. The Promenade which seems to be narrower than otherships had only benches to sit on, missed the deck chairs.
There were many excursions in the Ports of call in Hawaii to select from. In Hilo we did the volcano crater and the lava tube, not to be missed and in Honolulu we did Pearl Harbor and the Arizon Memorial. A very moving experience. We just walked around Kona and Maui as we had been there before.
We loved all the sea days despite the wind and the few showers.
Golden Princess has been refurbished.
We just sailed out of Seattle to Alaska -- Juneau, etc.
The food was better than expected. Food was so good in the Food Court that we often skipped the 1+ hour sit down meal. Try the International Café. Best doughnuts around in the morning. Fresh cookies baked on site. Lunch snack grilled ham and cheese croissant, fresh soup, and the best lime marinated giant shrimp you will find anywhere. Service was wonderful.
Three separate swimming areas. Really enjoyed the small pool (as hot as a hot tub) on the rear deck. They also have an Under the Stars outdoor movie which was okay, but the sound didn't work the night we went.
Procedures in general were very smooth. Embarkation and debarkation took only a few minutes and there were actually friendly, patient staff to help answer "dumb" questions.
I disagree with the review that the food is not world class. Pretty close to the best I have had cruising, especially at a buffet. Enjoyed the movies and shows. Singers and dancers were of advanced amateur theater talent. Male lead singers were average at best.
Negatives Only 2 serving "lines"for 2000 guests. Tables are hard to find. Sitting outside with a 20+ knot wind going to Alaska is not fun. Food courts clog up quickly because there is no flow to the serving line. Carnival has a much larger area to serve food in. For that many people you really need 4 separate areas. Also, only 1 sit down area for lunch. Lines to get in and when we would leave at 12:45 there would still be people in line. Beverage service in the food court was inconsistent. Even in slow times there were a few staff members who were bored, maybe afraid to speak English? -- puttering around, they would walk past you and didn't bother to ask if you needed anything. Princess does not serve "punch." You will find milk to drink rarely, unless you steal it from the cereal or coffee area. Juice in the morning is hidden, even in the self serve areas.
Do not miss the cooking demo with the Chef and the Maitre'd. Entertaining and informative.
General Criticisms Foreigners just don't understand American breakfasts -- scrambled eggs, "hash browns," occasional gravy are much better at Denney's or Cracker Barrel. Pizza, even though freshly made, was sub-par. Pastries always looked good, but were tasteless. "Pies" have no real fruit, just use the jellied fruit cake fillings.
Coffee in the buffet area is very weak. I guess they want to push the $2.50 premium coffee/espressos.
Sabatini ($20 extra) was a good experience, but the food itself was not what I would call classic Italian. I had langoustine which were large crawdads (with the eyes looking at you) About 12 bites of meat from 6 large critters. Service was outstanding.
Exercise Area: They were always pushing the spa treatments. The exercise area was standing room only in the early morning. Despite the number of machines, the room was overflowing. So you have to go later in the day. Maybe they should open at 6AM instead of 7.
Also we did not get real close to a glacier. The fjords are real narrow (Endicott Tracy Arm was iced up). It is amazing to maneuver the ship in such tight quarters, but you might as well go to Mendenhall glacier if you want up close viewing.
This cruise was a special occasion, as we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary on May 23rd.
SEATTLE We left Fort Lauderdale very early Friday morning headed for Seattle (through Nashville) on Southwest Airlines. The weather was good and the flight smooth. We arrived at our hotel, the Westin downtown Seattle, around 4 pm Pacific time. The sun was shining and it was cool about in the 60's. There was a Princess desk set up in the lobby and we introduced ourselves to the representative, who gave us information about the next morning. We then visited with the concierge, who made reservations for us for Saturday May 23rd at Daniel's Broiler Restaurant on Union Lake. More about that later.
We toured Seattle by foot -- walked to Pike Place Market and wished there was something like it in Fort Lauderdale! The Westin Hotel is in a great location. You can walk or take the monorail or trolley just about anywhere you want to go. Service at the hotel was A+.
THE GOLDEN PRINCESS Boarding around 11:30, we went straight to our cabin (D-602 mini-suite), which was ready for us. We have had mini-suites before onPrincess and always found them to be very spacious. The bathroom had a tub-shower and plenty of room to move around. The closet space was more than we needed and we were able to stow our large suitcases under our bed. The two flat screen televisions were a nice addition. We had four chairs and a table on the balcony. Two of the chairs fully reclined so that you could position them with the other chairs and have a makeshift chaise lounge.
The constuction on Deck 6 was still not finished so there was no steak house option (it was an option in the corner of the Hoirizon Court but not the option that it will be when completed). The wedding chapel was also under construction and there are several luxury suites being built on deck 6. There was a Sabatini's on board but we had eaten there several times on other ships and enjoyed it --- no need to indulge this time. The spa was nice and I availed myself of it several times and was happy with it although the dressing room and shower area was a little tight on space.
The Sanctuary is beautiful. I can see using it on a Caribbean cruise; however, it was cold in Alaska so we opted out especially since we also had a balcony cabin and we were able to enjoy the sights from it without much restriction.
The mid-ship was redone and the Piazza is very pretty. "Vines" is the name of the new wine bar. More than a wine bar, it also had a wide and good selection of wine from which to choose to purchase for enjoyment at the wine bar, take back to your room, or enjoy with dinner. The prices were only a little higher than what we pay on land in Fort Lauderdale. Also at Vines is a cheese and sushi bar. You can select cheeses to taste and/or add them to a "wine flight", which is a selection of 3 wines for tasting. There are many combos of wine and cheese available. Also in Vines is a wine accessory store that sells things like coasters, corkscrews, napkins, etc. It is very nice but it needs more seating and it seems like the wine store part is wasted space. Bistro tables would work well in the wine store space, I think. The only complaint I have is that during the week the staff at Vines was so enamoured with a particular Swiss cheese that they brought it out every day. The odor from it was so strong and pungent -- it smelled like a wet dog in a boys' middle school gym locker room. Whew! You could smell it all over the Piazza. Not good.
The movies under the stars ("MUTS") was nice but it was too cold for us to indulge. Still, they offered comfy padded lounge chairs, red plaid wool blankets and popcorn. We will definitely use MUTS on our next Caribbean cruise as it is a nice idea.
DAY ONE The sun comes up early here in the Spring and Summer so by 4:30 a.m. it was like 8:30 a.m. back home. The sun did not set until after 9:00 pm so we had a lot of daylight. Our first day was spent cruising from Seattle to Juneau. It was sunny but cold on deck. The ship was moving quickly so we could feel the rocking back and forth; however, except for losing our balance a few times, the movement did not bother us.
JUNEAU Our first port was Juneau. The weather was sunny and cold (mid 40's) and windy but it warmed up into the high 50's later on. Dressing in layers was key. There were plenty of shops in town. We took the Mendenhall Glacier tour. It was a beautiful day and the glacier was impressive, even though it has receded considerably in the past several years. We saw a porcupine in the wild. The rangers said a black bear had crossed the highway we had just driven on but we did not see it.
SKAGWAY Next stop was Skagway, a small town of about 850 people. It was very cute and in excellent condition -- you can really see the pride of the community. Lots of shops were open; one very beautiful glass shop caught our eye. We took a bus tour up the mountains to the summit, crossed into British Columbia, where we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Railway for the ride down the mountain. It was very cold at the summit but sunny. Really refreshingly cold, though. Snow everywhere. Some of the lakes were starting to thaw and the ice was blue in places. Very pretty. We also panned for gold in one of those touristy stops!
TRACY ARM This was really wonderful. Our Captain was fearless. There were huge icebergs all around us but he manuevered the ship brilliantly. We got some great photos of the blue ice. We could hear the icebergs cracking as they melted just like when you put ice into a warm beverage! Again, it was sunny but very cold in the morning. As we entered the last turn before the glacier, we passed the Star Princess going the other direction. It was fun to cheer them on as they did us! We took some pics of their ship. We were on the port side, which faced west, so we did not get the morning sun. The captain turned the ship around at the glacier so that both port and starboad had a good view. We saw black bears on shore (but our camera was too weak to make out what they were -- need a zoom lens). We also saw mountain goats, bald eagles, and seals at Sawyer Glacier. There was a naturalist on board who spoke during the trip along Tracy Arm both on the TV and over the ship's loudspeakers. He was interesting, helpful, yet not intrusive. Very enjoyable. Took lots of photos here.
KETCHIKAN The shops here open early and we got into port early, so by 6 am we were shopping! We only had a half day here so we had to make some time to visit the town. A very cute town it is -- part of which is built on stilts over the water. Very clean and pleasant. Again, cold but sunny. There was a little drizzle later in the day, which we missed because we were on tour. The tour we took here was the most wonderful one of all! We are hooked on the TV show "The Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel -- about the life of Alaskan King Crab fishermen. We decided to take the tour on the Aleutian Ballad. This ship was in Season 2 of the show and it had sustained a rogue wave on the show that nearly destroyed the ship. After many successful years crab fishing the owner decided to retire the ship and use it for tourists. I was a little hesitant at first because I was afraid of two things: (1) that the boat would be "icky" and (2) that we were going into rough open waters. Neither fear was realized. The boat was totally refurbished since its working days. It was clean, beautiful and in pristine condition. They put in heaters that radiated from the ceiling and had a covered sheltered "stadium seating" area for us. They gave us very long, warm hooded jackets that kept us warm and dry. They had hot coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate as well as a gift shop. They were superb! Really nice people. We sailed into a bay area that is owned by the native tribe -- sovereign land. We were allowed to fish for crab and other fish -- but only catch and release. We saw whales too. We pulled up pots of rock crab, dungeness crab, and king crab. We were able to hold them and take photos with the crab. We also pulled up a 70 pound octopus and observed it for awhile.
We then stopped in the bay and the crew threw halibut over the side and all of a sudden, the shy and hard to photograph American bald eagles came from nowhere and descended upon the halibut in a feeding freny! There were hundreds of eagles. I just held my camera out and kept snapping pictures without regard for whether I got them or not. When it was over, I had taken about 40 photos (some were duds), most of which were amazing shots of eagles in flight, eagles coming straight at the camera lens in mid-flight, eagles descending to the water with their talons down, ready to grab the fish, eagles flying to the tree tops and some tress that had so many eagles in them that it looked like a Christmas tree with white bulbs! That was the best part of the whole tour! The tour was the best one we did. I highly recommend it. The weather was again sunny and cool, but the water was smooth as glass. Even the most fainthearted should not be afraid of taking this tour. It was magnificent.
VICTORIA This was our last port and we only had about 4 hours here from 7-11 pm. We have to visit a foreign port so that is the reason for the stop in Victoria, British Columbia. But, it was too bad we had only 4 hours. We were smitten with this city. It is gorgeous. Again, it was a sunny day and although it was cool, it was a refreshing temperature, not uncomfotable, even for this South Floridian. The tour guide took us through town -- beautiful parks, neatly kept homes (many Victorian style old beauties) and the best part was there were people everywhere enjoying the day. Young families with babies in strollers, people walking their dogs, old folks out for a stroll. The backdrop to the City: the magnificent snow-capped Cascade Mountains. We took the tour to Butchart Gardens and we were glad we did! It was stunning. Even though we only had about 2 hours there and really only 1.5 hours of it was daylight, it was well worth it. I have never seen such gorgeous gardens. The flowers and shrubs were meticulously manicured. We got some fantastic photos. Wish we could have spent more time there. We definitely have to go back to Victoria.
OVERALL I would be remiss if I failed to tell you that we were so fortunate to have as our Cruise Director, Richard Joseph. We first met him when we took the Coral Princess through the Panama Canal in 2004. We were then with him on the Diamond Princess touring the Mexican Riviera in 2007. We enjoy him so much because he is knowledgeable about the ships and tours, has a pleasant personality and is low-key. Just our style.
The 7 days went by too fast but it was a trip to remember. We could not have asked for better weather.
THE LAST DAY The last day was our actual anniversary. The restaurant (Daniel's) the hotel concierge selected was just perfect. Located on the shore at Union Lake, it is close to downtown Seattle. We had a beautiful view, excellent service and delicious steaks and seafood. It was a nice way to end a fantastic and memorable cruise.
We wanted to write our review of our cruise. It was so nice and the weather was fabulous every day. We had only 10 minutes of rain in Ketchikan. One day it was 74 degrees. Wonderful.
The ship was nice and our room was the least expensive on board, an inside cabin. I was worried but it was wonderful. I really thought they had done a great job without a window.
We do not like buffet eating so we ate at the restaurants on board. Very good food with one exception. My husband ordered lobster and it was to well done. Ruined I would say.
We ate most lunches at the "international foods" bar. We had wonderful salads and soups and paninni sandwiches. Wonderful. We wish they would expand that are and have breakfast paninnis. This are was called the Piazza. Just great. My understaning is that this is new for the ship. This is were we had our espresso drinks in the morning. Only the espresso was not covered. All the food was included without charge and in the evenings they had wonderful appetizers you could pick up and enjoy.
Iwould say the entertainment was not great. It was okay but I have been on one other Princess Cruise and that was to the Carribean and the entertainment was top notch.
The crew aboard was fantastic and without exception we felt cared for and spoiled.
Princess really has the hosptiality down pat. No complaints and the ship was really nice.
I wanted to write a review because I really do read others and use them to make decisions. We were hesitant to go to Alaska in May but after reading the reviews I found out that May has the least amount of rain. Who knew?
And the last thing but definitely not the least. The Glacier. Words cannot describe how wonderful that was. It took us two hours to go into the Fjord and two hours out. It was fantastic. The pictures we have are pricelss. This was the best part of our cruise. The captain spun the boat around once we were back in to the glacier and it was marvelous. Not enough adjectives to describe this part of our week aboard the Golden Princess.