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karatemom2

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About karatemom2

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About Me

  • Location
    Southern California
  • Interests
    Cruising!
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska, Hawaii

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  1. You will need to specify which cruise line, ship and itinerary you are inquiring about. Every ship is different.
  2. There is also a Christmas store in Skagway as well - Alaska Christmas Store.
  3. Well it depends on the ship, your itinerary and the type of cabin you are choosing. If you are doing an inside cabin, I would suggest positioning it near the closest and easiest exit to an observation area where you can quickly get out for the views. If you are doing a balcony, we like to be higher up and close to the bow. That is just our personal preference - you may experience more movement there, but we like that. If you are doing a one way trip take a look at the map of your course and it might help you determine which side will be facing land more of the time - it can be tricky guessing. Really either side will yield great scenery, especially if you are going through the true inside passage out of Vancouver. Maybe once you narrow down your ship, cabin type and itinerary you can share a little more info for some more specific advice from people who have actually cruised Alaska on that vessel.
  4. Exactly! And really that’s true of pretty much all similar types of coffee houses. Let’s face it - in all the years of watching “Friends” when they were hanging out at “Central Perk” for hours, how often were they actually drinking/eating? Haha! I know that’s a silly reference - but seriously, all areas of the Piazza including those adjacent to the IC and the bar/coffee service are gathering places for people to enjoy and visit. It’s nothing to get so worked up about.
  5. Boy do I understand the frustration. Many a time have my DH and I wandered aimlessly through the Piazza, food in hand, seeking a place to sit. It is frustrating. On the other hand, the Piazza is a gathering place and offers ongoing entertainment that people come to watch. They want seats as well, even if they aren’t eating. Many times I see people just sitting and enjoying the music, reading, chatting and yes, even playing games. I can’t really begrudge them as Princess has not just designated this an eating area - it is an open lounge, bar, coffee shop, cafe and entertainment venue all in one small area. And in the evening it becomes a waiting area for those Anytime Diners with buzzers waiting for a table. I guess my point is, it is a multipurpose space and it is just going to be crowded. Some people probably do abuse the privilege of planting themselves there for hours, but most seem to come and go. If we can’t find a seat we usually sit on the edge of a planter by the staircase or head to another area to eat - sometimes even back to our room to sit on the balcony. But more often than not, if we are a bit patient, something opens up. I agree with others taking the live and let live approach - it’s not the best set up but I’m not going to let it make me cranky.
  6. This link contains all the pertinent info. https://book.princess.com/captaincircle/membershipBenefits.page
  7. The options in Hawaii are vast so I would recommend you take some time to research the Hawaii Board under the Ports of Call section here. But that being said I will share some of our top choices from our four Hawaii cruises. Honolulu Pearl Harbor is a great place to visit. The Arizona Memorial has been closed for repairs, but it will be open by the time you visit. Also located there is the USS Missouri which is very interesting to tour. The Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery is also very moving. Diamond Head - if you are in good physical shape you can hike to the top Waikiki Beach - a famous spot to visit, although crowded, but fun for a beach day if you like and lined with hotels where you can dine and drink while people watching. Royal Hawaiian Luau - Depending on your port time, this is a great place to schedule a luau. http://www.royal-hawaiianluau.com/ Kualoa Ranch where Jurassic Park was filmed has some amazing tours and can be combined with a tour of the North Shore of Oahu. Iolani Palace is also worth a visit if you are interested in the history of Hawaii. Hilo Volcanoes National Park - a great place to visit if the current volcanic activity allows and it is open when you visit. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo - A fun little zoo in Hilo with a tropical park like setting and lots of cool animals to see Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden - A beautifulplace to spend some time - you will feel like you are lost in a tropical forest walking through the paths. Hawaiian Vanilla Company - A cool place to visit, have their special lunch and tour and learn all about how they grow vanilla. Lahaina Lahaina is a great place to just spend the day walking around and exploring the town - it was a whaling village at one time and there is a lot to see and a lot of history there. It's also a good port to book a snorkeling or whale watching excursion if either interests you. Check out what is offered through Princess and then compare by doing a search of private vendors - there are many that go out of Lahaina and you can check out their ratings on TripAdvisor. We snorkeled and whale watched with Trilogy on one if their catamarans. Kauai We generally rent a car in Kauai and that is my best recommendation if you are comfortable with driving here. It is a small island with basically one main road so you can see a lot in one day with a car. We like to travel North to the end of the road to Hanalei Beach - one of the most beautiful places. You can also visit the Fern Grotto and other scenic spots on the way in that direction. Heading south you can go to Poipu Beach and spend time there. Again, check out the tours offered by Princess and then do some checking on your own and you may find private vendors who can tailor something of specific interest for you. in fact, renting a car is really a great thing to do at every port. We love the freedom it gives to create your own adventure. Just do some research and you will find plenty of options for scenic drives, beaches, points of interest to visit, etc.
  8. Our family did the Christmas/New Years cruise out of LA to Hawaii four years in a row beginning when our kids were 8 and 13. At that time it was on the Golden which is a sister ship of the Star. We live just north of LA and loved being able to vacation in Hawaii without flying. The sea days are heavenly and filled with lots of great Hawaiian cultural activities like lei making, hula dancing and ukulele lessons. There are lots of families onboard and the ship is decorated and so festive. Santa visits on Christmas Day and they have tons of activities for the kids including cookie decorating and a gingerbread house contest. On a few of our trips Christmas Day fell on a port day and you do have to keep in mind some things will be closed, especially state or national parks, but Hawaii is a vacation destination and much is still open as many people travel there at the holidays. We usually would rent a car in ports and head off on our own adventures. On all other days beside Christmas it is business as usual at each port. New Year’s Eve is super fun - usually a formal night and just one giant party throughout the ship. Honestly those were some of our best family cruises and now that my kids are grown and in college I cherish those memories!!
  9. In a word, yes, that is exactly how it works. It is either by reaching the required number of cruises or days, whichever come first. You can make it with a high number of short cruises, and many people do just that. Or add in a few short cruises along the way to kick up their total cruise numbers. Others take fewer cruises but take long cruises or book suites and get double credit. It doesn’t really matter how you get there as long as you meet the requirements set by Princess which are exactly as you have stated.
  10. My daughter loves salmon. We stocked up at Salmon Etc in Ketchikan. They are a local business that has been serving the area for over 30 years. They were very helpful in making choices and the quality of the salmon was fantastic. I highly recommend them. http://www.salmonetc.com/
  11. We haven’t used a private guide in Juneau, but in Skagway I highly recommend Chilkoot Charters. We have done the train/van tour with them twice and they are excellent. We haven’t toured with him, but Dyea Dave in Skagway also tends to get rave reviews here.
  12. We have noticed a few vendors on the dock selling tours in Juneau including whale watching. But I wouldn’t be as inclined to book a tour like that last minute with a unknown vendor as opposed to more well known reputable vendors often discussed here who will no doubt be booked up. I always wonder about the safety and quality of some of these tours - I guess you could always do a quick Yelp or TripAdvisor search on the spot before you commit.
  13. Actually May and June are prime time for King Salmon fishing. In Ketchikan the King Salmon Derby runs from late May through early June. You can probably find good charters in any of those ports - but Ketchikan probably has the most options.
  14. I generally like the Hot Stone Massage best. My daughter has had her nails done a couple of times and was happy with the service. However, as people have pointed out there is always a hard sales pitch at the end to try to get you to purchase some spa products that they will try to convince you that you cannot live without. You need to be firm in your "No, thank you". Also, be aware that the spa adds an automatic 18 % gratuity to your bill which should function as the tip. There is no need to tip extra - but they do not highlight this or point it out and there is still a line on your charge slip to add a tip. Without realizing it, my daughter added an extra amount on top of the gratuity that had already been charged making an already expensive manicure outrageous. I called and made sure the bill was adjusted after looking at it and realizing what had happened. It is an easy mistake to make, especially when they aren't highlighting it and there is still a line for you to add a tip.
  15. We always take a cab there and back. It's pretty easy to pick up a cab at the port when you are heading to pick up the car. Generally we are dropping it off after the office is closed and just dropping the keys in the slot - so we generally put in a call for a cab to pick us up as we are on the way out to drop off the car. By the time we get there, park the car and drop the rental form and keys in the slot the taxi is usually arriving to pick us up. You can walk it back if you choose, but as has been pointed out it is a pretty long walk. It is very easy to call for a cab to come out and fetch you.
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