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  1. We're veterans of 20 something Princess cruises including 15 on Grand class ships (Grand, Golden, Star, CB & Ruby) 3x on Coral and a few on other vessels. We booked back to back Mexico itineraries on the Royal departing September 29th. We were in L107 with a forward Club Class mini with the giant balcony - I'll post separately regarding the cabin. We had read a lot about the Royal prior to booking and had some concerns, we like the prom deck and worried that we'd miss it. We were concerned about the size and passenger load. The negative comments go on and on, but loved the itinerary and especially the ability to reach the ship from our central valley home without air travel. Having completed 15 days we came off with very few nits and a very high level of satisfaction overall. Highs: + We loved this crazy cabin (again, more on a separate thread), we tend to like "strange" cabins - we love the Window Suites on Grand/Golden/Caribbean and will be very sad to see them go. It's possible we found our Royal class oddball cabin to replace them. + Medallion. Our first Medallion experience, and it was good overall. + The ship just sparkles, yes it's newer than anything else we've sailed by many years, but it's also a big step up in decor and 'glitz'. We enjoyed it. + The Horizon Court / Horizon Bistro were fantastic. My wife HATES buffets but you're forced on port days if staying on board, even she agreed this is the best buffet in memory. Crowds - few. Variety - immense. Seemingly something for everyone. We've never seen anything on Princess that compares. + Staff, with the exception of Crooners (below), were uniformly terrific. + As we mentioned we sailed back-to-back with our turnaround on October 4th. It was our first B2B and it couldn't have been easier, the B2B group was about 75 escorted off at 10:10AM and back on by 10:45AM. The only glitch came when they asked us to come forward for re-boarding, an elite with 4 pieces of luggage sprinted ahead of the group, was taken aside by the should waving his Elite B boarding card all the while - there's always one right? + Club Class dining was very good though the space is divided into two sections one of which is shared one table to the next with ATD which seemed a bit odd. + Coffee (regular old coffee, not latte's cappuccino's or anything special) was really quite acceptable. Not sure what I'll do with my minibar in the future - don't need a coffee card on this ship! Lows: - Our embarkation on September 29th was the worst we've ever experienced. The ship had left Vancouver late on the prior coastal and this was widely cited onboard as the excuse for late boarding BUT the ship arrived at the pier in San Pedro on time so I'm not buying that. I think the problem may have been the fact that Coral was doing a turnaround that same day and perhaps the two good sized ships attempting to get turnover overwhelmed Princess personnel. No matter the cause boarding didn't start for Elites until 12:20 the terminal was shoulder to shoulder by then. Princess had made not one single announcement since we arrived about 10:50 and folks were, let's say grumpy. - The primary entertainment group was a very good troupe of Mariachi's. For the record I LIKE mariachi music and I do recognize these were cruises to Mexico. However, the group played in the Piazza 13 of our 15 evenings on board at the cocktail hour (7:00PM) and they were amplified to maximum volume everywhere in the Piazza. Want a glass of champagne at Bellini's - better find a menu and point - they can't hear you. Want a glass of wine in Vines - point and use hand signals for how many. A martini in Crooners - scream at the top of your lungs into the servers ear. Like to chat with your friends - impossible wait for dinner or head back to Wheelhouse which was always standing room only. Really this is my only substantial disappointment. - We're huge fans of the Sanctuary and the space is beautiful on Royal. The ship was obviously built with this in mind (it's an afterthought on all other classes) it's a lovely space but it was very hot for these Mexico sailings. The gaps around the glass that exist on Grand class ships are replaced by fixed glass on Royal - probably great in Alaska but the absence of even a hint of breeze made most of the space unusable for much of the day. Most folks who paid for Sanctuary ended up huddled in the large gazebo most of the day, not unpleasant, but not what you paid for either. A bit of shade, some fans for air movement or some ventilation would make the space more pleasant. - As I wrote, service was uniformly good with the exception of Crooners. In this lounge the 3 staff assigned were clearly miserable with their assignment. Their attitudes were, to put it very generously, very poor. Service was slow, no matter the day or time, the fact that all 3 behaved the same made me think something awful had happened - they were like whipped puppies. More positively the drinks were well made and always well chilled. Very refreshing. - Access to Club Class dining. As I wrote above CC is in one of the main dining rooms - as always. In this case though the entrance was also shared with the MDR which created huge lines the first several nights. Eventually we were recognized on sight deep in the line and pulled aside. The CC host said "just pass them by" but doing so wasn't easy and felt rude. The solution could have been very simple - Club Class to one size, ATD to the other, but this wasn't the way it was done. Ultimately we just pushed our dinner time back closer to 8:00 by which time the crowd had usually died down. - Medallion. Worked reliably for access and egress. Absolutely didn't work for the wait staff. Every cocktail person asked for "cabin number please". Some bartenders had tablets which showed them who was at the bar - they'd just verify your name. Shops sometimes had you scan your medallion, sometimes just looked at the tablet to confirm who you were. There's so much potential here - but it just isn't being used. On the whole we LOVED the Royal and would book her again anytime. Is she our new favorite - probably not - the Sanctuary issues are a biggie for us and would hold us back except for the coldest itineraries. But would I book her and look forward to her again - absolutely.
  2. DH and I just returned from the 10 day Mexico cruise on the Royal Princess. This was our first cruise on a Royal class ship, first experience with the Medallion, and my first cruise as Elite. Here are some random impressions: We spent the night before the cruise at the Doubletree Hilton in San Pedro and rode their shuttle to the cruise terminal, leaving the hotel at about noon. Embarkation was very easy and we were quickly in our room, E409. I selected that room after doing research here on CC and was very pleased. It is a deluxe balcony, supposedly obstructed but not really, and has an angled balcony that is extra-large. It’s under the skywalk but many floors below and we weren’t bothered by that in the least. It was also a convenient midship location with easy access to all the public spaces on 7, 6 and 5. The moment we got to the room we made two phone calls. One was to room service to swap out the Elite mini-bar for two coffee cards. (Again thanks to CC for alerting us to this option.) The other was to the Dine line to sign up for Chef’s Table. It was about 1:00 pm when I called the Dine line. I was very sad the next day when we received a note under the door saying we had not been picked for Chef’s Table. I later spoke to the Maitre D’ who told me that 92 people had called to sign up for Chef’s Table, and they had done two dinners. It’s unclear to me how they pick people. We didn’t have any allergies or special issues. I’m not sure I believe it’s strictly first come first served, but if Chef’s Table is a top priority for you, I would board and call as early as you can, definitely before noon. At the Captain’s Club reception on the second formal night, they told us that our cruise had over 1000 Platinum and over 900 Elite members. With so many experienced cruisers it was probably no wonder that Chef’s Table was in high demand. We were a little surprised by the number of walkers and scooters. We definitely noticed more mobility impaired and elderly passengers than we’ve seen in the past. Obviously I support older and less-able people in their desire to cruise--we are getting there ourselves. When I went to the Elite grapevine wine tasting, I was seated next to a lovely 98 year old gentleman. We also witnessed several men wearing shorts to dinner on smart casual nights. Once when the Head Waiter stopped by our table to chat, we asked about the shorts. He said it was a sensitive subject. The staff can at most mention the dress code to people and sometimes they go back and change but more often they won’t. He said that passengers present a variety of excuses, such as “it’s not in the cruise contract,” “our TA didn’t tell us” or “ the dress code is just a suggestion.” He also said they used to have a sign explaining the dress code outside the entrance to the dining room, but that they were not allowed to use the sign any more. Overall we liked the design of the Royal and would be happy to cruise on a Royal class ship again. We especially liked the fact that the piazza had much more seating than the Grand class ships. Our biggest design complaint would be the midship elevators--almost always full, and usually stopping at nearly every floor from 5 to 16. Given the frequent need to load and unload scooters, the trip could take a while. Fortunately our cabin was midship on Deck 8 so it was pretty easy to take the stairs most places. We also liked the design of the buffet compared to the Grand Class ships. We also never had trouble finding a table at the buffet, unlike many of our prior Grand class experiences. We also prefer the new design of the Vista Lounge versus Club Fusion. Okay, here come our food criticisms. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read negative comments. We know food is subjective so these are merely subjective opinions. The dining room was fine as expected. But elsewhere we saw signs of cutbacks. The fish at pub lunch was soggy and the curry was bland. Alfredos’ pizza crust was uncrispy with the overall effect being similar to Chuck E Cheese. We also were underwhelmed with Sabatini’s. Our waiter was excellent so we are not faulting the service, but the food was disappointing. DH had the “Lobster Three Ways” (which was more like three-quarters of one way), and I had the chicken supreme. The best part of Sabatini's was definitely the desserts. One day we ordered the Elite Tea in our stateroom. That was a bit of a disappointment too. Next time I’ll just do the regular Afternoon Tea or maybe the one with the upcharge. For our in-room tea, we each got one single teabag and enough hot water for one single cup each. The scones were excellent but the sandwiches and pastries seemed to have been randomly picked from the buffet. We were very happy with our coffee cards and stopped several times a day at the International Cafe. As mentioned above, it was nice that there was adequate seating and we didn’t have to struggle to find a table. As for the Medallion, we liked it as a convenient form of a cruise card that didn’t get de-magnetized or easily lost. We didn’t try to use any of the features on the app. I have mixed feelings about how the Medallion enables Princess to track you all over the ship. For example, I left a comment card suggesting that Princess consider online signups for Chef’s Table in the Cruise Personalizer. That prompted the Maitre d’ to call me on my stateroom phone, which was very nice. But he mentioned that he picked that time to call because, based on my Medallion, he could see that I was in my room. I can see pros and cons of the tracking capability. The entertainment was very good. Matt O is a fantastic Cruise Director and just bursting with energy and enthusiasm. On the last night of the cruise we had a turnover of the Princess singers and dancers, and the new group performed a new production show called The Secret Silk. The show had spectacular sets, costumes and special effects. We could follow the basic storyline but had trouble understanding the words to a lot of the songs. Not sure if that was just our aging ears or if the sound production wasn’t quite right. But it was very fun to see a new show and I recommend everyone check it out. Despite our minor complaints, we had a great time and will continue to be loyal Princess cruisers. We met lots of fun and interesting people on this cruise. And of course we made sure to buy Future Cruise Deposits.
  3. Can anyone tell me what shows are on the Royal? What is good and what isn't? Is Silk playing? Thanks so much!
  4. I like strange cabins. Really. Love the Window Suites on the older Grand class ships. Love cabins at the end of dead end companionways. Anything other than a rectangular box, I'll try. We couldn't resist booking on of these odd duck cabins on Lido deck with the giant balcony at the very front of the ship. I've seen many question, a fair number of photo's but still thought I'd add my thoughts having spent 15 days in one of these on Royal. Positives: + We LOVED the shape of the cabin. It's an 'L' shape with a long entry hall with closets on one side, the bathroom on the other. There's a small sitting room and around the corner is the sleeping area. + That bedroom area is huge. How huge? Well we stored all of our luggage in the corner on the floor and never stepped over it at any point over two weeks. I don't know the square footage but there's no doubt that OV cabins we've stayed in were smaller than the bedroom alone. + That huge deck, well it really is huge. You see the same view as the captain for sail ins / sail outs. What could be better? + It's (obviously) at the end of the ship. So quiet, quiet, quiet. Never heard a soul during our trip. + It's on Lido deck. It's a fair walk to Horizon Court but, no stairs, no elevators. + It's dark when the lights go out. Perched out front like this they took care to limit ambient light which could interfere with the bridge. The sleeping room was pitch black once the lights went out - we looked at the stars from our bed several nights (be sure to close the curtain though because the sun comes up early up there on deck 16!). Negatives: - Well, that huge balcony really can't be used most times when the ship is in motion. There was one day when the prevailing wind was from the stern when it was marginally usable. There were many days when the wind over the rail was probably 45mph, yeah, some of it is deflected up but still . . . - L107/L108 have no shade whatsoever. It's quite warm out there anytime the sun is beating down on the metal deck. I suspect M107/M108 are superior given the fact that they are substantially covered by the Lido deck cabins. - The sitting room is small, there's a loveseat with a pull out. If pulled out the bed ends about 9 inches from the far side of the room. It's sufficient space for two but would feel quite tight with more. Net take away. We've decided we love these cabins and would book one again anytime. I'm happy to take any specific questions you might have about these oddball cabins.
  5. We are thinking about booking a day pass to the Sanctuary on the Royal Princess. Do you have a favorite chair/location that you would be willing to share with us? There are two of us. I have to have a plan when I make a run for it. Also, I would love to see photos if you have any to share. Thank you!
  6. A question. We are thinking about an Aft Suite on the Royal Princess. The port side or the starboard side Dolphin deck? Is the smoking area on the starboard side deck 7 a concern for the starboard side suite on Dolphin deck? Thank You
  7. Does anyone have a list of wine for purchase on the Royal? Thanks . . .
  8. A great deal of the time we all talk about what we don’t like (It’s normal, we’re human). What do you love (or like) about the Royal Princess? I love the Piazza, the awesome buffet, the Retreat Pool area, and the aft seating outside of the buffet. Your turn 😊
  9. Don't get it, Princess orders another Royal Class ship the 6th in a series as such. When she is released for inaugural cruise the ship will be 11 years old of an ancient design that is anything but spectacular.(yawn) Kinda like Oldsmobile in the 70's. Can somebody at Princess think out of the box and come up with "innovation" in a ship design? Something will make me remember the ship after I disembark....
  10. Do they have Crystal Geyser water on the Royal or just bottled "Princess" water ? Thanks . . .
  11. Hello folks; I have a sailing coming up and we have the aft corner suite D726 on the Regal and plan to have a party (or two). Please share if you have done this; particularly how many persons attended and how the space felt crowd-wise. Also, if there was any special service provided by any member of the staff, I'd love to know about it. I've only done this on Celebrity ships, and it has always been a great event. Thanks in advance, Scanditaly
  12. Hello, sailing on Jan 04, 2020 and would like info on the mattresses. Good or bad? Thanks🛳🛳🛳
  13. Just received our cabin assignment. Does anyone have any info on this cabin?
  14. Apparently there was an oil spill on the oil boat filling Royal Princess today in Vancouver. We were told Princess is responsible for the clean up since they were purchasing the oil. We were supposed to leave Vancouver at 3:30...it’s now almost 5:00 and we’re still alongside Canada Place 🇨🇦. Now we’re hearing we maybe here awhile as the tides coming in and the ship will not clear Lions Gate Bridge until the tide goes back out. We’re waiting on an update now. Supposed to arrive in LA on Tuesday morning at 8:30....Doubt that will happen. The 12-day to Alaska might be delayed? Will update when we hear....
  15. We are new to Princess having been loyal RCI. First time to Alaska. We think we have narrowed our ship down to the royal northbound June 2020. What is the difference between on your own land tour? We are traveling first time with a small group so trying to find options for all budgets. When I called yesterday to inquire about costs I was quoted deck 11 or above for balcony. Never been that high. When I inquired about lower floors she told me they would be obstructed. Now I’m confused. What deck is preferred to minimize movement? Any concerns that I should know about the ship and route? I’m tired of looking. Just want to book it and forget about it for a year. We are also leaving to go home from Fairbanks to Philadelphia? Any concerns with that? Also how many rooms do you need to book to get the group discount?
  16. A few notes from our recent trip aboard the Royal Princess (Inside Passage Southbound, Whittier to Vancouver) August 10-17th, 2019. Overall, we had a great experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend an Alaska cruise on the Royal Princess. Our traveling party: myself (DW) & DH (mid-50s) and two teenage daughters. Fourth family cruise but first time on Princess and first time to Alaska. Other cruises were on Royal Caribbean big ships (Independence, Liberty and Allure) to the Caribbean. Here are some things we loved about our Alaska vacation: 1. The ship itself, especially the outside viewing areas. Before our cruise, I read the parade of horribles about the Royal in Alaska, and briefly even considered cancelling our trip. So glad I didn’t. To echo others who have actually sailed on the Royal to Alaska, there were plenty of outside viewing areas: four smaller Promenade areas on Deck 7, Sports deck up top, Skywalk areas, open seating area behind the Horizon Court, the Retreat, and all over the Lido deck. Yes, it is true that there is no wrap-around promenade deck, and if that is important to you, then don’t sail on the Royal. Personally, I prefer open air, so the Royal Princess was perfect in my opinion for experiencing Glacier Bay. (And yes, the Park rangers did encourage everyone to get outside, and yes, there were lots of people outside, but the ship is huge and there was plenty of room for all. We never felt crowded.) 2. Teen programs. We’ve sailed only the larger ships because my teens are very sociable and a big part of cruising for them is meeting other teens. The bigger the ship, there more teens there will be aboard, and the greater the likelihood they will make friends. Compared to Royal Caribbean, the Princess ships have fewer built-in activities for teens (e.g., rock-climbing wall, ice skating, flow-rider, water slides) but the teen staff on the Royal Princess made up for it by offering lots of fun activities (scavenger hunts, jewelry-making, scary-movie night, caputure the flag various parties and pageants) and I think because there weren’t as many outside activities, many of the teens actually attended those activities. And having pizza and a burger/dog stand by the pool gave them a ready-supply of food at seemingly all hours. We also loved being able to find our teens using the Medallion Compass app —a great innovation. 3. Cruise director and staff, and entertainment in general. In one word: amazing! Matt O. and his staff were non-stop, with so many triviea events / game shows / parties that there was no way to attend everything. I thought the best-of-the-best was the “Dancing with the Staff” competition (a la “Dancing with the Stars”) the last night in the Piazza. I laughed so hard my muscles were sore the next morning. A.J. Jamal was the the comedian, and he rocked it, performing to packed houses on two nights. If he is on your ship, make sure not to miss him. (And, perhaps best of all, his comedy is family-friendly, so everyone can enjoy). 4. Food. We enjoyed all of the food on board. Particular highlights were afternoon tea in the Allegro Dining Room (as soon as we were seated, waiters appeared pouring tea and bearing trays of sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and hot scones with cream and jam — all excellen), the International Cafe (almond croissants in the morning and shrimp and fennel salad in the afternoon), and Alfredos (tables were always available, and the pizza was made fresh and could be customized as you like), and hot seafood chowder at the Trident Cafe during the Glacier Bay visit. MDR food was very good but not great. Horizon Court food was varied and plentiful, with smoked salmon and steamed shrimp the highlights for me. 5. Cooking demonstration and galley tour. The last sea day, there was a cooking demonstration by the Executive Chef Giovanni Sisto and Maitre D’Hotel Generoso Mazzone in the Princess Theater, followed by a galley tour. I know one can sign up for a full tour of the ship, the cost is high and the availability is limited, so I appreciated that Princess provides a complimentary walk-through of the galley, including a demonstration of seventy ways to prepare a potato. And the cooking demonstration itself was very entertaining (I mean, who couldn’t enjoy Italians talking about food?) 6. Educational talks. I attended talks by Sue Hazlett (the on-board naturalist) and by the Park Service rangers, and both were excellent. I learned quite a bit about glaciers and the natural history of Glacier Bay. And while we were in Glacier Bay, the rangers had a table set up in the Vista lounge where they answered questions and had some displays. I missed the talk by Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall (cross-country skiing) but ran into her later in the stairwell and had a nice chat. All of the lectures are available to watch on tv in the staterooms, so I watched her very inspirational talk there. If you don’t know anything about her, look her up — she is amazing! 7. Adjoining balconies. We originally booked two adjacent interior cabins but got a great upsell offer ($140 per person) to move to adjacent balcony cabins with a connecting door. In lieu of taking an excursion in Ketchikan, we jumped at the upsell and didn’t regret it. We opened the door between our balconies and created one extended balcony, which was great. With so much scenery in Alaska, we could take it in the view from our cabins. And a special highlight was waking early on the last morning to see the our ship pass under the Lions Gate Bridge on the way into Vancouver. 8. Port stops: Skagway: Bike down form White Summit Pass in Skagway. We took the Princess-sponsored bike ride excursion, which was led by Sockeye Cycle. A made a 20-minute van ride to White Pass Summit. Once there, we were outfitted with bikes, given a quick safety briefing and then the guide made sure we could pedal correctly. From there, down the mountain we went. It was quite windy and definitely an adrenaline rush. I recommend this tour only if you are comfortable on a bike, and I also recommend taking the last tour of the day (ours left at 5 PM) because traffic on the road is lighter then. We loved it. Juneau: Whale watching with Alaska Humpback Adventures, Captain Steve Olmstead. Trip was amazing. It was just our family in the boat, and Captain Steve really knows his stuff. We saw probably seven or eight different humpback whales, including two females with a baby, but no Orcas that day. I can’t recommend Captain Steve highly enough. Ketchikan: Totem Poles and salmon run. We didn’t book a tour in Ketchikan (opting to spend that money on cabin upgrades instead) but still had a great time. We walked to Saxman Village to see the totem poles (about 2 1/2 miles) then took the public bus back to town ($2). From there, we walked up along Ketchikan Creek to see the salmon run. We saw thousands of salmon (pink, I believe) making their way up the creek. There is a little rocky beach where you can stand right next to the water for a close-up view of the fish. Quite something. (Note: this port stop was cut short, we were supposed to be in port until 6, but we ended up leaving at 3:30 to catch the tide under the Lion's Gate Bridge. Poor excuse by Princess, as they should have known the tide table well in advance.) 9. DYI Pre-cruise. We flew into Anchorage on Wednesday evening and had a couple of days on our own before the cruise. We rented a car and on Thursday, drove to Willow to visit Matthew Failor and his 17th Dog Iditarod team (booked through Alaska Mushing School). We spent about three hours with Matthew and his dogs, learning all about his seven runnings of the Iditarod race. We got to ride along on a training run through the forest, and our visit was capped with spending time with the husky puppies. Completing the Iditarod is an incredible feat, and we were glad to get a inside view of the race and mushing in Alaska. On Friday, we drove out past Palmer to the Matanuska Glacier, were we spent the day on an adventure hike with Mica Guides. Great way to experience the glacier close up, and one of the only times on our vacation where we needed warm clothes. 10. Friendly atmosphere aboard the Royal Princess. Compared to Royal Caribbean, the Royal Princess certainly has fewer bells and whistles. But overall, we found the vibe friendlier. We talked with people from all over the world who were drawn to the majesty that is Alaska, and all of the staff went out of their way to make sure we were happy and well-cared for. We especially liked that there were fewer sales pitches on Princess than we have experienced on Royal Caribbean. Sure, we got lots of fliers under our door for spa treatments (which we didn’t take advantage of) but never really felt pressured to buy specialty meals or extra services. Now, a few areas where I think Princess could stand to improve: 1. Luggage handling. This was the worst part of our trip. Prior to boarding, we gave the porters seven suitcases, but only six of the ever made it to our cabins. Our younger daughter’s suitcase, containing her hiking boots and several other pairs of shoes, her raincoat and down jacket and other cool-weather clothes, and various toiletries, never made it to us. Fortunately, she was a good sport about it, but I spent much of the first few days of our cruise at guest services trying to track down the suitcase. We were eventually informed that Princess had searched the ship but never found the missing suitcase. Princess did give us $50 OBC for each day the suitcase was missing (which was all seven) and they gave us a form to file a claim for a claim for the rest of the value, but it was still a bummer that the suitcase was lost (or perhaps stolen) and that I spent so much time trying to find it. 2. Movies Under the Stars blaring during the daytime. We watched Shazam one night, and that was fun, but it bothered me that movies were blaring very loudly during the daytime when folks were sitting around the pool. (We had wonderful weather, warm and sunny, so there were lots of folks using the pool and hot tubs.) I discovered that the Retreat was the only place I could sit by the pool without being blasted by movie sounds. Also, I would have liked more variety in the movies shown — all but one were adventure / action films. It would have been nice to have an old musical or a comedy for those of us who don’t love action films. 3. Confusion about drink packages. We headed to the Horizon Court for lunch shortly after boarding and, while there, asked the wait staff where we could buy drink packages. I wanted to get the soda package for my DH and DDs, plus the coffee card for my DH. Our waiter told us that he could sell us the packages, but he didn’t seem to know about the coffee card, only about the combined soda and coffee package. Eventually we got what we wanted purchased, but it took some doing. The Coffee card isn’t well advertised, and I expect it may soon become a thing of the past. 4. Photo Gallery. Why does Princess have to print out all of the photos, why can’t they make them available to view on digital monitors and then print out only the photos that someone wants to but? Printing them all out is a huge waste of paper and the printing chemicals. Despite the lost suitcase and all the aggravation that entailed (and there was a lot of aggravation) we had a great cruise. I would gladly sail aboard the Royal Princess again. Happy travels to those who have upcoming cruises on the Royal Princess — enjoy every minute!
  17. Just returned from our Alaska Cruise / Land Tour. I am posting my overall impressions ( and hoping that this is in the correct place ). if not - please let me know. Thanks to everyone here who answered our questions. it really helped us have a great trip. Background: Princess Cruise / Land Tour – August 19 – Royal Princess. I’ll review the Land Tour in a separate post Husband and I, mid-fifties. Our second cruise – first was on Royal Caribbean in the Eastern Caribbean. Pretty easy-going and manage to have a good time regardless of the circumstance. We prefer vacationing independently; cruising is not our first choice. We chose this vacation based on itinerary and time frame. Never been to Alaska or Pacific North West. I expect to have a great time on my vacations, but also expect that not everything will go as planned. Being able to roll with the punches and enjoy every moment is important. We thoroughly enjoyed Royal Princess and even with the handful of things I didn’t like I would cruise with them again – and on Royal again. Royal Princess Overall what we liked: · Ship is very beautiful. I found it lovely without being too glitzy. · Loved the Piazza concept with the open lounges. · Ship was super clean. · Staff were very friendly and kind. Service was outstanding with only one exception (Shore desk staff were NOT knowledgeable or helpful about an excursion we had to rebook). · Embarkation was EASY. Not sure what all the medallion fuss is about – but I did it all on my laptop (even though I downloaded apps). I think people forget about customs, that took a bit longer. · Ship DID NOT feel crowded. Could always find a seat in the Piazza. There were times when I asked to join people and it was never a problem. · DH logged my birthday and I had impromptu happy birthday sang to me a few times. I also received a $25 gift card for the shops. Had an excellent cake at dinner. Overall what we didn’t like: · No promenade deck – there are a couple little decks on 7, but no where to really walk outside. I might not sail on her again due to this. I love to walk off my dinner at night. We circled around the Lido deck and climbed stairs, but not the same. · Not a fan of Matt O. some of his assistants did a terrible job with trivia and shows. · Spa sales accosting you right off the elevator on deck 5. We were trying to watch an activity in the Piazza and they were being disruptive. I asked them to please quiet down. · We went to the outlet sale – it was cheesy and very down market. · Art gallery. I love art and visit galleries and museums wherever we travel. This was really awful. Did not attend any events. · There was a naturalist on board, but not a big presence – AND – there was nothing to tell you where we were to assist in wildlife spotting. I expected more from this. Cabin · Mini Suite on Baja Deck. · Quiet, very clean, good location · Mini suite was a splurge for us, but I loved the extra space and spent a lot of time just hanging on the balcony. Glacier Bay Viewing · A front view would have been nice, but I looked at the sanctuary and it was not open – all tinted glass. Not good for photography. · It was crowded, but for the most part polite. People took turns, said excuse me. There are some passengers where culturally personal space is as respected as in the US. So sometimes the folks crowding in aren’t being rude in their culture. Inside Passage · As others on this website have pointed out, the inside passage is more than just the inside of Vancouver Island. It goes all the way up the coast. We went west of that island into the open water. Would have preferred to go inside, but – itineraries on a cruise (or any vacation) can and will change. We sat at lunch with someone who just pitched an ever-loving fit about it. There was so much beautiful scenery, I’m not sure it mattered in the long run. MDR · Fixed MDR, 2nd seating. This was great, as soon as a couple was seated – the waiter started the orders. Our tablemates were great and we enjoyed their company (THIS IS RARE FOR ME – I USUALLY PREFER TO EAT WITH ONLY MY DH). · MDR food was great. We’ve traveled in France – was it comparable – of course not. But I thought it was great for a mass-produced cruise food. · I think the selections seemed limited compared to what I remembered of Royal Caribbean. But I certainly didn’t go hungry. My favorites were the salmon, turkey dinner one night, crab quiche was outstanding! · Food was delivered hot. Salads were fresh, fruit was nicely ripe. · Breakfast in the MDR was delicious and served pretty quickly. · We also ate lunch twice in the MDR – not my favorite – limited choice. Buffet · Ate breakfast twice and dinner once. · Not only was food not hot – it was ice cold on occasion. · Extremely unorganized. For the life of me - I could not figure out the best way to approach it. · Fruit was very repetitive – mostly melon. · At times - spoiled fruit in the baskets. · We ate here on days when we needed to eat early and get off the ship – (cold food problem) or on the one day when we got back too late from our excursion in Juneau to get to the MDR. · Service for coffee and drinks was excellent. We waited less than 5 minutes each meal. · Seating could get crowded, but I always offered other people to share our table. We met a lovely older couple that way who had lived a very interesting life. We met them for coffee a few times. Trident Grill, Slices and Swirls on Lido. · Trident was FANTASTIC. Hot dogs were excellent and hamburgers were great as well. · Slices pizza was very very good. · Swirls – we have great soft serve in new England, this wasn’t worth the calories. Alfredo’s · Did not like the pizza – but the eggplant rollatini was excellent. The dish with the pork and beef pockets (like ravioli) was also great. · Service was a bit spotty here. Movies under the stars · Super fun Spa Tour and Spa Services · Toured the spa and while they explained services did not feel it was overly pushy. · Used some of our OBC to have a couple’s massage. Great massage. Minor upselling. Said thanks for the offer. · I am NOT morbidly obese, but I am a broad shouldered athletic built woman. They did not have a robe that fit me. It was embarrassing and did not enhance the experience. Entertainment · Comedian was good and so was the magician. · Lounge singers were outstanding. · Amethyst trio dance band was excellent. · I’m not a big shopper or gambler – so I ignored those areas. Gift shop however had 75% for end of season. I did buy a lot of gifts there 😊 Excursions: · We originally booked a zodiac and a rainforest hike with Alaska Shore excursions. When we had our day in Ketchikan shortened, they rebooked us to a 12:00 to 4:00. Our all aboard was 4:30. I talked to them and found out they would not bring us right back to the ship, but would drop us at the thermometer in town. Overall this was cutting everything to close and we were berthed pretty far from that spot. · We then refunded that excursion and rebooked something similar with Princess. We get out to the marina to go on our zodiac – and one of the boats was taking on water and they had to send our boat to rescue them. At that point it was too late to do anything but walkaround the town. · Mendenhall Glacier through the cruise ship. We had 2.5 hours at the glacier and it was great. We hiked a few trails and had time to explore a bit. · Took a Whale watch through Dolphin Jet Tours. Great trip – saw 8 whales, seals, eagles. We chased out to where some orcas were – but they had moved. Small boat with 1400 horsepower - so we moved out! Highly recommend. They love the whales and really respect them. · Private tour with beyond Skagway. This made our trip. Went all the way to Emerald Lake in the Yukon. At our own pace – just a lot of fun. Excursion thoughts: · Early morning flightseeing apparently get canceled a lot – you might want to look into afternoons. · I used a combination of Princess, booking company and local vendor for excursions. · The booking company was recommended by my TA. She recommends this company because she has a relationship with them, but also knows they carry insurance and have adequate resources to get folks back to the ship. · I used princess for short days or when I tried to fit something extra in. · I researched Beyond Skagway and since we were in port very late, felt there was little to no risk.
  18. Just wondering what the rules are now for non-surge protector power strips and external cell phone battery chargers. Thank you for your helpful replies.
  19. Breakfast, lunch and dinner? Plus when is bread pudding available?
  20. Hi everyone, here are the details and observations of the land tour. It was a beautiful trip. Background: Princess Cruise / Land Tour – August 19 – Royal Princess. This is a review of the Land Tour – the Cruise report is in an earlier post. We did the Connoisseur escorted tour – 2 nights at Denali, 2 nights Talkeetna and final night in Anchorage Husband and I, mid-fifties. Our first multi night group type tour. Pretty easy-going and manage to have a good time regardless of the circumstance. We prefer vacationing independently; cruising / group touring is not our first choice. We chose this vacation based on itinerary and time frame. Never been to Alaska or Pacific North West. I expect to have a great time on my vacations, but also expect that not everything will go as planned. Being able to roll with the punches and enjoy every moment is important. We thoroughly enjoyed Royal Princess and even with the handful of things I didn’t like I would cruise with them again – and on Royal again. Connoisseur Land Tour Overall what we liked: · Convenient and easy way to see the interior of Alaska · Escorted tour was more expensive – but nice to have prepaid meals and to have someone watching out for you. · Luggage transfers and room transfers handled beautifully · Narrators on all transportation – this was great. However – some folks did talk a LOT which I found tiring. Overall what we didn’t like: · Long transportation days. Very much a drive around on a bus / train type tour. · Became saturated with all the scenery – for us - I think we should have picked a different itinerary and I will discuss below. Special Circumstances · Two things happened which may be influencing my review of this tour. o 1) Upon arrival in Denali we received word from our son that our beloved dog was critically ill and we had to make the decision to euthanize her. o 2) My husband – very healthy never sick - picked up a cold on the last day of the cruise. He continued to get worse with a respiratory type virus. He was diagnosed with Pneumonia the morning after we arrived home. Day 1 – Train to Whittier · Disembarkation was organized and easy. · You send some luggage to your final destination (Anchorage), some luggage to your next night and you can carry 1 piece each with you. Luggage handling was great and always showed up. · Train Ride was long. 9 hours with a motor transfer to lodge. Because we were doing the National Parks Tundra tour the next day – I am not sure it was worth 2 days of scenery. · Meal on train was included and food was good quality and well prepared. · Seating in the dining car was very cramped. I am a larger woman, but not morbidly obese. I am active and fit. I carry my weight in my abdomen. The tables were very narrow and uncomfortable. Denali Park Lodge · We had good cell service · We were in a very nice building with its own lobby, small bar a viewing deck of mountains and river. Room was spacious and clean. However, it was a good walk to the main lobby – but they had plenty of shuttles. · Dining venues were crowded, reservations were needed or a long wait. First night we had no reservations, but tour director made them for second night. We ate at the counter service restaurant first night and it was delicious. The other restaurant we tried was salmon king and it was also very good. · Lodge had a small village of gift shops that were locally owned and fun to browse through. Denali Excursions - The main reason to go here is to go on one of the national park service tours into Denali. A few things to know: · There are two options – the Tundra Tour (8 hours) or the Natural History (4 hours) · We did the Tundra Tour. It was a beautiful day and we saw Denali completely opened up top to bottom. This is very rare to see the entire mountain. Be warned – you may drive for 8 hours and see clouds / fog. · We saw some wildlife. This is a LARGE park and not a zoo. We saw a bear, some moose, caribou, lots of birds and sheep. · Plenty of breaks - but hold off the coffee 😊 · Breaks were quick, I would have like more time to look around. · Viewing was difficult out the bus windows – they had a sash across the middle. · Polychrome Pass – this is very scary. You are driving on a narrow road with 1,200 feet drop and no guard rails. (We have driven mountain ranges in Europe – but this was much scarier) · Looking back - I would have picked either the train or the tundra tour. (Motor Coach is about half the time, but not as scenic). If I took the train – then I would have done the 4-hour Tundra – which also avoided the high pass. · Packed lunch available at the coffee shop for the tour was awful. The tour does provide snacks, we should have just bought a couple extra granola bars. · If you are on the escorted tour, you can use your meal voucher at the coffee stand and get additional snacks etc. this was a great way to get a quick breakfast and some treats for the road. Mt McKinley Lodge · Least favorite property. Parts of the lodge were run down and worn out. I was rather shocked. State of the carpets were appalling.( some were stapled ???? ) · Dining was a step below other venues. Service was inconsistent. Unless you ate at off times, long waits for the restaurants. I preferred the 20320 grill over the finer dining North Fork. · Cloudy and didn’t even get a peek at the mountain, that may have made it more interesting for us. · Extremely hilly although there are shuttles, but you waste a lot of time riding around if you take one. · Only rainy day entire trip and with DH being sick, we took this as a rest day. · It’s in the middle of nowhere. The next hamlet Talkeetna is an hour away. I could not face getting on a bus again for any reason. · There are a few low cost / free activities around the lodge, but again my husband was getting sicker - so we hung out in the room. · Did see the Aurora Symphony – which is a slide show of the Northern Lights set to music. This was boring. However, we did realize that we did not need to spend $$$ to try to see northern lights. If we ever managed it by chance fine. · Best thing here was the fireside hosted patio. It was an outdoor bar with firepits, chairs and a musician. It was wonderful to sit by the fire and have a drink and listen to music. There was a young bald eagle in a nearby tree who kept swooping around. Very cool. Anchorage · We had a bonus stop on our transfer back to the Iditarod headquarters. We took a sled dog ride on the “dirt” sled (cart on wheels) for $10 and saw sled dog puppies. This was great fun, very inexpensive. · Captain Cook Hotel was very nice, we had a room with a view of the bay. Too bad there wasn’t a casual eatery in the hotel since we were tired at this point. · 2 blocks up there was a really good pizza place called Uncle Joe’s eatery. Great pizza, good prices. · Ate dinner at Glacial Brewing Company. Called for a reservation, told me they were full, we went early at 5:30 and ate at the bar with no wait. Delicious food. · Transfer to airport went great. Security was slow in Anchorage - so plan accordingly. Overall great trip. I’d go on another Alaskan cruise, but maybe rethink the land version. If you do go to Alaska be sure to buy trip insurance with medical evacuation included. At times you are far from facilities and may need to be flown to Anchorage for care. Princess did a nice job with the escorted tour. Not our usual way to travel (we tend to center in one town or area for several days and immerse ourselves.) but it was convenient and managed well.
  21. Yet another email from Royal Princess that the 12-night Alaska cruise has been delayed yet again. Now 8:00 PM. Boarding is now delayed again from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.
  22. Currently half way through our 2 week b2b Alaska cruise. As the title says, I had never expected to sail this ship again after having a less than stellar experience in March sailing to Mexico. On that sailing, the first on the west coast, the service was the worst I had ever had on any cruise and we had so many small issues that combined together to make one problem ridden cruise! What made that cruise for us (and the only positive) was cruise director Matt O and his team! They knocked it out of the water!!!! When I heard that he and Andrew The Canadian we’re back doing Alaska I decided to give Royal another chance! i plan on posting a full review once back but thought I would see if anyone had any questions I might be able to answer from the ship! What I can say at this point is that a week in, everything has been PERFECT! Matt O is as awesome as ever and his team are outstanding! My only complaint, if I had to find one, is that there is just so much going on that we can’t do it all! Weather in Alaska has been spectacular. I haven’t put a jacket on in 7 days! This is my 8th trip and it has never been this sunny, blue skies, and hot in any of my previous trips! We have done 2 excursions- puppy camp in Skagway which we do every time as the kids LOVE it and 26 glaciers in Whittier, which was amazing! Food and service has been top notch! This is my first trip without drink package for me or soda package for kids. We are ordering what we want, when we want it, and so far haven’t come close to paying what we would have paid for the packages! More on that when I review on my return! Any questions, let me know and I will do my best to answer or find out!
  23. I will start with the disembarkation as it was so awesome, we arrived at the Long Beach airport by 7:45 am, giving me quite a bit of time to write this review! 10 of 10 stars on he disembarkation! We requested and were granted the early walk off group A, which was scheduled to begin around 7:15 am. We were ready to roll out of our room by 7:00 am, at which time we said goodbye and thanks to our room steward and head down to wait for our walk off group to be called, which took less than 2 mins waiting time and we were out the door. The customs line was quick, as was getting our Uber. I thought our flight was a little on the early side but ends up, we still have a three hour wait here after passing through security but it is so much better than stressing out. I highly recommend packing light and using Long Beach airport when flying out of Los Angeles, if at all possible.....so much nicer than LAX. Note: ride sharing pick up point is in front of the Berth 92 sign at San Pedro (even though we were docked at pier 91). Oh, and some guy in a large Black Lincoln SUV is trying to offer people rides as we disembarked ... no taxi Medallion or Uber / lyft placard and was pretty aggressive. I we kept refusing his ride as he kept going round and round trying to get someone to bite! He may have been harmless but it didn’t seem too safe to me and was surprised the port authority allowed this. I tried to find someone that worked at the port to notify them but then our ride had arrived and we had to go! Now, backing up to embarkation ... we arrived at the port around 10:15 by Uber and were directed though security and then to check in. The security line was about 20 minutes long and then directly to priority check in. It was a little disorganized as this was the first full Medallion cruise on the Royal and some seemingly new personnel at the port. We already had our medallions via the mail so they just needed to take our photos and hand us a boarding pass [group A] and were directed to wait in the priory lounge. Well, there was inadequate space for everyone in that area and it really wasn’t anything special except for the pastries and beverages. We waited nearly another hour before boarding began ... but then we were on our way! Yoo-hoo! I would give the port a 5 out of 10 stars and the embarkation process a score of 7 to 8 out of 10. Our stateroom: We were allowed to go directly to our rooms to drop off our luggage before heading to the MDR for lunch. We met up with our room steward, who was just finishing up the vacuuming ... otherwise our room was ready to go! This is the same room steward we’ve had on our two most recent cruises with Princess, although on another ship ... so we already knew that we liked him a lot! Great to see a familiar face! Our room was stunningly beautiful and being midship, we had one of the large balconies. The balcony flooring was without that disgusting blue matting (which I call the filth catcher) that is present on so many Princess ships! Good move, Princess! The bed / pillows were simply wonderful! They have replaced the little tv above the mini fridge area with a large flat screen tv on the wall opposite the bed ... what a great improvement that really opened up the room. Speaking of he mini fridge...it actually worked like a fridge! The tv has an on demand feature that is just great! There are plenty of drawers and an adequate number of hangers in our room. The bathroom was mall but clean and so functional. There is no more barrel chair (thankfully ...as it would have just been in the way for us) but a small indoor table for room service and such. We ordered a wedge pillow ahead of time and it was delivered to our room on day 2, as were our robes ... so one day after boarding but we were very happy with that. Stateroom gets a 10 of 10 stars in my book! The ship: The Royal is by far the most gorgeous Princess ship on which we’ve sailed....EVER! She is stunningly beautiful and everything was in tip top condition! Even the public restrooms were very nice and clean! I was very impressed with how everything sparkles and shined! We only went to the buffet area once, which was enough, but will go into that later... but it was so beautiful with all granite counters and the layout was sheer perfection! The pool areas were beautiful even though I would really miss having an indoor pool area. The Retreat pool took away any regrets I may have had of booking a ship without an indoor pool. The midship pools was also beautiful with a fountain area in the middle. The kiddies were playing in the fountain during the day and there was a nighttime themed water show every night. Nice touch! The Sanctuary was also beautiful but not very well attended from what I saw. It turned out it not to be a very warm weather sailing so there were always plenty of loungers by the pool ... sun or shade. The dining rooms were also gorgeous. All the furniture in the public areas was in great condition. The theater was beautiful but entirely too small for the number of passengers onboard. The windows were kept nice and clean throughout the ship and the carpet appeared to also be new or at least in great shape. The ship was so impressive that I give her a 10 of 10 stars! I’m going to post this and will continue in the comments section just so I don’t lose everything I’ve written so far.
  24. Does anyone know if there is a seating chart available for R- Class ships Allegro dining room?
  25. Sitting in the Good Spirits Lounge listening to everyone discussing the extended cruise. We did not leave Vancouver till 2130 due to tides. We were told an oil company spilled crude on the ship hull and we were not allowed to leave port till it was cleaned. On Sunday at noon we were told due to late start we would not be arriving to LA until 1230 and all air needed to be changed to 4:30 or later. Anyone with ezair was taken care of by princess but others had to take care of it themselves. I was surprised and happy to see most passengers taking the changes in stride and there did not appear to be any issues. Monday at around 10 am the Capt came on and said now they were expecting to be at the pier at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, not 12:30 any longer. Now people began to show the stress of a second change as the new schedule for disembarking had some walking off as late as 4:30 PM. We were told this was all because of the late sail away from Vancouver (2130) and the new 10 knot speed limit in LA/Long Beach area for cruise ships. At 1005 am we were just off Avalon (see map) and were told it was still a 2:30 PM arrival. I feel bad for those that had to two air changes, but Princess did step up. All calls were free from the room phones and everyone got free internet. Overall, service and food were great as usual on Princess and the staff went our of their way to be helpful. I think the Captain could have just made it a 2:30 pm arrival to avoid issues with air changes twice, but he had hoped to make better time overnight Sunday to Monday but it didn't happen. Oh - Matt O. the cruise director was great as always. Just cant say enough about him.
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