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livinginyellow

SEMI-LIVE: Alaska on Golden Princess - June 29 - July 6

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Hi all! This weekend I am heading out with my family on our very first Alaskan cruise! We will be sailing on the Golden Princess from Vancouver --> Anchorage from June 29 – July 6 on the Golden Princess. Our itinerary is: Vancouver --> Day at Sea --> Ketchikan --> Juneau --> Skagway --> Glacier Bay --> College Fjord --> Whittier. During the trip, we will be doing the following excursions: Snorkeling in Ketchikan (my brother and Dad will be hiking there), Whale Watching and the Yukon train.

 

My husband and I are traveling with my family and the group consists of my mom and dad, my sister and one of my brothers. My grandparents and aunt are joining us as well but have a different set of excursions, so may not be joining us for anything except for dinner. My husband and I are avid cruisers – we go on at least one cruise a year, which includes getting married on Norwegian Breakaway last year. We are generally Royal Caribbean fans, but have spent the last few years trying out a few different lines (including RC, Carnival and Norwegian). This will be everyone's first time trying Princess.

 

Most of my group has also only ever done a Caribbean cruise (with the exception of my husband and I, who did a Mediterranean cruise three years ago), so it’ll be interesting to see what the difference is (such as the nature guides on the ship, how slow the ship goes through the glaciers, etc.)

 

My husband and I just switched to Google Fi, so I’m hoping that I get good international service on the water (we cruised with a friend a few years ago who also had Google Fi and she was getting service in the middle of the Atlantic!) The reason I called this thread semi-live is that I plan on live-blogging what I can on my Instagram stories. However, I will pop on here as I can to share what we did each day, and share cruise-specific discussions such as food, shows, etc. that my may not be interesting on Instagram (But if you want the visual side of things, then checking out my Instagram stories is best!) You can follow along on Instagram here. I will also be covering this in my blog in the weeks afterwards (Link to blog in signature).

 

We have been planning this trip since last August. One of my brothers, who isn’t coming with us, went with his girlfriend on an Alaskan cruise last summer and raved about it. This convinced my Mom, which convinced my sister, which convinced us, and it turned into a family affair. Some other details about our trip: We have a 7:15 p.m. seating, which is a different pace for me and my husband. We usually prefer Any Time Dining. Other than that, what I am looking forward to most is trying the Crown Grill on our second night, where we plan on celebrating my grandfather’s recent 90th birthday. (My husband and I got engaged on Independence of the Seas and went to RC's steak restaurant that night and it was truly one of the best meals I have ever had. We have been meaning to try another cruise line's steak restaurant).

 

We decided to make the most of our first visit to the PNW/Canada, so we stopped in Seattle earlier this week before traveling from Seattle to Vancouver this morning. Therefore, our pre-cruise itinerary looked as such: travel to Seattle (Wednesday), explored Seattle (Thursday), took a train from Seattle to Vancouver (Friday morning). Now, we are going to explore Vancouver (Friday afternoon/night) and then embark on the boat as soon as we can Friday morning. If anyone is interested, I’ll share my thoughts on Seattle/the train to Vancouver, etc. Otherwise, I will start sharing updates when we embark tomorrow. Please feel free to ask as many questions as you want. Can’t wait! :) 

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Looking forward to your reports.

 

Have a great cruise!

 

Since you are all new to Princess, the most important thing is to ask someone (staff or other passengers) if you have any questions when on the ship. Don't let an unasked question reduce your cruise experience.

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Alright - I didn't have any cell service yesterday, so catching up. Here's my review of embarkation:

 

Day 1 of the cruise is over and I understand now why people love Princess. This ship is beautiful, the food is good, and the service is great. Were enjoying this cruise a lot so far. Before we got on the ship yesterday, we grabbed some dim sum near the cruise port and then walked around a bit to wait until it was time to board. We loved Vancouver and wanted to spend as much time as possible in it.

 

Unfortunately, in this time we learned that my grandparents missed their (Princess-booked flight) and so now have to meet us in Ketkichan tomorrow 😭 My aunt was flying from a different place so she made it without a problem. When we did board, embarkation was a breeze. It took a long time but I have to say that we never stopped moving and that it was clearly labelled on the walls how many steps we needed to take to get through the process (i.e. number one was drop your luggage off, two was check-in, three was go through customs since the ship is considered in the United States and four is board). It was nice that they labelled each step as it made you feel like the process was very smooth.

 

Once we got onboard, it was just about 1 p.m. and the rooms were open. So we headed to ours to drop our stuff off and meet our steward. My husband and I like to get the things we need from the steward right away, and we give them a tip off the bat too so that they know we appreciate them. With that being done, we explored the ship until it was time for muster. We stopped in the buffet around 2 p.m. and it was very quiet and empty. Easy to get a seat.

 

Muster was one of the weirder ones I've gone through. I found it odd that they taught you through a song. If you couldn't hear or see the attendant, you didn't learn anything at all.

Aftter muster my husband I rushed up to the nightclub in the aft. It was the highest point in the ship, and my husband and I like to head there to watch sailaway. We ran up there and waited for 45 minutes for the ship to sail off. As soon as it began sailing off, a waiter approached us and said that the nightclub is for suites only.  We were so frustrated because not only was there not a sign when we got there, but they waited 45 minutes to tell us that! We told the waiter that and after a little back and forth we asked if we could stay as long as we didn't eat the food or get the drinks. He said that's fine but only for a little bit. So we hung out there until the ship was past Vancouver and in the open water and then began walking around some more.

 

The compass on the ship needed to be recalibrated, so we went forward and watched them work on that for a bit. At one point, we did a few 360 degree turns to help recalibrate it. My husband and I then went to our room to unpack and we got a few drinks before dinner.

 

Dinner was great. For some reason we were the only table in our waiter's section so we got prompt service. I had a crab cake for an appetizer and there was a lot of shell in it, so I didn't get through it all. My entree was mussels and prime rib. After dinner, most of my family was exhausted, so they headed back to bed.

 

There was a Texas Hold'em demonstration advertised in the patter, so my husband and my dad and I headed there. Unfortunately, they said they weren't doing it that night which again frustrated me. A small crowd had appeared so there should have been someone telling us it wasn't happening so we could go do something else like make the 9 p.m. show.

 

My husband and I grabbed a few drinks and waited until the yes/no game show at 10 p.m. it was with cruise director Casey and one of his staff - the whole thing was hilarious. The goal of the game is go three minutes without saying yes or no to the questions they were asking you (which were very pointed towards yes/no answers) I was one of the first few people to be picked and got almost two minutes. I won a Princess wine stopper. If you didn't make it very far, you won stickers, or someone won a used battery. Two people made it the whole way, but they kind of purposefully slowed their answers down to make sure they made it. The cruise director said they weren't going to allow that anymore and then no one made it any further. But the winners did get a bottle of champagne! Overall, I was extremely impressed by the CD and how well run the show was. I'm excited to see their other offerings through the week.

 

It was about 11 p.m. at this point and I was absolutely shocked by how quiet the ship was at this point. Usually on other lines/ships it's absolutely crazy the first night and at only 11 p.m. so we watched the piano player for a bit before trying to find some food. Something that was odd was the pizza wasn't 24 hours. So we kind of wandered the ship looking for the 24 hour food and found it at the international grill on the 5th floor. 

We grabbed some food and headed to bed.

 

Today is our first sea day. It's gotten considerably colder, so I'm excited to see what it's like when we make it to Ketchikan tomorrow. The biggest change in our itinerary today is our formal night will be spent in the dining room instead of the steak house because my grandparents aren't here and the dinner was for their birthday.

The biggest thing so far today is the naturalist on board had mentioned that you could provably see orcas off of deck 7 at 7:30 this morning. Well my mom and sister got up at 5 to make sure they saw them, and when the naturalist came by around 7, it turned out the ship had to follow the tides and passed by the orca area around 4, so they were bummed.

 

If you have any questions about the ship or intinerary, let me know!

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We are getting on the ship when you get off on Saturday for the reverse itinerary. We have never sailed Princess. How is the food? Did you happen to get any menu pics? How about the room service menu? I can’t wait to hear more! 

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Hope you are having a good time?  Do you have the MDR menus? Hope you meet with your grandparents and can reschedule  

that dinner. 

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I am interested in how the snorkeling in Ketchikan goes...I assume you get a full body wet suit!  I spent 4 years in Alaska and I don't remember ever finding a single body of water that was warm enough to snorkel in besides the heated pool at the Y.  LOL!

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I am following along with interest.  We are doing a B2B on the Island out of Vancouver in a few weeks.  Thanks for taking the time to do this.  What a shame about your grandparents missing out on the first couple of days of their cruise.

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On 7/1/2019 at 4:38 PM, livinginyellow said:

After muster my husband I rushed up to the nightclub in the aft. It was the highest point in the ship, and my husband and I like to head there to watch sailaway. We ran up there and waited for 45 minutes for the ship to sail off. As soon as it began sailing off, a waiter approached us and said that the nightclub is for suites only.  We were so frustrated because not only was there not a sign when we got there, but they waited 45 minutes to tell us that! We told the waiter that and after a little back and forth we asked if we could stay as long as we didn't eat the food or get the drinks. He said that's fine but only for a little bit. 

Wait, Skywalkers is for suites only???

 

Princess really must not want new-to-them cruisers to come on board. No second chairs in steerage, no place to have a drink with a view...

 

Eventually their Elites and suite-stayers will stop cruising and the line will be playing 'catch-up', and that is not a good place to be.

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35 minutes ago, crystalspin said:

Wait, Skywalkers is for suites only???

 

Princess really must not want new-to-them cruisers to come on board. No second chairs in steerage, no place to have a drink with a view...

 

Eventually their Elites and suite-stayers will stop cruising and the line will be playing 'catch-up', and that is not a good place to be.

There really is no need to be so dramatic.

 

Princess has been offering a by invitation cocktail and hors d'oeuvres party before dinner for Platinum and above Captain's Circle guests for at least the last decade on every ship and every departure.  On many ships the location is Skywalkers.  It usually lasts for a couple of hours.  Rest assured that Skywalkers is available for anyone to use and enjoy the other 22 or so hours of the day.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, cougaraz said:

Rest assured that Skywalkers is available for anyone to use and enjoy the other 22 or so hours of the day.

Thank you for reassuring me. I've read here that Skywalkers is often not "manned" i.e. no bartender? I guess that's aside from those exclusive parties

 

Sorry that my three question marks seemed dramatic to you. It's a way to convey tone of voice. I really already have voted with my feet due to the features I mentioned; I am keeping this one booking because of the convenience of sailing from home port with some family members who have difficulties with flying.

 

We generally sail with HAL, which line does not rub in lack-of-high-star-status, for those that don't have it. Not like I saw on RCI and am reading about on Princess.

Edited by crystalspin

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On 7/1/2019 at 4:38 PM, livinginyellow said:

Before we got on the ship yesterday, we grabbed some dim sum near the cruise port and then walked around a bit to wait until it was time to board.

 

Do you remember the name of the restaurant where you got Dim Sum?

Thank you

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