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Rosemary222

Notes from the Royal Princess, Alaska Southbound

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7 hours ago, Ombud said:

Can you share the Alfredos menu? When I was on the Royal last June they had the most amazing minestrone.  Is it just pizza now or does it still have other dishes as well?

I'm sorry, I don't have a picture of the Alfredos menu, but, in addition to pizza, it does feature minestrone and a few salads, one pasta dish with meat and a vegetarian eggplant dish.  My daughter had the calzone (which can be prepared with whatever ingredients you desire) and loved it.

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8 hours ago, geoherb said:

Thanks for posting your review. You mentioned the MDR food was very good but not great. How does it compare to the MDR food on Royal Caribbean?

 

Hmm, good question.  As folks on this board are fond of saying, "food is subjective," but overall I found the MDR food on Princess a bit better.  The lobster was delicious, and I really enjoyed the gnocci and the Shrimp Diane.   But Royal Caribbean has a more extensive menu, so balance that out.  I always found something to my liking on Princess, but it did seem to me that the choices were somewhat limited.  On the other hand, in my experience the wait staff and kitchen will go out of their way to make people happy, so you can always make special requests and they are very often honored.

 

One thing that I really liked at the Horizon Buffet is that there is a special section that is all vegetarian -- very helpful for those of us who avoid certain types of meat.

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15 hours ago, POF1234 said:

I leave for Alaska on Royal in 5 days !!!! 

 

This is my second cruise, and I became really concerned when I've read all the negative things about Royal.  So I found your review to be very timely and helpful.  I love to walk outside - so I would have liked a more continous promedae deck - but DH reminded when we sailed on Freedom of the Seas 6 years ago - we had to duck inside to cross over, and there were some weird paths as well.

 

I think the oddest is that the traditional dining in Allegro can only be acessed by the AFT stairs ( kind of the New England - you can;t get there from here ! ).  

 

Thanks again 

Since you like to walk, there is a walking and running track up on the very top of the ship.  My husband ran up there several times, and I did some walking there and enjoyed it.   It was mostly empty while we were there, and you get a lovely view of the water and scenery.  There are also exercise machines adjacent to the track if you are so inclined.

 

I hope you have a wonderful journey!

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16 hours ago, XBGuy said:

Rosemary, thank you, very much, for your excellent report.  We will be leaving on the Royal Princess for Alaska in 22 days, and reading your report excites me even more.

 

The loss of your daughter's suitcase is very unfortunate and, frankly, hard to understand.  When I hand our luggage off to a porter at the pier, I stop worrying about it.  What can go wrong?  Obviously, your experience exposes my naivete.

I'm guessing lost luggage is rare, but our experience shows that it does happen.  Make sure to keep any valuables in your carry-ons. 

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Thank you, my biggst challenge right now is packing.  We were in France last year for 2 weeks with a medium suitcase and a small carryon each.  I'm finding Alaska challenging,  In France, I recycled clothes like crazy - since we ate at different places nightly and moved around.  Alaska - I need some dress clothes, some hiking, jeans and shorts - plus jackets.  

 

It fits, but I'll need to reorganize for the land portion, so rethinking it today.  

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9 hours ago, idahospud said:

We are on the ship now and we too just got a letter in our cabin about having to leave Ketchikan early because of the Lions Gate Bridge. The next sailing (we're B2Bers) we will be leaving Vancouver super late because of the same tidal issues.

We have sailed out of Vancouver on HAL several times and those ships are small enough that apparently there wasn't an tidal issue with getting under Lions Gate Bridge.  Perhaps they need to reconsider using the Royal on this route.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Rosemary222 said:

Since you like to walk, there is a walking and running track up on the very top of the ship.  My husband ran up there several times, and I did some walking there and enjoyed it.   It was mostly empty while we were there, and you get a lovely view of the water and scenery.  There are also exercise machines adjacent to the track if you are so inclined.

Yes, it's true there is a small walking/running track on the top deck, but it's not protected from the sun, rain, wind, etc. which can be a problem for some pax (too hot or too cold or too windy depending on the itinerary).  We were on the Royal in 2015 (TA) and 2016 (Caribbean) and I greatly missed the promenade that the Grand-class ships have, esp. on the TA when there were a lot of sea days.  On sea days I like sitting out there watching for birds and an occasional sea creature plus walking laps around the ship in a semi-protected area.

Edited by BarbinMich

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On 8/26/2019 at 12:27 PM, POF1234 said:

I leave for Alaska on Royal in 5 days !!!! 

 

This is my second cruise, and I became really concerned when I've read all the negative things about Royal.  So I found your review to be very timely and helpful.  I love to walk outside - so I would have liked a more continous promedae deck - but DH reminded when we sailed on Freedom of the Seas 6 years ago - we had to duck inside to cross over, and there were some weird paths as well.

 

I think the oddest is that the traditional dining in Allegro can only be acessed by the AFT stairs ( kind of the New England - you can;t get there from here ! ).  

 

Thanks again 

 

There was some talk at the beginning of the season about concern because the Royal is so big. Ended up being just talk. 

Sounds like You will be on the last turn on the Royal out of Whittier. I work at the port. Look for me and say Hi.

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We are considering doing the Royal in early August 2020, but some in our group are concerned about the possibility of more rainfall in August.  Did you have lots of rainy days on your cruise?   

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1 hour ago, susandter said:

We are considering doing the Royal in early August 2020, but some in our group are concerned about the possibility of more rainfall in August.  Did you have lots of rainy days on your cruise?   

 

We were on the Royal from 10 August and we only had light rain in Ketchikan that lasted about an hour. Other than that the weather was perfect but that really is no guarantee as to the weather you'll get.

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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!

Thanks for the great info very much appreciated.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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12 hours ago, susandter said:

We are considering doing the Royal in early August 2020, but some in our group are concerned about the possibility of more rainfall in August.  Did you have lots of rainy days on your cruise?   

We had perfect weather on our cruise -- perhaps 3 minutes of very light rain when we were docked in Juneau, but otherwise mostly blue skies.  It was definitely warm enough to wear a bathing suit on deck during the day.  Hope you have the same good luck!

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10 hours ago, BCCRUSINGCOUPLE said:


Thanks for the great info very much appreciated.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Quite welcome -- glad to pay back all the great advice I've gleaned from these boards.

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12 hours ago, leck57 said:

 

We were on the Royal from 10 August and we only had light rain in Ketchikan that lasted about an hour. Other than that the weather was perfect but that really is no guarantee as to the weather you'll get.

You really can't predict the weather her in Alaska. It can change suddenly. Each summer can be very different. Just plan on dressing in layers and bring a poncho and waterproof shoes.

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14 hours ago, susandter said:

We are considering doing the Royal in early August 2020, but some in our group are concerned about the possibility of more rainfall in August.  Did you have lots of rainy days on your cruise?   

 

"More rainfall in August" than when?  If these people have concerns about August, then can you just ask them when they think is a time that won't have "more rainfall?"

 

Of course, you are just asking for Cruise Critic contributors' past experiences.  So, I will offer mine.

 

I have cruised to Alaska five times:

  • Once in August
  • Twice in September
  • Twice in Late April/Early May

 

Only once have we encountered absolutely no rain.  (In fact, that was our most recent cruise this past April/May.)  We, have, consistently, hit a little rain--one or two days--every other time.  Every Alaska cruise we have taken has been fantastic.  Not one has been "ruined" by rain.  Yes, in 2018 (May) my float plane excursion in Ketchikan  was cancelled by fog and rain.  I was able to overcome that disappointment.  Interestingly, while Ketchikan is, arguably, the "wettest" of all the Alaska port stops, that was the only time of the five cruises where we hit rain there.  On one cruise or another, I have walked around most of the Alaska port stops while there was a light rain.  Typically, this has been little more than an annoyance.  Regardless of when you take your cruise, I would recommend that you be prepared.  Some people like to take a collapsible umbrella.  Some people like to take/buy those inexpensive plastic ponchos.  Both of those suggestions are pretty good.

 

I would bet money, though, that, historically, July and August are the "driest" months for cruising in Alaska.

 

We are leaving for out sixth Alaska cruise in ten days.  Yup, we're doing Alaska twice this year.  In fact, it is the same itinerary as last April's cruise, although it is a different ship (coincidentally, the Royal Princess).  In her heart, Mrs. XBGuy is a "foul weather cruiser."  She keeps hoping that if she takes cruises very early or very late in the season, she will get to ride through a big storm.  We don't do airlines or airports.  So, flying to Florida to take a Caribbean cruise in hurricane season or crossing the North Atlantic in, say, December is not going to happen.

 

😉

 

Don't overthink it.  Book a cruise.  It will be fantastic.

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1 hour ago, XBGuy said:

 

"More rainfall in August" than when?  If these people have concerns about August, then can you just ask them when they think is a time that won't have "more rainfall?"

 

 

I would bet money, though, that, historically, July and August are the "driest" months for cruising in Alaska.

 

Actually - historically, May and June have the least amount of rain in the port cities. As the summer goes on, there is more rain each month with September with the most amount of rain amongst the cruising months.

Edited by Coral

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21 minutes ago, Coral said:

Actually - historically, May and June have the least amount of rain in the port cities. As the summer goes on, there is more rain each month with September with the most amount of rain amongst the cruising months.

 

 

I'll be darned.  I'd have never guessed that.  Thanks, Coral.

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Thank you for the info.  We are seasoned cruisers but wanted to try the Royal.  I had heard mixed reviews so I was a bit anxious.  Ours will be a shorter cruise though. 🙂

My friend said the buffet was so good and big, that she didn't eat in the dining room much.

 

Patti

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1 hour ago, sassyredhat said:

My friend said the buffet was so good and big

 

 

Horizon Court/Horizon Bistro on Royal Princess:  so big?  Yes.  Chaotic at prime meal time?  Yes.  "So" good?  My experience says:  NO.

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47 minutes ago, Networker said:

First time Alaska cruiser.   Should I be concerned not doing inside passage?   

 

No.  Any Alaska cruise is amazing.

 

Some AK cruises are advertised as "Inside Passage," and some are not  The fact is, the Inside Passage is huge.  If you are visiting the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau or Skagway (and I can't imagine that you are not visiting, at least, one of those), then you will be cruising through a portion of the Inside Passage.

 

You are going to have a tremendous experience.  

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On 8/26/2019 at 12:14 AM, Rosemary222 said:

 

 

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.

 

(...)

 

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!

 

 

(2) Man, ain’t that the truth.

 

(4) All photography outlets try to find ways to move you emotionally to splurge on their product. Even high school class picture companies do this technique:

 

”Gee, that’s a gorgeous bunch of photos of your daughter.  Don’t buy them if you wish not to.  But just understand whatever you don’t buy we’ll just have to burn.   In a fire.   With flames.   With your daughter’s lovely image, hair whisping across her face while the pyre incinerates her image to a cinder.

 

But do what you like!”

 

Don’t fall for it.  Buy what you like.  Most cruise photographers are only marginally talented anyway.

 

Don’t believe me?  Start making suggestions about how you want you and your partner to be posed.  You’ll learn in an instant that the exchange is more about self worth to them than it is about what they’re being paid to make their customer happy.

Edited by MotownVoice

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