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POF1234

Royal Princess Alaska Trip Report

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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. 

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Thanks for posting your review. It's always interesting to read the opinions of people who haven't sailed on Princess before but have sailed on other lines.

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We sailed once before on RC about 6 years ago. From my general impressions  I think princess is a step up.  Only thing is that I recall the buffet being really great on Freedom of the seas.  it was a traditional set up with long lines - but at least I didn't feel I was on a scavenger hunt for all of my meal !.  

 

Oh - and I like RC version of the international cafe better.  Sometimes I just wanted a cookie or something quick with my afternoon latte.  I had to go to the buffet to find the cookie ( oh the horror ! I know ! )

 

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Couldn't find edit - but wanted to add that we thought medallion WiFi worked well.  It was slow in our cabin, but much better if we went to a lounge.  no real issues.  

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Thank you for a great and honest review.  You mentioned the food being cold in the buffet; did you mention to anyone working there; like the food service supervisor; who is always on duty in the buffet?.  

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I enjoyed your review. Thank you for taking the time to post so many details.

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We were usually going to an early excursion, so didn't think of it.  Good idea and I would have if it had occurred to me 

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Thanks for your review. I will be on the Royal Princess later this year and was glad to read about it. Have sailed Princess many times but first time on the largest ship in their fleet.

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POF1234:  Thank you for your review, I have a few questions about the Royal Princess. 

(1)  How were the views from your balcony?   

(2)  Did you go to the Lido Deck or Sun Deck for your outside viewing?  If so was it easy to move side to side and find a spot to take photos?

(3)  Did the ship do a 360 turn at Hubbard Glacier?  Heard the Royal couldn't get to close (may have been do to weather) how was the glacier viewing on your sailing?

 

 

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Views from the balcony were fantastic.  Personally I would skimp on anything else and have a balcony.  Especially in Alaska.  One of the reasons I don;t usually cruise is I get bored looking at the ocean all day.  Not in Alaska, lots of scenery. 

 

Yes - we went up for the glacier viewing and also just to move around.  Both great views 

 

We went to Glacier Bay and the ship did a 360.  We were fortunate it was a clear and crisp day. 

 

If you go - be sure to bring binoculars ! 

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12 hours ago, POF1234 said:

Views from the balcony were fantastic.  Personally I would skimp on anything else and have a balcony.  Especially in Alaska.  One of the reasons I don;t usually cruise is I get bored looking at the ocean all day.  Not in Alaska, lots of scenery. 

 

Yes - we went up for the glacier viewing and also just to move around.  Both great views 

 

We went to Glacier Bay and the ship did a 360.  We were fortunate it was a clear and crisp day. 

 

If you go - be sure to bring binoculars ! 

Thanks, we have a deluxe balcony on Caribe Deck.  after we booked the Royal I started seeing so many negative reviews about it being the wrong ship for Alaska because of it's size and lack of outside viewing places, but we decided to stick with what we had booked.  Will be sure to bring binoculars.

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We sailed the Royal to Alaska on 8/31.  We had an aft balcony and it was SO worth the splurge!  

 

This was our first time on Princess.   Our 10th overall.

 

 We felt many things were positive.  

  • They did a GREAT job on embarkation and it was the only time we have had our bags waiting for us by our room when they opened.  
  • The ship was beautiful and very clean.  
  • Our party loved Matt O. and his staff.
  • The dining room staff members were excellent.  
  • Debarkation was seamless
  • Best cruise ship buffet we have ever seen.  
  • No constant selling!

 

Things we didn't love--

  • Timing of the shows! Two nights we couldn't even get in. We had late dining seating and had zero time to get from the aft dining room to the forward theatre.  This is a deal breaker for me.  
  • The production shows were OK but not great.  
  • Movies Under the Stars were only offered on the first few nights.  We made plans to go on the last night and they didn't set anything out.  

We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves.  Being with family and seeing the beautiful scenery was all that mattered in the end.  

 

 

Edited by mcfrs

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mcfrs - thank you for the information. We will be sailing on the royal in an aft balcony on Baja deck, can you tell me if you had any problems with soot?  Can you tell me what deck you were on as well?

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2 hours ago, mcfrs said:

 

  • Movies Under the Stars were only offered on the first few nights.  We made plans to go on the last night and they didn't set anything out.

 

Interesting tidbit...quite often you’ll find things not being put out the last night as the guys who set up the MUTS chairs and cushions are the same ones taking care of the luggage in the hallways the last night of the cruise. 

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