This is my review of our 7/7 land tour #22 and southbound coral cruise 7/12. We are 50 year old's, this was our 6th cruise, 3rd on princess. This is only my opinion, hope you enjoy. I am doing a day by day review, ( land first then the cruise).
Day 1- 7/7. Flight- Northwest NY to Minn.- Minn. to Fairbanks. The flight left on time landed at 1:45PM local time, connection left at 2:30PM, ran across the terminal about 8 miles (felt like it). Had Just enough time to grab food from Burger King and take it on board. Plane left on time. Can't believe there was no movie on a 5 hour flight. Arrived Fairbanks on time. Met the princess person and was given information envelope with room keys, etc. Took the bus to the Princess Riverside Lodge. All luggage was delivered to the room, we went to eat at Trackers grill, very good then to sleep. (Note: It never got dark. We knew about midnight sun and all, but it says sunset at 12:30 am and sunrise at 3:40am. But it NEVER got dark. The sun goes just below the horizon and the sky still is bright, like just at dusk. Strange.
Day 2- 7/8. Woke up early (very), took a walk and a few pictures. Beautiful day, sunny going to be in the 80s. We ate in the Edgewater restaurant for breakfast, (OK). Off to the riverboat Discovery. It's a nice trip quiet and calm with beautiful scenery, Had a look at Mt. McKinley from 200 miles away. Saw dog sled exhibit from Susan Butcher, the dogs are real funny. Bus back to the hotel for lunch. Now off to the Gold Mine, to pay for the trip. LOL. Well back from the gold mine, I will have to go back to work after all. They said we had $24 worth of gold, they sell jewelry to put it in if you want, had a good time. Stopped at the Alaska pipeline, amazing. Then went through downtown Fairbanks. Time to shower and eat. We went to Pikes Landing for dinner, just down the road from the hotel. Sat on the deck overlooking the river. The food was very good, nice and relaxing. Went back to the room repacked all luggage, sent 2 bags direct to the ship, others to Princess Mt. McKinley Lodge. Had to have luggage outside room by 5:30 am. Time to sleep again.
Day 3- 7/9. Woke up early, (beginning to see a pattern here).Bus leaves at 7:15am to the Midnight Sun Train. Again expecting a beautiful day. We are on the train now, it left right on time. There is a tour operator on the train to book for next lodge. We then went to the dinning car for breakfast, it was very good. Great looking train cars. Not really much to see, lots of trees, trees and then some more trees. Towards the end of the ride (last hour or so) the view gets better with high mountains, a river, got some nice shots. Finally arrived at Denali Princess Lodge, we had about 45 minutes to eat lunch (we ate Lynx Pizza, so-so). Then we boarded school bus for the Denali tour. Great scenery, go to a zoo if you want to see animals. We saw 1 carabu at about 100 yards, 1 snow hare. Back to Denali lodge to pick up our coach to Mt.McKinley lodge. Nice looking lodge with large deck, great room. Ate at Grizzly's Bar, on deck, good food. You could just see the mountain, hopefully better tomorrow. Bedtime.
Day 4-7/10. Woke up to cloudy sky and drizzle. Had a good breakfast at the lodge, waiting to see if the summit flight tour would be cancelled or not. Not cancelled yet so we took the bus to Talkeetna (1hour plus). Went to K2 Aviation and were told it was cancelled. Walked around downtown Talkeetna, not much to see. Waiting for the bus back to lodge. There was a large female moose on the side of the road. Cloudy all day with no view of the mountain. Just hung out for the rest of the day. Getting ready for dinner with another couple we met (nice people). We ate at the Mountain View restaurant, wonderful food and company. Very strange, 10:30pm and still light.
Day 5- 7/11. Woke up to rain. We have the Jeep Safari booked for today, so quick breakfast and pack bags again. They had to be outside the door before we go on the tour. The Jeep tour was great, lots of fun. Now bus to the train again, Midnight Sun to Anchorage. No problems, got to the hotel about 8:00pm and went to our room at the Hilton. Took a stroll around the area, pretty with lots of flowers and gift shops. Sleep time.
Day 6- 7/12. Woke up early, had to have luggage out by 8:00am.Went downstairs for breakfast, very good but expensive (what else is new). The bus to Seward is very nice, pretty views with a few stops for pictures. (Tip- sit on the right side of the bus, you see the water most of the way). Can't wait to unpack on the ship and leave it for a week. We arrived about 1:00pm, picked up cruise card and was onboard in 15 minutes. Eating in 10 minutes.lol. Tip. If you go off the ship again in Seward, be sure to take cruise card and picture ID to get back on , you have to go through security again.
Thats it for the land portion of this, if you have any questions about lodges, tours or whatever ask away.
Thanks for reading this, the cruise is next Mark This is part 2, life on the ship, Coral Princess 7 night southbound Alaska.
Day 1 Seward. We went to the horizon buffet to grab lunch. The food was very good, it was nice to eat and not get a bill after (like on the land). We did laundry as we planned. The bags we sent from Fairbanks came first, unpacked them, then, headed into town for some soda. The rest of our bags were delivered, so now we were free. Went exploring the ship, it's very nice looking and clean. The first night onboard everyone has to eat 1st or 2nd seating dinner (no PC). They give you a ticket as to which seating to go to. They handed my wife one for early seating, she asked for late seating. It took them a while but finally got the right one for us. The reason for no PC dinning is Safety Drill (muster) is at 8:15pm. By the time we finished the drill and returned life vest to the room, it was after 9:00pm. We went to eat, I was mad that the ship sailed while we were still eating. After we finished we went up on deck, WOW. We enter College Fjord at 6:30am, so off to bed we go.
Day 2 College Fjord. Woke up very early (5:00am), it's a beautiful sunny day. It feels cold, of course I'm in my underwear on the balcony, lol. Waiting for 6:00am room service. Food came right on time, a quick cup of coffee and bagel and off the see the show. What a show it is. It was quite cold, so I put on several layers and off we went. Sailed up College Fjord, just amazing. The Glaciers are coming down from the mountains to the water. (Tip- Get the highest magnification binoculars you can. With my zoom lens on my camera, the ice looks like a carpet but with the binoculars you can see the rows of ice). After a while the ship turns around and goes out the same way it went in, so you don't have to be there at 6:30 if you don't want to see everything twice. Saw a few otters from a bit of a distance. Going to get a real breakfast now. Spent some time in the sun looking for wildlife, saw a whale but again far away. Went to bingo (lost), went to the casino for a while (lost) see a pattern here (lol). Later today we sailed into a fog bank and the temp. dropped and was cloudy the rest of the day. We made dinner plans with the couple we met on the train, Very nice English couple now living in Orlando Fl. Tonight is the first formal night, Captain cocktail party at 7:45pm then dinner. After dinner we went to the show Dance. Typical cruise show, good music, dancing and costume changes. Went back to the casino, won a little of my money back. Sleep.
Day 3 Glacier Bay. Slept in today, 9:00am. Buffet breakfast, as we are starting to sail into Glacier Bay. It is very cold out, gray, cloudy low 50sand windy. We got dressed, I was wearing long sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, waterproof jacket with fleece lining, hat and gloves. We got 2 lounge chairs right in the front of the ship up on deck 15 and watched as we sailed into the bay. After a while my wife went and got 2 blankets (the ship had these on deck 14 at the pool, which you sign out then return, free). We viewed a few glaciers as we sailed up the tar inlet, now the sun started to break thru the clouds. As the sun got stronger, the layers started coming off. The temperature must have risen 20 degrees at least. Anyway back to the glaciers. At the end of the tar inlet is the Margerie Glacier. This is the one you see in all the TV and ads, very high, with white and blue ice. Just as we approached it a piece broke off (calved) but we were still pretty far away. The ship stops right there nice and close. There were 2 small calving, not much but better then nothing. After a while the ship turns so the other side balcony's can view it. My Balcony was on this side so I ran to my room to watch it. All the balcony's on this side were full (hope the ship doesn't roll over, ha ha). Just as the ship started to leave we said it's now or never. And as if on cue we heard a crack and a large piece fell right in front of us, awesome. This is what everyone came here for. I had called room service as soon as I got to the room, ordered 2 hot dogs and french fries. So I ate lunch watching the glacier as we sailed away. My wife and I went up to the hot tub for a while, (very nice). Went to dinner, and the show, comedian Sarge (he was pretty funny). Hit the casino again (broke even) and now time to sleep.
Day 4 Skagway. Had room service breakfast, we had the Yukon bus and White Pass Train tour. Today is a mix of sun and clouds, we started up the mountains and it was very foggy for a while. There is some very nice scenery, large drop off the side of the road, lots of lakes and mountains. We go to Carcross (could have skipped this) for lunch, which is 2 little pieces of chicken, bread and coleslaw. There are some live animals in pens and 2 plastic dall sheep in the mountain behind everything (tacky). Back on the bus after lunch and then down to the train. Right at the train depot we saw a large bear in the grass at the end of the parking lot. We were about 100 feet away or less, got some good pictures. We though it was a grizzly but the train conductor said it was a cinnamon black bear. Took the train back to Skagway, great views on the train. Did a little shopping and back to the ship for FOOD, I was as hungry as a bear, Lol. Just relaxed on the balcony for a while looking for whales. Time for dinner and the show, (Curtain Up) enjoyable like the other one. Stopped at the casino (lost) and bed.
Day 5 Juneau. Woke up and called the tour desk to check about helicopter dogsled tour, (foggy out). They said go to the pier and see, we did and they cancelled it (S#+T). We were able to get on the 11:30am whale watching tour so we did it. My wife went to get a manicure while we killed time. I went to the tour desk and switched our Ketchikan tour as we had booked a boat tour there. (didn't want to do same thing). Had late breakfast and off to the whales, I hope. Well we did see whales, actually 6 humpbacks were doing what is called bubble feeding, very cool. We saw a few harbor seals and eagles. So it wasn't a waste of time, (still would have rather been yelling mush mush, lol. Going to dinner soon and the comedian Scott Wyler, he was very funny. Went to the casino and made another deposit. Bed time.
Day 6 Ketchikan. We had changed our tour yesterday from boat cruise to a seaplane to Misty Fjord and cruise. I like to do different kinds of things on these trips, and had never been in a small plane. The plane ride was really fun beautiful area, we landed on the water and transferred to the boat. It was OK, we saw lots of working fishing boats. Returned to the ship, tonight is the captain's club cocktail party. So were getting ready for dinner early also the 2nd formal night. Had the usual lobster tails tonight. Off to the show Tribute, very good music (beatles, beach boys etc.) After the show I'm planning on going to the casino to get all my money back, didn't happen. See ya.
Day 7 At Sea. Had a very sunny and warm day, Slept in late 9:00am. Also turned the clocks ahead 1 hour during the night. Had the casino tournaments today (slot and blackjack, I know I will get my money back now, lol) didn't win. We ate lunch and sat by the pool for a while. Went to the BIG BINGO game, $2000 prize (by now you know what's going to happen) right I didn't win. HAHA. We also packed all our bags during the slow time this afternoon so we wouldn't have to rush tonight. There was a pre-dinner comedy show with both comedians, a riot. We had dinner a kind of sad time, as you know it's all over. One last time to see my money, waved goodbye and back to room to sleep. We also put all of the luggage outside our door at 8:00pm.
Day 8 Disembarking. Woke up early had breakfast in the horizon court, packed our carry on bags and said goodbye to our friends, and waited to leave the ship. We had a 10:30 am flight to Toronto on Air Canada. We had to get all of our bags and go to customs, they sent us the wrong way out and had to go back to find a bus to airport. The bus didn't leave till almost 9:00 am, the airport is about a half hour away from the dock. Getting short on time. Arrived at 9:30, got bags from the bus, got a cart and into the airport we go (a mad house). People everywhere. They tell you to use a machine to get your boarding pass, but the machine said see attendant. Wait no another line, finally there and the person is typing like I am now. (thought, she was writing a book). Checked bags, went to another machine to pay leaving tax $10 PP (?), now to security line. Of course they had to open all carry on bags, look at camera binoculars etc. At last we get to the gate and they are already boarding the plane. But this is the way to fly, a nice new big plane with a movie and free headsets. Landed on time in Toronto and this place is nuts too. Because this is an international flight, we had to get all our luggage (another cart), go to US customs, long line and go to security again. Re check luggage in and go to gate. Of course they stopped my wife and went through her carry on and purse. They wouldn't let her take the can of bug spray on board. (a gift to the inspector) and off we go. Arrived on time and our son was there to take us home.
Day 9 Laundry HA HA. Hate this part of vacation.
General Information and Opinions : I now know why Northwest is called northworst by people on these boards.
The land tour is exhausting. Beautiful land and a great way to see much of it, glad we booked it with Princess for our first visit. If I go back I will do my own thing.
Princess does an amazing job of moving you and your luggage all over the place and on schedule.
The cruise was great, the ship is beautiful, I like this size ( I have been on smaller, Dawn and larger, Grand).
All the entertainment on the ship was very enjoyable, good music and dancing, the comedians were very good too.
The food was good in the dinning room and horizon court. Breakfast has the same food everyday, lunch buffet was very good. Pizza was OK, hot dogs had a funny taste to me, burgers were all overcooked for my taste. Dinner was a little to fancy for my taste (as are most cruises). But they always had steak or chicken available.
I was very disappointed in the animal viewing, I know it is very hit or miss but I kept missing.
Weather is unpredictable, the two tours we really wanted to do were both cancelled due to weather so keep an open mind and be flexible.
All the Princess staff, bus/tour guides, hotel staff, cruise crew etc. were top notch and very friendly. We will cruise with Princess again, and again.
Overall we had a wonderful trip, met many nice people and you can't believe the land of Alaska.
If anyone has any questions about specific things, just respond to this and I will try to answer them as best as I can. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I know it was long but I felt that I couldn't get enough information before I went.
Thanks and happy cruisingMark