September 11, 2010
Just back from a 7-day on the Golden Princess. First let me say this was my 10th cruise overall, first on Princess, 8 on Carnival and 1 on NCL. My wife and I are both in our 50's and are real easy to please. I'm not going to get into great detail on everything, but will try to keep things to a point.
We booked this cruise on Princess mainly because of the itinerary, ship times in port, and price. We chose an inside room for this trip. This being my first trip on Princess we really didn't no what to expect but were expecting just a little more than we got, I'm talking cruise ship. Our first impression of the ship was rather dull, not much done to the interior to add that bling affect. The ship was very clean and well maintained, but just didn't sparkle. I will get into that later. First the ports and check-in.
Seattle Check-in: If you fly in it's a 40-50 dollar cab ride depending on number of people. This is way cheaper than the ship offered transfer. The terminal area is rather small but these people really knew how to get you checked in promptly, this had to be the easiest check-in we have ever had, showed up at 12.30 and was on the ship by 1.30 very impressive.
Juneau: We booked a ship tour of the Glacier and Fish Hatchery, well worth the price. If you haven't seen a Glacier up close this is a must see in your life. The town in general was awful, the same Jewelry stores that you find in any cruise port, and for that matter it was like being at any other cruise port with one exception, everyone speaks great English. If you travel here get outta town fast and see what they have to offer, which is the real beauty of Alaska
Skagway: The ship offered many tours but we decided to venture out on our own. We rented a mini van and traveled the Klondike Highway all the way to Emerald Lake, which is in Canada; this was another one of the great experiences of my life. This is the only way to see Alaska, plenty of stops that offer real souvenirs not the crap they sell in town. Be prepared to be stopped at the Canada border, these guys are very hard-core so don't make any jokes they are way too serious. The same for the trip back into the US, our border guards are the same but it gave me a good sense of security. (DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT) Both ways don't care if you're on a cruise ship or not. The town was just like I said for Juneau.
Tracy Arm Fjord: One word AWESOME, this is a must see in your lifetime. Nothing else to say.
Ketchikan: We decided to just walk the town, Creek Street and the town is very pleasant, the town still has the same stores as in each port but it was still a nice place to visit.
Victoria B.C: Not much to say, we stayed on the ship.
We stayed on deck 10. Room C532, our room Stewart had to be the hardest working gal on that ship, her name was Lilia and was just Outstanding, she was courteous, kind, and gracious. She seemed to always be at your door greeting you with a smile. She was by far the best we have ever had on a ship. Now for the not so good, this was the only ship we've been on that did not display any towel animals on your bed, way disappointing. This was always something we looked forward to at night, but not on this ship. Sorry Princess you missed the boat on this one. Every previous ship that we've been on was designed with some theme in mind, this ship was about as plain as you could get.
We had assigned dining at 5.30 in the Bernini Dining Room, our waiter and busboy did a superb job, they truly seemed like their jobs. The weeklong dinner menu was just ok; they seemed to put more emphasis on how fancy to make food vice making it taste good. A+ for creativity and a C- for taste. The only night that we truly enjoyed was Lobster night, hats off to the cooks on that night.
Shipboard shows: In twelve words ( The worst shows on any cruise ship we've been on to date), if I was the Princess show director I would resign, the shows had very little flair, no talent and frankly lacked that showroom experience. Very disappointing.
Tours: Be prepared to spend a lot for these tours, I'm by no means tight, but I think with the seasonal tours they have to up the prices to cover their yearly cost.
Disembark: Like check-in this was just way too smooth, we stayed in our room until our assigned meeting time of 9.45 in one the lounges, once we arrived in the lounge we were allowed off the boat and our luggage was waiting for us. (Way too easy). Was kind of hard to get a cab but nothing to complain about.
Overall we would rate this cruise as an 8 out of 10, so taking the good with the bad at least we got to see Alaska. The cruises we've taken on Carnival were always a 9 out of 10. Now, having said that, we always talk to a lot of people while cruising and find many with more cruises under their belts than us. Each of these folks had the identical experience we had. So if the issues we had don't seem big to you then Princess may be the way to go. For me I am going back to Carnival.