On May 11, 2008, we embarked on our 1st cruise with Princess cruise lines. We sailed The Star Princess 7 day cruise to Alaska round trip from Seattle. We are Mother and Daughter age 41 and 17, and we have traveled on cruises many times in the past. We took a town car service to and from the airport to the port for $40.00 each way and that's per car, not passenger. The car holds approx 3-4 people.
Embarkation was out of Seattle. It was the most disorganized embarkation we've ever experienced. We arrived at the port at 10:45 am; we boarded the ship at 1200 pm. We had booked the penthouse suite for my daughter's graduation and were to have priority check-in; however they started checking in everyone but priority which I felt was rude, and they were very focused on a wedding party that took precedence over everyone else.
We opted for a penthouse suite and we were located on Deck 10 (Caribe Deck). The stateroom was great. We had a walk-in closet, a large bathroom with full-size jetted tub, as well as large shower, a small sitting room with a loveseat, and a nice double balcony with a partial roof covering. I did like some of the suite amenities complimentary such as thermal spa since Alaska is COLD. The downside to the thermal spa is that everyone is sneaking in. Access needs to be better controlled to preserve the experience. Laundry and dry cleaning was free, and daily menus that you can order food from the dinning room to your room were provided. Downside of this is that since Alaska is COLD we ordered hot chocolate off the breakfast menu and they charged us for it daily which, when we were in the dining room, they did not.
We had requested the early traditional dining table for two, however we had a table for four and they were unable to accommodate our request made one year in advance. Therefore we were placed in the Capri dining room with anytime dinning with a set table (#22) for 5:45 every night. This was a table for two. We were very pleased with the food and our wait staff (Bruno and Ricardo, and Alex when Bruno was out sick). We liked several of the meals at dinner such as Alaskan King Crab Legs, Fresh Ketchikan Silver Salmon and dill butter sauce, Pappardelle al Sugo di Lepre (braised rabbit), Gamberi alla Fra Diavolo (flambéed shrimp). The best dessert was the cheese cake.
All three dining rooms are small and none of them are grand. The positives are that the dining rooms don't get noisy, and it works well with accommodating traditional and open seating passengers. The negatives are that there is no large, grand dining room that you find on non-Princess ships.
Lunch was open seating in the Portofino Dining Room. Our waiters, for the most part, were fast and efficient. Again, the food was good, not great.
Specialty restaurant Sabatini's was terrible -- 8 courses and nothing was good or great. I felt like I spent $40.00 on cheese cake since that was the only food I really enjoyed there.
Afternoon Tea was excellent, and I did like the fact that Princess has this daily.
Drinks were the worst ever; I would rank RC as the best, Carnival 2nd, and Princess as the worst.
Ketchichen: We did the zip line tour and it was great.
Juneau: We did a whale watching tour with ORCA enterprises (1-888-733-6722 -- adult $109.00 each). It is an excellent tour and you can book this online and it is well worth it. The boat is new, with inside bathroom and seating. There are large windows that can be opened to take pictures and then closed again to keep warm. They also provide snacks, and hot and cold drinks which are included with the tour. We saw up close and personal a pod of 7 Orcas, Sea lions, bald eagles, and hump back whales.
Tracy Arm: The was spectacular -- a great morning to spend enjoying the open decks or hanging out on one's balcony.
Skagway: This port involved a boring long walk into town. Take the blue buses into town for $1.50 each way.
Victoria, BC: This is a beautiful city, however, the ship arrives at 5pm at night and leaves at 12 midnight. I would love for this to be a full day port and do away with Skagway if necessary to make up the time.
The Star Princess Production Cast are not the most talented group. We had two comedians and they were very good. They had a very talented man named Greg Bonham who was the best I have ever seen on a cruise ship. He sang, danced, and played the trumpet like no other, so all the cruise lines should be booking him.
The casino on this ship was pretty dead.
We decided to haul off our own luggage. With that said we felt that the Captain's Circle and Priority members should have been allowed to leave the ship first with their luggage, which was not the case. There were crowds of people disembarking, not waiting in their areas and it was very difficult to move your luggage off the ship. I feel that Princess needs to address this issue.
This cruise did not have a lot of activities compared to other cruise lines. It seemed geared toward the older generations 65 and older. I would have loved to see the indoor pool opened, and it was not. If you are going to Alaska, go around the 3rd week in June to see the salmon run and bears. For the best shopping, go at the end of the season in September since all the shops want to sell off the clothes and gifts since the towns are mostly closed during the winter months.