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Age: 28


Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Coral Princess

Sailing Date: 2010-06-21

Itinerary: Alaska

I'm 28, and took this Alaskan cruise with my parents, who are in their mid to late 60's. Most reviews state that the Alaskan cruise is more suited for Seniors. I found that to be true, but I also saw a lot of children and larger families on this cruise. This was my 5th cruise, my previous 4 being in the Caribbean and Mexico. This was also my first Princess cruise. While Princess is great in most respects, there were a few moments that made my vacation less than perfect.

I'm a trained chef, so the gourmet aspect of a cruise is very important to me. By far, Royal Caribbean has had the most impressive culinary quality out of all the cruise lines I have been on. As far as the Dining Room goes, Princess seems to be more about plate presentation than about the actual food quality. For example, my sea bass with risotto arrived stacked beautifully on the plate, with perfect lines of sauce artfully drawn across the plate, but the fish was overcooked and dry, and the risotto was undercooked and hard. The service in the dining room is also very good, but the wait staff appeared to be exhausted. Not surprising, since we would often see the same servers in the Horizon buffet at 6am, and then at dinner at 6pm.
We mostly ate breakfast and lunch in Horizon Court, the 24-hour buffet that has basically replaced the extravagant midnight buffet traditionally found on most cruises. The food at Horizon Court is very diverse- think fried rice and curried eggs served right alongside bacon and pancakes at breakfast. Food quality here was generally good, but nothing to write home about. The worst part about Horizon buffet is that it's convenient. As in EVERYONE eats there, and there are not enough tables to accommodate everyone. It also provides a beautiful panoramic view, which means the people who feel it is too cold to go outside will continue to camp out at their table, while you shuffle around with your plate looking for a place to sit.

This was absolutely the worst part. We chose an outside, obstructed view cabin on the Emerald deck. Just after booking, we were given a website that had a 360 degree view of our chosen stateroom, which clearly showed 2 twin beds and a pull-out sofa. The location was convenient to the Atrium, and the view of a lifeboat was certainly expected. What was not expected, however, was a bunk bed instead of a pull out sofa. Now, picture yourself in a cabin the size of a dorm room that has a large metal bunk bed dropping from the ceiling, and you are sharing the cabin with your 6'3" father. It simply was not going to work. Upon complaining to the hotel staff, their first solution was to put a mattress on the floor of our current room. When the man who claimed he was the "Manager" came in and saw the mattress on the floor, he showed us another cabin on a different deck that he claimed "had more real estate." His plan was to move the 2 twin beds into 1 queen bed, and then put a third temporary bed directly next to it. So, at 10:00pm on the first night of our vacation, we packed all of our things and carted them up to this new "larger" stateroom. When we got there, we found the manager and a very confused steward staring at a temporary bed that obviously was not going to fit. We took our bags BACK down to our original room, unpacked AGAIN, and never received an apology from said manager. My father spent all 7 days of our LUXURY cruise sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Completely unacceptable and Princess should be embarrassed of this situation.
However, I do want to mention that our room steward, Hector, was very friendly and amazingly reliable. Often, after leaving for breakfast for about half an hour, our rooms were cleaned by the time we returned. He was also nice enough to leave a little towel animal in our room every night, and I had a little zoo by the end of the cruise.

Onboard activities are without a doubt catered to Seniors. Bingo, Bridge Club, 50's and 60's music trivia, a ship-wide jigsaw puzzle, and a seminar on Jackie O's jewelry are some of the examples. I enjoyed watching the fruit and vegetable carving demonstration, but annoyingly many of the demos were in the Atrium, which has no seating. The staff would insist that everyone sit on the stairs, so people would stupidly still try to walk up the stairs even though they were packed with people. I wonder why, with so many lounges and theaters available, they chose not to hold demos in those locations?
The evening entertainment was pretty good. We saw 2 comedians who were hilarious, and even the Cruise Director was a very funny guy with a great singing voice. There were also 3 Production shows featuring the Coral Princess Dancers and Singers. The Dancers are amazingly talented. The singers, well, they can sing, but they seem to try way too hard. Also, in all 3 shows the 2 female singers always acted like they were competing with each other. This was obviously scripted, but it got old after a while. One of the shows featured Adrian Zmed, who I had never heard of but apparently he was in Grease 2. Honestly, I found him a bit annoying as well and thing the show would have been better if the singers and dancers were allowed to go it alone.
One thing about the 2 days at sea that was surprising was how rough the waters were. I have never, ever been prone to motion sickness, but on the first day at sea I took dramamine, had accupressure bracelets on both wrists, and constantly sipped ginger ale. Many people on the ship told me this was normal for an Alaskan cruise, so be prepared even if you don't normally get seasick.

Bring all your winter gear with you: winter coat, hat, gloves and a scarf and make sure you get outside for the Glacier Bay and College Fjord cruising. Also, bring a good camera and binoculars. I did not think I would need binoculars but I really did miss out on seeing some wildlife because of it. If you are going for the shopping, be aware of 2 things: 1. Many of the "recommended" businesses in the ports actually travel with the cruise ships and shut down when the season is over, this includes the 29 or so jewelry stores you will find in all 3 ports. Many of the Local business owners have signs in their shop that tells you they are local, so support them if this is important to you. 2. There is a Shopping Consultant on board who hosts information systems that strategically steer you toward those recommended businesses. Think hard about what you really want/need and try not to get sucked in. Do you really want to pay $200 for bamboo sheets just because you're on vacation?
By the third port, you will be tired of seeing the same stuff (Ulu knives, Russian nesting dolls, smoked salmon, and Northern Lights Topax to name a few).
We did not go on many shore excursions and preferred to explore ourselves on foot, but I heard good things about the crabbing boat tour in Ketchikan and the Wildlife cruise in Skagway.
Also, the Coral Princess is often in port in 3 or 4 other cruise ships at the same time, so be prepared for crowded sidewalks and stores, and book your tours online early to avoid competing with the other ships.

While the trip started off rocky, this cruise was still amazing. It is amazing that this beautiful un-touched land is part of the US. I would definitely go again, but most likely on a different cruise line.

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