Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Island Princess
Sailing Date: June 4th, 2005
My wife and I have just taken our third cruise together, and this one was with Princess, while the others were with Royal Car. Anything is only as good or bad by comparison. Having enjoyed our previous trips, we were looking forward to this one in particular because we had heard from others how remarkable it was. We had also heard from others how good Princess cruise line was. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Anyone thinking of going to Alaska, should think twice. And also about going with Princess. Let's start from the beginning. We wanted everything to go right from the start. We reserved a balcony room on the starboard side to make sure we were looking at land the whole time. And we booked some shore excursions ahead of time. We had our travel agent handle all the details. Except for the excursions. When we received our paperwork about the plane, we were shocked to find out how long it would take to get there. We live in RI so we knew it would be long, but how it was worked out was ludicrous. To get there was like 12 hours and the return flight was 14 hours into the next day. I immediately called my agent, and told him to try and make better arrangements. He called back and said it would cost us an additional $500.00. We agreed. Princess makes all the arrangements for travel. The final tab for all this (without excursions), $7,800.00. Not a cheap trip already. Upon arriving at the airport we were greeted by Princess personnel, and I have to say, better than Royal Car., wisked by border authorities and off to the ship in no time at all. And all of our luggage was taken care of with no hassles.
Our first minutes on board were a bit confusing. There were no signs to where the complimentary boarding lunch was, what deck, and no crew to lead us there. After talking with other passengers we found it. Not a good start. As we sat down to eat our meal, after a very long ordeal to get there, no more than 2 minutes went by when we were asked to sign up for "wine tasting". We refused the first one. Then we were constantly badgered by four others. To which we just said said OK. It got to point where enough is enough. And as the trip went on, it was obvious that this was the "theme" of Princess, to constantly try to sell you something. Even at the dinner the server was trying to sell you a "recipe book" from the chef. (Please...) Having been on other cruises this appears to be the norm, but Princess does go (pardon the pun) overboard. Also the silverware on the ship was pathetically ugly. Something you would find at a flea market, not on a cruise line that is supposed to be elegant. If I'm supposed to dress for dinner, the least they can do is present a better dinner table. The food was OK. Nothing to write home about. There were no special presentations similar to those on Royal Car. The menu selection I could receive from my wife at home. Of course you may asked for seconds of anything, but why would you? By the way if you don't like the standard dining they have other restaurants. But they come with more money. A cover charge of $15.00 or 20.00 per person is needed. I would have thought any restaurant on the ship would be included. Not the case here. On the second day of our cruise, 50% of the passengers, (easily) were seasick. Even myself. The ship was rocking unbelievable. When I went to the ship doctor, we were greeted by a sign. Open at 10:00am. If emergency call a specific number. I grabbed the phone and the person said "go to gift shop and buy Dramamine". Well, gee, thanks for your medical help! A group of other people started the trek upstairs to find "which one" had the stuff. If you have ever been seasick I don't think that you want to scour the ends of the earth to find something. We found them with the "liquor". Needless to say that day was a washout. With Royal Car. they brag that they add more ballast tanks to cut down on the ship rocking. I Never had a problem with Royal Car. on two cruises. I really feel that the ship's doctor should have made himself available, instead of leaving the passengers to help themselves. The cruise line should have been more compassionate.
I think it's time to try and shorten this review.
The excursions were nothing but expensive. The gold panning was nothing but a con. Most excursions are just something to do, because there really is nothing to do in Alaska. The tramway in Juneau was the only thing worth it. You're better off walking around towns yourself.
There were not enough activities on board ship. If it wasn't for the Casino there would be nothing. They have some (bingo, trivia, nightly entertainment (which wasn't good), and nothing more. If you want to be bored, this is the ship.
The crew was 50% nice. The other 50% could care less just to say HI! Probably because they get their tips no matter what they do. (Worked into the bill at the end)
For the cruise I give a "C".
Total for the "extra" bill $1200.00
Now the land tour. We started in Whittier on board a train, to Mt. McKinley lodge. This took 5 hours. Princess owns the lodge. More excursions, more money! No thanks. Also, you have to pay for all meals. Of course premium prices. We stayed two nights. Again no activities for free! Off to Denali Princess Lodge.
More excursions, more money! No thanks!
One History tour free at Denali park.
Trapped on a school bus 4 hours. Thanks. What was terrible here was, we had to wait 5 more hours to receive our luggage after we arrived at Denali. If I'm here, it would be nice if my luggage was with me. Next day off to Fairbanks on a train 4 more hours, for overnight. We arrived too late (8:30pm)to do anything but sleep for the plane ride the next day.
To sum up the trip:
If you want the greatest scenery ever, go to Alaska. If you want to be eaten by a million mosquitos, go to Alaska. If you're looking to spend a lot of money and not care, go to Alaska. If you want to see a lot of wildlife, it's not in Alaska. If you want to be bored stiff (or spend a ton of money on excursions) go to Alaska. If you want to see mediocre towns with no economy,(very nice people though) go to Alaska. Alaska is highly overrated, for a cruise. The primary function is 4 to 5 months of cruise ships to bolster the economy there. Kind of a letdown but true. If you're still wanting to go to Alaska, do it on a different cruise line. Stay out of "Princess World". And be prepared to spend $10,000.00 with the land tour. When I returned home I checked with Royal Car., and they offered a better deal for less. Whether they are any better. You'll have to let me know. This will be my only time to Alaska, and final trip with Princess. Rating for the trip: C