Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Island Princess
Sailing Date: n/a
This was my 3rd cruise with Princess. The bonus is most of the ships we have been on have the same layout so getting around was relatively easy.
We started in Fairbanks. I was a little disappointed because our room at Pike's Waterfront Lodge was practically in the parking lot - very noisy. Again, this was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Our friends who were first time cruisers with Princess were put up in a private cabin - very quiet. Because we have to put our suitcases out before any reasonable person should wake up, we heard doors slamming and personnel picking up luggage all night long. No sleep at all between that and the busses rolling in. The Sternwheeler Riverboat Tour was great. Really good free donuts on board. Susan Butcher's husband was the highlight. The motor coach to the Denali Princess Lodge was a good time to catch up on the sleep you missed. Denali Princess Lodge is very nice, small rooms, paper thin walls. Slamming doors and people picking up luggage all night long. Again, no sleep. We had a great tour guide for our tour Natural History Tour in Denali National Park. Our itinerary said, "no bathroom on bus for 4 hour ride, adjust your expectations accordingly." I dehydrated myself which was totally unnecessary as they made 3 stops with bathrooms along the way. We then took the Princess Rail to Talkeetna. Best food I had on the trip. Nice train car - gorgeous scenery. We decided to tour Talkeetna. The bus picked us up an hour later and we were all anxiously waiting for it for about 45 mins. Off to Mt. McKinley Lodge. Another beautiful lodge with paper thin walls and no sleep. Mt. McKinley was out and it was spectacular. The next day we took the McKinley Express Rail to Whittier. Not nearly as nice as the first train. Rather disappointing really - our seats were torn and dirty. We arrived on ship. I will say Princess is very organized and there were no problems with luggage, tours, getting on or off ship. I read somewhere that if you do the land tour first, do your laundry on the ship on Sunday because nobody else is doing it. WRONG. We had 3 washing machines going on 3 different floors and it was crowded. Also, everyone was ironing because it was the first formal evening. I can't tell you about the other days, but forget about Sunday. I was really under whelmed with the service and staff aboard Island Princess. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were downright rude. They could care less about the passengers - why should they? They know they'll get tipped because tips are included. We literally had to force one photographer to take our picture one evening. The dining staff was a joke. I had to grind my own pepper - which I'm capable of doing, but it's an example of how little they did. For 4 nights we sat at a table in the middle of the room between wait stations. On the fifth night we asked to be by a window and you'd think we asked them to turn the ship around. Getting served anywhere was like pulling teeth and nobody, but nobody, smiled. Alaska itself was phenomenal so we had a fantastic time any way. It was just too bad that Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan could've been the Caribbean or Mexico with Diamond's International and Tanzanite. No real local fair to offer. In Skagway we took the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari - highly recommend it. Tour guides were excellent, but your feet will freeze. They make you wear their rubber boots and I don't think there's enough socks possible to keep your feet warm. In Juneau we took the Mendenhall Glacier Float Trip - skip this one. The glacier isn't impressive and again you freeze on a boring raft ride. In Ketchikan we took the Adventure Kart Expedition - way fun - a definite must. We didn't take any flights, which actually worked out well because they were canceled due to weather 2 out of 3 days - and we had great weather I thought. Your day on Glacier Bay will be cold - very cold. But, spectacular. I packed everything from short sleeves to ski clothes and wore it all. We had some mosquitoes in Fairbanks, but otherwise, not a problem the end of July. I highly recommend going to Alaska, I'm not sure I highly recommend Princess - we had a great time in spite of them, not because of them.