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Ingrid Altman

Age: 77

Occupation:Physical Therapist

Number of Cruises: 17

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Island Princess

Sailing Date: May 6th, 2006

Itinerary: Alaska

Most of our cruises have been on Holland America Lines; this was our first on Princess Lines. My 82 year old husband and I were part of an affiliated group of 27 senior citizens with a travel agent/tour leader. Some of the members had been on several Princess liners and seemed satisfied.

Embarkation: We waited in line for about 40 minutes, until we could get to Security check-in. Part of that wait was in an unprotected area, and it was quite windy.

Accommodations. The cabin on Baja deck was cleverly laid out, with plenty of storage space, but a teeny-weeny bathroom with shower only. The blankets had no third sheet to cover. We wanted twin beds, and the steward remade the cabin cheerfully for us. We rewarded him with a tip.

Food. We ate in the Provincal dining room at a table for 8. There was a great deal of choice and we always found something good to eat. The service was professional, but a bit intrusive. We were exhorted at the last dinner of the cruise to rate our waiters "excellent"!! We enjoyed the Horizon Lounge also for its daily changing presentation.

Entertainment. The Broadway shows were excellent and cleverly staged. The illusionist was also very entertaining. We would rate the other shows from mediocre to boring. The movies were a good choice, but the screens in both the theater and the lounge distorted the picture laterally. The theater itself would be dangerous in an emergency. It has two narrow isles, with room for about 1,000 persons. I'd hate to see a stampede there!

Various. At the "Captain's Cocktail Party" nor the captain, or any other officer, found it worthwhile to make an appearance. We stood in the Atrium, where seating was in very short supply and unsuitable for such a large group. The Manhattan I ordered consisted of a glass full of ice with a cherry perched on top; the bottom had 1 cm. of brownish fluid. Not a good advertisement for the bar!

Toward the end of the cruise we found out about a daily news digest. It was nowhere publicized that we could have ordered it to be delivered daily. No samples were found in the lobby. In general, we had a feeling of indifference on the part of the staff.

Itinerary. It was well chosen. We had been repeatedly in Santa  Barbara before, and in SF we had pre-booked a tour of Alcatraz over the internet. The departure dock was only 10 minutes walk from the ship, and the tour was interesting. Sitka was new to us, and has its own charms. Unfortunately the tender service was totally inadequate. One waited in the overcrowded Explorer Lounge for about 45 minutes to get one, and on the way back it was the same: we had to wait 45 minutes in the cold and rain. The nature walk and tour of the raptor center were conducted by very knowledgeable guides. In Ketchikan the dock was occupied by 3 other ships. When the Westerdam left in the early afternoon, we could dock. Since we had taken a thorough tour 26 years ago, we just "explored" the town on our own. Same for Victoria.

Disembarkation. Princess Lines had insisted on booking us on Alaska Air to LAX at 10:28 AM. We were to leave the ship at 7:45 AM as per printed directive. We had transportation vouchers to the airport. We were to have red tags, and first off the ship. Instead we had Cream 5, and were allowed to leave the ship at 8:45 AM. After finding our luggage, we were directed to the bus area, only to be told the "bus is not yet here". Twenty minutes later, we were told there would be no bus. "Take a taxi".

There was a different group also with us, so imagine 60 senior citizens rushing with all their luggage to 8 taxis! It was bedlam. The noise and chaos were indescribable! Two ladies from the cruise line were trying to get us organized, but it was impossible. I suppose they called for more taxis. We finally climbed into one and then found that the taxi company would not accept vouchers, so we paid by Visa card. Once we arrived at the airport, found the line to our plane, and were ready to check in, we were told that the plane had "closed" and we could not board. The time was 09:50 AM. Due to incompetence and mismanagement the purser's office had us miss our plane! It left (we later found out) with 60 empty seats. We could not get another plane until 5 PM. A Princess Line employee arranged re-boarding with the Valencia office.

We complained upon arrival in our homes, but our mail was ignored, and even our agency was stonewalled by the customer relations office for an entire 4 weeks! On 16 June we received an offer for a "credit" of $150 pp for a future cruise, to expire in July 2007. No mention of reimbursement of taxi fare.

Conclusion. The cruise had its good points and we enjoyed most of it. However, the behavior of the cruise line at debarkation time has left a bad taste in our mouths.

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