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MC

Age: 53

Occupation:Sr BA

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Island Princess

Sailing Date: 2010-06-17

Itinerary: land sea

The land portion was fine; not sure why we were stuck in Fairbanks so long and not longer in Denali or Talkeetna. The beds were hard as rocks, but didn't stay in them long so didn't matter. Food was so-so, but the train from Fairbanks to Denali was wonderful. The train from Talkeetna to Whitter was HORRID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

felt nickled and dimed to death over tipping; everyone wanted a tip from the bus drivers, tour people, hotel people...

The ship was dirty; crew was indifferent and not what i expected.

ok, not the best, not the worst

ok, dirty. To take an alaska cruise you want to be able to see out and the doors and panels on teh balconey were filty; they weren't cleaned while the ship was in port before we baorded and were never cleaned the week we were there. we were never offered an upgrade (which we would have taken) but some were. the shower was so small you could not bend over to bathe and there was one sink. the beds were lumpy and very uncomfortable and the carpet was filty.

what activities? the only think i saw was after the ranger came aboard and we missed half of her presenation. poor communcation by teh ship cruise director. assumed everyone saw the patter in time for any events that were free (and there weren't many of those) to attend. sure couldn't rely on staff to tell you squat; relied on fellow passengers

check out anything NOT related to Princess

Take the 65mile ATV in Talkeetna (awesome)
the photo safari/whale watching in Juneau (limited to 14 ppl if you can believe it)
glass blowing in Skagqay (limited as well)
mountain hike in Denali


Skip the horse in all land areas; waste of time and money
the rainforest in Juneau is a landscaping company that built a rode up a big hill (skip)
the bush plane in Ketichan; skip if bad weather;
sternwheeler in Fairbanks was boring and too many people (felt like a cattle call)
Skip the jet boat in Denali

Age: 53

We took 14 day 10 night, vacation from 6/1/2010 to 6/14/2010. We booked everything through Princess via our travel agent, all inclusive (supposedly)

On the 6/1 we left Chicago via Seattle to Fairbanks. Needless to say it was a long day, but a necessary evil, to get to our location. We stayed at a lodge that was not owned by Princess (according to the princess rep it was nicer than the Princess hotel). Very nice resort, personal very helpful and friendly. Food was expensive. TIP; don't take many summer clothes; stick to clothes that layer and multiple jeans. Went downtown; not much there to do or see; expensive cabs

Day 2- Still in Fairbanks (I'm ready to leave a this point). We had a bus transfer (cattle call) to a sternwheeler riverboat cruise on the Chena and Tanana Rivers. The excursion was about 5 hours down a river and if you are on the side facing the water great you can see and hear everything, but if not and on the side facing the land you can't see a thing. The start of the sales pitches begins here. Afterward we had the midnight dinner float trip which was nice other than our guide talking incessantly Dinner way out in the country and it was quite good and then a relaxing float down the river (take your mosquito spray)

Day 3 - took a bus to the train to go to Denali. Little did we know this was the nicest train we would see and it was excellent. Staff personable, fast, efficient. Seats comfy and the ability to go between trains to shoot pictures, which were amazing.

Stayed at the lodge and had a great room overlooking the river. Took a hike up a mountain (the trip was billed by Princess as a leisurely walk; anything but a leisurely walk but well worth the view. Saw a moose with 3 calves down below)

Day 4 - took the full day Denali Forest school bus tour. Didn't realize you can never get out to shoot pics. It was overcast and rainy so the bus windows were covered in mud and no matter how hard the driver tried to clean them at the 3 rests tops didn't help much. not a lot of opportunity to get out with nature. did see wildlife, couldn't shoot much due to conditions of bus - wasn't overwhelmed with this one; this was the one thing I really wanted on this trip - to see the tundra and it was the one thing we really couldn't do. after shopped and grabbed a bite at the local's hangout

Day 5 - took the short ATV ride in Denali which was fun (they say archaeological dig - not. you ride around in a riverbed where they found a wooly mammoth in the past) and then took a motor coach to Talkeetna. Pretty nice - got our first glimpse of Mt McKinley - words cannot describe. Driver was an excellent guide. the princess lodge was very nice; rooms not so much and the princess folks lied to us. They told us none of the rooms had a view and they did. The beds were horrid and no fan

took the jet boat that evening and no big whoop - skip it folks. Just riding down a river and stopping to see yet another Indian village - no wildlife on this one

Day 6 - Next day the 65 miles ATV trip - this excursion ties with the Juneau whales as the best on the trip. Only 6 folks and the guide and it was all day but worth every minute. from the view to the excellent lunch to the wildlife and just flat out fun driving through the river in that ATV - do it (we were 1/2 women, all over 50 and 1/2 men - the women out did the men!)

Rode horses afterward -skip it. Walked up paths to a flattop; they shot pics and you walked down - pretty unfun

Day 7 - Next day we leave (sad - would like to have been in Denali or Talkeetna one of the days in Fairbanks) Had way too much time in the morning to wait on the train but not enough for an excursion. You are bused to Talkeetna which is one hour away from teh princess lodge. then you stand in lines based on some number in the rain waiting for the train. Then you get on; OMG. tiny tiny and not at all like the first train. We were told that was the Holland train. each 'seat' was a table with two cramped seats on each side. You are forced to have conversation with people and forget a nap or taking pics. food awful - made me sick and not near the drink selection as Holland - really disappointing in this one since the scenery was beautiful and could do anything about it other than walk up and down the train (found out that not all cars were as crammed as ours; some people had seats to themselves....we ended up in the cattle car)

Arrive very late at Whitter and takes forever to get to the boat. Dirty room and limited food for room service

Day 8 - other than one rainy day in Denali and rain as we left talkeetna awesome weather continues; we are at sea and see the College Fjord - but I missed it. Decided to get a massage, facial and ped and mani. Massage was to be 1 hour and ended up 1.5 and they tried to charge for that. the facial was 1/2 the time trying to sell me prod and the rest not worth the money if you have had one. Skip the mani and pedi; they don't sterile and I have an infection (and it chipped within an hour)

Formal meal that night - good food

Day 9- We cruised in and out of Glacier Bay. Truly amazing. Again the weather was gorgeous so we got a treat. Both days cruising in the fjord and the bay the rangers narrating gave excellent insight and observations.
Saw a bear on the shore and whales when we sailed out. Was so warm on the deck had on shorts and sunscreen - marvelous day

Day 10- Arrive in Skagway, we went to the summit by Train $100+ per and takes over 4 hours; skip it - not worth the effort at this point in my opinion unless you go further. Rode bikes for an hour all over the town which was fun and then went glass blowing which was great. This lady has created this amazing garden with miniature train and tea house and has 2 glass blowing studios. You get to blow your own ornament (which they ship to you) and then they feed you with homemade food that was delicious - very nice.

think this was the 2nd formal dinner night and we missed the captain's cocktail party due to slow service. It took 2.5 hours to get dinner and it was cold when served and the waiter had an attitude. I did complain and they sent me 8 chocolate covered cherries as an apology

Day 11-Arrive in Juneau, took the early morning rainforest. skip it - just a landscaping company that built a rode on a hill. Took the Photo safari to whale watching. GREAT! Limited to 14 ppl in a small maneuverable boat. We had an orca swim under the boat! it was great - the guide knew his stuff and made this excursion tied with the ATV for #1

Ate at sabatini's (had done this on prior cruise and had excellent Italian food and from a Chicago person that's means something). This was the type of service i expected from the ship. Friendly, funny, warm, on-top of everything but not in our face. Food was ok, but service was great

rough seas that night - gale force winds

Day 12- - Arrive in Ketchikan, cold!!! took the float/bush plane. Okay, rainy day and windy; got a bit green around the gills. Some amazing view of the Tongess Forest. Afterward hired a local tour guy for a fraction of the Princess charge ($30 total) and he drover us for an 1.5 hours around the island. He took us to where the locals throw out fish parts and the eagles come to eat and to 2 different active eagle nests. Amazing eagle pics. Then he took us to the inlet where the seals come and we saw some - very nice tour

Day 13 - Arrive Vancouver, fly home. Not sure why we landed here and had to go through hours of customs....

Synopsis- Overall the trip exceeded was very nice; land much better than ship. We had excellent weather. Alaska is a beautiful place to visit and I'm planning my return visit. Don't know that I will do Princess again though....

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