Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Regal Princess
Sailing Date: May 1999
Itinerary: Alaska - Inside Passage
Regal Princess (Princess)
Alaska - Inside Passage (5/99)
We have just taken the Regal Princess Inside Passage Cruise which left Vancouver, B.C. 5/23 and went Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Sitka and back to Vancouver on 5/30. All in all it was a good trip with mostly pluses.
This has been an unusually cold, wet spring in the Northwest and that made most of our days damp with a seldom seen sun, but that had nothing to do with the cruise line or ship, of course.
We found all the staff of the Regal Princess to be friendly and capable. The embarkation from Canada Place was very smooth and this continued at all stops throughout the cruise as well as the debarkation.
The first great thing was finding the cabins and baths to be even more generously well sized and well appointed than expected...and we had been told to expect large cabins. We had an inside cabin on deck 10 (Baja).
The decor of the ship is decidedly subtle with no Vegas flash. Some like this and some don’t. Those who like abstract painting will not be disappointed as the ship is truly loaded with modern art of high quality, but the art is exclusively modern. There is a good library on deck 8.
As noted by prior reviewers of the Regal and the Crown, the ship does not have a very good circulation pattern. It especially lacks a proper promenade deck (Dawn, Sea and Grand have full circle promenades).
We found the food service to be excellent with first class presentation in the main dining room for evenings. That is not to say, however, that a real gourmet would approve. It was two star Michelin (worth a detour), not three star Michelin (worth the voyage)...overall very good food. Our cabin stewardess was great.
In open water, the ship was less stable than I expected and many people had motion sickness. This may have been related to a problem with the bow thrusters which I have seen mentioned in posts to r.t.c..
The shops on the ship have some excellent merchandise with friendly, capable sales people. The on-board programs are somewhat mediocre, I thought. The brightest spot is the female singer Deneice Tane who is of Broadway caliber, but the rest of the song and dance staff, though not bad, is not of her stature.
The most interesting of the Ports of Call is Sitka. It is a great shame one is only there a half day. Even though it rained the whole time we really thought everything about Sitka was great. We took the Russian America and Raptor Center Tour which included the Cathedral, the New Archangel dancers and the totem park.
On the other hand we found Glacier Bay to be grossly overhyped. Not that Glacier Bay is bad, it just is not exceptional if you have been other places. The same is true (more so)of the White Pass Railroad out of Skagway. Skagway is really a pretty awful tourist trap and Juneau is not much better. If the weather had been more clear we might have had better to say about Juneau and Skagway. The bus tour of Juneau, the Mendenhall Glacier and the fish hatchery is worthwhile. I was awfully glad I had not paid for a helicopter ride ($185.) into the clouds.
We spent a couple days at the beginning in Seattle and a couple in Vancouver at the end. It had been about ten years since I had been either place. If I had it to do again I would do more Vancouver and less Seattle.
We got to Seattle on our USAirways frequent flyer miles (they don’t do Vancouver) and used AMTRAK to go to and from Vancouver. Its a pretty four hour train ride in a very comfortable and extremely affordable train and bookable through the AMTRAK WWW site. Grayline provides great transportation from SeaTac and also has some great Seattle area tours. We found the Quality Inn City Center to be a satisfactory place to stay in Seattle. Contrary to tour guide comments, the Space Needle (my 5th visit to it) is a super view with food that is quite decent. In Vancouver, I especially like Queen Elizabeth Park and Granville Island.