Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: May 29th, 2005
My wife, Kari, and I don’t always agree on what trips we’d like to take. She would like to visit far off places; I’d like to stay closer to home. She likes warm to hot weather; I prefer cool to cold. In spite of these differences, and the cold weather, we did agree that Alaska was one place we’d both like to see. We both wanted to see the mountains, the wildlife, and the glaciers. We had visions of untamed wilderness, soaring bald eagles, and humpback whales flapping their tails in the water. Thankfully, we were not disappointed!
As for the cruise itself, cruising looked appealing, but the whole ‘big boat’ thing had me wondering if it was a good fit. Kari assured me that once I’d been on a cruise, I’d get hooked. We settled on the Alaska cruise because it filled both the Alaska desire and the cruise desire. I can’t neglect to mention that even though we’re years out from 9/11, staying in the U.S. territories still feels “safer” than heading to the other continents. We wound up booking a stateroom with a balcony on the Sapphire Princess, out of Seattle to Skagway and back.
I’m a first-time cruiser. As such, getting on and off the ship was more of a chore than I’d expected. It’s not quite to the level of airport security, but it’s really close. Try to imagine 2,500 people having to go through a metal detector and have their bags x-rayed one at a time. It was not fun waiting in line.
I thought the ship itself offered plenty of things to do: lectures, shopping, bars, restaurants, swimming pools, hot tubs, movies, live shows, wine tasting, yoga, massages, line dancing class, scavenger hunts… there were only dull moments if you let them. Kari & I found, though, that there were often times when we needed to be in two places at the same time. Since some events were not repeated, we felt like we missed out on a lot. The other downside was the constant sales pitch. Kari commented that she sometimes felt like she was in a live infomercial.
The views from our room on the ship were good. When cruising Tracy Arm, the view was breathtaking. We were SOOO glad that we chose to get a room with a balcony. We didn’t have to leave the room to take advantage of the vistas.
We chose to book our excursions through Princess, but I understand you can book them yourself. It was probably more expensive to book through Princess, but it was nice knowing that they had a record of what excursions we would be on. Our excursion tickets were waiting for us when got on board.
There were, in my opinion, too many excursions available! Here again, we felt like we missed out. Some of the excursions we wanted to take happened at the same time, so we were forced to choose.
Regardless of which excursions we chose, we were not disappointed. George Inlet Lodge in Ketchikan, Dog sledding on the glaciers in Juneau, Tea at Jewell Gardens in Skagway… each was a memorable and enjoyable experience. Oh, and when in Skagway, grab a burger at Bonanza Bar & Grill, then stop in at Diamonds International. The store manager at DI is friendly and helpful.
The letdown, in my opinion, was Victoria. Not that Victoria B.C. was a letdown, but that we didn’t have much time there. We were originally slated for 7 hours in Victoria, but thanks to some snafu, we couldn’t even get off the boat until 1 hour was used up. By the time we made our way through the line and actually stepped onto the dock, another 30 minutes was gone. Then a 20 minute bus ride up nibbled away at more time. We got to spend 2 hours actually on the excursion; not nearly enough time, in my estimation.
Even with the downsides, Kari was right: I’m hooked. I can’t wait to go on another cruise. I’d also recommend taking the 7-day Alaska cruise to anyone who is contemplating taking a cruise. It was a lot of fun. Just be sure to keep a watchful eye on your credit cards!