Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sun Princess
Sailing Date: June 20th, 2005
Ten family members took this cruise to celebrate my brother's birthday. We ranged in age from 31 to 76. I had taken this same trip on the same ship several years ago. This time my daughter and I had a fabulous mini suite (it was huge!) Our steward Enrique was the best I've ever had. There was nothing he was unable to do. Sitting on our long balcony and viewing the gorgeous scenery allowed us to avoid the crowds on deck as we went through Glacier Bay and College Fjord. We were able to easily entertain our whole group in our suite; there were seats for all ten of us. The five cabins we had ranged from the suite to an inside cabin, and all were excellent. The ship was in shipshape--everything was clean and polished and beautiful to behold.
FOOD - This was the biggest disappointment. The food was definitely mediocre, both in the dinning room and the buffet. Although quite bland three years ago, it had deteriorated since then. Our night waiters were wonderful however, very attentive, pushing additional lobster tails and desserts on us. Which was amazing since Princess seemed to charge through the nose for soft drinks, ice cream not in the dining room and anything else they could think of.
ENTERTAINMENT - THIS consisted of three song and dance shows and the usual (good) comedians, a ventriloquist, and an accomplished juggler. All were well above the average for most cruise ships. Some of us enjoyed the casino, others the fitness center, palates, yoga and computer classes. We had a family trivia team that was a daily threat. The naturalist, a woman who had lived for years in an Inuit village, was terrific and her four lectures pulled in huge crowds.
SHORE EXCURSIONS - Many were offered. All were excellent. Flight seeing was probably the most successful. We arranged most of our own excursions rather than go through Princess, saving lots of money. There were lots of guides in the ports competing for our dollars, so there was no need to make advance reservations. In Ketchikan some members of our group went snorkeling, others landed on a glacier and took a cruise on Misty Fjord, others visited the Discovery Museum--all very worthwhile. In Juneau most of us went up the Mt. Roberts Tramway for beautiful views and nice trails (and bears). In Skagway there was more flight seeing, a train ride to the summit of a mountain and biking. Rock climbing had been canceled because of an accident the previous day. All these activities were first rate.
SCENERY - the beauty of the scenery left us breathless and the itinerary through the Inside Passage took full advantage of it. We got spectacular photos--it was difficult not too.
One other thing: The service, excluding the Regency Dining Room and the cabins (although this varied greatly among the 5 cabins we had), was unsmiling and generally unfriendly. The people who ran the trivia contests--there was a different one every day--were authoritarian and unfriendly. The prizes for the trivia winners were things like luggage tags and passport holders, really chintzy. Princess seemed to be trying to save and make money in every way possible during the cruise. That have been said our family enjoyed our trip immensely. Alaska is so spectacular that Princess' minor drawbacks couldn't begin to dampen our spirits.
Embarkation and disembarkation were very smoothly run. For those taking late flights Princess has a center in Anchorage where one can wait, rest, even sleep (on larger circular couches). There were restaurants and nice shops in the neighborhood and a lovely small park. Shuttles ran on the half hour to the airport. Those driving the bus to the center and the shuttle and the center personnel were exceeding pleasant and helpful. This was a very nice service.