We went on this very 1st cruise as a family (2 parents in their 50's & 3 adult children in their 20's in a separate room). I picked this ship and itinerary after hours of researching the best option for us. I knew I really wanted to be on a smallish ship that could get close to Hubbard Glacier and take us thru Granite Bay (Captain Todd McBain did a fantastic job getting us within 1/4 mile to Hubbard), with full day stops at the ports in Alaska and a balance of enjoyable entertainment for us adults and adult kids. We were not dissappointed. My husband and I especially enjoyed the shows - Encore, Bayou, Cheasa, Comedian, (not magician though as his show was a bit corny) & going to the game shows put on my cruise ship staff. My kids especially enjoyed the games, such as egg drop in the atrium and ping pong contests, trivia, and the other staff led evening shows. The staff was very energetic and our steward, Benjamin Venida, was extremely personable and attentive.
We also enjoyed soaking in the hot tub while overlooking the scenic glaciers, watching movies under the stars with blankets they provided for warmth, and my daughters liked reading books in the quiet library.
We liked our Anytime Dining experience and the ability to make reservations day of. When we requested seating by the window, we were kindly accommodated and ended up having a regular table (32) which was in the corner by the window. We really enjoyed the lobster and filet mignon especially when we were able to apply our dining credit to the special menu when Sabitini's was booked. We also at in the Bayou Dining rooms which was very nice as well and our waiter was excellent. The food/dessert was generally tasty. The Baked Alaska parade on the last night was fun and we enjoyed hearing the staff sing Happy B-day/Anniversary to guests as well as the taste of the creme brulee - yum!
We regularly ate breakfast in the Horizon Buffet which was a great location at the top of the ship with windows surrounding it. The waiters came around asking if we would like beverages. My husband and son ate pizza at the pizzaria. They said the pizza was too hot and the cheese melted quite a bit and it tasted better when it was cold. We also ate lunch at the Grill by the pool area.The seafood chowder was tasty. I felt bad for the poor girl at the ice cream shop who seemed overworked and under appreciated but access to ice cream at anytime was a nice feature.
We stayed in an inside stateroom on the Carribe deck (10th floor) in room C517 which I would highly recommend since it is sandwiched between two other stateroom decks. It was quiet, close to muster stations, mid ship so didn't feel much movement.
Loved the enthusiasm of the staff and warm personalities. The atrium was very pretty. Seating near the windows during meal times - lovely. Getting so close to the glaciers. Meeting such friendly guests. Cleanliness. Great shows.
I really liked this ship and the open decks, including semi-private one on the Caribbe floor. It never felt really crowded. Everyone was helpful and friendly. Very relaxing and enjoyable experience. Will definetely cruise with Princess again, and specifically Coral due to the size and layout of ship.
We would love to get all the daily Patters (schedules for each day) at the beginning of the cruise instead of day by day so we could plan our dinners (had anytime dining) and entertainment in advance. In addition, we were told in advance that formal nights are sea days, yet were surprised (as were others seated at our table that night) when we learned fairly last minute that the 2nd formal night was the evening we ported in Juneau.
My daughter eats a gluten & dairy free diet. The chefs were kind enough to come out to give her recommendations in the dining rooms and she really liked their gluten free bread. Edible options in the Horizon Buffet were not clearly marked. They did not have almond milk that she knew of nor gluten free cereal. We would have liked signage for gluten free and dairy free items and it would be great if they had almond milk and gluten free bread/cereal available. For us, some food, such as eggs and biscuits, were overcooked but they had a good variety of options.
My 3 adult kids shared a separate room. The top bunk bed was uncomfortable for my daughter. It was hard for 2 of the 3 to watch tv since the location of the tv was blocked from view though they did not really spend much time in their rooms at all. Perhaps a moveable mount could help. I felt that the pillows were a bit too squishy and my husband and myself in our room and we kept sinking toward the middle of the queen bed though it was generally comfortable.
Benjamin Venida was a terrific, personable, and attentive steward. He was cheerful, called us by name, wished us a great day and good evening regularly, and even gave my son a few extra candies which was appreciated. He kept our room very clean. I wrote him a note and wanted to leave a tip and thank him personally, but I didn't seen him the day we disembarked and felt uncomfortable leaving it in my room since the door was ajar. My suggestion: Give thank you notes and tip if you choose when you see your steward; don't wait until the last day.
The cruise director (John/aka Mr. Energy) was hilarious. We really enjoyed the staff led gameshows, etc. The big shows were excellent. The comedian was funny, (we would have loved to see his 2nd show but our dinner reservations could not be changed and we didn't know they were going to overlap) but we did not care for the magician show which felt corny.
The coupons, sales, and credits were helpful and encouraged me to buy merchandise. I really liked the free gift from Etsy of my pretty silver anchor necklase. A wonderful rememberance of a lovely cruise experience.
I wish the photos were less expensive and we could alter the size and have a cheaper package option (less than $150 minimum). They were good quality photos though.
We had fun playing Bingo one afternoon.
I did not use the spa, but my son did. Wish I could have let him use my credit as it was pricey for his service.
I went to the auction, which was fun but went long (it would be great if they could tell you how long it will be since we had to leave early for the wine tasting). My son got art work at a good price but the cost to ship it and time it takes to arrive is a bit pricey and long.
As first time cruisers, this part was confusing to us. The elevators were full and carrying luggage downstairs dangerous. I think I would better plan ahead next time by leaving our large luggage outside our room.
They were wonderful ports. I didn't appreciate that some shops, in particular jewelry shops, had people standing outside trying to convince us to come in and visit. Some ship excursions seemed very rushed - for example, covering too much ground in not enough time, so we booked some excursions on our own.
We walked off the port and over the creek bridge into town. We saw a man catch a huge fish. We also attended the '98 Show in the Saloon which was fun and ate lunch at the brewery - the beer garden provided excellent views. My daughter did rock climbing/rapelling, while the rest of us took the van up and bike ride down the mountain. A great active scenic option to sitting on a train.
We bought tickets at the St. Robert's tram (short walk) with a AAA discount at 8am. Were some of the first to board the tram and hike at the top. Definetly hike to the cross and windsock if you have time. Views are spectacular.
Afterward, we called a taxi to meet us at the Red Dog Saloon. She drove us to Mendenhall Glacier where we visited the visitor center and walked the paved trail to beautiful Nugget Falls. Our driver on the way back stopped to buy us some lemonade from kids at a stand. Off the clock. They both provided great stories of the culture and of living there as locals.
Finally, we ate at the Red Dog Saloon. Had to have the 'Duck Fart' shot which was fun and tasty.
We all had booked excursions in Ketchikan and were very stressed about making it back in time since the time changed and was scheduled to disembark 45 mins. earlier than originally told. This was a tendered location. I wish Ketchikan port stay was longer so it could have been more enjoyable. We walked through town, saw the salmon in the river. My daughters went on the kayak excursion and me - the group canoe and rainforest trip on the lake. (The clam chowder was excellent!) My husband and son went salmon fishing with Baranoff. My husband caught three - son, none. A couple with them gave them their catch and they were all shipped home. We are eating some fillets for dinner tonight.
We purposely selected this inside Carribe stateroom location, with our 3 adult children next door on the 10 floor mid ship since it was our first cruise and we didn't know if any of us would feel sea-sick. We also wanted to be close to elevators, but not too close where we would hear the dinging/people all night long. We also knew we would spend little time in our room and also learned that we would have a public balcony at the end of the floor in either direction so we could enjoy seeing the glaciers, whales, etc. with few people around.