Alaska Review: Aug. 26 - Sept 2 ~ NB on Star Princess

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 07:56 AM.
#1
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
We just returned from Alaska – 7 day Northbound Vancouver to Whitter - on Star Princess, followed by 5 days on a DIY land tour to Denali and points en route. Reviews here on cruisecritic were not only enjoyable to read as I dreamed and planned…but extremely helpful in the planning (and dreaming) stages. For that reason, I thought I’d ‘pay it forward’ for the next dreamer and planner.

Cruise Details:

· Dates: Aug. 26-Sept 2 – DIY tour through Sept 6. We went during this time mainly because that was when we COULD go. DH has restrictions at work that would not allow a vacation in July (when so many say is the ‘best’ time).

· That being said…though many label the end of Aug as a time for ‘storm chasers’, we FOUND delight in it. (I mean…we could either be ‘delighted’…or‘gripey’….. Delighted is always better!) I won’t argue with anyone who says ‘Don’t cruise then’…. We’re not experienced enough with Alaska to argue ‘things Alaska’. What I WILL say is that there ARE positives to a visit at this time of year – if you’re willing to look for them. I want others to know that…. It’s not necessarily a ‘bad thing’ if you go in with flexibility, the RIGHT clothes… and a DECISION to be happy. (and because weather is unpredictable, it turned out that we had MARVELOUS weather most days!!)

· While we originally reserved an interior stateroom, we got an upsell offer and moved to B744. (balcony) This is one of the angled balconies. I was very trepid about it…not sure if we’d made a good decision or not. I’ll give my thoughts on that here as well. Hint: We liked it….

· This cruise broke the mold as far as our personal cruising traditions. Things we've always done....things we've considered ‘musts’ on past cruises we did not do. Alaska was just different in every sense of the word.

Who Are We?

An empty nest couple in our early 50’s…though those mid-50’s are approaching far quicker than we ever thought… We like to hike and ‘experience’ nature…and we are never happier than when learning…or experiencing something new and unusual... If our port day choices are between ‘adrenaline’ or ‘historical/informative’, the informative will usually win.

We enjoy cruising…but we also travel through other modes aswell. We take road trips…motorhome trips…and have visited most of the National Parks in the US. We also travel on a budget. In fact, I write a blog about the how-to’s of budget travel… A lot of what I write here will find it's way onto my blog as well, but there, I’ll focus on the details of planning and ‘budgeting’ for Alaska in general….and less specifics related to Princess/Star Princess…all in an effort to relate to the reader. J I’ll put a link to my blog nearer to the end of this review…after I actually get some things written and posted there. There’s nothing there (about Alaska) right now. J

The budget aspect is why you won’t find reviews of 5 star restaurants or hotels here (or my blog) It’s not that I’m opposed to those things… it’s just that up until now, no one has volunteered to ‘fund’ those experiences for me to write about. Until there are‘takers’ on that, (Anyone?? Anyone??) we’ll just continue to enjoy our vacations, cruises, road trips on a budget… JJ and share with anyone who’s interested.

Our Itinerary:
  • Aug. 25: Flight to Vancouver
  • Aug. 26: Sightseeing in Vancouver and embarkation
  • Aug. 27: Day at Sea (This actually was a VERY important part of this cruise for us…)
  • Aug. 28: Ketchikan
  • Aug. 29: Juneau
  • Aug. 30: Skagway
  • Aug. 31: Glacier Bay(scenic cruising of course…)
  • Sept 1: Day at Sea with an evening in College Fjord (scenic cruising too)
  • Sept 2: Disembark, transport to Anchorage, pick up rental car and head out of Anchorage
  • Sept 3: Drive north - up to Denali Nat’l Park area
  • Sept 4: Visit to Denali National Park
  • Sept 5: Head south back to Wasilla…making several stops en route to get last views of Denali
  • Sept 6: Day in Anchorage and evening flight
  • Sept 7: Flying all night last night with long morning at DFW UGH!!! and last leg of flight home…
I’ve tried a few times in the past to post pictures here on CC and never had much luck….For that reason I’ll probably save myself the frustration…and put the pics on my blog (where I KNOW how to do it). I apologize for that in advance - as I know how everyone loves the pics. (I liked them when reading reviews too…) I will instead try to paint pictures with my words. Hope that works
I’ll continue writing this as long as there is interest.… I just want to help others as I was helped…and reliving it all through reviews on CC is fun too
#2
Simpsonville, South Carolina
9,099 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Looking forward to your review. We just booked the Noordam Northbound(June 2018), and will do DIY land tour post cruise. Thank you!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Marie
Upcoming cruises:
October 24, 2017 - Celebrity Infinity (Westbound Panama Canal)
Jan 7, 2018 - Crown Princess
June 3, 2018 - HAL Noordam(ALASKA and DIY land)
#3
Saratoga Springs, New York
530 Posts
Joined Dec 2010
Thanks for doing this review! We are booked on the Star next May NB. We've done 3 SB and 1 round trip from Seattle, so we are curious about what to expect from both the route and the ship.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Upcoming:

Intro to Ocean-Regal Princess Nov 2017
Turks & Caicos-Regal Princess Nov 2017
Caribbean East - Regal Princess Jan 2018
Alaska-Star Princess May 2018
Caribbean East -Royal Princess Jan 2019

*******************
Previous cruises:
Alaska - Island Princess June 2011- 1st cruise EVER!
Bermuda? no - Boston? Yes - Hurricane Sandy cruise-Caribbean Princess October 2012 (2nd cruise and it didn't scare us away!!)
Canada/New England - Caribbean Princess October 2013
Caribbean - Ruby Princess B2B January 2014
Alaska - Island Princess June 2014
Caribbean - Caribbean Princess November 2014
Caribbean - Regal Princess January 2015
Alaska - Coral Princess June 2015
Canada/New England - Regal Princess October 2015
Caribbean - Emerald Princess B2B March 2016 (oh my - those Spring Breakers!!)
Coastal - Ruby Princess - 1 night Vancouver-Seattle May 2016
Alaska - Ruby Princess - Inner Passage May 2016
Hawaii - Crown Princess - October 2016
#4
Palmdale, Ca
33,423 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Looking forward to reading your review.....

Bob
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Future: Star Princess Hawaii R/T From LA 11/18
Future: Emerald Princess Alaska R/T From from Los Angeles 04/18
Pacific Princess Panama Canal Cruise 05/17 - 17 Days
Caribbean Princess Iceland/Norway T/A 09/16 - 17 Days **First Princess Elite Cruise**
Caribbean Princess Iceland/Norway T/A 09/15 - 16 Days
Golden Princess West Coast Getaway 04/15 - 3 Days
Royal Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/13 - 18 Days Inaugural T/A Crossing
Sapphire Princess Hawaii R/T From LA 03/13 - 14 Days
Ruby Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/11 - 18 Days
Golden Princess Hawaii R/T From LA 02/11 - 14 Days
Ruby Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/09 - 18 Days
Diamond Princess AUS/NZ 01/09 - 12 Days
Emerald Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/08 - 18 Days
Celebrity Constellation British Isles/Norway 07/06 - 14 Days
Celebrity Summit Alaska Repo 05/05 - 14 Days
Celebrity Summit Panama Canal 10/02 - 14 Days
RCCL Rhapsody OTS Alaska 09/01 - 7 Days
RCCL Splendour OTS Baltic/Northern Europe 09/99 - 12 Days
HAL Veendam Eastern Caribbean 07/96 - 7 Days
Carnival Holiday Western Caribbean 07/93 - 7 Days

240 Days At Sea: 167 Days Princess , 42 Days Celebrity. 19 Days RCCL, 7 Days HAL, 7 Days Carnival.....

My Cruise Pictures on Flickr

Roll Call Thread

Roll Call Thread
#5
LI, NY/PVB, FL
3,992 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I'm along for the ride!
Booked June 2918 with DIY as well. Thanks for posting!


Sent from my iPhone using Forums
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile







RCCL Nordic Empress - Bermuda - May 1999
Grand Princess - Eastern Caribbean - May 2002
Grand Princess - Western Caribbean - April 2004
Golden Princess - Southern Caribbean - November 2004
Crown Princess - 9 day RT from NY - Eastern Caribbean - May 2007
Caribbean Princess - Repo Cruise - October 2008
Carnival Fascination - Key West & Nassau - May 2009
Caribbean Princess - 8 day Repo Cruise - October 2009
NCL Jewel - Florida & Bahamas - May 2010
NCL Jewel - 9 day RT from NY - Eastern Caribbean - May 2011
Caribbean Princess - 10 day Repo Cruise - October 2011
Pride of America - 13 day Hawaiian Adventure - Land & Cruise - June 2012
NCL Dawn - Western Caribbean - December 2012
NCL Dawn - Bermuda - September 2013
Breakaway - Florida & Bahamas - December 2013
Coral Princess - Panama Canal - March 2014
NCL Gem - 9 day RT from NY - Eastern Caribbean - October 2014
Island Princess - 12 day Grand Mediterranean Adventure - September 2015
NCL Spirit - Nassau, St.Thomas, Tortola (Soggy Dollar)- January 2016
Breakaway - Bermuda - June 2016
Caribbean Princess (yet again!) - ABC Islands - December 2016
#7
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Flight Day:

How do you begin a review of the flight day without mentioning the struggle involved in GETTING on that flight? Packing was a Huge issue for us…getting those bags under 50 lbs. I was up most of the night (yeah....literally!! I fell asleep on the sofa at about 3:15 and was awakened by DH at 4:00 when his alarm went off) Our ‘final’ bags weighed in at 49.8 and 47….but several (possibly important) things came OUT of that suitcase in desperation somewhere around 2:45am that morning….things like DH’s jacket for formal night (he wore dress slacks, dress shirt and a tie…but no jacket) and his second pair of hiking shoes. This was a gamble for us, but thankfully, it worked out ok. (in fact, we went to McDonalds last night and reminisced about our trip. One of the things he said was "I was nervous about not having 2 pair of shoes to alternate...but I figured out how to make it work...)

We arrived in Vancouver at 11:47am - Customs at YVR ran like a very well-oiled machine. When we got off the airplane, employees directed us down corridors…through make-shift hallways, etc…to a huge Customs hall. Once in there, more employees directed the hundreds of us to hundreds of self-serve kiosks. There we scanned passports, answered a few questions on the screen and got our printout J. We took that printout and passports to an agent who asked a few more questions and gave us our ‘approval’ slip. We picked up baggage went through the last check point and we were done. The entire process from the first line to walking out with our bags was not more than an hour. (It should be mentioned that the 25th was a 1 ship day...the next day - the 26th was a 2-ship day. That affects how busy things are at YVR) In our suitcase we had (and declared) a few pre-packaged food items (mainly for port days) as well as a few diabetic-friendly food items needed for the land portion of our trip. We declared them and all went smoothly.

Outside the airport was an area designated for hotel shuttles…a green awning – with a courtesy phone there for calling the hotel. Phone numbers for hotels providing shuttles were programmed into the phone – we just looked up our hotel and punched in the code and were immediately connected. It was a very smooth process and our shuttle arrived within 10-15 minutes.

Our hotel was Accent Inn in Richmond BC. I’m not certain if this is considered an airport hotel or not (being in Richmond) but it DID have not only the free airport shuttle, but free transportation to Bridgeport station and SkyTrain to get us to the port the next morning….and a price point lower than anything downtown. I had booked early….as in REALLY early – last Fall, and got a really good rate (Rates being quoted the month before our arrival were MUCH higher than we paid…) An added bonus to this room was the fact that it had a kitchenette. At the time of booking, I really didn’t know what our plan would be…or what I would need. I just knew that the kitchen would give me options – and the price was only a few dollars more than a room without even a coffeemaker. As I got further into the planning and researching process, I found out about Granville Island. I didn't know what we might find there, but with it's many food options - and market, perhaps the kitchenette would come in handy?? Maybe I would bring my wonderful whole oats from home and have a small breakfast that morning. I hadn't made any plans at that point but liked the options the kitchenette gave me. The reservation was a good decision.

The hotel was an older property, but very well maintained….with hanging flower baskets on every floor. They were beautiful…to the point that my DH had to take pics to send to our friend who is his 'Gardner in Crime"! The room was actually quite nice….not luxurious…but clean and freshly painted/remodeled. The age of the property was NOT a negative in any way…it’s been maintained, remodeled, and very well cared for. The kitchen was stocked with basic cookware and there was coffee, creamer, etc… Everything was adequate and pleasant. J

As I said, we THOUGHT we might go to Granville Island that afternoon….but the reality was that after going to bed at 3:15 am that morning- and being awoken (so rudely haha) by DH at 4 am….when we arrived on the shuttle, I could barely walk to the door and front desk. The idea of walking around a public market for a few hours…..NO WAY!!!! Thankfully, I had anticipated that (about 2 am that morning) and thrown in the suitcase some things we could easily whip up in the kitchen to eat – just to keep from starving!! I also knew that we were getting ready to board a ‘food barge’ so tickling the taste buds was not necessary. The only thing we needed that evening was something to put in our stomachs and regulate blood sugars. Any number of things could fit that bill….so that’s what we did. Ate ....then fell into bed. In Vancouver, I believe it was about 3 pm….but our body clock said it was 5 pm and our exhaustion clock said we’d been awake for 36 hrs. We both woke up at I believe around 8 pm Vancouver time…watched a little TV and were ready to go BACK to sleep soon after.

Yeah I know…that's not very exciting as ‘Reviews of Vancouver’ go…I considered making some things up for this part of the review...an elaborate city tour or something of that completely 'untrue' nature to make for more interesting reading...but decided against it. J That’s just not who we are....we're REAL people who have REAL experiences...and THIS was our reality. We were exhausted...and we made the decision that evening to rest and begin our cruise with energy rather than pushing ourselves that night and then being too tired to enjoy the cruise. There would be time for sightseeing tomorrow….and if we didn’t have time to do all we wanted, we would have a built in excuse to take ANOTHER ALASKAN CRUISE. (not so bad, ya know??)

Final Thoughts: DON’T do what we did and stay up all night the night before…
Then… Accent Inn is a good budget choice for accommodations. Having the questions of “How do we get to the hotel?”....or “How do we get to Canada Place?” taken care of was rather nice. Oh…and there’s an IHop next door for breakfast too. They are NOT open 24 hrs as IHop’s are in the US, but the close proximity....NICE!!! J
#8
25 Posts
Joined May 2005
I am enjoying your review! We were on the Island Princess southbound from Aug 23rd--Aug 30th--We can compare notes!! I agree with the Customs --it was very smoothie--but long lines--We too worried about weight of luggage--I practiced run the packing few days before and with the help of the luggage scale I bought ( a lifesaver) we were ok-- but we had a 7 day land tour the week before--lots of clothes packed--some removed--many removed-- but we still had clothes that we never wore.


Sent from my iPad using Forums
#11
Oregon
1,502 Posts
Joined May 2012
Thanks for doing this. We're considering the same trip in a year or two. Eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Jim
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Also upcoming: 10-night Mexican Riviera, Grand Princess, Jan. 12, 2018; 14-night Transatlantic to Barcelona, Crown Princess, April 3, 2018; 11-night Baltic cruise, Regal Princess, Aug. 9, 2018; 7-night Northern California Coast, Ruby Princess, Sept. 22, 2018
2000: Sovereign of the Seas, Bahamas * 2004: Carnival Pride, Mexican Riviera * 2007: Diamond Princess, Mexican Riviera * 2010: Carnival Paradise, Baja * 2012: Norwegian Jewel, Alaska; Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera * 2014: Celebrity Constellation, Cozumel and Key West; Carnival Valor, Eastern Caribbean; Golden Princess, San Diego and Ensenada, B2B * 2015: Norwegian Dawn, Western Caribbean; Crown Princess, Alaska; Grand Princess, California coast; Island Princess, Panama Canal * 2016: Crown Princess, Mexican Riviera; Regal Princess, Copenhagen to NY, TA. * 2017: Royal Princess, Caribbean.


#12
Whidbey Island, WA
828 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Looking forward to your review. We're booked on a CruiseTour (tour first) next year. Sept 2 - 15 on the Star. We have C743 - one of the angled balconies too.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature


Sailed!
USS Midway - '72-73 - Subic Bay Philippines (x9), Hong Kong, Singapore, Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club
USS Ranger - '76 - Subic Bay Philippines (x3), Singapore, Perth Australia (Shellback)

USS Independence - '80 - South Atlantic, Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman,(123 continuous sea days), Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, Straits of Gibraltar

USS Independence - '81 - Straits of Gibraltar - Mediterranean Sea, Naples Italy (x2), Straits of Gibraltar


Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean 3/25/12 - Silver Anniversary Cruise
Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean 2/3/13 - Gayle's Birthday Cruise
Norewgian Pearl - Alaska 6/16/13 - 4 Generation Family Cruise
Golden Princess - West Coast Getaway 9/30/13


UPCOMING:
Star Princess - Hawaii 9/23/17
#14
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
EmbarkationDay Is Finally Here - Vancouver:

After almost 12 months of planning…and anticipating….and dreaming....THE DAY was finally Here!!!!

We'd just spent the last 12+ hours sleeping, so we woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed..…at 4:30 am Vancouver Time (Keep in mind, our bodies were still on C.S.T. which said 6:30….). We were ready for the fun to begin!!! Unfortunately, Granville Island isn’t open at 4:30 am!!! Imagine that!!!

*Sigh* So…instead, we decided to walk over to IHop for breakfast. Upon arrival, we saw the sign on the door – they opened at 5 am. Oh well….back to the room we marched, made coffee and took care of business – changing out airline tags for cruise tags, repacking the carry on for ship boarding….and a little after 5 we went back to IHop for breakfast. There’s probably no need to review IHop…I mean seriously….it’s IHop…. We ordered our ‘typical’, ate, remembered to pay with the credit card with no foreign transaction fees and walked back to our room.

I had a few communications I needed to take care of – email and Facebook as I knew that our cells would incur pretty hefty charges in Vancouver. We finished up packing and checked out around 9. The shuttle to take us to Bridgeport station and SkyTrain came every 30 min....so while waiting, we got a few more really nice pics of the lovely flowers and hanging baskets around the entrance to the hotel. Several taxis made the round-about through the hotel drive trying to pick up passengers. We briefly considered grabbing one of those just for convenience sake but knew the fare would be $35. Choice: $35…or Free?? Hmmm… We waited for the next shuttle.

The weather was really warm that day– according to all we talked to, unseasonably warm for Vancouver. I wore jeans and a long sleeve shirt over a cami and was perfectly fine – no jacket needed. Later that morning, however, in downtown Vancouver, the long sleeve shirt came OFF and I wore the cami alone. It was actually HOTTER in Vancouver than it was at home! (Yeah…I checked…) Like I said, it was UNSEASONABLY warm that day.

At Bridgeport station, we purchased our one-way ticket to Waterfront station and boarded. When we got off at Waterfront, it was a 3 block walk to the terminal. (It was at this point that I was SOOO glad we had purchased new luggage this year -with spinner wheels!!) DH had been concerned that we would look a little awkward walking down the streets of Vancouver pulling luggage. No!! Not at all!! The unusual person was the one walking down the street WITHOUT luggage!!

We met a couple at Bridgeport station from Ontario who were headed to the HAL ship – we commiserated together through this whole process (had encountered a rather cantankerous machine while purchasing our ticket at Bridgeport…which is how we actually ‘met’). We enjoyed conversation with them on the train and walking through Vancouver….then before parting company (as they were in a hurry to get on their ship), we exchanged picture taking duties then said our well-wishes and good-byes. They went to their ship. We wanted to tour Vancouver first.

It was nearing 10:30 by this time, so we were able to check in our bags with PCL. They were actually checking in passengers that early…but we just dropped off bags and headed back out of the terminal.

Vancouver has ‘hosts’ stationed throughout town - in Waterfront station…at street corners, near the terminal and surrounding area - identified with their shirts and hats – to answer question, give directions, etc… That was so helpful!

We planned to begin our touring with a trip up the Lookout Tower. I hoped to get some good photos of the ship and Canada Place from that vantage point…and it’s always nice to not only see the city, but also get a good idea of the layout of everything before actually walking it. At the corner, we stopped one the host guides to make sure we were on the right track…and it was a good thing we did because he told us that by going to the Visitor Center we could get the tickets for $4 less. The Visitor Center was in the opposite direction of the Tower, but only a couple of blocks away so we headed there. Once there, we found that those tickets were $5 less…and now, we were only 2 blocks from the Olympic Cauldron –something we had put on our “might see if we have time” list. Since we were so close we decided we ‘had time’ and should walk on down there while in the area. It wasn’t anything spectacular by any means, but it's now the second Olympic cauldron I’ve seen (saw Squaw Valley a couple of years ago...I guess I'm now collecting them... ) so I looked…snapped a few pictures and said “I’m glad I saw that”. Then we headed back to the Lookout Tower.

We exchanged our voucher for an actual ticket and only waited about 6-7 min. for the next elevator. The views from the top were typical lookout tower views. The deck was not air conditioned though. With the temps that day in Vancouver, I was VERY uncomfortable. I would imagine that an a/c is not needed most of the time in Vancouver?? This day was just an exception with the temps. If we ever go back to Vancouver (yeah…I’m already planning my next Alaskan cruise) I want to go up again....give it another try. We DID get some fantastic photos of Star Princess - and Nieuw Amsterdam at Canada Place (which is such an interesting building) as well as some great pics of Vancouver Island, Stanley Park and of course Lion’s Gate Bridge. Yeah…definitely want to do this again someday.

Just a few blocks on up Water Street was the Gastown Steam Clock - the next stop on our DIY Vancouver tour. We arrived there at about 11:50 – PERFECT timing. The crowd was beginning to gather - but grew exponentially by the minute up til noon - We staked out our ‘spot’ and waited. Sure enough…at noon, it went off. Being there for the noon 'whistle' meant we got the advantage of TWELVE whistles. We hadn't really planned it that way.... but that was nice. Haha!

At this point, we were very hot….and thirsty…and getting just a little antsy to board our ship! We had about a 6-7 block walk back to Waterfront station and I knew that back there, there was a McDonalds where I could get my Diet Coke fix...and find some a/c.
We ended up sitting there at the food court for probably half an hour - enjoying the a/c and Diet Coke refills and making our next 'plan' - The restrooms there in the food court were nice...clean too - When we finally left, we ventured over to Tim Hortons (next door) as DH considers himself to be somewhat of a coffee connoisseur..and had thought he might want to compare Tim Horton's to his other coffee discoveries on vacations - Hawaiian Peaberry...and the blend we found in Galveston last year - but we were both not only still full from IHop that morning...but had also just consumed probably TWO 32 oz Diet Cokes. He just couldn't fathom the idea of a cup of coffee too...especially in that heat...
So...we headed to the terminal - it was about 12:30.
#15
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by New York Nana
Thanks for doing this review! We are booked on the Star next May NB. We've done 3 SB and 1 round trip from Seattle, so we are curious about what to expect from both the route and the ship.
How exciting!! If I understand what Capt Tuvo said correctly, he will be back on the Star next summer - You'll LOVE him!!! He walks around the ship talking to passengers...is so good to make announcements when there are whales or other wildlife...and he ends every PA announcement with "bye-bye" We felt like we won the jackpot to have sailed Alaska with him.
#16
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by grandmaLUU
I am enjoying your review! We were on the Island Princess southbound from Aug 23rd--Aug 30th--We can compare notes!! I agree with the Customs --it was very smoothie--but long lines--We too worried about weight of luggage--I practiced run the packing few days before and with the help of the luggage scale I bought ( a lifesaver) we were ok-- but we had a 7 day land tour the week before--lots of clothes packed--some removed--many removed-- but we still had clothes that we never wore.


Sent from my iPad using Forums
You're now the 2nd person who's said they do a practice run with the luggage. I think I'm going to start doing that. I usually plan to be packed early in the afternoon to have all evening to 'adjust'...'re-do'...etc...but this time it needed more than just an afternoon.
#17
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by rocklinmom
Great review so far! We are doing this itinerary next June on the Star.
You'll LOVE it!!
#18
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by WVBill
Looking forward to your review. We're booked on a CruiseTour (tour first) next year. Sept 2 - 15 on the Star. We have C743 - one of the angled balconies too.
We really liked the angled balcony for Alaska. I know there are people who say they don't like it...and I wonder if I would feel that way if it were a warm-weather cruise??? but for Alaska, it gave us some shelter and protection from wind/rain. We lost a little in the viewing without being able to see aft...but we gained so much with the view forward..and 'protection' that we felt like we came out ahead.
#19
337 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Check In and On Board:

At the terminal, PCL check in process was rather painless…with manageable lines. Such was not the case when we looked over on the HAL side! I was never so thankful to be with PCL as I was that day…well actually, I was thankful on MANY occasions, but I’ll get to that later. First was PCL check in and cruise card…then US Customs - which had longer lines… These were the same kiosks as at the airport - scan passport…answer questions…get print out…speak with an agent and proceed to the lines for the ship. I always skip that embarkation photo. This upsets them terribly….I skip it anyway. Honestly, if they’d just understand, I’m doing them a favor. I’m not going to buy that photo….probably not even going to look for it in the displays. It’s a waste of everyone’s time – posing, snapping or printing.

All together, it took just under 1˝ hrs to go from check in to navigating security on the ship.

We dropped off our carry-ons at the cabin – no luggage yet…and headed to the buffet. Once again, we had missed the special MDR lunch. (For the first time I saw the MDR lunch mentioned in the Patters. It seems before, they’ve tried to DIVERT people from going there.) Anyway, missing that lunch was a CHOICE this time. We CHOSE to spend our morning in Vancouver. (It wasn’t the first time on this cruise we would have to make choices between two REALLY GREAT options.) We found a table at a window in Horizon Court and had a nice lunch overlooking the harbor.

I was so anxious to get my copy of Alaska Cruise Companion that I forgot the bookstore wouldn’t open until we left port….so made a wasted trip there. Ugh! After that, we began collecting stamps for the raffle. (when boarding, they give you a card to collect stamps throughout the ship…turn the completed card in for drawings the next day’) It should be mentioned that on our last cruise, I WON a free coffee card in the drawing. Since then, I’ve become convinced that all I have to do is get all those stamps to win something….I was aiming for the photo package this time. By 3:45, we only lacked 3 stamps, but it was time to grab life jackets for Muster drill. (I should probably mention here that getting these stamps is very easy...we're usually trying to get 'oriented' to the ship anyway....possibly find our Muster station. The 'venues' to get stamps are usually set up mid-ship around the Piazza...you just walk around that area to 'collect' them... No, we don't invest a lot of time or effort into getting these....)

After Muster, we went quickly to our chosen spot for sail away. I wanted to be as high on the ship as possible for sailing under Lion’s Gate Bridge. I had made a list of Top 3 places to be…we ended up on Deck 15 forward. Of course, the bow is ALWAYS going to be the windiest spot on the ship…but still a great spot for going under Lion’s Gate.

By this time, Capt Tuvo was making his famous announcements. He is such a hoot!! LOVED him as Captain. If you don’t know who he is, do a search here on cruisecritic of his name…you’ll find lots of information about him. Just by way of information, the way I understood his announcement on the last sea day, he will be back on Star for the next Alaska cruising season...though right now, he has gone to Island (I believe) to relieve the Capt there for his vacation. Anyway….On our cruise he walked around the Dining room during breakfast, talking to people. Some would try to get him to pose for pictures…and the minute a table would do that, he would rush to get out of that area. I assume that was a tactic he developed to keep from getting ambushed. I always hated to see a group ask for that photo-op because it usually meant that our table was NOT going to get a visit… Oh well…I digress….Anyway…as we were nearing Lion’s Gate bridge, he told us that we barely had clearance to make it under the bridge...therefore, we all needed to hold our breath. We obliged and I’m almost certain that is why the Star Princess is still sailing today....and I am here to write this review having sailed and seen Alaska….

According to Capt Tuvo, sailing under Lion’s Gate Bridge signals the beginning of the cruise. Before, I’d always thought it was Muster Drill….yet another example of how this cruise broke all the molds.

Now, it was time to get ready for dinner – Anytime Dining for us. We got a table for 2 in less than 5 min. without near the hassle we had securing one on previous PCL cruises. I don’t know if that’s a change with Princess…or a ship by ship thing.

Service in the dining room was not as ‘welcoming’ on the first two nights as it was later in the cruise. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what was different….we just got the feeling that our presence was an imposition on the waiters who were serving us. It didn’t damper our cruise at all (how could you damper Alaska??) but it was something we noticed. It got better on the last half of the cruise.

The menu tonight was the typical ‘embarkation night menu’ and the Alaska cuisine item in the Princess Favorites section was Hazelnut Crusted Salmon with Maple Syrup Glaze. I ordered it and it was 'ok'….I enjoyed it but was not tempted to order it again. DH doesn’t care for seafood, so ordered the prime rib and gave it raving reviews. The menu had "Alaska Cuisine" items every night - items that are exclusively for Alaskan sailings. They included things like cod, Shrimp Danielle, salmon and of course the crab legs to list a few that I enjoyed. There were a LOT of seafood choices throughout the week. This was somewhat of a struggle for DH – as I said, he doesn’t care for seafood. He always found something to eat but commented that the dining room smelled ‘fishy’. I, of course, LOVED all the seafood choices…..to each his own.

After dinner, we DID get our copy of Rachel Cartwright’s Alaska Cruise Companion. This is (imho) a MUST for anyone cruising Alaska with PCL. The author, Rachel Cartwright was a naturalist with Princess from 1998-2005 and her book follows the Princess cruises: ports, sea days, viewpoint and sites, wildlife viewing spots, etc… But the true gem in this book is the removable map in the back. I brought magnets for the wall and put our map up immediately when we got back to the stateroom. We referred to it OFTEN…..

There was entertainment that evening, MUTS, Trivia, raffles, etc… and while those things might peak our interest on Caribbean cruises, they were not at the top of our priority list with this Alaska cruise. Like I said…this cruise broke the mold on most things we do or enjoy on cruises. Everything was different this time. Things that we considered important in the past faded in comparison to the Inside Passage, whale viewing, glaciers. We didn’t watch a single movie at MUTS….we didn’t go to a single sales presentation at the spa…or art gallery et al…. We didn’t go to trivia or karaoke a single time… Instead, we totally immersed ourselves in All Things Alaska! It was fantastic!!! That evening, I finished unpacking, getting settled…then crawled in bed with my new book and read all about tomorrow’s sailing and sites. We’d be up before dawn tomorrow to see the sunrise…. Tomorrow would be a busy day!!!
#20
Palmdale, Ca
33,423 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Sounds like it was a great start to your cruise.....

Bob
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Future: Star Princess Hawaii R/T From LA 11/18
Future: Emerald Princess Alaska R/T From from Los Angeles 04/18
Pacific Princess Panama Canal Cruise 05/17 - 17 Days
Caribbean Princess Iceland/Norway T/A 09/16 - 17 Days **First Princess Elite Cruise**
Caribbean Princess Iceland/Norway T/A 09/15 - 16 Days
Golden Princess West Coast Getaway 04/15 - 3 Days
Royal Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/13 - 18 Days Inaugural T/A Crossing
Sapphire Princess Hawaii R/T From LA 03/13 - 14 Days
Ruby Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/11 - 18 Days
Golden Princess Hawaii R/T From LA 02/11 - 14 Days
Ruby Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/09 - 18 Days
Diamond Princess AUS/NZ 01/09 - 12 Days
Emerald Princess Med/Trans Atlantic 10/08 - 18 Days
Celebrity Constellation British Isles/Norway 07/06 - 14 Days
Celebrity Summit Alaska Repo 05/05 - 14 Days
Celebrity Summit Panama Canal 10/02 - 14 Days
RCCL Rhapsody OTS Alaska 09/01 - 7 Days
RCCL Splendour OTS Baltic/Northern Europe 09/99 - 12 Days
HAL Veendam Eastern Caribbean 07/96 - 7 Days
Carnival Holiday Western Caribbean 07/93 - 7 Days

240 Days At Sea: 167 Days Princess , 42 Days Celebrity. 19 Days RCCL, 7 Days HAL, 7 Days Carnival.....

My Cruise Pictures on Flickr

Roll Call Thread

Roll Call Thread