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About mgcarnut

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Fair Oaks, California
  • Interests
    MGs, BMWs, classic propliners, home theater, reading, non-fiction writing
  1. You mention flu - was that the one that results in a hacking, croupy sounding cough? When we were on the Island on the 9/5 Whittier to Vancouver cruise we heard a number of people with this cough, even on the first few days. The most irritating were the 3 folks with it at the next table over in the MDR, and the cretin couple that took the Ultimate Ships Tour even though they were both horking up lung parts! Despite taking all the precautions, I managed to get a scratchy throat on the second to last day of the cruise, and yes, developed the cough when I got home!
  2. We were on the 9/5 Island southbound Alaska cruise, and one night in the MDR they had a special drink concoction, a vile-tasting cough syrupy passion fruit thing that came in the complimentary frosted shot glass. It was almost worth choking the stuff down to get the souvenir glass.
  3. mgcarnut


    The first shuttle leaves the lodge for Talkeetna at 7:00 AM. The last one back to the lodge leaves Talkeetna at 8:30 PM. We were able to do two tours back to back on our full day at McKinley Princess Lodge, the Devil's Canyon Jetboat Adventure at 9:30 AM and a glacier flight with Talkeetna Air Taxi at 4:00 PM. That was a fantastic, yet tiring day.
  4. We were on the Island Princess southbound Voyage of the Glaciers cruise in September. This was Wednesday to Wednesday, but you should check the Sapphire schedule to see what time you dock in Vancouver. If it is in the morning, they may offer a Stanley Park and City Highlights tour, which we took upon our disembarkation in Vancouver. The tour started at 9:30 AM, gave us about 1/2 hour foot time in the park, along with a lot of sightseeing and photo ops, then the bus dropped us off at the airport with all our luggage at noon. They say this will work if you arrive Vancouver in the morning and your flight doesn't leave until after 2 PM. Not a lot of time in Vancouver, but it gives you a taste of the city.
  5. Pam, you are not being picky. In fact, it is nice to see someone with such extensive Princess experience that also thought the food was just "OK". On our 9/5 southbound Alaska cruise, the French Onion soup tasted pretty much identical to that offered in our cafeteria at work (which is not known for offering gastronomic delights)! Most of the "meat with sauce" offerings were pretty bland and uninteresting. About the only MDR items that really wowed me were the fettucine alfredo and the Love Boat Dream dessert (even though I have read it has been "cheapened" of late). My wife and I only have 2 cruises under our belts (2010 Panama Canal on Celebrity and 2012 Alaska with Princess), but we did find Celebrity had many more food offerings that wowed us. Of course, maybe Celebrity food has declined in the last 2 years as well.
  6. Talkeetna is the jumping off point for several cool tours. Mahay's Jet Boats has a number of tours of local rivers, including the Devil's Canyon tour where the boat parks on top of Class 5 rapids. Talkeetna Air Taxi offers various flightseeing excursions, we were going to do a McKinley summit flight and glacier landing, but the weather didn't cooperate. We still got to flightsee in the foothills of McKinley, and I got some amazing photos:
  7. Yes, that's the same furniture and non-skid floor matting we had on our Baja Deck balcony 2 weeks ago on our Alaska cruise. It was comfortable for the short times we sat outside. Not every stateroom must have gotten that comfortable quilted pad. Our mattress was stiff as a board, and my wife (who does some back exercises on the bed) swore we were sleeping on a box spring - she could feel metal things just below the surface.
  8. I took 3 of the bath soap bars from the McKinley and Denali Princess Lodges because they smelled good, didn't make me itch, and would be good to use on short trips. But we ran out of room in our suitcases (with all the goodies from the Ultimate Ship Tour), so I had to ditch them. Oh well...
  9. We prepped for our Alaska trip (which included several waterborne excursions as well as the cruise itself) by taking Bonine every day, starting the day before we left. This served us well on our first tour of the Kenai Fjords on a fairly small (~100 pax) powered catamaran. The seas had 6-8 foot swells and the boat was pitching pretty well. When I felt a little uneasy stomach coming on, we broke out our Sea Bands and our ginger candy. Felt fine after that. Not so for the poor guy at the next table, he had his face stuck in a barf bag for the entire trip. So I think a combination of an OTC motion sickness med and some of the other palliatives when needed worked well for us. YMMV
  10. I can't speak for suites, but I can compare and contrast two Princess and Celebrity ships, based on one cruise on each (Panama Canal Celebrity Constellation 2010 and Alaska Island Princess 2012). Both ships are Panamax and about the same size and passenger complement We liked the layout of the Island more than the Constellation - you don't have to be routed through the casino on the Island when you want to get somewhere, and we didn't run into as many smoking areas on the Island. Only place the Island didn't measure up to the Constellation were the elevators - having to remember which ones went to which floors is a pain. We also missed the forward-facing inside lounge on the Constellation, but loved the forward "secret" outside decks on the Island that made for great glacier viewing. We had balcony cabins on both. Constellation had a larger square footage with a small sofa, also the shower is way bigger than the phone booth on the Island. There was more useful storage space on the Island, we didn't need to use a shoe organizer over the bathroom door like we did on the Constellation. Better TV on the Island, with selectable inputs so we could plug our cameras in to view our photo/video (this may have been upgraded since 2010 on the Constellation). Bed on Constellation was MUCH better than on the Island - my wife (who does back exercises while on the bed) was certain we were sleeping on top of a box spring, she could feel the metal pieces. Celebrity has the edge here: Celebrity, better MDR food and better ice cream parlor selections (gelatos rather than just soft serve) Celebrity shows were better Celebrity library was unlocked and available anytime Princess has the edge here: Princess, friendlier feel to ship and crew Princess manages embarkation and disembarkation better than Celebrity, they have people movement down to a science Princess DIY laundry facilities were better than having to pay through the nose on Celebrity for laundry service. Cheers, Paul
  11. We have a couple of ceiling fans with built-in lights. The remotes for these fans have a Security setting that turns the lights on and off at random, making it look like someone is home. You can always plug a lamp or two into an Intermatic timer that will turn it on and off at dawn and dusk
  12. Yes, we were on the 9/5-12/12 southbound Island Princess cruise, and we also hustled to the Passenger Service Desk as soon as we boarded to sign up for the tour (having heard the lottery rumor). Seemed like there were only 10 people signed up, so I don't think they needed a "lottery". Our final group was 13 people. We saw the bridge and met the Captain, the forward mooring room, the theater control room and dressing rooms backstage, the galley (where we had canapes and champagne), a control room for the engines, the laundry room, print shop, photo processing room, and the infirmary. We were escorted by a guide and a ship's photographer. Crew members were at each location to describe their operation and demonstrate equipment. On the move from place to place, they pointed out various other areas like the radio/electronics repair shop, machine shop, and recycling center. All would have been of interest to me to see in more detail, but they had to stay with the more popular areas. As some have said, there is a lot of walking, and they escorted us from place to place at a pretty fast clip (so we could maximize our time at the points of interest). Wear non-slip shoes if you take the tour. We also got parting gifts including a terrycloth robe (not the thin waffleweave one), a chef's jacket, personalized note pads, and 8x10 photos of our group in various areas of the ship. This was our favorite onboard activity from that cruise, and I think the $150 fee was fair considering the goodies we received. It was much more comprehensive than the bridge tour we had on Celebrity in 2010, but that one was free and arranged by our Cruise Critic meet and mingle group. The only down side was the couple on the tour who had the hacking and horking chest cold that everyone seemed to catch on our cruise. We did our best to stay as far away from them as possible, but I ended up running out of Zicam and got the cold on the last day anyway.
  13. We noticed that as well, which made us decide if we ever do that cruise again, we would probably choose late dining. That way we wouldn't be racing back from a port excursion or missing out on the Hubbard scenery. We missed one 5:30 dinner because we were slogging our way back from the WPRR station to the ship in Skagway in the rain.
  14. Yep, I realize it is never going to happen, but it must cost Princess more to operate the MDR per person fed than the Horizon Court. Of course, the logistics of tracking who goes where might outweigh the cost differential. What it would amount to would be a 3-tier system, instead of the current 2. Instead of MDR>Specialty Restaurant, you would have Horizon Court>MDR>Specialty Restaurant. In addition to a surcharge to eat in the Specialty Restaurant, you would have a small credit for only eating in the buffet.
  15. My wife and I were on the Island Princess southbound Alaska cruise 9/5-9/12. For various reasons, we were not impressed with the MDR. I enjoy conviviality with our tablemates, so we requested a table for 6. One couple were absent the entire cruise, and the other couple we ended up seeing only twice during the cruise. Also (as I mentioned in another post), we did not feel the food quality matched the ambience and service of the MDR. On both formal nights, we were sitting alone at an empty table, dressed up and wondering why. After reflecting on this, we thought of an interesting possibility. Princess, why not offer a discount on the cruise fare for those who agree to avoid the MDRs and only eat at the Horizon Court? I'm sure a suitable cost difference could be calculated, and the discount passed on to the passenger. Has this ever occurred to anyone else?
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