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Everything posted by CruiserN1

  1. Reviews on Amazon are a bit mixed. Also kind of pricey since you have to use one pouch per garment. Does not seem worth it to me.
  2. I'm really sorry it hasn't been a good cruise for you. Antarctica is on my bucket list, but I plan to go with an expedition company that has permission to land on the continent. I hope your cruise gets better from here. Those penguin photos are wonderful. I'm so happy you at least got to see them.
  3. No paper received. I did call the Dine Line for a reservation for Crab Shack. The first time I was told to call back the next morning. I did, made the reservation, and showed up at the correct day and time to discover they didn't have my reservation. It wasn't fully booked so they accommodated us, but I wasn't impressed. And certainly didn't feel like a "priority."
  4. See https://www.princess.com/ships-and-experience/ships/staterooms/reserve-collection/ where it states that Reserve Mini-Suite guests receive "Priority Specialty Dining Reservations. Receive special assistance with priority reservations at your favorite specialty restaurants." I did not receive this service nor was it offered to me.
  5. Ask for Arnold in the Reserve dining room, he and his assistant I'wayan will take great care of you!
  6. We arrived the day before the cruise. We've visited Vancouver before and had limited time for this trip. Granville Island is a fun place to spend the day if you have time before the cruise. I don't think we had a favorite port. Our least favorite was Icy Straight Point. We did two Princess excusions and three privately booked excursions. The Glacier Point Safari in Skagway was our favorite, booked through AlaskaX. We also had a great whale watch in Juneau with Harv and Marv and an OK whale watch with Hoonah Whale Watching in Icy Straight. The two Princess excursions were OK but a bit crowded. We did the Sea Otter Wildlife Cruise in Sitka and the Eagles, Lighthouse, and Totems in Ketchikan with Princess. The Sitka one was crowded but we saw more than we did with the Ketchikan excursion.
  7. This was our third cruise with Princess. We have also sailed several times with Celebrity and most recently with HAL in March 2023. We're an early 50's/early 60's couple with no kids. We take two 10-14 day vacations a year (not retired yet and not wealthy). This was my third Alaska cruise and my husband's second. We cruised to Alaska on the Coral Princess in July 2011. We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary. Below are my thoughts, which no doubt differ from some of yours. CABIN: We chose a Reserve mini-suite, which is on Deck 9 (Dolphin), mid-ship. The cabin size was roomy compared to a regular balcony on Princess and other lines we've sailed. The exposed balcony wasn't great because we had a good bit of rain. The cabin and its furnishings were quite worn. The sofa looked like something out of a thrift store, saggy and threadbare in places. The coffee table was missing the cap on two legs and the wood was badly scuffed and scratched. The walls were peeling where people had shuffled against them at the end of the bed. The bed itself was comfortable enough but not exceptional. The bathroom was nice and big with the tub, which was larger than expected. Overall I would rate the cabin 3/5. RESERVE CLASS EXPERIENCE: The best aspect of the experience was the Reserve Class dining room. More about that under food. The rest of the Reserve experience either wasn't much or we didn't receive it. We were not allowed in the Priority Embarkation lounge because the person monitoring the entrance said it was for suite, elite, and platinum only. He didn't seem to know what Reserve Class was and I wasn't going to argue about it. If there was a concierge onboard to help book specialty dining, we weren't introduced to them or told where to find them. We ordered the canapes the first day and they were not at all tasty. A fruit and cheese plate would have been much better. I would rate Reserve Class 2/5 and the 2 is for the dining experience. DINING ROOM: The restaurant manager and waiters in the Reserve Class dining room (really a section of the Da Vinci dining room) were outstanding. We felt welcomed and cared for from the first meal, which was embarkation lunch. The restaurant manager prepared a special salad for sea day lunches and a pasta dish or risotto for dinner, usually with shrimp. They were all exceptional and I skipped the main entree several nights to enjoy his entree instead. All of the food we ordered arrived hot. We never went without our favorite cocktails. We were never asked to share a table (though the tables for 2 are quite close together). It was the best dining room experience we have ever had on a cruise. Reserve Class dining gets a 5/5. NON-DINING ROOM FOOD: The buffet on the Crown is poorly laid out for the number of people on the ship. The stations are crowded and there are fewer stations with fewer choices than on other ships of similar size that we have sailed pre and post-COVID. We had one lunch there after returning from an excurision and it was not good. We avoided the buffet except to grab a mid-afternoon snack. The International Cafe was disappointing. The pastries were very dry and lacked flavor. I love a chocolate or almond croissant with my coffee in the morning and after a couple tries I stopped ordering them. Very little filling and very dry pastry. I had soup and a sandwich there for lunch one time and they were OK except for the sandwich roll being soggy from the tomato. Specialty coffees were hit or miss, sometimes tasted burned. The "best pizza at sea" had a good crust but very little flavor in the sauce or cheese. The Salty Dog Grill was typically a long wait (30-40 min) and the food was just OK. Forget about the line for the premium ice cream desserts. We never got one because one person was making them and the line was 10-15 people every time we were in the area. I give the ship's non-MDR food a 2/5. CREW: We found the crew to be friendly and helpful and eager to please. We don't require much of our steward or anyone else on board. My one experience going to guest services to redeem a gift card was great. Everyone who served us did so with a smile. I give the crew 5/5. ACTIVITIES: I attended several of the arts and crafts activities and they were rushed and not that fun. The person leading was either super stressed out or apathetic (two different leaders). The crafts themselves were cheap projects and not that fun. I would have paid $25 for a two-hour class where we made something worth bringing home. We aren't trivia, music, production show, or game show people, so we didn't attend any of those and can't comment. We did go to all but one of the enrichment lectures. Our "naturalist" mostly told stories about life in Alaska or gave very basic facts about wildlife, flora, etc. We went for something to do but didn't find the lectures interesting or even really focused on nature. She also seemed to be promoting shore excursions a lot of the time. Activities gets a 2/5. FELLOW PASSENGERS: I really don't mind children around, despite not having my own, but the standards of behavior of some parents and kids were outrageous. We had a family on our deck and side that allowed their 3 kids to run down the hall at full speed and making as much noise as they wanted to at any time of day or night. These weren't tiny kids, they looked to be 8-14 years old, and our room shook when they ran by. Other poorly behaved and unsupervised kids were often around the ship. Other than that, most people seemed friendly and it was a diverse group age-wise. I won't assign a rating here as it doesn't seem polite, but the no-kid ships are becoming more appealing to us. These are the main categories of our experience that seemed worth sharing. I'm happy to answer questions about other aspects of our cruise experience. We would consider sailing Princess again if the itinerary appealed to us, but would not sail on the Crown or any of the older ships as the experience just isn't great.
  8. Thanks everyone. The athetic shoe I need to wear is a very specific pair of New Balance that have a ton of support in the heel and arch. I don't typically wear black clothing, so I bought them in a white with grey accents. They are nearly new and very clean and I shall wear them without fear of scorn in the MDR.
  9. I am rehabbing a hip injury and can't walk very far wearing anything other than tennis shoes/trainers/sneakers without aggravating it. We leave July 14 on Crown to Alaska. Will there be an issue if I wear athletic footwear to the MDR for dinner? (Not trying to start a debate about proper dress, just want to make sure I'm prepared).
  10. One thing that hasn't been mentioned that I would point out because OP wants to be prepared for tipping----the shore excursion companies (whether you book one through Princess or independently) expect you to tip the team that led the excursion. One of them will usually mention gratituties at some point and there may be a tip jar out as you depart. We usually tip $20 if it's a typical 3 hour excursion and it was average, $30 if it was terrific.
  11. Princess' description of how the tips are distributed is what makes me concerned. As stated "The pooled funds are distributed throughout the year in the form of compensation, including bonuses, to crewmembers fleetwide who interact directly with guests and/or behind the scene." I take this to mean that my waiter or room steward may get some of my gratuity as part of their salary and then some of it is diverted to a bonus pool that may or may not include the people who directly interact with me. Seems like it would be better to build proper compensation and a bonus fund into the cruise fare instead of using gratuities to balance the books for those items. This same issue is what is leading to being asked to tip people in service industries in general who were not tipped before (like the guy who makes the food you pick up at a restaurant). It's a way for business owners to pay the staff less and leave it to patrons to bridge the gap between that amount and a reasonable wage.
  12. We're doing Reserve Class for the first time on our cruise on Crown in two weeks. It added about $500 to the cost of the cruise total for the two of us, so it seemed worth it. We'll see if it still feels worth it at the end of the cruise.
  13. Sorry you are having to deal with this. It's super frustrating that Princess can't just let you use the gift card to pay online. I cruised with HAL a few months ago and their website has the option to use a gift card. It was so much easier. I ended up using Princess gift cards to pay off my cruise (though my TA, who handled it with Princess) but based on CC reports of unhelpful Princess agents such as those you encountered, I didn't try using them to book shore ex or spa or dining in advance. I have $200 in GCs to put on my cruise account when on board. Between that and using the GCs to pay my cruise fare, I'll have saved $520. But I agree with you that it isn't worth the hassle to try to get them applied over the phone. Hope it all works out for you in the end, OP, and that your cruise is fabulous enough to make you forget this debacle.
  14. Wow, that's terrific. I am not a huge fan of the buffet.
  15. We are cruising on Crown in about 3 weeks, our first time in Reserve class dining. I thought it was open for dinner only, but based on some of the comments here, are we able to dine there for breakfast and lunch also? We have a RC mini-suite.
  16. I so appreciate CC and this post. I found it while on chat with a Princess rep who was "researching the issue." I was done requesting it through the Cruise Personalizer before he came back on with any response other than thanking me for my loyalty.
  17. Here's a thought for Princess, how about making refundable OBC easy to get refunded? I sailed on HAL a few months ago and had around $350 of refundable OBC left at the end of the cruise. Within a week, that amount was refunded to my credit card on file. I had no reason to try to cash it out in the casino because I knew it would be returned to me quickly and easily.
  18. Last cruise on Celebrity (Summit) was last July. I thought the food in the MDR was worse than pre-COVID but the buffet was still good. Cruised HAL this past March and thought food was better than Celebrity in both MDR and buffet (on Rotterdam). We're doing Princess (Crown) next month after not cruising with them since 2015. I thought their food at that time was fine.
  19. Does anyone know if Crown has Starlink internet yet or is it still super slow? Cruising in a few weeks and hoping it's availble by then.
  20. Just want to extend my condolences to the OP on their situation. I think it can be easy to say they should have bought trip insurance, but it gets $$ to do that with each trip and if your health is good, it can seem like an unnecessary expense. And of course, hindsight is 20/20. We lost $3K on a Hawaiian vacation we had to cancel after my husband was hospitalized a week before the trip with a cardiac issue. Credit card trip insurance would not cover it because it was a vacation rental (it was in the fine print) so we had to eat the loss. We have taken two cruises since then because the cruise line insurance/cancel any reason is the only insurance he can get without paying an exorbitant fee. OP, I hope everyone is OK and that you were able to board and enjoy at least part of your vacation.
  21. It isn't going to be THAT cold in Alaska that you need warm boots (I say this as a person living in Texas where the high today is 98). I would suggest comfortable walking shoes/sneakers if you have them. If you don't but are able to buy some, Sketchers Go Walk shoes are comfortable and light weight.
  22. Sailing on Crown for the first time in about a month. Do I need to purchase a pass to get access to the pool/steam room/sauna in the spa? If not, what are the "extras" that come with purchasing the pass?
  23. We purchased the Princess vacation protection because my husband has had some health issues over the past 6 months that would make him ineligible for any other plan other than very expensive cancel for any reason plans. Even plans that state that they cover pre-existing conditions limit that to stable medical conditions. If you have a pending medical test or surgery at the time you buy the insurance, the pre-existing condition waiver does not apply and you cannot get coverage. It's 95% likely that we'll be able to cruise as scheduled, but just in case it was worth it for us to get the Princess plan. Also, we are going to Alaska so our health insurance would cover us for that.
  24. You can request a handheld in advance in the app, but hit or miss if it shows up without asking your room attendant.
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