Island to Alaska with Pictures

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#1
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I'm going to try this in segments, since I've already deleted it once.

My pictures are posted at:

http://community.webshots.com/user/cktrent

Our trip:

Pre-cruise

We were coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary in June and were trying to decide what to do. Our 2 favorite baseball teams were playing in Dallas, we could go see a show in Kansas City, or we could just do what we usually do and watch our son play baseball.
OK, dummy, my wife says, how often do you get to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary (the cynical side of me says only once like all of the others, but that's another story). Yea, Yea, an excuse for a trip (I love to travel). So what are we going to do? We were just at Disney World at Christmas, so that's out. She says how about Europe (yuck), or Hawaii (Oh, yeah). OK, time to play. First thing Europe is out, too expensive (or at least that's what I told her), let's go to Hawaii.
On a whim I decided to check out a cruise. We went on a cruise for our honeymoon, and haven't been since, so why not? Let's see where to go? How about Alaska? She has always wanted to see Alaska and I love the idea so let's check it out.
Now the question is when. We decided that the first two weeks in May were about the only time we could really get away. After looking around it came down to the first sailing of the Island Princess. (I don't know about going to Alaska in early May, too cold BRRRRR.) OK, let's go for it.
We booked and paid, this was around the first of April, kinda last minute. Only one balcony cabin was left, E632 catagory BE. OK, I was hoping for something better (Boy was I wrong), but off we go.
We got our pre-cruse documents in about a week. This is getting exciting. We got on the internet and arranged all of our shore excursions, more exciting. We filled out all of the pre-cruise information, robes or not, Coke or Sprite, to be or not to be...more excitement.
Three weeks before sailing, no documents, so I go in to the TA's office and ask, she says be patient. OK. Two weeks before sailing, no documents, I go in to the TA's office, let's call Princess. Mailed last week should get them today. No problem. That's Monday. Tuesday, no documents. Wednesday, no documents, back to TA's office, call Princess again. Princess says it usually takes about 10 days after they are mailed, don't worry. (What me worry, it's just my job, it's what I do best.) Finally, Friday, one week before sailing the documents arrive.
Now were really excited. Let's look at the itinerary. Let's see we leave lovely OKC at 6:30 AM (yes, that's AM), go to Houston (aren't we trying to get to Vancouver?) change terminals and planes, get on a 737, (for a 4.5 hour flight are you nuts), and fly to Vancouver. By the way your clastrophobic wife is sitting in a middle seat on the other side of the plane from your window seat. This is not good. No problem, I'll just go to the Continental Airlines website and change the (THE PLANE IS FULL) seats. OK, plan B. We've both got a bunch of frequent flyer miles, we'll just upgrade to first class. Call Continental, "no can do". Call Continental again, "no, you really can't". "Princess buys bulk rate tickets from us and there is no way we can upgrade them no matter how much you want to pay." OK, I'm stubborn, call TA and have her call Princess. "Yea, Princess might be able to do it if you cancel your air, that will cost you 100% of what you paid for the air, then if it is available we'll rebook you." I don't think so. So off to the airport we go dreading the long flight to Vancouver.
By the way did you check the time on the flight home? 8:30 pm to 6:30 am, 9:30 am to 10:30 am, that looks like fun.

Moral of this story - try to make your own air reservations.

Next arrival in Vancouver.
#2
Marietta, Ga.
2,256 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
It is a shame you didn't find our roll call. We were across the hall in E709. Also flew Continental but we came in on thursday and there were only 40 some people on the flight.

Scott
#3
Somerville, MA
3,165 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
cworld,

First of all Happy Anniversary, also welcome back to cruising.
Thanks for the first installment and the link, the pictures are wonderful...can't wait to see the rest.
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Seeing the world one port at a time, on Princess

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#4
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
On to Vancouver.

The time has finally arrived, it's 4:30am, yes AM, on cruise day. Having just gone to bed at about 1:00am, we're kinda grumpy as we get up for our nice long trip. OK, hon, it's gonna be fun.
Off to the airport. Change seats for Vancouver leg (Yea). In the plane. On to Houston, breakfast in the airport, check documents, board plane, take off, here we go.
We arrived in Vancouver at noon, right on schedule. About the same time as 4 jumbo jets arrive. We all hit customs at the same time. The line was very long, but the Canadians had a lot of agents working and it only took about an hour. The line really moved quickly. In their defense it was the first real sailing day.
After customs we pick up our bags 1, 2, 3, hey honey, I thought we checked 4 bags, where is the big one. You know, the one with your suit, and our coats, your jeans, and your sweatshirts. You're gonna get kinda cold if we don't find it. We went over to Northwest Airlines lost luggage stand (that's right Northwest, they handle the luggage for Continental in Vancouver) and start the lost luggage process. No claim ticket, but here is our phone number.
We go on over to the Princess desk where a wonderful agent starts a claim form for us, and says they will get the bag to us, probably in Ketchican. OK.

We get on a bus and take a wonderful senic tour of Vancouver. It is an interesting town. We arrive at the dock at about 3:30. U.S. Customs. Another long line. There are only 2 agents working when we walk in. In a minute here come 2 more. It took more than 1.5 hours for us to get through customs. (Let's see, depart from an airport in U.S. airspace, go through Candaian customs, get directly on a bus and ride to the dock, then you have to spend over an hour to get through US Customs again, in Vancouver, HUH?) We came out of customs to the Princess check-in station which took about 3 minutes. FINALLY, on to the ship. Stop at the top of the gangway for the security picture and WE ARE THERE!!!

Our Cabin

We went directly to our cabin. Being a map kinda guy, I knew exactly where I was going. We didn't get lost once, (except for...) and went right to our cabin E632. I was worried about the location of the cabin being a catagory BE. It was almost perfect. Right outside the door was the elevator. The stairs went right down to the Universal Theater. It seemed like we were in the most stable area of the ship. I noticed more rolling when we were in the front then when we were in the back. The views in port were always the preferred views. It seemed like when we were in the glacier fields that the port side was the place to be. Overall the location was outstanding.
Everything was as we requested it. The bed was in a queen configuration, and there were cans of Cokes and Sprites, like we had put on the request form. The only thing missing were the robes. We met our steward, (and I never did get his name right) and asked for the robes. He put them in the cabin while we were at dinner. He did a fine job all week. Just ask and it appeared.
The bed was kinda hard and came apart at some unopportune times (if you know what I mean). But overall was great.
The Balcony. I will never take another cruise without one. What a wonderful invention. We probably spent 2 hours a day sitting out here. On the Emerald deck all of the balconies are covered, which came in handy on Friday when it rained a little. The views from the balcony were spectacular. Especially in the evenings. The curtains did close fully and not let any morning light in.

Rating for the cabin A-
Next the ship
#5
Arlington, Texas
2,086 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Great Pictures! Thanks for sharing!
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#6
Longview, Tx USA
276 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Great and funny post. Are you going to post anyore pictures? We will be on the Isalnd July 2.
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#7
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
A couple of more quick things about the cabin. (I remembered as I drove home from work.) The bathroom was very small. We are largish people and we could not both get in the room at once. The shower curtain was a little annoying (especially the day there was no hot water), and it was very hard to pick up the soap when dropped (been there, done that).
There was plenty of storage area, (even enough for after we got the missing bag) including enough hangers to hang every piece of clothes we own (I mean, that we brought). There wasn't alot of storage area in the bathroom. I had to put everything back in my shaving kit every day, and my wife only had room for half of her stuff.
The shampoo came in handy, since I left ours at home. It was replenished whenever we opened a new one.
The TV was great, (if they'd had this 25 years ago, I'd probably have taken another cruise or 2). We ended up watching Terminal one afternoon. We didn't have anything planned and as we flipped through it started. Good movie. The hardest thing to adjust to was that baseball games started at like 4:00 in the afternoon (8:00 eastern, 7:00 central, 6:00 mountain, 5:00 western, 4:00 alaskan). The only annoying thing was when the sattelite would lose a channel (and the lack of Fox News). The bridge channel (that gives all of the mileages and stuff) was neat.
By the way if anyone at Princess reads this, the refrigerator in E632 doesn't work, I forgot to tell anyone.
Gotta run
#8
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Shirleya53, just posted about 20 more. It takes a while. I'll try to get mostly done this weekend. By the way, we lived in Longview for a couple of years, and our son was born there.
#9
East Tennessee
3,551 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Thanks for the review & pictures, cworld. Your picture titled Last Light was so beautiful! I'll be on the Island in a few weeks and I can't wait to see sights like that!

Thanks for reviewing the practical stuff, too. I'd been wondering about hangers & storage, but hadn't gotten around to posting a question. That really helps.

Looking forward to the next installment.
#10
Marietta, Ga.
2,256 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
Great pictures. I need to figure out how to get ours up on Webshots.

By the way after looking at your pics, I think you and your wife were sitting in the row in front of us on the flight from Anchorage.

Scott
#11
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
On to the ship.

We arrived in our cabin at about 4:00. The "emergency" drill was scheduled at 4:45. I was in desparate need of a Coke. I also needed to pop down to the pursers desk and check on our missing bag, and the wifey needed to mail something. So we went exploring.
We were both pretty desparate for a Coke since we hadn't had a chance to get anything since the airplane (5 stinkin' hours ago). So we went straight to the bar on the 5th floor across from the pursers desk.
This was when we got our first view of the atruim. As on of my friends would say, "OH MY GOSH". You have to understand that on our honeymoon we sailed on the SS Dolphin. Which was a pretty run down ship 25 years ago. We have not experienced any of the "new" cruise ships. Sure I read about them, and I've seen pictures of them, but until you walk in and see the marble staircases, the palm trees, the string quartet, the lights everywhere (under the stairs, on the ceiling, around each floor), the artwork, the decoration on the ceiling of every floor, the sitting areas that have views to the outside, even the hand railing, just the incredible beauty of the whole area, you really don't have a feel for the opluence, the richness, the overwhelming feeling of how this is the heart of the ship. The whole ship is designed around this area. The wood paneling all throughout the ship, the staining of the railings, the lighting, all of what you see here continues throughout the whole ship. (WHEW) Takes your breath away.
Anyway we went over to the bar and ordered our Coke stickers for our cards. With tip they were $25.00 each. This included a sticker that was put on your cruise card and a neat flask that had a Coke or Diet Coke design. We got one of each, Coke for me Diet Coke for her, that way we always knew which one was which. My Mother-in-Law, (my wifes mother) collects Coke memorabilia so we'll ship them off to her and she'll add them to her collection of other useless junk (sorry), of great treasures that some day will be worth pennies on the dollar (sorry, did I type that out loud?). Anyway, we had the bartender fill up the decanters (there that's a better word) and we strode (more like slunk) over to the pursers desk.

Just a not here to Princess. (Calling Princess, Calling Princess, come in please Princess...) Your process for getting Cokes after you have the Coke sticker stinks. Most of the time it was no problem to go to the bar and get a Coke. But one morning when we had an early shore excursion we needed our Coke at breakfast (we don't drink coffee). It was 6:30 or so. There was a bartender in the bar in the Horizon court. He was busy moving things around and pretty much ignored the fact that I was standing there with my Coke decanters in hand. Finallly he looked at me and growled that the bar didn't open until )%))#JF. He filled my containers, but not with the usual smile. PRINCESS, for the 2 or 3 of us who don't drink alochol, or coffee, or milk, or anything but soft drinks, MAKE THE SOFT DRINKS MORE ACCESSABLE. Put a soft drink station in the food court, so while everyone else is getting their coffee, or milk, or whatever us unnatural people can get our morning caffiene. PLEASE. I know that there is a bar in the Horizon court, but it is not as convinient as being with the other drinks. OK enough of that dead horse.
Well, maybe just one more thing. If you do get a Coke sticker most of the bartenders and servers will semi-reluctantly bring you a Coke. This will be a Coke out of the fountain. At random times we got small glasses, probably 12 oz. and at other times we got large glasses maybe 20 oz. We were always really pleased to get the large glasses, being binge drinkers. A couple of times the bartenders really made it seem like it was no big deal that they weren't getting the automatic 15% tip that comes with every alocholic drink. Especially Stefani at the Horizon pool bar. She was really very friendly.
OK enough of that, when last we left our intrepid travelers, they were sauntering over to the pursers desk. (I've always wanted to be called an intrepid traveler.) When we got to the desk, I explained that we started the day with 4 suitcases, and we got to the ship with 3 suitcases (which, by the way, were in our cabin when we got there) and that although it was not Princess fault, what were they going to do about getting our bag. (I really was nice and polite, at least at this point). Dave, (from Australia) the purser supervisor, came up while we were entering information for the claim, and took over our case. He was exceedingly polite and helpful. He had a way of taking bad news and making you feel good about it. No, really he went above and beyond the call of duty to help us with our bag. He told us that when the airline found the bag they would get in touch with Princess at the airport and that the bag would probably catch up with us in Ketchican. OK, fine, no big deal, we'll unpack in a little while and see what's missing. Dave suggested that if anything was missing that we needed quickly that they would help any way they could. OK, no worries (Dave's phrase, he's not the one that's missing everything he... more on that later.)
Meanwhile back to the ship. We walked back to the room, from deck 5 in the midship area, to deck 8 in the aft (rear, I'm not very boaty and love using those nautical terms) area. As the week wore on we discovered that if you are in the lower areas of the ship (level 8 and below) and you want to go from back to the midship areas use the starboard (right side as you face the front) corridors. These corridors are much wider and much prettier. This is where most of the shops, speciality restaurants, etc are. If you walk on the port (left, where our cabin was) side you are just walking through the halls where the staterooms are.
Another note to Princess (hey guys are you reading this), you might tell your stewards when they are not cleaning, to put the cleaning carts up. Don't leave them in the halls. It's OK when they are using them, but when they are done, get them out of site. We noticed that, especially on deck 5, there was always a cart or two in the hall, no matter what time of day. We sometimes have troubles walking, and it would have been easier if we didn't have to go around the carts. Again, I understand that when they are in use they have to be there, but get them out of the way when they are done.
OK, you can tune back in now. Remember walk on the starboard side.

Sorry, but I have to go eat dinner now. At this rate I may never get through.
#12
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Steve,

We were in row 21 or 23 or something, on that eternal flight. At least it was not crowded.
#13
Marietta, Ga.
2,256 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
I don't recall the row number but it was towards the rear. Did the couple behind you get up and move back a row before we departed? If so that was us?

By the way great review.

Scott
#15
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Scott,

Yea that was us. Can't wait for teleportation. That trip home was not my favorite part of the cruise.
#16
Longview, Tx USA
276 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Originally posted by cworld
Shirleya53, By the way, we lived in Longview for a couple of years, and our son was born there.

Tell me more. Add AOL.com
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SHIRLEY & BOB
Carnival Fesstival 6/1990
Uniworld River Empress 6/2002
Celebrity Infinity 10/2003
Island Princess 7/2005
Oceania Nautica 5/2006
Star Flyer 7/2009
Oceania Insignia 6/2010
Uniworld River Royale 6-2013
Oceania Marina/8/2014

#17
Spokane, WA
1,291 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
cworld - Fun review! - looking forward to the rest. Great photos too. We're going to Alaska on the Sapphire in July. Hope we have those beautiful blue skies!
Thanks for the entertainment.
#18
Maryland
426 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
cworld - this is great. We sail on the Island August 20th. Love the story and the pictures. I look forward to more!
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#19
473 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Whew, I just looked at that last post. Kinda inturrepted myself in the middle of a thought. Oh well. Anyway, and any other meaningless phrase I can stick in here..... We headed back to the room, since it was time for the "emergency" drill. The crew was making announcements in their wonderful British accents telling us something like (ding, ding, ding, all anouncements were proceeded by three bells) "in just 5 minutes the scheduled (pronounced the English way) emergency drill will commence. On the backs of the doors to your cabins there is a map that will direct you to your muster stations. The captain will sound the alarm which consists of one long and seven short blasts on the ships alarm system. When you hear this signal pick up your life jackets and proceed to your muster stations. Thank you for your attention." They made his announcement about 4 times or so, counting down to the time of the actual drill.
When the time came, BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRING, brring, brring, brring, brring, brring, brring, brring, or whatever (how do you describe a sound?). The ships horn blew and the alarm bells rang. It's time to go, grab the women and children, dear, do you have the jewelry?, I have the cameras, what if we have to go in the water? Do you think the water will be cold? I don't swim very well. Do they have enough lifeboats? I didn't see very many. Women and children first... STOP!!!! Snap out of it, it's only a drill. We are still tied up to the dock, nothing is wrong. Pick up the life vests and lets go.
Our muster station was in the Universal lounge. Again we had such a great cabin, we walked out of our door, took 10 steps and we were at the stairs. There were several helpful crew members decked out in those fabulously ugly life jackets, directing us down the stairs, (and, by the way, not letting us use the elevators, those dirty rats) to the Univeral lounge. OK, down one flight of stairs, and some more helpful crew directs us down another flight of stairs to the lower level of the lounge.
My first impression of the Universal lounge is clouded by some of the things I have read here. Being some of the first to arrive, we were directed to come on to the front of the auditorium, and take a seat (like Bob Uecker, must be on the front row, and we were). I'm not to sure the front row is where you want to be in an emergency drill, but that's where we ended up. As I looked around it struck me that this might be a difficult place to hold events. The seating looked, and was, very comfortable (better not be too boring). There were love seats and individual chairs. There were 2 kinds of individual chairs, one that was leather like the love seats, and one that was cloth. The chairs were usually grouped around a small table. The love seats were very comfortable for 2 people. We could see the stage pretty well, seeing that we were on the front row, but later when we came for a show, we noticed that some people had to adjust their chairs to get a good view of the stage. We did later get up to the upper deck and tried to watch a show from there, big mistake. But that's another story (and at this rate I'll get to it some time next month).
The theatre is beautifully decorated. I love the Island Princess color scheme. The coral hues and the wood paneling just says to me, elegance. The gold accents really show up in the lighting. The bar in the back with the staircase to no where was really neat, and really useful when crazy passengers were having panic attacks during the "emergency" drill. (Not really, sorry, but I didn't even notice if the bar was open. I did notice that the only crew around were all busy with the drill. No one was serving anything.)
The stage area was nothing special at this time. There was nothing set up, except a single microphone. At that microphone was a suprisingly young, very nice looking female officer. My wife later said she needed a longer skirt (I'm not sure I agree, cause she sure had my attention). She was the officer in charge of our muster station. She kept directing passengers and crew into the theatre.
While we were sitting there we struck up a conversation with a couple from North Texas. It was interesting meeting people from all over. We were able to talk to them about there area, being that we had lived all around the North Texas area. It was funny that we never saw that couple again. (Was it something I said? I know I hadn't brushed my teeth in a while.....)
She went through the whole spiel. What to do in case of an emergency. How the alarms worked, emphasing that the only one the passengers would have to react to was the 1 long 7 short. "Don't worry about fire alarms, iceburg alarms, man overboard alarms, just the emergency alarm." (What me not worry, if I here any alarm I probably going to jump over the side.) Calm down... Again she said "you hear the general alarm, come here to your muster station, and you will be directed what to do. If we do (Heaven forbid) have to abandon ship, you will be directed from here where to go. Some of you to life boats, some of you to life rafts (WHAT, RAFTS...OK, we paid through the nose for a balcony cabin, we better not be treated like rif raff and stuck in some small life raft to be eaten by great white sharks...) I never did ask is that was just a slip of the tounge, or if the passengers would really have to go in rafts, and luckily we didn't find out.
Anyway at the end of the drill she had all of the passengers put on those dreadful life jackets. It was fun looking around at everyone trying to look cool in these overgrown vests. She did tell us we could try the whistles, but that the never sanitized them (didn't hear any whistles blowing). The drill ended and we traipsed back up to the cabin to continue our first day on THE LOVE BOAT, and watch Sail Away. Will Julie be there? How may people will be at the dock watching us? Will the tugboat douse us with it's fire hose? Will the captain run in to something? These and many other questions will be answered in our next installment.
Same Bat time, Same Bat channel.
#20
Marietta, Ga.
2,256 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
You review is a great respite from the normal food sucks, whine, whine, whine....For a first time poster you have out done yourself.

I hope after your review is done you'll stick around on here.

Scott