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Coral Princess NB Review - Sunburned in Ketchikan!

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We just returned from a fabulous Vancouver to Whittier cruise on the Coral Princess. This was a repeat of our first Princess cruise (same itinerary, same ship, just 3 weeks later in July) in 2007 that hooked us on cruising and Princess. In the back of my mind there was the nagging thought that we couldn’t strike gold (Alaska pun intended) twice.

This cruise was a special trip – four siblings who hadn’t traveled together since childhood (more than 40 years ago) and their spouses. I did most of the organization (and was deemed ‘the best bossy cruise director ever’ before dinner on Embarkation Day). Sister and BIL have never sailed before. Brother #1 and SIL have sailed once on Carnival. Brother #2 and SIL have sailed once on Royal Caribbean. DH and I have cruised 9 times, 7 of them on Princess.

Arrival in Vancouver – DS/BIL arrived in Vancouver the preceding Friday, we arrived on Saturday afternoon and spent Sunday with them at the Capilano Suspension Bridge (hate heights, loved the bridge and the entire attractions), DBs/SILs arrived on different flights Sunday evening.

Embarkation Day - we met at Canada Place around 11:30 and were on board by 12:05. While the Princess Patter didn't list an MDR Embarkation Lunch we went in search of it. I asked a guy standing in front of the shops (turned out he was the 'shopping guy') which restaurant was open. He replied the Horizon Cafe and I said no, which dining room? He waved in the direction of the dining room and muttered (loudly - it was heard by the 7 other folks traveling with me) 'good luck with that'. Well, the Provence dining room was open (and mostly empty) and we had a wonderful lunch. And the 'shopping guy' was the only rude person (crew or passenger) we met on the cruise (and needless to say none of us went to any of his talks or spent any money in the shops - both out of spite and the fact we aren't big shoppers :p).

Staterooms – each family had a mini-suite (3 in the Dolphin 7XX series, one – he decided to join us late – in the Caribe 21X series). All had fully covered balconies – we opened the doors to the 3 in a row on Dolphin). We had a pillow tip mattress too (I assume they all did too since no complained about hard beds or back problems).

Dining – we had late traditional dining and, since we didn’t bring ‘dress up’ clothes, ate in the Bayou Café and Sabatinis on formal night. As for palates we range from years of living (and eating:rolleyes:) overseas, to adventuresome, to steak and potatoes.

 

It may be embarrassing to say this but we were all members of the 'clean plate club' - I'm going to attribute that to both the great food and the more appropriate portion size than 5 or more years ago. In 7 dinner meals (5 in the MDR, 1 in the Bayou Cafe, 1 in Sabatinis) and embarkation lunch in the MDR only one serving was not up to par and my SIL said it was because she didn't realize what kind of fish she was ordering. Our waitress saw she wasn't eating it and quickly brought her an alternate bowl of pasta which she loved.

We ate many of our breakfasts in the MDR which I much prefer to the chaos of the Horizon Court. Lunches were catch as catch can – one day they were offering ‘create your own pizza’ (think Subway only with pizza dough instead of sub rolls) which was tasty but took some time to order and make the individual pizzas.

There were two lunch buffets on deck: an Alaskan Fish BBQ leaving Ketchikan and a Seafood Buffet in Glacier Bay. The latter was wonderful! There were mussels, crab cakes, two types of salmon and the most wonderful halibut I’ve ever tasted – it melted in your mouth.

Both brothers/SILs began raving the first afternoon about the quality of the food - especially compared to their other cruising experiences - and never stopped the entire week.

Entertainment – the first production show was “Dance”. We’d seen it before and didn’t understand it then or now but were pleased at the caliber of the singers (all 4 of them more than held their own). The second production show, “On the Bayou” was phenomenal. It was designed for the Coral/Island Princesses Universe Lounge with the 3 revolving stages. Set design was fabulous, and in addition to the singers and dancers, the show band had a major part in the production. My only complaint was that it was only on one night (2 shows). We liked it so much we would have seen it again.

The comedian, Sarge, was also phenomenal. In addition to be extremely funny he has a wonderful voice and is an accomplished pianist. He did 3 different shows and we loved them all. We also saw a local singer/songwriter from Skagway, Steve Hites, who was very good – unfortunately he only sang for about ½ hour; we would have liked to hear more but the ship was leaving and he didn’t want to go to Glacier Bay with us:D.

The naturalist, Kathy Slamp, showed a real love of Alaska but was more a historian than a naturalist. We enjoyed her talks but also wish there was more discussion of nature. Five years ago Barbara - can't remember her last name - was the naturalist. She concentrated more on 'nature' less on history. Best for passengers would be someone who could do both equally well!

Excursions –

· Ketchikan – It was beautiful in Ketchikan! We were overdressed and didn’t use enough sunscreen (how many cruisers can say they got sunburned in Ketchikan?!). We hiked about 3 miles to Saxman Village Totems (and took the bus back) and then walked around town. The salmon were starting to run up the creek.

· Juneau – More sun, less sunburn (we were prepared), extremely calm seas. We took a whale watching excursion with Harv and Marv – just the 8 of us in their new 12 person boat. Absolutely fabulous - we spent an hour watching about 10 humpbacks bubble-netting all around us and then went to the other side of Shelter Island (I think), saw a few more whales including one breaching, and sea lions. We were dropped off at Mendenhall Glacier and walked to Nugget Falls. Upon return to Juneau we took the tram up Mt. Roberts (one couple walked back down, the rest of us took the tram down too). The ship was in port for more than 12 hours so we had lots of time.

· Skagway – it was raining in the morning off and on while on the train to Fraser with Chilkoot Tours but it didn’t impact visibility from the train (it did from the van on the return ride). In Fraser we disembarked and took the van to Emerald Lake and Carcross. The views from the train ranged from breathtaking (going up the mountain) to other-wordly (crossing the tundra into Fraser).

· Whittier – DS/BIL and DB #2/SIL left on a Princess tour to Denali. We and DB#1/SIL took the Portage Glacier Boat Ride/Alaska Wildlife Conservancy/Bus to Anchorage excursion which worked out perfectly – we arrived at the airport at 3:00 pm for our 5:00 pm flight.

By the 2nd day, all the siblings were asking when we would do this again. Now the discussion will be where – one vote is in for Australia/New Zealand, one for fall Canada/New England, one for any that fits a public school teacher’s schedule and I’ve already told them they’re all welcomed to come with us on our next cruise around the British Isles next summer to celebrate their big sister’s 60th :eek: birthday.

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Thank you for your review. And yes, one can get sunburned when they least expect it. I learned the hard way as well.

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Great review of the same cruise we were on. You covered what I didn't in my review :).

I am glad that your Skagway train right still produced good views,it sure didn't from the car, but you were on the other side of the ridge, I believe.

It was a great trip! jealous about your pillow top, though..I guess I should have had a minisuite !

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· Ketchikan – It was beautiful in Ketchikan! We were overdressed and didn’t use enough sunscreen (how many cruisers can say they got sunburned in Ketchikan?!). We hiked about 3 miles to Saxman Village Totems (and took the bus back) and then walked around town. The salmon were starting to run up the creek.

 

I can! But we were there about the same time as you, last week. Found out that the shops don't sell aloe vera gel.

 

I enjoyed your review. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip!

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Welcome back to reality :(

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your report

Srpilo

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We were on the Island Princess at the end of May--we also got sunburned in Ketchikan. Your description of the Chilkoot trip to Emerald Lake was right-on-- "Otherworldly" describes the portion through the pass perfectly.

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DS/BIL and DB #2/SIL called me this afternoon (I arrived home at 6 am this morning) to tell me that it was 75 degrees and sunny in Denali and that they were having a wonderful time. So much for remembering our mother's persistent advice to never gloat :D.

 

DB #1/SIL arrived home at 9:30 this morning and sent all of us an email at 7:30 pm with the details he was able to find on Australia/New Zealand in 2014! This from the brother who has never, ever spent an overnight with any of his siblings in more than 20 years even though he only lives about 2 hours from each of us and never even got a passport until this spring. We are amazed and thrilled that he realizes what fun we all are - and what he may have been missing all these years.

 

The closing line of his message is:

Thanks again - especially to our own bossy cruise director (that would be me :p). As Sammi (Baker), the official cruise director said, "we need to cover the earth before the earth covers us."

Words to live by!

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· Juneau – More sun, less sunburn (we were prepared), extremely calm seas. We took a whale watching excursion with Harv and Marv Absolutely fabulous - we spent an hour watching about 10 humpbacks bubble-netting all around us and then went to the other side of Shelter Island (I think), saw a few more whales including one breaching, and sea lions. We were dropped off at Mendenhall Glacier and walked to Nugget Falls. Upon return to Juneau we took the tram up Mt. Roberts (one couple walked back down, the rest of us took the tram down too).

 

How did you make your way back from the Glacier? Did Harv & Marv wait?

 

How long did it take you to walk to Nugget Falls?

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How did you make your way back from the Glacier? Did Harv & Marv wait?

 

How long did it take you to walk to Nugget Falls?

 

Harv and Marv will only wait about 20 minutes (time to see the visitors center). The easy walk to/from Nugget Falls was about 1 hour round trip (20 minutes in each direction, 20 minutes admiring the glacier and the falls). Later that day one of my SILs met a cruiser who had taken another hiking trail behind the visitors center and within a few minutes came to a stream full of salmon and a bear (can't remember if it was a brown or black bear) happily feasting on them and not paying any attention to the humans. I don't know how far away they were but she said they watched for quite a while.

 

Three couples took the direct bus (said Juneau Tours on the side) that runs every half hour back to the dock for $8 each one way (some folks had round trip tickets - I don't know how much they charged) - the general consensus was that we all should buy buses to run back and forth to Mendenhall in the summer. My sister and BIL walked about a mile (saw more salmon along the way) to the public bus stop, waited about 15 minutes, and then took a circuitous route (past the prison, stopped at the Walmart shopping center, etc.) with a host of entertaining (and for the most part, helpful) 'locals' that ended about 4 blocks from the port. I think the price was around $5 total for 2 passengers. It was an adventure!

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Harv and Marv will only wait about 20 minutes (time to see the visitors center).

How far was it from where H&M let you off to the Visitor's Center?

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How far was it from where H&M let you off to the Visitor's Center?

 

Just across the drop off area - 100 feet or less.

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Thank you for taking time to write this review of your cruise.

 

Hope you and your family will have the opportunity do an Australian/New Zealand cruise.

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DS/BIL and DB #2/SIL called me this afternoon (I arrived home at 6 am this morning) to tell me that it was 75 degrees and sunny in Denali and that they were having a wonderful time. So much for remembering our mother's persistent advice to never gloat :D.

 

DB #1/SIL arrived home at 9:30 this morning and sent all of us an email at 7:30 pm with the details he was able to find on Australia/New Zealand in 2014! This from the brother who has never, ever spent an overnight with any of his siblings in more than 20 years even though he only lives about 2 hours from each of us and never even got a passport until this spring. We are amazed and thrilled that he realizes what fun we all are - and what he may have been missing all these years.

 

The closing line of his message is:

Thanks again - especially to our own bossy cruise director (that would be me :p). As Sammi (Baker), the official cruise director said, "we need to cover the earth before the earth covers us."

Words to live by!

 

Great report thank you. It took my brother 53 years before he realised his sisters are fun people!! Wonderful that your brother realized it before it was too late. I'd steer him towards the British Isles!!

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OP;

Thanks for taking the time to post your review. I enjoyed reading your review....:):):)

Bob

Edited by Woobstr112G

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Just out of curiosity, what was on the seafood buffet at lunch? Thanks- Susie

 

The Alaskan Fish BBQ leaving Ketchikan had sushi, crab cakes and reindeer chili - and possibly other dishes but we got there as it was ending and I was just looking - along with some appetizers and salads. It was very casual.

 

The Seafood Buffet in Glacier Bay was beautifully laid out with an ice sculpture and wonderful fruit and vegetable carvings. The presentation was really a feast for the eyes. There were mussels (the biggest I've ever seen and I lived in Belgium where they are a national dish :o), crab cakes, two types of salmon (barbequed and broiled I think - the latter was presented whole and carved/cut in front of you), the most wonderful halibut I’ve ever tasted – it melted in your mouth, octopus salad, various other salads and appetizers, bread, etc.

 

On the last sea day there was a dessert extravaganza in the late morning in the buffet. We showed great restraint :D and avoided it but did see lots of folks walking around with heaping (not one or two but five or six) desserts on their plates. That seemed like a big hit.

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Thanks for your review and yes over the years I have been sunburned in every port in Alaska except Whittier.:)

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