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modus

5/14/2005 Diamond Princess Review: Alaska Inside Passage

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Diamond Princess Review: Alaska Cruise Inside Passage

 

May 14th 2005

Ages: 32

Cruising Experience: Carnival Celebration and Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas

 

 

Boarding: It was a nice day in Seattle and boarding went pretty smooth. It took about an hour to get on the boat at around 12:30 pm. I heard some say it took them 2 to 3 hours to get on, but we had no issues.

 

Ship: The boat is beautiful. It's a nicely designed ship and it would be hard to complain about anything on it.

 

Room: My wife and I booked a minisuite on the Dolphin deck, and it was very nice. The bed was a little hard, but overall the room was clean and ambient noise was at a minimum. This was definately the best room we've had on a cruise.

 

Entertainment: We only saw one show, which was based on spies and detectives. It was pretty entertaining. My only gripe with the shows is that if you have late seating you have to go to a 10 pm show which is usually crowded by the time you get out of dinner. I would say this is poorly thought out by Princess, especially if you have a port at 7 am the next morning. I preferred Royal Caribbean's option of a 6:00 show if you had late dinner and an 8:00 show if you had early seating.

 

Food: I'll eat anything and I'm generally not a picky eater. Let me first say Sabbatinis was incredible. The food was great. The bad news is that the rest of the food was mediocre at best. Scallops were overcooked and alkaline in tasting, chicken was tough and hard to chew, and most of the food lacked any distinct flavor. I was very disappointed by the food on the ship. I found this to be general sentiment of almost everyone I talked to.

 

The buffet was a disaster. Some people from Australia were sick, so for the first two days all the food was served by the staff. They didn't allow anyone on the ship to touch any of the food, napkins, utensils, etc . . . I could understand the safety standards, but it made the whole process very hard to deal with.

 

The layout of the buffet line is poorly thought out at best. It's a circle with two entrances, so you have a line of people tripping over each other with limited exiting points. Again the buffet food was mediocre at best, many of the hot meals were cold, there was no omelet station, etc . . .

 

Staff: The staff was very hands on and pleasant. We loved our waitress Liz and our quiet but attentive assistant waiter Jose. Liz worked very hard to keep us happy, and I think she could tell we weren't pleased with the food eventhough we didn't mention it once. Our steward Sandy was very pleasant and did a very nice job on our room. My wife's only complaint is that we didn't get room towel animals. :)

 

Ports: We went to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria, and Tracy Arms. Juneau and Skagway were wonderful. We wish we could've spent more time in Ketchikan, five hours really isn't enough time.

 

We didn't get to see the glacier in Tracy Arms due to all the ice in the water. The only thing that disappointed us about this part is that while we were cruising up Tracy Arms the naturalist kept telling us about how much we would love the glacier, over and over . . . but after two hours informs us that two hours before us the Sapphire Princess had to turn around and we would have to do the same. My wife wasn't very pleased with the deception, we understand weather conditions being a factor in our cruising, but just be honest with us.

 

We got into Victoria two and half hours late and had a port time of 9:30 pm to 11:30pm. Not really enough time to do anything. Holland America managed to make port in time. We were told we were late due to the weather, but Holland America left Ketchikan at the same time as us. I dunno if the size of the ship played a part.

 

Disembarking: This was a mess. Club Fusion which can probably seat 200 to 300+ people by my estimate was reserved for Platinum and Elite members. There were probably about 25 people in there. The rest of the ship was packed with wall to wall luggage and people. We understand disembarking can be a slow and a tedious process, but it'd be nice if they thought this out a little more. Trying to squeeze 2700+ people into two decks with luggage is not ideal.

 

Conclusion: Overall we loved Alaska and the excursions, but due to event schedule layout, food, and the general lack of honesty this will probably be the last Princess cruise we will take.

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Princess calls this cruise "Inside Passage", but I don't know why: this itinerary, and also Sapphire's (from which we just returned), go OUTSIDE Vancouver Island; the "inside passage" is east of Vancouver Island, between the Island and the Canada mainland -- a much smoother and more scenic route.

 

For first-time Alaska cruisers, I'd suggest you choose an itinerary that does go the inside passage route, also visits Glacier Bay so you won't miss seeing glaciers. We've enjoyed 5 Alaska cruises, mostly on the inside but twice on outside routes, and visited all the glaciers (Sawyer at Tracy Arm, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, and College Fjord). Seeing glaciers is awe-inspiring, also hearing the "thunder" as you see them calve.

 

Choosing itinerary carefully pays big dividends in Alaska!

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Thanks for the review - ours for the Island Princess same week will be coming soon. We were in port with you at Skagway and Ketchikan. I agree about Princess - it was our second and probably last Princess cruise due to lackluster customer service and general attitude. But I agree that the ports were the highlight, rather than the ship, and we did get to sail the inside passage (ours was Whittier to Vancouver southbound) but it was very rainy that day and we didn't see as much as we'd hoped along Vancouver Island.

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Thanks for posting. I am sorry you didn't have a better time. The closer it gets the more worried I get about our having the vacation we have been planning.

 

Did you have pc dining? If so, did the specialtly dining rooms offer their own menu every night along with traditional menu? Or was it traditional each night with alternating specialty menu??

 

Thanks.

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Thanks for posting your review. Did you do any excursions in Juneau, Ketchikan or Skagway? Glad to hear you liked your cabin - we also booked a minisuite on Dolphin and are looking forward to it!

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Thanks for posting. I am sorry you didn't have a better time. The closer it gets the more worried I get about our having the vacation we have been planning.

 

Did you have pc dining? If so, did the specialtly dining rooms offer their own menu every night along with traditional menu? Or was it traditional each night with alternating specialty menu??

 

Thanks.

 

We had second seating. We went to the Asian themed restaurant once and only got the traditional menu. I'm not sure if they offer the alternate menus or not.

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Thanks for posting your review. Did you do any excursions in Juneau, Ketchikan or Skagway? Glad to hear you liked your cabin - we also booked a minisuite on Dolphin and are looking forward to it!

 

Juneau - We did the Photo Excursion

Skagway - Hiked the Chilkoot trail and river raft and then we did the helicopter dog sledding on the glacier.

Ketchikan - Misty Fjords on a boat. (I would've done this on a plane looking back on it.)

 

We enjoyed all our excursions. The helicopter dog sledding on the glacier was the best overall.

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We were also on this cruise & here is my review from another site.

 

Ok.........to start with thankfully our weatherman was wrong!!! It was suppose to rain on Saturday the 14th......it didn't it was really quite warm......so that was a plus......

We got to the pier early......there was some problem with a group of travelers & they were fingerprinting, checking etc........so there was a long line getting into the terminal. The passengers getting off had to weave around the ones trying to get in.......glad it was nice.....:)

 

I can tell you at pier 30 for Princess you have NO problem talking ALL of your luggage into the terminal & onto the ship yourself......we got to a split in the line where you were to drop off your luggage & I asked if we could just take it with us......the man said you have to walk about 1/2 a mile ( didn't seem like it ) but if you wanted it was fine. So we took our luggage.....just one suitcase & a carry on......I pack light......:). Check in was fast once they got the others off.....the only complaint I had was....now don't flame me, I know it's not thier fault......they kept bringing wheelchair passengers into our lane & we had to wait......not sure why but that was a little bit of a pain.

 

After they started processing it was about a hour & we were on the ship......not bad time.

Then when we got on the ship.......we went to lunch...buffet of course.....they were serving us, had to use the sanitiser for our hands......then we found out why......

Again....please don't flame me.....I have nothing against Austrailians or English.....but there were 5 big groups of them that had gone through the Rockies before boarding the ship & some of them had the norwalk.......after they boarded the ship there was 20 cases, by Sunday there was 200 from them.......then by Tuesday night there was no new cases so things were a bit back to normal. How to I know this??? Heard it from the horses mouth so to say.........the people themselves & the waitstaff.......service in the buffet was terrible when they had to serve us.......you would get like one sausage at breakfast & you had to beg for more.......you always had to look for a seat....one said was almost always closed.....lots of people complaining to purser but they didn't seem to care......just little things like that.....So once that was cleared up we had a great time........

 

Being it was only the second trip to Alaska the staff was still a bit off you could say.......they were dressed for sub zero weather....;) But they were warming up so to say by the end......

 

The service in the diningroom was great....our waiter....Juan.....made us eat too much :) The first night I asked for the Love Boat.....he said it was only on the last night menu.......but he said he would ask 'his boss'.........so I got FOUR Love Boats every night after that!!!!!! Juan forced Larry to eat 7 lobsters......how can you refuse your waiter??? :) Couldn't of had a better waiter.....was always there to get you what you wanted......

The ship was very clean........no spots or tears to ruin my vacation!!!! <EG>

The pools......inside & out......were well used & not just by kids........they closed the pools on day....rough water.....

 

My SIL bought a soda card, it was $22.50 & NEVER had any problems getting a soda......she could have small, medium or large, except in the diningroom & there they just kept bringing them to her. Our ice tea was always full in the diningroom.

Was never any pressue to buy drinks in the lounges & when we did it was a good drink....not weak at all......

 

Getting off the ship.....

Luggage

I think this was the easiest I've ever had.......we didn't do the self because we drove & was in no hurry......after the ship was cleared by customs we were off the ship in 90 minutes....about half way thru the colors.....small amounts of luggage per color.....very easy to find your luggage.

 

Customs

I have never seen the lines so short......they had their act together for this.....when we got to customs there was one person before us......Had like 3-5 lines......for Americians. Had a line for different countries......made it very nice.....someone there to direct you to the correct line also.......

 

All in all it was a very enjoyable cruise.....very relaxing......some weather problems made us get into Victoria 2 hours late so some were upset about cancelled tours......Oosterdam was also late getting in. They docked just before us.

 

Nice to be home....missed y'all....hope to catch ya in chat Monday night....

 

 

Sharon

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We were also on this cruise & here is my review from another site.

 

 

Sharon

 

Nice review. :)

 

It's interesting to see our different perspectives on the disembarking. :D What was your opinion on the food? I honestly didn't meet one person first time cruisers and multi time cruisers who weren't disappointed in the quality of the food.

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Thanks for the review - ours for the Island Princess same week will be coming soon. We were in port with you at Skagway and Ketchikan. I agree about Princess - it was our second and probably last Princess cruise due to lackluster customer service and general attitude.

Wow – the relatively cold weather of Alaska must have put a damper on the staff on board Island Princess. I was on the last Hawaii sailing of the season (disembarking on 5/4) and I thought the staff went out of their way to be friendly, courteous and to ensure that our sailing was excellent…there were many tips handed out in addition to auto tips and many “You Made the Difference” cards filled out...not just by us. Sorry that they didn’t provide you with the same experience…I’d go back on Island Princess in a heartbeat. I'd love to read what you attribute lackluster customer service and general attitude to.

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One other suggestion. If you're sailing out of Seattle. Skip the shuttle back to the airport. I heard the shuttle drops you off away from the departure desks, and if you have a lot of bags you'll have to grab a cart.

 

We took a cab for 26 dollars, instead of the 36 the shuttle would've cost us. We caught a cab in about 3 minutes after getting our luggage. We blew by the shuttles that left before us and we were dropped off right at the American Airlines departure.

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Glad to hear the cab worked well; the transfer situation is totally out of control. That remote check-in stuff isn't working well either.

 

I'm a little surprised about the comment on the Island. I thought the crew three weeks ago was *very* engaged and very service-oriented. I've had better waiters, but someone else praised the particular team we had, so I may just have issues.

 

Eric

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BDJam and VibeGuy:

 

Don't worry, I'll explain all our service problems in full detail in our review. Just got home last night so a little wiped to write the thing yet. Keep an eye out - I'll have it done before the end of the week. I don't think it was the cold that led to all the cold shoulders, though, seemed just like the "norm." Have you seen the 5/7 Island review posted recently? Guy couldn't even get clean towels from the steward...

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modus......this was our 16th cruise, 3rd time on Princess......the food in the diningroom was above average......hot things hot & cold thing cold. The buffet had a lot of room for improvement.......but for a buffet what can I say? Our waiter got us what we wanted the way we wanted it......our whole table....there were 8 of us, & 2 of them were very fussy picky eaters & no complaints from them.

I say skip the shuttle at any port & grab a cab.......usually cheaper & much faster.

All in all we had a great time.

 

 

Sharon

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BDJam and VibeGuy:

 

Don't worry, I'll explain all our service problems in full detail in our review. Just got home last night so a little wiped to write the thing yet. Keep an eye out - I'll have it done before the end of the week. I don't think it was the cold that led to all the cold shoulders, though, seemed just like the "norm." Have you seen the 5/7 Island review posted recently? Guy couldn't even get clean towels from the steward...

Yes I did see the review – it was written by one of my buddies…and I believe he said that the room stewardess was the only issue he found. There was one day on board when we had a bit of trouble getting pool towels as well, but it certainly didn’t taint the rest of the trip or the marvelous interaction we had with the staff and crew. Maybe our expectations just aren’t the same…but we not only had exemplary service, we made some friends.

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Well, our experience wasn't just one person, it was our steward, staff at the buffet, staff at passenger services desk, the Captain's Circle rep, general interactions in the hallways with everyone from cleaning staff to possibly showgirls (three girls in suits with nametags walking abreast in the hallway practically pushed me out of the way!). The general attitude was one of indifference and annoyance, as if they were doing us a favor by simply doing their jobs.

 

Now, maybe my expectations ARE higher, as I've been treated much better on every other cruise line I've sailed. As I said, this was our second time on Princess, and most likely our last, as the first cruise didn't rank too highly either. You may continue to argue with me over this if you like, but there are simply too many cruise lines out there to repeat my business with one where I am treated like less than a paying customer.

 

[EDIT] I will add that while onboard we ran into several other people who have recently cruised other lines who agreed with us - although we were all tentative to bring up the subject, once we got started, we could only compare notes to Celebrity and Norwegian, and they had had much better experiences on Holland America and Norwegian. We were not alone in our assessment of this cruise.

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Well, our experience wasn't just one person, it was our steward, staff at the buffet, staff at passenger services desk, the Captain's Circle rep, general interactions in the hallways with everyone from cleaning staff to possibly showgirls (three girls in suits with nametags walking abreast in the hallway practically pushed me out of the way!). The general attitude was one of indifference and annoyance, as if they were doing us a favor by simply doing their jobs.

 

Now, maybe my expectations ARE higher, as I've been treated much better on every other cruise line I've sailed. As I said, this was our second time on Princess, and most likely our last, as the first cruise didn't rank too highly either. You may continue to argue with me over this if you like, but there are simply too many cruise lines out there to repeat my business with one where I am treated like less than a paying customer.

Well, my intent isn’t to get you into a multiple post debate (by that time you could have written your review) and I certainly think if you feel Princess doesn’t do for you what a cruise line should, you should seek another cruise line. I’m just saying my experience on Island Princess was totally different and the service levels so much higher than what I experienced on NCL, Carnival or HAL (notice how I don’t repeat on lines where I don’t feel that I’ve gotten what I want either).

In the areas you mention, we did notice that there were times when our room steward didn’t have much to say – but other times he was very friendly and given he had 20 cabins to take care of, we had to give him his grumpy times. The staff at the buffet were more than friendly, always stopping by the table to say good morning and we spent some time in Maui with a couple of them when our paths crossed. The staff at the passenger services desk was quite friendly and courteous when I was there – very helpful. Every staff member that we encountered had a “good morning” or “welcome aboard” on the first day of the cruise, or a good day or a smile for us. And while the entertainers were distant, one reason might be because they get bothered a lot…but we seemed to be able to interact with them as well.

The reason that this sticks out so much for me is that part of the reason this was one of our best vacations is because of the people we met – and the majority of those people were staff and crew. I tend to think of them as friends who have invited me over for an extended stay...I must say I've had maybe two minor issues with staff on all of my Princess cruises.

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Modus--

How was the Photo Safari in Juneau?

 

It was fun. The guide was a little indifferent as far as pointing out spots to shoot, but I have a feeling if you asked him he'd be more than willing to help out. He's pretty enthusiastic.

 

We went to Mendenhall Glacier and then we went on a whale watching, etc . . . the whole time we were setup to take photos. It was basically two excursions in one. The boat captain was very nice and helpful as well.

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modus......this was our 16th cruise, 3rd time on Princess......the food in the diningroom was above average......hot things hot & cold thing cold. The buffet had a lot of room for improvement.......but for a buffet what can I say? Our waiter got us what we wanted the way we wanted it......our whole table....there were 8 of us, & 2 of them were very fussy picky eaters & no complaints from them.

I say skip the shuttle at any port & grab a cab.......usually cheaper & much faster.

All in all we had a great time.

 

 

Sharon

 

:)

 

That's great to hear. I'm glad you enjoyed the food, maybe we were just unlucky. I tried to make my review objective, but I guess that's impossible to do. I really am not a fussy eater, but I do know when things are overcooked or just not correct. This is really the first time I've been on a cruise and didn't enjoy the majority of the meals.

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Well, my intent isn’t to get you into a multiple post debate (by that time you could have written your review) and I certainly think if you feel Princess doesn’t do for you what a cruise line should, you should seek another cruise line. I’m just saying my experience on Island Princess was totally different and the service levels so much higher than what I experienced on NCL, Carnival or HAL (notice how I don’t repeat on lines where I don’t feel that I’ve gotten what I want either).

In the areas you mention, we did notice that there were times when our room steward didn’t have much to say – but other times he was very friendly and given he had 20 cabins to take care of, we had to give him his grumpy times. The staff at the buffet were more than friendly, always stopping by the table to say good morning and we spent some time in Maui with a couple of them when our paths crossed. The staff at the passenger services desk was quite friendly and courteous when I was there – very helpful. Every staff member that we encountered had a “good morning” or “welcome aboard” on the first day of the cruise, or a good day or a smile for us. And while the entertainers were distant, one reason might be because they get bothered a lot…but we seemed to be able to interact with them as well.

The reason that this sticks out so much for me is that part of the reason this was one of our best vacations is because of the people we met – and the majority of those people were staff and crew. I tend to think of them as friends who have invited me over for an extended stay...I must say I've had maybe two minor issues with staff on all of my Princess cruises.

Rah rah sis boom bah. Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up sit down fight fight fight.

yeaaaaa Princess, gooooo Princess!

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Rah rah sis boom bah. Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up sit down fight fight fight.

yeaaaaa Princess, gooooo Princess!

Hey, I can’t help it – the facts are the facts. If you’ll look at some of my other posts, you’ll realize I’m not as much of the Princess cheerleader as you might think. I just know a good quality cruise when I experience one…just because someone else wasn’t as lucky as I was, why does that make it wrong for me to post my point of view? Or are we looking for one sided views of the product?

And come to think of it, that was kind of a rude post.

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modus, thank you for taking the time with a review. I'm on the Diamond on June 4th and interested in reading about all of it, good and not so good! I of course hope there will be no Norwalk, but will take extra precautions! Thanks for the warning!

 

I'm disappointed to hear there is no omelet station. I am allergic to wheat etc, and usually only have an omelet and fruit for breakfast, beings I can't have cereal, rolls, toast, pancakes, and the like. And I'm not overly fond of buffet food anywhere, but can usally tolerate breakfast, except for those runny eggs ships seem to have! So, what type of eggs did they have? Bacon and sausage are usually too greasy for me. Hmmmm, may pose a teeney problem!

 

Sharon, glad you had some good food. It really is subjective, as to tastes anyway! Maybe I won't gain onbboard for a change! :D

 

But, how was the ice cream??? :o

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modus, thank you for taking the time with a review. I'm on the Diamond on June 4th and interested in reading about all of it, good and not so good! I of course hope there will be no Norwalk, but will take extra precautions! Thanks for the warning!

 

I'm disappointed to hear there is no omelet station. I am allergic to wheat etc, and usually only have an omelet and fruit for breakfast, beings I can't have cereal, rolls, toast, pancakes, and the like. And I'm not overly fond of buffet food anywhere, but can usally tolerate breakfast, except for those runny eggs ships seem to have! So, what type of eggs did they have? Bacon and sausage are usually too greasy for me. Hmmmm, may pose a teeney problem!

 

Sharon, glad you had some good food. It really is subjective, as to tastes anyway! Maybe I won't gain onbboard for a change! :D

 

But, how was the ice cream??? :o

 

I didn't have any ice cream, it was too cold for me. :D My wife had some ice cream at the buffet station and said it was very good.

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Rah rah sis boom bah. Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up sit down fight fight fight.

yeaaaaa Princess, gooooo Princess!

 

 

Calif cruise, you must have been a cheerleader at some point, since you have the lingo down so well. My mother was a cheerleader (can you believe it in about 1925?) and these were close to the words she used. :) ;) :rolleyes:

 

Ivan

South Padre Island, Texas

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