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Star Princess North to Alaska! Sept 10 2016

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Here begins the tale of our latest cruise where we (Norris and Carol) will boldly go where no man has gone before-Alaska! Oh, wait a minute-apparently that's not quite true as people have been going there for years and some even live there.


Hmmm...I fired my last fact checker and didn't bother to replace her as I figured she was "surplus to requirements" and her "core competencies didn't fit my paradigm". I'll call her later and offer her the job back (note to self).


OK we just got home at 6 a.m this morning from Anchorage and my return to Chicago got off to a bad start when I went to check the photo edits I did in Lightroom (Adobe program) when I was on the ship and on the plane last night.

They were all gone! Yep-have to edit 1400 pics again. So I'm really behind the 8 Ball (I'm lying on my pool table writing this). I am pouring a bowl of Wheeties and I suggest you do the same as this will be a long review....


Here's the itinerary;

DAY 1 FLY TO VANCOUVER on September 9th.








DAY 3 a SEA DAY off British Columbia Sept 11th



DAY 4 KETCHIKAN, ALASKA (Whoopie!!) Sept 12th








To be continued....



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DAY 6 SKAGWAY Sept 14th




DAY 7 GLACIER BAY, Johns Hopkins Glacier Sept 15th




DAY 8 COLLEGE FJORD, Harvard Glacier Sept 16th




DAY 9 WHITTIER,Alaska-excursion and fly home Sept 17th




So after my Wheeties I'll get on with the job at hand...



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Score!!! Am I first? Huh? Huh?:D


Yes Sir!! Congratulations. There will be a balloon drop at Casa Norris tonight in your honor.


Cyber bar is open and I am only serving the good stuff 24/7.

Also NEW in this review-a cyber buffet where I will break tradition and serve the food piping hot. Also re-introducing the tray!





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In the days (weeks) ahead;


5 Star dining in the 5 Sails restaurant in the Pan Pacific Hotel (FOOD PORN)


Our ship comes in


Bird's Eye Views of Vancouver


Brutal boarding in Canada Place (CUSTOMS PORN?)


Dinner in Sabatini's


Rain and mists


All the shows


All the meals including ripping the Crown Grill a new one...


Misty Fjords, Dog Sled mushing with an Iditarod veteran


The new Luxury Rail car on the White Pass and Yukon Railway


Bears, musk-oxen, moose (plural Meece? or Mice?)


Glaciers up close and personal (ICE PORN)


Lots of photos of the Star Princess and lots more rain and mists.


Go Pro sail away and Dog Sled movies


Mountaintop views at the Aleyeska Resort


and everything...




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I have my popcorn and coffee ready! I absolutely loved Alaska last year and am hoping to be able to return next year!


Thank you Norris for your fabulous reviews! May you never stop cruising!


Hi Nina! I always love having you along as I love the smell of popcorn and coffee and of course Napalm in the morning.


I am working on one hour of sleep since I woke up in Whittier.





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We didn't plan to sail to Alaska this September as we were hoping to be successful getting tickets for the Richard Wagner Opera Festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

We apply every year and were successful in 2003 when we cancelled a Ruby Cruise to the Eastern Med to attend. Wagner takes priority over cruising for us.


So in March when we knew we weren't going to be screaming down the Autobahn (I drive, Carol does the screaming) we needed a replacement vacation.


Carol costed out an Opera trip to Santa Fe (been there 8 times) and said-wow, it costs more than a cruise to Alaska!


Alaska? Hmmm. Now there's an idea!


I was tasked with finding us lodgings on a ship.


I had 3 choices;

Coral but she sailed on a Wednesday and has no aft suites

Island but she has that ugly backside now


and the Star, a ship with aft suites, Skywalkers and the dolphin beak bow I could walk around. I didn't see much in the way of reviews of her and the only photos of note were by Jasperdo from some years ago.


I wasn't sure she would be a good choice-have you noticed that in the Alphabetical listing she comes way near the end? Like Princess is ashamed of her and doesn't expect (or care?) if people sail on her or not.


I always root for the Underdog so I focused on the Star. North from Vancouver so we had the glaciers as the icing on the cake. Rats!! All the suites are sold out and it's March. Crikey!-even the mini suites are in short supply. There was only one aft one left- D 733. Nice big long balcony but no roof. What if it rained?

Still what are the odds of it raining in Alaska in September?


I fired off an e mail to Princess and booked it. That put in motion the hotel and airline search. Pan Pacific, where we have stayed on our two previous Alaskan cruises was sold out. More rats!! Princess had a block of rooms in the fine Fairmont Waterfront. OK-we'll have one of those please. Sorry we are overbooked and there is a waitlist said Princess (actually the man who is standing in for our long time Personal Cruise Consultant who is on a long leave of absence).


We went ahead and booked a fine room in the Fairmont ourselves.


It would be a year between Princess cruises for us, since our Emerald Med trip, Rome to Barcelona in September 2015. In between we had tried our first Celebrity experience (see review in my signature) and loved it.


The months passed and soon we were getting close...



More time passed and the number of days kept shrinking, while our anticipation grew...




With just a couple of days to go Carol had some news-we are now booked in at the Pan Pacific! Hoorah! The view is worth it as you'll see soon.




Packing was done in a leisurely fashion from comprehensive lists. We both ended up with a clothing assortment which might have better suited Lisa Minelli or Cher who change between songs on stage.


In my case I had two carry-on pieces. One which held my computer, a 3lb zoom lens,two tripods, an umbrella and all the electrical chargers and cables we travel with weighed in at 17 lbs and I also had a camera bag weighing 7 lbs. I would use 4 cameras during the trip.


The cat sitter was arranged even though the cat-Little Snowy-was unaware.


Come the morn of the 9th of September a pre-arranged cab whisked us to the airport. We allowed 3 hours before take-off. We packed everything including the kitchen sink but I wasn't allowed to take it on the plane. Ditto my collection of harpoons. Hunting the whales isn't allowed anymore even though there's no mention of the prohibition on the Princess Personalizer.





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We are at O'Hare airport with over 2 hours to spare. We have TSA pre so security is a breeze. We get our Wolfgang Puck sandwiches for the flight and settle down in the United Club in concourse B.





Eventually the Captain shows up/sobers up and we are called to board.


Carol is forlorn at the thought of having to take another cruise.



On my go, the Captain gets us airborne over the environs of Chicago



Soon it doesn't look like Chicago down below any longer




Vancouver coming up....

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When we saw mountains a few hours (4) after Chicago we knew we were closing in on our destination.




Vancouver approach






Soon we were off the plane-after it landed-and were enjoying the Death March every International Airport uses to break the will of new arrivals from afar.

Seven flights from places such as Tokyo and Manchester landed within a 30 minute span so the Immigration hall held a long snaking line for us and my carry-on bags were stretching my arms. We endured and were out in 30 minutes.


A five minute wait for a taxi and we were driving along in lovely mid 70's weather towards the harbor and the Pan Pacific. I asked the driver to stop at a 7/11 so I could get some Canadian dollars from an ATM.


*All the photos of the journey were taken on my iPhone so no Lightroom work was done but from here in I'll be using the Canon DSLR.


See you soon in the Pan Pacific!



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The only thing better than going on a cruise myself is reading a cruise review by you, Norris!


Looking forward to many hours of your beautiful photos & entertaining prose over the coming days... :)


Thank you AryMay!


Lots of good pics coming up.I was armed to the teeth with camera gear.



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Oh goody, another Norris review! I have so enjoyed your past ones.


My college roommate and I will be on the Star in February for a Hawaii cruise, so are eager to see pictures and hear all about her.


I emailed my roommate as soon as I saw your first post and told her "Norris is at it again! Come check out the link!"


We will be reading along eagerly, no doubt with many others of your fans.


Thanks again for your wonderful reviews - I always appreciate the humor, length, and great pictures.

Edited by catwoman6226
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Oh Good, another wonderful review that can keep me occupied for a while. Otherwise I will just spend time agonizing that I have 163 days until my next cruise.

Can't wait for the rest of it, you always do an amazing job with your reviews and I love your humor.

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Another Norris Review?! Thank goodness, I have been saved from mediocrity on the Cruise Critic boards! Got my espresso and Sambuca but can't find the damn coffee beans. Oh well I'll just enjoy the ride.


Great to have you onboard as always!


When I see the photos I am excited to show them to you but of course that will take a while. I have only watched one video clip so far and it was a doozy- the dog sled one. I have the motherlode of food shots this time, without any blurry ones, which is a first.





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A swift check-in and we are up in our room on the 16th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel. It has a window. Hmm. Wonder what's outside?




Why bless me barnacles! It's the beautiful Serenade of the Seas!


And who's that handsome gal on the other pier? Twin blue funnels-one has an X.

It's Celebrity Solstice!




We got here just after 4 p.m and these tubs will be hoisting sail (you know what I mean) very soon. Battle Stations!! I leave Carol to unpack her ballgowns and ermine stoles and head downstairs.






People on the helipad for sail away....nice!




Ok, she's not casting off just yet so let me run over to the other pier...


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