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Ruby Princess Alaska RT Seattle (7/29) from an (almost) new cruiser

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This is my first attempt at a trip report on our 7-day Alaska cruise. Since I received so much helpful advice from CC members in planning this trip, I wanted to pay it forward, especially for new cruisers who might benefit from our experience.

 

Just for a little background, we are a retired andwant-to-be-retired (!) couple in our early 60’s and 70’s from the San Francisco Bay Area. Although this was our secondcruise on Princess, the first one was to Mexico over 12 years ago, so we felt like new cruisers. (Several years before that, we took our first and only Disney Cruise to the Bahamas on the Big Red Boat.) I guess we are the people Princess had in mind with their slogan, “Come back new!” Not only was this our first trip to Alaska, it was our first trip to Seattle, so we arrived a few days early to enjoy the city.

 

Our interests for this cruise: relaxation, glaciers, sled dogs, geology, natural history, meeting people, and food (not necessarily in that order!)

 

Things we did not do on this cruise: go to the casinos, drink alcohol, buy diamonds, play trivia, go to art auctions, dance, go to the Captain’s cocktail party, champagne waterfall, balloon drop, buy t-shirts, eat in specialty restaurants, exercise - other than our daily walks to the dining rooms! We did go to a few shows, but we were up really early each morning. Early to bed, early to rise. We weren’t the wildest couple on the boat, but still managed to have a wonderful time!

 

Because this review turned out to be much longer than I expected, I’ve tried to break it down into sections, for people who are just interestedin dog sledding for example, and don’t want to have to muddle through all of the other verbiage!

 

In addition to information about our experience on the Ruby Princess:

 

3-days pre-cruise stay in Seattle at the Hyatt Place Hotel

Juneau: Coastal Helicopters dog sledding with extra stop on Herbert Glacier

Skagway: Chilkoot Charters Yukon Rail and Bus Tour

Ketchikan: Island Wings Misty Fyords Flightseeing Tour

Victoria: Princess Cruises Butchart Gardens: Wine, Chocolate, and Edible Petals excursion

Utimate Ship's Tour on the Ruby Princess

Miscellaneous topics including: motion sickness, fear of heights, and how I survived both a helicopter and a floatplane!

 

I took a lot of pictures, but am very technically challenged. Unfortunately, I won't be able to post photos from my MacBook, unless someone has very simple directions.

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Seattle

 

We arrived in Seattle a few days before sailing as we hadnever seen this beautiful city before. We had arranged a town car with Century Car Service. The driver texted us as soon as our plane arrived, picked us up at the curb right outside of the luggage claim area, and it was an easy ride ($55 plus tip) to our hotel. We checked in online before we even left home, and our room was ready for us a little after noon.

 

Hotel/Transportation:

 

We stayed at Hyatt Place near the Space Needle. By booking almost a year in advance, we got a AAA rate of $194/night plus tax for a view of the Space Needle. I highly recommend booking a hotel well in advance, as you can always cancel and the rates go up significantly over time. Hyatt Place was a perfect for us as it was walking distance to the Seattle Center: Space Needle, Chihuly Glass Museum, and Museum of Pop Culture. There is a Walgreen’s right across the street.

 

The hotel was great! We had a quiet room on the 9th floor, and plenty of space to put our overloaded suitcases. Each room has an almost separate area with a couch, wet bar/fridge, and desk. The sink is outside of the bathroom/toiletarea.

 

Included breakfasts were varied and filling. In addition to the usual cold/hotcereal/fresh fruit/juice and coffee/tea offerings, each morning they would have a special breakfast entrée in a cast iron pan – frittatas, black beans and corn, for example.

 

A free 24-hr shuttle takes you anywhere within a 1-mileradius. When that was busy, we found Lyft and Uber to be very convenient. By downloading the LYFT app for the first time, we used a code “SAVOR SEATTLE” to get 5-free $10 rides! This can be used anywhere, not just Seattle, and is good for a few months, I think. So basically we traveled almost everywhere we wanted to go in Seattle for free or a few dollars, except for tips.

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We were on this cruise with you. They told us that over 2700 new cruisers (blue card). The ship had 90 ruby cards, 350 gold cards, 80 platinum and 53 elite. There were over 200 kids aboard. It was an interesting cruise to say the least.

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We were on this cruise with you. They told us that over 2700 new cruisers (blue card). The ship had 90 ruby cards, 350 gold cards, 80 platinum and 53 elite. There were over 200 kids aboard. It was an interesting cruise to say the least.

 

 

 

We were (almost) new cruisers, so didn't have much to compare it to.

 

I'd be interested in what you found "interesting" while I try to figure out how to post a picture!

 

 

 

 

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5a23c6dd6cb95118de46b17af6726c4e.jpg

 

 

The view from our room at Hyatt Place.

 

Oh my gosh, it worked using Tapatalk!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Edited by ams cruiser
The picture actually posted!

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Places Visited in Seattle:

 

Museums:

 

Chihuly Garden andGlass -Absolutely incredible! It felt like we had fallen “through theLooking Glass” into a garden of glass

 

 

Museumof Pop Culture. We wished we had paid the $10 extra to see the Jim Hensonexhibit as rock and roll is not our personal favorite, but loved the Star Trekexhibit.

 

Museum of History and Industryon Lake Union - The best local museum I have ever seen, even for people whodon’t care for museums! Highly interactive, presents a fascinating history ofSeattle. Currently has an Edible City exhibit sure to please all of thefoodies.

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Tours:

Savor Seattle PikePlace tour- By far our favorite land tour. Book in advance, and be prepared for a two-hour gastronomic journey through Pike Place. Food stops/samples at around 8 of the most popular places. Our favorites were the Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt, Pike Place Chowder, and Beecher’s Handmade mac n’ cheese (you get to taste a few different kinds of cheeses as well), but they were all good. Best of all you beat the crowds! Our tour guide was informative and entertaining. We arrived an hour early for our 10 a.m tour to stroll around before it got crowded, especially the famous fish market. At the end of the tour, they give you a discount card for many of the vendors, that is good for a week. We used it to order Chukar Cherry treats as gifts, and arranged to have them delivered after we returned from our cruise.

Edited by ams cruiser

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221335a7c3e20bcd65629382572b9a70.jpg46c99738ca72b86de35c9468a6f8c1d3.jpgb9a09cb8658d6064a9292829868ff6f0.jpg

 

Pike Place tour with Savor Seattle: flying fish, piroshki, and the best Greek Yogurt!

 

 

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Argosy Locks Cruise Interesting and scenic tour from Lake Union through the locks back to the Seattle Pier near Miner’s Landing. Beautiful views throughout. We booked in advance online taking advantage of our AAA discount.

Edited by ams cruiser

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Can you tell me about the ultimate ship tour? I've been trying to find info on this for months. We're cruising in a few weeks and really wanted to do a ship tour. How do you sign up for it? Does it take you "behind the scene's" like the engine rooms and stuff? That's what my boyfriend really wants to see.

Can't wait to read the rest of your review!!

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34d7fcc08f92b95dad75225d3ee422fa.jpg4ee4332645aed9089ecfd3835259c305.jpg

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Going through the locks was a fascinating experience. On the way we saw Tom Hanks' boat house from "Sleepless in Seattle "!

 

 

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Can you tell me about the ultimate ship tour? I've been trying to find info on this for months. We're cruising in a few weeks and really wanted to do a ship tour. How do you sign up for it? Does it take you "behind the scene's" like the engine rooms and stuff? That's what my boyfriend really wants to see.

Can't wait to read the rest of your review!!

 

I'm sorry that it's taking me a lot longer than I thought to post these pictures. I haven't even gotten out of Seattle yet! But I will post about the Ultimate Ship's Tour a little later. Definitely behind the scenes. It was one of the best things we did on board. You sign up at the Passenger Services Desk as soon as you board the ship.

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Dining in Seattle:

 

On the waterfront:

 

Ivar’s Acres of Clams: Nice place to sit and watch the ferries. Enjoyed the air-conditioning during the heat of the day, and the fish and chips

 

Elliot’s Oyster House:dinner right after the locks cruise. Loved the Bairdi crab andhalibut. If we had planned ahead, we would have reserved through Open Table.

 

Chinook’s on the Fisherman’s Terminal: Grilled halibut was excellent. After dinner we walked outside to view the touching memorial to those lost at sea.

 

Sky City is the revolving restaurant at the Space Needle: (reserved online 90 days in advance)

Truly excellent dinner in a beautiful setting. There were clear views of Mount Rainier the night were there. The menu price includes the elevator ride to the observation deck, ½ hr before your meal. You can order a la carte, or a 3-course meal. (I believe you can view a sample menu not their website.) We got the best pictures from the restaurant (even through the windows), because the observation deck is surrounded by safety bars. Some people stuck their cameras through the bars, but I was afraid I'd drop mine!

 

The Space Needle is going to be remodeled, and the restaurant closed for several months while they install glass floors (!), and implement a new menu. The observation deck is supposed to remain open while they install floor to ceiling windows, and remove the bars. If you have a fear of heights like I do, you might want to visit Sky City before the re-model! I was fine looking through the windows, but I don't think I could handle glass floors.:o

 

Seattle was a beautiful city, and reminded us in many ways of San Francisco. While we were there in late July, they had had 40+ straight days without rain. (The temperature was in the 70's and 80's, but while we were on our cruise, the temperature in Seattle got into the 100's!)

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741860fc2442c23b69ed156787c4aa90.jpg1ca41f15256493173ca5bf4eb178f8a0.jpg3a4483db232bae3df65eda11112ab8bf.jpg5ca374af7f28193abb0e2cad02f22e2e.jpg

 

Bairdi crab at Elliot's was delicious! I love Dungeness crab, but I am a "Deadliest Catch" fan, so wanted to try Bairdi. I'm so glad I did!

 

Mount Rainier was beautiful on this clear night at the Space Needle. We booked a table at sunset so we could see the changing sky. I believe it takes 50 minutes for the restaurant to rotate all the way around.

 

 

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Edited by ams cruiser

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e7964acddfd84657c463543f20b91657.jpg32c3346aa8e37ebbc94680c57e70a38e.jpg

 

The first picture was taken from Chihuly Gardens. The second as we walked back to our hotel.

 

We loved Seattle and thought we couldn't have possibly had a better time. Little did we know that we were about to embark on the cruise of our dreams!

 

 

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I'm sorry that it's taking me a lot longer than I thought to post these pictures. I haven't even gotten out of Seattle yet! But I will post about the Ultimate Ship's Tour a little later. Definitely behind the scenes. It was one of the best things we did on board. You sign up at the Passenger Services Desk as soon as you board the ship.

 

Thanks for the info. Sorry to jump ahead in your review!!! Can't wait to read the rest and we will definitely sign up for the tour!!!!

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The cruise at last!

 

Embarkation:

 

Although our assigned boarding time was between 1 and 2 p.m., based upon the recommendations of this board, I had two goals in mind: a sit-down lunch in the dining room, and signing up for the Ultimate Ship’s Tour. These were lofty goals, as we were not "elites" ;), nor were we staying in a suite.

 

With that in mind, and prepared to sit and wait for a couple of hours, we caught our LYFT (another free ride!) to Pier 91 at 10:50 a.m. We checked our luggage, went through security, and got our cruise cards so quickly, at that point I asked, “Where do we go sit and wait?” The Princess representative smiled and me and said, “Just go walk onto the ship!” Dumbfounded, we quickly got our picture taken, dropped off our luggage, signed up for the Ultimate Ship Tour at Passenger Services, and were sitting in Da Vinci dining room eating lunch by 11:50, only an hour after we had left out hotel!

 

There was a postcard in our cabin explaining that Princess was trying a new early boarding procedure, and that we should enjoy the ship, but understand that the stewards might still be getting our rooms ready. If this is a new policy, I'm all for it!

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Cabin:

 

We had a mid-ship balcony on the Caribe deck. We chose this location because of my problem with motion sickness. We were blessed with sunny weather all week and used our balcony quite a bit, but I would have still used it in the rain, as fresh air beats running down to the Promenade Deck to curb my seasickness!

 

We were impressed by how well the room was laid out. Plenty of storage for our 4 suitcases (2large 2 small), holding a lot of clothes we never used. (That's another story!) Suitcases fit under the beds, and I kept my clothing sorted in packing cubes, which made it easier to pack at the end ofthe week.

 

We had converted our All Inclusive Beverage Package to a $300 on board credit, which we quickly spent booking our Ultimate Ship Tour. I had pre-ordered two cases of bottled water (one would have been more than sufficient given we were in Alaska for goodness sake!), and my Ultimate Soda cup (or soda plus? I’m calling everything "ultimate" just to be safe) was there, to accompany the soda sticker on my card. I had just called down to the desk to ask where my husband’s coffee card was, when I realized there was something very important outside of our cabin, called a mailbox. Sure enough, his coffee card voucher was there. If you ordered one of these, be sure to exchange it at the International Café the first time you use it. I ran into a woman who didn’t realize she had to do this, and she was billed for coffee drinks all week until she figured it out. (Princess customer service took this off of her bill when she went to find out why), and the barista in the International Café was very kind in giving her the card on the second-to-last day of the cruise. “Of course, Ma’am. It is very hard to know what to do for the first time…”

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Random room thoughts:

 

The new Princess bed was very comfortable with four pillows of different densities. My husband loved the bed as he slept like a log, and didn't wake up with a sore back. We did have a Princess blue tote bag on our bed, and the shower was not as tiny as I had thought it might be, but I am only 5’4. My 5’11 husband pointed out, however, that things get more tricky when you have to bend over. The best part was that the water was warm and the water pressure strong. We had requested the bathrobes, which were on our bed, I believe.

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