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Trip Report - May 16 Island Princess to AK

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We have been home almost a week from our 25th Anniversary Trip, and I am ready to tell our story (also not ready to jump into weekend chore mode!). I started the planning for this trip about 18 months out. We are typically frugal travelers. This trip, we were doing everything we wanted to do, I decided a long the way. We splurged on some things.While it could have been more expensive, with even more excursion choices, it also could have been done for less and still had a great time. For those of you just starting to plan, keep at it. It can be daunting, in fact, was the hardest trip I have planned thus far. There is so much to take into consideration, and getting the order down in order to make reservations, etc., was not always the easiest. Be diligent, make reservations that can be changed in case you come across something new that trumps the old, know that no matter what, you are going to Alaska - everything is beautiful and you can't go wrong. Just because everyone goes one way, if that doesn't sound like your way - it's ok. Listen to your gut.

 

When deciding which cruise, I took into consideration time we could get away from work. The further into the summer, the harder for me. Which way the cruise was going. And ports. In the end, we chose this option because it was during our anniversary and also during a slower time of work before it kicks in to busy season, we could tack it onto a holiday to get an extra day off work to recuperate, it went North and we decided to follow the advice it gets better and better every day, building to fantastic. We did not regret one of those decisions. It did leave us with what appeared to be the lesser of ship choices. I kept a positive attitude about what we read, taking the stance that if we had never been on the ship before we wouldn't know the difference. I will say now, if at all possible, I would still chose the same option because it fit all of our other criteria. I especially found it difficult to navigate, however, after the second morning, with some time alone moving around the ship, I found my base - the atrium, and could get there from everywhere without getting lost (most of the time), and then in turn could get to where I wanted to go for dinner, theater, etc. It would not be my choice for ship though. I think that some of the other amenities on ships I read about would fit us - like on the Coral without the added cabins breaking up the flow as with the Island and the International Cafe.

 

This was our first time on Princess. There were things we liked, and some not so much. We really liked the sea day activities. They were fun, informational, and kept us busy. Food was not as enjoyable, however, it did get better. The first couple of nights the options in the dining room weren't fits for us, and while things we would eat, just really didn't wow us. We did eat supper (evening meal) in the buffet a couple times instead, which was something different for us. With the low key vibe, and late times in port, it was a better fit. One of those nights was some delicious seafood. I wasn't blown away with the dessert offerings, and did't partake several times. That said, we liked what we ate ok, we of course did not starve, it just wasn't a wow for us - so take this with a grain of salt. We all have our own tastes. We did anytime dining. We enjoyed meeting a variety of people. While one night was a little harder with the fit of company, I would not change any of it. We had wonderful conversations with people from Canada, California, Virginia, Florida, just to name a few. And had a great time meeting up with a few of them along the way and enjoying further time together. All of them were older than us, and the majority retired (we are 47 and 50) - and we loved every conversation. My one regret of the trip, was not taking, or having pictures taken of us with them. I am sure I will have other tidbits as we go along, but let's get started!

 

Our trip actually started Sunday, May 13. We flew out at 4:30, through DFW with a rather long layover. It went fast though, and is a nice airport. We had dinner at Papadeaux's - which we love and don't have at home. We left a little after 10 pm and arrived in Vancouver, BC shortly after midnight their time (so 2:00 am our time). We were not tired, having taken a little nap on the plane. Customs was fairly easy, although we did boof it. It has been a few years since we have flown to a foreign country, and evidently we had forgotten how to do it.....we both went to our own kiosk - mistake number one. They printed out blank claims forms, so we had to hand-fill out ours. But we made it through, grabbed our luggage, and found a cab. Nice driver, told us some about the city - standard $35 CA (set fee) to our hotel downtown, The Westin Bayshore. We have a daughter that works for the company, and we are fortunate to get the family rate, or we would have gone another direction most likely.

 

We checked in quickly, and were up in our room between 1 and 1:30 am. We enjoyed the view for a bit, and even though we were (well, mostly me) so excited we weren't tired, we went to bed. And had no trouble falling asleep after a conversation about leaving our phones on Airplane Mode until we were alert enough to make sure our data was turned off, etc.

 

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We slept soooo well, until 6:30 am when my husband's phone started ringing!!! Over and over. He finally answered, it was the wrong number! (Guess who didn't leave it on Airplane Mode?) Well, needless to say, we could not go back to sleep. We decided to just get up and do some exploring. We enjoyed breakfast outside at a small restaurant next to the hotel. 6 Degrees is a charming small eatery ran by a husband and wife (with precious little one strapped to mom in a carrier helping get drinks, etc.). They had healthier type options, with one option for eggs, toast, meat. I had a wrap that was very filling, although could have used some sort of moisture in a sauce or something. I think because of the whole grain type wrap. My husbands eggs, toast were good. The family was lovely. Nice view of the harbor, as long as you choose a table without a car parked at the curb in front of it. Even with, still a lovely view over the car.

 

AM View

 

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We didn't really have a plan when we left, and decided to walk around a bit. I had not planned anything this day, because I really thought we would sleep late, talk, piddle, take our time getting around and just hang out near the hotel that day. In hindsight, we should have went back to the hotel, regrouped, and planed a little if only because we ended up doing a lot that day, walking, and encroaching on some of the plans for the next day. But I can go with the flow, so really didn't think. We walked along the harbor, and ended up walking to Stanley Park. We walked along to the Totem Poles, and eventually ended up at the aquarium. The aquarium was nice, not necessarily our favorite ever, but had a lot of smaller exhibits with lovely fish (and some not so lovely). What made it stand a part were outdoor exhibits with seals, penguins, etc. That was pretty neat. This is not a cheap stop at $39 pp, but we enjoyed our time there.

 

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By now it is lunch time (maybe a late lunch), we started the walk back toward the hotel and found an outdoor map and got a bit more of a lay to the land. We were not quite back to our hotel, and found that at the next street and a couple blocks up, there were several restaurants. The street is Denman. This is to be remembered, in my opinion, it is close to the hotel, has many eating options of all types of food (think mom and pop type places with good food). Also on this street is a nice Safeway Grocery and would have been great for picking up picnic food and a little money savings.This day, we ended up eating at a great little Italian Restaurant, Bella Ristorante Italiano. I had the eggplant parm appetizer and a side salad and the husband had lasagna. All very good. We then walked back to the hotel, and kept going the other way, strolling to Canada Place, taking our time, enjoying everything in between. We checked out the cruise terminal and got the lay of the land for our departure later in the week. Then we walked back. Let me say here, this was not as small of a walk as it appeared from the hotel. This day, we did a bit over 20,000 steps. We went back to the hotel and rested for a bit, as the late night, sort sleep was catching up with me. Later that evening, we decided to head back to Denman for dinner. This night we chose Barbecue and Buckstop. This is small bar that serves food. While it is not BBQ like home, it was good. We had a sampler type platter we shared. The smoked chicken was our favorite. We had some sides that while sounding BBQish, were twists on them as far as we were concerned. That wasn't a bad thing, just don't want you to think KC BBQ, etc. We left full. I was done for the evening at this point, and we went back to the hotel, watched some tv and I was soon sound asleep.

Edited by parentsof5
grammar correction

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Woo hoo! Love reading trip reports!

 

I've never sailed Princess. Am interested in hearing about it. I feel like Princess has great itineraries.

 

We lived in Kansas for several years. Bought our first home in Bel Zaire outside Wichita. Our DS was born in Wichita. Lived in Lenexa. I have fond memories of Kansas!

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Day 3 brought our official anniversary. We woke up early for Vancouver time, since of course we are on Central time. This did throw me off the entire trip. Mornings were nice, because I was awake and ready to go, however, I was also super tired in the evening and was an early to sleep person.

 

We had seen a breakfast spot on, you guessed it, on Denman, and conveniently called The Spot Cafe. So we headed that way. Denman is a block or two from the hotel as you are going toward Stanley Park. You can head out the to the harbor, walk along it (can't go wrong with that!) and then take a left on Denman. The owners were super nice and funny. You order at the counter, and they bring the food to you. We sat outside again, and people watched. I had a yummy Eggs Benedict and the husband had a delicious waffle. Also enjoyed some wifi.

 

We went back to the hotel to firm up our game plan. We were going to take the bus on/off tour and realized we could purchase tickets from our concierge. I am so glad we did. She was super helpful. She convinced us this was really not worth the cost. We changed plans and walked. I really was not wanting to walk again all day, however, it really did sound like a better idea. And we did not regret it. We had a nice walk to the False Creek area, through a lovely (I like using that word, but it really was lovely.) tree lined neighborhood. We caught the ferry, purchasing a day pass, and went across to the Maritime Museum. Now, it is all relevant what you like to do. The concierge obviously wasn't so in to this museum, and thought it was an hour visit at best. We really enjoyed it. You get off on a pier with several different boats berthed. They had signs that told a little about them, and we found interesting. It is a short walk to the museum, then. We stopped along the way to watch some dogs and their owners play on the shore in this area that also is residential. We probably spent 2 hours here and enjoyed it.

 

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The ship it was all built for, was pulled on land and a structure built around it. It was interesting to hear and read it's story in the museum, and walk its decks.

 

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We hopped back on the Ferry to taxi us to Granville Marketplace. We walked around for a bit, and checked out a couple shops. Then we found the main market building that houses the food stands: meat counters, fresh fruit and vegetables, locally made items, candy, the list goes on, as well as food booths - everything you can image to have for lunch. I had Mediterranean that was super yummy and the husband had a burger and poutine (a Canadian dish of fries, cheese curds, and a gravy). Way too much food, and we had to throw some of it away. We enjoyed some musical entertainers. However, the company we had sharing our picnic table outside was the best. When I first sat down, there were 3 ladies who were on a 6 week vacation from Britain to celebrate one of their 60th birthdays. Then a couple from Australia joined us. We had a really nice conversation with them and their life in Australia. It was very interesting. We did a little more shopping before catching the ferry to the Plaza of Nations where we would get off, and have a maybe 2 mile walk to Gastown. With all of the stopping and doing things, nothing of the walking felt like too much (compared to the day before when I was pooped). Another 20,000 + step day. While in Gastown we did some shopping, and stopped to watch the Steam Clock for a short display and then the long that takes place on the hour (meaning, it plays music when it hits the 1/4 hour marks, and then the hour).

 

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Our concierge made the reservations after hearing where we had chosen to go. She definitely recommended making them. I had asked either here, or on TA, as well as read about Cardero's, which was also close to our hotel. Good comments, as well as one of the suggest places. Let me just say, for an anniversary dinner, especially a special one like 25 years, this was not the place I would have chosen for us. It is VERY loud. It is a more pricey establishment - which is perfectly ok, however, we did not find our meals that great. In fact, my husband had a fish dish that was not flavorful, sadly. I honestly cannot remember what I got, it was ok. We had to wait for water to be re-filled. The waiter was very nice. And he kindly brought us a Creme Brulee' for our anniversary that was very good. Did I mention it was really noisy. We made the best of it though, and we went for a walk along the harbor after.

 

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Woo hoo! Love reading trip reports!

 

I've never sailed Princess. Am interested in hearing about it. I feel like Princess has great itineraries.

 

We lived in Kansas for several years. Bought our first home in Bel Zaire outside Wichita. Our DS was born in Wichita. Lived in Lenexa. I have fond memories of Kansas!

 

We were both born and raised in Kansas, living here all of our lives. My husband has always lived in Wichita.

 

I agree about the itineraries. We also loved the day activities when at sea. We would sail again with them.

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Set Sail Day is finally here! My husband is not the let's get on the ship the minute they will let us type. So I have resigned myself that I will never have lunch in the dining room on set sail day.

 

In fact, for this trip he had been chomping at the bit to hit the mountains that surrounded us. He had did his research, and got up at 6:00 am to catch a cab over to Grouse Mountain. Now, there is actually a free shuttle that runs back and forth, and picks up and drops off at our hotel, along with other locations. However, it does not start until 9. Thus the taxi. There are two trails that local's hike. One, they say, is like doing a stair stepper up the side of the mountain. He did the other. It was a harder hike, he said, then he expected. Because of erosion, it has areas of steps that have been built, that were especially uncomfortable on his knee. You can ride the gondola down, I can't remember why he chose not to. He could see the free shuttle at the bottom, but was not close enough to catch it, so had to wait 30 minutes to catch the next one (they run every 30 minutes approximately). He made it back to the hotel at 11:30 - 30 minutes before check-out time! He had just enough time to clean up. Then we took a cab with all of our luggage to drop it off at the Canada Place.

 

While the husband was hiking, I slept in and then went to breakfast at another small spot near the hotel for breakfast. I had the nicest, loveliest, quite time with a delicious Bagel and Lox and a pot of hot tea at Breaking Bean. And The Alaska Cruise Companion.

 

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Sidenote: We had a garment bag for our dress clothes, and we each had a suitcase/bag. We each had a backpack (one was packed on the way here). I did not regret bringing anything we packed. The only thing we did not end up using was our swimwear, but we could have just as easily used it. It ended up being warm weather, upper 70's Monday and Tuesday in Vancouver. I had been watching the weather, and threw in warm weather clothes at the last minute before leaving and was so grateful to have it.

 

We asked our cab to wait while we checked our luggage. He was quite surprised, and was a little concerned he would be missing another fare. We assured him it would only take a short time, and he agreed to wait (after asking the staff how long it would be). We then had him take us to Gastown where we wanted to have lunch at the Spaghetti Factory. Now, we could have totally walked. It is basicaly around the corner, a few blocks from the ship. My strategy was, the earlier we got there, the earlier I could get on the ship....because we had decided to get on after lunch. We had a nice lunch and then walked back to the ship. I would say it took us about 30, maybe 45 minutes from walk in to board. Everything was smooth.

 

We went directly to our room where they had decorated our door (the balloons lasted about one hour before they "disappeared", first one, then the other, all while we were inside).

 

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Now, I had not told my husband I got a balcony. So we walked in (I think he started to suspect) and he asked, we got a balcony? Hmmmm, yep looks that way. He has always been anti-balcony. The you are just going to sleep there mentality. I did think long and hard about doing it, thinking about the get a balcony for AK vs it's too cold, don't do it arguments. We are both glad I got the balcony. One of the best decisions. We used it a lot. Loved stepping out in the middle of the night, or 4 am if we woke up to see the sunrise, how light it was, etc. We had E625, starboard, right behind a lifeboat. I was concerned if it would be in the way. Not at all. It was a perfect, full covered balcony. It is a long ways back from a lot of areas, however, it just allowed us to get some excercise. It is an easy walk down the hall, turn right to into the library and boom, you are at the atrium, just up from the dining rooms, etc. We loved this room. We adored our sweet steward Teddy.

 

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We spent some time walking around, and went up top for sail-away. Unfortunately, we did not make it to our roll call meet up. I was very sad. If any of you read this, and were there, I am so bummed I didn't get to meet you. I hope you had an amazing trip.

 

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. Now, food on the ship was a bit of a disappointment for us. I can't quite put my finger on it, and I am sure there are those that love it. The dining room options were just not our favorites, especially earlier in the week. Later in the week it did get beter. The food tasted just fine, just not what we would have always chosen. We are used to having a hard time picking which entree to get and now we were hard pressed to have to choose one. This night we ended up with Prime Rib for the husband (which he said did taste good) and I had the Pork Belly. (Now that I look at the menu, it is more appealing to me. For some reason, it just didn't appeal at the time. I think the steamed cod through me, because that just sounds bland.) I have no idea what we did that night, and sadly did not write anything down in my travel journal.

 

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One more day for tonight, and then I am going to have to hit the hay.

 

Our first sea day. This would be a sunrise morning, and one of the perks of having a balcony. Woke up a bit after 4 am, walked outside to this.

 

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Today was mostly spent going to talks and classes. Husband took in two Go Pro classes and learned some things. I went to the photography class and some of things he said helped my comfort level with shooting manual on the DSLR I have. Here was the exciting part, my notes exactly:

 

At 11 went to a photog class & got lucky. We saw some whales. I saw the nose of a whale & a blow. Very fun. No pics, went by fast.

 

We were literally at a window for lighting and the photographer was talking, when one of the ladies in the class calmly says, there's a whale. We all ran for windows so we could all see (there was quite a crowd of us taking the class). I got there just in time to see the nose. I did see a blow, so I know there were whale's there. Whether the nose I saw was a whale is a mystery. There was a lot of talk on the ship about if they were whale's or dolphins. What I saw looked like an Orca. Which would not be typical in those waters at the time of year, it is my understanding from one of the naturalist talks. So I think I may have seen a Dahl Dolphin, which has coloring like an Orca (which I didn't know until College Fjord day when we saw some, and the naturalist talked about them!). My best, most uneducated guess, is that there were both whales and dolphins in the area. Husband saw them to from where he was.

 

I also took in two of the lectures by our naturalist, Mark Harris. He was great. Knowledgeable, funny, informative.

 

For those of you that like menus, here is the room service menus. We only ordered twice. A tuna sandwich and tea and a hot dog late one night when diner was a little light. And a salad and tea one afternoon after a day of being out and about. (Which reminds me of one of the food frustrations my husband had, and could not get over. We have only been on Carnival before where you could get food about any time of the day, with ice cream 24 hours, and maybe pizza. It drove him nuts that ice cream shut down, the pizza was done at 8:30, and the grill as well. It drove me nuts how slow the grill was.)

 

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Evidently, I didn't get dinner menu and pics tonight. I do have the Platter.

 

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I brought highlighters and we each had a color. I attached them to the cabin wall with a magnetic clip, and took pics so I had it on my phone. We also used the app. However, after being on land, and turning airplane mode on and off, it didn't always work so great.

 

We went to the show tonight, On the Bayou, and had portraits taken. I purchased the photo package before the cruise. So we got a lot of portraits. Sadly, they did not have photographers roaming the ship as much as on Carnival our last time, so didn't have many candid's. In fact, two days getting off in port, we did not see the typical port setup for a photo opp. I only know they had them, because we saw them on the photo gallery walls. Now, I don't know why, but it must have been a timing thing and actually irritated me a bit, because I actually wanted them this time since I could get them with the package.I did figure out on at least one day, there were actually two export points, so evidently we went out the wrong one, as the pictures were on ship and not at the end of the gangway. Oh well. We did get one port day. One dinner (didn't see them the other formal night, but again, did see where they were around as there were other pics), and three on glacier days.

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Woo hoo! Love reading trip reports!

 

I've never sailed Princess. Am interested in hearing about it. I feel like Princess has great itineraries.

 

We lived in Kansas for several years. Bought our first home in Bel Zaire outside Wichita. Our DS was born in Wichita. Lived in Lenexa. I have fond memories of Kansas!

 

Small world. My Dw and I lived in Olathe for years (30) and we raised our kids there. Moved out west after we retired.

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Small world. My Dw and I lived in Olathe for years (30) and we raised our kids there. Moved out west after we retired.

 

Very small world! DH attended CSU for grad school. I worked in Longmont during that time. We were married in Loveland, CO. We had moved out to Kansas for DH's first "real job" after graduation.

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Nice trip report. I'm glad you included photos. Look forward to more.

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Ooops - I did get the first sea day dinner menu. First off, I also checked out the vege/fruit carving demo which was very interesting.

 

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As I continue looking back on the menu's, I think it was way more they were just different than we had been used to. If that hadn't been stuck, we would have been a bit happier with the choices. (and made better ones).

 

And for those that may wonder, you can buy flowers on the shop. Husband had this sent to our cabin and surprised me. They lasted all week and would have kept longer if I could have taken them with us.

 

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Enjoying your review, thanks for taking the time to post. Your flowers are beautiful --- your husband did good! Your lilies are my favorite --- your cabin must have smelled wonderful!

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And we are at the first Port Day. Icy Straight Point - i.e. Hoonah.

 

We didn't arrive until noon, so chose to have breakfast in the dining room. The company was good, and my breakfast was good. It isn't that husband's wasn't, however, he chose Huevous Rancheros, two fried eggs set on top of a folded tortilla with a side of chopped tomatoes (not salsa, or pico, but tomatoes) does not make that HR. Just don't want anyone to order that and be disappointed. I want to come back to the company, we had two ladies from a retirement home that puts together tours for their residents. They were a hoot. One was the wild one, one was more stoic. We also joined an Indian couple from Canada. She especially was hilarious. We would enjoy several conversations over the week with them as we ran into each other and shared time at music events in the evenings. I say this because I know many don't like to share a table, try to get out of your comfort zone. Meeting others is so much fun on a ship.

 

Back to Icy Straight - which is the port, if I have this all straight, I am paraphrasing, the community went together and they actually do own this port. The buildings are very nice, with shops, excursions, and food. It is a fairly small area, so easy to get around. There is a hiking trail you can start right after you get off of the ship. It is a little bit of a walk-not too far though, over solid ground/bridge to get to the welcome center. From there, you can walk into town about 2 miles along the shore. A nice walk. There is a shuttle I saw also. Deeper into town, there is a shuttle stop if you will, so you can walk in, and catch a ride back, for $2 or $3 I believe as well.

 

I was a bit geeked out about this stop, after watching some AK "reality" shows over the years that have segments in Hoonah. While I am glad we had this stop, I enjoyed our time there, I would like to see some of the other ports, like Ketchikan. I liked seeing a small Alaska town basically unspoiled by tourism. (The town is very separate from the port.) I would also do a bigger excursion at this stop, or a second excursion. There is not that much just "checking it all out". I am not sure what that would have been, but if one of them is on the fence for you, I would do it. We have done whale watching before, wasn't really interested in that. No way I was ziplining. I might have liked fishing, however, that is one of the more expensive options, and no spoilers, but we did a more expensive side trip later so we decided against it. (fyi whale watching- it was earlier in their return for the season, and from what I heard, while they did see some whales, they were far off. Not fantastic like some reports, so you might want to check into the time of year what you see. Of course, every year is going to be different. Had the waters/temps changed sooner this year, it could have been a different story. This is a perfect time to mention how blessed with good weather we have been so far this trip - and virtually for our entire trip. Couldn't hardly have asked for better. 70's in Vancouver, and I believe it got there this day as well. Sunny and gorgeous.)

 

I wanted to do the Cooking Class, and enjoyed it. The lady that does it does a great job telling about her experiences, while sharing some cooking tips. Not a really in-depth cooking class, as far as the instruction went, but good and entertaining. It is a little expensive for what it was, but what isn't!? I would choose it again. After the demo's, and some good tasting food, we then grilled some of our own. (That's the husband on the left.)

 

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After the class, we walked around the port which has some nice shops and a museum about the cannery and enjoyed them. Then we set out to walk into town.

 

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As you hit town, there is first a fenced area with boats in dry dock and many were being worked on. Next is the grocery store. We did stop here as the one thing I forgot was chapstick, and there was none to be had on the ship! If you keep walking past the door to the store, keep going and follow straight to a souvenir shop. It wasn't anything exciting, but was there, next to the hardware store.

 

Keep walking, and you will see some businesses, school, etc. I had read about a "metal" building that was a place to stop as they made totem poles there. I think it has a more touristy official home, as this we what we came across.

 

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It was interesting to hear about the totem pole they were working on. It had to go through an approval process and will be placed at Glacier Bay National Park.

 

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I hope I can remember this next part correctly, as it is a bit sketchy in my memory now. Just past this shop, and across the street is a small business that has souvenirs. It is a small stand alone building. I think just past it is a street (if not, it is a little further down), that takes you back to a harbor with boats. If you look down the street, you should be able to see them. Take that street, and not far at all is a paved road that takes you to a dock. We saw 4 Eagles here. Some on the shore, some on a tall entry way to the dock area. To the left you will see a lot of boats docked which is always a cool picture.

 

We just walked around the town a little further after that, but wasn't that much to see. Some houses, a park, a boat junk yard (we were hoping to find the junk yard from the show, but this didn't look like it and was closed and fenced in). On the way out of town, if you walk the other side of the street, is an old cemetery which I always find fascinating for some reason. We ten walked back to Icy Straight. There were quite a few people having dinner on shore. We went back on board and cleaned up for dinner in the dining room.

 

This is where dinner started picking up for us.

 

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Husband had the second main dish, sea bass and it was delicious.

 

We went to the Pianist/Humorist this nice. Super entertaining! Tom Franek is his name. I think we went to hear another musician in one of the clubs afterward. They weren't our cup of tea and I think I went back to the cabin. We had gone to the late show, so we was really like 1 in the morning home time for me and I was ready for some sleep.

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Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone, they are appreciated!

 

Those lilies are my favorite, too! How lucky was I that is what they had available.

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Thank you so much for posting your Alaska trip report! I love your detail and your photos are wonderful. Looking forward to the rest.

 

I "finally" posted mine about a month ago for our AK cruise from last Sept.! But, just can't get enough of AK photos.

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Port 2 - Juneau

 

We had reserved a car with Juneau Car Rentals. They are a local company, with older cars to rent. They have dings, they have miles, and they get you where you want to go for a decent price. It was $67 all in for the day. It was on the next dock over from where the ship was. They had let me know Princess usually uses that dock, and they were near the next dock. You walk off the ship, the road is right there, and walk up the road to the right. But it isn't "just to the right" it is a bit of a walk because you walk on around the outside, then take a right on the next road and walked a ways back in and have to watch the signs to guide you. It is a doable walk, there is some uphill on the road, but want to paint a picture if you have mobility issues. We would use them again.

 

From there we took out for Mendenhall Glacier. It was an easy drive (they gave us a map at the rental). I believe it was $5 to park. It is a short walk to the visitor center up a switch back sidewalk, or follow the path down closer to the water and at the side of the building you will see a covered area from the building, down that walk you can get an elevator up.

 

We didn't hit the center until after. We first walked a pretty flat trail to a shore area closer to the glacier. What I didn't know would be there, was a large, forceful waterfall to the right of the glacier. It was beautiful. We spent some time just looking at it all. Make sure you look around Nugget Falls! There are mountain goats in the area. We were able to watch two of them. They were pretty far up, and I unfortunately couldn't get a great shot, but it was super fun!

 

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The below pic is not the best one I have ever taken, but I love it because it shows the scale with the people at the base of the fall.s

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After we spent some time at the visitor center looking at the exhibits, some ice from the glacier they had brought in earlier that day, and a short film, we drove further (North, I believe) to Eagle Beach. Unfortunately, there weren't any Eagles, but it was beautiful. I had read about it on here, as well as the Rental Car Employee mentioning it. It is kind of like a park area, and you can walk out the inlet to the ocean.

 

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It was lunch time by now, so we set out to find Sandbar - a local bar that was mentioned I post I started requesting "local" things not on the typical tourist path. It was very much a bar where we ate (I think there may be more of a restaurant area, but I am not positive.) We had the fish and chips. Haddock and fries. Super good!

 

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We had a later lunch, and waking up very early every morning since starting out trip, was starting to hit me. It was about 1:30/2. Husband took me back to the ship, and he set out to find the trail up Mt Roberts to hike. While planning this trip, I had shared our plans for the day. At that time I had thought we would take the tram up, and hike around. Someone shared with me this was not a good idea (I am paraphrasing again) because we were too early and it would be muddy and not good hiking conditions. Neither on the trail up, or at the top, was this the case. My point is, you cannot pigeon hole how things are going to be. Just like at home, weather is not always the same from May to May - or August to August. So check the conditions closer to arriving, or when you arrive, and adjust your plans accordingly. Don't knock something out based on how things have been other years, or in others experience. (Did I mention how nice the weather was for us - we were so blessed!!) If you hike up, and buy something small worth $10 (the naturalist said a $5 beer, but it must have gone up since the last time he checked) from the gift shop, you can ride the tram down for free.

 

Something to keep in mind, there is a Fred Meyer's in town (grocery store) if you need something, and it is a $50 taxi ride there and back. Don't ask me how I know, just sharing information...... (I was not the one that took the taxi!) I am sure if you really did need something, there would be options closer, and not requiring a taxi surely.

 

After some rest in our cabin, I felt much better. It may have had something to do with all that fried food as much as anything. Not my regular diet. The husband got back to the ship after returning the car, etc. about 5. We cleaned up not long after and went to dinner. Yummm.

 

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Tonight's show was a country artist, and not really our genre, so we went and watch a performer that was becoming our favorite, Mary Simon. She was a solo performer who played piano and guitar and sang songs from the 70's and later. We watched her several times in the afternoon of sea days and in the evenings.

 

And then, the fuddy dud (that would be me) went to bed. We were so out of sink, I needed to go to sleep at night, and a flip for us, the husband wanted to sleep in the morning and I would be up and sometimes out the door.

 

Something to mention. We did watch a couple of the movies in the cabin. The first night we set out to watch the Black Panther at Movies Under the Stars. We went to the second show. They didn't have any blankets, only towels. About 1/4 of the way in, when I decided this was not fun (the wind had picked up as the ship speed picked up I think), and we were walking back to our cabin, we saw them hand someone one. I don't know if they had to wash and dry between movies?? But it would have been nice to have one, not sure I still would have stayed. They had a few movies I had not seen, so we did watch a couple of them in the cabin.They replay them the next day on the on ship tv system. Don't let people make you feel guilty that you enjoy down time in your cabin! You are on vacation, do what you want to relax. You do not have to be go, go, going every minute. Or so I keep trying tell my husband!

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Thank you so much for posting your Alaska trip report! I love your detail and your photos are wonderful. Looking forward to the rest.

 

I "finally" posted mine about a month ago for our AK cruise from last Sept.! But, just can't get enough of AK photos.

 

I read yours and LOVED it!! Thank you so much for posting yours. Such wonderful memories.

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Last what I call "real port day". I know they call Glacier Bay and College Fjord a "port day", but really, you are at sea.

 

Skagway:

 

I had read and read about things to do, and the recurring excursion was going to the Yukon. We like the flexibility of being on our own, so I again reserved a car. For this one, and Anchorage (op, their is another hint, we didn't stop at the cruise, and did go on to land. More on that later.), we used Discount USA Car Rental to search and book through. I had read about them hear. It is recommended, and I followed this, to book your rental as quickly as you can. If you see the price go down, you can always cancel and re-book. This is important, because the prices go up and up, the closer you get. We ended up with Avis, for a whopping $148 plus taxes and fee's. This was the most we paid (maybe ever). They know people want to go North, so there you go. While we were picking up the car, a local was picking one up and reserved one for one day later in June. Local rate, $68 for the day.... But you do what you gotta do, and it was cheaper than other options that did not have as much flexibility. We first went to the Visitor Center/National Park Center, to get our National Park Pass Port stamped. I wanted to make sure we didn't get back too late from the Yukon, and not get it stamped. Now, at this point, I would have possibly done something differently. I would have looked around town a little before heading North. Checked out a museum, gone to a couple of shops, and maybe a walking tour the park service does. We had plenty of time in port, having to be back on ship I believe at 8. After 5, lots of stuff closed anyway. I let myself be too worried maybe about the what if's - what if we had car trouble. Easier to figure it out sooner in the day. That thought still gives me shivers, so maybe I still would do it the same???

 

It was a bit of a dreary day this morning. There was some drizzle. I knew this meant the drive might be less than perfect. But you know what!? We are here to experience Alaska. Rainy days, with Alaska Rain forests surrounding us, is part of that real Alaska experience.

 

Well let me tell you what, I am not sure I have ever been in such fog. I for sure have not white knuckled it so much, and especially had my husband say that was not fun, before. The windy, mountain roads, with sometimes MAYBE a foot visibility in areas was an experience! We left town headed to the Yukon about 9:30 I would say.

 

I think I was too caught up in the scariness of the road, and didn't get picks of it, but in a little less foggy area did capture this.

 

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We stopped at the Yukon Suspension Bridge, because we are on vacation, and that is what you do. Stop at the tourist traps. I say that only slightly not tongue in cheek. I think it was $18 for the full experience, aka walk across the bridge to the lookout decks and then I believe there was some sort of replica building from some era as well. I couldn't tell you for sure because there is no way I am (or physically could make myself) walk across that thing! I chose the $5 "photo op" experience, which was just fine with me, and I did get some good shots. It was pretty, although overcast. The husband did go across.

 

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And had some time to practice my Manual Photo skills (I use that term loosely.).

 

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Ok, here is a better fog pic. There are large mountains behind that fog.

 

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On to Carcross.

 

We spent some time walking around this small town. They have fairly recently added some new buildings to their little touristy area, making for a nice little stroll through some eating spots and shops. There is a popcorn store that had some delicious popcorn to sample and we bought some. There was one building that is a little museum about the gold rush period that was interesting and had some video running telling about it. After checking that all at, it was late lunch time. We chose The Bistro. It has the feel of a small town in the Yukon tourist area, kind of rustic, with lots of wood.We had beef burgers and sweet potato fries (arguably the best sweet potato fries I have ever had). They also had a salmon burger, and some other more exotic meat. Seems like they had chicken tenders, and also naan pizza. I know there were other options, but that is what comes to mind. It was a good choice, with good food.

 

We headed out of town and very quickly hit the Carcross Desert. It isn't large, and actually you can see remnants of it along the side of the road either way where it spreads out a bit, but something I think you just want to see because you are there. We have also spent to time at the Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado that is similar, but larger, so I think that made it more interesting as well.

 

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Next stop Emerald Lake. It was beautiful, and sadly, my pictures do not capture it as well as others had I saw when researching.

 

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The husband had read about Robinson Flag Station in the Milestones (Which I neglected to mention we had with us. Definitely a must if you are driving in AK. Tells everything to do, mile by mile, not just in this area, but all AK.) It intrigued him, and was just up the road a bit. Probably added another 30 minutes to our road trip. It isn't much, but there are some graphics that tell about this small ghost town, with structures still standing. I found it interesting. Worth not doing something in Skagway, probably not. But maybe to others it would be.

 

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From hear we headed back to Skagway. Had more weather, rainy, on the way back. But not as foggy.

 

Now, I really wanted to visit the Christmas Store. So we were hurrying a bit, as we didn't know what time it closed. We pulled up across the street at 4 minutes until 5. Someone was coming out. I walked across the street, grabbed the door handle and pushed and I think it was locked. The owner pretty much graciously opened it, and stated come in, you will be our last customer today. I tried to hurry through, looking as best I cold for a special souvenir. I chose a nativity with Eskimo's. And was back out no later than 5:10.

 

We did drive around a bit, found most things closed, and went to the cemetery for a bit. Then the husband was being nice, he always is, and drove me back to the ship. We came across a gentleman from the ship walking, and offered him a ride. We had seen him in Hoonah/Icy Straight. He had walked to town, and had hitch hiked back, literally. We had seem him get out of a pickup and he told us. So it was kind of fun to have him hitch a ride with us. Now, it is not as far as a walk here. It is probably 1/2 a mile or so from the ship to the car rental (very close to the edge of town/shops). One thing I did mean to mention, if you rent from Avis. All of our paperwork, and I believe research on hear, indicated you pick up at Westmark Inn. So that is where we went. Well, it is actually across the street and in a building that does have an AVIS sign. You go to the side of the building for entry. Don't go inside the hotel, as you are likely to be "schooled" by the clerk as to who he is - a hotel, not a rental car agency. I did feel the need to let him know it is the rental car's documentation that says pick up here. I am presuming this will not be the first time this season this conversation happens.

 

We got back on the ship, cleaned up, and went to dinner.

 

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Sadly, I am not sure what we did this night. My journal says "super tired, went to bed early". Those 4 am wake ups are killing me!

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Thanx for the review-much appreciated

 

 

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Thank you for your trip report. And your pictures, they are great. We are going in August and I’m trying to decide on renting a car in Skagway or doing the train. Your report is helping!

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Port 2 - Juneau

 

We had reserved a car with Juneau Car Rentals. They are a local company, with older cars to rent. They have dings, they have miles, and they get you where you want to go for a decent price. It was $67 all in for the day. It was on the next dock over from where the ship was. They had let me know Princess usually uses that dock, and they were near the next dock. You walk off the ship, the road is right there, and walk up the road to the right. But it isn't "just to the right" it is a bit of a walk because you walk on around the outside, then take a right on the next road and walked a ways back in and have to watch the signs to guide you. It is a doable walk, there is some uphill on the road, but want to paint a picture if you have mobility issues. We would use them again.

 

From there we took out for Mendenhall Glacier. It was an easy drive (they gave us a map at the rental). I believe it was $5 to park. It is a short walk to the visitor center up a switch back sidewalk, or follow the path down closer to the water and at the side of the building you will see a covered area from the building, down that walk you can get an elevator up.

 

We didn't hit the center until after. We first walked a pretty flat trail to a shore area closer to the glacier. What I didn't know would be there, was a large, forceful waterfall to the right of the glacier. It was beautiful. We spent some time just looking at it all. Make sure you look around Nugget Falls! There are mountain goats in the area. We were able to watch two of them. They were pretty far up, and I unfortunately couldn't get a great shot, but it was super fun!

 

enhance

 

The below pic is not the best one I have ever taken, but I love it because it shows the scale with the people at the base of the fall.s

enhance

 

After we spent some time at the visitor center looking at the exhibits, some ice from the glacier they had brought in earlier that day, and a short film, we drove further (North, I believe) to Eagle Beach. Unfortunately, there weren't any Eagles, but it was beautiful. I had read about it on here, as well as the Rental Car Employee mentioning it. It is kind of like a park area, and you can walk out the inlet to the ocean.

 

enhance

 

It was lunch time by now, so we set out to find Sandbar - a local bar that was mentioned I post I started requesting "local" things not on the typical tourist path. It was very much a bar where we ate (I think there may be more of a restaurant area, but I am not positive.) We had the fish and chips. Haddock and fries. Super good!

 

enhance

 

We had a later lunch, and waking up very early every morning since starting out trip, was starting to hit me. It was about 1:30/2. Husband took me back to the ship, and he set out to find the trail up Mt Roberts to hike. While planning this trip, I had shared our plans for the day. At that time I had thought we would take the tram up, and hike around. Someone shared with me this was not a good idea (I am paraphrasing again) because we were too early and it would be muddy and not good hiking conditions. Neither on the trail up, or at the top, was this the case. My point is, you cannot pigeon hole how things are going to be. Just like at home, weather is not always the same from May to May - or August to August. So check the conditions closer to arriving, or when you arrive, and adjust your plans accordingly. Don't knock something out based on how things have been other years, or in others experience. (Did I mention how nice the weather was for us - we were so blessed!!) If you hike up, and buy something small worth $10 (the naturalist said a $5 beer, but it must have gone up since the last time he checked) from the gift shop, you can ride the tram down for free.

 

Something to keep in mind, there is a Fred Meyer's in town (grocery store) if you need something, and it is a $50 taxi ride there and back. Don't ask me how I know, just sharing information...... (I was not the one that took the taxi!) I am sure if you really did need something, there would be options closer, and not requiring a taxi surely.

 

After some rest in our cabin, I felt much better. It may have had something to do with all that fried food as much as anything. Not my regular diet. The husband got back to the ship after returning the car, etc. about 5. We cleaned up not long after and went to dinner. Yummm.

 

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Tonight's show was a country artist, and not really our genre, so we went and watch a performer that was becoming our favorite, Mary Simon. She was a solo performer who played piano and guitar and sang songs from the 70's and later. We watched her several times in the afternoon of sea days and in the evenings.

 

And then, the fuddy dud (that would be me) went to bed. We were so out of sink, I needed to go to sleep at night, and a flip for us, the husband wanted to sleep in the morning and I would be up and sometimes out the door.

 

Something to mention. We did watch a couple of the movies in the cabin. The first night we set out to watch the Black Panther at Movies Under the Stars. We went to the second show. They didn't have any blankets, only towels. About 1/4 of the way in, when I decided this was not fun (the wind had picked up as the ship speed picked up I think), and we were walking back to our cabin, we saw them hand someone one. I don't know if they had to wash and dry between movies?? But it would have been nice to have one, not sure I still would have stayed. They had a few movies I had not seen, so we did watch a couple of them in the cabin.They replay them the next day on the on ship tv system. Don't let people make you feel guilty that you enjoy down time in your cabin! You are on vacation, do what you want to relax. You do not have to be go, go, going every minute. Or so I keep trying tell my husband!

 

 

How long does it take to hike up MT. Roberts? Trying to figure this possibility into our plans.

 

Thank you in advance.

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Great trip report! We did a Princess Southbound cruise in May of '17. Booked the Northbound for May of '19. Looking for new things to do in '19. And I too am originally from Kansas, Overland Park. Relocated 12 years ago to Omaha, Nebraska!

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Enjoying your review and pictures!!

 

 

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And now, here we are, at the big day. Glacier Bay National Park.

 

I was up, you guessed it, bright and early. Opened the curtains, and it is dreary, cloudy, rainy. Sigh. But remember what I said earlier, this is the full Alaska experience, so there you go.

 

I left the husband in bed, and headed up to the deck where the rangers would setup shop. I apologize for not being able to think of which that was for the life of me. I want to say this right now so I don't forget! If you have the National Park Passport, get this stamped early in the day. I wasn't thinking and didn't bring ours, but wasn't worried. After all, we were there until 2:30 I want to say, and they would be setup with the stamp on this deck asking questions. WELLLLL, by the time I remembered again, it was about 10 before 1 when I arrived back at their location to find none of them, and everything packed up. My stomach had that awful flip flop sinking feeling. One of them was to do a talk at 1 in the theater, and another a jr ranger activity. Evidently, things were so dreary, they were pushing things forward some and planning on getting off of the ship early. While the husband hung out there in case someone came back, their stuff was still there, I went to the theater. I had just spoken to the speaker, who let me know they had packed it all up, but if I was nice, she would meet me there so we could stamp it. The husband was walking down to me in the theater, to tell me someone had showed up and they couldn't find the stamp, and had said it was in the theater, which it was not. We went back to the deck to meet the ranger. The others came back and said they had packed them up, they had been out all morning (thank you for that revelation), but they do stamp some extra's on paper and she had some in her pocket. So I will paste them in our book, and I felt better. I waited around for the other ranger as she had not arrived yet. While this was going on, the ships crew carted off all of their stuff to be taken off ship. Shortly after, the ranger arrived, with big eyes as she realized everything was gone. I was glad I had waited for her to let her know we had gotten the paper copies, and thanks for being willing to meet me. ALLLL of this long paragraph to make it clear, don't wait to get your passport stamped!

 

Now, on to the day. Sadly, it remained drizzly, clowdy, cold, so the pictures were not phenomenal. The experience was still great. We saw Margerie Glacier. We watched for some time from Deck 14. We came up on the Port side first. We saw it calf (and heard of course). After some time, we went down to Deck 7 where you could watch under cover. It also gave a different perspective, and different pictures. We saw it calf again, this time smaller. We heard it calf several other times, however, couldn't see it. Then it was time to move to the Starboard side. We went back to our cabin and watched from our balcony. We left the door open so we could hear the ranger commentary on the tv. It was a fabulous time!!

 

You can see the moisture on the women's sweatshirt. This was my first capture of the glacier.

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Someone is always willing to take a shot for you, don't be afraid to ask!

 

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I believe this is when we moved to our cabin.

 

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I know this one is.enhance

 

Today was Pub day. So we went to the Cajun restaurant while we journeyed to the next glacier. There was a long line before it opened. I imagine it didn't help that it was not the best day outside, so people were ready to get out of the weather. We made it in the first seating. By the time we were sat, the first ones that had been sat were already eating. Service was actually pretty fast. I had Banger's and Mash, Husband Fish and Chips. We sat with another couple, that had the Banger's and he had the Kidney Pie. We did partake in desert. I cannot pass up bread pudding. It was a bit different than what I am used to, more custardy. Super good.

 

 

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