Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Blondilu

North to Alaska - Grand Princess - August 24th through September 3rd

Recommended Posts

My 2 sisters and I got home yesterday afternoon from our 10 day North to Alaska cruise on the Grand Princess. We sailed out of San Francisco and our ports were Ketchikan, Haines, Juneau and Victoria BC.

 

The 3 of us live in Northern California. The 2 of them live further up the state, but I actually live about an hour north of San Francisco. So sailing out of San Francisco was a no brainer. On the morning of the 24th my neighbor drove us over to the Sonoma County Airporter, which on cruise days runs a dedicated bus to the terminal. Easy peasy.

 

We caught the bus at 11:45am in Petaluma and arrived at the terminal at Pier 27 at 12:45pm. Off the bus, across the drive and up the escalator we went. I have priority boarding which is my favorite perk of all time. We breezed right through check in and were on board no later than 1:15pm.

 

We ate lunch and went back to our cabin to find our suitcases. We did some unpacking and then it was time for Muster. Then sailaway. We then had something to eat and went to bed. For some reason we were pretty exhausted. We mentioned that to someone and they asked us how far we had traveled. Ummmm, an hour? LOL, it was kind of embarrassing.

 

Anyway, following is short (or not) description of how it all went.

 

First: Muster. No life vests, which is good I guess. The usual suspects ignored the demonstration and some had to be told more than once to put away their phones. All in all it was pretty painless.

 

Sailaway: we went on the top deck to watch as we sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge. Now I've lived in this area for 50 plus years and know full well that "Summer in the City" is well....not always very summer-like. Ha! It was about as cold and windy as I had ever seen it. But, we stuck it out and were rewarded with the bridge crew blowing the horn for the 20 seconds or so it took to go under the bridge. So much fun.

 

The next 2 days were sea days and probably the rockiest we had the whole trip. At that, not too bad. We played cards, we played trivia, we ate, we napped, ate some more. We did some shopping and then more trivia. We kind of suck at general knowledge trivia, but for the second time won the musical trivia.

 

Our first stop was Ketchikan. This was the first time for my oldest sister, but the other 2 of us have done this a couple times so we kind of know our way around. We led her straight to Creek Street and when we came back out on the regular street she asked what was all that yelling. The Lumber Jack Show, I said. Wanna go? She loved it. My other sister and I like it a lot, too. Even if this was our 3rd time and the show is nearly identical each time it is, in fact, a lot of fun.

 

After the show we thought we might get some lunch. But. And it's a big, big but. Ketchikan is not that big and there were 6 ships in port. I was starving but did not want to wait an hour in line. We finally found some hot dogs and ate them standing up, did some shopping and headed back to the ship. It didn't rain. Like I said, I've been here before and it has never NOT rained. Nice.

 

Our next stop was Haines. It did rain here. A lot. Or at least it rained a lot on us while we waited for our tour bus. We talked to other folks who said it only drizzled. Hmmm. Anyway, our tour was to the Kroschel Wildlife Center. It was kind of a long drive and there was highway construction so it took awhile. But it was very interesting and worth the drive. From his website: "Steve Kroschel has been an independent filmmaker for the past 34 years and a naturalist for most of his life. He owns and operates a wildlife park near Haines, Alaska for mainly orphaned wildlife indigenous to Canada and Alaska ."

 

He is an eccentic, bare-foot fellow who clearly loves what does. He showed us a wolf, a fox, a wolverine, a lynx, a brown bear, a mink, a bunch of reindeer and a moose name Karen. You could touch some of them. I petted a porcupine. Others kissed Karen on the nose. He had a friend whose name I can't remember, but he called him the bearded one. This fellow showed us a red-tailed hawk and a falcon of some kind. A kestrel, maybe? Gosh, my memory sucks. Unless it's musical trivia. Then I rock.

 

Our next stop was Juneau. And is was definitely NOT raining. Even the locals were going on and on about what a beautiful, sunny day it was. We walked into town to our absolutely favorite place; The Alaska Fudge Company. Yummy. Then back to the ship to catch our next tour bus. This one drove us to the Mendenhall Glacier and then to a little boat that took us out whale-watching.

 

My last experience with a whale-watching tour was anything but fun. To say I was nauseous would be a gross understatement. And no whales. This trip was the complete opposite. Stunningly beautiful weather, the ocean was calm and the sun sparkled on the water like diamonds. We didn't have to go too far before we found some humpbacks. And then we saw a small pod of Orcas. We followed them for quite awhile. I think they said the law requires you to stay back 100 yards so we weren't too close but we saw them several times. The young woman who was the on-board naturalist was on her very first ever tour as a naturalist and I think she was more excited then we were. It was a perfect day.

 

The next day was cruising the Tracy Arm fjord in search of glaciers. Colder than even San Francisco, LOL, but spectacular scenery.

 

The next day was a sea day and then the day after we visited Victoria, BC. The stop here was short and we didn't have a tour planned so we took the shuttle into town and did a little shopping and looked around then returned to the ship.

 

Another sea day then back to San Francisco.

 

An interesting ship board story: One night we went to dinner in the MDR and told the hostess we would share a table. They seated us with 3 other women. Hi, we said, we're 3 sisters. Really, they said, we're 3 sisters, too. We talked for a while about our various lives and the subject of our cabins came up. We're in an obstructed ocean view, I said. So are we, they said. What floor? What cabin? Turns out they were our immediate neighbors. We never saw them before and never saw them after but dinner was a lot of fun.

 

Another story that you've all probably read was on the morning of the last sea day they had to make an emergency Medical Evacuation by helicopter. Folks on the top deck of the port side were told to leave their cabins for the duration of the evacuation and the folks in the balcony cabins on the port side were told to get inside and close their doors. The Captain was pretty testy when some folks did not comply. Imagine laying in your bed and hearing the Captain's voice boom into your cabin: "To those of you in port side balcony cabins, get in your cabins and close the doors immediately!" Now that I will remember.

 

Because of this we were a couple of hours behind disembarking. Maybe the folks with flights had difficulties, but it didn't affect us too much. I just called my neighbor once on board the bus and he was waiting for us in Petaluma.

 

Regarding the Grand. Some have called her "dated". I suppose that's true. The technology is not up to the standards of some of the newer ships. That's fine with us. We never even turned on the TV except to that channel that shows where you are.

 

Other than that it was mostly fine. There was a problem with the plumbing. I suppose that could happen at any age but there were a couple of over flows, and it was occasionally kind of stinky in certain spots. The biggest problem I noticed was what seemed to be a lack of personnel. In the buffet, for instance, it was not uncommon to not be able to find a place to sit. Well, that's not particularly unusual. But, what is unusual is that when we did find a vacant table that just needed cleaning it would take awhile for that to happen. So, you stand there, guarding your table and eventually give up, push the other stuff aside and sit down and eat. Also, it took a long time for the drink orders to be taken, if they were at all. A couple of times I got up and got the ice tea myself. It was faster. Couldn't tell if they were short handed or exceptionally busy. It wasn't a deal breaker or anything. But, it was unusual.

 

Well, that's all til next time. 86 days and counting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The friend's name was Mario, and during our visit they worked with two young women who were the children of one of them. Steve told us about his upcoming film job which will not be shot at their location.

 

It was one of the top excursions ever on our 40+ cruises! Well worth doing. We were on the Golden and the excursion was offered from Skagway, from which we took a ferry to Haines.

 

We saw humpbacks bubbling and orcas swimming around while in Juneau. Also saw Orcas from the ship! Great excursion. Salmon swimming at Mendenhall and bears fishing for them including a mom with two cubs. We did a B2B, so also did Taku lodge sea plane--another good one!

Edited by moki'smommy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the to the point review. We board the Grand next week. Excited to hear you saw orcas! That will be amazing if we get to see some. We are doing the same excursion in Juneau.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you don’t mind, but I thought I’d add my views to your review as we were on the same cruise and thoroughly enjoyed our sailing too. I’d say it appeared that most of the pax (approx 90%) were from California and it was mainly an older clientele. Our teens were part of only a handful onboard.

 

After one visit to the Horizon Court, we never returned. The area is far too small for the amount of pax onboard. The staff in the MDR for breakfast and dinner (Anytime) were fabulous; we booked the same table each evening, every morning at 8am, and had a wonderful couple on the table next to our table of 7. The afternoon tea and pub lunches were also good. Being usually Celebrity cruisers, we were very pleasantly surprised with the International Cafe, especially as they offer saviouries as well as sweet treats.

 

We took independent tours at all of the ports and saw lots of wildlife on all of our excursions. We would have loved more time in Victoria - super day - would like to return.

 

Regarding the weather, we had to smile at those pax wrapped up in thick coats, woolly hats, scarves and gloves while we had on a fleece :p. Obviously, those from California are not used to the cooler temperatures :D - we thought the weather was great for sightseeing (apart from Haines, where it did clear during the course of the day, and it didn’t prevent us from taking our tours, including a kayaking trip with Rainbow Tours). Being from the U.K., we always take an umbrella with us on our travels :cool:.

 

The Grand is an older ship, but no different from other older ships on other lines. In fact, we thought she was in good condition for her age. The entertainment was far better than we have experienced on X. We especially liked the varied choice of venues offering a selection of nightly entertainment. The trivia sessions were enjoyable, even if the same team won every one :rolleyes:. The entertainment crew made them very pleasurable and many pax joined in the fun. One of our party stated that he thought the fellow passengers, together with the crew, were some of the friendliest we have experienced on all of our sailings.

 

We enjoyed our cruise enough to book another one on Princess :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hope you don’t mind, but I thought I’d add my views to your review as we were on the same cruise and thoroughly enjoyed our sailing too. I’d say it appeared that most of the pax (approx 90%) were from California and it was mainly an older clientele. Our teens were part of only a handful onboard.

 

After one visit to the Horizon Court, we never returned. The area is far too small for the amount of pax onboard. The staff in the MDR for breakfast and dinner (Anytime) were fabulous; we booked the same table each evening, every morning at 8am, and had a wonderful couple on the table next to our table of 7. The afternoon tea and pub lunches were also good. Being usually Celebrity cruisers, we were very pleasantly surprised with the International Cafe, especially as they offer saviouries as well as sweet treats.

 

We took independent tours at all of the ports and saw lots of wildlife on all of our excursions. We would have loved more time in Victoria - super day - would like to return.

 

Regarding the weather, we had to smile at those pax wrapped up in thick coats, woolly hats, scarves and gloves while we had on a fleece :p. Obviously, those from California are not used to the cooler temperatures :D - we thought the weather was great for sightseeing (apart from Haines, where it did clear during the course of the day, and it didn’t prevent us from taking our tours, including a kayaking trip with Rainbow Tours). Being from the U.K., we always take an umbrella with us on our travels :cool:.

 

The Grand is an older ship, but no different from other older ships on other lines. In fact, we thought she was in good condition for her age. The entertainment was far better than we have experienced on X. We especially liked the varied choice of venues offering a selection of nightly entertainment. The trivia sessions were enjoyable, even if the same team won every one :rolleyes:. The entertainment crew made them very pleasurable and many pax joined in the fun. One of our party stated that he thought the fellow passengers, together with the crew, were some of the friendliest we have experienced on all of our sailings.

 

We enjoyed our cruise enough to book another one on Princess :).

 

I don't mind at all! Thrilled to hear you enjoyed it as well.

 

I agree about the buffet, too crazy. We ate one night at the Crown Grill and the service was outstanding. Also, very good in the MDR (anytime). My one sister smokes and had several smoke breaks with a charming fellow who turned out to be the Maitre'D. His name was Luiggi. He was very friendly as was nearly everyone we met. Always smiles and good mornings or hellos.

 

I was one of those on glacier day bundled up as much as possible. I saw many people obviously used to cooler weather. Me, I'm a California girl, born and raised. Seeing folks run around in flip flops on glacier day made me even colder, Brrrrrr!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The friend's name was Mario' date=' and during our visit they worked with two young women who were the children of one of them. Steve told us about his upcoming film job which will not be shot at their location.

 

It was one of the top excursions ever on our 40+ cruises! Well worth doing. We were on the Golden and the excursion was offered from Skagway, from which we took a ferry to Haines.

 

We saw humpbacks bubbling and orcas swimming around while in Juneau. Also saw Orcas from the ship! Great excursion. Salmon swimming at Mendenhall and bears fishing for them including a mom with two cubs. We did a B2B, so also did Taku lodge sea plane--another good one![/quote']

 

Mario! Of course, I remember now. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ok moki's mommy - I officially hate you. Why? Because in six trips to Alaska on both HAL and Princess I have never seen a bear.

 

I am so jealous of your trip. Sounds like a great one.

 

Enjoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The friend's name was Mario' date=' and during our visit they worked with two young women who were the children of one of them. Steve told us about his upcoming film job which will not be shot at their location.

 

It was one of the top excursions ever on our 40+ cruises! Well worth doing. We were on the Golden and the excursion was offered from Skagway, from which we took a ferry to Haines.

 

We saw humpbacks bubbling and orcas swimming around while in Juneau. Also saw Orcas from the ship! Great excursion. Salmon swimming at Mendenhall and bears fishing for them including a mom with two cubs. We did a B2B, so also did Taku lodge sea plane--another good one![/quote']

 

 

We saw bears in Haines (my DH’s kayaking group were held up for some time as they were blocking the road back to the ship) and we also saw cubs at Mendenhall feeding on the salmon with their mother. More were spotted walking down the main thoroughfare with their Mom at Mendenhall.

 

We couldn’t believe the amount of whales (humpback and orcas) we saw from the ship itself. Oh, and a few dolphins joined in the show too :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would you please tell me who the Captain and the CD were on your cruise and

if their staying for awhile.

 

Thank You

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would you please tell me who the Captain and the CD were on your cruise and

if their staying for awhile.

 

Thank You

Captain Diego Perra and the CD was PJ something. Don't know how long they're staying

 

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Forums mobile app

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quick question on the Grand - does she have On Demand TV yet? Asking for a friend...ok me...ok really, I just can't watch one more Love Boat rerun (I find myself saying the dialog!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quick question on the Grand - does she have On Demand TV yet? Asking for a friend...ok me...ok really, I just can't watch one more Love Boat rerun (I find myself saying the dialog!!)
No, same old TVs and stations. Not really sure what was on. We never watched it.

 

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Forums mobile app

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hope you don’t mind, but I thought I’d add my views to your review as we were on the same cruise and thoroughly enjoyed our sailing too. I’d say it appeared that most of the pax (approx 90%) were from California and it was mainly an older clientele. Our teens were part of only a handful onboard.

 

After one visit to the Horizon Court, we never returned. The area is far too small for the amount of pax onboard. The staff in the MDR for breakfast and dinner (Anytime) were fabulous; we booked the same table each evening, every morning at 8am, and had a wonderful couple on the table next to our table of 7. The afternoon tea and pub lunches were also good. Being usually Celebrity cruisers, we were very pleasantly surprised with the International Cafe, especially as they offer saviouries as well as sweet treats.

 

We took independent tours at all of the ports and saw lots of wildlife on all of our excursions. We would have loved more time in Victoria - super day - would like to return.

 

Regarding the weather, we had to smile at those pax wrapped up in thick coats, woolly hats, scarves and gloves while we had on a fleece :p. Obviously, those from California are not used to the cooler temperatures :D - we thought the weather was great for sightseeing (apart from Haines, where it did clear during the course of the day, and it didn’t prevent us from taking our tours, including a kayaking trip with Rainbow Tours). Being from the U.K., we always take an umbrella with us on our travels :cool:.

 

The Grand is an older ship, but no different from other older ships on other lines. In fact, we thought she was in good condition for her age. The entertainment was far better than we have experienced on X. We especially liked the varied choice of venues offering a selection of nightly entertainment. The trivia sessions were enjoyable, even if the same team won every one :rolleyes:. The entertainment crew made them very pleasurable and many pax joined in the fun. One of our party stated that he thought the fellow passengers, together with the crew, were some of the friendliest we have experienced on all of our sailings.

 

We enjoyed our cruise enough to book another one on Princess :).

 

 

 

School starts in August here in California. Probably the reason for the lack of kids.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll be going on the Grand later in September. Do you remember the names of any of the movies?
We only turned on the TV once or twice. I think the movie playing was The Book Club. I didn't really notice what else was playing.

 

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Forums mobile app

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your review; you guys seemed to have had good weather and a great vacation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll be going on the Grand later in September. Do you remember the names of any of the movies?

 

We got an email about MUTS movies. The Book Club and A Star Wars Story will be airing this month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We got an email about MUTS movies. The Book Club and A Star Wars Story will be airing this month.

 

The following is from a Live From on the Royal. Grand probably has the same movies available although not all might be shown as the Royal is on a longer cruise:

MUTS showings include I Feel Pretty, The Greatest Showman, Black Panther, Avengers, Solo, Finding Your Feet, Book Club, Rampage, Ready Player One, Jumanji, A Quiet Place, The Book Shop, and Justice League.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The following is from a Live From on the Royal. Grand probably has the same movies available although not all might be shown as the Royal is on a longer cruise:

MUTS showings include I Feel Pretty, The Greatest Showman, Black Panther, Avengers, Solo, Finding Your Feet, Book Club, Rampage, Ready Player One, Jumanji, A Quiet Place, The Book Shop, and Justice League.

 

 

Many of those sound familiar from our Grand sailing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance w/ Steve Dasseos of the TripInsuranceStore.com June 2020
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations

Announcements

×
×
  • Create New...