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Coral Princess- Alaska 5-12th June 2019 - with children


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We disembarked Coral this morning, I have typed this up quite roughly because we’re not home yet. We had 5 nights in Alaska (Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Anchorage) before the cruise and won’t be home until end of next week. We are a family of 4 with children aged 9 & 11 years, from Australia.
Happy to answer questions.
 
 
Wednesday 5th June
Snow city breakfast- we had made an online reservation so we were seated quickly, but our waitress advised they were finishing a big catering job so we had a long wait for food. we took an Uber back to hotel to save some time, walked from hotel to the train station , bag drop at princess tent next to main station building, arrived right on 1hr before train. We had a short  line up for our tickets to be printed (pre purchased online) & check of photo id, to be told a boarding call is 30mins from departure (so we didn’t need to rush & be there exactly 1hr before. 45 mins would have been ok to allow for queuing to collect tickets)
 
The Train from Anchorage to Whittier is very scenic. We had Better weather (therefore visibility) than I hoped. All along the turnagain arm and then through the portage valley, blue skies and great views of snow capped mountains. The train departed anchorage at 9.45am and arrived at Whittier at 12.05pm. The  Children were bored with the scenery but My daughter looked up from the iPad long enough to spot a moose.
 
We emerged from the Anton Anderson memorial tunnel on the Whittier side to spectacular weather - sun and barely a cloud to limit visibility- and our first view of Coral Princess. Off the train, direct to the ship is just crossing the road and following the white tent to the check in building. We had more time so we had a short walk from the train to the small boat harbour, then back to the cruise ship terminal to board glacier quest at 12.45 for 1pmdeparture. 
 
Lunch was served straight after departure- we had the vegetarian option of vegetable chilli & a small warm brown roll & butter & coleslaw & bag oyster crackers , the children’s meal were a hot dog and bag whole grain chips. We all had a slice of cheese, bag of fruit snacks, & a small polar bear smooch. Free water. Other drinks & sweet & savoury snacks available to purchase. There was a national park ranger on board and he did a great commentary and had great resources for the children - by the end of the cruise they had their Chugach national forest junior rangers badges. We saw Glaciers, sea lions, sea otters, sea birds and one shipwreck along with fabulous scenery.
 
At 4.45 we were back to Whittier, walked off  Glacier quest, through the white Princess tent to check in & through security. By 5.15 we were on board and in our cabin B321 (internal quad share).
 
Our bags were already in our cabin so we unpacked, went to deck 12 to check in to the children’s club (had registered online, just needed to go up and check the details were right), then onto a buffet dinner on deck 14, followed by the children finding the ice cream on deck 14 at the lotus pool. At 7.45 we had a muster, followed by sail away at 8.20pm (ten minutes early). The Children had a swim in the indoor lotus pool after departure, we took in turns to watch scenery and the children.
Departing from Whittier through prince William sound was far more scenic than I had expected and we wanted to be on deck to see it.
 
Thursday 6th June
More amazing weather - cloudy in the morning at sea but it was sunny, not cold, and barely any clouds as we got to Yakutat bay and the Hubbard glacier - it is 400-600feet high, 6-9 miles wide, and 76 miles long. We got as close as 9 miles to it and saw some calving & some seals. We were on deck 11 outside at the front of the ship and then deck 14 in the horizon buffet to view the glacier. 
 
The children had spent the morning in the kids club. We had lunch & the children had a swim before we arrived in front of the glacier. The children went back to the Kids club again after dinner.
 
Friday 7th June 
 
Glacier bay national park 
 
More amazing weather, sun, few clouds, great visibility, and did not feel as cold as I expected. We Collected the rangers on time at 9.15. They commended their Commentary 11am and kept going until 3.30. We traveled 140 miles within the national park. I wasn’t feeling well (head cold) so set myself up on sun lounger right against window on level 14 (lotus pool) to watch scenery go by, occasionally walking up to level 15 to step outside to take a photo. The glaciers were amazing, we saw some calving, and all the scenery was spectacular and we also saw seals, sea otters, whales, sea birds and bald eagles.
 
Saturday 8th June 
 
Skagway 
 
We had booked a full day tour with chilkoot charters. The first 2.5 hrs was in the bus, I lost count of the number of photo stops including toilet stops, and we spotted a black bear off the road after Fraser, as well as Dall  sheep high on a mountain above the road.
 
We had lunch at Carcross trading post at 11.45am. This was bbq chicken, coleslaw, potato and unlimited bread rolls, butter and Cinnamon donuts. We then had a short cart ride with sled dogs, they were all so excited to be hauling us along. And puppies! Four 2 week old puppies we could look at. There were other animals to look at too, horses and donkeys and alpacas, before we got back on the bus.
 
Next stop was Carcross where we had a 30 minutes stop - the children enjoyed ice cream and we had a short walk.
 
We then had a 1 hour drive back to Fraser (bit of a nap!) then 1:45 hrs White Cross and Yukon train from Fraser to Skagway.
 
The railway is very scenic and we spotted 2 brown bears from the train, they were running along the tracks ahead of the train before scrambling up the embankment. We arrived in Skagway at 5.15pm. We walked through Skagway, where all buildings except one are built from wood, built during the 1896 gold rush, and past the Mollie Walsh Angel of the Klondike playground, back to the ship. As we walked along the dock to our ship, we saw a harbour seal in water next to the ship. Dinner on board.
 
Sunday 9th June
 
Juneau
 
We had milder drier weather than we expected.
 
At 8.45am we left the cabin, walked off the ship, as there were a number of ships in Juneau today we were down at berth B and not the central spot on town, but this gave us just a 900m walk to Avis, where we collected our rental car. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier, and had parked by 9.30 - we felt like we had the place almost to ourselves 
 
By 10.45am we were back in the car after walking the Nugget falls and steep creek trails - there were lots of buses of people arriving as we left. We had a good look at Mendenhall glacier next to nugget falls before the crowds arrived. 
 
We drove to Eagle beach for a short walk and then to the shrine of st Therese, where we saw a marmot on the rocky beach. We then returned the car at 1.30pm, we would have had time to drive to end of the road. We walked from Avis, past Coral, into the main part of Juneau. We found the Alaskan Fudge Co with a queue out the door for ice cream- they served very generous scoops. We walked back past ovation of the seas & grand princess to Coral for a late lunch & sail away.
 
4 ships in port including Ovation of the seas (huge), we were dock B - further from town but closer to Avis. Poor Radiance of the seas in dock A.
 
At dinner there was a chocolate fountain (with fruit & marshmallows to dip) in the horizon buffet - the children declared it the best night ever. Children to kids club and we walked 3 Laps (2.8 laps is 1 mile) of the promenade deck, saw whales, porpoises & sea lion and lots of sea birds in very clear flat waters. Was a bit tougher at bedtime, the ship was moving round a bit, so I gave the children sea sickness meds at bedtime just in case (they were fine).
 
Monday 10th June
 
Ketchikan
 
We woke to rain and 12 deg C and 10 knots wind(the “real Alaska”). We had a quiet morning on ship. There were 4 ships in port so we had to tender to shore. Arrival was published as 9.45am but we arrived earlier and tenders commenced at 8.40am.
 
At 11.30am we headed for deck 6 aft, and collected tender tickets for our independent tour (not ship tour), numbers 249-252 and sat down for only a short wait, We were on shore at 11.55.
 
We found the Ketchikan kayaking office right next to dock. Our kayaking Tour was 12.30-4.30. We were driven north out of town to clover pass harbour. There they provided us with waterproof over pants and jackets and wet bags and life jackets. We started in light rain and no wind, watched rain drops landing on the surface of the water, found lots of sea life (star fish and sea cucumbers and sea lettuce) and saw a seal from a distance. We saw Lots of bald eagles. We Rounded an island and saw porpoise ahead But the wind picked up and the rain increased, and we were getting wet through. We Saw several harbour seals on an island both in and out of the water, one swam quite close to us for a look. We paddled back to the harbour, they provided crackers and dip and hot chocolate (with and without Baileys), then we were driven back to town. We had a short wait for the next gender and we were back on the ship at 4.45. Warm dry clothes and food.
 
Tuesday 11th June
 
At sea
 
We chose to have a MDR breakfast today - this is an excellent way to eat less and in very leisurely way - without endless temptations of buffet, the service is not rushed in any way.
 
After breakfast the Children went to the kids club. We watched a 10ampresentation by executive chef and maître D followed by a Walk through the main kitchen.
 
The water was very smooth, but we were completely surrounded by fog, we kept hearing the fog horn. The sun must have beenout above the fog because it was very bright white to look out all windows, we needed sunglasses. Lunch, then some laundry.
 
The fog lifted after lunch, bright sunny day with flat water and snowy mountains visible both sides of the ship. Children swim in indoor pool then kids club. Lots of people lying round on outdoor decks in sun, some covered with Princess blankets. We saw Seals and whales (breaching) and porpoises and bald eagles. Very scenic in afternoon & evening through narrower parts of inside passage.
 
Outside viewing: 
 
Decks 9, 10 & 11 - access to front - not clearly marked on deck plans but can walk through past all cabins and door marked emergency exit to front of ship. Usually very quiet. Standing only.
 
Decks 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11 -access to aft of ship - walk past all cabins and out door with window. Sun lounges. Quiet except for noise of wake.
 
Deck 16 front - through blue glass
 
Deck 16 aft - sports court - good views aft and to side
 
Deck 15 - front half through blue glass, aft half of ship waist height rails
 
Deck 14 - front - horizon court buffet- good for viewing outside in poor weather
 
Deck 14 - aft third of ship is outside and excellent outdoor viewing, middle section of ship is outdoor and then indoor pools. Sun lounger in both close to windows are good for viewing in poor weather (especially from lotus pool, decks 14 & 15).
 
Promenade deck 7 - 2.8 laps= 1 mile. Sun lounges down each side. Not usually busy. I like being close to water level so this was a favourite place on the ship. 
 
Laundry- there is a self serve laundromat on most decks. Use cruise card to purchase tokens for washer and drier and laundry powder. We found clothes that we didn’t want to put through the drier dried within hours if hung on coat hangers in our cabin, thanks to drying effect of air conditioning in the cabin. 
 
Wednesday 12th June 
 
We had Docked in Vancouver before 7am. We had to be out of the cabin by 8am. We weren’t in a rush so had elected for a later disembarkation time - we were allocated 9.30. So we had buffet breakfast then watched the Vancouver port activity from the library on level 8. There were two other cruise ships at Canada place at same time as us. They called our group right on 9.30. Off the ship, collected our bags, through customs and into a taxi by 9.45am.
 
happy to answer questions & photos to come in a couple of weeks when I get home, I have all the patters but again would be a couple of weeks before I get home & can scan and upload them. 
 
Lou :)
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I’m doing this same cruise in August and would very much appreciate the patters in a couple weeks (and any menus if you have them)!

 

A couple questions:

 

For Juneau, the tour we booked doesn’t leave until 8:30 but the ship gets there at 6:30. From looking at google maps the cruise ship terminal appears to be fairly close to downtown (16 min walk). Do you think it’s feasible to walk around for a while beforehand or is there something I’m not aware of that would make it more difficult like super hilly terrain?

 

Likewise, for Skagway we’re also doing a Chilkoot Tour but I think we’re doing the train first. We have a fairly long port time that day so would you say there’s time to explore the town a little and maybe get a drink at the saloon?

 

Do you recall any theme nights for the buffet? Were there king crab legs on Juneau night?

 

Thank you so much for the report and in advance for answering questions! 😁

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18 hours ago, Hitchens97 said:

Thank you we are doing the same in a few weeks time including the glacier cruise before. One question what did you do with your luggage. Could you check it in at Anchorage before you took the train.

 

There is a white tent to the right of the Anchorage train station building. You walk in and hand your tagged cases to the princess staff, who will assure you the cases will be waiting for you in your cabin on the ship. 

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9 hours ago, SeaofStars said:

I’m doing this same cruise in August and would very much appreciate the patters in a couple weeks (and any menus if you have them)!

 

A couple questions:

 

For Juneau, the tour we booked doesn’t leave until 8:30 but the ship gets there at 6:30. From looking at google maps the cruise ship terminal appears to be fairly close to downtown (16 min walk). Do you think it’s feasible to walk around for a while beforehand or is there something I’m not aware of that would make it more difficult like super hilly terrain?

 

Likewise, for Skagway we’re also doing a Chilkoot Tour but I think we’re doing the train first. We have a fairly long port time that day so would you say there’s time to explore the town a little and maybe get a drink at the saloon?

 

Do you recall any theme nights for the buffet? Were there king crab legs on Juneau night?

 

Thank you so much for the report and in advance for answering questions! 😁

 

Juneau - biggest issue is which berth you are in, which determines how close to the centre of town you are. Yes you can get off before your tour and walk round. We were in berth B which was not the most central berth. 

 

Skagway - yes you will have time after the tour for a wander round town & a drink. 

 

Theme nights & crab legs - it’s all in the patters so you’ll see all that in a couple of weeks when i’m home

 

menus - sorry i didn’t take photos, but search on this forum, someone else travelled on Coral northbound in May this year and posted menus, they are the same as southbound. 

 

 

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While I know that some of the other Princess ships tender, I didn't know the Coral ever tendered in Alaska.  We have the Coral booked for next year and the problem we have with tendering is one of our family members is wheelchair bound (manual wheelchair).  Princess doesn't allow you to tender unless you can walk onto the tender.  So at least a couple of us would be stuck on the ship if the ship tenders (and Princess doesn't give you any compensation for this either, not even a refund of port charges).  So we are going to have to think about this booking.

 

One other question.  I checked and on our ship sailing date, the website only shows a coach transfer available.  How did you book the Princess train?  Was this something you or your travel agent specifically called to request?  or was it on the website as available?

 

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7 hours ago, montgomeryfamily said:

 

While I know that some of the other Princess ships tender, I didn't know the Coral ever tendered in Alaska.  We have the Coral booked for next year and the problem we have with tendering is one of our family members is wheelchair bound (manual wheelchair).  Princess doesn't allow you to tender unless you can walk onto the tender.  So at least a couple of us would be stuck on the ship if the ship tenders (and Princess doesn't give you any compensation for this either, not even a refund of port charges).  So we are going to have to think about this booking.

 

One other question.  I checked and on our ship sailing date, the website only shows a coach transfer available.  How did you book the Princess train?  Was this something you or your travel agent specifically called to request?  or was it on the website as available?

 

 

Ketchikan  was listed as docking when we booked January 2018. The issue is the number of ships now in Alaska & the size of those

ships. We were in Ketchikan same day as Volendam, Seven seas mariner, royal princess and Norwegian Joy. Two of those are bigger than coral and two are smaller- I don’t know how they pick the ship to tender. 

 

Train- I booked Anchorage to Whittier train on Alaska railroad’s website myself, it was not a Princess transfer. But I still delivered my cases to the luggage tent at Anchorage station- they had Princess tags on them and I handed them to a staff member wearing a Princess shirt, who told me the bags would be delivered to my cabin - they didn’t ask me for any paperwork, I was in and out of the tent in less than a minute. 

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Thank you for your review.  My wife and I will be sailing Northbound on the Coral in August.

 

1) Is smoking allowed in the casino> If so, does it float out to the International Cafe?

 

2) Is Sushi served anywhere on the ship?

 

Thank you

 

 

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Lou, thank you for your reply and the additional information you have given.  We very much would like to take train and now I know how to handle it.  We may either cancel our booking on the Coral and book another ship/cruise line or keep the booking but book a "back up cruise" and watch carefully for the potential tendering information so that if Ketchikan becomes a tender port we can cancel the Coral.  We really enjoy the Coral--it is our favorite ship on which to go to Alaska.  But we aren't going to sacrifice a port just to take her. 

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On 6/15/2019 at 8:28 AM, thegoaliegirl said:

I would love to hear about your time pre-cruise, as we are doing something similar with kids this year, but mine are a little younger than yours.

 

I will reply to everyone properly after I get home on 23rdjune, got very spotty wifi currently.

 

but for now you might like to do a search using my user name because we were in Alaska 4 years ago when my children were 5&7 years, and I did a very detailed review then. 

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On 6/16/2019 at 12:28 AM, thegoaliegirl said:

I would love to hear about your time pre-cruise, as we are doing something similar with kids this year, but mine are a little younger than yours.

 

OK, I am now home.

 

This is my review from 2015 when my children were 5 and 7 years:  

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2138691-alaska-radiance-of-the-seas-dept-29th-may-2015-with-two-children/

 

And here are the details of what we did this time pre-cruise:

 

Friday 31st May – Saturday 1st June

Left home in an Uber at 6.30am. Departed Melbourne an hour late on our first flight in a Dreamliner. 15 hours later we landed in Vancouver- it was our Air Canada captain’s retirement flight and we were greeted by a water cannon salute. We spent 5 hours in transit in the US Departures terminal - initially that part of the airport was very quiet and we could rest. Then we had a 3 hour flight from Vancouver to Anchorage, both children napped after minimal sleep on the first flight. We arrived in Anchorage at 4pm. After checking in to our hotel we walked a short part of the Tony Knowles Coastal Path including seeing the Captain Cook monument, then dinner at Simon and Seafort’s and into bed.

Twelve hours later we woke to our alarms, we had breakfast reservations at Snow City Cafe (book online to avoid a long wait). After a very substantial breakfast, we collected our rental car, checked out of the hotel, stopped at a supermarket for healthy snacks, then drove south. First stop at Beluga Point for the views of Turnagain Arm then onto the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre. We spent 4 hours seeing red foxes, black & brown bears, elk, deer, reindeer, wood bison, coyote, owls, bald eagle, lynx, wolves, porcupines, and heard several animal presentations. We checked into the Hotel Alyeska, walked through the Fiddlehead Festival (food market) in the hotel grounds. We rode the tram (cable car) to the summit, where the children played in end of season snow while we admired the views over Turnagain Arm. Back down to the hotel, the children swam in the hotel indoor pool. Dinner in the hotel & bed.

Sunday 2nd June

We slept well in very comfortable Hotel Alyeska beds (even though the 4 of us shared 2 beds). Breakfast at the hotel then we set out on a 3 hour hike from the hotel to the Winner Creek Trail hand-tram and back (8km return). Toby was nervous about riding the tram but afterwards wanted to do it again! The thunder of water rushing through the gorge was amazing. We had lunch at the festival at the hotel. Followed by ice cream for children at the ice cream shop on corner of Alyeska Hwy and Seward Hwy. We took a quick diversion down the road towards Whittier, just a couple of miles to view Explorer Glacier and a few minutes stretching our legs.

It was a 2 hour drive to Seward. We checked into our accommodation at Alaskan Wish Lodging. Then we visited the Sea Life Centre including seeing seals, puffins and other sea birds, and a special sea otter experience, touring behind the scenes and getting close to them while they had a frozen treat to eat. We saw a sea otter and a seal in the wild from the Seward shoreline. We then had a late dinner at Highliner, then into bed. Toby’s Garmin says 30,000 plus steps today.


Monday 3rd June

Cereal breakfast in our room then we had reservations with Kenai Fjords Tours for the 6 hour boat trip from 8am-2pm of Kenai Fjords National Park. We saw humpback whales, killer whales, Dall’s porpoise, sea lions, sea otters, and puffins. We were lucky with amazing beautiful weather, locals told us it’s the best day they have had so far this year, it was about 17 deg and sunny. We travelled as far as Aialek glacier. Lunch (chicken wrap, crisps, and oat bar) was served by the crew just after we moved away from Aialek glacier, and a warm chocolate chip cookie just before we returned to Seward. Ice cream for children then we drove the short drive along the coast to Lowell Point to look at the beach. We had an early dinner at Seward Brewing Company, then visited Seward small boat harbour and the beach to look for wildlife, we saw a seal and sea otters, then bed.

Tuesday 4th June

This morning we had a 2 hour drive from Seward to Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. This was a very scenic drive which was fabulous for me but boring for the children. We stopped briefly at the McHugh Creek picnic area and Potter Marsh for a quick walk along the boardwalk. At Alaska Zoo we did the discovery tour, which included behind the scenes viewing with Amur tiger, wolves and polar bears. It was amazing to see them that close. Other animals included great horned owls, bald and golden eagles, deer, lynx, red fox, river otters (a favourite), harbour seals, black and brown bears, snow leopard (another favourite), coyote (very vocal), and porcupines (one was climbing the fence). After checking into our hotel we drove to the Point Woronzof view point near the airport, and then had a short walk in Earthquake Park. Dinner at Simon and Seafort’s & into bed.

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On 6/16/2019 at 2:30 AM, lax19 said:

Thank you for your review.  My wife and I will be sailing Northbound on the Coral in August.

 

1) Is smoking allowed in the casino> If so, does it float out to the International Cafe?

 

2) Is Sushi served anywhere on the ship?

 

Thank you

 

 

 

I don't know if smoking is allowed in the casino, but I didn't notice any some in the International Café.

 

I didn't see any sushi, however one evening there was an oriental theme in the Horizon Buffet and I think sushi might have been included in that.

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On 6/16/2019 at 2:54 AM, Hitchens97 said:

What were the pools like? In terms of crowds, heat. Etc.

 

There were usually a couple of hardy children/teens in the outdoor pool. The indoor pool was used more - my children swam every day. It didn't feel very warm to me but they never complained. It wasn't crowded, usually a few children plus a couple of adults.

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On 6/18/2019 at 10:34 AM, bound4dbeach said:

Would you happen  to have any of the port guides / maps?

 

 

Sorry I didn't keep them, just the Patters which I hope to have up later this week or early next week. I had done all my research and planning before we left home so I knew exactly what we would do in each port, I didn't even read the port guides thoroughly.

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Yay, glad you’re back and happy to be reading your post! Your pre-cruise sounds pretty interesting! Hope the kids were thrilled with all the animals you got to see. Looking forward to pictures and patters!😁

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