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geoherb

LIVE: Island Princess to Alaska and Back, June 19-July 3

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I leave this afternoon for Vancouver to board the Island Princess tomorrow. I booked these cruises just 24 days ago. It's been a whirlwind. This is my first time going solo. DH is staying home to work. It's his busiest time of the year. I gave him the choice of my waiting to go to Alaska with him in late August or going with him on another cruise then. He'd rather go back to Europe than to Alaska. Fortunately, Princess had a very low single supplement for these cruises. The other ships I looked at were charging solo passengers double, whereas this cruise was only around $100 more.

 

I booked the lowest category of inside cabin as guarantees for both cruises. At the time I booked, there were not any insides available for both cruises. Luckily, the Upgrade Fairy came along and assigned me a great ocean view cabin in a very convenient location--one of Cat. OB cabins on the Plaza Deck. 

 

My flights will get me to Vancouver a little after midnight. I'm staying at one of the hotels near the airport with a free shuttle. I plan to take the Sky Train to the port in the morning. I managed to pack everything in one rolling suitcase, which weighs around 40 pounds, and a backpack. Fortunately, I'll be able to get my laundry done on the ship.

 

Princess sent me the entertainment emails for my back-to-back cruises. The guest entertainers are comedian Steve Bruner and magician/comedian Michael Misko on the northbound cruise and comedian Richie Minervini and magician/comedian Garry Carson for the southbound. I'm glad they're not repeating the guest entertainers for those of us on b2b cruises. The cruise director is Natalie Elaine Costa. I haven't heard of her before.

 

We have sailed on Alaskan cruises three times before. The first two were round-trip cruises from Seattle on the Star Princess and Sapphire Princess. The third one was a southbound cruise after a land tour that started in Fairbanks. It was also on the Sapphire. We had a wonderful upgrade on that cruise from an obstructed view guarantee to a cabin with a balcony. It was technically classified as an ocean view because it was at the front of the ship and did not have any furniture due to the winds. It was the perfect place for viewing the glaciers.

 

Depending on the internet connection on the Island, I'll try to keep this thread up to date with Patters, menus, etc. Let me know if anyone has specific questions about the Island Princess or the ports. The itinerary going up is Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and College Fjord. Coming back, it's Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. The only excursion I've booked is the 26 Glacier one on the turnaround day in Whittier.

 

The rollcall for the southbound cruise has been a lot more active than the one for the northbound cruise. Someone has scheduled a meet and greet for that cruise but not one for the northbound one. A lot of folks on it are doing the land tour before the cruise. I'll be interested in hearing about their experiences.

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Have you sailed on the Island before the 'uh, ... remodeling'?

 

An honest , first person, account of the before and after would be appreciated, knowing that food is VERY subjective and could even change on your NB and SB cruises

 

If not, then your account is even more appreciated in the here and now ... and not 'the glory daze' ...

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Thank you for taking time to report on your cruise!   We'll be watching for the updates, as we board the Island for the 14-day cruise the day you disembark.  We did the same cruise last year and loved it!  Going to Glacier Bay twice was a dream and whale watching in Juneau twice with our favorite captain was such a treat!  If you're considering whale watching in Juneau, it's hard to beat Captain Steve (www.alaskahumpbackadventures.com)!  In our opinion (after over a dozen whale watching trips with various operators over the years), he provides the most rewarding wildlife experience in the waters around Juneau!  His 6-person boat offers the perfect intimate whale watching experience and the open decks are fantastic vantage points for shooting videos.  Last year we had orcas swimming along so close to us we could have touched them.  If you're fortunate to observe bubble-net feeding behavior, Captain Steve will turn on the hydrophone so you can hear the whales signaling before they explode to the surface with their huge mouths open--an unforgettable experience!

 

Congratulations on your cabin upgrade and great location!  If you enjoy spending time on the open decks, check out the forward "secret" decks on 10 and 11.  Even when we have a balcony room, that's where we spend most of our time, spotting whales, birds and other wildlife.

 

If you think about it, we'd love to know what nights they serve king crab legs in the MDR.

 

Looking forward to reading more as you have time to report along the way!

 

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Thanks, everyone. We did sail on the Island before Princess chopped it up. That was back in 2010 to the Panama Canal. It was one of our favorite cruises, primarily because of Richard Joseph.  The Island wasn't my first choice in ships, but then the price convinced me to give it a try. I'm going for two weeks what it would have cost me to sail for one on the Star Princess or Ruby Princess doing another round-trip cruise from Seattle. I did not consider doing a one-way cruise to or from Alaska. It's going to be interesting to see how the chopped up Promenade Deck and lack of an aft lounge affects the cruise experience.

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4 minutes ago, geoherb said:

Thanks, everyone. We did sail on the Island before Princess chopped it up. That was back in 2010 to the Panama Canal. It was one of our favorite cruises, primarily because of Richard Joseph.  The Island wasn't my first choice in ships, but then the price convinced me to give it a try. I'm going for two weeks what it would have cost me to sail for one on the Star Princess or Ruby Princess doing another round-trip cruise from Seattle. I did not consider doing a one-way cruise to or from Alaska. It's going to be interesting to see how the chopped up Promenade Deck and lack of an aft lounge affects the cruise experience.

thanks - you used "chopped it up and chopped up" , so ................................ you obviously have a preconceived opinion based on what others have posted ...

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I will be following your "live from" and will be very interested in hearing all about your B2B.  We will be on her doing the B2B  the end of July.  We have been on over 60 Princess cruises and the Island is my DH's favorite ship (yes, we were on it after the remodeling!).  Enjoy!!!

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Hope you have a fantastic time!!

My DH and I took a cruise on the Island after the changes to the aft and promenade.  We had not been on her previously however had been on other Princess ships that had the full promenade.

To us, as we are morning walkers on the promenade, did not find it that much of a challenge to have to cut through the inside of the ship to get to the other side to continue the walking. As a matter of fact we loved the air conditioning refresh!

We totally enjoyed the Island and I am sure you will too!

Following..

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We will be sailing on the Island later this year.  Would love to hear about the library regarding number of books.  How did the casino look; specifically if the slot machines were newer or older?  Thanks!

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I know they’re going to repeat the menus, but can you make note of whether it’s the same menu order both ways or whether they reverse them? So 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 or 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-1-2-3-4-5-6-7? (Or maybe you already know  - first time cruiser here!)

 

I’m also interested if they’re still doing the Escape Rooms this year or if they’ve been replaced by the Heist activity?

 

Looking forward to following along! Have a great trip!

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Have been on the Island both before and after the remodel. I didn't miss the Universe lounge at all. Only time previous went in there was for the On the Bayou show. What I did miss was not having International Cafe (ship never had it).

Still, we did enjoy the ship and the viewing decks on forward decks 10 and 11.Great for Alaska.

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11 hours ago, geoherb said:

I leave this afternoon for Vancouver to board the Island Princess tomorrow. I booked these cruises just 24 days ago. It's been a whirlwind. This is my first time going solo. DH is staying home to work. It's his busiest time of the year. I gave him the choice of my waiting to go to Alaska with him in late August or going with him on another cruise then. He'd rather go back to Europe than to Alaska. Fortunately, Princess had a very low single supplement for these cruises. The other ships I looked at were charging solo passengers double, whereas this cruise was only around $100 more.

 

I booked the lowest category of inside cabin as guarantees for both cruises. At the time I booked, there were not any insides available for both cruises. Luckily, the Upgrade Fairy came along and assigned me a great ocean view cabin in a very convenient location--one of Cat. OB cabins on the Plaza Deck. 

 

 

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I admire you. I love cruising with my husband, and, would like to travel solo on a cruise.  I am enjoying your journey. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks everyone. I'm unexpectedly in Salt Lake City now, waiting for my flight to Vancouver. I was scheduled to fly through New York to Toronto to Vancouver, but the flight from home was delayed to the point I would have missed my flight to Toronto. I was on the phone for an hour trying to get flights that would get me to Vancouver tonight. The nice rep from Delta was able to get me these flight numbers but couldn't make the changes for some reason. The guy from the big internet travel agency that I booked the flights through was also having problems. Fortunately I found a great Delta gate agent who got me the tickets I needed. I even get to Vancouver a couple of hours early, around 10 instead of after midnight. 

Edited by geoherb

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9 hours ago, greenie082756 said:

 

To us, as we are morning walkers on the promenade, did not find it that much of a challenge to have to cut through the inside of the ship to get to the other side to continue the walking. As a matter of fact we loved the air conditioning refresh!

We totally enjoyed the Island and I am sure you will too!

Following..

I agree completely about the promenade. It is wide with beautiful teak decking you get a bit of warmth in the front (where it’s protected) when you’re out there early. Plus you walk by a bathroom every go round at the aft......bonus!  I found it weird they said 3.2 times around equals 1 mile. Four times around equals 1.25 miles is so much easier to do mental math with. That’s the SMG in me talking (smart math girl). 

 

Geoherb I’ll be following too. I’m taking my first solo without DH in August. If you are able would be so kind as to share how the whole solo dining experience works for you?  I’m hoping to still go to MDR. Probably anytime dining. Not sure what you are planning but if you can please share. 

Thanks!

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Edited by HaveDogWillTravel

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Thank you for letting us vacation with you!   I cannot wait to read more.  Also really interested in your dining experiences.   

Enjoy!

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I'm in;  Have not been on this ship; but through your eyes and pics I will have a great vitural vacation

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We, too, have sailed on the Island both before and after the aft reconfiguration and have noticed no appreciable difference, except for having to walk through inside the ship to complete the aft circuit of the Promenade deck (or simply turn around and walk the other direction!).  Have encountered no longer lines or wait times for the MDR or Horizon Court since the reconfiguration.  

 

Thank you to HaveDogWillTravel for posting those pics of the Promenade deck!  Just looking at the pics was an instant stress relief!  Hubby and I enjoy the Promenade so much, we've not been able to bring ourselves to sail on a ship without one, even though it limits our options.

 

geoherb--kudos for your persistence in getting your flight conundrum resolved so beautifully!  May that be the only hiccup you experience in your solo adventure!

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The good news last night was that my flight from Salt Lake City to Vancouver was also delayed. This time, though, I was happy with the delay. It gave me time to eat a wrap and make a pit stop. I made it to the hotel around 11:15. The shuttle came within a few minutes of my arrival at the pickup spot. That worked out well since the courtesy phone to call hotel shuttles was out of order. 

 

I've signed up for second seating traditional dining. I'm hoping for a large table of fun people. On the northbound portion, my understanding is that both dining rooms will become anytime on the three nights we're in port late. It may happen one night on the southbound when we're in Skagway until 8:30.

 

I plan to eat most of my meals in the dining room. I'll request sharing at breakfast and lunch. I'm interested in trying out the Alfredo's at Sabatini's as well. 

 

It was a brisk morning in Vancouver with the temperature in the high 50s and breezy. It's a beautiful sunny day. I wore my light-weight windbreaker on a walk over to a Walmart that's about half a mile from my hotel (Four Points by Sheraton, Vancouver Airport). I read some articles that said British Columbia grocery stores started being allowed to sell beer and wine last year. One even mentioned Walmart. But apparently not at this Walmart. Fortunately there was a liquor and wine store in the same shopping plaza. I walked around for around 45 minutes waiting for it to open. I ate a bacon, egg, and cheese McMuffin. I would have preferred finding a local diner type restaurant for breakfast but did not see any. There are lot of Asian restaurants if I were still here for lunch and dinner.

 

The woman at the liquor store said that most grocery stores don't sell wine still. I bought a couple of bottles of red wine with screw caps to enjoy in my cabin. Between them and my mini bars, I won't be spending much on drinks on board the ship. I have my coffee cards with around 20 punches to use up as well.

 

Alaska0799: I thought the same about the lack of a walkable Promenade Deck when the Royal Princess first came out. We toured the Regal Princess through the Bon Voyage Experience after a Caribbean Princess cruise a few years ago. I decided we could try a cruise on the new ships. We miss the walkable Promenade Deck, but still had a great time on the three cruises we have taken on the Royal and the Regal.

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It looks like the Island still has a more functional Promenade Deck than the Royal etc., so that's great. 

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Glad you made it safely to Vancouver Geoherb.  We will be boarding the Island Princess in Whittier on your turn-around day.  We'll stay on for SB/NB/SB.  We did that last summer on the Island in June and then 4 B2B's on the Coral in July.  We really like that size ship (we'd also been on the Island before the renovations), but I agree with the person who said they miss the Int'l Cafe on the Island.  The Plaza on 5 where the La Pattisserie is (coffee/drinks and sometimes a few tiny things to eat--not much) feels VERY crowded all of the time to me.  Coral has an Int'l Cafe right outside of the Casino area and it also still has the Universe Lounge.  Other than that, the ships are basically identical.  We had a cabin on 6 behind the Casino and LOVED it!  The window was HUGE and the room seemed roomier than other OV's.  Following your NB cruise!  Enjoy!

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Geoherb's DH is watching from Raleigh, NC on the Vancouver Canada Place Cruise Centre webcam.  Can see the Island Princess and another ship in port.  Can't wait till sailaway!  Enjoy the cruise!! 

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Getting to the ship was fast and easy. The hotel shuttle driver took me to one of the Sky Train stations nearer to the hotel instead of all the way back to the airport. I purchased a single ticket for $4.90 (Canadian). There were lots of stops, but it only took around half an hour to get to the final stop at the water front. From there, it was a couple of blocks to the pier. I dropped off my checked bag, went through security, went through Customs, and then straight through the Priority line to one of the reps without any waiting. I was on the ship within 10 minutes of getting to the port. I did not bother to stop at the table to report my bottle of wine for the second cruise since I’m within the allowance. But no one bothered to ask either.

 

They announced that the cabins would not be ready until 1, but I dropped off my backpack and the things I wanted to keep in the safe. I would not have done so if the corridor doors had been closed. I ate lunch in the Bordeaux Dining Room. They had the menu I like with the spinach and cheese ravioli, which I get as an appetizer, and the salmon. I skipped getting the Grand Marnier soufflé. I asked for a table to share, but no one else did. I had a nice seat by the window. I did not mind eating alone. I’m sure there will be people willing to share a table when the dining room is busier.

 

My cabin is in a very convenient location down a corridor beside the casino. I think there are 14 cabins along it. It’s a category OB ocean view. Someone described it as having floor-to-ceiling windows. It doesn’t. The window starts about a foot off the floor and goes up to 6 feet. It’s large enough to give me a good view of what’s going on outside—to entice me to go out on an open deck if I see something good. 

 

After lunch, I checked out my table assignment for dinner. It’s a round table for six in the Provence Dining Room. Early seating is 5:15 and second seating is 7:30. The cruise director’s staff had a display outside the dining room. The shows for our cruise are Encore, The Secret Silk, and On the Bayou. I checked out the fitness center. They have most of the equipment I use at my local gym. I’m going to try not to gain weight during these cruises. Taking the stairs will be easy on this ship since there are not as many decks. When we sailed on the Regal and the Royal, it always seemed like one set of stairs too many when I was going from the Promenade to the Lido.

 

I dropped off my spa raffle ticket at the spa and had a brief tour. I resisted the sales presentation by telling the woman I had spent all my money on the cruise ticket. I’ll go back to the fitness center when they have the drawing after the muster drill. I walked by the covered pool. I don’t remember the island theme from our previous cruise. The water felt brisk. It still feels strange to me to have the Horizon Court at the front of the ship. It’s been updated since we sailed on the Island. I don’t plan to eat there much, but I will make myself some fresh iced tea occasionally. 

 

From the looks of the cabins I’ve passed by, there are a lot of first-time Princess cruisers on the ship. I had my minibar ready for me. They must be out of brandy, because I received four bottles of the Dewar’s, two bottles of vodka, and two bottles of gin. The two beers are Dos Equis. There are two bottles of Perrier, two bottles of water, and two each of Diet Coke, Sprite, and tonic water. I’ll wait until later in the week to request some swaps. My bag of suite bathroom amenities included a shower cap, gel eye mask, two packs of cotton swabs and Q-tips, linen spray, lip balm, conditioner, nail file, and sisal mitt. I haven’t received the note about the evening cocktail event for Platinum, Elite, and suite passengers.

 

I miss the updated televisions we enjoyed on the Royal and Regal. I was looking forward to catching some of the movies that will be shown on MUTS. The movies listed are Aquaman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Captain Marvel, Mary Pippins Returns, The Upside, and Fighting with My Family. Perhaps I’ll still be able to whenever they are broadcast. What I liked about the TVs on the Royal and Regal was that we could watch the movies when we wanted and could pause them and pick back up later.

 

I took a little nap after my exploring the ship. I woke up right before the announcement letting us know that the muster drill would be in 15 minutes. My muster station is Sabatini’s/the wedding chapel/the art gallery. I was in the latter. It took about 20 minutes total from the time the ship’s whistle sounded to when they finished.

 

I attended the spa raffle in the fitness center. A lot of other folks did as well. It reminded me of a time share presentation: one of those things you wonder why you ever signed up for it. I did not win any of the spa certificates. The good thing for those who did was that they gave away two $100 certificates and two $150 certificates the winners could use for any treatment instead of certificates for specific treatments. On one cruise, I won a certificate for a facial. I would have much rather had a massage.
Sailing away from Vancouver was gorgeous. I loved going under the large bridge and watching the people on shore there to watch us sail away. Afterward, I stopped by the cocktail event for Platinum, Elite, and suite passengers. It’s in a small corner of the Explorers’ Lounge. I talked with a nice couple from California. Only a dozen or so passengers attended, so there was plenty of room. I haven’t received the notice of the schedule in my cabin yet.

 

I got my wish for fun people at my assigned table in the dining room. I’m with a woman, her father, her boyfriend, and two sisters. They’re all on their first Alaskan cruises. I’m looking forward to hearing about their adventures in the ports. They have things booked in every one. We all enjoyed the food. I had the crab cake and melon trio appetizers, Alaskan cod over lentils, and the flourless chocolate cake. The theater had plenty of seats for Steve Bruner’s comedy act after dinner even for the people who made the mistake of coming in after he started it.

 

Teacher1977: The library looked well stocked with books. They had a nice selection of fiction and nonfiction ones, especially a lot of recent books that have been featured in the Princess book club. I finally finished Go Set a Watchman on the flight from home to Salt Lake City. I bought it right after it came out but did not get into it initially and sat it aside for a few years. I brought along Where the Crawdads Sing to read during the cruise or on the way back home. I have a great soft-cover book on Alaska put out by National Geographic several years ago. Of course the photography in it is stunning. I picked it up at a thrift store before we were supposed to sail on a Holland America ship three years ago. We had to cancel that cruise. I left Joe Upton’s Alaskan Cruise Companion at home but read it again before leaving. I think the casino has the newer slot machines. I did not see the one I liked from some previous cruises. It was called Spartacus. I never understood the payouts on it, but it was fun to play and profitable for me a couple of times. 

 

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I forgot to mention that our waiter at the end of the meal let us know it was formal night coming up tonight. He said they recognized not every one may have packed formal wear for Alaska, so as long as we were presentable, we would be welcomed. He added that jackets were not required for the men.

 

There’s a glitch with my internet minutes. I booked as back-to-back cruises instead of one 14-day cruise, yet when I went to sign up, it showed me as having 250 minutes for the 14 days instead of 150 for this cruise. I wouldn’t mind it if they gave me the shareholder credit as well for a 14-day cruise. But since I booked it as two separate cruises, I think I should get the internet minutes promised for each. I’ll stop by the Internet Café when it is open this morning.
 

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