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Lovesacruise

Cruising to Alaska - help with ship choice

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Hi there fellow cruisers!!!

 

Hope all is good. First post here and looking for a bit of help if that's ok.

 

I have a few cruises under my belt now. I have been thinking about Alaska for my next adventure. I am really intrigued by the round trip (14 nights) that Princess offer as it gives you both Hubbard and Glacier Bay (with two visits to Glacier Bay). My thnking was it would increase chases of good glacier spotting and lots of scenic relaxation. 

 

The bit I am stuck on is which ship. It appears Royal, Grand and Coral all go there. Coral is my preference based in itinerary as it also visits Icy Straight Point.

 

I would love your honest appraisal of the ships if you have any Alaska tips then those are most welcome too.

 

Quality food,  good upkeep of the ship and customer service are the most important to us. I can entertain myself if need be and happy just relaxing so lots to do onboard is not as important. 

 

Many thanks and happy cruising😎🚢

Edited by Lovesacruise

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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

You are going to have a great experience on your Alaska adventure.

 

We have completed six Alaska cruises and loved every one of them.  To be honest I don't think the choice of the ship has affected our enjoyment, at all.  Of the three ships that you mention we have cruised to Alaska on two of them:  the Grand Princess (twice) and the Royal Princess (once).  I would not hesitate to go back to Alaska, again, on either of them.  I should also say that we have viewed glaciers on all six of our Alaska cruises.

 

We have been to Icy Strait Point only once, and I agree that it is a highlight.  I, certainly, encourage you to follow your wishes regarding that port.

 

I will make this comment about the food.  I do not believe you can rely on any historical information about the food on any single ship, because my belief is that that the food, and the dining experience, is dependent on the management team for a given galley or a given room on any particular cruise.  If the headwaiter of a room is not engaged with his staff, you will see a decline in service.  Similarly, if a galley chef is not engaged with his staff and not verifying that meals are leaving the galley only after the best preparation and presentation, then there is a good chance that the diner will be disappointed.  The management staff is constantly changing.  I was on the Royal Princess in Alaska three weeks ago, and have my opinions about the dining experience in the various rooms.  However, since you are going to be cruising, at the earliest, six months from now, my opinions are really not going to be helpful to you.  There is no way of predicting who will be in charge of the various operations when you take your cruise.

 

 

I truly hope I have not created more questions in your mind.  Just do it.  You're going to have a great time.

 

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The Coral would be my choice.  Having sailed for 2 weeks on the Royal...impressive ship but it lacks outdoor viewing locations, it is huge, which is a minus in Alaska.

Our experience with food on the Royal was beyond disappointing.  We suspended our MDR seating and finished our trip using the buffet.  And the Royal has no exterior promenade...which is a place that I spent hours with binoculars watching for wildlife on our ship.  We love the wrap around promenade on the non-Royal Princess ships.

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Another vote here for Coral because of the outside viewing areas.  Don't book a balcony thinking you can see everything from there.  There are another 200 degrees of viewing on the other side of the ship...  EM

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1 hour ago, XBGuy said:

Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

You are going to have a great experience on your Alaska adventure.

 

We have completed six Alaska cruises and loved every one of them.  To be honest I don't think the choice of the ship has affected our enjoyment, at all.  Of the three ships that you mention we have cruised to Alaska on two of them:  the Grand Princess (twice) and the Royal Princess (once).  I would not hesitate to go back to Alaska, again, on either of them.  I should also say that we have viewed glaciers on all six of our Alaska cruises.

 

We have been to Icy Strait Point only once, and I agree that it is a highlight.  I, certainly, encourage you to follow your wishes regarding that port.

 

I will make this comment about the food.  I do not believe you can rely on any historical information about the food on any single ship, because my belief is that that the food, and the dining experience, is dependent on the management team for a given galley or a given room on any particular cruise.  If the headwaiter of a room is not engaged with his staff, you will see a decline in service.  Similarly, if a galley chef is not engaged with his staff and not verifying that meals are leaving the galley only after the best preparation and presentation, then there is a good chance that the diner will be disappointed.  The management staff is constantly changing.  I was on the Royal Princess in Alaska three weeks ago, and have my opinions about the dining experience in the various rooms.  However, since you are going to be cruising, at the earliest, six months from now, my opinions are really not going to be helpful to you.  There is no way of predicting who will be in charge of the various operations when you take your cruise.

 

 

I truly hope I have not created more questions in your mind.  Just do it.  You're going to have a great time.

 

This was really helpful thank you. I think the itinerary with icy straight point is the one I am leaning towards. Think because she is smaller may be for me in this particular itinerary.

 

I do see what your saying. When I was on Serenade of the Seas in Norway the food was really varied and since then others have had improved comments about the food. Never really thought about like that.  I am focused on a round trip bit would consider a one way north or south but then planning trips in Denali is a bit daunting 🙂

 

Hopefully I can be of help in return sometime.

Edited by Lovesacruise

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1 hour ago, thinfool said:

The Coral would be my choice.  Having sailed for 2 weeks on the Royal...impressive ship but it lacks outdoor viewing locations, it is huge, which is a minus in Alaska.

Our experience with food on the Royal was beyond disappointing.  We suspended our MDR seating and finished our trip using the buffet.  And the Royal has no exterior promenade...which is a place that I spent hours with binoculars watching for wildlife on our ship.  We love the wrap around promenade on the non-Royal Princess ships.

That is a good point. I did wonder about the size of Royal particularly around access to glaciers and the small ports. I started with Celebrity then when on my first Cunard cruise discovered the joys of wrap around promenades..shame it was transatlantic haha not many views but a great walk. Since then did the Norwegian fjords with a ship that had a wrap around promenade it's fantastic.

 

Thanks for your help. Have you sailed on Coral?

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46 minutes ago, Essiesmom said:

Another vote here for Coral because of the outside viewing areas.  Don't book a balcony thinking you can see everything from there.  There are another 200 degrees of viewing on the other side of the ship...  EM

Ironically I book balconies but always still end up around deck :) tha ms v much what did you think of Coral?

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LAV, let me add what I think is a humorous story regarding food on the Royal Princess.

 

We booked the Royal Princess cruise in September, last winter.  We had never been on the ship, and we booked it because it is a one-hour drive from our house to the port in San Pedro.  We really like that part.  This was a 12-day round trip cruise.  About a month before the cruise we learned about one of the venues on the Royal Princess that is not on any of the other Princess ships we'd experienced--the Ocean Terrace.  This is a seafood bar off the main Piazza.  We found a menu on-line and were quite excited to see Oysters on the Half-Shell--one of our absolute favorites.

 

Our plan was to visit the Ocean Terrace on embarkation day and have a few oysters before dinner.  Well that schedule was completely blasted, and, as a result, we did not get to the Ocean Terrace until Day 3, which was the second of three consecutive sea days.

 

We found a table, and in a few minutes a server approached.

 

My wife asked, "Where are your oysters from?"

 

The response surprised the heck out of me, "Texas."

 

"Uh oh," I thought.  

 

Mrs, XBGuy was incredulous, "A West Coast cruise, and the oysters are coming from Texas?"

 

I tried to ameliorate, "Well, September does have an 'R' in it."

 

Not good enough.  With apologies to Gulf Coasters, Mrs. XBGuy will not eat oysters from warm Caribbean waters.

 

We then proceeded to have a delightful time with a bottle of Albarino and a combination plate that included some Sashimi, some Poke and a Crab Cocktail.

 

We did get Alaska oysters in both Ketchikan and Skagway.

 

By all means go for seafood in the ports.  If you are interested in crab, check out Tracy's Crab Shack in Juneau.  The problem with Tracy's is that it is VERY popular--there is, usually, a line out the door, especially, when there are multiple ships in port--and it is a bit spendy.  The place we have started regularly visiting in Juneau is Deckhand Dave's.  This place has the most amazing fish tacos.  Both of these establishments have good, informative web sites.

 

Your idea of breaking your vacation up into a cruise and a land tour is excellent.  Many people think that is the best of both Alaska worlds.

 

 

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I would recommend a land excursion up to Denali plus the south-bound one-way cruise that goes to both Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay rather than the RT that visits 3 of the same ports.

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Based on the 3 ships listed, my preference would be the coral. Have sailed extensively on both Island/Coral Class & Grand Class, but never the Royal Class, which we consider way too big and don't have a prom deck.

 

Obviously depends on how many kids are onboard, but we always find the Coral is slightly more spacious than the Grand Class. Also like the 2 fwd deck below the Bridge, which are available for pax.

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We cruised to AK on the Grand in early September and were very happy with the itinerary, the ship and the crew.

I cruised on the Coral 15 years ago as my very first cruise ever, and on her sister ship, the Island, a couple of times in the intervening years. Never been on any of Princess' version of a mega-ship so far.

For the cruise you are considering, I would definitely choose the Coral. The primary reason is because she is smaller (originally the Coral and the Island were specially built to fit thru the Panama Canal, so are narrower.) At least 1000 passengers less than the Grand, and even more "fewer" passengers than the Royal.

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