Is an Alaska Cruise at the top of your bucket list? Well, it was for my husband and I but it's not any more. Why? Because we did it!!!
Actually, we couldn't not do it this summer. We were having our own little "Age of Aquarius" coming together which put everything in motion:
Our Seattle kids were christening our new grandson
Our son had a summer job in Alaska
We had enough credit card points to take care of air fare
Our jobs didn't need our full attention those two weeks
It would be a great experience to share on my blog, and
We got an awesome deal with Princess Cruises
This was our first full fledged cruise/tour. We spent one week on the Island Princess, then an additional four days on land, discovering the beauty and majestic wonder of the great state of Alaska. In completing this trip, we took advantage of just about every available mode of transportation: airplane, automobile, WWII amphibious landing craft, coach bus, school bus, bicycle, foot, taxi, tram, train, and of course, luxurious ocean liner.After spending the weekend with our kids in Seattle, we flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, where our cruise began. Yippee-- we finally had a chance to break out our passports (FYI- Did you know foreign ports no longer stamp your passport? Boo. That used to be such a great show and tell.). When we landed, instead of heading to customs with the masses, we were ushered to a secure waiting area set up between Princess Cruises, Canada, and the U.S. The program is called U.S. Direct. For qualified travelers meeting certain qualifications, your luggage is removed from the plane and sent ahead to the ship while you are escorted from the plane to a holding area and then put on a secured bus which takes you directly to the ship. Very cool and very quick. It saved us two hours in customs. What a great start.
Our first impression of Princess Cruises was more than favorable. They certainly have developed an excellent system of getting over 1,900 passengers on the ship in time for leaving port. There was the traditional arrival picture, arrival cabin documents, and arrival "welcomes" from a very friendly crew. In our cabin, a beautiful bouquet of flowers awaited us, a gift from Princess Cruises. Also greeting us was our luggage which we immediately began to unpack and put away for our week's journey. We had arrived to our home away from home and were excited to begin the coming week of adventure. And what a marvelous adventure we had!!!
How did Princess Cruises provide such a memorable trip?
1) They were the "Consummate Host." We felt welcomed, valued, and just like family for the entire trip. All crew members were polite, smile-ready, friendly, and eager to assist us. We ran in to a couple minor scrapes during our trip and the ship's personnel went overboard (pun intended) to make things right. The ship was spotless. Germ maintenance was a priority (I loved all the anti-bacterial stations). And amenities were first rate.
2) They were all about "extras." Getting beautiful fresh flowers on board wasn't the only special added benefits available on board. We also received chocolate dipped strawberries, champagne, and some beverages to sample. Most of those beverages were alcoholic and they were quite surprised when I called to ask if I could return it for some non-alcoholic choices. I guess they weren't used to passengers who don't drink. We celebrated our 32nd anniversary during the trip and on our special day, we had a poster and balloons on our door and a card inside our cabin. Walking down the halls, I noticed similar celebratory announcements for birthdays and weddings.
3) They kept us up to date with their daily newsletter, television program, and announcements. The Princess Patter arrived each evening in our cabin, outlining the events on the ship for the next day, descriptions of the upcoming port of call, weather, and on board shopping deals. Any changes to what was printed were given on the intercom if it affected the entire ship or on their television station, anchored by the cruise director and his staff.
4) Their food was outstanding. We had several choices where and what to eat from the well known buffet, our traditional dining room, and specialty food courts (pizza and soft ice cream were well visited during the week). In addition, there was an upscale restaurant (reservations are needed and payment is in addition to the traditional venues) where we got to eat some breakfasts and a special last night dinner which provided a lovely (and quiet) ambiance. There was some confusion our first day on the ship with our breakfast arrangements. I was surprised when the head Maitre d' Hotel, Rui Pereira, called us personally to apologize and make
amends (to me, a simple apology was quite enough). He offered to move our nightly dining table to a window seat, and made arrangements for our last night dinner, not to mention greet us each time we arrived to eat.
5) Their entertainment was first rate. After dinner each night, we were ready for some action. We watched two outstanding musical reviews written and produced by Princess for our ship as well as saw two different comedy performances. One was a performance by Comedy Juggler, Rick Novell. He juggled Samurai knives and told jokes all while riding a super high unicycle. The other comedy routine was performed by Duncan Tuck, a Comedy Musician. That guy could totally strum a guitar and sing and tell jokes. Also his claim to fame? He was a Gong Show winner in the 70's.(Remember that hilarious afternoon show?)
Would I go on a Princess Cruise again? You bet. When is their next departure?
Where in the world would you like to take a cruise?
***Stay tuned for more details of our trip and some suggestions for when you take your Alaska cruise. (Oh you will be taking an Alaska cruise!!)***