May 2015 - Crown Princess to Alaska - Inside Passage
we took this cruise late May 2015. This was our first time on Princess (last cruise was on Royal Caribbean) I guess we expected more from Princess which is why we booked Princess instead of RC to Alaska---The cruise was great--the ports good- we particularly liked Skagway. But I think the overall experience was better on RC. Princess seemed to have some problems (entertainment---there was a comedian the first two nights because the crew couldn't set up the lighting correctly for the musical show)
The food and service: most of the time in the anytime dining we had great experiences. Once however we decided to try the dining room for lunch. We ordered the lobster crepes (which oddly turned out to be deep fried...) and waited for at least 30 mins or more for entree to arrive. To his credit our waiter continually updated us and apologized- We did notice some people left without eating.
Specialty restaurants: this was a problem. There are two specialty restaurants aboard the ship which you pay a premium $25 additional per person. It's supposed to be a special experience. It was terrible. We dined at Sabatini's. The dining room did not seem overly crowded so to have to wait 25 mins or more between courses is unacceptable. In addition the waitress never came to explain the delay nor apologize. The quality of the food should have redeemed this delay. It did not. We ordered the lobster three ways. The lobster tail was tasteless and the texture spongy. The orzo had "crunchy" mushrooms in it. This was a disappointment. Since this restaurant carries a premium charge high quality should be expected.
Shore excursions: we opted to bypass the Princess excursions and book our own relying on Tripadvisor reviews. We found a wonderful tour in Skagway. Instead of the two hour Yukon train ride which has spectacular views but not much else we decided to pay the same amount to arrive at the same Yukon destination by van (24 people) for a 6 hour tour - This option was much better. We saw spectacular scenery and the driver stopped for wildlife-(we saw five bears on the way) and stopped for photos. All the while telling interesting stories about the region. The lunch in Yukon and the sled dog puppies were also great. The fact that this was not a Princess arranged tour was NOT a problem-- the operator was waiting right as we walked off the ship The operator was Frontier Excursions.
we did book the Juneau Princess Salmon bake and it was pricey but something you must do while in Alaska.