If you want access to everywhere on the ship, do not sail the week before dry dock. If companionship and the itinerary are your main objective, you might find a good bargain the week before dry dock. This is a great itinerary and we'd do it again as long as the ship wasn't going into dry dock after we disembarked.
5 out of 5
Went smoothly. We were linked to a friend with the BVE (Bon Voyage Experience) package and got to board early. Enjoyed a nice lunch in the main dining room and toured the ship with another person in group that had been on the ship previously. (Thank you Bonnie and John for these two happenings).
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
The Horizon Court buffet was wonderful. We ate breakfast and lunch there daily and while things were similar every day they had different varieties. Two soups every day which included some of my favorites (split pea, gazpacho and white bean). They always had salads and guacamole; very plain but with a nice pico de gallo near by if you needed to jazz it up a bit. Breakfast too, had traditional fare and different choices daily, including omelets made to order and brought to your table by the wait staff. Drinks are brought to you by the wait staff; for those of who are very independent there are self serve stations. The main dining room was nice, but we felt the variety sometimes lacking. The food was well prepared and the wait staff very accommodating.
3 out of 5
We are not trivia or bingo players so we did not do those. We did try the hole in one (indoors), ring toss and hole in one (on the links), and that was fun. The links are very misleading; it is and expanse of "green" with three holes at one end, not a mini-golf course or really a putting practice course. For the hole in one competition, the staff member had to create obstacles for us to avoid with tape and cones. We were disappointed it this. It was too cold for us to use the pools or hot tubs.
We chose not to attend any of the entertainment and just kick back on this cruise.
We had no children sailing with us. In fact there were very few on the ship.
Service and Staff
4 out of 5
Princess has some of the nicest staff. Our room steward, Zeus, was often in the passage way making sure we had everything we needed. He made up the room twice a day. There was always ice and clean towels. The wait staff was great. Customer service was helpful and willing to answer my concerns with smiles. We asked many of the staff what they would be doing during dry dock and they seemed pleased to talk about that. Some would have very different responsibilities, others would be doing similar things but with shorter hours while housing the contractors and a few got their contracts cut short and would be going home (they seemed the happiest about the dry dock). We were very disappointed in the service at the Cafe before dinner the last evening. It was at least 20 minutes before we were waited on, the drinks took a lot longer than they should have, the gin & tonic came with no lime and the waitress seemed confused. We later learned that because we were docked in Vancouver at night (we were here two extra hours to load materials for dry dock) only one bar per deck could be open and this one was also serving the dining room. This really shouldn't have been a problem when we were there, because we were ther before the dining room opened.
3 out of 5
Because of the pre-dry dock work being done on the ship many areas were blocked off and/or being worked on as we sailed. It made getting around on the ship on the weather decks strange as you had detours and "road blocks". The ship was well maintained except of course where work was being done. The smell of varnish on the way to the Horizon Court for breakfast and/or lunch was off putting. Once you figured out the layout it wasn't too bad. However if we couldn't find something we just assumed it was blocked off. I think closing parts of the ship to the passengers is an unfair practice, even though most cruise lines seem to do it. We learned a trick from a fellow passenger: on the cabin decks the port side (even numbered) had red woven into the carpet while the starboard did not. I am guessing this is true on all Princess ships and I am looking forward to another Princess cruise to find out. (Thanks Phil).
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
The cabins are comfortable but we find them small compared to Carnival. The showers are very small and we can't imagine how some of the very big fellows (football size) on the ship manage to take a shower.
Carry the map given to you on embarkation day for the first few days in order to find everything.
While we did not visit Seattle (we lived in the area for several years), we chose our hotel poorly. When booking a hotel that includes "airport" in the name, it might mean that airplanes will wake you up at 4:30 in the morning.
Visiting Alcatraz was the reason we chose this itinerary and we were not disappointed. We actually booked our tour online with the Alcatraz center before sailing to be sure we got what we wanted. Be advised the food and drink in the waiting area for the ferry is very expensive. The ferry is only about a half of a mile from where the ship docks and is easily walked. We also walked to Fisherman's Wharf. Other attractions are within walking distance if you choose to do so.
We did not book any tours here and decide to walk into town. This is a tender port and one of the things I like best about Princess is that they use their life boats as tender boats. This not only lets the passengers see how big they really are, it makes sure they are working. If you are not in a hurry to get off the ship, go later and the wait time to catch the tender will be very short (if at all). There is a nice museum by the dock worth a visit. My DH says the Starbucks has fast wifi.
We walked into town which a bit farther than advertised, but well worth it and well marked. It is a beautiful place and next visit we plan to book a tour to properly see and learn more.
5 out of 5
We used the "Port Valet" sevice for the first time. This is when you leave your luggage outside your cabin and the cruiseline works with the airline and you don't see your luggage again until you get to your final destination. You are also checked into your flight. We of copurse worried the whole trip about the luggage actually being in Denver when we go off the plane. The whole thing went smoothly and we were at the Seattle airport and hame in record time.
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