An amazing experience. Seeing Hubbard Glacier and getting into Glacier Bay National Park made this trip so memorable. Having been on a number of cruises in the past this is the first time the cruise really was front and center as the experience rather than just a way to get from one port to another. I highly recommend the Southbound Princess journey to see Hubbard and the Star was just wonderful. Especially her Captain who would say, Nevertheless, bye bye!
5 out of 5
We arrived via the Princess train and checked in while on our way to Whittier from Denali. Very smooth process and no lines to wait in. We relaxed in our seats, the Princess rep came to us, and all was done. The only part of the process that could have gone quicker is how each train was given their key cards. We were one of the last cars to be unloaded so our check in process was about 30 minutes longer than those who exited their train car first.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The food and drinks were all fantastic. I especially enjoyed the International Cafe for my morning latte and some pastries which changed daily. We could grab a quick sandwich or one of a variety of salads to enjoy for lunch. My favorite spot is Vines to get a great glass of wine - many of which were only available there. Our dinner in Crown Grill was stellar and each meal in the dining room (we ate in all three during the week) were well prepared and tasty. Horizon Court was fine but seating could be challenging and I just did not care to deal with that.
4 out of 5
We attended a number of the Alaska presentations including a wonderful one by the rangers from Glacier National Park. One daughter enjoyed a flower making class early in the trip. We attending the food service end of week presentation was was hokey but fun and toured the galley which was enjoyable. The other daughter & I used the fitness center. The treadmills are set up with TVs which is nice (and great individual fans) but the time is limited to 20 minutes (I couldn't figure out how to override) when there were only a handful of others in there and plenty of treadmills available. The number of offerings was varied and met our needs and expectations.
4 out of 5
Had Brian Johnson, an amazing piano player, not been on board I'm not sure what we would have done. The entertainment was definitely not geared toward a family with teens which I totally understand and paled in comparison to the entertainment on prior cruises on a different line. We did attend a couple of Alaska specific entertainers including a wonderful gentleman from Skagway who shared a great deal of history with story and song that was fantastic. The movies up on deck were also quite good despite how cold it can be. Warm blankets are available to check out and use and extra cushions are added to the deck chairs to make them more comfortable.
5 out of 5
One child loved the teen room. The other didn't want to go. The one that did had only fabulous things to say so for that alone, it was fantastic.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Every person we interacted with was very pleasant & helpful. While some are better in their role than others, there was not one single person that didn't shine in some way. Our cabin steward was attentive without being in our way. We found the waiters in the dining rooms to be quite good and efficient. One of the bar tenders in Vines & one in Crooner's knew us by the middle of the cruise and were very attentive.
4 out of 5
I loved the layout of the Star. She is a beautiful ship. There is definitely some work that needs to be done and I'm sure will be addressed with the dry-dock. But none of that work detracted in anyway from our week onboard. I would sail on Star again in a heartbeat.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our Mini-suite was on deck 9 and forward on the Starboard side. This was a good location for us as we were removed from high-traffic areas. We found the storage in the room to be quite good with a large closet, ample hangers (we did bring many of our items already on hangers), a glass-doored cabinet of shelves for our clothes and the location of the room safe. The bathroom had very good storage for even 2 teen girls and all of their stuff. There are two temperature controls in the room for the "bedroom" and the sitting area near the balcony. Our balcony was a good size and allowed all 4 of us to be out there to see the glaciers without competing with everyone on the upper decks.
This was our first port and and enjoyable spot with the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Visitor Center and a number of historical buildings in town to explore. We thoroughly enjoyed Skagway Brewing Company in town for lunch and their brews. We chose to drive to the Yukon renting a Jeep from Alaska Green Jeeps inside Yukon Heath's Popcorn Emporium. They provided us with a CD narrating what we'd see during the first 45 minutes of our drive to Emerald Lake and a detailed list of what we'd see and where to stop along our 117 mile trip. Excellent service from Alaska Green Jeeps.
LOVED Juneau. Tracy's King Crab Shack was a highlight for amazing food, great & quick service. We went whale watching with Dolphin Jet Boat Tours. There were only 19 people on our boat which was fabulous for giving everyone a bit of room to get around on board and see everything we saw which included a rare sighting of an Orca named Jack, a couple of Humpback whales (a lot of sightings of them both), porpoises, a seal and an amazing water view of Mendenhall Glacier.
We arrived here a bit later and had later shore excursions so by the time we exited Star, there were swarms of people from the 4 other ships already in town. Getting over to Creek Street to check that out provide to be difficult with mass of others. By late afternoon, most had gone and we had the place to ourselves. The Funicular was not working so we walked up Married Man's Trail to the Cape Fox Lodge and took in the totem poles there. I took one daughter with me on a flight seeing trip over Misty Fjords. We were met at the port and the rain gauge (right in front of where Star was in port) and were driven over to the departure location (maybe a 5 min drive and only due to so much congestion in port. We went up with Randy from Mountain Air Service and I couldn't have been more comfortable with him. He is a very experienced pilot and had a great demeanor considering the number of questions asked almost non-stop from 3 other passengers during the first 45 minutes we were in the air. Since the weather was so clear we had amazing views from the air that I feel lucky to have experienced. A tip, plan a slightly later morning departure since the fog cancelled the 8 am departure that day. My husband and other daughter went out with Southeast Exposure on their Alaska Boatman Adventure driving a Zodiac boat. Only 1 other couple joined them and Murph, their guide, was fantastic and entertaining. A great time for them as well.
Canada Place is gorgeous, as FlyOver CANADA attraction which is fantastic (and very similar to the original Soarin' over California at Epcot & Disney's California Adventure park.) Booked a Princess tour to make things easier on us with a late departure so we used CDC to transport our luggage directly from the port to YVR for our flight home. Very smooth process.
5 out of 5
Out of our cabin by 8am which was reasonable. Breakfast in Amalfi dining room with a great team. Waiting in the Crown Grill was a big snug but short lived so not an issue (just something to be aware of). Super easy to find our luggage in the mass of luggage once off the ship. Having booked a shore excursion with Princess to handle our last day since our flight home didn't depart YVR until 11:25 that evening helped make things even easier as we had the Hop On Hop Off folks usher us through the process of dropping our luggage and getting out and on to a bus to see the sights.
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