My buddy, Bernie, and I drove over to Seattle the day before our cruise was set to begin. I had reserved a decent hotel for the night near the airport where hotels are much cheaper than near the docks. I had also reserved an inexpensive but secure place to park the car for 7 days and a shuttle to the docks. The ride over was uneventful though we did get to see windmills and the freeway was closed at one point thus causing us to detour. So glad we went over a day early. A good policy to live by for cruising.
After a good night’s sleep and a tasty free breakfast at the hotel, we parked the car and hopped on the shuttle. It was an interesting ride as a long metal piece on the roof had been torn off and was hanging down where it banged the window. I felt bad for the folks sitting next to that window. That was a bit scary and noisy.
At the Princess Cruise lines terminal, we were ushered straight in. The lines weren’t bad at all and security was fairly easy. We quickly got our Sign and Sail Cards and boarded the Ruby Princess. We had made a point of wearing our custom cruise T-shirts I had made by Vistaprint. It was a fun way to start our voyage and made for a great embarkation picture!
As we pulled away from the dock, it was really cool to see the terminal workers come out to wave us off. I didn’t see any kind of sail away party going on but the waving really helped to set the mood. We did get chocolate covered strawberries sent to our cabin by my travel agent which also kicked our moods up. Yum!
I chose Princess for this cruise so I could see why it was the favorite cruise line of my parents and because it is supposed to have the best itineraries since they were among the first to cruise Alaska. It definitely is different from Carnival ships. Carnival is more of a party atmosphere from the minute you board. Princess certainly had some parties but they aren’t as constant or in your face.
Both cruise lines have good shows though I think those on Carnival are better. Princess did have a couple of shows that were pretty awesome.
The beds on Princess were hard as cement slabs. We were able to sleep but we felt it. I heard afterward that we could have asked our steward for a mattress topper. Will try that next time. The rest of the room was fine. We booked an interior room to keep costs down but chose one on Lido deck so we could run outside real quick to see Alaska and get pictures. That worked very well for me. The room had a refrigerator which we did use.
The food was definitely the best on Princess. I loved both the Main Dining Room (MDR) and the Lido deck cafeterias. I got lots of cheese cake, salad, and shrimp! We tried a different cafeteria near the end of the cruise which served lots of Mexican food that was also delicious. We did anytime dining again rather than reserved to keep our options open. They still sat us at tables with other people unlike on Carnival. It was kind of nice though to meet other people and chat during dinner. The ice cream on Princess is served to you unlike on Carnival where they have machines available 24/7 to serve yourself.
We went to clubs every night to play trivia games (which we lost badly) and to listen to the excellent music. I watched a couple movies (Sound of Music was one) on the big screen out on deck by the pool. It was cold so everyone snuggled under multiple towels properly draped and drank hot chocolate. We had “The Love Boat” playing constantly on the TV in our room. Swimming and the hot tubs were out for us due to how cold it was. Ruby Princess doesn’t have any pools or hot tubs indoors like Carnival Triumph does. I used the treadmills in the fitness center to work off some of the ice cream and cheese cake and walked their track on top.
They had a big party near the end to celebrate 50 Years of Princess. It was in the center atrium which was so filled with people that folks were standing around or dancing by the rails at every level and on the stairs. The live music was wonderful and I did a bit of dancing up above myself. At the end they dropped balloons on the main floor which everyone popped.
We had some minor rough seas here and there. I know there was one night when our beds kept going up and down. LOL We didn’t get seasick so it was fine.
When we got back to Seattle, debarkation went very smoothly also. We found our suitcases easily, cleared customs, and went right out to our pre-arranged shuttle back to our car. Since we got back early in the morning and both had colds, we drove straight back to Idaho. I was supposed to stay with my oldest son near Seattle but didn’t want to give his several kids my cold and had more business to take care of with my house in Idaho.
That’s the overview of our Alaska trip. I would definitely sail on Princess again and would love to go back to Alaska. I do advise taking your jacket, gloves, a warm hat, and LONG UNDERWEAR. It was really cold everywhere we went and onboard. I had to wear two pairs of pants and a sweatshirt on our excursions to even resemble being warm.
My next posts will get more into the details of the places we visited. Stay tuned!