A floating 5 star hotel into the Wilderness
|Reviewed By: Berridge, on 11th Sep 2009|
|Cruise Line: Princess Cruises||Times cruised before: 1-2|
|Cruise Ship: Diamond Princess||Sailed: August, 2009|
|Destination: Alaska||Age: 36-45|
|Cabin: Outside||Occasion: Family holiday|
We have recently returned from our cruise to Alaska. This is our third cruise (second with Princess) and was the best in terms of scenery and natural beauty. Despite having packed lots of layers and expecting cool/wet weather, whilst we there Alaska and Vancouver were experiencing a heat wave with record high temperatures! Fortunately there are many tee shirt shops in all the ports of call (at very reasonable prices).
We flew from LHR to Vancouver and had booked an extra night to have a 2 days pre-cruise visit. This was a great idea and we were pleased that we were able to spend a full day exploring Vancouver. The Four Seasons Hotel was very good and to the delight of my teenage daughters, directly over a large shopping mall!
In Vancouver we organized our own excursion( which was very easy) – we took a hop on hop off bus ride around the city and then took the ferry across the bay, a local bus and finally a cable car to the top of Grouse Mountain. There are various attractions at the top included in the price of the cable car including a lumberjack show, birds of prey and our first chance to see brown bears.
The transfer to the ship the following morning was effortless and we were amongst the first on board. Cases arrived very shortly afterwards.
The cruise part of our trip visited Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. In Ketchikan we wandered around this quant fishing town. In Juneau we visited the salmon hatchery and the Mendenhall Glacier – our first sight of a glacier, which was impressive at the time, but there were better sights to see later in our cruise. In Skagway we decided to take the White Pass coach trip which was a good move as we were able to stop and get off to take photographs, whereas the alternative train trip didn’t allow you to stop (and was much more expensive). Veronica, our driver / tour guide was very entertaining and informative – a good excursion.
We then ha a couple of days at sea visiting glaciers in Glacier Bay and College Fjord which were both incredible. The ship moored close to the edge of the glacier in Glacier Bay and you could hear the enormous mass of ice creak and grown as large chunks of ice fell into the sea. The experience was made better by an on board naturalist and park rangers who provided a commentary and pick out sights both on land and sea life as we cruised down the fjords.
On arrival in Whittier we transferred early onto the glass topped train for our trip to the Denali National Park. We spent two nights at the Denali Princess Lodge – there was a morning Natural History coach tour into the national park included in the package. In the afternoon my wife and I visited the husky dog sledding demonstration and then took a long walk through the park and back to the hotel. The park is vast and truly a wilderness. The area that we visited was all on marked trails but very beautiful nonetheless.
From Denali had a 3 hour coach trip to Fairbanks and after lunch we had a trip on a paddle steamer (Stern Wheeler). We expected just a trip, but there were a whole range of experiences arranged along the way including a float plane pilot taking off and landing next to the boat, dog sledding demonstration, reindeer and a stop at a reconstructed Athabaskan Indian village. Here we got off to see various demonstrations of life as an Athabaskan Indian.
The part of the journey that we were all secretly dreading was the long return journey to the UK via Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seattle. This was a lot easier than expected and we were upgraded by BA on the transatlantic sector which made things a little easier.
We had three generations on the cruise and we all had a great time. I would thoroughly recommend Alaska and the trip that we took.
|Quality of Food|
|Dinner menu was good, but seemed to be less lobster etc than on previous cruises|
|Plenty of variety|
|Everything ran very smoothly|
|Teen club and 18 - 25 club kept my two teenage daughters entertained until the early hours most nights - we saw them ay dinner, but rarely at breakfast!|
|As expected from Princess|
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