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  1. 4 points
    Overview of Coral Princess Alaska Cruisetour, July 2019: Getting to Alaska Our flight to Seattle was on a Virgin Airlines Boeing 787 in Economy. We had looked to upgrade to Premium Economy but the price was prohibitive. It was a good flight with decent food and great cabin crew. Immigration at Seattle Airport was a nightmare, taking an hour to actually get into the immigration hall and another hour to get seen. The immigration official was very polite. As per our instructions, we got the hotel shuttle from the airport to the Hilton Doubletree Hotel. This was ideally located about 5 minutes from the airport. It is a VERY large hotel and I had read reviews about long queues at the Front Desk, which was indeed the case, taking about 20 minutes to get to the front and get checked in. Our room was somewhat old-fashioned but clean and comfortable with very comfortable beds. We had a very pleasant dinner at the 13 Coins restaurant a few minutes along the road from the hotel. We had booked the whole flight package through Princess and they had very kindly booked us on to an Alaska Airlines flight to Fairbanks at 0630 the next morning, meaning a 4am wake-up call... Fairbanks Due to the early flight, we arrived in Fairbanks by mid-morning, taking into account that Alaska is one hour behind Seattle - 9 hours behind the UK. We were met at the airport by a Princess Rep and transferred to the Fairbanks Princess Lodge very efficiently with a small number of other people. The Lodge is nicely situated on the river with pleasant public areas, although the main restaurant was rather dark and dreary. The buffet breakfast was not good. Our room was fairly basic but again had comfortable beds and we were lucky to have one with a river view. On day one, we took a shuttle into the town centre for a walk around in the pleasant, sunny weather. We went to the local cultural centre, which provided an interesting film and lots of interesting exhibits showing the history and way of life in Alaska. we then had a nice wander along the river and a very tasty, home-made, blueberry ice cream before getting the shuttle back to the hotel. In the evening, we had a pre-booked excursion to Pioneer Park for a Salmon Bake meal, followed by a theatre show all about Fairbanks and the Gold-rush. It was all very touristy - but hey, we are tourists! On day two, we were on an all-day included tour. This started at the site of the Alaska Oil Pipeline, an 800 mile pipe transporting oil across the State. We then boarded a replica train to visit Gold Dredge 8, a restored gold dredging 'factory'. It was interesting to learn about how they dredged for gold and we all got a chance to pan for – and find – some small chips of gold. Mine were – apparently – worth $18. You can of course buy a myriad of things to put your gold into – most costing more than the gold you had just panned!Complimentary Coffee & Cookies were served in the on-site shop. After the return train journey and further coach ride, we arrived at a Steamer Landing Stage, where we had an included lunch before getting on the Paddle Steamer. The sail along the river included seeing a float-plane take off and land, a stop alongside a famous Husky Kennels with demonstration and a visit to a re-created Athabascan Native Village with guided tour. Again the weather was warm & sunny and a good time was had by all. Complimentary snacks were served on board and you could also buy beers etc. That night, we ate at 'Pike's Landing' just up the road from the Princess Lodge. It was a pleasant meal taken out on the terrace by the river and was very busy. A local woman with her niece asked if they could share our table and we enjoyed great conversation with them. Denali On day three, we transferred to Denali by coach to the Denali Princess Lodge, just down the road from the entrance to the National Park. This is apparently the largest hotel complex in Alaska. Rooms are in mainly two-storey blocks scattered around the site, again on the edge of the river. The site includes several restaurants and shops but there are also independent restaurants and shops just across the road. Our room looked recently refurbished and was comfortable but could have benefited from better lighting. That evening we had pre-booked an excursion to go on a horse-drawn wagon into the Tundra and have a meal in a wooden pavilion. This was great fun and to our surprise also included alcoholic refreshment with dinner! Day 4 saw us on our full-day Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park. This took us some 65 miles into the Park amidst great scenery and we saw lots of Caribou, a Moose, Ptarmigan (the State bird of Alaska) and Dall Sheep. Sadly we did not see any bears. Nor were we luck enough to get to see the top of Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Due to cloud cover only about a third of visitors get to see it. That night we tried to eat at a local restaurant but there was a long wait so we ended up eating on-site at 'Fannie Q's', named after a local pioneer woman. It was a nice meal with a singer/pianist entertaining us too. As in Fairbanks, it was strange to see the sun still pretty high in the sky after 1100pm! Day 5 saw us transferring by rail to Coral Princess in Whittier for our cruise. This was 8.15am – 5.30pm. I thought this might feel like a long day but it flew by. It is a double-decker train with 'dome-car' on the top level for good views and restaurant facilities downstairs, together with outside viewing platforms. The food was surprisingly good and pretty much on a par cost-wise with the Lodges. We enjoyed pleasant conversation with both Breakfast and Lunch table-mates. The scenery was amazing on this trip and really show-cased how diverse the State is, passing by/through mountains, plains and coast. Also, we were lucky enough to get a great view of Mount Denali along the way. Coral Princess We had deliberately chosen the Coral as we both prefer (by today's standards) smaller ships. She is just over 90,000 tons (so a smidgeon bigger than P&O's Arcadia) and carries approximately 2000 pax. Built in 2002, she obviously shows some small signs of wear – mainly around balcony doors etc. but is very well-cared-for internally. She had a re-fit in January this year. Internally, she is typically Princess, with many similarities to P&O's Oceana, which of course was previously Ocean Princess. Our standard balcony cabin was fine, although the shower stall was pretty tiny. She has very good facilities for her size – Main Theatre, two show-rooms – one over two decks, four bars, two main dining rooms and two for-fee restaurants, two pools (one indoors) and five jacuzzis. Food and service were very good – probably a notch above P&O. Whilst I seldom have any complaints about P&O, the staff on Coral were generally quite outgoing without being over the top or 'in your face'. Evening menus were good, with meats cooked exactly as requested but as is usually the case with USA cruise lines, vegetable accompaniments were not exactly generous. We ate in Sabatini's, the Italian for-fee restaurant one evening, where the food was fabulous but served in far too large portions. The Horizon buffet was far superior to those on P&O but as someone who is fairly conservative with food tastes, I sometimes felt the choice was limited for me. Princess cater to a very diverse cross-section of pax meaning a lot of asian dishes daily. This was particularly difficult at breakfast time, when dishes included noodles, congee, steamed cabbage, baked apple and bread & butter pudding with custard... The breakfast in the main dining room strangely had a very limited menu and when I did have Eggs Benedict there, I was somewhat disappointed at the cheap, thin cut of 'ham'. Musical Entertainment was very good, with the production shows being outstanding. To be honest, they blew P&O out of the water with the shows in all respects - staging, performance and professionalism. Their most recent shows are produced by Steven Schwarz, who wrote the Broadway & West End hit show, 'Wicked'. We didn't see any of the comedy shows or partake in quizzes as we thought they would be totally geared to Americans. We heard very, very few other English accents on board. Princess provided very good, expert guides to the area to broadcast across the ship whilst glacier viewing etc. Thanks to having cruised with Princess before and many with P&O, we were both at Elite Level in the Captain's Circle Loyalty scheme. This gave us priority boarding in Whittier, upgraded toiletries, Canapés in our cabin on Formal nights, Deluxe Afternoon Tea in the cabin on one day, a stocked mini-bar, 150 internet minutes (each), unlimited free laundry, Elite Lounge each evening with complimentary snacks and low-priced drink specials, free wine-tasting event and disembarkation lounge with refreshments. There were only 30 Elite pax on this sailing so in lieu of a 'most-travelled' event, we were given one complimentary cover charge per person to use in either of the specialty restaurants. The afternoon tea was ridiculously generous and the food would have served 4 easily. There were 10 finger sandwiches/rolls, 7 scones (with jam & cream), 10 cakes and 6 cookies! Needless to say, we couldn't get through anywhere near all of it! Apparently we were in the top 10 most-travelled on this cruise. We were also lucky enough to receive a bottle of champagne at the Captain's Circle Party when ours was one of the three invitations drawn out at the 'raffle'. If we had purchased anything in the on-board boutiques, we would have received 10% discount but to be honest, neither of us actually ventured into the shops. Drinks on-board were – as you would probably expect – expensive. A couple of g&ts routinely came in at around $21 (£17)and a couple of cocktails at $23 (£19) by the time the 18% gratuity was added on to the bar prices. The cheapest bottle of wine was around $38 (about £32). Overall, I was pretty impressed with Princess and would happily consider cruising with them again. The major drawback for me is that they have very few 'smaller' ships sailing where I might want to go. Hubbard Glacier The first day was a sea day, with a visit to the Hubbard Glacier in the afternoon. A very impressive glacier and we stayed here for a couple of hours. Glacier Bay Day two of the cruise was also at 'sea' in Glacier Bay National Park. We had visits to two glaciers here as well as passing by others. A glorious day in lovely weather. Skagway Our first port of call, a pleasant little town – quite picturesque. We had booked an independent tour here (with Dyea Dave) which took us up into the Yukon Territory of Canada by mini-bus. As part of this, we visited a small Husky Dog-Sledding kennel, where we were able to meet some 4 week-old puppies, a stop at Carcross Desert – an area of sand dunes totally unexpected in where it is – Emerald Lake and the village of Carcross, where we had lunch. On the way back to Skagway, we were dropped off at Fraser to get the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, a narrow gauge railway with spectacular views and twists & turns. Along the Klondike Highway we were lucky enough to see a number of Black Bears, which made up for not seeing any in Denali! On arrival back in Skagway, we had to visit the Skagway Brewing Company to try their famous Spruce Tip Blonde Ale – which incorporates hand-picked Sitka Spruce Tree tips. It was gorgeous. Juneau The State Capital of Alaska but quite small by our standards. Here, we had pre-booked a helicopter flight through Coastal Helicopters up to the Herbert Glacier, where we were able to get out of the helicopter and walk around on the glacier, tasting some of the ice-cold melt-water too. Wonderful sunny day and a fabulous experience. When we returned to the town, we walked around the main sites before going back to the ship. Ketchikan A small, quaint albeit touristy town. We had pre-booked an independent tour with Island Wings on a float-plane up to an area called the Misty Fjords National Monument. It was far from misty, being another gorgeous, warm & sunny day. The scenery from the plane was stunning and we then landed in a remote fjord and were able to get out of the plane on a small beach. Another stunning day. On our return, we had some lunch on the ship and then went for a little walk around the pretty town and picked up some last minute souvenirs. Vancouver After the last day at sea, we disembarked in Vancouver, where we had three nights booked at the Pinnacle Vancouver Harbour Hotel. Disembarkation was fine but there was a long queue for taxis. Tip – if you can manage your luggage easily, go through the Convention Centre/Hotel and pick up a taxi in front of the hotel! During our time here, we saw Gas Town, Fly Over Canada, the Capilano Suspension Bridge & Park, Granville Island and Stanley Park. Well worth a few days at the end of the cruise. Getting Home We took a taxi to the airport for our Air Canada flight home. We had upgraded to Premium Economy and it was worth it for the extra space alone. The flight was on time and after landing at Heathrow, were back to my house within less than 2 hours of touch-down. Conclusion This was a stunning trip and easily the most fantastic holiday I have ever had. The natural wonders were the star of the show and the middle three days of the cruise were amazing. I have to keep convincing myself that I have done this. It is a long flight and it is a very expensive holiday but thoroughly worth it. I am very happy we chose to do it with Princess and would highly recommend them for Alaska. Many thanks to Dawn MacIntosh, Susan Parr and their colleagues for their help & attention in putting this package together.
  2. 3 points
    towny44

    Cruising from Liverpool?

    As conservation and reduction in CO2 emissions becomes the norm, I think that all Northern European cruises will have to sail from northern ports, so you may need to travel if you want to do the fjords or the Baltic, just as us northerners will need to head south for Med and Canary cruises. Alternatively we might all have to stay at home and put on our VR headsets to go on holiday!!!😉
  3. 3 points
    HthrEdmndsn

    Is cruising suitable for all?

    This reminds me of a tour I did several cruises ago. There was an elderly couple sat on the fron seats. At every stop the gentleman stood up, blocking the exit, whilst his wife slowly shuffled off the seat, and was assisted down the steps. The whole coach load of passengers was held up. There was another door near the rear but the driver wouldn't open it as it was "only for emergencies". I think we must of lost at least five mins at every stop. Quite a chunk of a 15 min photo stop. I don't know how the wife felt but I would have been embarrassed to hold everyone up. I have never understood why wheelchair users should have priority either. Due consideration and understanding to their difficulties, yes. But priority I never understood.
  4. 2 points
    Countrygirl

    Is cruising suitable for all?

    I am sure that you will prove me wrong, but why should a wheelchair user have priority, I can’t understand why they can’t wait there turn like everybody else. On a tour bus in Boston USA the whole bus of passengers had to wait for 3 wheelchairs users to get of the bus first. If I was in a chair I would have expected to get of last and not hold up the majority. Once on a cruise both Man and Wife each had an electric scooter they showed no concern for other passengers and would drive around at great speed, expecting everybody to move out of their way. One passenger commented that he would like to put a £10 note on the deck and see who would get off the scooter first in order to pick up the money.
  5. 1 point
    Hi Andrew, Excellent review, thank you. And so pleased to read your obvious enjoyment of the trip. Reminded Wendy and I of our Alaskan voyage with Princess some year's ago, which was also very enjoyable, albeit in reverse order to your journey. Best regards from us both, DavidH
  6. 1 point
    Thanks for taking the time to write this fantastic revue ,I really did enjoy reading it....Davybe
  7. 1 point
    Pauline Lee

    New to forum

    Thanks for adding me. We have just retuned grom a cruise to the Norwegian Fjiords, another brilliant holiday arranged by Bolsover. The ship Queen Elizabeth was beautifull, the food, staff, decor, layout were fabulous. Our stateroom was lovely- reclining chairs on the balcony, more hangers than we could ever use, the bed soo comfy. Such a pity the bathroom was so small & to say the showe more than snug. However the entertainment was the best we have ever experienced,- the shows were well planned, costumes fantastic, visiting acts in the main excellent. Our only real grouse was the 15%tax put onto every drinks bill. Cant wait for the next one, already booked.
  8. 1 point
    Great review, thank you.
  9. 1 point
    Countrygirl

    Britannia refit

    I purchased a new handbag from a well known department store about 3 weeks before going on Arcadia. So much for duty free shopping onboard. It was the same price on the ship that I had paid.
  10. 1 point
    *Dancing Queen*

    Britannia refit

    If P&O are replacing the shops franchise with the same one as Cunard then it is nothing to get excited about !!! When we were on QE earlier this year the Jo Malone shop had very limited stock and certainly not the more popular fragrances, other perfumes/aftershaves etc were also very limited and had a substantial price 'hike' over previous cruises, gone were the well known brands like Joseph Ribkoff and what little 'designer wear' was on offer was actually 'outdated' stock which you would have been buying from John Lewis 12 months ago !! As a smoker I couldn't believe I was unable to purchase B&H Gold ( probably one of the most popular cigarette brands !! ) the same problem with some of the more popular alcoholic drink brands too - as an example a bottle of Baileys which I can buy in Tesco for around £16 was over $30 - not that I tend to buy what is supposedly duty free alcohol as I don't consider it worth the effort of it carrying home when Tesco/Sainsburys can more than price match.
  11. 1 point
    towny44

    Britannia refit

    I once bought a leather belt from a cruise shop, in the sale, and my wife has bought the odd clothing item, also when in the sale and of course at a price we thought could not be bettered ashore. But in the main we rarely buy, although, like most women, my wife likes to browse. However if we have lots of OBC then we do sometimes buy perfume to ensure we spend it all, otherwise we look but keep our cruise cards in our pockets.
  12. 1 point
    TrentAnn

    Britannia Serenity Pool

    Hi BanburyBlue, I was on Britannia in April this year and the Serenity pool / sun beds etc., were available to use by adult passengers. Much quieter area to relax in away from the main pool area. Enjoy - I certainly did 😎
  13. 1 point
    Oldworldtraveller

    Spirit of Discovery

    Was overnight at the naming ceremony and thought it a very nice ship. Good size well equipped cabins, all balcony, excellent food and good entertainment. Staff excellent, very attentive. Cruising on the ship in November.
  14. 1 point
    smtcan

    Let the Train take the Strain?

    I have never taken the Rocky Mountaineer, but I suspect I would feel the same as you. I have driven from Vancouver to Calgary once and the reverse direction twice and loved every trip, even the one when I drove all 2,600 Km myself. My mother and aunt were my passengers. We enjoyed being able to stop whenever we wanted and go off the main road to explore. We took two weeks for the trip, which included four days in Vancouver and two in Calgary. Friends took the train in July and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
  15. 1 point
    sinbad10

    Cruising from Liverpool?

    I can see it being a part turnaround port but not as a complete turnaround port for the major cruise lines. It is fine building a new cruise terminal and surrounding roads but needs a lot more infrastructure and cannot see it attracting many American cruisers flying into Manchester and sailing from Liverpool. Just returned from British Isles cruise with Princess where people could actually embark the ship and start their 12 nt round BI cruise from Dublin, Le Havre as well as Southampton and can see it being used for this but not for whole ship embark/disembarkation.
  16. 1 point
    DavidH

    Let the Train take the Strain?

    Would be a waste of money for us as my wife would be asleep within 30mins of departure!!! DavidH
  17. 1 point
    mitch

    Cruising from Liverpool?

    it would cut my journey in half so yes i would give it a go.
  18. 1 point
    mitch

    britannia tips and info

    right, as i wont be walking far this cruise i have booked 2 of the cookery club classes on the first couple of days. the eric lanlard inspired afternoon tea masterclass and thai street food. £40 a pop so i will let you know how it goes. i love thai fish cakes so be interesting to see if i can diy them or wether i end up poisoning myself.
  19. 1 point
    mitch

    britannia tips and info

    i had a tens machine for my arthiritic knees helped quite a lot i was able to step up the physio by using it. i still get it out now and then on bad days.
  20. 1 point
    mitch

    britannia tips and info

    i guessed that was the issue davybe lol. prior to the injection the gp put me on gabapentin, that helped although i did need pretty high doses and it did cause drowsiness, but i work from home so it wasnt too bad.
  21. 1 point
    Davybe

    Worth Watching (Maybe)

    don't put yourself down you are just as good as those who can afford it(and probably better company) . We have friends who worked. on the cruise liners and in their opinion the wealthy tend to be only interested in what your worth, not you as a person. I guess the Butler will let you unpack and repack if told to ?....Davybe
  22. 1 point
    mitch

    britannia tips and info

    the initial option was an op to push the disc back in and then screw a plate to the vertebrae above and below the disc to stop it coming out again but because i had the heart attack 18 months ago they didnt want to do the op until i stop taking the heart meds and blood thinners. so the specialist suggested the spinal injection and for 6 months its worked a treat and it was a simple out patients job in and out in a couple of hours. it may take some persuading as apparently nhs dont do it as routine but the specialist put up a case due to the problems i was having particularly with the pain down the legs and they okayed it. although it looks as though it may be wearing off i dont have pain down the legs etc just in the back and if push comes to shove with better pain releif i will probably last a good while yet if nec. maybe i should start surfing?
  23. 1 point
    towny44

    britannia tips and info

    By gosh that's very brave Davybe!!!😉
  24. 1 point
    2torts

    Worth Watching (Maybe)

    Nor would we. I don't think we're posh enough cos having a butler would drive me mad (hands off my dirty washing- don't wrap it up when clean either) & I'd we terrified of breaking something!⚱🔨😢
  25. 1 point
    mitch

    britannia tips and info

    i thought the new website was worse than before pesky,i seem to remember finding the info previously for other ships. and i m afraid i am one of the leppers although i have given up the tobbacco for the ecigs. thats not bad if 16 has one i am on 14. although i may have slipped up its next door to the laundry lol. at least i wont have to go far to iron a shirt. thanks davybe, i had a spinal injection in feb and its no where near as bad as it was, had terrible pains down the legs and could hardly walk at least now i can move and am reasonably pain free. dont think i will be doing much in the way of excursions. may have a go at the cooking classes a couple of those look tasty.
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