Friday, May 17, 2019

Royal Princess in College Fjord, Alaska

Hello from the last day of the Royal Princess' Inaugural cruise to Alaska. I can't believe just how fast this week has flown by. I am so happy we are on for another one.

We just got our cabin assignment last night and it's going to be a bit problematic. We knew we'd have to change cabins but they've put us in a quad cabin. That means the bunk beds (even when closed) will be protruding out of the wall. When we're in those kinds of cabins, hubby isn't able to get out of bed. He uses a bed cane to help get out of bed at home so even without the bunk beds sticking out, getting out of bed on the ship is tough. Since the ship isn't sailing full we're hoping we can get switched to a cabin without the bunk beds. Crossing my fingers hubby can get something workable for him. Celebrating 500 days with a cruise line and your hubby can't get out bed? Might be a bit problematic.

Not problematic? Wanting to stay on this ship for seven more days. Seven days is just not long enough for us, especially on this ship. When I first heard Princess was taking the Royal to Alaska, I swore to hubby we wouldn't go. It was because of some of the same reasons I heard from others:

*The ship is too big. 
As we've learned over the years, a bigger ship = more stability. For someone with balance issue like hubby, bigger is good. Bigger is also better when it comes to the number of activities offered onboard. (Having Matt O, cruise director extraordinaire, helps with passenger engagement there, too.)

*The ship lacks outside viewing areas. 
Most of the time you could find us in the Horizon Terrace. That's the area all the way back of the buffet. We never had a problem finding a place to sit. In fact, many times it was empty.

We enjoyed many meals there and also spent time just watching the world go by.

We also took advantage of what could almost be considered a secret deck. There are doors outside Crooners and the Effy store leading to a seldom used deck with chairs.

Lots of space available on the rail on Glacier Bay Day. See?
Even when the ship was stopped at Margerie Glacier I had no problem finding a spot at the rail. You can also access an additional portion of the deck through doors just in front of the Vista Lounge. You'll find chairs there, too.
Add in those less-busy spots with the other typical areas around the ship, and there are plenty of places to take in the scenery.

*Ports will be overcrowded by the Royal. 
In my Cruising Alaska class a couple weeks back I had a participant ask me when was the best time to go to Alaska to avoid the crowds. My answer was simple - 15 years ago. The number of passengers traveling to Alaska has just exploded in recent years. Unless you are traveling on the Coral Princess and are the only ship in port (let me tell you, those were the days!), crowded ports in Alaska are a given whether you are on a big ship or small ship. 

While I would have liked lines getting on and off the ship to not be so long, I expect the Royal Princess will become more responsive to tide changes and become more efficient in switching gangway decks as the season goes along.

*Alaskan marine pilots raised concerns about navigating the ship, particularly in Ketchikan.
The ship changed course from what we typically would expect on an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver. Taking the green route out of Vancouver instead of the typical "red" route was probably the most disappointing. Coming in from the north in Ketchikan (the brown route instead of the red route) was a bit surprising, but not unexpected based on the marine pilot concerns.
The Royal's Vancouver departure route is in green.
The Royal's Ketchikan approach is in brown.
Would I take another cruise on the Royal to Alaska? You bet. Again, we're so glad we're on for another week.

Tonight in our cabin we were given a letter about the Ketchikan accident. So happy to hear some of the guests involved have been released from the hospital! Not so happy about the media circus about to hit us tomorrow.

Also tonight we had beautiful College Fjord. I'll leave you with some of my best pics.

Want to know more about cruising Alaska? You can search using key words and come up with a slew of posts, but you can also check out my Cruising Alaska resources section here where you'll find the most recent posts.