Showing posts with label Royal Princess May 11-18. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Royal Princess May 11-18. Show all posts

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Royal Princess in Whittier, Alaska

We got in early to Whittier last night.
Last night's 11:30 pm bridge cam view.
While the sun was out for a little bit this morning, the rain started not soon afterwards. We weren't planning on doing much today so it was fine with us.

Want to find out about Whittier? Check out my 5 Things to Know about Whittier, Alaska here.

We did spend some time here this morning:

Just like airlines have loyalty programs, so do cruise lines. The more days with the same line, the better the benefits. But people assume the benefits are unbelievable amazing. Like free cruises and being put up in suites. Nope. Other than some onboard credit, those of us with 70+ cruises on the same line aren't being treated any differently than those with 16 cruises. Or even six cruises. (Sail as a single in a suite on Princess, even if they are only one day cruises? You'll be Elite.)

Those who aren't yet Elite think one of the best benefits is the free laundry. Here's the thing on that - if there are a lot of Elites onboard it could be three days before you get the laundry back. That's half a cruise before you see your clothes again. Send it out more than a few times and the harsh chemicals will have your clothes coming back with little holes in them. Which is why we spend turnaround days, today included, in the laundry room. 

Others think the cruise line will give you free cabin upgrades like you might get with the airline. Heck, no. In fact, while we tried to get moved from our cabin with the bunk bed protrusions so hubby could get in and out of bed easier, we couldn't even get moved to a cabin in the same category even though there was one available. 
Bunk beds sticking out + handicapped hubby = problem
We've asked the cabin steward to put our beds into a twin set up. It won't be ideal, but at least we're not celebrating our wedding anniversary on this trip! After dinner we came back and found our new setup.
Presto, chango. New beds.

Others have told us they thought we got a special Elite rates or free Elite cruise. That we are treated like royalty because we're Elite passengers. We don't get special treatment just because we're Elite. We are treated like we're a valued guest, just like the 3,000 other valued guests onboard. The only time you may get additional benefits is for milestone cruises, like this particular cruise for us. 500 days with Princess. First extra benefit for this cruise, flowers and strawberries and champagne.

We've had a couple weird things happen today and it's not even dinnertime yet. 
1. We received a car seat in our cabin. It was delivered like luggage was and had a tag with meet me on the ship like the people who were on a land tour had. And it had our cabin number on it. Never had that happen before. Hope it has now made it to the proper cabin.

2. Our mailbox, this one right here that we've been using since last August on the Caribbean Princess, was stolen.

It seems a supervisor took it while WE WERE IN THE CABIN, thinking it belonged to someone else. How does that happen? A passenger is in a cabin and a ship employee takes something off that passenger's door without asking? Hubby caught up to him and he said he took it and would be right back with it. And that's been a few hours ago and we haven't seen it since. All these months of cruises where I've been worried another passenger or some kid might take it and here we have someone who works on the ship stealing it? I gotta be honest on this one - I'm a pretty easy going person but I'm pretty ticked that it was taken and still hasn't been returned.
Update: Still no return despite yet another visit with another supervisor. Grrr. I am getting more than ticked. 
Update to the update: Our new cabin steward has gotten involved as our advocate and guess what has been returned to our door? Yep, the mailbox is back!

On a more pleasant note, our mini bar (a nice Elite benefit) switch happened super-quick and tomorrow we're headed to Hubbard Glacier. I'm looking forward to getting some good pictures.

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.

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Cruising Alaska: Royal Princess in Glacier Bay

When I teach my Cruising Alaska classes I always save the Glacier Bay part of the presentation until the end. Like I've said before here on the blog as well, Glacier Bay day is always special. And always spectacular. Rain or fog or sun, there is nothing like it. It is what I consider pretty much the best day of any Alaskan cruise.

How can it not be when you turn on the ship's bridge cam on the TV first thing in the morning and see this?
Pinch me now.
Before I show off Glacier Bay, there are some things you need to know about the day:
  • Park rangers join the ship for the day. 
  • Since it’s a National Park you'll receive a map in your cabin, just like the maps you receive when you drive to a National Park.
  • They have makeshift ranger station set up onboard. You can get your questions answered, buy National Park items, and get a National Park passport stamp. They also have a Junior Ranger program for the kiddos.
Here's today's Park schedule.
  • There is a limit on how many ships can be in Glacier Bay on the same day. Today we had Norwegian Bliss leaving as we were heading in.
It may not be our ship, but it makes for a pretty picture.
  • Shops are closed for most of the day and the casino is closed until after the rangers leave the ship.
  • Limited activities are happening around the ship during the day – the focus is on the park.
  • No paper cups, straws, or napkins are allowed in any of the venues.
  • The ship sends out a smaller boat to take photos.

Just like almost every single day I've ever been in Glacier Bay National Park, the day didn't disappoint. I'll just leave you with pictures of the beauty surrounding us today. There are just not enough words to describe it.

Want to know more about Glacier Bay and more scenic cruising? 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.

Tomorrow we're off to a semi-sea day as we have some sea day time and some scenic cruising time in College Fjord.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Cruising Alaska: Royal Princess in Juneau

I've been struggling about how to begin today's post. I didn't sleep well last night as my mind was wandering quite a bit in regards to the deaths on our ship. I'm guessing my feelings are similar to others aboard here. We haven't received any new updates from the Captain and I expect we won't as it's now all over the news. I'm purposely avoiding reading or watching anything about it. We have plenty of passengers talking about it and I'm trying to avoid listening to those conversations as well. I don't think predicting or speculating serves any purpose so I won't be wading into those weeds. I've said this before, but I'm a just the facts ma'am kind of ma'am so I'm sticking to the experiences happening onboard. (If you didn't see it, I did publish a timeline of what we as passengers were told. You can find my Royal Princess Accident Update here.)

Since today is a new day on an Alaskan cruise and we have plenty of folks sailing on the Royal this summer who are interested in knowing about the experience, I feel like I need to press forward.
It never ceases to amaze me just how lucky I am to live this life when I'm on a cruise ship with snowy mountains nearby.

We were at Franklin Dock today and passengers were allowed to disembark close to 10:30 am. We were originally scheduled to arrive at 8:00 am but because of yesterday's delay we weren't able to make it. I wasn't sure if our dock would change from the original schedule because of our late arrival but we were scheduled for Franklin, and Franklin it was. If you are sailing to Alaska and you want to see where you are docked or how many other ships in any Alaskan port, my go-to website is Just click on 2019 schedules.

I had considered going whale watching today, but I'm just not in the mood. We'll be back next week so if I feel like it then, I will. So today we just decided to stay onboard and take it easy today. We've walked 10 miles in the last four days and while that may not seem like much, hubby's cerebral palsy body, my rheumatoid arthritis joints, and our minds and souls need a bit of a break. 
Today's view from the Horizon Terrace, our favorite spot on the ship.

If you want to see things available in Juneau, as well as information on other ports, I do have an entire section of the blog dedicated to cruising Alaska. Check out my Cruising Alaska resources here.

Tracy's King Crab Shack foods were back onboard today. Today they had seafood chowder. While hubby is a clam chowder fan he isn't a seafood chowder one. And I definitely don't do chowder. I guess we'll have to see what type of food we have from Tracy's tomorrow.

I want to mention something I forgot to share the other day. On the Royal Princess you will find almost every crew member telling you hello, good morning, good afternoon, or good evening. Like every single one. From cabin stewards to deck attendants, waiters to maintenance crew, and everyone else in between. I do believe this is the friendliest crew at sea.

And speaking of friendly...shout out to cruise director Matt O'. If you've read my blog for a while you know I drop those Encouraging Words Project notes everywhere. Like really everywhere - multiple years worth of leaving encouraging words and money behind. And you also know I've complained again and again about cruise directors not "getting it" when I drop them in the Wake Show box. Well, no more.

Check out a clip of today's Wake Show with Matt.
Hubby says I need to go give Matt a hug for helping send those positive vibes out into the world. Personally, I think hubby really wants to give him the hug - I think hubby has a man crush on him.

See you tomorrow from Skagway.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Cruising Alaska: Royal Princess in Ketchikan

Here we go with another early morning surprise. Instead of taking the more scenic view red route, the ship took the less-scenic brown route.
While it was super early as we were heading into Ketchikan and most people weren't outside to see it, we did have a beautiful morning even without the scenic route. I tried to watch the bridge cam on the way in but they had the TV system shut down.
I had to resort to Ketchikan's web cams to watch the two tugs helping us navigate into port at 5:30 in the morning. So beautiful. 

What a spectacular day. You know it's going to be a great one when you are sitting on a cruise ship in Ketchikan, Alaska, having breakfast in the sunshine.

We were planning on taking our crew member friend out to lunch today but she had IPM (in port manning) and couldn't leave the ship. Hubby and I headed to Burger Queen to grab lunch for her and her crew member husband. Burger Queen in Ketchikan is a fast good restaurant close to the port, very small, and is super-busy. Today we arrived to a long line out the door and an even longer wait. When I say long, I mean loooooong. From the time we actually placed our order to the time it was handed to us was over an hour. Yes, an hour for takeout cheeseburgers and fries at a fast food restaurant. They do forewarn you when you place your order about the wait time so you know what you're in for. I tootled back to port with my backpack stuffed full of food for four people.

When I arrived back at the ship is when another long wait began. Take a look at this line down the gangway:
Now imagine that line wrapping around the corner, coming back down another area of the port (where I took the picture from), and then wrapping around one more time. The moment I took the picture I was in the middle of the line. Several hundred people all rushing to get back onto the ship at the same time. It was slow going.  I wasn't sure all that time and energy just to go get cheeseburgers was going to be worth it. But I can report they were absolutely delicious. Bordering on the best I've ever had. Yes, totally worth it.

If we hadn't already had our plans to venture out, we would have stayed onboard and had crab cakes. Today the hamburger/hot dog place was featuring crab cakes from Tracy's King Crab Shack (the place in Juneau). For free! I peeked over the edge of the counter and they looked amazing. I'll try and get a pic of them next week.

We have the Most Traveled Guest Cocktail Party tonight. Not sure I'll be ready to eat much, but I'll get my drink on!

I didn't get to see if the Encouraging Words Project was read on the air. When we went to watch the Wake Show on TV we got this screen. I don't know what happened, but I guess I'll be watching tomorrow instead.

Until tomorrow...maybe...

We just had some sad news. The Captain just now announced one of our float plane excursions has been involved in an accident. A second float plane carrying additional Royal Princess passengers was also involved. Our departure from Ketchikan has been delayed. I'll update here as we know more, but the Captain said it was a collision and to let family and friends know we are okay. That makes me think it was pretty bad. Please keep those folks in your thoughts today. A care team is available onboard for anyone who needs it.

I have a very sad update. The Captain has announced that nine passengers from our ship on the Princess excursion were rescued but one is still missing. On the other plane, four Princess passengers from our ship as well as the pilot have died.

We are leaving port now and will arrive late in Juneau. Excursions are being rearranged, and if passengers are booked on any flightseeing excursions during the rest of the voyage they can ask for for a full refund if they wish to cancel.

Counselors are available for passengers and crew. We have a very sad ship right now. Please keep the families in your thoughts and prayers.

An additional update: I learned at the Most Traveled Guest party that Princess also disembarked some staff members tasked to provide support to the families involved. Kudos to Princess.