11 Day Alaskan Cruise Review

Cruise Ship docked in Skagway, Alaska

In case you haven’t been reading lately or aren’t caught up, we just returned from an 11 Day Alaskan Cruise aboard the Star Princess. It was one of the best trips that we’ve ever been on. The scenery was amazing, but we had to deal with our 2 year old during the trip as well.

Booking
We booked the cruise online through Princess Cruises. Financially it was on par with our trip to Denmark last year. Booking was easy and since we booked ahead of time with a low deposit we were able to pay the cruise off and save up spending money by our sale date. If you are interested in cruising and would like a referral (and a discount!), please contact me. We were able to print our boarding passes and luggage tags at home.

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Alaskan Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Embark from SF
Day 2 At Sea + Formal Night
Day 3 At Sea
Day 4 Ketchikan, Alaska
Day 5 Juneau, Alaska
Day 6 Skagway, Alaska
Day 7 Glacier Bay National Park
Day 8 At Sea
Day 9 Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada
Day 10 At Sea + Formal Night
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12 Disembark to SF

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Packing and Clothes
I feel like I packed pretty well for this trip. I followed my Alaskan Cruise Travel Light post closely. It was hard to find a balance between formal and cruise wear and clothes appropriate for an Alaskan excursion. For the boys a down vest and windbreakers were the perfect blend of outerwear. Vests during excursions, layered with a windbreaker when needed. A warm hat for each person is a must if you plan on visiting a glacier or spending any amount of time on your balcony. Dresses that go from Day to Night are nice for the formal nights, and tennis shoes are perfect for shore excursions. We brought umbrellas but didn’t use them much as a few gusts of wind rendered them useless. I wish that we had brought gloves for the glacier walk since our hands got pretty cold.

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Embarkation
Boarding the ship was very easy, from filling out forms to getting our cruise cards. Cruise cards are very important on the ship. There is one for each member of your stateroom, even young children. They act as your room key, your identification, and your credit card. You need them with you in port as well any time you get off or board the ship. When we arrived to our stateroom we had lots of information waiting for us regarding the cruise. We even had custom stationery with our names printed on it. I thought that was a nice touch. Shortly after boarding we attended a mandatory safety drill. It didn’t take much time and made us feel safer on the ship.

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Life At Sea
We spent most of our time at sea relaxing in our stateroom. It gave us some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the ship or outings while in port. It was nice in a sense that we had very distinguished moments of excitement and peace. We never felt cramped or restless.

When we felt like leaving our cabin, there were lots of activities on board the ship to choose from. You receive a newsletter each morning with a schedule of events and locations. Aiden enjoyed the kids club on board the ship. They did activities and he got to hang out with other kids his age. Søren was too young to leave in the kids club for his age group but we could go play with equipment and toys while supervising him. There were also pools and hot tubs, sports areas, a casino, a spa, etc.

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Food + Dining
For our dining option we chose “Anytime” so that we could be more flexible with Søren’s moods. We ate breakfast at the buffet. There was always a nice selection and decent food. Aiden and I had a different smoothie every day along with our food. Søren’s favorite was the belgian waffles and bacon. Steve had biscuits and gravy quite a bit.

Steve and Aiden preferred to visit the lunch buffet. I went once but didn’t prefer the food so Søren and I stayd in the cabin and would have room service lunch dates. The hamburgers were quite good.

When it came to dinner we frequented the Capri Dining room. Often we’d sit at the same table with the same waiter who was very good with Søren and understood that we didn’t have a lot of time to spend on dinner if we wanted to enjoy it. One night we decided to stay in the cabin so we ordered Pizza via room service (free/included, 24 hours a day) and had a movie night. It was actually a lot of fun and made our little room feel a little bit like home.

There were a lot of selections available on the ship, even an ice-cream parlor. We found that traveling with Søren makes us creatures of habit. We tend to stick to what works best for us. As a side note; only basic beverages are included in your cruise fare, soda, espresso, and alcoholic beverages are extra.

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Shore Excursions
We booked all of our shore excursions through the cruise line using the online Cruise Personalizer. It was very simple to reserve them ahead of time and determine if it was something appropriate for Søren and if we’d need to bring his car seat. When we arrived in our cabin all of our tickets were waiting for us. All of our excursions were charged to our cruise account and settled with the rest of our charges at the end of our trip. You can also book through an outside service, like Tours4Fun.

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Souvenirs and Shopping
The only shopping that we really did on this trip was a few gifts for people and a couple little trinkets for our jars. The kids got socks and tee shirts. There are lots of suggested shops from the cruise line, but they were the same in every port. I enjoyed finding little shops that weren’t part of the tourist mega-shops. One that I found was Caribou Crossings in Juneau, Alaska.

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Disembarkation
The night before we arrived back to San Francisco, we placed all of our luggage in the hallway. Before we set it out, we placed our color tags on them and secured them with TSA approved luggage locks (these). The color tags we put on them were given to us based on our preferred disembarkation time. At our time we simply went to our disembarkation meeting area and after scanning our cruise cards one last time were escorted off the ship. Our luggage was in the same area as our color tags and after collecting it we headed out of the cruise ship terminal bound for home.

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Downside
Overall this was a dream trip for us and the customer service was top-notch. However, we did hit a few snags along the way.

I encountered some rude attitudes when ordering food over the phone for room service, then when they brought the food was told that I sounded like a kid on the phone. I don’t know why the sound of my voice would make someone want to give subpar service.

Søren started getting his second molars and had a fever for a few days. I brought a thermometer and tylenol but was unable to purchase children’s ibuprofen on the ship without seeing the medical officer for an extra $75 first.

He also is a normal two year old and doesn’t always use his manners in every situation so it was really the main stressor for us. If we did it over again we would definitely wait another year or two to bring a child his age.

Aiden got seasick once or twice. I got him some dramamine but he ended up really sick during our tour of the Bridge anyway. Having your kid throw-up in the Captain’s bathroom is not the ideal cruise experience but we all survived.

I also didn’t like that after receiving a very relaxing massage I was bombarded with an immediate sales pitch for their spa products. It derailed the relaxing experience for me.

Like I stated earlier, these are very minor negatives to a very positive experience. I’m hesitant to even share them, because I know that over time they will fade and all that will remain will be the dream-like cruise we took to Alaska.

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I hope that I covered all of your answers from this post. Do you have any other questions about cruising? I’d be happy to answer them for you in the comments.

32 thoughts on “11 Day Alaskan Cruise Review

  1. Fantastic review – nice and thorough. My favourite pictures are the one of you guys walking to the helicopter. I actually liked hearing both the positive, and (thankfully minor) negative parts of the cruise. It’s more realistic, you know?

  2. This sounds like so much fun! I’ve never been on a cruise before, but this sounds like a very easy way to see Alaska and to travel in general with kids in tow. Thanks for sharing both the positives AND the downsides of your trip.

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

  3. I would love to take another cruise again! Going to Alaska would be the easiest since they have ships embarking in Seattle and we don’t live to far from there, but I’ve been there already and my husband lived there for a while. We would love to travel somewhere new.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I’ve never been on a cruise, but your pictures and even your answers here convinced me that it was a must-do. It sounds like the trip went really well overall, too 🙂

  5. Excellent review, these were a lot of the questions I was wondering while reading your different posts about the cruise. A cruise like this might go right up on my list of to-do things 🙂

  6. I have to take time and catch up on this Alaska Cruise posts. It looks so amazing. BUt also to read about your experience, as I think I could never do a cruise vacation. I think I’m too scared of having so much water around me.

    1. There was never a time where the water was scary to me. We did a drill before leaving SF that included emergency procedures/etc and I felt very safe the whole time. Once you get up into the inner passage you can see land the whole time anyway which helps. I don’t know that I’d ever do a cruise again because I don’t like being confined to someone elses schedule.

  7. Lovely post and photos! My mother and I are thinking of taking a Mother-Daughter trip with Princess Cruises this has all been great information.

    P.S. British Columbia is not spelled with two o’s!

  8. i just booked this exact cruise for this June. I can’t wait! It’s my son’s college graduation trip. Thanks for the great info. My question is, are the formal nights really formal? What did you see people wear? I’ve been on some cruises that insist on a suit and tie for men, and some that are ok with just a dress shirt. Also, any shore excursion recommendations? Thanks!

  9. What phenomenal pictures! I had the chance to enjoy the views of the Inside Passage cruise. To get such excellent views of this splendid landscape from the comfort of the cruise ships accommodation is the very best way to experience Alaska. I really enjoyed stopping off at the misty fjords of Ketchikan and enjoying the incredible landscape from the ground.

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