Alaska cruises are on many people’s bucket lists, and for good reason!
An Alaska cruise gives you a unique perspective into this amazing state’s rugged and incredible terrain.
From the awe-inspiring glaciers to the amazing wildlife, an Alaska cruise vacation truly offers something for everyone.
In our experience, your chosen cruise line can greatly affect your vacation experience.
We recently started cruising with Princess Cruises and absolutely love them.
Our first cruise with Princess Cruises was to the Western Caribbean aboard the Ruby Princess.
We loved the food, spa, service, and onboard experience, so booking one of the Princess Cruise Alaska cruises made sense.
Our Inside Passage cruise to Alaska was aboard the Royal Princess.
We were excited to experience a different Princess ship and share our reasons to book your Alaska cruise with Princess Cruises!
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Princess Cruises Alaska Cruise Routes
When planning our Alaska cruise vacation, Marty and I knew we wanted to take a route that included the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park.
We quickly discovered that only a few cruise lines could enter Glacier Bay, so this narrowed our choice because we knew we wanted to see the glaciers!
Seeing that Princess Cruises was one of the cruise lines allowed to enter Glacier Bay, we were immediately sold.
This ensured that we were seeing glaciers while on our cruise!
In addition to the national park, we also wanted a round-trip cruise from Seattle, and Princess offered this.
The destinations included on the itinerary of the seven-night cruise were also amazing, so we were sold on Princess.
We really only had two full days at sea, and one of those was cruising Glacier Bay, so this was a win for us as we loved getting off at the ports instead of staying on board the ship.
Princess Cruises Dining Options
The dining options on board Princess Cruises offer something for every taste.
Guests can enjoy the massive buffet or a sit-down dining experience for their meals.
We generally ate breakfast in the dining room and enjoyed being served hot coffee, pastries, and meals of our choice from their menu.
Of course, if you prefer, you can have breakfast at the buffet, which is loaded with choices.
Princess Cruises also offers a full-service coffee and tea bar called the International Cafe, which serves grab-and-go food like pastries, yogurt parfaits, and sandwiches.
You can choose the restaurant or buffet for lunch or enjoy a freshly made burger from Trident’s Grill.
Another Princess specialty that is great for lunch is Alfredo’s Pizzeria.
Alfredo’s serves delicious wood-fired pizzas, salads, and anti-pasta, all with a delicious Italian flair.
For dinner, we ate in the ship’s main dining room.
The dining room food aboard Princess Cruises tends to be a bit more sophisticated when compared to some other cruise lines, and I’m here for it!
Dinner allowed me to try new things and venture out of my food comfort zone, especially when they offered regional cuisine that mirrored the ports we were in.
Of course, Princess Cruises also offers specialty restaurants on their ships.
These specialty restaurants include Sabatini’s, an Italian Trattoria, The Crown Grill, a steak house, The Crab Shack, a pop-up seafood restaurant, Ocean Terrace, a sushi cafe; and their delicious gelato shop.
Be on the lookout because some even offer culinary demonstrations!
Pro Tip: Make your dining reservations in advance. We noticed that people who did not have a reservation had to wait for some time.
Princess Cruise Cabin Options
Like most cruise ships, Princess Cruises offers passengers many stateroom options for their trip.
Suppose you are traveling with kids or as a family.
In that case, these options can be very beneficial to ensure appropriate bedding for the children and parents and ample space to move around your stateroom.
The ship offers the following cabin choices: interior, balcony, deluxe balcony, mini-suites, suites, and their Reserve Collection.
There were not any ocean-view cabins on the Royal Princess that we were aware of.
An interior cabin is the most affordable on the ship.
These rooms give guests two twin or queen-sized beds, a small desk, a refrigerator, and a small bathroom with a shower.
We chose a balcony cabin on our Caribbean cruise and loved it.
The balcony cabins on Princess Cruises are bigger than the interior cabins and include a private outdoor space with a small table and two chairs.
The closet space is also much larger than an interior room, which I loved!
For our Alaska cruise, we knew we wanted a balcony room for our Alaska cruise to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
I was pleased to be able to upgrade our room to a mini-suite during this trip.
Our mini-suite was similar to our balcony room. It had a separate sitting area with a couch and a bathtub/shower combination, which I preferred over the small shower in the interior and balcony rooms.
To upgrade to a mini-suite from the balcony room that we originally booked on our itinerary, I placed a bid to upgrade through the Princess app.
Just note that if you choose to bid to upgrade your room, you lose control of what deck your room is on.
For instance, if you pay to be on a preferred deck, like deck 11, you may get a less preferred deck if your upgrade bid is accepted.
Princess Cruises Medallion
The Princess Medallion is one of the many things I love about cruising with Princess Cruises.
What is the Medallion, you ask?!
The Princess Medallion is a small wearable device that serves as your ship card.
This small device, which can be worn as jewelry, around your neck, or on your wrist, enables you to do so many things on board the ships.
It is linked directly to your profile and allows you to get on and off the boat at the ports, purchase items while on the ship and at participating vendors on land, and even allows you to locate your loved ones while on board.
I love that your Medallion sends a signal to the control panel when you walk up to your room. Your room recognizes it is you and immediately unlocks for you.
Your ship account is also linked to the Medallion, allowing you to pay by scanning your Medallion.
One of the perks I was really looking forward to with the Medallion was the ability to have food and drinks delivered to you anywhere on the ship.
I must admit that we were highly disappointed with this feature and really believe that Princess Cruises should discontinue it.
We attempted to have food and drink delivered on both our Caribbean and Alaska cruises and waited over an hour each time. We eventually just canceled the order.
Princess Plus and Premier Options
Princess Cruises offers guests the opportunity to upgrade their cruise experience by purchasing additional packages.
The two offerings are the Princess Plus package and the Princess Premier package.
The Princess Plus package includes your crew appreciation, one device wifi per person, beverages with alcohol (up to $15 in price), specialty coffee and tea, unlimited juice bar, two premium desserts per day, two fitness classes per cruise per person, two casual dining meals per guest, Ocean Now delivery, and room service delivery.
The Princess Premier includes all of the above, except your beverages containing alcohol can be up to $20 in price.
The Princess Premier package also gives guests the following: unlimited premium desserts, unlimited fitness classes, a photo package, two specialty dining meals per guest, Princess prizes, a Medallion accessory, and reserved theater seating for production shows.
We purchased the Princess Plus package for our Princess cruises and loved it.
We found it nice to get specialty coffees and alcoholic beverages and not worry about what our final bill was going to be.
Since Alaska cruises are often cold, those specialty coffees were definitely needed!
During our cruise, specialty coffees were about $5 each, and alcoholic beverages started at about $6 and went up.
We found a good variety of specialty cocktails for the $15 threshold.
Of course, you need to do the math to determine if either of these packages would benefit you.
We loved that Princess Cruises offered a roundtrip cruise from Seattle to Alaska.
This allowed us to spend a couple of days touring Seattle before our cruise, and we had a fabulous time.
There is much to see and do in the Seattle area, so give yourself a few days to see the city.
We were able to tour Pike Place Market and see the flying fish demonstration, check out the original Starbucks store, eat some amazing food, and do a cool underground tour of the city!
Seattle is also a great place to try sailing or take a boat tour to spot whales, sea lions, and possibly harbor seals.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot some sea lions on Ballard Pier during your visit to Seattle!
Leaving Seattle for Alaska was a wonderful experience. We found the cruise facility extremely organized, and the staff was kind and helpful.
The Seattle port and Princess Cruises have this down to a science, which was apparent during our visit.
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is a must-see during your Alaska cruise, so you will be pleased to know that Princess Cruises is one of the few ships allowed to enter the park.
The ship offered a specialty breakfast delivered to your room for the morning of the national park that included delicious pastries, a hot entree, fruit, and half a bottle of champagne for $55.
We didn’t pay for the specialty breakfast; instead, we just ordered normal breakfast delivery to our room to enjoy the scenery of the mountains from our balcony.
The minute you enter Glacier Bay, the scenery is breathtaking. Mountains surround you, and wildlife seems to be everywhere.
After breakfast, we made our way to the ship’s top deck so we could move around the boat freely and not miss a thing.
Once you enter the national park, Park Rangers board the ship to educate you on the area and to help you spot wildlife.
Sea otters were abundant in the waters, traveling in small packs in the sea.
At first glance, they look like little logs floating by, but upon further inspection, they were little packs of sea otters.
Whale watching is another favorite activity while in the park.
Keep your eyes peeled on the horizon (and close to the ship) to see the whale’s blowholes spouting water.
During our time in Glacier Bay, we saw sea otters, several humpback whales, a mountain goat, numerous eagles, a baby seal floating on an iceberg, and a grizzly bear!
Of course, the highlight of Glacier Bay is the glaciers.
During our trip, we were treated to two glaciers in the park, the Margerie Glacier and the John Hopkins Glacier.
The Margerie Glacier rises about 200 feet above the water line and is about .85 miles wide at the water.
I loved that the captain slowly turned the boat 360 degrees several times while visiting the Margerie Glacier. This allowed all sides of the boat to see the glacier several times.
We were also lucky enough to see the Margerie Glacier calve! Calving is when parts of the glacier fall off into the water below. It is truly spectacular!
The sights in Glacier Bay are truly incredible and, honestly, cannot be given justice with words. This is truly one of those places you have to see to believe!
The port of Juneau, Alaska, is definitely worth having on your Alaska cruise itinerary.
Known as one of the most beautiful capital cities in the United States, one look at Juneau and you can see why.
The town is beautifully nestled between the sea and incredible wilderness land.
Because Juneau is in one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States, you know you are in for a fun and adventurous day.
This gold rush town offers numerous sights on shore and the water.
During our visit to Juneau, Alaska, we chose to do one of the shore excursions offered by Princess Cruises.
Our excursion included a Glacier Gardens tour and a Mendenhall Glacier visit.
Glacier Gardens is a lush garden tucked away in the Tongass National Forest whose claim to fame is its interesting hanging gardens that spill over the tops of upside-down trees.
During your tour of the gardens, you will learn all about the history of these hanging gardens and have an opportunity to go high above the city (600 feet to be exact) and take in the breathtaking views of Juneau, the Gastineau Channel, and Douglas Island.
The highlight of the trip is your time at Mendenhall Glacier.
Here, you can follow the various hiking trails to enjoy spectacular views of the Alaska wilderness while going to Nugget Falls.
This 377-foot waterfall cascades into an iceberg lake with views of a glacier beside it.
The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center provides a brief film illustrating how Mendenhall Glacier is part of a 1,500-square-mile ice field.
Seeing the glaciers in person is truly incredible and definitely worth putting on your couple’s bucket list!
There are short hikes to great lookout points to get the perfect picture of the glacier and opportunities to go kayaking or take a helicopter tour to get a bird’s eye view of the glacier and ice field.
After your excursions, spend some time in the historic town of Juneau, Alaska.
Check out the Red Dog Saloon before hitting up some of the shops for the perfect gold rush souvenir.
Skagway, Alaska, was one of my favorite ports on our Alaska cruise.
This charming town looks exactly as you would expect an Alaskan gold rush town to.
The main street is lined with old West-style storefronts, and there isn’t a stoplight in town!
We booked two shore excursions during our time in Skagway, Alaska, and were really glad that we did.
The first of our tours in Skagway was the “Ghosts and Goodtime Girls” tour.
This adults-only tour taught you all about the history of the “working girls” in Skagway.
The tour’s highlight was the champagne toast and tour of the original brothel in Skagway, the Red Onion Brothel Museum.
We walked about town while waiting for our second excursion, popping into the quaint shops and grabbing lunch at the local pizzeria.
Our second excursion in Skagway was a White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad ride.
The historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad trips take visitors on a beautiful ride through the wilderness as you climb to the White Pass Summit.
Along the way, you pass gorgeous waterfalls, incredible gorges, glaciers, tunnels, and historic sites.
This is one of the trips that kids will absolutely love, especially if they are train lovers!
The town of Ketchikan, Alaska, is no stranger to Alaska cruises, as it is included on most itineraries.
Some of the most popular things in Ketchikan are going on a whale-watching tour or seeing the Alaska lumberjack demonstrations.
Like most of Alaska, Ketchikan is surrounded by lush forest land, perfect for exploring during one of the many tours or excursions that leave near the cruises.
Of course, whale-watching cruises are also popular from the Ketchikan port and are a great opportunity to see whales in Alaska.
While in Ketchikan, we also noticed several helicopter and seaplane tours. I’m sure that is an awesome way to see the area!
Before eating some delicious seafood at the local restaurants, tour the city and see the totem poles that Ketchikan, Alaska, is famous for at the Totem Heritage Center.
We especially loved walking the Creek Street area of this historic town.