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Everything posted by karatemom2

  1. Princess excursions have become noticeably more expensive of late. If they do have a “sale” many have noted they raise the price first, only to reduce it via the “sale” to the original price. As time goes by and the cruise draws closer, the prices just seem to be going up exponentially. Excursion prices for our Norwegian fjords cruise this summer have gone up across the board, some substantially. My advice is always to book early if there is a particular excursion on which you have your heart set. I will say that our years of cruising in Alaska have provided a lot of experience with independent tours there. We much prefer them over ship tours unless it is something we really want to do and a ship excursion is the only option. Alsska is a very easy place to find exceptionally reliable private tours or even just to tour independently with a rental car for transportation. There is an excellent tour operator in Skagway that offers combined train and van tours called Chilkoot Charters as one example based on your interest in that excursion. Highly recommended and very well reviewed. I imagine this thread will get moved to the Alaska port board, but if not, I would encourage you to research there for lots of great advice and content for people planning Alaska cruises.
  2. Most native Californians find that term as a reference to our home state ridiculous and lazy. For example I would never refer to some other US states as “Flori”, “Ari”, “Washi” , “Virgi”, or “Monti”, just to rattle off a few examples to illustrate how silly it is. Just call it by its proper name like you would any other state. We live in California.
  3. While I do appreciate some of the videos on different itineraries and ships that provide a nice preview for things like stateroom selection, ship information, and excursion planning, I do see how intrusive and annoying it has become for crew and fellow passengers. I particularly cringe at the vloggers who literally shove their cameras in crew members’ faces. It is incredibly inconsiderate and invades their privacy while they are trying to do their jobs. We had the misfortune of being seated adjacent to a couple of “influencers” filming their dinner in the MDR on our New Year’s cruise on Discovery. Talk about entitled and obnoxious! They yammered loudly through dinner with their cameras filming constantly - and completely putting our wait team on edge and annoying fellow diners, many of us exchanging “looks” and being extra nice to our waiters who were clearly stressed by the entire ordeal.
  4. The 12 night is a great cruise and we loved it but the port intensive schedule takes stamina. We did it following 4 fully action packed days in London, and we saw and did so much that I sometimes still wonder how we fit it all in. It was exhausting, but so worth it. One of our best travel experiences ever!
  5. No worries, the Casino will be open and happy to welcome you and your investments. My DH got plenty of gambling time in the evenings on our British Isles cruise, although he was one of only a small handful of craps players. He managed to close the table down a few evenings rolling in to our cabin just a few hours before I made him rise and shine for another full day of touring on our very port intensive cruise. But he was a good sport and I allowed him to snooze in the tour vans between stops! 😁
  6. When we were in Halifax we rented a car to go to Peggy’s Cove on our own. It’s a beautiful place to visit. Shore Excursions is a company that caters to cruise ship passengers. Its entire business model depends on making sure that passengers get back to their ship on time. We did this trip completely on our own, plus additional touring in Halifax and made it back on the ship on time with no problem. You will be on a carefully timed and managed tour designed to get you to and from your destination in a timely manner. I don’t think you have anything to worry about in terms of going with what seems to be a reliable company.
  7. Soleil is Deck 5 Midship, Estrella is Deck 6 Midship, and the aft MDR on Deck 6 down the back stairs or elevator is Cielo.
  8. I hold such a special place in my heart for Lahaina. We honeymooned nearby at Kaanapali Beach at the Royal Lahaina Resort - it will be 40 years ago this fall. It was the first time I had ever been to Hawaii, or almost anywhere for that matter and my DH and I were just kids really. We thought Lahaina was the most charming little town we had ever seen and made so many memories there on that first trip and many subsequent trips. Watching those videos is heartbreaking. But articles like this one about the famous Banyan Tree showing signs of recovery remind me that Lahaina will be back in time - maybe a long time, but someday. I hope I get to see it and celebrate when it does come back and sit in the shade of that beautiful tree again. https://mauinow.com/2024/04/11/lahaina-banyan-tree-continues-to-show-signs-of-recovery-eight-months-after-the-maui-fires/
  9. You will be allowed off immediately if you are ready to go as soon as all clear is called. I would be prepared to get off immediately and try to either get on one of the first shuttles out or see if there is a taxi available. We noted that there were several shuttles lined up waiting to go and they would depart as soon as they were full. We also saw a couple of taxis waiting there too. You also may be able to prearrange taxi pickup by calling one of the local companies to see if you can book them in advance. An hour should allow you time to make it to town, either via an NCL shuttle or taxi.
  10. Here are a few things we enjoyed; Alaska Native Heritage Center - we found this a very worthwhile, interesting, and enjoyable place to spend a few hours. Tony Knowles Trail - great place to ride bikes or take a walk. It’s very beautiful and we saw moose! Earthquake museum - really interesting and fun simulation for this Californian. Independence Mine Historical Site - super interesting place to visit, but about an hour outside of Anchorage.
  11. I really love my bracelet - I've worn it on three cruises now. It is very comfy and looks nice as well. I purchased the gold, but they come in silver too.
  12. Here is another suggestion you might want to consider which we have done a couple of times. Not sure what day or hours your scenic Glacier cruising is - I'm assuming it's Glacier Bay. Usually you arrive fairly early in the morning and are there for 5 - 6 hours, departing in the afternoon. We have done the Ultimate Balcony Breakfasts on those days and eaten on our balcony. It can be cold, but as long as it isn't raining, you can bundle up and enjoy a fabulous breakfast while watching the views. In terms of your schedule and a good night for the Ultimate Balcony Dinner - I would suggest Ketchikan as a good option. You could schedule it for 5 p.m., when you will still be in port for the first hour of your dinner, and the sail away from Ketchikan is pretty protected for the first 30 minutes to an hour until you get back into open ocean. I just booked it for one of our evenings on our Norway cruise this summer - similar weather concerns, but we will make it work whatever the weather brings. It sounds absolutely amazing!
  13. Thanks for sharing your experience! We will hope for dry weather, but be prepared for anything. That has been our experience in Alaska as well - we just go with the flow and accept whatever nature offers. We are actually on the June 15 Land of the Midnight Sun cruise, so unfortunately won't meet up with you on your Norway cruise, but I hope you come back and share your experiences. We did the Med cruise on the Sky last September and it was fabulous. We are so looking forward to experiencing Norway. Enjoy your upcoming cruises!!
  14. So back to the pricing issue, one wonders if they are just ,charging higher prices on the Sun, or if this is an indication of pricing changes to come on specialty dining on other Princess ships. It is rather unique for a service to be a different cost on just one specific ship, so my inclination is to believe that prices will be raised on other ships as well. Clearly the Sun was built with the new dining format in mind, and that has just been announced. So it would not surprise me to see another announcement coming out shortly related to price increases for the specialty restaurants to match what is being charged on the Sky. I would love to be wrong about that though!! 😄
  15. We have ended up with connecting rooms a couple of times and though it isn't my preference, just because I don't like the door there, we didn't notice any noise or issues related to being in that type of room. We were fortunate to have respectful neighbors, so unless you have some exceptionally loud, noisy, or rude people next door you should be fine. And honestly, the walls aren't that thick, so connecting cabin or not, noisy people next door would be an issue even without a connecting door. Thankfully Princess cruisers seem to be a thoughtful group!
  16. I hope you enjoy your cruise on the Sky. She is one of our favorite Princess ships. We are also cruising to Norway on her later this summer, so would love to hear about your experience when you get back. In our experience, you can make or change reservations for the specialty venues once onboard, so try not to worry too much - I'm sure you will be able to arrange times that work for you. We often get comped by the casino and those reservations aren't set up until sometime during the cruise and we have always been successful in working with them to find a reservation time that works. What I would suggest is making it a priority on your embarkation day to go and try to set up your reservations at times that work for you. I would imagine they will have space available - you could even choose to dine in one of the venues on the first evening if you like. In our experience there is plenty of availability the first night, probably one of the reasons they offer it as a free suite perk. Mostly, don't let any concern about this cause you any stress or detract from your vacation prep. I'm certain you will find that it will all work out for you onboard.
  17. We always book through our various casino offers and have not noticed any special casino pricing on the packages. Once in awhile they will include the package as part of offer, but that seems quite rare these days as Princess appears to be tightening up on their Casino perks. So we haven’t noticed a price discount on packages via casino pricing but we don’t purchase the packages, so it’s possible that maybe we just haven’t noticed? We get some of the benefits the packages provide onboard from our casino host generally - free drinks in casino, comped specialty meals, etc.
  18. Yes, agree. This has always been my understanding.
  19. Here is an entire thread on this topic. I think there is some unnecessary confusion here - per my understanding you can purchase the regular fully loaded Plus or Premier package onboard within the first day or two and this includes the full package with all benefits (drinks, Wi-Fi, gratuities, etc.) The advantage in waiting is that you can use OBC and it won’t impact your cruise fare or insurance costs. The downside is the price could go up and some have reported that they have “sold out” if Princess limits the number available - this is highly suspect as I am sure Princess will be happy to sell as many packages as they can. There are significant financial advantages to them as a corporate entity selling them in advance and collecting those dollars upfront though, which is likely why they push so hard to get people to wrap them with their cruise fare. But from all information shared here - you can wait and purchase the same packages onboard.
  20. Oh my gosh - lucky you!! We have tried to book one of those corner cabins but never had any luck because they go quickly. It will be amazing for you in Alaska. Our last trip in 2022 we had the two middle cabins right next door and we got to know our neighbors because we were literally always out on our balconies on cruising days. They said it was their favorite cabin they have ever had on a Princess ship. You are in for such a treat. Enjoy!!
  21. Thank you for the warning, but we are very familiar with forward facing balcony cabins on the Royal class ships and we seek them out when available for specific types of scenic cruises. We have had the absolute joy of having them in Alaska several times and also a couple of times on our Mexican Riviera cruises. So we know both the incredible advantages as well as some of the pitfalls. We are beyond thrilled to have snagged one of these cabins for sailing through the Norwegian fjords. The night I have in mind for our dinner we will be sailing out of Olden through Njordfjord so we will be in very protected waters and going slow - very similar to our Alaska scenic cruising, although likely even more protected. We used our balcony nonstop in Alaska - rain or shine. We will be exiting the fjord for several hours and so I’m really not that concerned about wind. Rain I know could potentially be a problem, but fingers crossed it will be a glorious June evening in Norway. The balconies are partially covered and we can always set up by or just inside the door if need be. I’m not worried - just really looking forward to giving my DH this wonderful surprise for his birthday!
  22. My suggestion would be to schedule your meet up in Take Five on deck 6. It’s a small lounge, bar area that is very quiet and gets very little use during the daytime hours. It’s a great spot in the evening to listen to music and enjoy a cocktail in a low key setting. But during midday it will likely be fairly deserted. You can check out the Sky Deck plan for exact location, but it is basically just across from the Princess theatre entrance at the back and opposite the Casino on deck 6.
  23. karatemom2

    What to wear!

    Layers are key so you can adjust throughout the day if the weather changes. My go to outfit is a warm fitted turtleneck, jeans, and a fleece pullover or jacket. I love my Patagonias. I have a pair of sturdy, but lightweight walking boots that I wear with warm socks because we walk and hike a lot so happy feet are important to me! If it is cold or rainy I wear a hat or beanie and gloves. I always carry disposable plastic hooded rain ponchos in my backpack for occasional rain showers. My DH generally wears similar garb with long sleeve henley shirt, jeans, pullover, and tennis shoes or boots.
  24. Yes, Uber and local taxis in Anchorage are absolutely fine to use. My son was just there in February to sit for the bar and used local taxis and Uber to get around for the week he spent there with no difficulty at all.
  25. Thank you so much for this fabulous review. I'm so jealous. We had looked at trying to book it with our last casino come back offer, but it was all sold out. No amount of trying seemed to be able to get us a room! We had friends onboard, a lady who has been cruising Princess since she was a teenager in the 70's. She has more days than I can even imagine and has done some amazing cruises, but she flat out said it was far and away the best cruise experience of her life. That is really saying something! So excited to hear they are adding O'Malley's Pub. And very happy to hear you enjoyed your 360 Experience - we did at New Year's and it was amazing. Thank you also for your great review of the UBD - I just booked it thanks to your recommendation and others for our upcoming cruise and am very excited after hearing all of your great comments and seeing your photos. Truly sounds like you all had the trip of a lifetime. I wish we had been more on top of it a long time ago when we had a chance to book a trip like this out of our home port. Oh well! Guess I'll have to keep an eye out for those 2026 Eclipse itineraries!
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