Princess Cruises Sails Alaska Again: Travel Weekly
A seven-day trip to Alaska aboard the 3,560-passenger Majestic Princess in August marked an encouraging comeback after Covid for Princess Cruises, which has been cruising the region for more than 50 years.
The navigation, one of what the line called its âinaugural Alaska return season,â was a round-trip departure from Seattle, stopping at the familiar haunts of Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Glacier Bay.
Although the 143,700 gross ton Majestic Princess was one of the largest ships to ever sail in Alaskan waters, it provided many opportunities to get close to the pristine natural feature of the last frontier thanks to a wide variety of excursions.
The majestic princess calling to Skagway. Photo credit: courtesy of Peter Knego
In Juneau, we opted for a kayaking adventure on Lake Mendenhall, which took us near its namesake glacier. In Skagway, we followed in the footsteps of prospectors of the Klondike Gold Rush on the Discovery Exclusive Chilkoot Trail hike and floating adventure. After a 3 km hike through densely forested terrain, we were rewarded with a float downstream on the Taiya River in the company of more bald eagles than we could count.
Our third excursion, the Animal Planet sponsored Black Bear, Wildlife and Nature Walk, saw multiple black bears from the safety of an elevated platform, followed by a quick tour of ‘a center of raptors.
Other tours offered by Princess included guided walks, whale watching cruises, helicopter landings on glaciers, dog sledding, ziplines, rock climbing and the famous White Pass and Yukon Railway, which , on a clear day, offers a breathtaking panorama across the mountains above. Skagway.
The view of the Margerie Glacier from the Majestic Princess during a champagne breakfast on the balcony. Photo credit: courtesy of Peter Knego
At Glacier Bay, just as a stubborn morning fog rose and the spectacular Margerie Glacier appeared, we indulged in the Champagne Breakfast on the Balcony, a multi-course extravaganza with champagne, coffee, juice. fresh squeezed orange and seemingly endless platters of pastries, fresh fruit, and crab quiche, which also included two servings of smoked salmon carved into large roses.
For just $ 45, it was an experience we will cherish forever, and despite the champagne, it was depressing how much the iconic glacier has receded in just a few short years.
Throughout the day at Glacier Bay, guest naturalists spoke about Alaska’s wildlife, its geological history, and the regional effects of climate change. In this way, the mega-ship experience in Alaska can be helpful in boosting environmental awareness, as many guests return home to share their first-hand observations.
Guests aboard Norwegian Encore last month were the first passengers on the route to visit the destination in nearly 700 days.
Two speakers, Rachel Moreno, Ambassador of the Huna Tlingit people who have lived in Southeast Alaska for hundreds of years, spoke about Indigenous culture, and the charismatic Michael Modzelewski, author of “Inside Passage”, spoke offered numerous lectures throughout the cruise, often at full capacity in the 1,000-seat Princess Theater. The ship has also hosted large-scale productions and guest singers in the theater and smaller venues, as well as game shows, cooking demonstrations, quizzes and movies under the stars on the onboard LED screen. from the ship’s pool.
Having been on Medallion equipped Princess ships twice before, on this cruise I finally found myself appreciating the technology and the app for their boarding and disembarking convenience and the pleasant way to unlock the door to the cabin on approach. I even used it one evening to locate my travel companion after we got lost in the crowd exiting the Princess Theater.
In a class of its own
The Majestic Princess is the fourth ship in the Royal Class and has many of the same features as her sisters, such as the Sea Walk glass bottom platform. Photo credit: courtesy of Peter Knego
The Majestic Princess is the fourth Royal Class ship and has many of the features of its sisters, such as the glass bottom Sea Walk platform and the Sea View bar that project onto the ocean and the colorful fountain that offers water and light shows most evenings.
Since the ship was built for the Chinese market, it also has some unique features within the Princess Group. In lieu of the Lotus Spa affiliate-affiliated Sanctuary Retreat, there’s the open-access Hollywood Conservatory, an observation lounge with cabana seating. Directly aft, the closed, adults-only Hollywood Pool Club has a fixed glass dome compared to a sliding dome on other ships.
The Majestic Princess also has a Chinese specialty restaurant called Harmony, replacing the Italian Sabatini trattoria found on the rest of the fleet. We had dinner there twice and felt it was well worth the extra $ 29 for delicious food like shrimp spring rolls, lemon chicken, and Sichuan green beans.
The poolside Chopsticks Noodle Bar, which offers Asian noodle dishes and soups, and the Burger and Lobster Grill are also unique to the Majestic Princess.
The ship’s other specialty restaurants, Crown Grill Steakhouse and French Bistro Sur La Mer, are also found on Royal Class ships.
Dining options included range from traditional Allegro, Concerto, and Symphony restaurants to Alfredo’s Pizzeria, the laid-back World Fresh Marketplace, and the International Cafe, which serves snacks and specialty coffees 24 hours a day.
As a longtime Princess fan who has always appreciated the attention to detail and efficient, friendly service, I have found that on this cruise these aspects were even better, with the staff and guests grateful to return .