Thursday, May 28, 2015

Princess Cruise Lines Alaskan Lodges - Brief Review

I know it has been forever since I've been writing here. But just returned from an exciting trip to Alaska and that has started me going again. So here goes .....

(This is a copy of a post I put up on the Cruise Critic forum. For anyone who cruises, this is the ultimate for information about ships, ports of call, shore excursions and any and everything about cruising.)

We are just returned from our land/cruise. We took the longest Connoisseur tour which gave us two nights each in Fairbanks, Denali, Copper River and Kenai followed by 7 night southbound on Coral stopping at Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

We had unusual fantastic weather with bright blue skies and temps in the 60s and 70s. The trip was fantastic.

I'll be happy to try and answer any questions but want to post a few short notes for anyone taking a land tour.

We learned that inland Alaska is a desert and it was very try. And Princess did not provide body lotion in any of the lodges. Very disappointing. (And there was a small tube on board ship ... this is going into my comments to Princess.)  Also no pens or notepaper.

Fairbanks: Nothing very special about the lodge and can't report on the restaurants as all of our meals were private as a group (of 42).

Denali: We were among the first to arrive at Denali for the season. That showed in my luke-warm lunch the first day. After that things improved. Our pkg included the Music of Denali theater. Not a big fan of dinner theater to begin with, it was OK. Food in the restaurant (all of them) is very expensive. We had vouchers for all of our breakfasts and dinners and it made making a dining decision very easy.

Copper River: We were the first to arrive here and the manager greeted us which still on the bus. Inside our rooms we found a personal note from the manager thanking us for our visit, plus two bottles of water and some dried fruit snacks. On departure, we were given little pkgs of chocolate for our trip. Nice touch. Dinner that first night had a bunch of mishaps but both staff and pax handled it well ... after all, we were the first meal of the season.

View From Kenai Princess Lodge
Kenai: Probably the one with the most beautiful location, close behind Copper River. Again, among the first there. Rooms are in outbuildings and each set up like a little private cabin with private balcony and wood stove.

All of the main restaurants had a couple of items unique to that lodge. Most of the items were same lodge to lodge.

If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped Fairbanks. Enjoyed our visit there but not like the other lodges. Copper River and Kenai I would visit again in a heartbeat just for their beautiful settings. Denali I would visit again for the park and the wildlife viewing opportunity.

We felt the connoisseur tour was well worth the price we paid. We had a fantastic guide and were kid-gloved all over the place. We had lodge rooms facing the best views. No price limits on entrees for breakfast or dinner (and that included $49 crab legs). We didn't have to worry about tipping local guides or bus drivers. The only people we tipped was our guide who had been with us the whole time, and the bus driver who was with us the last 3 days.


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