I just took my very first cruise and chose to go to Alaska with Princess. Since it’s my first cruise, I don’t have anything to really compare it to, but all I can say is that it was a remarkable experience!
The ship we sailed on was the Crown Princess. I loved all the different amenities, activities, entertainment and dining offered onboard. I think food is very important for most, so I’ll say that their food was really varied, fresh, and delicious. There is something for everybody and the seafood options were especially tasty. Main dining was so incredible that we didn’t even find it necessary to try the specialty dining…but, of course, we tried it anyway and that was a really great experience.
On days we were at sea we always had something to see and do. There were broadway-style performances, comedians, dance classes, and more. There’s a gym, a spa, a casino, pools, and an area for golf and games.
Aside from the experience onboard the ship, the time we spent at the ports and enjoying Alaska was my favorite. The trip started in Vancouver and we visited Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Icy Strait Point. The towns were very nice but Alaska’s natural wonders are the true reason to visit. We were able to view Hubbard Glacier and we took a few optional excursions as well. We visited a salmon hatchery and enjoyed an outdoor salmon bake. We took a train ride with the most amazing views of mountains, creeks, and forests. We canoed on Lake Harriet Hunt and did a nature trail through the rainforest.
I loved Alaska and would definitely recommend exploring this beautiful state with Princess cruises.
Cruising is a great experience, and if you’ve never done it before, it is not too late to try! Booking is done in a second, and you can enjoy the perk of having everything included. However, since COVID hit, many people are worried that cruising will never be the same again.
Fortunately, cruising is not lost forever, and it is making its comeback with cruises being available today. Things will be a bit different from what you might be used to on a normal cruise, but they promise that the revamped buffets, smaller group sizes, and ‘vaccinated only’ zones are well worth the wait.
More Health & Safety Measures in Place
There are many more health and safety measures put in place since they re-opened the docks. One of the biggest is that those who are riding on the ships need to be fully vaccinated if they’re over the age of 16, this includes the crew. This safety measure is being used on many different transportation systems, as well as in hotels and other places of interest.
These health and safety measures also include distance planned events and activities, as well as reduced capacity inside the ships. If you are feeling any sort of sickness coming on, they have medical facilities that you can visit and be quarantined in before the sickness can get any further.
With so many precautions in place and more information on this disease, these cruise ships are now becoming more prepared in handling these sicknesses. These cruise ships have plans in place and know that it is a possibility that a breakout can happen. Minimizing the risks is what they are doing, so you never have to worry about getting sick with the knowledge of knowing they have you back.
Less Spots, Less Crowds, Less People in General
Since the capacity levels are much lower on these ships, this brings less people in general in the many common areas that you’d find yourself. Not just that, but there are going to be less crowds, which means less lines, and more to see and do without the hustle and bustle you’d normally have from a touristy area.
Whether you’re cruising across the world or just to the Caribbean, being able to get a spot and enjoy the time is good. Booking in advance is important to do because of this. Many people are already booking their spots on the ships, and they are booking out further. Even half capacity on some ships is making it harder for some to reserve spots on these boats.
More Money Saving Deals
To make these ships more appealing to those who are looking to explore more, they are offering additional money saving deals. Even though these ships are at a reduced capacity and are highly in demand, these cruise lines are still offering money saving promos to take advantage. Not only can you grab 40% off many of the rooms on the lines, but you can also even get most of the cost off your second passenger booking with you.
However, it is important to note that you must make sure to take advantage of these deals now. The lines are long for waiting lists, and many of them are booked out to 2023. Shipboard credits are a big seller for many, as well and not just price saving on the cruise itself. Now is the time to book these ships, especially if you want shorter lines and less crowds.
Your Vaccination Status
This is important to keep in mind because now, when you go anywhere, you must show proof of your vaccinations. The same is true for a lot of these cruise ships that are looking to book their rooms with those who are fully vaccinated. Not every cruise line requires them, and it is important to check whether the cruise line you’re going on requires them or not.
It has been shown that for many of them, like the Royal Caribbean cruise line, that you must show the original card when you are boarding the ship to have proof. Then, to go back and forth through the Bahamas, you have to have it uploaded online. This way, it can continuously be checked by authorities, should it be needed.
The same goes for those areas that you want to visit while you’re on land. Many of them only let those who are vaccinated inside the places. Therefore, you need to bring the vaccination paper along with you wherever you choose to go.
The same goes for the masks that you should wear in many of the common areas. This is for on and off the cruise ship. Many places might still require you to wear the mask in them, so having them on hand when you’re on and off the ship is recommended to be prepared.
Buffet Changes Being Made
The buffets that come included with the favorite meal choices are still going to be there and ready for you to enjoy. The only difference is that the passengers are unable to serve themselves. They will have to point at the food choices, and someone will serve them on a plate. You can still have as much as you’d like to have, because it is still a buffet after all! You just must do less work to get your food.
Cleaner Ships Mean Healthier Passengers
Since the CDC recommends regular cleanings for surfaces to reduce the spread of COVID, this means cleaner ships for all. This, in turn, means healthier passengers. The surfaces have to be regularly cleaned, the chairs, and everything that is being used in the common areas have to be sanitized regularly, as well. This extra layer of clean extends to the guest rooms, as well.
This means less germs that are being passed around on these boats. The best is yet to come, because on some of these ships, you can expect to get the best air quality. The ships have spent money to make sure that each passenger is able to breathe their own air in their state room.
This cleaner air, extra layer of sanitation and cleaner ship overall means less sickness for all the passengers, and not just from COVID. It protects them from other types of sicknesses that would otherwise end up getting everyone on the cruise ship sick.
Reservations and Technology Advancements
In the past, you could enter a ship and just walk around and find something to do as you please. This was a great way to learn how a cruise ship works. However, it is important to note that now you might just need a reservation for that thing you want to do for the night. This is not just for shows that are ongoing, but the gym and any of the other amenities that they are offering.
This is not only to reduce the amount of people allowed in a room, along with cleaning and sanitation reasons, but the cruise ship is easily able to do tracing should someone end up sick. This makes it easier for the cruise ship to contact anyone who might have been in contact with each other when they’re sick.
The technologies are also changing, not just the reservations. You can expect contactless and person less meeting in many of the places. You can look up the menus and other information with QR codes, but also virtual reservations and check ins, and virtual lines. Contactless payments are recommended and preferred, giving you more chances to spend time with those you came on the cruise ship with, instead of being around large crowds of people at once.
Slowly Returning to Normal
Even though everything seems to be different in these ships, they will slowly return to normal with time. The way that things are being done now are going to be done different in the coming months or even years. It might take some time to get back to normal.
Even now, many of the activities already seem to be back to normal for many of the passengers. This is something that is making the cruise ships, and even the passengers who regularly ride on them, hopeful for the future of cruising ahead.
Even though mostly everything is done digitally or virtually, including safety instructions and checks, it might be a little bit before you’re able to get more from the cruise. Things might seem weird now, but they might just check out for you in the end.
Just remember that the rules vary from cruise to cruise and place to place. It is important to check and know that being vaccinated is very important in order to get on many of the cruise lines and ships.
Be Flexible and Ready!
If you can be flexible with your times and hours that you can cruise, you have many more options to choose from. Since there are minimal spots on these ships, the more flexible and open you are for when you want to go or are able to go; the more chances you have to pick a spot and be able to head out on one of the ships.
One of the best ways to do this is by booking your cruise on a whim. If you are ready, choosing a cruise that is last minute and has one or two more rooms available is going to give you a great deal, but also open up more possibilities.
If you’re booking further out, then being flexible with what is available is good. A lot of people will not cruise during specific times of the year because of the cruise conditions. If you’re open to cruising during these times, you have more to choose from when booking a cruise and heading out.
By: Lesa Caden, CTA and Director of Employee Development
The Princess Star was re-positioning from its Alaska season to Hawaii. With only a week in-between the two itineraries, we enjoyed the 7 Night Northern California Coast with Princess. This was our second cruise with Princess but the first time cruising the Pacific Coast.
Princess Cruises makes family cruising fun and exciting with adventures that last all day. Aboard any one of the Princess ships, any member of the family is sure to find entertainment no matter their age.