As everything in life (both good or bad: “This too shall Pass”) eventually comes to an end, so ends this 10 day Crown Princess cruise. We had a wonderful time, and it was so nice to finally complete the Alaska cruise in 2023 we “started last year” in September 2022.
After sailing away from Ketchikan, we had the rest of the evening, and the full next day at sea before returning to Vancouver. We enjoyed the last couple sea days, and eventually packed on the last afternoon of the cruise. We made lots of friends, both passengers and crew, and we truly appreciated the service and hard work the crew provided. We enjoyed the Reserve Dining in the Davinci Dining Room so much, we went there the last two nights, even though we still had an included night for a specialty dining including with our Premier drink package.
Our waiter Alvin, and assistant waiter were so efficient and it was truly a pleasure going to dinner each evening with them. They remembered our preferences and always gave us a “heads up” on what was the best dish for the evening. Alvin had been working for Princess for over 20 years and had been on such a variety of cruises, including a world cruise which is my dream to do one day. We actually had Alvin serve us on the Caribbean Princess Panama Canal cruise back in March 2022, although he wasn’t our dedicated waiter like on this cruise.
Our other favorite pre-dinner spot aboard was at Vine’s Wine Bar, located on the 5th floor Piazza level, in the center of the ship. The cozy location overlooked the sometimes busy Piazza area, which had nightly entertainment, the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Champagne Waterfall party, several afternoon fun events, and the Farewell party on the last night. Vine’s has recently added a charcuterie platter as a very reasonable priced option at $14, however its included with the Premier drink package; quite a bargain and it goes well with their nice selection of vinos. We had a nice interaction with our two servers there; V.J. and Cami, as well as the bartender and Charcuterie chef, David. We took a couple of photos with them, and of course left glowing comments for them and the dining and room steward staff on the comment card we received via email after the cruise.
The farewell party was held in the Piazza, as opposed to the former dining rooms. As Princess has 3 main dining rooms (in addition to the specialty restaurants) and most passengers utilize “Any Time Dining”, as opposed to the traditional set times of main and late dining, it no longer fits the timing to do the finale night dining room parades as of yesteryear, due to the people eating at staggered times. The main lobby finale was great with a full parade of waiters, chefs, maitre D’s and other crew and staff giving everyone a sendoff to the thrills of the passengers.
I took this short video of the sunset and sailing from Vine’s before we headed off to dinner.
Our arrival back to Vancouver and debarkation was super smooth. We had time for one last breakfast in Sabatini’s, and then debarked the ship around 8:30am, with no long lines or hassles whatsoever. We collected our luggage, quickly cleared immigration and customs, and were soon in a cab on the way to our airport hotel, where we stayed for one night, as we had an early flight home the next day.
We stayed at the Hilton Vancouver Airport for one night, and had a nice and quick stay. Fortunately our room was ready by the time we checked in around 9:45am (or it would have been a long day waiting!) and we relaxed a bit before later having lunch at the hotel. We had a nice one bedroom suite, which was great for the night, especially with all our luggage!
We were hoping to meet our friend Jane from Australia (who we saw briefly in Orlando prior to flying to Vancouver), but she was on another tour in the Rockie’s which didn’t arrive to Vancouver until 6:30pm and she was staying downtown, so we agreed we’d see each other in Oz next March. Jane was going on an Alaskan cruise on Royal Caribbean the next day, so our paths just missed crossing.
We had lunch and later dinner at the hotel, as there really didn’t appear to be a lot of eateries or pubs around the immediate area, and we were a bit tired to Uber anywhere. The hotel was not exactly by the airport, but not that far either; it was in a more residential area of Vancouver.
Our flight home to Orlando was ok, but a long day. As we were flying First Class, we had access to the Air Canada lounge, which was nice as we could relax a bit before the flight, have a light breakfast, and most importantly get coffee at 7:45am!
We flew first from Vancouver to Houston, and with a couple hour connection, then flew from Houston to Orlando. Our first segment was on Air Canada in First Class, and while it didn’t offer sleeper seats, it was a nice flight with outstanding and very friendly service. We had some spectacular views along the way; DOS took these photos flying over the snow-capped mountains and Glacier National Park.
Our second flight from Houston to Orlando was on United, also in First Class, but the 737 was an older one and not as nice as the newer Air Canada 737-900 Max. We had a quick two,hour flight home to Orlando, arriving around 9pm ,local time.
Upon arrival in Orlando, we stayed overnight once again at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, as it was nearly 9pm when we got in. We had our luggage scheduled to be delivered to our house the next day, so we wouldn’t have to wait and collect it and the luggage carousel. We love the luggage delivery service, and not only is it so convenient, it really saves a lot of time, especially in at the summer months when there are storms and lightning is present, closing the ramp and delaying luggage delivery to the belts, sometimes for hours.
We had a quick few days at home in Orlando, and I noticed we had flight credits left on United which would expire at the end of the year, while we also had Amtrak credits that would expire in November. We had booked trips last year, but due to my hospitalization in September and beyond, we had to cancel a few air and rail trips. So what did we do?
Well we booked a trip on the Amtrak Empire Builder cross-country train from Seattle to Chicago for next week! Yes our next trip is rather spur-of-the moment, but we will fly to Seattle (ironically where I spent two months last year for my heart issues) on Tuesday, stay 3 nights there, and then take the Empire Builder train back to Chicago for 48 hours in a sleeper car (one for DOS and one for me). We’ll then stay at the Chicago O’hare airport Hilton for a night, and fly to Orlando back the next day; a quick week total trip!
So for now, we’re back home in Orlando, unpacking and re-packing for our next trip. Welcome Home!