Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Princess Cruise Alaska Cruise Vacation, What to Expect, Questions about Cell Phones, Shipboard Fees, Formal Nights and More

Hi All North to Alaska!

I wanted to write this page about Cell Phone costs and Shipboard Fees, Formal Nights, Cost of Drinks, what's free and what's not. Exercise, Room Service and Tipping and anything else I can think of.
The reason I decided to write about this is because before I took my cruise, there was terrible misinformation about these things and especially the cell phone fees and Formal Nights.

First off I put my cell phone on Airplane mode the entire time I was on the ship, this turns roaming off. But just in case I turned that off too. I also shut down my phone and turned it on only to take photos. Once I got to shore in Alaska, I was able to upload photos to Facebook or share my photos on social media sites and with family and friends.
If you want to do this while on the ship and you have Verizon you pay $40.00 for a package that allows you so much data, and you can make phone calls and send text. 
If you purchase this package there is no other fees from the ship as stated in many message boards
Many message boards say the ship will also charge you. No that is incorrect. The ship cannot charge you unless you log into their account. 
You can be charged a lot of $$$ if you don't turn off roaming. If don't purchase a package from your carrier and you talk on the phone, text and make phone calls, then you will surely rack up a big cell phone bill. My son worked for Verizon and one person came home from a cruise owing over $1000,000 in fees. Apparently he was not enjoying his vacation!
The best thing to do is contact your carrier and then purchase the package they offer if you cannot lay off the texting, phone and social media for a few days. 
I did not make phone calls or send text while on the ship. If you don't purchase the package it is like $2.00 something per minute and you also pay for texting and return texting and if you don't turn off roaming, you will incur roaming charges as well.
Also if someone calls you or text you, you would pay for that as well. So best to put it on Airplane mode, until you get to shore. 
This information about the $40.00 is for the Alaska Cruise and may be different for other areas of the world and from different carriers.
Be careful about using your cell phone. If you are going to talk a lot and text, upload photos and do social network and sharing, it's worth it for you to get the $40.00 package. 
I was on a 10 day cruise to Alaska, via San Francisco. We were out to sea for 2 1/2 days before we reached our first port of call in Ketchikan Alsaka. 
Once in Ketchikan I checked my phone for messages and called our dog sitter. 
Each Port of Call I checked my messages and made phone calls and sent text messages and shared photos to Facebook to share our experience with family. 
While in San Francisco on the ship before we left the port, I took photos and shared with family and friends to FB the photos we took going under the Golden Gate Bridge and aboard the ship our first hours there before setting sail.
 I had no charges on the ship sitting in the Port of San Francisco or while we were in the waters around SF. 
After reading all the misinformation before we left, I was so worried while I was gone about all this information I read on blogs and message boards. I only have 1g account with Verizon and did not incur any overage charges or any fees of any kind.
So I guess that is all I can say about Cell Phone at Sea, Myths and Truths. 

This photo is right after we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge

On Board the ship, you are charged each day per person a tip for the crew on the ship, the cost of that is depending on which cabin you have. The more expensive the cabin, the more you will pay for tipping. This is charged to your credit card each day per person and all tips collected are shared amongst the crew, our cost per person was $11.50 and that is for each of us and we had three people so that is $34.50 per day.

~~Room Service~~
You can order room service to your room. A lot of people say different things about this, but my mom ordered a lot from the menu to her room, she is 82 and at times did not feel well, we were never charged anything as long as she ate off the menu that said included or no cost. 
My husband and I ordered coffee each morning to our room. We were not charged for that either.
We did not give a tip for the room service because we were already being charged each day for tipping. I read online at the that it was a cashless ship. 
Everything we purchased at the shops that was not included in our cruise, was charged to our credit card.

~~Drinks, What's Free and What's Not~~
Alcohol, sodas and specialty drinks, milkshakes, specialty coffee are not free. 
If you are going to be drinking a lot of any of those, you will need to purchase a drink package.
We did not purchase a drink package. When I boarded the ship, I brought with me 8 tiny 6oz diet soda's and bottled water. I carried them on board the ship in a plastic fold flat soda carrier I bought from Target for $3.00. It fit 8 small soda's and 6 waters just fine. 
There is no cost for Ice Tea, Coffee, or water on the ship. You can go down to the Buffet area at any time night or day and get water, tea or coffee.
There is also always free everyday, Soft Serve Ice Cream which was pretty darn good! They had chocolate and Vanilla.

~~Formal Night~~
This was our server in the dining room each night, you always get the same server when you choose to dine at the same time each night. We chose 5:30 PM. 
This is my honey and I on the second formal night

If you notice in this photo the waiters and men are all dressed up for formal night. The men are are wearing jackets. 

Yes, there is a Formal Night on the Alaska Cruise. If you are going to the dinning room you are required to wear a suit jacket and tie for men, for ladies cocktail dress, formal dresses are to be worn. There are two formal nights on a 10 day cruise. We did both formal nights, my mom came to one formal night.
My husband did not have a suit jacket, but he had a nice shirt and tie. Next time he will definitely wear a jacket, as most men did. I did see a few younger guys that did not wear one, most likely because like my husband they did not own one. Before we left for the cruise I had read dressing up was not necessary for the Alaska Cruise. Wrong! 
I will keep an eye out for a decent price suit jacket for my husband this year before we cruise again, next year. I am sure I can find something on sale or clearance. Which is a good way to find a formal dress or casual dresses as well, check the clearance racks before you cruise if you plan on going to formal night for dressy dresses and jackets, I got a few there. Formal Nights are a lot of fun!
If you do not want to go to the formal night you can choose to eat in the other eating areas. 
The specialty restaurants on board the ship, also require dressy blouse, dress or skirts to wear for dinning attire on casual nights. On the Formal Nights if you eat in any of the nice dinning areas you are required to dress in the appropriate formal attire.
If you plan on eating in the dinning area at all, including non Formal Nights, you will need to wear slacks and nice shirts for men and blouses and slacks, or skirts and dresses for women each evening you eat there.
It is rude to not do so and the Princess Platter you receive each night before retiring to your cabin in your in box outside your cabin, will let you know that on formal night you are expected to dress formal. 
Everyone did dress up on formal nights that were in the dinning rooms. Which was nice, because it does spoil the mood for those of us who want a special fun night. On the Formal Nights they serve special food. The second formal night we were offered Lobster! Yummy, it was delicious. 
You can always have as much as you want too. But we were always quite satisfied with the portions we received. On formal night they are specialty desserts as well.
On the first formal night we were served a delicious dessert by Normal Love. It was delicious!
We were also told you could not have coffee or tea in the dinning room without being charged, again wrong, we both had tea and coffee each and every time we dined in the dinning room and not charge for it ever.
Normal Love Dessert
Formal Night Dessert
Every night there is a fantastic menu and delicious desserts  We chose to eat in the dining room at night and during breakfast and lunch we ate in the all you can eat buffet. I did not personally eat breakfast and would eat a light lunch. 

I ran up and down the stairs from top to bottom in the ship two times a day for exercise and would not take the elevator at all, I always took the stairs.
 I did not gain any weight at all, in fact I lost 5 lbs during the cruise. You can also work out on the ship by taking a walk around the deck, many jogged and also went to the gym onboard the ship. My mom and husband did not gain any weight either. 

~~Healthy Eating~~
You can eat healthy on board the ship. In the Buffet there are plenty of healthy food choices at each meal. There are always lots of fruits and veggies offered at each meal. 

~~Have Fun and Relax~~
We enjoyed the Princess Cruise very much to Alaska. We booked a Land and Sea for next year, starting from Anchorage this time instead of San Francisco. San Francisco is close to our home though and did not require us to fly, so that was good for me, since I hate to fly. However next years cruise I will have to fly!

~~Bring Things to do~~
Bring a book to read or small craft project to fit in a small bag especially if you are on the long cruises such as ours. After you have checked out the entire ship as we did and sat on the deck and stared at the never ending ocean, ate all that you can eat, you will tire of it and want to relax and read or craft if you are like me. 
I am not a one to sit in the sun, so I rarely sat in the sun, but above we enjoy a bit of sun one day.
I worked on this an embroidery craft on the ship to give to my daughter and daughter in law for their birthdays that were coming up on our return home.

~~Expect the Unexpected~~ 
I am always telling my daughter that she has such high expectations when she goes somewhere or has an event of some sort and then she gets so disappointed that it all did not work out the way she had imagined it to be.
Everything will not go perfectly....I repeat everything will not go perfectly!
Boarding the ship was not to bad at all, better than the airport, however exiting the ship after arriving home to the San Francisco Port was a nightmare! Terrible system there, very stressful.

It rained at every port we went to Except Skagway and Victoria Canada, Juneau rained all morning and then cleared up later in the day which was perfect for our excursion. Ketchikan rained the whole time we were there, Sitka rained the whole time as well.
And the only reason we were at Sitka is because the Captain did not allow us to go on the Scenic Cruise through the Fjord Glaciers because they said the waste tanks had to be emptied and therefore we had to go out to sea to dump. Now why they did not anticipate this, after all they do many cruises to Alaska each year, I will never know, but that was very disappointing. We were given $75.00 per cabin as shipboard credit. We did not use it and it was used to take off other expenses we had on the ship.
Another disappointment was the Victoria Canada day. We purchased excurstions to Butterfly Garden and the Bushart Gardens and we were rushed through then after paying $85.00 each for the tickets. We did not even have time to sit and have a cup of coffee or see the whole Bushart Garden. That was ridiculous.  
The worst of all is that my husband's luggage was lost for 2 days. Unfortunately he had his medication in his suitcase and computer, his underwear and shaver, jeans and more. He did have shirts and slacks that he had in a wardrobe, but that did not take care of him not having clean underwear. We had to purchase some for him and a jacket that he had packed as well. 
Guess what, his wife, that's me told him to give me his medication and computer to carry on, but he did not listen to me. LOL!
He had to go see the on board doctor after two days to try to get some medication he needed, they charged us $75.00. Just as he walked out the door to go the doctor a knock at the door came and it was his suitcases arriving, apparently they were one floor up in an empty room for two days and luckily untouched, everything was in his suitcase. Now we were out $150.00. We were given $75.00 credit but no credit for the Doctor. Lucky for us we purchased the insurance and will be reimbursed. 
I will always purchase the insurance, you never know what will happen with your stuff. Also next time I will put some of my stuff in his suitcase and he can put some of his in mine, that way we will still have some clothes to wear. Always carry on your medication and computers, never leave them unattended ever.

~What to Wear on Your Alaska Cruise for 11 days~
~Alaska Cruises to Alaska are May though September~
~Make Adjustments for Less Days~ 

The best time to Cruise is June through August I have read, however we are doing our next cruise, the first cruise of May in 2016 because it is cheaper and we encountered a lot of rain during our July cruise, so we will take our chances and let you know on next's years cruise experience blog posting.
This can certainly be a baffling thing, I stressed over this and I am glad I brought the things I did.

1. Bring a Rain Jacket, Light weight is fine. I got mine at Target at the end of May, but you can also look online for one if you cannot find one. I paid less than $40.00 for it and wore it a lot.
As I mentioned above it did rain on 2 of our excursion days. It was never cold though.

2. Dress in Layers, I wore a lightweight sweaters under my jacket and a sleeveless top under that.

3. Bring a heavy sweater or heavy outerwear other than the raincoat, just in case it gets really chilly while you're at the Port of Calls or out on the Deck on the ship, or if you are going on the fishing excursions that take you out to sea. Make sure it has a hood on it or bring a hat with sunglasses, and if  your hands get cold easily like mine some gloves.

4. For Women, Bring t-shirts, blouses, tank tops, or sleepless tops, sweaters, leggings and jeans, one long and cropped jeans if you don't like leggings, bring an extra pair of cropped pants and long jeans or other pants you like. Bring a new outfit for each day you will be happy you did unless you like doing laundry. When I am on vacation I don't like doing laundry.

I packed 3 black leggings, 1 pair of long jeans, 2 pair of cropped jeans, 2 blouses, several cute long sleeveless tops for over the leggings with matching light short style cardigans to wear over the sleeveless tops, just in case it was a bit chilly. I also brought a few other sleeveless tops to wear under sweaters, so I dressed in layers every single day. I brought 2 lightweight long sleeve sweaters open drape cardigans, black and grey because they go with everything. 1 skirt and 1 t-shirt dress. 2 Formal night outfits, one dress and one skirt with long lacey black vest with a 3/4 sleeve white blouse.  There are 2 Formal Nights on any cruise over 5 days and more Formal Nights on longer cruises. One of my outfits was not formal, next time I will choose something a bit more dressy, as everyone was very dressed up on the formal nights, despite the fact I was told the Alaska cruise would not be having any formal nights or would you have to dressed up. ((Wrong)).
I felt a little underdressed on one of the formal nights as did my husband because he did not bring a suit jacket to wear. A man should pack at least one suit jacket for formal night.
Bring one two pair of comfy sweatpants or two nice ones, a few lightweight comfy tops that go with the sweatpants or other comfy pants. A few longs sleeves shirts. I did not bring any long sleeve shirts, I was fine without them since I dressed in layers.
One good raincoat with a hood, bring an umbrella too. One hoodie, and a heavy sweater or jacket if you are going on the outdoor exertions or on the fishing excursions, or other many other outdoor adventures. We only went on one hike to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and the Nugget Falls. We went with my 82 year old mother and she was ill most of the trip, not from sea sickness but other medical issues.
I wore the heavy sweater on the deck when it was very chilly in the evenings and sometimes during the day.
If you are swimming at the many pools bring your bathing suit. Also plenty of hot tubs on the ship. Bring flip flops.

As you can see you are going to have to bring quite a bit of clothes. I wanted enough to last for the 11 days. I was not going to do laundry and I also wanted to be sure I am not wearing the same clothes in every photo.

If you plan on eating in the dining room each each evening, you will need to change your pants and tops for that into your casual blouses or skirts or dresses.
You will need a dressy pair of pants or slacks, skirts or lightweight dresses and blouses if you are eating in the dining room each night, which I loved, because I am the cook at home and loved being waited on and they served good food there. It made the cruise special each evening to eat in the dinning room with my husband and mom when she would go.

Don't forget your undergarments, nylons if you wear nylons, I don't wear them myslef. I brought 5 pairs of shoes, 2 dressy shoes for formal nights, 1 pair of black Sketchers Go Shoes, 1 pair of black flats, and a pair of sandals. I wore my Sketchers the most as well as my black flats. At all the Ports of Call I wore my Sketchers Go shoes.


The Princess Cruise had a pretty fantastic photo package deal going on while we were on the ship.
Pay $100.00 and you will get the formal night photos and the casual night photos included for each time they do the sessions, which was a lot.
We came home with a portfolio of photos! Nice professional photos.
We also were able to purchase a scrapbook (photo journaling kit) for the photos we would take on the cruise, the scrapbook was very worth it, filled a lot of stuff that has to do with Alaska, things you would never find at the craft store. The scrapbook was $45.00 so worth it, like I said filled with a ton of things to make your scrapbook.
The kit came with 10 patterned papers, 5 sheets of adhesive chipboard, 6 sticker sheets, 6 sticker sheets, photo overlays, 81 pocket journaling cards, 6 laser cute wood embellishments, 5 embossed metal embellishments and the album, which was supposed to be sold separately but they had a deal going on where you got both for the price of $45.00. Great Deal!
Album Purchased on Board Princess Cruise to Alaska

~Fun Photo on Deck with my new Alaska Cap~


~Casual Night, I wore this outfit at the Port of Call Juneau and to the Dinning Room that evening~

~On Formal Night One~

~On Formal Night Two~

Relaxing after our Formal Night Dinner

Professional Photos Taken on The Ship Each Sitting included many Poses,
these are the ones I chose from each setting to put online.
~This is one of the outfits I wore to the Dining Room one Evening~

~This is the type of outfits I wore on the Port of Calls~

Here are just a few of the wonderful photos take of us on the ship.


We watched several shows while on board the ship.

One of the nights on our trip we saw Hawley Magic and Illusionist a Husband and Wife Team, Jonathan and Trisha performed on America's Got Talent in 2012. They were pretty good, enjoyed the show.

~Movies Under the Stars~
Very nice! if you don't sit next to noisy kids.

Photos of our trip are also located in the following post

If you like shopping, bring plenty of money for that. A lot of people from the Alaska cruise enjoyed shopping a lot.
I found a cute Quilt shop in Skagway

This is the quilt my husband liked, so this is the quilt I am working on right now.
My Quilts Link

There are a lot of excursions available at each Port of Call and they are expensive. Bring plenty of money for those.

It was a wonderful trip, we can't wait to take our land and sea Alaska cruise next year!

Hope you have fun on your Alaska Cruise~



  1. It sounds like you had a lot of fun! It is good to know all of those tidbits. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great trip! You gave out a lot of good information.
    The Alaska hat is cute.

    Enjoyed the photos too.

  3. Wow a lot of great information, we have always talked that we would love to go on a cruise but I get motion sickness real easy so always worried I would be in my cabin the whole time sick. It sounds wonderful and glad you had a good time! Thanks for sharing everything :)


Have a wonderful day! ~Kat