Our Cruise/tour of Alaska - July 2009


To jump to Ketchikan,                                   click here
To jump to Juneau                                         click here
To jump to Skagway                                      click here
To jump to Glacier Bay & College Fjord        click here
To jump to Denali                                          click here
To jump to Fairbanks                                    click here

We just returned home from a fantastic cruise to Alaska!

Rosemarie McBride and I left Phoenix by air on July 13 for Vancouver, BC.  We then boarded the Coral Princess cruise ship for a 7 day trip up the Inland Passage, stopping at Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway.  The ship then took us to Glacier bay and College Fjord without docking for observation from the ship.  Our final port was in Whittier where we departed the ship and took a train to Denali for two days, and then continued by train to Fairbanks for another two days.  We flew back to Phoenix from Fairbanks on July 24.  
 I will break the trip down pretty much chronologically with sections for each major location or activity, and will include many photographs.  I am writing this after returning home, as I had no computer along with us, but I have many shipboard papers and notes to help refresh my memory and will try to be as accurate as possible.

The Coral PrincessCoral Princess

Our ship for this cruise is beautiful, as I'm sure all the Princess ships are.  The Coral Princess is somewhat smaller than the Diamond Princess on which we sailed to Hawaii, but is still very large.  The main difference I noted in the amenities between the two ships was that we had one large dining room for anytime seating (our choice) and one for fixed seatings.  The Diamond Princess had three smaller ones for anytime dining and one for fixed seatings.  The passenger capacity is about 20% less on this ship.

Some of the specifications of the Coral Princess are:

Built by                                 Chantiers de L'Atlantique Shipyard of St. Naizare, France  December 2002
Port of Registry                     Hamilton, Bermuda
Class Notation                      A1 Passenger ship
Gross Registered Tonnage    91,627 tons
Net Registered Tonnage       53,394 tons
Overall Length                      964.3 feet
Total Width less wings          105.6 feet
Total Width over wings         126.0 feet
Total Height above keel        203.4 feet
Maximum Passengers           2368
Normal crew                        930
Propulsion Type                   2 Synchronous Electric Motors
Diesel Engines                      2 Diesel electric Wartsils 16V46C
Gas Turbine                         General Electric LM2500, 25 MW
Output of Main Engines        40,000 kW (52,000 HP)
Thrusters                              3 bow thrusters, 3 stern thrusters  Rolls Royce
Propellers                             2 Fixed Pitch Propellers, Five Blades
Rudders                                2 semi-Balanced Splade Rudders
Stabilisers                             2 ACH Engineering
Fuel Capacity                       1938 tons Heavy Fuel Oil (for the Diesels)
                                            1786 tons Marine Gas Oil (for the turbine)
Fresh Water Capacity          2199 tons
Cruising speed                      21.5 Knots (24.7 Mph)
Maximum Speed                  23.4 Knots (26.9 Mph)

Phoenix to Vancouver and a day at sea

Monday, July 13, 2009 and Tuesday, July 14

We had a 6:15 AM flight from Phoenix, which meant we had to be at the airport by 4:15!  We decided to stay in a local hotel the night before to make this schedule possible.  The one we chose allowed us to park our car there for the duration of the cruise and provided a shuttle service to and from the airport.

We caught the shuttle a little before 4 AM and were taken to the airport.  Check-in was easy and quick as we had printed our boarding passes the day before.  Our first leg was to Seattle on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800.  It was smooth and arrived right on schedule.  We had a 2 1/2 hour layover and boarded our Horizon Airlines (Alaska Airlines' local feeder) Bombardier Q400 twin turboprop, 76 seat high-wing airplane.  The flight to Vancouver was less than an hour and smooth.

In Vancouver we had to pick up our luggage and pass through two customs stations, one at the airport to enter Canada, and the other at the cruise terminal to board the ship back to the USA (Alaska).  After passing Canadian Customs, Princess took our luggage.  A Princess supplied bus took us on a narrated tour through Vancouver on our way to the cruise terminal.  After passing through US customs, we boarded our ship and went to our cabin.  Our luggage was awaiting us in the cabin.

Before our bus ride, the driver asked all of us how many were aware of the US Direct program the city of Vancouver has with the Canadian and US Customs Services.  No one had.  There is a program that not too many travel agents are aware of where you can fly into Vancouver, exit to a secure area and board a bus.  This bus has the door sealed by Canadian Customs and drives directly to a secure area at the cruise terminal.  Here you leave the bus and proceed directly to the ship.  There is no Canadian Customs and no US Customs.  It is as though you never actually set foot on Canadian soil.  It sounds great.  Although we were lucky and had no wait at either customs area, sometimes there is a wait of several hours.

Turboprop We are aboard the Q400 twin turboprop plane from Seattle to Vancouver.
The bus which took us from the airport to the cruise terminal gave us a detailed, narrated toure through downtown Vancouver. Bus
Condos Vancouver is building high-rise condos just about anywhere they can find the land.  These condos are very expensive!  The prices are driving many residents out of the area.
We got a kick seeing this concrete truck disguising itself as a bunch of asparagus. Concrete Truck
Clock Many areas of downtown Vancouver were really pretty.
As we approach the cruise terminal, we get our first view of the Coral Princess. First view
On board We are finally on board.  The view from our balcony is great!
Moored just across from us at the dock is a ship named "The World".  This is a "condo" type ship, where people own their own residences aboard the ship.  I understand the prices start at about 2 million!  There are some rental residences available for about $2000 a night for the 1 bedroom to about $5000 a night for the 6 bedroom units.

The ship sails continuously to ports all around the world.
The World
Float Plane This float plane which is just taking off from the Vancouver Harbor is the first of very many we saw on this trip.
Passengers are gathering on the Lido Deck awaiting our departure from port.
Lido Deck

We set sail about 4 PM and sailed all night and all the next day enroute to Ketchikan, a distance of 517 nautical miiles (595 statute miles).  There were many activities on board during this transit.  This also gave us an opportunity to explore the ship.


The Atrium is the show place of the ship, occupying 3 decks in the center of the ship.  There are two glass elevators and much glitter and fine finishes in this area.
A look up at the Atrium shows the fancy ceiling and the many accent lights. Atrium Ceiling
Carvers The day after the ship left port, there was a fruit carving demonstration in the Atrium.  These three carvers are hired to do fruit and ice carving.  They have no other duties aboard ship.
After only a few minutes of work, these are some of the creations.  The man seen on the left above seems to be the most skilled.  He produced the squirell on the left and the watermelon carving of the man's face. Carvings
Dance Show The second evening out, there was a stage production called "Dance".  This was an extravaganza involving the full singing and dancing staff.  It was very enjoyable.  

On this cruise, each show seemed to be repeated at least once.  This show played again several days after we saw it.

 To continue to Ketchikan, click here.

To return to the Main Menu, click here

Dick Mason, Prescott, AZ  7/28/09