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Alaska Cruise Review - Island Princess

Island Princess Cruise Tour to Alaska

By Mary & Vincent Finelli

View of Alaska from Island Princess

View of Alaska from a balcony cabin on the Island Princess.

Island Princess Cruise Review - Continued > >

Decks 14, 15 and 16, are also devoted to public areas such as the Gym, Lotus Spa, and the Lotus pool (a domed heated lap pool and two hot tubs) immersed in a South Sea Island atmosphere. Here is also located the Oxford Dipper to aid handicapped passengers in and out of the pool. Midship on 14 is the open area Lido Pool, and forward is the Horizon Court devoted to casual buffet dining.

This ship with her traditional nautical motif and tasteful decorations has struck a perfect balance of style and comfort.

Director Gorst has a staff with a "can do" policy. If you have a special need, just voice it and you shall be accommodated. When dining, we need a table near the entrance, so we won't disturb too many diners with the wheelchair. We spoke with Maitre D' Giuseppe Gelmini, the first afternoon on board, and he chose for us Table #20 near a window, where service was excellent and our waiter Vlad and his assistant took great care of us.

First Purser Melania Parnisari, Food & Beverage Director, is the first woman on the Princess Cruise Line to hold this position. She told us that as a child she watched "Love Boat" on TV and dreamt of sailing on board, and now she is living a dream come true. She took us on a private tour of Executive Chef Gunter Deseske's galley. Here we saw the incredibly neat and organized food preparation areas (all stainless steel) and met Gunter's Sous Chef Saverio Brattoli and the Pastry Chef (Artist!) Vincenzo Frigulti who did all the classics: N.Y. Cheesecake, Swan puffs and pies which he augmented with sugar or fat free tasty alternatives. Over 9,000 meals are served daily, very delicious and beautifully plated.

Across the Princess Lines the menus are standardized and thematic; the following are the highlights of the week:

  • The Sail Away Dinner with shrimp cocktail and Prime rib;

  • The Captain's Dinner offering Crab Quiche, Lobster and Pheasant;

  • The Princess Dinner featuring Endive salad and Roast Buffalo;

  • The French Dinner with Pate` de fois gras, escargot and Duck a l'Orange;

  • The Italian Dinner featuring Prosciutto and Pappardelle (pasta) with Rabbit;

  • The International Dinner had WonTon Soup, and Surf and Turf; and finally,

  • The Chef's Dinner with Asparagus, Lobster Bisque, King Crab Legs or Rack of lamb.

These were all delicious dinners with many more choices, too many to list them here.

If passengers want to snack, go to see Pizzaiolo Carmelo who makes crispy, gourmet pizzas at Princess Pizza on the Lido Deck during the day and at Sabatini's at night. He specially made one for us with porcini mushrooms: Semplicemente deliziosa (simply delicious). Thank you, Carmelo! There is 24 hour room service, which we used mostly for breakfast, and it was always punctual and excellent. The two alternative restaurants are well worth the nominal additional fees: At Sabatini's feast on eight appetizers, four specialty pizzas, two soups, mesclun salad, three pastas (spaghetti, gnocchi and cannelloni) and finally choose from several entrees (Shrimp, Lobster, Chicken, Scallops, Prawns and Veal). The final touch is Tiramisu, of course. All this under the watchful eyes of Manager Michele De Mario. We also ate at The Bayou; cajun cuisine was an experience for us: Mary loved the corn bread and the sampler plate of appetizers, but it was Vincent who ate all of his Alligator ribs. If you dine at these alternative venues, skip lunch or you may rue the fact that you can't taste it all!

One afternoon there was a delicious Fish Barbecue served up on the open deck featuring crab cakes, fish filets, sea food kabobs and a tasty reindeer chili (all references to Rudolph aside) many passengers enjoyed the fare.

Service on board is excellent and the dining room staff includes Head Waiters Ciro and Ennio who ensured that all staff were alert and on the job. The "Personal Choice Dining" offers both the traditional fixed seating and the Anytime Dining which gives passengers flexibility in dining hours and venues: many cruisers availed themselves of this new system.

Stateroom #B620 on Baja Deck 11 with ocean view and balcony, is a spacious cabin and the exact replica of the one we had on the Coral Princess. It has a double wide door, triple armoire, personal safe, refrigerator, huge bath with shower and appropriately placed safety rails, king size bed, night stands, and end tables. Best of all was our wonderful steward Cristina, who anticipated our needs. There were sheer curtains and heavy drapes to block out the white nights. As previously noticed on the Coral, the shelves in the bathroom are much too small to hold the necessary toiletries.

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