Our hotel, the Embassy Suites The Westfield Southcenter Mall Thai Go Noodle Zone The hallway to our room One of four pools One of the four pools One of four pools The Internet Cafe Savoy Dining Room The Santa Fe Dining Room The Pacific Moon Dining Room The Wheelhouse Bar The Crooner's Bar

A Princess Cruise to Alaska

September 3, 2011 - Our Travel Day

September 3rd finally arrived. Our son Garrett took us to the airport and we had a near perfect flight into Seattle. Once we gathered our two bags, we headed for the shuttle area, called the Embassy Suites hotel where we would spend the night and soon we were resting and preparing for our trip to Alaska aboard Princess Cruise Lines Sapphire Princess.

Once we settled into our hotel room we were getting hungary. We had found a couple of "fast food" place at a nearby shopping mall. It was a Westfield property and so we knew it would be large and have plenty of choices. Because it was only about a mile away, the hotel had a free shuttle that would take us the mall and pick us whenever we wanted. (Yeah!) So we hopped on board the next shuttle and by 5:00 we were walking up and down the many levels and walkways of the Southcenter Mall. Like all Westfield's, it was a large complex. Three levels and at least four junctions in both directions and I think we spent the better part of two hours just walking and browsing. Finally, our feet were getting tired and so we headed for the "food court" on the 2nd floor to find a bite to eat. There were like more than 50 choices and after walking the entire food court twice, discussing each one and succumbing to all the delightful, delectible aromas, we settled on the Thai Go Noodle Zone for dinner. It was delicious!

We left room for dessert and had already scouted out the place we wanted to stop at. It was called Unicone Crepes and was near the entrance of the mall on the 1st floor. They had something like 40 different crepes that they could make but unlike a normal crepe which is wrapped like a burrito, these were rolled into a cone and served that way. It was like eating a crepe flavored ice cream cone! What a way to end the evening. Thorough stuffed and content, we called for our shuttle back to the hotel and hit the bed ready to board our cruise ship the next day.

September 4, 2011 - Leaving Seattle

Prior to our leaving, we searched the internet for shuttles from the hotel to the cruise port, a distance of about 24 miles but through the city of Seattle. There are several listed but the one that caught my eye was the Seattle Express. It stopped at several hotels in the area (ours was included) and best of all, it was only $12 per person! Most of the shuttles offer a more personal service but the price was double and more. Since we didn't mind riding with others, especially since they were headed the same place, it made sense to travel together and share the cost of the ride.

The shuttle ride took about 30 minutes and arrived at the cruise port and Pier 91 just after noon. There were two ships tied up, the Sapphire Princess on the left and the Holland America Oosterdam on the right. We made good time getting boarded. You enter a large wherehouse type building with two floors and split down the length to accommodate both ships. The line was long but it took less than 30 minutes to get through all the security checkpoints and before you knew it, we were having our picture taken as we boarded the Sapphire Princess.

Among the largest ships to ply the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Sapphire Princess comfortably accommodates 2,600 guests, each of whom are treated to pampering, personal service, and a wealth of fabulous onboard amenities. Sister ship to Diamond Princess, this ship offers a wide variety of entertainment and dining options. Passengers can enjoy commanding ocean views and sea breezes from one of the many outdoor public areas, or steal away for a private scenery show in the comfort of their own stateroom.

You can choose from four separate swimming pools for a refreshing daily dip or spend the day immersed in headier pleasures in the library and writing room. Soothing body treatments are on the menu at the serene, Asian-themed Lotus Spa, which also includes a gorgeous terrace area and a fully equipped fitness center. Additional ship features include one of the largest Internet cafes at sea, a dedicated area for children and teens, and the romantic Hearts and Minds wedding chapel.

Multiple main dining rooms mean passengers can choose meal times, companions, and cuisine. Fabio's Trattoria features Italian specialties, while the Lido Cafe features classic American and continental cuisine. Additional options include 24-hour buffets and room service, a poolside pizzeria, hamburger grill, and ice cream bar. After sunset, Broadway and Las Vegas productions begin in the theatre, the casino kicks into high gear, and there's plenty of room for stargazing on the balcony of the Skywalkers disco and lounge.

Our room was an inside cabin (no windows) and was on the deck 10 called the Caribe Deck. It was 3 decks above the Promenade and almost perfectly in the middle of the ship. We were just steps away from the main elevators and stairway which made for easy maneuvering to the Atrium on decks 5, 6 & 7. The room was small. We opted to have the twin beds because we sleep on a Cal King at home and so to avoid colliding with each other at night it was just easier to sleep in separate beds. We had a small bathroom which was basically positioned inside the closet area, and there was a small desk area with a refrigerator underneath and a small flat screen TV above. It would be our home for the next 7 days.

Once we finished unpacking, we set about wandering the ship, map in hand, and figuring out where all the restaurants were, and other areas which we had planned to frequent while on board. Upon boarding the ship, we were given a card with several of the main activity areas listed. Our job was to find each area, have our card stamped by the staff, and once completed, give it to the staff near the pool on deck 14 to be entered into a drawing. All of this had to be completed by 4:00pm which is when the ship would leave port.

The Oosterdam left port around 3:30 p.m. and we closely followed at 4. As we moved away from the dock and headed away from Seattle, you could see the skyline of the city getting smaller and smaller as we made our way out of the Puget Sound and into the Juan de Fucha Straight. We cruised past Victoria, BC, the place we would disembark just 7 days from now and a third ship, from Royal Caribbean joined us we all headed north to Alaska

We gathered at the pool shortly around 4:30 and there was already a large crowd. We found a spot on the railing above the pool on deck 15 and proceeded to involve ourselves in the festivities as the crew introduced themselves and proceeded to draw the cards one by one and award prizes. The surprise of the day (at least for us) was that I heard my name called and once we made our way down to the pool, we found I had won a $20 buy-in to the casino blackjack tournament. I never play but it was free so I thought it would be fun to give it a try.

Once the festivities were over we headed down to the Spa to take a look around. We got a chance to tour the facilities and enter another drawing. It must have been my lucky day because my name was pulled again and this time I won a free shave. Another adventure since I had never had anyone shave my face except for yours truly! It had already been a good day and we were getting hungry so we headed down to one of the many restaurants to get something to eat.

We are not fond of eating on a schedule and so on this cruise we chose the plan called Anytime Dining. We had a choice of 5 different restaurants each night that had no cover charge and few that did. This night we chose to eat at the Pacific Moon which had an Asian motif and so the food had an Asian flair to it. I had the Pacific salmon and Dot had . . . Dinner was very good and we ended our night listening to music in Atrium and all the people we met along the way. I picked up a coffee card which gave us all the free regular coffee and 16 specialty coffees while on the cruise. This would come in handy getting us started each morning.

Click on "A Day at Sea" to see our next days posting.

Our flight was smooth and beautiful! Sea-Tac Airport The Westfield Southcenter Mall The Westfield Southcenter Mall at night A video of the making of a Unicone Crepe The Atrium The Atrium The Art Gallery One of four pools One of four pools One of four pools Skywalkers Lounge Explorers Room Coub Fusion The Princess Theatre The Wakeview Bar