Princess Cruises is no newcomer to Alaska, but their new ship certainly is. Having just recently made her big debut Spring 2022, Discovery Princess is the cruise line’s final Royal-Class ship and the third vessel specifically designed to integrate seamlessly with Princess MedallionClass® technology. We were fortunate enough to join one of the first Alaska sailings of the season aboard Discovery Princess. With this exciting new ship returning to an iconic destination, keep reading to learn more about our firsthand experiences both onboard and ashore.
Back in Alaska
We glide along the shoreline, waiting for the last of our group to collect their kayaks before setting out for the islets across the bay from Clover Pass, just north of Ketchikan. The clear water shimmers in the morning sun. “I think he’s posing for a photograph,” our guide Peter points to a bright orange, almost cartoon-looking starfish clinging to the rocks beneath me. This was Peter’s first tour in nearly three years. The excitement was palpable. He went on to explain how tourism is the primary source of income for a lot of locals. “I’ve got friends who run whale-watching tours, fishing charters, kayak trips—the cruise lines are what keep us all afloat out here,” he rocks his kayak a little, chuckling at his own pun.
He explained how their first tour of the season was mid-April, just a couple weeks prior (our cruise departed May 4). His colleague led a small group of kayakers into the bay when a pair of humpback whales breached right before them. I’m immediately envious. A humpback sighting this early in the season would be exceptionally rare, especially this far into the bay. I’m on high alert for the remainder of our excursion, hoping for a whale sighting of my own.
We spot a bald eagle returning to her giant treetop nest and a pair of bumbling black bears lolling along the shoreline, but no whales. Ketchikan was our only port of call on this quick, 3-night itinerary. I already can’t wait to return to experience more native wildlife and stunning Alaskan landscapes.
Later that day, I was relaxing on my balcony, soaking up the last moments of sun as our ship drifted toward its final destination. A mist on the horizon catches my attention. Suddenly, a giant tail rises into the air—was that an orca?! The tail quickly descends back below the surface. I stand there stunned and motionless before it hits me. We got our whale sighting after all.
The Onboard Experience
Carrying just over 1,600 guests on this departure, Discovery Princess was well under its 3,660-guest capacity; presenting the unique opportunity for us to explore the space and mingle with staff before things really ramp up for the summer season. Our waiter beams as he leads us to our table at Bistro Sur la Mer, one of more than 25 restaurants and bars on the ship.
With views overlooking both the water and the ship’s open promenade—plus a menu crafted by three-Michelin-star Chef Emmanuel Renaut—it’s the perfect location to soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful new vessel. Over the course of our cruise, we’d go on to try nearly all the restaurants on the ship, from the elegant Crown GrillSM steakhouse to the charming Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria and each of the three main dining rooms.
But the restaurants aren’t the only draw of this new ship. There’s a whole spectrum of attractions to experience, from the world-class Lotus spa and the tranquil spaces at the exclusive, adults-only retreat at The Sanctuary to the spirited Princess Live! Café, Broadway-caliber entertainment at Princess Theater and late-night dancing at the Vista Show Lounge. There’s also a fully equipped medical center offering 24/7 care from a full staff of doctors, nurses and paramedics to keep you safe and healthy throughout your voyage. The many spaces of the ship flow seamlessly from bow to stern yet are distinct enough to feel like different neighborhoods entirely. Whether you prefer something fast-paced or quiet and relaxing, you’re sure to find a space to match your mood aboard this beautiful new ship.
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