This review will start out a day prior to our cruise as we decided to fly up the night before just in case there were any flight delays, we didn't want to miss the ship!
ONE NIGHT IN SEATTLE:
We flew out of SFO, uneventful flight on Alaska, all was on time, smooth flight, and great in-flight service. This was my mom's first flight in over 10 years and for a nervous flyer, she did quite well. Upon landing, everything was smooth with getting our bags and finding a taxi. Just a word to the wise, Seattle is a very big airport and does take time to get through. Once you have your baggage, you have to go back up and over to the parking lot to catch a taxi. It makes me realize just how easy SFO really is for arrivals.
We did get a taxi very quickly and had a non traffic, good ride to downtown Seattle. Our arrival into Seattle was greeted with seasonably unusually warm weather. We checked into the Warwick Hotel, which by the way is one of the few if not the only hotel in Seattle that offers smoking rooms. I would not care necessarily, but my 80 year old mother insisted that she had to have a smoking room since her cruise cabin was non-smoking! One entire floor is dedicated to smoking rooms, so we were all happy. We checked in and found that we had amazing views of the Space Needle from our rooms!
The next morning I had to get up early to meet a sales rep. for the Mayflower Park hotel, which is a hotel that I have a corporate agreement with for an account. I had never seen the hotel and I must say that it was a very nice place, completely non-smoking like the majority of Seattle hotels. I toured the hotel and then had breakfast with her. I had some extra time after breakfast and realized that there were a few things that I had not packed.
The 10 day forecasts that I had looked at up until the day of departure had showers and partly cloudy, 60-70 degree temperatures for the entire week. Well, all of a sudden the night before sailing we saw sunny forecasts for our entire cruise and my suitcase did not contain one pair of non-gym shorts or any tank tops. Fortunately for me, Macy's was located right across from the Mayflower Park Hotel. I did some shopping and then headed back to the Warwick Hotel to meet up with my family before heading to the pier.
We left our hotel about noon time in two taxi cabs for the pier that was about 7 blocks away. An easy walk if we didn't have luggage. Arriving at the Pier was pretty simple. We dropped our luggage off at the x-ray machines and then proceeded through to the check-in/registration desks. We had my mom in a wheelchair because she has trouble walking distances and it is quite a distance through the pier to the ship. As a result, we pretty much went to the head of the line and straight to the special handicapped assistance check-in table. We were greeted nicely by the check-in staff, everything went very smoothly and before you could know it, we were all checked in. We then proceeded towards the ship for embarkation, once on board the ship my mom no longer needed or wanted the wheelchair ~ we took our family embarkation photo and proceeded to our cabins. When you board a Celebrity Ship, you are greeted with a glass of champagne or orange juice and then escorted to your cabin.
Upon arriving to our cabin, I was pleasantly surprised with the cabin size, I always know what the size is according the specs given in the brochures or online, but to see it is a whole other thing. I was absolutely thrilled with our balcony though. We had booked Concierge Class cabins because they come with extra benefits: daily canapes, welcome champagne upon arrival, fruit bowl replenished as often as needed, robes for use during the cruise, priority embarkation and debarkation, priority shore excursion selection and debarkation for those excursions along with a few other things. Not all Concierge Class cabins are created equal and I was very excited that I was able to secure ourselves an aft facing balcony cabin. This is a cabin that looks out at "where you've been"; you constantly have a view of the wake of the ship and whatever sights you might have passed. On all my cruises, I tend to spend lots of time at the aft pool or walking around and staring out at the sea from whatever aft public area I can find. This was the most utilized balcony for me out of the twenty cruises that I've been on.
Yes, this was our fabulous balcony- I tried to hang over the rail as much as possible so that I could get as much of the balcony in the picture! After the life boat drill, we hung out on our balcony as we sailed out of Seattle, had out bottle of champagne and unpacked! Yes, another benefit of Concierge Class is expedited luggage delivery and our bags arrived very early. Another thing that I really liked about this cruise was that we sailed at 4pm, which gave a lot of time before you had to get ready for 6pm dinner. So many times I've been on cruises that sail at 5pm and by the time you enjoy a little bit of the sail away party and get refreshed (assuming your luggage has arrived) then head to dinner, it can be a bit rushed. This was just very relaxing to enjoy the sail away from Seattle and then get ready for dinner.
I didn't get to do my normal "run around" and inspect the ship from top to bottom as soon as I get on board because I did want to take my mom around the ship and she moves a bit slower than we do (at the age of 80). We did take her through the "middle" entertainment decks of 3, 4 and 5 and then had to get ready for the life boat drill. Deck 3 has the atrium, which is not as much of a "wow" as I've seen on other ships, it's really just basic. The center of the atrium is where you will find the Purser's, Shore Excursion, Concierge and Future Cruise Consultant desks. Deck 3 is also home to the SS United States specialty restaurant, the cinema and a variety of meeting rooms. Other than a brief walk by and peak inside, we never did use the cinema or meeting rooms. Deck 4 houses the lower level of the main dining room and the theatre; it also houses a few of the lounges, the internet cafe and the casino. Deck 5 is the upper level of the dining room and theatre, the shopping area and a few more lounges.
Later, my husband and I inspected the rest of the ship, up to Deck 10 where the buffet restaurant is located, the pools, the spa and health center. The Health Center was a good size, had a nice group exercise area, but sad to say other than this one visit, we never made it to the health center (shame on me). Deck 11 is home to the Constellation Nightclub, which is where we spent the majority of our evening time! Deck 11 is also home to the teen club. When you get to Deck 12, you have the basketball/volleyball court.
DINING VENUES & LOUNGES:
I will say that we really didn't "dine" that much! This was probably the cruise that we ate the least! The main dining room was the Trellis Dining room and we had early seating. Every meal in this restaurant was very good overall. We did think a few things were watered down or a little bland. But overall, what counted the most, tasted the best. We had good service and really enjoyed good meals. From Nelson the wine steward, Egbert the cocktail waiter, Riwata our waiter and Ender our bus boy- we never felt neglected. Truth be told we only made it to the buffet twice for breakfast because we'd be up so late dancing; we just slept in when we didn't have any place to be by a certain time. The late breakfast buffet was enough to sustain life for another day ~ it had your basics and an omelete station if you wanted that "cooked to order" meal. I was usually fine with a little scrambled egg, bacon and cereal. We never ate breakfast or lunch in the Trellis restaurant; however, they do offer open seating for those emails and you order off the menu. We didn't eat lunch most days, but when we did it was either room service or something from the poolside grill- hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwursts (my favorite), french fries, etc. Ice Cream was pretty much available throughout the day until 9pm and Pizza was available daily until 11pm.
I would have liked to have something available 24/7 other than room service. But Room Service was fine. Most nights we got in around 2am after dancing and we were hungry since it had been 8 hours since our last meal- so that ended up being "breakfast" for us most nights. We'd order burgers, pizza, quesadillas or cheese platters and then head to bed afterwards.
We did dine one evening in the "surcharge" restaurant, the SS United States. We reserved the Wine Cellar room, which is the wine cellar with one table inside that seats 6 - it was perfect for us! This was the "special" dinner to celebrate the reason for the cruise- Mom's 80th birthday. There is a $30 surcharge per person, but I have to say it was worth every penny! Excellent service, food to die for, the filet mignon melted in your mouth, would have cut with a butter knife! It was an amazing presentation each time they delivered a new course of the meal. The Chocolate Souffle was divine! And of course there was an amazing wine selection!
As for the lounges, there is a Martini Bar, Champagne Bar, Casino Bar, but we spent most of our time in the Rendez Vous lounge for karaoke or "name that tune" games, (which by the way my sister and I nailed the name that tune Motown contest with 14/15) in the early evening and then usually by 10pm we were in the Constellation Lounge for a night of dancing and dancing is exactly what we did! On the first night, DJ Alex was wrapping it up at 130am and we were like "what's up with that?" and he said that by the time we got to Ketchikan we'd be too tired to dance, etc. Well, that started the challenge of the cruise, I told DJ Alex "Game On!" and Alex on the last night had to give us "props" that we did dance every night and he did try to "break us" on many nights, and we never gave in. My husband and I can dance to anything and dance is just what we do! We had a great time in the Constellation Lounge every night.
This ship did have many options for entertainment. We went to the opening night show, but have to say that I wasn't very impressed. It was the Broadway song and dance type show that you normally see on a ship- but maybe I'm just getting past that now after so many cruises. I do know others on our cruise that did enjoy all the shows. During the course of the week, there were two other broadway type shows and then a guest opera singer who performed two nights. The last night, which we tried to make was a variety show with "Cirque du Soleil" type of acrobats, but we were busy packing and didn't make it. I was told that it was very good.
We tended to participate in the "Name that Tune" trivia games and then our favorite on this cruise the "Dancing with the Stripes" contest where they picked 9 guests to dance with 9 officers of the ship. My husband and I were both picked and I ended up coming in 2nd place, although the crowd boo-ed when the 1st place was announced! We really did get robbed. My officer didn't know a thing about any dance, but I was able to "lead" him successfully into the various dance styles! It was a lot of fun!
PORTS OF CALL:
Our first port of call on this ship, and the only port that was "new" to us, was Ketchikan. A cute little town, it is unfortunate that we didn't get an earlier start before our scheduled shore excursion! But we met along the pier for our jet boat tour to see wildlife! We did successfully see eagles, orca killer whales, humpback whales and harbor seals. Try as we might, we did not get to see bears!!
It was a beautiful day and one that we will never forget. The Orca Whales were the most impressive!! We spent the next day approaching Hubbard Glacier- and boy what a day that was!!! We slept in and woke up ready to have room service lunch out on our fabulous balcony and just watch the glacier bay unfold. Of course, we were at the back of the ship, so we couldn't see what the glacier was all about until the ship was being turned around. Leaving the Glacier was the BEST part of the day- we had front row seats to see the glacier and had the perfect chance to see the glacier do some MAJOR calving!! We had beautiful weather, it was 80 degrees, crystal clear water, crystal clear skies- it was an amazing day!! You can see the "aftermath" of some small calving below in this photo!
Our next day was a visit to Juneau, which was a port that we had been to before. As a result this was a day of relaxation. We slept in, then decided to take the tram up Mt. Roberts and had lunch atop the mountain, did some shopping and visited the eagle refuge up there. Afterwards, we took the tram back down and walked around downtown ~ destination completely known! The Alaskan Fudge Factory!! The best fudge that I've ever had and I had a special request from my brother and two nephews to bring back fudge!!! Mission accomplished and we couldn't leave without ice cream cones! We walked around Juneau a bit before heading back to the ship!
After a day at sea, we arrived into Victoria, B.C. around 2pm and got off the ship right away to get on our tour to Bouchardt Gardens with my mom and husband, followed by a stop at a local winery for a wine tasting/chocolate pairing experience! It was wonderful! Beautiful weather again, it was about 77 degrees at the gardens, could not have asked for anything better!
I will say that I think Celebrity has this process down to a science!! They gave us instructions on where to assemble in the morning while we wait to be cleared to disembark the ship. Then they escort you off the ship by venue. No loud announcements, the announcements were made inside each venue- so you didn't have people clogging the stairwells. Now Celebrity has introduced "Luggage Valet", which is an awesome program. If your flights are with participating airlines, they will check you in with the airline, print your boarding passes and once you put your baggage out on the last night, you do not see it again until your arrive at your home airport. This was WONDERFUL!! Always a little unnerving hoping that you see your bags come off the carousel in SFO, but it worked like a charm.
Was this my favorite cruise? It was probably our best "dance cruise", which for us is a big thing- we look forward to cruising for the nightly dance opportunities. Celebrity is top notch and one of my favorite cruise lines. The itinerary was what I expected. We had a good time. Maybe not my favorite overall, but it was a pretty darn good cruise!
Did I have a good time? We had a really good time, without a doubt!
Would I do it again? I would certainly sail with Celebrity again and I would cruise to Alaska again!
Food? The food was decent throughout the cruise. I did think that dinner in the buffet restaurant was probably the worst meal that we had (this was on the Victoria night). Other than that, I think everything else was acceptable.
Service? Everyplace that we were, we had excellent service. Our cabin steward tended to every detail, never had to ask twice for anything. Dining venues were all very good about service, our entertainment venues always took great care of us!
Entertainment/Activities? Again, we didn't partake in all the shows and such, but all of the musical bands on board the ship were excellent, we especially enjoyed the sounds of "Top Notch" and danced to their music every night!! DJ Alex played a good mix of everything. I really did enjoy the genre Name that Tune games, I was only disappointed that the Country Name that Tune interfered with dinner one night! That can't be helped, they were going to disappoint someone!
I love Celebrity Cruises, and will certainly cruise with them again! I LOVE Alaska as an itinerary. It is becoming more and more a destination for families, for younger people ~ there is so much to see and so much to do. For years, Alaska was billed as the cruise for the "nearly dead" (not meant to offend anyone), but that has turned around dramatically! This is my 2nd Alaska Cruise in 2 years; both taken while I'm in my 40's and I will most certainly do this again! Alaska is a beautiful state in the great U.S. of A.!!!
Now the one thing to note is that last year Celebrity Cruise line modified their smoking policy and personally I feel that it is a little too strict. Currently, there is no smoking in any cabin, on any balcony, in any of the public rooms EXCEPT for one side of the Constellation Lounge/Disco. There is also smoking at the Aft Pool Bar on Deck 10 and on the Port side of the Pool Area on Deck 10 (limited area) and then again on the Port Side of Deck 4.
To see a slide show of some of my BEST pictures from this cruise, follow this link:
Below- photo of my feet (thought it was cute) as we sail out of Seattle, then my husband and I as we sail from Seattle and then Sunset later that evening...